How to Love and Be Loved During a Pandemic

“Generosity is a sign of intelligence, and givers are the rising tide that lifts all boats.” — Adam Bent

These months are hard — and by many accounts, they’re getting harder. The initial energy bursts we experienced weeks ago are gradually depleted as the shelter-in-place continues, the economic fall-out widens, and the physical and psychological tolls deepen.

What if we were able to turn things around, and create more energy, both for ourselves and others?

The New York Times carried an article in their Smarter Living section on how givers are smarter than takers, because givers don’t allow themselves to become stuck in negative zero-sum thinking.

Zero-sum thinking is based on the theory that for someone to gain, someone else has to lose. Another way to describe it is “scarcity thinking” — that resources are finite, and there are too many people competing for increasingly smaller slices of the pie.

Intelligent givers blow this theory out of the water. Instead of taking the size, shape, and capacity of any set of resources as fixed and unalterable, intelligent givers “use their brainpower to expand the pie.”

Responses to the pandemic are replete with examples of how people are doing this: restaurants that would ordinarily be closed are cooking and delivering meals to local hospitals. Comedians who can’t perform live sets are organizing themselves and offering skits online to larger audiences than they would have in their normal performance venues.

And one guy is making one cup of filter coffee at a time and handing each cup out his window to passers-by using a fake mechanical gorilla arm.

Givers creatively find ways to benefit everyone without feeling like they’re cheating themselves.

There are a zillion ways to give without spending money or feeling like we’re making a significant sacrifice. We don’t have to believe in karma to know that doing good deeds in a good way makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Reaching out tangibly to other human beings gives us energy and hope.

And I, for one, need a lot more energy and hope these days. So I wrote an essay, listing twenty tangible ways to love and be loved during a crisis.

Most of the ways don’t involve money, and can be done by yourself, in your home space. Many of them don’t involve technology.

I’m not just coming up with ideas out of the blue: every one has been field-tested by yours truly. Because I want to emerge from this pandemic with more compassion, not less. I want to widen my love circle. I want to end up stronger and more resilient: in my mind, body, and heart.

These love actions are keeping me sane, sound, and healthy during one of the most difficult times in modern history. Let us all discover even more ways to show and share love, creating an ever-expanding list.

The entire list of “20 Ways to Love and Be Loved During A Pandemic,” originally published on, can be read here.

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