Using Prosocial Emotions to Lift Us Up!

We are learning, stretching, growing even if it feels that we are isolating and folding in on ourselves. The global pandemic is creating a new normal in the world that includes social distancing and voluntary isolation. Many of us feel some anxiety and potentially the beginnings of depression as we are uncertain about our future and cut off from our fellow humans. 

To combat these feelings, we can cultivate positive and prosocial emotions. Prosocial emotions provide a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and offer us a way to connect and lift each other up.  These emotions include curiosity, surprise, amusement, gratitude, kindness and awe. Interestingly, these emotional states also spark creativity and lift us out of boredom which may be feeding the depression settling in.  Try some of these action items to boost your mood and lift others up!

  1. Look for acts of moral elevation.  What are people doing right now that is inspiring you. I have seen people sewing masks for healthcare workers, donating time in food drives, live streaming yoga and meditation sessions, and shopping for elderly neighbors.
  2. Create small rituals at home and throughout your community. Rituals help to ground us in the present and can foster a sense of belonging in a community. Community rituals lead to collective effervescence where the energy in one person bubbles up and inspires another person to shine. In my neighborhood people have been going outside their homes at 8pm to “howl in support” of our healthcare workers. The neighborhood becomes alive with collective effervescent howling washing over everyone listening!
  3. Control what you are able to control right now, the amount of news that you consume, what you eat, how you are exercising and sleeping.  These small acts of self-care really do go a long way!
  4. Practice gratitude. Write down or share with your family the things that you are grateful for each day. You will begin to start looking for things that you appreciate and that are going well.  We need gratitude practice now more than ever as we walk this unknown path together.
  5. Be kind and share compassion…especially with your teenagers at home. Everyone is effected by our shelter in place practice and some more than others. Having a compassionate heart will help you relate to another’s experience and find solutions in a creative way. Sometimes the solution is doing nothing, but listening to another without judgement.

And remember to reach out if you are able to help someone or lift someone up!

You may also like