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Appreciation, Gratitude and Humor Help Offset Pandemic Negativity

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The past few months have been the most unusual in my life. I never thought I would experience an event that would shut down the world and I have. While there is re-opening of some states, we are far from being back to normal. Having talked to a lot of people about how the pandemic impacts them, I noticed some trends emerging from those conversations.

There is now a lot of clarity around what matters most. Before it could have been chasing a career goal, getting a bigger house, or taking a fabulous vacation. Now people are focused on relationships with family and friends. Most people mention deepening connections, reaching out to people they haven’t talked to for many years, and making connecting with others a priority. Almost without exception, people viewed this positively and life-enriching.

What do people seem to miss the most? The ability to just touch a loved one or hold a friend’s hand. Hugs are definitely being missed. People want to connect with one another, face-to-face, and in person. Loneliness and depression are haunting people. Many people have adopted pets during the pandemic as one way to help fill this void and a positive benefit of pet adoption is that animal shelters are less full. As the lockdown started to lessen, one high risk grandmother said “I will risk dying if it means I can hug my grandkids again.” That summed up what mattered the most for her. She was not alone.

What do people also miss? Interestingly, it is the mundane routines. The former ease of going to a restaurant, getting groceries, meeting up with friends, watching a ball game, going to the park, getting a haircut, or catching a movie are either now gone or require an incredible amount of preparation and weighing the risk of the activity. People talk a lot about the foreignness of their everyday lives now and wishing for the return of normalcy. They were also very creative in ways to find normalcy – and still be safe.

What we used to just take for granted. Being able to purchase whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, with a wide product selection. At the beginning, we could not get toilet paper, then hand sanitizer and masks, then it evolved to disinfecting cleaners and now meats. People were shocked when they saw empty store shelves and “LIMIT of 1” in grocery stores and “out of stock” in on-line stores. We were used to having a limitless supply. In retrospect we may ask, did we really need 100 varieties of breakfast cereal or would 30 have been enough?

Another common theme centered around exercise and healthy eating. While many people have found time to exercise regularly others discovered that they are exercising less because of gym closures, added responsibilities, or lack of desire. However, most indicated that regular exercise was providing them with lower levels of stress.

Who we appreciate – healthcare workers, grocery store workers, drivers who deliver things to our homes, daycare workers, school teachers, cleaners, essential workers, and everyone who helps us work and live safely. There is a very long list of people to appreciate. Whenever you get the chance, thank them.

What we appreciate – being employed. A lot of people have lost their employment and don’t have great prospects for quick re-employment. The economic impacts cannot be minimized. For people who are employed, share by supporting a local food bank, tip the person who puts groceries in the back of your car, leave a surprise cash gift for the Amazon driver. Pay it forward.

Being able to find humor and laugh, builds resiliency. Finding humor, and sharing that with others, is a great coping strategy. Some light hearted musing about what else people are talking about includes: We don’t use our cars, our wardrobe, our frequent flyer miles, make-up and our alarm clocks nearly as much. And we do use our kitchens a lot more! Most people wished that they had bought stock in Amazon, Zoom, Costco, and Netflix and clearly value and appreciate high-speed Internet. And, our pets seem to either want their house back or for their pet parents to never leave them again. Seems to be no middle ground for our pets!

So, questions for us to consider. What matters the most to you? What do you miss? How are you coping and what have you changed so that you are mentally and physically strong?


About the Author: Brenda Edwards is the Executive Director of the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. She frequently writes about law firm management topics.