As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause mass disruption, it’s essential to acknowledge the acts of generosity, courage, and compassion that occur every day, especially by doctors, nurses, and other essential workers who daily put their lives at risk in order to save others and keep our society afloat.
With people desperate for hope and inspiration in the midst of so much troubling news, the demand for good news has spiked as well.
Uplifting stories can help us remember that sometimes terrible circumstances can serve to bring out the best in us. Here is a small sampling of some of the ways people are stepping up and reaching out to help each other.
- People around the world have shown solidarity and appreciation for healthcare workers and each other by coming together to sing, play music, and applaud from their homes.1
- Children have also been showing support for healthcare workers and spreading joy to everyone by posting rainbows in windows.2
- Many of the world’s largest companies, such as General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever, have partnered with the World Economic Forum and World Health Organization in a coordinated global effort to galvanize the global business community and protect people’s lives and livelihoods.3 (Hopefully, businesses will continue to align their financial interests with social and environmental concerns.)
- Air quality has improved around the world, for example in Los Angeles,4 where the infamous smog has lifted, and in northern India,5 where the snow-capped Himalayas are visible again for the first time in decades. (Again, hopefully, the global economy will commit to being more environmentally sustainable in the future.)
- Italian star Andrea Bocelli live-streamed an Easter Sunday concert, called “Music for Hope,” from an empty cathedral in Milan to millions of viewers around the world.
- DJ D-Nice launched the Club Quarantine dance party via Instagram, uniting people around the world through soulful music and attracting a long list of celebrities from Snoop Dogg to Michelle Obama.6
- Chinese billionaires and Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai donated massive amounts of medical and personal protective equipment to locations around the world including Africa and New York City.7,8
- Scientists around the world have been collaborating at an unprecedented level,9 with many countries so urgently focused on this issue that nearly all other research has ground to a halt.
- In late March, New York State temporarily suspended rules preventing graduates of foreign medical schools from practicing medicine so they could assist overwhelmed doctors and nurses.10
- Mario Salerno provided a great example of landlords acting with generosity and compassion when he waived April payments for the tenants of 18 apartment buildings he owns in Brooklyn.11
These stories illustrate some of the inspiring ways people around the world are coming together to support each other when it’s needed most.
I’ve been happy to learn of several more examples here in Portland, Maine, where I live. LL Bean was boxing food for Good Shepherd Food Bank and also making personal protective equipment.12,13 Flowfold, an outdoor and travel gear manufacturer, suspended production of its typical product lines to manufacture protective gear for hospitals.14 Breweries and distilleries worked with the University of Maine to make and distribute hand sanitizer.15 And a small bakery raised money to make pizza to feed staff at the local medical center.
And personally, as challenging as these last weeks have been in some ways, there have been many bright spots as well. I am spending more time with my daughter, and taking long walks along the water regularly. I’ve organized weekly video calls with my whole family, who live in different parts of the country. And I take online yoga classes with my favorite teacher who lives in Hawaii.
The New York Times recently published an article compiling responses from members of their newsroom to the question: In these dark days, what’s one bright thing?16 This question can be a powerful daily practice to help us stay connected to gratitude in the face of tragedy.
What we focus on becomes our reality, and maintaining a positive outlook is a key competence of emotional intelligence. As we continue to adapt to our new reality, I encourage you to notice and appreciate the fundamental creativity, hope, and resilience of the human spirit — including your own.
 Taylor, A. (2020, Mar 24). Music and Encouragement From Balconies Around the World. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2020/03/music-and-encouragement-from-balconies-around-world/608668/
 Gibbons, T. (2020, Mar 30). Coronavirus: The Reason Kids Are Putting Rainbows in Their Windows. Radio.com. Retrieved from https://www.radio.com/news/the-reason-kids-are-putting-rainbow-artwork-in-their-windows
 Hazelton, A. & Keenan, G. (2020, May 15). Covid Action Platform. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/covid-action-platform
 Kann, D. (2020, Apr 7). Los Angeles has notoriously polluted air. But right now it has some of the cleanest of any major city. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/07/us/los-angeles-pollution-clean-air-coronavirus-trnd/index.html
 Douty, A. & Spamer C. (2020, Apr 14). AccuWeather. Retrieved from https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/beautiful-view-emerges-as-polluted-sky-clears-in-india-amid-lockdown/720012
 Houghton, E. S. (2020, Apr 6). How D-Nice United a Socially Isolated World with Club Quarantine. GQ. Retrieved from https://www.gq.com/story/d-nice-interview-2020
 Endeshaw, D. & Paravicini, G. (2020, Mar 22). Coronavirus supplies donated by Alibaba’s Ma arrive in Africa. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-africa/coronavirus-medical-supplies-donated-by-alibabas-ma-arrive-in-ethiopia-idUSKBN2190JU
 Alesci, C. & Liao, S. (2020, Apr 4). Billionaire Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai donates ventilators and masks to New York. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/04/tech/joe-tsai-clara-donate-masks-ventilators-new-york/index.html
 Apuzzo, M. & Kirkpatrick, D. D. (2020, Apr 1). Covid-19 Changed How the World Does Science, Together. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/world/europe/coronavirus-science-research-cooperation.html
 Daily News Editorial Board. (2020, Apr 2). Immigrants on the front lines: Let foreign trained doctors practice, amnesty for essential workers. New York Daily News. Retrieved from https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-edit-immigrant-doctors-20200402-mo5ye2gyxfgsjprbufcwwlxd5a-story.html
 Haag, M. (2020, Apr 3). This Brooklyn Landlord Just Canceled Rent for Hundreds of Tenants. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/nyregion/coronavirus-nyc-landlord-mario-salerno.html
 Sharp, D. (2020, Mar 24). L.L. Bean boxing food, not flannel, to help during pandemic. The Portland Press Herald. Retrieved from https://www.pressherald.com/2020/03/24/l-l-bean-boxing-food-not-flannel-to-help-during-pandemic/
 Dineen, H. (2020, Mar 31). L.L. Bean among Maine businesses making PPE. News Center Maine. Retrieved from https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/health/llbean-and-other-maine-businesses-making-ppe/97-115f8765-8961-483d-8c6c-0abf7b94037c
 Richardson, W. (2020, Mar 25). Flowfold pivots to manufacturing protective gear for hospitals in the face of COVID-19. Maine Startup Insider. Retrieved from https://mainestartupsinsider.com/flowfold-pivots-to-manufacturing-protective-gear-for-hospitals-in-the-face-of-covid-19/
 Craig, S. (2020, Apr 11). Maine Acts of Kindness: Craft beer becomes hospital-grade hand sanitizer. The Portland Press Herald. Retrieved from https://www.pressherald.com/2020/04/11/turning-maine-craft-beer-into-hospital-grade-hand-sanitizer/
 Shimabukuro, M. (2020, Apr 14). One Bright Thing. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/reader-center/coronavirus-one-bright-thing.html