Finding Contentment and Creativity during Social Isolation
Can the nature of hope and possibility help us find that good feeling?
(published on 4/14/20 in Thrive Global)
By Deborah Baron, Executive, Leadership and Transformative Life Coach
I heard two very different stories this week that got me thinking about the nature of hope, the nature of possibility and where we find that thing we call “feeling good”.
The first was a story on the Today Show about musician Ryan Tedder. Ryan was touring with his band in Europe as Covid-19 was beginning to take hold of the world. He got on a plane to fly home and upon landing his phone rang. It was a call from a band member and friend that he had been traveling with telling Ryan that his friend had just tested positive for Covid-19. Ryan had been headed home to be with his family and was instead heading into a 2-week quarantine. He moved into his studio/airstream trailer and went into isolation. This story was about the creativity and optimism that was coming out of Ryan’s trailer in the form of new songs and funny videos. It was a story of optimism, hope, creativity and possibility.
The second was a story in the newspaper about a woman who was socially isolating at home. She lives alone and suffers from depression. The story talked about her struggles in being unable to do the things that she usually does to stay out of her depression. The fact that she can’t go to the gym, out with her friends or out to restaurants. What is the difference between these two experiences? And is there something to see here that can bring hope to those feeling lonely and sad?
My disclaimer: Now, before you get defensive, I know that there are biological differences in individuals that suffer from depression. My hope in writing this is not to minimize anyone’s suffering or to suggest that they are doing anything wrong. I’m just wondering what we can learn from those who feel good about being alone. Can it suggest a glimmer of possibility for those who don’t? Looking Within: I heard a friend and colleague the other day talk about her own discomfort, while she was suffering from anxiety, with the suggestion of “looking within”. What she said was that when she “looked within” all that she found was her anxiety. It didn’t help. That was, until she saw that there was a space that was even deeper within. As she described it, a space that holds all of us. A deep spiritual, universal energy. We can see this universal energy all around us, especially at this time of the year. When I look outside I can see new green leaves peaking out of the tree branches. How do they know how to do that? There are two bird nests in my yard, so cool! How do they know how to do that? And the pink dogwood trees in my backyard always know how to bloom pink dogwoods in the spring. They never bloom daisies. They never even bloom white dogwoods. Oh, and by the way, your heart beats without you ever needing to think about it as does the blood know how to flow through you body. What incredible wisdom!
So, what I have come to see, is that this level of wisdom is available to each and every one of us, every day, all the time. It is the wisdom that we were born with, that gave us the inspiration to learn to crawl and walk. This wisdom brings new ideas and is always available to us when we look deeper than our personal thinking.
That said, I know we can’t choose the thoughts that show up in our heads. But we can choose to give them significance or not and we can always go looking for new thought. The story I read in the newspaper about the woman feeling sad at home shows how our thinking can affect our experience. And in contrast, Ryan Tedder’s thinking is bringing him a wealth of creativity and possibility. So, here is my hope, for each and every one of us. Take a minute. Notice that your experience is coming from your thinking, and that no matter how much it seems like it, your thinking is not coming from your experience. And in that moment of noticing, look inside. Deep inside… even deeper. Past the thinking to the space before thought. This is the space of possibility. This is the space of love. And when you feel it, stay there as long as you can. Feel it in every corner of your being, in your skin and in your bones. And there, you may just find some hope.
Deborah Baron is a Transformative Leadership Coach who helps her clients achieve more than they ever thought possible. Sign up for her “Back of the Napkin Coaching” blog at www.deborahbaron.com.