We can find positive aspects of nearly any situation if we look for them, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.
Some people have been opting to shelter in place for weeks, and the number of Minnesotans doing so is likely to increase as the result of the “stay at home” executive order issued by Governor Tim Walz this week.
However, rather than using this as an excuse to become even more isolated, many people have been finding creative ways to re-connect with others while maintaining appropriate social distancing.
In recent years, our reliance on electronic devices has resulted in less personal interaction, even when people are in the same room.
Perhaps that’s why it has been so refreshing to see photos and read about people who are using the current situation as an opportunity to get back to basics, and engage with family members doing simple things like playing board games or assembling jigsaw puzzles.
I’ve also seen wonderful examples of people finding ways to interact with their neighbors, again while maintaining a safe social distance.
One popular activity has been informal exercise groups. Not only is this a healthy way to stay active during this challenging time, but it can provide a fun opportunity to connect with others.
In some areas, groups of neighbors have gathered at a safe distance to pass the time together, perhaps for a coffee break, or a happy hour during which neighbors enjoy a refreshing adult beverage or two.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a shared experience, but there’s no reason it needs to be a negative one, nor does it need to force us into isolation.
Videos from around the world demonstrate this. In Italy, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, neighbors have been stepping out onto their balconies, singing songs, and playing music with others on their street.
Another kind of interaction is illustrated by the “bear hunts” promoted by the Rochester Public Library.
Members of the public are encouraged to put stuffed teddy bears in their windows.
Families who are out for a walk then try to find as many bears as they can.
If we adopt the right attitude, this crisis can be a positive experience that brings us closer together.
By forcing us to change our normal routines, it can also offer opportunity for growth.
We might use this time to catch up on some reading we have been wanting to do, work on a hobby, or learn a new skill.
The opportunities are limitless if we put our minds to it.
In today’s complex world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being busy for the sake of being busy, and we may forget to take time to enjoy the simple things in life.
A shared experience like a pandemic might be just what we need to shake things up and break out of a rut.
We’re all in this together, and if we remain calm, take care of one another, and look for positive ways to respond to the situation, we’ll be just fine.
There are many things in life we can’t control, but we always have a choice when it comes to the way we react.
In a world that seems to be spiralling out of control, taking a deep breath and getting back to basics might be a good way to start.