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Barton Goldsmith column: COVID-19 has changed our lives forever. How to keep moving forward

Barton Goldsmith
Barton Goldsmith is a columnist for Tribune News Service.
Contributed / Tribune News Service
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I started this column right after 9/11 in my local paper, The Ventura County Star. About six months later, the column went national, I was offered a show on the local NPR station, and I was consulting for a hit television show. My career, I was told, was meteoric, but I was truly too busy to notice. My focus was on getting the message out, doing my best work and having a nice time in the process. Yes, I loved it.

These days, instead of doing radio, I’m doing a lot of Zoom interviews, and I see most of my clients on video. I still write my little fingers to the bone, but the meteor is starting to hit the atmosphere and is naturally slowing down. Everything has a life cycle, which means nothing lasts forever, and change is the only constant. Again, that’s normal, but most of us fight change, and lately we’ve had more than usual to deal with.

COVID-19 has changed our lives forever. Young students are still trying to catch up, many older and immunocompromised folks are still isolating to stay healthy, and those of us in the middle are getting squeezed like a tube of toothpaste. No matter where you are in life, or what stage of it you are in, you are likely struggling. The new normal is that life will never be normal again.

If we do what we can to move forward, even if the directions have changed for whatever reason, then we will feel better. It’s a pretty simple process; you won’t avoid feeling the losses or wishing things were different, but forward motion both physically and emotionally allows you to absorb more positivity.

The real truth is that sometimes positivity has to be created, and doing it is up to us. Accepting the new world is also part of the healing process. The question is, “What can you do right now to make your world a better place to be?” My suggestion is for you to make a plan to begin, create and realize something you want to do.

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It doesn’t have to be a total reinvention of your life. Any goal will keep you moving forward, and that momentum will help propel you to your next great thing. Meanwhile, the whole process acts as a serotonin builder and naturally makes you happier.

New projects have that “new car smell,” and that works on your brain and makes you excited as well. Forward motion will propel your creativity to the next level. Because you are thinking on a different level, you will come up with new ideas and ways to implement them. It’s a lot of fun, actually. In fact, if it feels like work, you may be doing it wrong.

You don’t even have to have a solid direction to move forward. Just go with your gut and give it a try. If it doesn’t feel right, try something else. If it does feel right, then go for it.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.

©2023 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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