By Kitty Schur
Founder, The Collective Rising
The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for even the most optimistic of us to stay positive. This virus is life-threatening, and safety precautions need to be taken seriously. However, that doesn’t mean we all should be living in a constant state of fear and stress.
With all the tragedy happening in the world, now might seem like an unusual time to talk about the importance of positivity and seeking joy. However, now, more than ever, it is time for us to be proactive and create small moments of happiness in each of our everyday lives.
Research has proven that positive emotions help us undo the negative effects of stress on our mental and physical health.
Positive emotions can benefit us in the following ways:
They increase our resilience.
Research has shown that when we experience positive emotions immediately following a stressful event, we bounce back more quickly and have a faster cardiovascular recovery time – our heart rate lowers, and our blood pressure stabilizes more quickly.
They increase our immunity.
A study where people were deliberately infected with the influenza virus found that those people who were experiencing positive emotions when infected were more likely to fight off the symptoms, while people who lacked positive emotions were 2.9 times more likely to contract the illness.
They increase our mental clarity.
The way we feel influences the way we think. Positive emotions boost our problem-solving abilities as well as our judgment, decision-making, cognitive flexibility, and creativity.
In times of immense stress and uncertainty, we must commit to the pursuit of fostering positive emotions and aligning with our true purpose.
How to foster positive emotions:
Focus on the good you have.
Even during quarantine, we are each graced with dozens of small blessings each day - from a comfy bed to sleep on, a delicious cup of tea each morning, a warm shower at night, and so on. When we pause to “take in” and appreciate these small moments rather than rush through them on auto-pilot, we give our brain a chance to process pleasure, which boosts our serotonin levels, and in turn, helps elevate our mood and make us feel calm.
Look for the good in others.
Focus on the good in the world. Yes, crises like this can bring out the worst in human nature (fights breaking out over toilet paper is a new low), but they can also bring out the very best. There are a lot of people doing a lot of good right now. Scientists are researching vaccines and cures. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are putting their lives on the line to care for the sick. Businesses are setting up funds and are exploring alternative ways to care for their employees. Individuals are donating money to help make sure those in need have their basic necessities taken care of. Let yourself be inspired by all this good. Focus on these actions of hope and unity rather than unnecessary drama.
Purpose and the coronavirus:
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many individuals to re-consider what their life’s purpose is. Purpose is critical to achieving personal fulfillment and finding meaning in life. Purpose can be found in nearly anything - what we derive meaning from is entirely up to us.
Interestingly, people who have the ability to find purpose, even when faced with horrifying news, terrifying uncertainty, and isolation, are far more resilient and are more likely to survive and thrive than those who are unable to find purpose.
Viktor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, and author of the book Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” His words should serve as a call to action for all of humanity today.
Committing to purpose and positive thinking will not cure the coronavirus, but may help mitigate its lasting effects and enable humanity to heal collectively.
If you’re a woman seeking support right now, please request an invitation to join The Collective Rising, a digital membership community designed to facilitate newfound access to opportunities for discovery, recognition, and advancement for women globally.
This article was written by Kitty Schur. You can learn more about Kitty by visiting her personal website here.