The Age When You Officially Become Old

It’s 57 according to a survey commissioned by LetsGetChecked (a coronavirus testing company).

Why 57?

Declining health (39%)
Wrinkles (36%)
Weight gain (36%)
Financial problems (33%)
Loss of independence (19%)

We all know “old souls” in their 20’s and “young elders” in their 60’s and beyond which reminds me of the real definition of aging.

My mentor and friend, Wynn Etter a force to be reckoned with in human relations, had this motto printed on the back of his business card even as he roared into his 80’s.

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.

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When Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Soap

When stores started cutting their orders for soap during the Great Depression that began in 1929, Proctor & Gamble doubled down and figured people would still need soap.

Instead of pulling back on advertising as most companies are doing during the current coronavirus, P&G ramped up its radio advertising sponsoring daily shows aimed at homemakers.  Ma Perkins, a kindly widow, told stories that consumers of the day loved.

By 1939, P&G was producing 21 radio shows and inventing what was to become known as the “soap opera”.  By 1950, they made the transition to TV.

With uncertain economic times ahead and lots of spare time on our hands now to think, what is your personal plan to meet adversity and take advantage of it?

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What if Things Get Really Better?

Imagine what Americans might have thought during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

They lived without phones, radios, delivery services, Netflix – you get the point.  I wonder how many of them said “we will survive this and things will not just get better but really better.”

Land on the moon.  Discover antibiotics and drugs that make our lives better and longer.  Prosperity the likes of which I dare say we have enjoyed in full or part for decades.  Did they ever think as bad as things got – they lost 550,000 people in the U.S. during the Spanish Flu – that the future would not only be better but great.

On the other side of hopelessness is hope.

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Finding Meaning in Tough Times

Viktor Frankl’s book “Yes to Life” inspired by his time spent incarcerated in a World War II concentration camp takes on meaning even in our coronavirus isolation.  It is summed up in the foreword:

“Happiness in itself does not qualify as such a purpose; pleasures do not give our life meaning. In contrast, he points out that even the dark and joyless episodes of our lives can be times when we mature and find meaning.

There are three main ways people find fulfillment of their life meaning, in Frankl’s view. First, there is action, such as creating a work, whether art or a labor of love—something that outlasts us and continues to have an impact.

Second, he says, meaning can be found in appreciating nature, works of art, or simply loving people; Frankl cites Kierkegaard, that the door to happiness always opens outward. The third lies in how a person adapts and reacts to unavoidable limits on their life possibilities, such as facing their own death or enduring a dreadful fate like the concentration camps.  In short, our lives take on meaning through our actions, through loving, and through suffering.”

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Say No to Coronavirus Negativity

Be defiant in denouncing the negativity we hear and experience all day about this challenging time.

Focusing the mind on the present moment is a proven way to relieve anxiety or depression.

Experts say the virus will be around until there is a vaccine but even now we can see how people, businesses, schools and organizations are adapting to ways to live with the underlying threat.

There is hope.

To lift yourself from the negativity that comes from the constant drip-drip-drip of ominous news focus the mind on the present.

Gratitude.

The facts:  99% of all Americans will not be infected if they follow safe habits.

The beauty of the moment:  things are going to change and it is not all bad.  There will be many new opportunities.  New realizations of what is important and of course, what is in our lives now that is worth focusing on.

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Behind My Mask

Am I hiding something behind that mask or protecting myself and others – the way we think about it defines who we are during this?

Am I covering up my fear or am I demonstrating my confidence?

Am I physical distancing but still remembering to engage others socially for to confuse the two would make a very cold world that may take longer than a pandemic to cure?

Am I grateful to be resuming my tasks even if I have to cover my face?

What’s underneath our masks is more defining than how it looks or what it is intended to do.

We used to wear our heart on our sleeves, now it is on our face for all to see.

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Growing Stronger

You know what my 29 music business students said at the end of their 8th and final online Zoom class that they were suddenly rushed into in March?

They should have said “thank God it’s over” but what they really said was “We did it!”.  Finished the semester, one hour and forty-minute classes, never missing a class and attending in real-time even from India, Taiwan and China where it was 11:30 at night when class started.

These are no snowflakes – they are fighters who are growing more resilient by the day and it inspires.

Embracing not tolerating adversity helps us grow stronger.

Not being defeated by fear.

Being aware of self-talk and keeping it positive.

Banishing the word “can’t”.

Then there is gratitude — especially during a pandemic.

Setting high goals not just existing (some students produced music while in isolation).

And most importantly – always giving yourself and others hope.

“See you in class this fall on campus”.

Self-Care

Self-care is not bingeing on Netflix.

If you’ve ever bought a gym membership, why is it that most people can’t wait not to use it.

And whether we like it or not we have a pandemic that provides us with the time that we would have killed for prior.

Two months ago if someone said “how would you like to work from home for two months and not commute to the office”, we would have jumped at our good fortune.

Or if our employer said, take as much time as you like to get healthy, most of us would pass out from shock.

Or, if our friends said they’d love to spend more time connecting with us either by phone or Zoom, who wouldn’t be flattered.

If someone said, spend more time with your family – don’t feel guilty.  Wow, what an offer.

What’s driving us nuts is the inability to see a golden opportunity when it is handed to us.

All Flu, All the Time

Do you remember the Hong Kong Flu?

Most people alive today lived through it and they can’t say they had memorable images of it.  That flu killed 100,000 people in the U.S. and a million worldwide in 1968 and yet we had no way to be bombarded by how bad it was every minute of the day.

Today is different.  Another virus but a different way to stay scared – endless updates, stories about everything from virtual dating to how divided the country is (again).

The thing is people have been through pandemics before but never with so much intense focus that causes needless anxiety.

The cure is turn off the phone at times during the day, don’t watch news channels that cause anxiety instead of giving information and celebrate how well you’re doing in an inconvenient situation.

To borrow a news radio phrase:  You give yourself 22 minutes, and we’ll give you a break from anxiety and negative thinking.

Mental Health Days

The online publication Axios is requiring each of their colleagues to take mental health days from time to time.

They close their laptop, clear their mind and come back fresh another day to write stories.

Other execs took a day off and went fishing and turned their phone off for an entire day.   Off, not silenced.

Because of the added stress of coronavirus, now is a good time to brainstorm for ideas on how to take a mental health day that works for you.