4 SIMPLE WAYS WE'RE RE-CONNECTING WITH OUR WORLD

During this time of social isolation we're learning to appreciate the simple things as we look around, make eye contact and smile. #connection

COVID-19 ISN'T ALL DOOM AND GLOOM

Before the coronavirus shut down our world, I'd go for my morning walks, and in the process I'd encounter dozens of other people - school children on foot or on bikes, mums pushing prams, people walking dogs, little children playing in the park, and others like myself who are just out to enjoy the day.

What saddened me the most was seeing so many teenagers and adults who'd walk along with their phones gripped tightly in their hands while they stared down at their screens, often cut off further by the earpieces they were wearing. In the process they missed SO much - the beauty of nature, interaction with others, the sights, the sounds, the connections - all because they were looking down. 

Since home isolation began and people have been taking the outdoors less for granted, these are the four things that have changed.

1. LOOKING UP

People seem to have stopped looking at their phones, they're looking up and looking around....not to find a photo opportunity for their next Instagram post, or Facebook photo.....they're just looking and appreciating. They're enjoying the sunshine, enjoying the rain, enjoying the breeze, enjoying the pretty clouds. People are noticing what's all around them and above them, they've finally taken the time to look up and see.

2. LOOKING AROUND

While they're looking up from their phones they've started looking around and noticing that there are other people in their near vicinity. The world is full of strangers who are only strangers because we haven't truly seen them. Once we start looking away from our screens, we start looking around at all those other people who are walking, riding, skateboarding, scooting, or running, so many people who we've walked past blindly for months or even years - suddenly they become real and part of this new experience we're all going through together.

Ferris Bueller: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

3. MAKING EYE CONTACT

Once we realize that there are other people all around us, it only takes one small step to make eye contact. People have begun looking at each other with an open face and a pleasant expression. Once you look a bit further, you see children too, and babies, and old people, and dogs, and whatever living being crosses your path. This is the first step in engaging with others. We live in a world of closed front doors, self-opening garage doors, and shaded windows - we've been in the habit of locking ourselves away from others. But now we're appreciating those occasions when we're out for a walk or doing the grocery shopping, and we're looking at the people around us - and from there we're taking an even bigger step....we're connecting.

Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you whenever you have time and never forget everything and every person that has the least place within your heart.

4. SMILING AND CONNECTION

Have you noticed how many of us are smiling at each other now? People smile, they say "Hi", they wave, they interact, they engage.....they're connecting. Coronavirus may have brought doom and gloom and isolation and lockdown, but it's also brought smiles, and teddy bear hunts, and rainbow trails, and happy faces. It's brought a sense that we're all in this together - that we're doing our part for the greater good. And what's the worst that can happen? The other person doesn't smile back? Well, maybe your smile brightened their day regardless - and they'll smile next time you pass by.

Better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn't smile back

As we look up from our phones and take the time to look around, we see the beauty of the world we live in, we see into the eyes of our neighbours - and we smile. I love that!

After all this is finished, after coronavirus is a memory, we'll still have those connections, we'll still smile and say "Hi" to people as we pass them. I hope we remember that real life is so much more vibrant and engaging than staring at a phone screen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Have you noticed that people are engaging with each other more? Do you sense a feeling of camaraderie? Have you put your phone in your pocket and engaged with the world around you when you make the most of those moments outside your house?

RELATED POSTS



During this time of social isolation we're learning to appreciate the simple things as we look around, make eye contact and smile. #connection
During this time of social isolation we're learning to appreciate the simple things as we look around, make eye contact and smile. #connection

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34 comments

  1. Hi Leanne, people are engaging more and my pet hate is people who walk and text at the same time. One of my Saturday Sister lost a friend because she was walking, texting and stepped off the path into an oncoming bus. I do think that there are many positives around COVID-19 isolation. Call me an idealist but I've found it very enjoyable. I get to walk or run by the ocean and appreciate nature which seems to be everywhere at the moment because the pollution is so low. Have a great week, BBB xx

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    1. Hi Sue - I've loved the fresh air and the camaraderie that seems to have sprung up in these difficult times. I'm also excited that they're re-opening the intra-state zones so we can visit the family soon - it's all been pretty good despite the doom and gloom predictions. I think we in Australia got off lightly.

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  2. Hi Leanne - Here too I have seen people going for morning / evening walks, but either talking on the phone, or checking messages while walking. There are also people who are busy talking to each other, sometimes in a very animated manner. I believe, these people miss out so much, losing out on the benefits of the walk or run.

