November 17 Day 254: A World of Worries

There is plenty to worry on each day. Health and safety of family, friends, students, and me. Managing workload. Missed adventures. Long term impacts of the pandemic on careers, productivity, and life experiences in general.

As I started to write about these concerns, I realized the stories are not mine to tell. And many are only partially known. It is the uncertainty that creates the greatest anxiety. So instead I will focus on how to potentially reduce the disquiet.

  • Connect: Reach out to those for whom you are concerned. Let them know you care. Physical distancing does not mean emotional isolation.
  • Act: Do what you can for others, when you can. It might be something short term like organizing a meal or covering a class. It might be something long term like working for systemic change.
  • Reflect: Make meaning of the chaos by considering past actions. Take note of bad habits, recognize successes, and better understand your sense of self. It’s good to see how much you’ve accomplished or what you need to work on.
  • Enjoy: Life is too short to be negative. They call my Dr. Polly Sunshine because I always find something to be positive about.

So put it all together: Connect-Act-Reflect-Enjoy. Yes, that means you CARE—about yourself and others. I know I do.

These four steps originated in a presentation about teaching that I gave at the Joint Math Meeting in 2007. It took me until today to realize they are equally applicable to life, even if the context is entirely different.

Image is a photo of my computer monitor on the Johns’ Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard tonight.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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