How Giving Can Help Us Find Meaning In Challenging Times

An answer to finding meaning in our world today.

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What are we all doing? Emotionally and physically spent, staring at the Zoom “waiting for host” message that seems to drive our days, and quickly pulls us into spaces where we’re virtually and immediately face-to-face with the action that’s demanded, the decision that’s needed now, the forward thinking, adaptive crisis-resistant direction we and our team must decide to take. And. All. We. Want. Is. A. Hug. 

I get it. I’m there with you. I’m at your side, sitting there looking at that screen, too. It seems endless, the need others now have for our time in these virtual T.V.-like spaces where we are one of a “Brady Bunch” group of faces in boxes in nice shirts, sitting in old sweatpants — when all we want is to be with others in a normal, pre-COVID way, with normal physical distances and smiles that we see, with the occasional welcome and friendly, gentle human touch on our arm. And the hug that we all crave. 

But I have a solution. I have a way forward through our Zoom worlds that power us and our lives past the hours of the day like minutes, usurping our time and leaving us wondering how we’ve arrived in November. No matter the political, social, or health related issues that exist, I have a solution. It’s not one we’d come to, usually. It is definitely not one we would tend to share at a social gathering, loudly exposing as a solution to the need for hug — though who’s going to those now anyway? My advice, my friends, will get you through the toughest of times all the way until you are back to the normal lives where you took for granted those freely-given without-risk-of-dying hugs. And even beyond.

My solution comes from a quote that I love, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” —Dr. Martin Luther King.

Take your feelings, reactions, reflections, nice words, and all that time you would usually take to craft that perfect social media post or cute or caring text to your bestie and find an outlet that gives that energy to those in need. 

These are all “hugs” that you can give away, for free. Teach someone something. Offer guidance based on experiences you’ve had. Share a new way of thinking about something that you yourself was lucky enough to be exposed to. And I promise you, by giving these things to others, and taking your time to help someone else, you will receive these “hugs” a hundredfold in return. Though that’s not why you’re doing it. No, you’re giving because this time is demanding it of you and because of all of the skills, and gifts, and knowledge you can offer someone else. 

Although it’s a fact that we will continue to slip into the lucid dreams of our 20’s-like celebrations and nonstop hugs after COVID, with this approach you will find a new way to appreciate life and the world around us through the one way we know will have meaning, the one way that won’t waste our time, the one approach that gives to others without taking anything away from us and in fact, gives us ourself and our life back by learning and growing through the relationships with others. Become a mentor and use this time wisely to give and get “hugs” of another kind.

MENTEE is a virtual and global mentoring network for marginalized and oppressed groups from around the world. The amount of time you give and when is up to you! Find out more about our mission and how to get involved at!

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