COVID-19 still has major impacts on our daily lives and will continue to affect us in the years to come. But I believe without a doubt that a new era will begin that will be covered in history textbooks. I predict this era will be known as an era of rebuilding in regards to both the individual and society. On both a micro and macro level, we have had to re-establish a new normal.
With this in mind, I urge you to practice the art of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not just a practice regarding other people. In practice, forgiveness is leading with a gentle and compassionate outlook. It is also applicable to the big and the small experiences that may negatively impact your life. This can be anything from spilling coffee on your favorite shirt to being rejected from your top school.
The shirt is replaceable and the school failed to see what you have to offer, so instead of fixating on what you lost, think about what you can gain from these experiences. Some people fail to realize that this applies to your relationship with yourself as well.
For instance, both examples above are self-inflicted occurrences. It is not one else’s fault that you spilled coffee or got rejected from an Ivy League Institution, no matter how graceful or academic you may be. However, it is important to remain confident in yourself. Your failures do not define who you are. They only make you human.
Like everyone else, I had ample time to do some self-reflection during the past year and a half. To pass what seemed like excruciatingly slow days, I threw myself into new activities. From hopping on the baked oat fad to downloading Sam Harris’ miraculous meditation app “Waking Up” I developed new facets of interest.
The commonality between these new activities boils down to the practice of mindfulness. According to The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, mindfulness describes the habit of being aware of our current experiences, thoughts and emotions. It encourages us to live in the present moment and accept our current situation without judging ourselves based on our emotional responses.
To simplify even further, it boils down to the practice of self-love and acceptance.
Mindfulness in practice looks different for everyone. This makes sense because everyone has complex needs and emotions rooted in their own situation. However, I would like to think that inner peace and happiness are universal human emotions, or at least can be with the correct mindset.
Along with mindfulness, forgiveness is key. When thinking about the new era approaching post-covid, forgiveness is something at the forefront of my mind. When you forgive and let go, it is solely a positive experience. This is because anger and resentment manifest internally: No matter how wronged you feel, you are the only one hung up on these negative emotions. Do not give the power of a mind at ease away to anyone. You need to understand just how in control you are.
So, why wouldn’t everyone forgive if it makes you feel better? There is a certain threshold of maturity required to truly forgive yourself and others. It means silencing your ego and letting yourself process your pain in order to discard it forever, and some people are simply not there yet.
I recently came across the psychology term “radical acceptance.” This was huge.
Radical acceptance is a practice used to stop painful feelings from becoming suffering. It is as simple as accepting your reality for what it is. This idea ties into forgiveness because it reinforces the belief that fixating on past emotional trauma does no good in the present.
I would argue that this change in how I viewed my emotions was more impactful and meaningful to me than the change of uprooting my life from California to Boston. In some ways, the pandemic sparked growth that I do not know would have been possible without it.
The time I spent alone was time that I dedicated to mindfulness, and through that, I landed on the power of forgiveness. Of course, I am 19 years old and have my days. After all, my college years are being spent in a pandemic-induced purgatory.
But when you forgive yourself and others, this translates to living a life of gratitude. This is because when you are not fixating on the wrongs, you will find yourself fixating on all that is right.
You’ve most likely heard or used phrases like “let go of the past” or “it is what it is.” These popularly coined phrases facilitate the same idea as radical acceptance. Next time you hear one of these phrases, I encourage you to refrain from rolling your eyes and open your mind instead.