“Everything can be taken from a man but… the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.” — Victor Frankl
You might remember the photograph by Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother. Taken during the Great Depression, it was a picture of a mother’s despair after a failed harvest, and it became a symbol of the desperation and needs of seasonal farm workers.
Today during Coronavirus pandemic, we are witnessing other desperate images: people waiting in cars to be tested, rolling gurneys, rooms filled with caskets in Italy, social distancing at family gatherings of weddings and funerals. Fortunately, we’re also receiving encouraging images and stories about courageous healthcare workers and first responders risking their lives to save others, creative teachers offering ways to support homeschooling parents, musicians writing songs of encouragement, online socializing and reconnections with friends and loved ones.
During this time of physical distancing, isolation, working from home and/or anxiety, we are reminded of a key principle in one of our favorite books, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, written by Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon (who were students of Victor Frankl). We have a human need to connect meaningfully with others.
Especially now, as courageous, inspirational leaders offer alternatives, rather than focus on fears and concerns. Christopher Reeve (after his paralyzing spinal cord injury) said, “The way out of that misery or obsession is to focus more on what your little boy needs or what your teenagers need or what other people around you need.” We do have a choice.
A few ideas to consider:
- When you read a positive story of what others are doing, share it.
- If someone sends you a funny image and link to a website, share it.
- Share creative ways that others are making the most of social distancing.
- Schedule virtual opportunities to connect more regularly with everyone on your team.
- Send words of encouragement to someone who would not expect it.
- Turn off news feeds for several hours a day.
- Find ways to give back where you live.
- Try the “Five Positive Things Exercise” (adapted from Prisoners of Our Thoughts, 2017)
Today, each of our circumstances are different, yet we are on this journey together. May we join to better our world and bring hope to others… to those you know and those you don’t, through your generosity and random acts of kindness.