Who would have predicted the changes we have witnessed and lived through over the past few months? Certainly not me. While it has been an appalling time with much suffering and fear, the beauty of human nature has once again revealed itself during these unprecedented times.
Take your mind back to the first few weeks of lockdown. We were told to stay inside except to exercise and do essential shopping. We were not able to see friends and family and loneliness for some, especially those who live alone, was an unwanted and unexpected experience.
It was during this time that I noticed how we are connecting in novel ways. People who haven’t seen each other for years are connecting by phone or zoom. Taking the time to listen and share their life again. Reminding themselves of shared past experiences and possibly planning new ones for when life becomes socially normal again. Families and friends who live apart started connecting with group online meetings and joined in with quizzes and choirs together despite being geographically remote. The underlying need for positive connection with others is a deep-seated driving force in the human psyche.
Care and Consideration
Outside I have noticed care and consideration between people. For example, at the park I have observed people and how they stop at a safe distance and carry out a conversation. The conversations can be lengthy, they don’t seem to want to move on, it’s as if they want to draw out the company for as long as possible. Neighbourhood support groups were set up, making sure the most vulnerable were supported and providing a point of contact for general day to day living. Outside neighbours sat in their own garden and chatted across fences at a safe distance. And when I walked along I noticed that more people smiled and made eye contact, it was if they were saying we all have something in common, we are all going through these strange times together and learning how to adapt.
A Return to Socialising
Now there is another change we are adjusting to. Society is gradually being opened up and who knows how open it will be by the time this is published? This change brings both new hope and new fears. Hope for each other, for seeing loved ones, for getting back to work. And fears, such as can we protect each other and ourselves. This is where the powerful science-backed positive psychology interventions can help us.
While the brain is very clever, its primary job is to keep us safe, hence it has a negativity bias, scanning the environment for potential threats. However, that is not always the best thing for us, which is why it is important to take conscious, deliberate actions to increase positive emotions to help counter the negativity bias.
Positive Psychology Interventions
Keeping a gratitude journal keeps our attention on the positive in a situation. Sometimes it can be hard to find that positive and I believe that this is when we need to shift our focus the most. Continuing to do those Random Acts of Kindness that I have seen during lockdown and identifying what we can do to help the situation can bring a sense of control and contribution. This reduces negative emotions and builds positive ones.
Conscious, deliberate acts will eventually become automatic if repeated enough. If we carry out actions that bring positive emotions, then these emotions will also become more automatic increasing our resilience. As a society, we need that at the moment.
Let me know what actions you are taking to boost your positive emotions.
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