Outlook: Adopting a new perspective can help turn 2021 into a year of hope

Is 2021 going to be a year when we become aware of our compulsion for electronic escapes? Social media companies know what holds us captive for hours, what we are most scared about. Are we going to take a stand and say no to being commodified through personal advertisements?

The science of well-being shows us that what we think will make us happy doesn’t, so how do we use the research to benefit our well-being?

Our patterns of being in the world are a result of our conditioning and are a reflection of our evolution. Recognizing that we inherently have a negativity bias means that we have to work diligently to look for the good. Our brains are hardwired for negativity, which is constantly being reinforced by extreme news that keeps our fears and anxieties activated. Who do we need to become to reach out to communities when our differences seem irreconcilable?

Rewiring our conditioned ways of behaving is like riding a giant wave. We have to prepare ourselves for both receiving joy and embracing the inevitable difficulties we are likely to encounter if we commit to a journey that will at times feel treacherous.

Hope is a powerful antidote to anxiety and fear.

Is 2021 going to be a year of inviting ourselves back into our bodies and hearts? Of remembering what matters to us, without judgment? Of holding ourselves with gentleness and compassion in the face of so much uncertainty?

The joy we feel when we have done something kind for another is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Can we start the new year by forgiving ourselves for the times we have fallen short of our own expectations? The gift of forgiveness allows us to reduce our own suffering and increases our well-being.

The year 2021 will likely test our patience, as we wait for news about restrictions being lifted, as we make plans to see family and friends. We will finally be able to hug and hold loved ones that have been outside our bubble. We will feel the excitement of leaving our homes to go somewhere other than a grocery store, travelling and putting on clothes we have forgotten we owned and, eventually, taking off our masks.

Being mindful that we do not fall into the trance of overthinking, we can recognize that our thoughts are useful only in providing a map of where we want to go. However, having a map is not the same as experiencing life in the moment and enjoying the journey. Hope asks that we look at our life as an adventure.

What will you choose to cultivate more of this year? •

Shakeela Begum (shakeela@boundlesspotential.coach) is an integral leadership coach and director of gift and estate planning at the University of British Columbia.