Let’s rewind to a few months ago. When we were able to go to the store but didn’t remove our AirPods. When we ordered coffee but never looked up from our phones to say hi.
Or when we held open the door for someone’s grandma but did it without a smile.
Now to the present: the world has paused while our emergency responders and essential personnel rise to save lives.
Now, we’re all craving some sort of healthy human interaction. Why did we ignore strangers in public? Forget to call our own family?
In a few months, when we can return to our routines — let’s remember this exact moment when the world stopped in crisis mode but mainly in heroism.
…when we realized we’re all fragile and human, no matter where we’re from, what we look like, or how much money we make. That how well we work together can save lives and, at the core, what we say to each other matters just as much.
Here’s what my quarantine and social distancing have taught me about my words:
1. We can just as easily show our love through our words.
An ‘almost’ face-to-face conversation has more impact than a generic string of texts.
An intentional, virtual conversation on the couch has suddenly meant more to me than any loud dinner at the latest trendy restaurant, where we’d all check our phones anyways. Virtual happy hours, Facetime, Google Duo… There are so many ways to take 5 minutes out of your day to tell someone you love them and show you care.
Also, ask questions to get to know someone. It can exponentially strengthen a relationship.
2. We all experience the same emotions.
Check the translations on the news, and headlines will read the same around the world. We’re all scared and rooting on humanity.
But also use this lesson to tell your children when someone else’s words are wrong. Stand up for the victim of a racially insensitive joke. When we don’t, we send a message that bad behavior will be tolerated. Think twice before you post that meme. Our words matter.
3. What we say has a ripple effect.
My bad mood can negatively impact someone’s day. Likewise, my one compliment to a stranger can spark an outward branch of positive exchanges — and keep going.
What about the people we know? Let’s skip giving out compliments on appearances, and let’s dig deeper and start complimenting their personalities.
4. Whatever happened to hand-writing letters?
I haven’t unpacked my office since moving into my house…and that was four years ago. Lately, it’s been nice tidying up and coming across pieces of nostalgia. Old notes on loose-leaf. Handwritten letters and postcards from friends and family. Memories are written on crumpled up napkins. A person’s handwriting is an extension of their personality and thoughts, and I hope this long-lost art doesn’t fade away.
5. Encouragement can go a long way.
I’m in a Facebook chat with a group of girls, and we share almost every facet of our lives. Lately, we’re rooting for our friend Heather, who’s working the frontlines as a nurse, and Rachael who is a (now virtual) teacher. Jess and Lai share photos of their sons to make us smile. Most important, I’ve learned it’s OK to ask for encouragement when I’m scared.
6. Reaching out to old friends… feels good.
Why do we hold ourselves back from a simple hello? What’s to lose, anyway?
7. I cannot control everything.
Sure, that’s a hard concept for a Type A perfectionistic planner like myself to grasp. But no matter how many times I write out my goals, things in life don’t always happen as planned.
8. But…I can control my words.
We’ve been given another warning that life is short. We’re all guilty for taking our loved ones for granted — and this global reminder should encourage us to speak with love at its fullest. Let’s promise to write or call our loved ones 15 times more than we used to, and let’s show our essential personnel way more love.
And when we’re finally allowed to swing open our doors and socialize, let’s remember when we really needed each other. There are always people listening in or on the receiving end of our words, whether we realize it or not.
We’re not just one person — today’s times are showing we can affect our entire network, bad and good.
So, let’s speak a little slower, more openly, and with a whole lot more kindness starting here on out.