5 Ways to Act with Courage During the Coronavirus Crisis
It was Winston Churchill who said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”. The current COVID-19 crisis is a time when we can react with fear or choose to act with courage. When I think of courage, I think of a classic superhero, of policemen, firemen, EMS workers, the men and women of the armed forces, the doctors and nurses on the front line of this healthcare crisis. Thosepeople have courage, but what does courage mean for the everyday man or woman trying to navigate this scary, new environment? Is it possible for us to act with courage? Yes! Even in this angst-producing environment, courage is an option for everyone – and it’s easier to practice than you think. Here are 5 simple ways to incorporate courage into your daily life.
We all know the importance of maintaining a safe social distance one from another during this crisis; well and good, but let’s not forget that social distancing doesn’t imply a denial of the social graces. Smiling – that simple act – forces us to step outside our shell of fear and, if just for a minute, think about the other guy – and thinking about the other guy is the bedrock of courage. So, the next time you find yourself stepping away from someone as an act of social distancing, do so with a smile. It carries much further than 6 feet.
Hold your fire.
Everyone has an opinion about everything right now: this one doesn’t know what he’s doing, that one isn’t doing it right, no one’s doing enough, everyone is overreacting or underreporting, and somebody, somewhere, really ought to do something! During times of great social upheaval, strongly held opinions are understandable; we’re all living with a great deal of uncertainty and we’re looking for a clear line in the sand – a line we can step over into the peaceful paradise of personal safety. But let’s face it, even the wisest of men and women, around the world, are stymied by this virus. For a little while at least, we are in its grip. Let’s act with courage and support, rather than bash and berate, those who are at least trying to find answers for us.
Donate a dollar.
Yes, I’m familiar with the economic woes this virus has created and they are real, impactful, and may be long-lasting, but donating just a dollar a day to some cause – any cause – that you believe in is a wonderful act of gratitude – and it takes courage to act with gratitude when times are tough. Donate your dollar to a local business and it says, “I believe in you”, donate it to a homeless shelter and it puts a completely different spin on “together we can get through this”; donate your dollar to an international aid organization and it says, “we are just like you; we understand”; donate your hundred pennies to a food bank and it says “I have so much to be thankful for”. Don’t think your dollar will make a difference? Remember what the great John Wooten said: “…little things make big things happen”. Donate a dollar a day and find out for yourself. I promise you’ll gain courage in the process.
Watch out for your buddy.
When you’re stressed – about your health, your bank balance, your job security, or just the general state of the world, it’s time to get out of your own mind (it’s too small a place for you!) and get into the real world – the one where you know that there are people worse off than you are. Somewhere out there is a buddy who needs you to watch his or her back. There is an elderly neighbor who needs you to grocery shop for her; there is a work colleague who’s a single mom that has a kid with special needs – she could use some extra help right now; there is your next door neighbor who was laid off – he needs some encouragement; the shelter downtown needs a volunteer to deliver meals this Saturday. In this time of uncertainty, create a safe haven for someone and watch out for your buddy – that’s the stuff heroes are made of.
Humans need beauty, in all forms, all the time, in order to maintain mental health and thrive. During this time, when we’re distancing, isolating, quarantining, and locking down our lives, don’t forget to keep creating beauty. Beauty keeps us connected and safe in ways that very little else can; it creates hope and builds joy. In a world tilted sideways, beauty gives us balance. Whether it’s setting the table for tea, carving a beautiful bowl, making a homemade hip-hop music video, singing in the shower, or just working on a paint-by-the-numbers, this is the time to do more of it. When times are uncertain and the world is a scary place, to create beauty is to quietly shout back at life: “you can’t get me down”. It’s a true act of courage; maybe the most important one of all.