Keeping the Greater Good in Mind During the Coronavirus Outbreak

March 14, 2020

Quote of the Week

"Self-absorption kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems [...] seem smaller and we increase our capacity for connection." -- Daniel Goleman

How To Keep The Greater Good In Mind During The Coronavirus Outbreak

"Why expect more cooperation and compassion in the face of an epidemic? Because, contrary to popular belief, crises often tend to bring out the best in people. A report that looked at how people responded during the September 11th Twin Tower attacks showed that people bent over backwards to help others escape, sometimes at great personal risk to themselves. Other reports on the aftermath of natural disasters show that strangers will stick out their necks for each other to help.

Research shows that protecting others is a huge motivator for doing the right thing. For example, one study looked at what prompts handwashing behavior in hospital doctors and nurses. Researchers found that signs saying, “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases,” were more effective at prompting handwashing than signs simply saying, “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases.” In other words, appealing to the health care workers’ altruistic care for their patients was more effective than appealing to their self-interest.

In fact, it may simply be human nature to be kind and helpful when others need us. In one recent study, children only four to five years old who were told that resisting a treat would benefit another child were better able to delay gratification than children told their actions would only affect themselves. Similarly, babies as young as 19 months old were willing to give food away to someone who appeared to need it, even when hungry themselves.

Of course, not everyone acts altruistically in these situations. So, what makes it more likely they will, and how can we use that to our advantage? Here are four ways we can encourage more altruism for fighting the virus." [read more]

Reading Corner

Title: Come With Me
By: Holly M. McGhee
Ages: 4-8

Why? "When the news reports are flooded with tales of hatred and fear, a girl asks her papa what she can do to make the world a better place. "Come with me," he says. Hand-in-hand, they walk to the subway, tipping their hats to those they meet. The next day, the girl asks her mama what she can do--her mama says, "Come with me," and together they set out for the grocery, because one person doesn't represent an entire race or the people of a land. After dinner that night, the little girl asks if she can do something of her own--walk the dog . . . and her parents let her go. "Come with me," the girl tells the boy across the hall. Walking together, one step at a time, the girl and the boy begin to see that as small and insignificant as their part may seem, it matters to the world. In this lyrical and timely story, author Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaitre champion the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty." -- Publisher

Be the Change

Brainstorm as a family one positive seed you can plant during this time of fear and uncertainty about the coronavirus. We can collectively change the narrative in our communities and in our own hearts when we each do our bit to plant seeds of goodness one small act at a time.

If your children are experiencing anxiety or emotional stress associated with what they've heard about coronavirus, you may find some helpful tips in this article about how to comfort them and help them to understand their feelings.