Rough Seas Ahead – Part 4 of a series of 4

by Daniel O’shea

Connect With and Support Others
“Share the love everyday”

The coffee machine at work (on the third floor!) displays this message whilst pouring a cup of the good stuff! I didn’t think anything of it at first, but it occurred to me, why not reference this quote as many of my colleagues will see it daily, hopefully reminding them of my call to action. Not right now of course, but someday soon, once we are safe to emerge from our dark dank caves, apprehensively squinting at the bright new world. I want this quote to inspire us to create hope and remind us and share our experiences because we are social beings, forced into isolation and isolation is dangerous. In fact, I believe social distancing would be better named physical distancing as our ability to be social is not actually gone – it’s just different.
The greatest predictor of success and happiness is our social support network. Whilst some of us irritably endure the perpetual company of our nearest and dearest, remember that some people are completely alone in all this. If you reach out to more isolated people virtually, not only will you be helping them, but you will be helping yourself. You can gain much happiness through acts of kindness and civic engagement, so call someone who you know is alone or who is struggling – listen attentively, ask insightful questions.
Furthermore, communicate authentically whether virtually or with those who you share a quarantined space with. Be quick to listen and slow to speak and be generous with your time and attention. Assume each person you talk to has something to teach you – value what you don’t know as more important than what you do.
Try to develop an ’empathy reflex’. If someone stirs you the wrong way (quite likely at this point), delay your reaction. Place yourself in their shoes for a second and then choose a response. There is a huge contrast in outcomes depending upon whether I can take that split second to invoke empathy before speaking. I have often stood innocently and unknowingly at the precipice of an argument. Incoming bombardments will trigger a defensive reaction. My logical brain is demanding my retaliation. However, I may be able to prevent an unpleasant and unnecessary dispute (for example, about why I thought it was okay to eat the last banana without a collaborative agreement with my wife beforehand) if I can simply lower my guard and put myself in her (my wife’s) shoes for a second. If I can better understand I can better empathize
(I didn’t know she had her heart set
on making banana bread today).
Create joy – I have tried hard to initiate fun quarantine activities for my wife and toddler such as treasure hunts, obstacle courses, garden safaris, virtual zoo and virtual museum trips. Go the extra mile to have fun with those around you and show them lots of love – prioritize your people, not your tasks.

“It is not enough to be compassionate.
You must act.”

Dalai Lama

Key Takeaway
Connect with and support others. Every day is a new opportunity to begin again; to do better. Have a greater concern for others’ well-being whilst investing in yourself. Develop an empathy reflex.
Peace amidst polarization

“Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

Marcus Aurelius

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