Creating Joy in the Face of Disaster: An Optimistic Human Trait During Uncertain Times

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“Disaster doesn’t sort us out by preferences; it drags us into emergencies that require we act, and act altruistically, bravely, and with initiative in order to survive or save the neighbors, no matter how we vote or what we do for a living (Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster).”

The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic is an unprecedented event that is unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetime. There is often much fear during times of disaster and uncertainty. With the large amount of alarming and negative statistics and information being released daily, it is very important to highlight the bright side of a situation like this.

Although it is a common myth that human beings become more adversarial and selfish during times of crisis; there is a large body of evidence that shows crisis brings us together and leads to more collaboration and positive social behavior. This means we tend to support one another more, bringing the best out in humanity.

  • According to Rebecca Solnit, “Just as many machines reset themselves to their original settings after a power outage, human beings reset themselves to something altruistic, communitarian, resourceful and imaginative after a disaster, that we revert to something we already know how to do. The possibility of paradise is already within us as a default setting.” Take this time during which life seems to be at a standstill, and use it as an opportunity to reset and get your priorities straight.
  • In a collective effort for the greater good, people world-wide have come together to follow social distancing orders and be temporarily inconvenienced. New research suggests that this approach is working. This global, community-based approach is dependent on everyone’s efforts to work together.
  • Scientists and world leaders are collaborating internationally; they have removed all preexisting political notions in a fight for the better. Never before, researchers say, have so many experts from various countries focused simultaneously and collaboratively on a single topic with such urgency. Normal imperatives have been set aside. “I never hear scientists — true scientists, speak in terms of nationality,” said Dr. Francesco Perrone, who is leading a coronavirus clinical trial in Italy. “My nation, your nation. My language, your language. My geographic location, your geographic location. This is something that is really distant from true top-level scientists.”

You may be personally witnessing this on a micro level in your own neighborhood with friends or distant contacts and colleagues. People are reaching out, showing acts of kindness, and offering support to loved ones as well as strangers.

I would like to invite you to look at how we can amplify this behavior. How can we reach out and create more social bonds and strengthen the bonds that we already have? The importance of social connection to our health and well-being is especially important during a time of crisis. Here are some ways to stay connected and amplify the above behaviors in your own community:

  • Reach out to people you haven’t been in contact with as much and connect on a deeper level.
  • Find a way to be of service to your local community and neighborhood.
  • Help neighbors and the elderly with creative communication methods.

And maybe, just maybe, humankind can keep up this behavior when all this has passed. “It’s tempting to ask why if you fed your neighbors during the time of the earthquake and fire, you didn’t do so before or after (Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster).” Don’t let your kind words and acts of service cease when this disaster subsides.

About the Author:

Giselle Birang received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Giselle has over 10 years of experience working in the health and fitness industry, and is currently a certified Pilates instructor and a Holistic Nutritionist. It’s no secret that both health and fitness are her passion, but more importantly, that she takes pride in effectively communicating holistic health and wellness to others. Now, working for BaySport’s Corporate Wellness Division as the Wellness Communications Specialist, Giselle marries her passion for fitness and health with writing and communicating wellness to the corporate world.

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