While I am not always an optimist, neither do I consider myself constantly weighed down by an inherent pessimism. And because I believe in their great power, I have been working on bringing positive thoughts continually to mind during this very difficult time. As the shelter-in-place imperatives of our new coronavirus reality take over so much of our day-to-day lives, I believe focusing on such thoughts is important to maintain psychological health. So, in no particular order, this post summarizes some that have settled into my mind.

I do, of course, overlook a few obvious ones such as, well, the grandeur of nature (as reflected by the Denali photo shown above). But this mental exercise is not meant as an exhaustive list. Rather, it's an attempt to stay positive, if not exactly upbeat. One more thought worth mentioning, before I go down my short list, is that I will continue to scan my sources of information for the positive thoughts of others to add to my own. So please, keep yours coming!

  • Spring is nearly here. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, better that all this is happening now rather than in the fall - even though, we should expect the fall to bring its own challenges, as it did during the influenza pandemic of 1917-19. I've got nothing against the pleasures of winter's beauty or sports, it's just that warmer weather is easier to deal with, if not always more enjoyable, than cold. Hot weather brings its own challenges to staying indoors without consuming vast amounts of energy through constantly running ACs, just as true of the use of indoor heaters during freezing weather. Generally mild - either cool or warm - is obviously the best and we are fortunate that that's where we are at for now.

  • Modern digital real-time communication tools. I have written before that social media is as much curse as a blessing. The story of its impact on modern society is still being written but thus far, it is not particularly pretty. Sure, casual sharing of thoughts and photos is often fun, but the risks of inadvisable sharing, or non-sharing can adversely affect our mental health. Also, treating social media as a "dumb pipe" has proven that disinformation agents can distort our sense of who to trust and what is even real. These are good reasons to change the legal framework in which it operates, as see my local newspaper noted in an editorial published yesterday. On the other hand, products and software that open up ways to engage in more immersive forms of communication are very useful. Email was the "hot new thing" when I started my tech industry career 25 years ago, but SMS via cell phone, WhatsApp, Facetime, Zoom and any number of other devices and applications are extremely useful. Of course, the underlying breakthrough technology of wireless Internet connectivity, now ubiquitously known as "Wi-Fi", is hugely important to its success, so while we are at it, let's be thinking thankful and positively for that too. :)

  • Animals. Pause for a moment and try to see the world through non-human eyes. Doing so opens up so many more dimensions of reality, all of which are fascinating and wondrous. This is at least part of what makes our pets so dear to us. My wife and I lost our dog in late 2018 and thought we would hold off getting another because we wanted to travel much more in the years ahead. But now, getting another dog seems like the safest road back to that feeling of staying grounded. For those who would ask, why not a cat?, I am unfortunately allergic to cat fur! For those who cannot have a pet or some other close relationship with an animal (such as a horse!) for whatever reason, animal and pet pictures and stories are an often reasonably satisfying substitute.

  • People working in critical roles so that the rest of us can make it through. Every day, I grow increasingly thankful for everyone who is working hard to help us overcome the huge challenges of this unusual time. Everyone delivery public health and medical support and services comes immediately to mind, of course, but there are millions of others who are indispensable at what they do in keeping the crucial infrastructure of our modern society up and running. It is worth remembering at this moment the essential, irreplaceable value and dignity of hard work in any shape or form. I am thinking particularly about people who stock shelves or check out purchases of essentials at stores, and maintain the core services behind the maintenance and functioning of our streets and living spaces. We who live in more advanced nations are lucky that they are part of our world and should remember to thank them for doing what they do.

  • Better leadership soon. Last but not least, as an American citizen, I am thankful that this is the last year of Trump's first - and hopefully last - term as the country's highest elected official. Like millions of others, I have been horrified by the last three years in our political world. They have been a desecration of our unique vision and powerful ideals. So many of us have been deeply dismayed by the despicable "bombasity" of MAGA rhetoric and its corollary, racist xenophobia. We know our country has its fair share of shortcomings - all countries do. But we believe it can and should play a leading role in advancing true democracy, freedom and science across the world. Watching Trump continually degrade the fabric of that vision has been a living nightmare. As the faintest glimmer of something to be hopeful about. that by this latest turn of events, millions of voters now clearly realize that handing the presidency to a glib, arrogant liar and charlatan - claiming to be a "businessman" but really nothing more than a serial abuser of both business and personal trust - was an extremely dumb idea. As a result of this crisis, now that Trump's inept handling of it grows increasingly apparent, the stars may finally be aligned to cause the Trump administration to close and be replaced by something far more responsive to the public's true needs and interests. If the coronavirus pandemic arose a year or two ago, dealing with its manifest idiocy and incompetence for that much longer would have been even more depressing.