“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” ~Samuel Smiles.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks. During National Nurse’s Week I have been privileged to observe nurses at work from a different perspective, while visiting a brave family member in the hospital. I have seen how hard it is to be a patient, and to be patient, as the human body struggles to recover from the insult of surgery and medicine, even though those things were necessary and appropriate. I was reminded that it is easy to be on the blunt side of the needle, it is easy to instruct and to teach, but much harder to be the one feeling it and going through it.
This week has also included Teacher’s Appreciation Day, and will culminate in Mother’s Day, so definitely a week of feeling loved and acknowledged. We finally saw Nigeria’s stolen girls return home, having dealt with all manner of abuse and indignities. And all because they had gone to school. 214 of them came back pregnant, bearing the children of their abductors. There is much to fix in this world. Meanwhile the people of Nepal are still struggling to live a normal life after the world shifted under their feet and mother earth stoned them.
So how do we cope when, in the midst of days of celebration and joy, we are aware of tragedy and defeat? Our ability to hope, to see positivity, to keep our spirits and our minds focused on the potential for good and healing things to happen requires practice. Sure there are those with a sunny disposition, who seem able to find the bright side of everything. We call them Pollyanna, named after a fictional character from years ago who sang and skipped her way through life. But we also have to fight a tendency to be Eeyore, that sad character from Winnie the Pooh, who always expected doom and gloom.
By assigning labels to our experiences we assign them good or bad characteristics. We suffer through homework and exams; we have to cope with children teething or bedwetting; we fight traffic to get to work; we face Monday and long for Friday. We have already decided what kind of day we are going to have when we get up on the wrong side of the bed. It is we who choose our attitude. The same way we can project negative feelings onto things we have no control over, we can find something good in them. Fighting traffic to get to work tells me I have a job! Watching kids go through normal developmental stages means you have been blessed with healthy kids! Having homework and taking exams means you are gaining an education! Sometimes by merely saying “it could be worse” we remind ourselves that in our self-absorption we have forgotten how many other blessings we have, and we can find our way to hope and positivity once more.
So whether you are being appreciated or being appreciative, I hope you remind yourself to stop and be thankful for all of your riches. And if you are going through a particularly rough patch, remember to be hopeful, for this will pass and better will come. You can gain something even from the worst experience. Sometimes you have to ‘fake it till you make it’; put on a good face and your spirit will follow. Be a role model for yourself, and sooner or later you will realize you aren’t faking it anymore!
To the nurses, teachers and mothers out there, I hope you get a moment to remember why you decided to become one of the above, and give yourself a pat on the back. And to the patients out there, may you be patient and hopeful, despite all of the challenges. May everyone have a wonderful weekend, full of hope and beauty.