    There are those who listen to music while they walk or run. They might be cut-off from nature and people around them, but at least they are focussed on their walk or run.

    I don't carry my phone while I walk, unless I plan to buy something from the nearby store on my way back home.

    I have tried listening to music or some programme on the radio while walking. But I have not enjoyed the experience, because I find it a bit weird that I am outside, but I am not exactly getting the feeling that I am outside!

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    1. Hi Pradeep - I don't take my phone with me when I walk either - I like the idea of just being out in the fresh air and enjoying the "bigness" of it and the lack of technology and being available. I don't have FOMO - I have JOMO instead!

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  3. Hi Leanne, I agree with your thoughts here about all the things we can see and do if we just look! Isn't it ironic that it's taken a lockdown to bring some people out of their self induced isolation? As I ride my bike around, people are engaging, smiling, nodding and greeting each other with waves or hellos, it's been lovely to see. We are fortunate in our little town, it's generally very friendly but now people see to have a new respect for making eye contact and smiling and checking on others to make sure they're coping OK. Have a great week and enjoy your walks!

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    1. Hi Deb - my neighbourhood is really friendly too, but so many people were walking around with their heads down looking at their phone, or with those trendy little earbuds in - it makes me wonder why they can't go for half an hour or so without being constantly bombarded with sound? I love the serenity and I love the smiles and the eye contact - it makes me feel like we're back with life pre-internet when people used to enjoy interaction face to face more.

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    2. Hi again Leanne, just back for #mlstl and have pinned your post.

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  4. Hi, Leanne - Like all of the previous commenters, I completely agree with your thoughts here. Richard and I have been walking our neighbourhood for five years now. While everyone has always been friendly, we have definitely noticed more engagement (at a respectful distance) during COVID. Long may we all continue to look up and look around! Great post!!

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    1. Thanks so much - I was originally going to write about the lack of engagment these days, then COVID happened and it's like everyone woke up from their comas and started to appreciate the world around them - I really hope we don't lose that when we're free again with no restrictions.

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  5. You didn't say if people were wearing masks, but I assume they are.. I know we have different requirements in different areas. All this to say, smile anyway, it shows in your eyes, dont'you think? For us here in Pennsylvania, at least in small towns we smile and wave at people we don't know all the time. It's what we do. Thanks very much for this post. I shared it to my Facebook page.

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    1. Hi Michele - we don't wear masks in Australia (only those who are super at risk or super worried do). But you're right about the eyes smiling, I wore a mask for many years when I worked in dentistry and you could still smile and talk and engage with one on. I just love the smiling and waving that's happening atm.

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  6. I am still looking at my phone (opps) but a woman I have never seen before yelled at me while I was picking something up from a shop and said "I almost didn't recognise you without your dog. We see each other every day but usually on that other street". It was nice...I am however noticing the birds, the moon and the sunrise and sunset and flowers a lot more. #MLSTL (I've always been a person to have random chats to strangers, much to my kids horror, so that's not really changed)

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    1. I'm a random chatter too Lydia (so is my Mum) it horrified my kids - and I was horrified when my Mum did it! I just love that people are more focused and even the ones with earbuds in are smiling and saying "hi" - I just love the warmth it creates.

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  7. I've always spoken to everyone - I think I'm turning into my mother in that way - butthere are now more people to randomly talk to. Although this week, as school goes back, there have already been less people out walking in the afternoons than there were at the height of the restrictions.

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    1. I'm a chatter too Jo - and there will always be the friendly souls who stop to chat, but what I'm loving more is the teenagers and millenials who normally look through you, who are looking people in the eye and saying "hi". It's a small thing, but it makes me happy - now I just need to convert all the mums pushing prams and not engaging with their babies!

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  8. Hi Leanne as I’m doing all my walking on bush tracks I never see another person so haven’t noticed this. Other than this my only outing is to the supermarket. I have noticed it’s not as stressful there lately. I love hearing that people are becoming more friendly during difficult times. Let’s hope it continues #MLSTL

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    1. I'm hoping it continues too Jennifer. I live in a little suburban enclave that is surrounded by wetlands and a large park in the middle. People are out everywhere walking on paths and along the river and through the park - there's more of them and more smiling too and it's just so lovely.

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  9. I actually love that people (for reasons unknown) are doing 'offline' things... like knitting and jigsaws. Like a step back into the past in some ways, which is lovely.

