"It's just bleak out there." My patient was referring to the weather and also her general outlook. "Bleak" captures the way many people are feeling right now—general malaise, emotional exhaustion, and overwhelming pessimism. I just read about a group of moms who met up on a frigid night in Boston to voice their collective exasperation. They stood in a socially distanced circle and screamed into the darkness.
Those moms are all of us—stuck in a bleak midwinter, drained by the daily grind, unsettled by all the uncertainty, frustrated by the fluctuations of hope and despair.
While there are certainly plenty of reasons to be downbeat, don't let defeatism defeat you. When all we see is doom and gloom, we lose agency and hope. As organizational psychologist, best-selling author, and fellow Bulletin writer Adam Grant tweeted:
Here are 5 strategies to help you cultivate grounded hope and realistic optimism:
While we may be surrounded by bleakness, there is a case to be made for realistic optimism. I greatly appreciated Molly Jong-Fast's uplifting reminder that It Won't Be January Forever.
Time ticks away, seasons blend into each other, the warm weather will come back, days will get longer. There will be melting ice-cream and eating outdoors, and the warm sun on your shoulders. There will be walks in the park and movies and puppies. It won't always be this gray.
This isn't toxic positivity. It's deliberate optimism. And it's just what the doctor ordered.
READ: How To Achieve "Everyday Vitality" When The Past Two Years Have Drained Us. On Alina Cho's Bulletin, I share tips for leading happier, healthier, and more connected lives.