Pandemic Lesson #1: Flexibility

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

What have you had to be flexible about this year?  What has this taught you?

It’s not that we cannot make plans anymore.  It’s that we must be willing and able to change them, quickly and effectively, if we want to actually get anything done.  Move all primary care and primary/secondary education online?  Done.  Stop flying?  Okay.  Come back to work and school?  Sure.  Wait no, outbreak, go home again, please?  Fine.  Postpone big vacation 3…6 months… indefinitely…  *sigh*…we can deal.

Many of my patients are actually thriving in the new work from home normal.  Without the constant travel, jetlag, business dinners (the quadruple threat to acid reflux:  late, fatty, large, and full of alcohol), and long commutes, they sleep more and better, spend more time with family, exercise more, and eat healthier.  If all goes well, my executive health job may be obsolete in the next decade, hallelujah! 

Not everybody’s doing well, of course.  60% of the workforce still shows up in person; risk, stress, and burnout are very real, and escalating.  The people who are well are those with choice.  They are the privileged ones.

Most of us still don’t know how the new work life balance will look in the coming years, but we hope to retain and expand the flexibility that has given us some sense of agency and control.  Check out this episode of Hidden Brain to hear a Stanford work from home researcher on implications of this augmented world for all of us. 

What flexibility do you wish for in 2021?

Agency and control in the midst of a global pandemic—how ironic!  Pandemic lesson #2 may be Paradox and Polarities… The last 2020 NaBlo…  Wait for it…

Affective Polarization

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

How fun when learning occurs in clusters.  I linked to a recent Hidden Brain podast on my November 4 post.  It was the first time I had heard the term ‘affective polarization.’  Basically it means that we define and dislike people by only knowing their political party affiliation.  Today I listened to a series of theological essays addressing the same issue, from a Christian perspective.  I can’t wait to learn more.

Increasingly, we judge and relate to one another based on this one factor, which may or may not be important to how we define ourselves.  Apparently it’s a pretty new phenomenon, and escalating fast (surprise). 

The podcast discusses how we feel as and about people who are deeply involved in politics or not, and how that affects our attitudes and decisions about which relationships to enter, whom to hire, where to live, etc.  The essays explain further that it has to do with in- and out-group (tribal) identity, self-esteem, and meaning.  In 21st Century American culture, our politics identify us more than they used to—it has replaced religion in this way, perhaps.  But, he posits, while we have cultivated religious attitudes and practices “from dogmatism and fundamentalism toward a faith that is more tolerant, inclusive, peaceable and generous,” not so for politics.  Partisans on both sides are basically fundamentalists, and that carries important implications for violence— the new holy wars.

This may all seem rather alarmist.  But I bet anyone who hears the podcast or reads the articles will recognize and relate to much of their content.  The best outcome from consumption of these pieces will be a little more awareness, and a desire to monitor and modify how we relate, for the better.  Let’s get to it, shall we?