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Just as you were returning to life as it once was, there was conflict abroad. You could get sucked into the vortex of bad news or you could dare to find hope in the terrible. These 4 steps can raise your optimism in difficult times.

Wars and rumors of war are the stuff of apocalyptic times. And they’re also the reality of our world today. It is easy to focus on things like fear, potential and real losses, and the destruction playing out in real time in front of us. But after two years of pandemic deprivation, this reality is too much for some people.

The truth of today is you have no control over what happens half a world away. You’re already feeling the economic impact of the despotic and despicable actions of a desperate, depraved madman. You’ll hear more about his terrible escapades, whether you want to hear them or not. So, here’s the question: how do you find hope in the terrible?

If you’re weary or emotionally drained, here’s a rescue strategy: find beauty that emerges from conflict. Right now, it’s easy to see hope in the solidarity, resilience, and will of the people of Ukraine. It’s also easy to see the generosity of the people of neighboring countries who are opening their homes and businesses to the refugees of war, many of whom have escaped with only the clothes on their backs. And it’s inspiring to listen to the words of President Zelenskyy as he addresses the people who elected him, neighboring nations, and the world and calls them to action.

A matter of choice

You have a choice when it comes to the news you consume. And you don’t have to pretend there’s nothing bad going on in the world, but you don’t have to be dragged into the rabbit hole of bad news every day, either. You can find hope in the terrible.

What if you could hear enough of the bad news to stay informed and also listen deeply and intentionally to the stories of the triumph of the human spirit? When you control the information you take in, you also take control of the power those stories have over your attitude, outlook, and mood. And that informs how you carry out your day’s activities and the way you interact with others.

Beyond those things, you’ll build your ability to hold your focus on the positives of life, to retain optimism in the face of difficulty, and to show up to others as a force for good when their world is falling apart. It takes some practice, but it’s not as hard as it may sound.

Set up to succeed

Yes, it’s a choice but that choice is supported by a process or structure that you create and a commitment to your own mental well-being. And it helps to have a goal or target and some milestones so you know when you’re making progress toward your goal. It might look something like this:

  • First, notice how the news you take in affects you. It might raise your anger or erode your patience, causing you to react to things rather than responding to them.
  • Next, identify how you’d rather respond or what mood you’d rather adopt for the day. This is key because your mood doesn’t necessarily have to correspond to the news you read or the goings on in another country. It’s a choice you make every hour of every day.
  • Now, you can address how you consume news. Maybe you’d like to take in the bad news first, then go find hope in the terrible with stories of human strength, kindness, or generosity. You’ll carry with you the story you read last, so make it count!
  • Last, tell someone else about the hopeful story and tell them how you felt after reading it.

These four steps won’t alter the course of history or end the conflict in Ukraine. But they will allow you to find hope in the terrible occurrences that unfold in front of you.It’s not likely that things will change quickly for the better. In fact, things are likely to get worse. But even in the worst of times, you can choose how you show up to yourself and others by committing to find hope in the terrible. The best part is you’re establishing a habit of choosing optimism. And that habit can make this world a better place for you and the people and creatures who share it with you.

Bradley K. Ward, PCC, TICC is a leadership and transformational coach at Brad Ward Coaching, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you reach for the impossible!