There is a lot to be discouraged about these days. From the threat of Covid and illness, to horrific inflation, to the tragedy in Uvalde, to the war in Ukraine, to the raging political turmoil on American soil, all of us feel unsettled. I have been thinking hard about how to remain optimistic and connected.
Here are three strategies I use that may help you: 1) finding a change of scenery, 2) returning to what is joyful, and, 3) introducing people who need to know each other.
Changing the Scenery to Gain Perspective
The news is in our faces all day every day, which makes it challenging not to feel anxious. For my own sanity, I am making choices that give me a break. One of those choices has been to seek out a place where life doesn't come at me quite so hard. To that end, I have been spending a lot of time in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The slower pace and the beauty of the outdoors calms my soul and gives me space and perspective on what matters.
Then when I return to New York City, I appreciate the contrast in energy and buzz. I recently attended a work event for New York's Women in Development at the iconic Plaza Hotel. Besides loving being in person again, another remarkable thing happened. At the close of the luncheon, my name was selected by the hotel manager as the winner of high tea for four at the Palm Court. I can't wait to redeem THAT gift certificate!
Finding Outlets for Enjoyment
Since growing up in Memphis playing the piano and performing in high school musicals, I dreamed of living in New York City and having access to live music and theater. When it came true, there has been nothing I love more than going to Broadway. Covid temporarily took that away. Now, I am happy to return to the source of so much enjoyment. Between March and May, I saw three shows, all of which I highly recommend: MJ the Musical, the Music Man, and Tina (hurry to this last one, as it closes August 14th.)
What is it that you enjoy most? Spending time with family? Travel? A new hobby? Whatever it is, do it now. We all have waited so long to find joy. Do what you delight in. It will focus you and keep you grounded.
Before Covid, we took being connected for granted. During the forced separations that Covid demanded, we learned about the serious impact of isolation on our mental health. Sustaining and building connections is a must for support and happiness.
Whenever I see New York City from the sky, I marvel at the millions of people who live so close together.
Yet many feel lonely.
What's the solution to building connections? My favorite way is to ask for and make introductions. Here's a recent story that may inspire you to think about the power of introductions. One evening last week, a message popped into my Facebook account. Here is what the sender wrote: "Hi, Ms. Louden: I had dinner with Sierra and she lovvvvvvves you (as do I.) Just wanted to thank you for the intro... you are our hero!" I knew only one person named Sierra. True, I was connected to both her and the sender, but I was in New York, Sierra is in Texas, and the young man who wrote is all over the world! Two hours later Sierra sent me a text and photo verifying they had connected. "We did meet and both of us agreed that we would love to aspire to (basically be you) to impact as many lives as you have. Thankful for what you have done for both of us..." I was delighted and grateful not only that they had connected, but that both of them - independently of each other - took the time to let me know that my introduction mattered.
Whose Hero Are You?
Remember that someone out there thinks of you as a hero. Who is it? Family? Professional colleagues? Friends? Acquaintances? I hope you know you are a hero. And I hope you tell your heroes what they mean to you. Wishing you much connection success and a joyful, perspective-filled summer.