I think some of us are surprised by what has become most important to us as a society over these past four months.
Take, for example, the most basic of our needs, something as simple as air and food.
Pre-pandemic we may have been worried about air quality if it was allergy season, but now being able to breathe virus-free air is of top priority.
Before COVID most of us may have considered grocery shopping a bit of a chore. However, now that it is elevated to an “essential activity” and permits us to leave our homes, we are eager to go to the supermarket.
In the early days of the coronavirus, shopping was like a scavenger hunt. Will today be the day I find yeast, flour or rice? Who knew how much we’d valued those items that we previously took for granted?
Before the virus, cooking and baking may have been a source of creativity or comfort for a segment of the population, but now that group has grown exponentially. The phenomenon even has a name—culinary art therapy or quarantine baking.
Many find it soothing and comforting to make recipes they are familiar with. Making these dishes provides a sense of normalcy, which many people are craving.
If we follow Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after the basic needs for human survival like air, food, drink and shelter, we see safety as the second-level need, and clearly that comes to the forefront during this pandemic. Washing hands, wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance provide us a level of control over our own safety and have become the new normal in our lives.
Once our basic survival and safety needs are covered, the need for love and belonging is next on Maslow’s list.
How important video technology has become: for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education and social relations.
To feed our need for interpersonal connection, we have virtual book clubs, virtual birthday parties, virtual happy hours and virtual family reunions. We even have new phrases to add to our vocabulary, like “zappy hour” (Zoom happy hour) and “zoombombing” (hijacking a videoconference call).
The fourth level in the hierarchy of needs includes the desire for respect from others and esteem for oneself. Respect has taken on a new form in this COVID time. Wearing a mask is seen as a form of respect and demonstrates that we value others’ lives.
Refraining from gathering in large groups, staying physically distanced and taking extra precautions when around older adults are important ways to show consideration for the seniors in our lives.
It’s interesting to me that this fourth level of need stirs divisiveness. Some people feel being mandated to wear a mask interferes with their independence. Most others feel that wearing a mask is a form of respect for others.
It’s clearly a battle that I never thought would be here at this place and time.
The fifth level of need, according to Maslow, is self-actualization, which can be described as the fulfillment of one’s talents and potential. Self-actualization involves personal growth.
While in the media bad news abounds, if we look we can see so many acts of extreme kindness, empathy and charity all around us.
Whether it’s supermarkets establishing “older adult hours,” people singing from their balconies in a show of solidarity, neighbors delivering meals to isolated and vulnerable seniors, animal shelters becoming empty as people foster dogs—so many people are rising to be their very best selves at this time of uncertainty.
Acts of generosity are happening every day.
Coronavirus has been a tremendous jolt to our society in so many ways. How each of us adapts to meet our own needs, as well as society’s, will be a lesson on resilience for generations to come.
How are you adapting?