The Art of Doing

Are You More Positive Than You Think?

“I’m reframing the negative, thinking to myself, ‘In 10 years this will all be a memory.”
Illustration/Josh Gosfield

Go back to early 2020.  

If you had known your world would be turned upside down and that you’d be locked in your home, that you’d possibly lose your job or be forced to work a job that might make you sick, that you’d be kept away from family and friends, told to wear a mask, and become fearful for the lives of your loved ones, you might have assumed you’d lose it.

But guess what? You probably didn’t. You may have even surprised yourself with how well you adapted to a world gone mad.  

We’re not just making this up. This is based on a survey we conducted to find out how people responded, reacted, and adapted to life in a pandemic, posing such questions as what’s been hardest for you, what’s given you the most pleasure, and what have been your coping strategies. We called the survey “A Portrait of This Moment,” and sent it to a diverse group of hundreds of people from age 18 to 85, in a wide variety of socioeconomic circumstances, people who’ve been fired or furloughed, essential workers, people working from home, and students from high school to higher ed managing remote learning. We created this survey not only to gather information, but to offer people an opportunity to reflect upon their experiences. (If you’d like to take the survey yourself, here’s a link.)

When we created this survey, we expected to hear a lot about people’s pain, frustration, and anxiety. Obviously many people have worried about their health, jobs, and finances, their education or their children’s education, as has been documented in preliminary findings of a Census Bureau survey. But what surprised us most about the results was the spirit of positivity expressed by so many people.  

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