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Feeling Better

Malinda Sanna

The Covid-19 crisis has caused so much pain, fear and anxiety across the globe that many, including myself, are choosing to digest the news on a very selective basis these days. After days of reaching for my phone upon waking, bracing myself for the latest headlines, I’ve realized that it’s the worst thing I can do if I want to have a good day.

So today, I decided to put down the phone and pick up the pen (well, my MacBook Air).

It’s just one way that I am dialing in to what makes me feel good. And by “good”, I mean satisfying. Like a mindfully prepared meal vs. drive-through fast food. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Chick-fil-A waffle fries as much as the next person, but I do know the difference.)

If there is any silver lining in this pandemic, it’s the extent to which, if we’re not the heroic essential workers or the scientists, we’ve been forced to slow down. Personally, it gives me time to notice what actually makes me feel better in that deeply satisfying way vs. the kind of impulsive, non-thinking, grab-it, “get more” kind of way, which our society pushes nonstop and to which I’m highly susceptible.

One of the things I never would have had time or inclination to do in the crazy pace of life as an entrepreneur is take a poetry class. I’ve never even been into poetry! But my dear sister introduced me to the Irish poet David Whyte, who, like many others during this Big Pause, is being generous with his gifts and offered a 3-session online workshop, Courage in Poetry. In the last session he spoke about “beautiful questions”. Here is one of his thoughts on the subject:

“The ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it, as it does by having it answered. You just have to keep asking. And before you know it, you will find yourself … finding conversations that are leading you in those directions that you wouldn’t even have seen before.”

As a qualitative researcher, I love questions. Ok – full geekdom on display here – I love designing a piece of research that feels purposeful and well-composed. To get beyond the obvious, it takes a bit of an iron fist in a velvet glove – reel them in slowly with fun and chatty banter and then boom, before they know it, you really go for the deeper stuff, the beautiful questions, creating a virtual confessional of intimacy without the person feeling that they are “participating in research”. All that sort of melts away.

We’re often told, after moderating our studies on LookLook® that people feel better after talking to us. Perhaps it’s because we only talk to people one-on-one. Maybe it’s because they feel listened to (we are hanging on their every word), but I also hope that it’s because we are asking some beautiful questions (intermingled with the requisite ones about purchase dynamics, etc.)

I hope you are finding beauty in the simple things that are satisfying to you during this hard time. And as we start to move into the phase of The Great Recovery, I hope we can all stay dialed in to those truly nourishing things, whatever they may be.

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