Laugher in the face of adversity is a well-known phrase, and as Mark Twain rightly said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” It’s one thing we can do, and help others to do, even when we really don’t feel like it.
Psychology Today puts it like this:
‘Laughter could be most properly considered as a weapon against suffering and despair. If we can joke about a disappointing or traumatic event, we’ll often find ourselves feeling that what’s happened to us isn’t so bad and that we’ll be able to get through it. This expectation serves two vitally important functions:
- it diminishes or even eliminates the moment-by-moment suffering we might otherwise experience as a result of a traumatic loss
- it actually makes it more likely we will make it through a trauma unmarred and flourish once again.
Being able to laugh at traumatic events in our own lives doesn’t cause us to ignore them, but instead seems to prepare us to endure them.’
(Excerpt taken from Psychology Today online blog ‘Why we laugh’.)
There are various online video-calling platforms available to enable virtual face-to-face chat and fun. Since our new Rambutan remote working policy, we’ve set up a Microsoft Teams conference call to check-in every morning, find out how we’re all feeling and generally have a bit of banter; on screen. Conference calls don’t have to be just about business… they can provide some seriously funny moments too!
Another great morale-lifter that’s been well-documented on social media of late is a ‘coming together’ of communities; a sort of solidarity against adversity.
With the elderly and the vulnerable at greater risk than the majority of us, I’ve seen many offers of voluntary aid in getting supplies delivered to those less able. Taxi drivers have started transporting elderly people to the shops, helping with the shopping, and carrying them back home at no cost. Facebook groups across the globe have been set up offering help to those that need it, in whatever form. A colleague of mine has elderly parents living in Spain, who are now being provided shopping supplies by a neighbour thanks to an appeal on Facebook. In the UK shops began catering specifically for the elderly and there have been offers of benefits to our National Health Service workers too, therefore supporting those that support us.
However hard we find it as an individual, it’s heart-warming to see how society really has come together for good.
It seems the majority of us tend towards a more ‘altruistic’ nature, particularly during times of emotional stress. I found this explanation of the psychology of altruism particularly interesting.
An appreciation, too, of the kind acts of others has been well documented lately. Most of us will have seen the video of the Spanish and Italian people out on their balconies clapping the efforts of the health workers on the streets below. Truly uplifting and demonstrative of a much-needed empathic psyche.
Now, here’s where we can REALLY make a difference to our mindset.
A lot of us will be finding ourselves stuck at home, with perhaps a little more time on our hands. I’ve seen many inspiring ideas suggested all over social media, with what we can do with our extra gift of time. So, for starters here’s a list of some cool, positive ideas to focus on:
- set up a social media video group (there are many to choose from, for example Microsoft Teams, Zoom or WhatsApp to name a few) for you and your family/friends to stay in regular contact. Video calls will never quite replace the preferred face-to-face contact, but they can go a long way in helping alleviate the loneliness of social distancing and isolation
- read a book. Watch a video tutorial. There’s a plethora of learning opportunities out there. Perhaps study first aid. (According to ‘Change the world for a fiver’ it takes only two hours to learn how to save a life. Just one suggestion from this great little book.)
- clean! Scrub those cupboards, surfaces, windows and give your house the makeover it’s been needing all that time you were busy doing other stuff
- do some gardening. As the weather gets warmer and hopefully sunnier, get out there and make your garden look the best it’s done in ages. Plant things. Grow your own veg!
- get creative. I’ve seen a huge influx of frustrated musicians, artists and suchlike making videos, pictures, writing songs; more often than not humorous takes on the whole unsettled situation we find ourselves in. Some of the most amazing art can come from the most frustrated minds. Here’s a lovely example
- cook more. Experiment. Cooking can be very therapeutic and who knows, you may find you’re actually a Delia Smith or Vikas Khanna in the making!
- add your own. Think about what you can do to help yourself and your mindset, and even better, help others with theirs too
To finish, I’d like to round up with a really beautiful positive that’s currently happening to our world.
Reports show that the water in the canals of Venice have cleared massively. Dolphins have been spotted swimming in Southern Italy. There’s been a significant drop in air pollution in main cities.
The earth is getting a well-needed break from human traffic through its temporary shutdown. Surely there’s a way we can learn from this and change the way we do things from now on?
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in this world.”