Well-Being//

Why Hope is the Best Antidote to Fear, Panic in the Wake of Disease Outbreaks

Hope is a trade-off we make with future uncertainty to make our lives better in the present!

Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash
Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

If you follow the news, chances are you need to take a deep breath every time you scroll through your news feed. The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease) outbreak which started in Wuhan in China has already spread its footprint across 80 countries with nearly 98,000 cases (as on March 6, 2020) reported from across the world. The disease outbreak is real and so is the growing panic. Schools, colleges, offices are being shut and the status-quo of life is being severely impacted.

The real question is: is it possible to still stay hopeful in a scenario that gets grimmer every hour of the day?

The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “we must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”.

Hope is a trade-off we make with future uncertainty to make our lives better in the present! It is a forward-looking act that helps us traverse the current situation into the realm of possibilities. Since, no one has actually seen or predicted the future, the possibility of a better future is always high—and hope provides us with the chance of making it a bright one!

Here’s how hope can be a powerful antidote to fear, stress and panic in these challenging times:

Hope is a strategy: Hope may not be the solution to contain the disease outbreak, but it is definitely a strategy to overcome panic and can help us hang around in the knowledge that this too shall pass. It was only hope that sustained Viktor E Frankl through his time in the Nazi concentration camps and prompted him to write Man’s Search For Meaning, a best-selling book capturing man’s survival in the toughest of circumstances.

Hope gives us strength: Despite the challenges and constant negativity all around, we still need to show up at work, cook food, buy groceries, get homework done, manage our daily chores and prevent hopelessness from taking over our lives.  Hope is a vital instrument that helps us give strength in the toughest of times.

Hope can help reduce suffering: Yes, the world will still take time to develop a medicine or vaccination for COVID-19. We need to follow health advisories, take precautionary measures and do our best to save ourselves. However, doing all this with an attitude of hopelessness will only make things worse. A positive outlook towards life, society and the world is the best armour we can wear every day to reduce panic and the suffering associated with the outbreak. 

Hope helps us reprioritise: Times like these can often be a good reminder of the impermanence and transitional nature of our lives. While human beings may be at the top of evolutionary pyramid, the fact that we are humans; that we must endure the circle of birth and death just like our ancestors, can help us prioritise things that really matter. Ask yourself questions that you never asked in the business of being really busy. Ask yourself what is truly important to you and see what kind of life you are heading towards. Check if your life needs reconciliation and reprioritise your life accordingly.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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