Redirecting the Energy of Our Fears into Hope Amid COVID-19

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Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Arizona.

The season surely would be a great time to get together with friends and family, plan a big outdoor event, or even have a normal shopping experience.

Yet, as I’m writing this article, our world faces a significant pandemic from COVID-19. Yes, it is disappointing to say the least. A virus with reasons we could only speculate on has disrupted our daily lives. We must continue to adapt and overcome during this new social norming phase.

What a tremendous sacrifice we are making! We are following the instructions of our leadership, we are careful to respect the temple of our physical existence in the simple but so necessary act of keeping our hands and bodies clean, and have become accustomed to helping those in need.

A common saying is that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. The battle is not over as we continue to rely on the guidance of those who are wiser, and if we have to readapt and overcome again, then we will do so. Such is the course of humanity. 

As we are spending the majority of our time in isolation, it goes without saying that many of us are experiencing fear and anxiety as to what will come of our families and us. Not only that, but we are also agonizing over what has happened already. The times are tense. There is a lot less traffic on the streets, the stores a bit limited on supplies, and even though our smiles, we all look a little uneasy. However, I urge you, do not torment your minds in what you could have done better in the past, and do not fear a fate that has not been written. 

Our great teacher, Rabbi Moses Maimonides, whose name echoes in just about every medical institution and religious house of study from the Western to Near Eastern World and beyond, wrote in detail about depression and anxiety.

Referencing his teachings from his 12th century medical treatise on hygiene, Regimen of Health, he states, “There is no difference between one who grieves over a loss of money and one who grieves that they are a human and not an angel or a star, or similar thoughts or impossibilities.”

The past is impossible to change and worrying about it does not benefit you at all. Over-contemplating what has already been written can leave you with depression. Similarly, he teaches that anxiety can result from worrying about a future that has not happened or may never happen at all.  Anything could happen in the future. Nothing is sealed.  He advises that instead of worrying about your future constantly and leading yourself down a path of anxiety, replace that energy and time spent on fear with hope. 

Hope is a powerful state of mind.  It’s much more powerful than fear if you teach yourself to invoke it. Whether that is done through engaging in prayer, reciting inspirational readings, or partaking in acts of kindness, they strengthen our ways of thinking. Always be mindful of looking for opportunities to fulfill a mitzvah or good deed. Everything is about experiences; choose the good ones. Motivate your mind to think positively, act positively, and then become a positive person. Once you have taught your heart to be habitually positive, continue to grow, and do not be satisfied with minimum effort. Continue to work on yourself so that in moments like these, you would feel them as ‘bumps in the road’ even when they are not. The Wisdom of Solomon states, “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment should touch them.” 

Our appreciation goes out to our military, first responders, medical staff, store workers, those working behind the scenes, those working from home, moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. We are all in this together. Don’t forget about yourselves, don’t forget about the essential things in life, and never forget why you do what you do. 

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