Bushfires in Australia, the emergence of COVID-19, and the Syrian civil war are some examples of world issues that are currently affecting us, with broader issues like climate change and inequality being significant concerns. With everything that is happening in the world now, it is easy to understand why people are becoming increasingly alarmed about our future.
When facing an uncertain future, it can be easy for people to fall into despair and doubt, especially if the situation is beyond their control. By having a positive attitude, you can avoid several of the pitfalls of facing an uncertain future, which will help you to navigate your way through the feelings of fear and passivity. We can and should try to make a positive impact in the world, especially in times of crises when it may be easy to remain in a state of panic. Only then can we work towards improving the situation, albeit one step at a time.
A positive attitude is a mindset that can range from you being hopeful about the future to learning from past mistakes and viewing challenges with confidence. While having a positive attitude may not sound natural in the face of uncertainty, people generally already exhibit qualities associated with having a positive attitude, such as optimism, resilience, and gratitude. All we have to do then is to practise such values in times of need deliberately.
Optimism – being confident or hopeful about the future or success of something. By being optimistic, we can develop positive thoughts that will help us in mitigating panic and irrational behaviour as fear sets in. Instead of focusing on the worst possible outcome, we should think positively and remind ourselves that success is achievable, as long as we are willing to work towards it. While we may be unable to control the world around us, we can control the way we react to the world, primarily through our words and actions.
When we fail to maintain a positive attitude, it is easy for us to descent into the trap of anger and frustration, with everyone out for their survival regardless of others around them. A prime example will be the mass panic buying happening in the world today due to COVID-19. Shelves in major supermarkets are emptied by buyer unhesitatingly grabbing products, with even brawls and disagreements happening.
However, the issue lies in whether we need that many items and why we are even buying them. If everyone maintained a positive attitude, there would likely be more responsible buyers who only buys what they need, ensuring that everyone can receive an adequate amount of products. That is essential in the situation that we are facing now, as the vulnerable are often the ones left with fewer resources.
Resilience – the ability to recover from challenges and work to improve the situation. By being resilient and focusing on maintaining a positive attitude, we can make steady improvement in a situation, which will be especially impactful in times of crises.
An example will be the responses of those who sought to help improve the lives of those who were impacted the Australian bushfires, which raged across Australia for months, with an estimated 18.6 million hectares of land burnt and one billion animals lost to the fires. Their efforts proved that while we may not be capable of extinguishing the fires, we can support the many initiatives that were started to mitigate the negative impacts as much as possible.
Apart from the several donation sites that supported the firefighting efforts and rehabilitation of animals, other positive initiatives include the @spendwiththem account on Instagram. Through their campaign, founders Turia Pitt and Grace McBride aimed to share local Australian products and services to the international community, encouraging people to support the small business owners in Australia who found themselves in dire states after the fires.
By supporting them, we can help the rebuilding process in Australia and encourage the business owners who saw their livelihoods largely disrupted by the fires. Within Singapore, several efforts were also made to raise money for those impacted by the Australian fires, including @thesocialspace.sg, a local social enterprise that donated $1 for every cup of coffee sold in January. Resilience and continuing to maintain a positive attitude can also be applicable to other situations, such as life after graduation or sudden unemployment.
However, it is understandable that people may find it challenging to maintain a positive attitude when it seems like the world is crumbling down around them. A possible way to improve our attitude towards the future will be to practise gratitude towards the people around us.
Instead of focusing on how unfortunate you feel, consider the positive impact people have made around you. By changing the way we think, we will ideally place more importance on the way we talk to others and our actions. The COVID-19 outbreak should be a wake-up call on how the lack of gratitude impacts those who are working hard to protect the community and on others who are also finding it difficult to remain positive. Apart from medical professionals facing instances of discrimination on public transportation here in Singapore, those of Asian descent in America and Europe are also experiencing racism and bigotry.
Although we may not be able to entirely prevent discriminatory incidences from happening, we can work towards slowly improving the situation by calling out cases of racism and making an effort to help those in need. Even if we are unable to provide monetary support, we can help by maintaining our personal hygiene and being understanding towards those who are personally affected.
My aunt was working as a staff nurse in Singapore during the time of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, which meant that she fought together with other medical professionals on the frontlines to combat against an infectious disease they had no experience with. Listening to her experience allowed me to fully understand the sacrifice they made and the sheer bravery they had. We should have a positive attitude towards those who have worked hard to protect us and not fall prey to the vicious doubt that resulted in the shunning of medical professionals in the public spaces.
By maintaining a positive attitude despite the uncertain future, we can prevent ourselves from remaining in a state of panic and work towards improving the situation. As our future remains unknown, it is all the more essential for us to stay positive and adaptable for the future. Just like how the medical professionals in Singapore and worldwide have learnt valuable lessons from SARS, we too can learn from COVID-19 and other crises.
While that does not discount the negative impacts of such situations, it does allow us to build resilience when dealing with other situations. On a much more positive note, there were also several praiseworthy initiatives that were started to tackle the current situation, from university students delivering meals to other students who were placed on a leave of absence to the free daily lunch sets for nurses that were sponsored by the Pek Kio Merchant’s Association.
Let’s maintain a positive attitude and work together to resolve problems together, instead of falling into the vicious cycle of distrust and discrimination that will only impact us negatively.