This week marks a major event in our pandemic journey with most children returning to school full time. For many, this is the first time in almost a year. That’s quite a milestone, and one we can greet with optimism.
There are more milestones to come of course. Gradually many of the restrictions imposed will be lifted and we can emerge into a more social and connected way of life.
However, we are not all going to feel the same way at each point because we have not all experienced the pandemic in the same way. We have been in the same storm, but we have had very different boats.
While some will be overjoyed to cast off the trappings of restriction and confinement, others will feel more cautious, perhaps even fearful. What we need most right now is kindness, both towards each other and ourselves. In whatever way we travel the pathway ahead of us, we need to realise that some will travel more quickly and others more slowly. There is no right way. We are all travelling to the same destination, at different speeds and by different routes.
So how can we help one another, and ourselves, the most? One of my favourite concepts is that of skilful behaviour. Dr Maya Angelou once said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”. I love this because it means we can always aspire to behave more skilfully.
When I’m working in schools I talk to both pupils and staff about three kinds of skilfulness:
Skilful speech – before talking about someone else ask yourself “Is this truthful, is this kind, is this necessary?” This will allow you to pause before judging how someone else is dealing with the changes we now face.
Skilful action – when you have the chance to be kind, take it. When we are kind to someone else, not only do they benefit from our good deed but so do we. We feel happier and more optimistic as a result, as does anyone who witnesses our action. Kindness is something that grows the more it is shared.
Skilful thought – try to think well of others even when they are unskilful towards you. We never know what is going on in someone else’s life. The driver who didn’t acknowledge you letting them through, the person who forgot to say thank you, maybe they are having their worst day ever. Wish them well and carry on with your day.
So however you are emerging from lockdown, let’s all try to do it skilfully.