Peace and tranquility — we seek to achieve this in our lives, but face many obstacles that seem to prevent the possibility. Many outside forces inundate us with distractions from the set goal of living. Gaining control over the negative forces makes it necessary to focus on productivity in moving forward.


Many Howler articles focus on living and growing. The unforeseen changes in our lives over the past year have been daunting, and the challenges seemingly insurmountable. Many have lost loved ones and friends due in these circumstances. Our heartfelt condolences go to those that have struggled with grief and other kinds of losses.


Virtually all of us have some form of depression and doubt about the future. The constant barrage of numbers flashed on the news, new laws, new shutdowns and such has had a devastating effect on our psyche. Seeing the United States in such an uproar is unprecedented and affects the entire world. I have caught myself glued to the news, despite knowing that this causes distress and lack of sleep, which in turn affects the quality of my interactions with people. 


Tuning out is important. Unplug from social media for a few days and realize you can live without it. Or change the nature of your online interactions and be a positive force on a platform. The selfie nature of life is not very interesting anymore. Try reaching out instead to make new friends and see what common bonds you have. Turn off, tune out and breathe. 


The need for human contact and being close to friends and family is very important. Seeing people in masks and not seeing a glowing smile is sad. Those short bursts of face-to-face interactions make our days much better, and we have been missing them. You don’t realize how important they are until they are not there.


We will come out of this eventually. Almost everything we have learned about ourselves over the past year is a matter of needing to correct or to embrace. As I have said to many, “If we can survive this we can survive anything.” 


Thanks to many community groups for joining forces to ensure that the hungry are fed and that support is there for those in need. Egos should not stand in the way of anyone asking for help. The condition of today’s world is beyond anyone’s control. Never hesitate to reach out if you need help. There is no shortage of good people, churches and other organizations that care and have created a very positive movement within our communities. Don’t let pride hold you back from the healing you can get from positive interactions.


Take walks, hug your dogs, be around people that lift you up and invigorate you. Escape to a peaceful beautiful place to reenergize. The forces of negativity can be quashed. Within each of us the mechanism of survival has been triggered. Survival is not the only goal to achieve; change is also needed. Look at what has gotten us to this point and what each of us have done to survive. It is important to remember that surviving is not living. Don’t forget to live!


Getting into a life rut is something most of us do. Shaking things up is not the worst thing that can happen. It forces us to look to our inner strength and creativity to move forward on a different path that can lead to new good things. The same goes for making mistakes. It is just a function of life. The important thing is how we move forward and correct the mistakes.


Breathing the fresh air and seeing the natural beauty of Costa Rica reminds me of how lucky I am to be here. 


We will come out of this, and we will be stronger and more resilient than in the past. I have commented in recent years that our new generations are so soft and have been handed so many things. I hope that a positive outcome of this past year has been to change the direction of those who see that we all need to work together to live life to the fullest. Take your face out of the phone and smile at someone. Interact in a positive way and be a bright spot.


However vital the influence of outside forces, we are the only ones who can change our lives.

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