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    1. And the bread bakers Deb! I've never seen so many photos of sourdough bread on FB in my life! I guess that's where all the flour disappeared to in Coles! :)

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  10. People around here have always been friendly and smile or say hello as we pass each other on our walks. Maybe that's because we go outside real early to avoid the late spring and summer heat. I keep my cell phone in my pocket, and have it only for an emergency. Glad you notice a change for the better in your area. Just notice if we give off friendly, warm vibes we get that back in return. Thanks for hosting #MLSTL and be well.

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    1. Hi Nancy - we have a mix of the smilers and the phone gazers. It always bothers me to see people so disconnected from the beauty of the world around them - and I don't understand their need to be constantly bombarded with music??? So to see less of that, and more families out together is just wonderful.

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  11. Hi Leanne, I walk and go to the grocery stores briefly in non-peak hours so I haven't seen many people and haven't noticed any significant difference. Let's hope the chnages for the better continue. Have a wonderful week! #MLSTL

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    1. That's interesting Natalie, here in Australia there has been a huge increase in the numbers of families out together - being confined to home for most of the day and not being at school or work seems to have given them the desire to have a break and get some fresh air. It's lovely to see them strolling along and smiling as they go past. I also appreciate that the majority remember to move over a bit to give plenty of social distance as we pass each other.

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  12. I have absolutely noticed these same things on my daily walks. There is still the person with the ear buds in, but even those people will smile at you. I think we are all recognizing that we need social interaction and one of the few ways we can get it is to go for a walk and smile and say "Hi" to people even as we social distance.

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    1. Hi Michele - that makes me feel better because I thought maybe I was living in the only neighbourhood where people were suddenly outside walking and waving or smiling! I think those who are working from home + homeschooling, feel the need to get outdoors and going for a walk as a family appeals - and they're just so friendly and I'm loving that.

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  13. In India, we're required to wear masks in public and maintain social distancing, so in actual fact there are less people interacting with each other. What we're enjoying is the lack of traffic and much cleaner air. Even the temperatures are lower during this summer.
    I'm so impressed with the rainbow trails and teddy bear hunts in Australia. What a great idea for children especially.
    What I've noticed about myself, is that I'm actually calling people a lot more and connecting deeper over the phone. That was on my 20 for 2020 list, so it fits right in!

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    1. Hi Corinne - I notice that Pradeep said the same thing about masks in his post. In Australia the virus has been pretty much contained and there's very little community infection, so masks are rarely seen. People are out more because it beats the cabin fever of being shut inside all day, and this time of year has been giving us glorious Autumn weather to walk in - so it's lovely that people are appreciating it more.

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  14. Well that's good news that you're seeing that, I don't feel I'm seeing any of that; quite the opposite actually. I feel the face masks take away a person's humanity and we don't look them in the eyes because we can't even see their face. Also the keeping 6 feet apart creates a unfriendly, stand-offish atmosphere. But if that is happening in your area of the world, that's awesome.

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    1. Maybe it's because nobody here (other than a very rare person here or there) is wearing a mask. We have had very few cases of the virus in the community, but people are still staying home 24/7, so the chance to get outside for a stroll around the park or along the river has become a real joy. We give a wider berth to people when we pass them, but that usually brings a smile and an eye roll as we recognize we're living in strange times atm. I'm sorry you're not seeing it where you are.

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  15. I agree with you, Leanne. All is not Doom and Gloom right now. Very good point, on “Looking Around.” Trying to stay a minimum of two metres apart makes more people aware of their surroundings. And yes, smiling and connecting. I also hope we remember these lessons. A great post! Enjoy your walks! xx

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    1. Hi Erica - the six feet thing is rarely a problem (unless a couple is holding hands and taking up most of the path!) The vast majority are happy to step to the side a little when we pass by and it's a great way of acknowledging the person you're passing. It's also a beautiful time of the year and you can't help but be happy when the weather is so nice.

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  16. I definitely see people more friendly and engaged when we are out walking. There is a sense of in this together about it all at those moments, and it has brought out a lot of good in people. It is great to meet new people out there!

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    1. You're exactly right Enda - there is definitely a sense of camaraderie and of being in a strange time together. It seems to bring out the eye contact and the tip of the head and the smile doesn't it? I hope it keeps going because I love seeing people smile at each other and the sense of being in a neighbourhood community.

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  17. Love your observations. We have never seen as many people out walking in our area. My husband was weeding the garden at the front last week and got into a conversation with a lady who was an aged care nurse. Yes we are connecting more...but I still get a bit "annoyed" with those who are ignoring some of the niceties of social distancing like "waiting" to go into the shops rather than barging ahead. I have always tended to smile and perhaps admire what someone is wearing and that happened to me last Monday. Denyse #mlstl

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