Considering the emotional, physical, economic, and financial pains the world is going through due to COVID-19, it may seem like an odd time to talk about attitude. But the truth is that it’s the best time to discuss attitude because the world is in a crisis situation, and attitude is a fundamental ingredient of coping with crisis, especially the current health grand challenge.

As people daily hear news of the COVID-19, it stokes their fears, and it makes them more worried than necessary, and even more frightened about contracting it. Many even give deeper meaning to what is said about the coronavirus, and as Dorothy Frizelle, a UK consultant clinical health psychologist explains, “It puts people in a hyper-vigilant state so that any information about it is self-perpetuating...People notice more, and hear more, and read more, and interpret that in a threatening way.”

In this kind of situation of a pandemic, people normally develop unusual behaviours, for instance, as they browse the Internet, they look for information that validates their fears and support their anxiety. According to Alison Holman, associate professor of nursing at University of California, Irvine, California, “Too much media exposure, we know, can heighten one’s anxiety.” So she advises that “You get what you need, and leave the rest.”

In the coronavirus equation, attitude may not be everything; but it certainly plays the most determinative role in your preventing it. If John Maxwell’s assertion that “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it” is anything to go by, then we can as well say that  coronavirus is 10 percent what happens to the world, but 90 percent how the world reacts to it. True winners are those who win in attitude (habits of thought) first before they take practical actions to win in life.

Our mental and emotional attitudes alter our bodily reactions. According to University of Minnesota, Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body's hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system.” 

The coronavirus is a winnable war. Our individual and collective attitude is extremely essential in winning this war. Recently, I’ve quoted Viktor Frankl as having said that “the last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”. And more than any time in human history, this is one of the best times for us all to choose absolute trust in God. With the right attitude in place, we shall not overact and contribute to the public panic. We will not let the fear of COVID-19 drive us into paying the price that is far greater than the threat of the virus itself.

Certainly, much of the anxiety expressed by the public in the past weeks has exaggerated the risk posed by coronavirus. And troubled thoughts and emotions, produced by this anxiety, impair our sense of perception, and crash the strength of our faith. No doubt, COVID-19, a medical phenomenon, is real but faith is more real. The death of Jesus Christ, a physical occurrence, was real but His resurrection, a spiritual marvel, was more real. The spiritual world always determines and shapes the physical and material world.

God clearly says in Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

As a matter of fact, some physical actions such as washing our hands regularly with soap and water, isolating, social distancing, and use of hand sanitizers, for instance, will help lessen the anxiety and fear. But our mental and emotional attitude still occupies a very important place in keeping the virus at bay.

Dr. Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says that "Your outlook - having a sense of optimism and purpose - seems to be predictive of health outcomes."  She has studied the health effects of several forms of psychological well-being and found out that emotional vitality - characterized by enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement in life, and the ability to face life's stresses with emotional balance - is associated with a substantially reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

In 2007 her team reported that among 6,025 participants, those who had high levels of emotional vitality at the onset had significantly lower rates of cardiovascular disease an average of 15 years later. In 2015 they reported that among 6,019 participants studied for an average of 16 years, greater emotional vitality was associated with a lower likelihood of having a stroke. Our attitude will keep us sustainable safe from COVID-19.

Indeed, these times, though tough, are not to reinforce our old fears and doubts but to build the right attitude and new faith. This is how we can do it in the face of COVID-19.

(i) Keep your sense of purpose before you. In my eBook, Principles of Constant Cash Flow and Sustainable Wealth, I write that, “Purpose is the reason, the justification, for which you live. It is God’s original intent in creating you.” Therefore, the fulfillment of purpose is what ignites the strongest desire to live in a person. Author Kenneth Hildebrand says that “Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purposes; lesser ones exist on wishes and inclinations. The most glowing successes are but reflections an inner fire.”

(ii) Know what COVID-19 news you hear. A motivational speaker, William Arruda, suggests that instead of  watching 24-hour news channels, listening to dire warnings on the radio, or visiting websites that constantly bombard you with messages that create fear, you could decide on news sources that don’t blow it out of proportion. Truth is that you should take heed what you hear (Mark 4:24) because what you hear creates either faith or fear in you.

(iii) Draw strength from past victories. Your resilience in the past helped you to triumph over some major crises, disasters, and health challenges. People survived 9/11, earthquakes, floods, Hurricane Katrina, and even the financial meltdown of 2008. The God that helped you to navigate through challenging times in the past is still alive to help you through this season of coronavirus. More posts are loading. Till then.

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