This article appeared in the September 16, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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How to build resilience in a pandemic? Lean on each other.

Stephen Lam/Reuters
A man airlifted by a California National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the Creek Fire embraces a friend at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport in Fresno, California, Sept. 8, 2020.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

In a time of a global pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, and job or housing loss, what helps people and societies get through it all?

Here’s one answer: building trust and relationships. 

John Helliwell, co-editor of the 2020 U.N. World Happiness Report, tells CNN that societies with high mutual trust – in each other and their governments – are more likely to be resilient. He points to Norway and New Zealand as examples of countries with measurably high trust and cooperation that have kept the coronavirus at bay.

Trusted, enduring governments tend to excel in two areas: democratic rights and delivery quality. Of the two, according to the World Happiness Report, the unselfish exercise of power – delivering on fair regulations and services and stopping corruption – is most important in creating a trustworthy relationship with citizens. Similarly, individual resiliency is built on relationships.

An eight-decade-long Harvard University study of men found that the most important factor for longevity wasn’t wealth, fame, IQ, or social class. “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period,” Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, told Inc. 

We’ve seen a bit of that lately in my own family. The lockdowns spawned weekly Zoom meetings, which have helped restore broken relationships and are serving as a source of ideas and encouragement.

Supporting a neighbor or family member in difficult times, it seems, fosters resiliency. For humanity to survive, says Professor Helliwell, our “leaders must broaden our capacity to help one another.”


This article appeared in the September 16, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 09/16 edition
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