Impact Insights

Finding Optimism in Challenging Times

Matt Duncan

I won’t waste much time elaborating on the “challenging times” part of the title. We’re all living it and don’t need the negativity of further reminders. Instead, I’ll offer a few concepts and ideas on which I’m focusing these days to remain positive and optimistic. If it helps any of you just a little, mission accomplished.

1. A resurgence of kindness, civility and connectedness. I truly hope that when we all emerge from physical distancing (and we will), the newly pervasive feelings of goodwill toward our fellow citizens will persevere. I now have even more gratitude for the front-line healthcare workers for whom our own careers serve. I’ve also gained much appreciation for workers in all food industries, sanitation, teaching, public safety and transportation, home delivery, infrastructure industries (can you imagine these times without electricity, water or internet?), and so many other fields. We are all connected, everything and everyone.

2. A chance to heal a bit? If you believe at all in the concept of karma, it’s hard to deny that the Earth’s health might be a silver lining here. The obvious negative economic impacts of reducing traffic, manufacturing, etc., just might be somewhat offset by allowing the planet to “catch its breath,” if not begin to heal from decades of abuse. Maybe it’s my imagination, but the air smells much fresher on the increasing number of dog walks I take each day.

3. Establishing virtual connections. The aspect of becoming a full-time remote workforce that I’ve most enjoyed is spending quality videoconferencing time with my friends and colleagues. After working with many of these folks for over 15 years, I’m actually seeing them “in person” more than ever! Bonus: Almost every conversation begins with talk about how we’re each doing, and it’s not just a superficial conversation starter.

4. Finding another metric to obsess over. At some point, you have to take a break from COVID-19 news updates and find a substitute. For me, it was watching the “blooms and buds” counts rise exponentially on the bush outside my office window – a much healthier KPI! And it’s inspired my wife and I to finally take on a massive landscaping project on the weekends.

5. Catching up on 20 years of really great entertainment. Thank you, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO! The abundance of shows available has made each night something to look forward to and really eased my suffering without sports to watch.

So, times are pretty rough right now, but everything is impermanent. Whatever new world order emerges will likely be a better place for all of us. Stay healthy and safe!