Welfare: has the Coronavirus made us better people?

Leonardo Saulle - May 28, 2020
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Welfare: has the Coronavirus made us better people?

Welfare and Coronavirus - PXR Italy

Well-being and Coronavirus. "Do you feel a better person than you were at the beginning of the quarantine?" is the question asked by PXR Italy to Italians in the latest survey on 27 May. It turned out that almost 4 out of 10 people (38%) feel they have changed for the better in the last 80 days. A figure that might be curious, given the unfavorable context that Italians have experienced during the quarantine. One might wonder, first of all, if that 38% is a high, low or average percentage; if, that is, the quarantine has recorded a higher, lower or average number of positive changes compared to other times and situations. But perhaps someone is asking an even more basic and important question: 1. is it really possible to change? 2. and if so, how is it done.

Is it possible to change? Psychologists speak about welfare

Change is not only possible, it is above all necessary and natural. Every moment that passes, each of us changes a small part of ourselves, more or less consciously: psychologists and psychotherapists know this well (source: Psychologists' Guide). They also know that our mind can become the greatest obstacle to our willingness to change; over the course of the 20th century, more than 300 psychotherapeutic approaches developed their own vision of how man changes over time, and created as many instruments to facilitate this change. In 1982, two psychologists synthesised all these schools of thought and identified the six phases that outline any path of change (source: StateOfMind).

“Ti senti una persona migliore rispetto all’inizio della quarantena?” è la domanda posta da PXR Italy agli italiani nell’ultimo sondaggio del 27 maggio. È risultato che quasi 4 persone su 10 (38%) sentono di essere cambiate in meglio negli ultimi 80 giorni. Un dato che potrebbe incuriosire, visto il contesto non favorevole che gli italiani hanno vissuto durante la quarantena. Verrebbe da chiedersi, innanzitutto, se quel 38% è una percentuale alta, bassa o nella media: se, cioè, la quarantena ha registrato un numero maggiore, minore o nella media di cambiamenti in positivo rispetto ad altri tempi e situazioni. Ma forse qualcuno si starà ponendo una domanda ancora più basilare e importante: 1. è possibile davvero cambiare? 2. e se sì, come si fa.
4 in 10 people (38%) feel they have changed for the better

How can you change?

Change, Welfare and Coronavirus. We all change because we all possess, to some extent, the three characteristics that are needed for change to occur; to make intentional change happen we need only apply these characteristics in an intentional way.

The three ingredients of change:

-Values and goals: it is necessary to have a direction, a goal. Change implies knowing (or at least having an idea) of how you want to become; the secret is to mentally identify your goal, and divide it into many small sub-goals. The idea behind this 'division' is the following: our mind tires less easily and enjoys the journey more in achieving sub-goals than in pursuing one big goal.

-Self-control: change can be seen as 'breaking' a previously established mental pattern. The more we are used to behaving in a certain way, the more difficult it is to change that behaviour; self-control is therefore the ability to control oneself when one would automatically behave in the way one has always behaved.

-Flexibility: this third ingredient is perhaps the most complex. Being flexible means knowing how to adapt mentally and with one's behaviour to the situation and context in which we live. In practice it means doing these two things: adapting one's actions to the circumstances and needs of the environment and also accepting those conditions that are different from how one would like them to be; to put it in a sentence 'accepting that our goals of change must take into account the limits and resources that our context offers us' (source: Bortolotti-Calderone study).

Why did the Coronavirus bring us prosperity?

It is precisely flexibility that allows us to understand what has happened in this quarantine; or rather, it allows us to say with certainty that 38% of the Italian population has proved flexible in the face of an atypical and complex life context. In other words, almost 4 out of 10 people have adapted to change: they have been able to accept the need for change imposed by the Coronavirus, to recalibrate their objectives accordingly and to behave consistently with them. Although it is often believed to be the opposite, it is not change that is painful, but rather resistance to change; that is, all those thoughts or behaviours that limit us and hinder us on the path to our goals.

In the end, a fundamental detail must be added: change does not necessarily mean positive change; improvement is a subjective perception, (in other words) what for some is 'improvement' for others means the exact opposite. But what is more important is that 'how we perceive ourselves' influences our well-being (source: Psicologia Positiva). The fact that 38% of Italians feel they are better people since the beginning of quarantine implies, in many cases, an improvement in perceived well-being.

Conclusions about Welfare and C

On balance, why the Coronavirus has enabled some people to become better is obvious: the Coronavirus represents a challenging context in which people's goals change, if not radically, at least to some extent. The Coronavirus confronts us with the choice of re-evaluating our goals and adapting our actions according to the context in order to achieve well-being: 'becoming better people' does not necessarily coincide with an intentional change, but rather with a positive perception of the present self compared to the past self.

PXR Italy greets you with a quote from Lau Tzu: "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the rest of the world calls the butterfly."

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