by Kim Wadsworth
In a world where so much bad news has been front and center, try sharing something good to inspire a more positive outlook.
After nearly a year of COVID-19 restrictions, our daily lives have been divided into remote realms of socially distant interactions that stymie affection, conversations and even smiles. The phrase “sharing is caring” may seem cliche but its meaning has more significance than ever. Trademarked by The Salvation Army in 1950, the idea transcends tangible things, such as the gifts and meals for the elderly, sick and underprivileged for which the organization coined the phrase. It’s a learned behavior that can always use some fine-tuning, so seek opportunities to spark more joy for yourself and others through sharing – whether that be your time, words of encouragement or a simple token.
Norfolk-based artist and teacher Luisa Adelfio, her husband and their two college-aged daughters have transformed their home into a workspace for four. Gone are the days of announcing their comings and goings. With meetings, classes and constant Zoom calls all happening within their four walls, life is different.
“Now we assume someone is on a virtual meeting somewhere in the house, so it simplifies our approach: no calling, no shouting and no arguing during work hours,” Adelfio says.
According to Adelfio, they’ve taken a new approach to sharing space and household responsibilities. Family members communicate their daily schedules and delegate cooking to whomever doesn’t have afternoon or evening calls. Those tied up until dinner can expect a set table, a glass of wine and a hot meal. In turn, whoever cooks is exempt from the dishes, and cleanup is an opportunity to discuss the events of the day.
“We are so used to our independent lives. It’s tough to be in the same space 24/7 and yet it has been a blessing during this pandemic,” Adelfio says. “Togetherness with loved ones while creating new rituals like popcorn and hot chocolate every day at 4 p.m., random espresso breaks and getting a walk or run in daily are fundamental parts of our day that say ‘I love you’ with our actions.”
For children, the notion of sharing is all about compromise and fairness. If you give a little, you get a little. It teaches us the importance of taking care of others, which brings joy to all. According to LiveHappy.com, a platform that offers advice and opinions by experts about meaningful and contented living, sharing in all its forms is a powerful way to create happiness. It can be anything that might be special to you, such as a book, a favorite tool or a recipe. Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Sharing a compliment, some good news or even a (masked) smile are signs you’re thinking of others.
In a time when a lot of correspondence arrives in the form of a text or email, a hand-written card that delivers the pleasure of opening an envelope can be rewarding, says Joyce Hoffmann, associate professor of English at Old Dominion University. “Just sharing a sentiment like, ‘I miss you’ or ‘I can’t wait to see your smile again’ is a personal gift that only costs a card and a stamp.”
A shared workspace is the fertile environment any organization needs to be productive and grow, but when COVID-19 forced many coworkers home, ready collaboration was sent packing with them. Erik Neil, director of the Chrysler Museum of Art, is well aware of how sharing ideas widens perspective. In response to the pandemic, the museum took advantage of the technology available to them to maximize the staff’s ability to collaborate while limiting feelings of isolation.
On Election Day, Neil initiated a “wellness day” and encouraged everyone to vote and not do any work. “Go for a run, get pampered, read a book or meditate – no strings attached,” was the mandate, Neil says. “I just felt like everyone could use a breather.”
He praises the museum’s 2020 exhibition, Come Together, Right Now: The Art of Gathering, as emblematic of our shared experience during the pandemic. The curatorial staff organized the in-house collection, guided by input they received from numerous sources, including the museum’s own security staff and community members.
The exhibition’s description sums up the challenges of our shared experiences perfectly: “Artwork reminds us of the value of community and prompts us to consider creative solutions to the impediments we face as we work to come together.”
Kim Wadsworth has been a source of etiquette protocol for 20 years. Her company, Southern Charming, offers consulting on communication and social skills essential to personal and professional success.