State of Common Sense

March 23, 2020

I’d like to frame this time as a State of Common Sense rather than a state of emergency. Viewing it as an emergency pulls us into the reactive part of our brain called the ‘lizard brain’. That’s the part of us that goes into survival mode and responds with panic, aggression and competition. It’s a reactive, non-thinking part that shows up when people frantically go to stores to get toilet paper and grab enough for a year so that other people don’t have any. Going into a high anxiety state decreases the immune system and can lead us to make choices that don’t help us or our community.
Calling this a State of Common Sense moves us into our creative cerebral cortex where cooperation and connection are dominant. Viewing ourselves in a State of Common Sense encourages us to slow down, increase our awareness and make conscious, healthy choices.

Personally, I feel this country has not used a lot of common sense when it comes to health. Productivity and consumerism have often been valued more than health. We now have an opportunity to reverse this system. But it’s obviously coming at a cost to those who are ill and can be very stressful to those financially suffering in this time of change.
Two years ago during flu season, I wish we had been in a State of Common Sense about health. People came to work sick at the senior living complex where my father lived, and he almost died from that flu. Unfortunately, I’ve often heard people brag about continuing to work while they are ill as though it were a badge of honor rather than something that’s harmful to themselves and dangerous to others.
Being sick in this culture can often be accompanied by self-criticism and denial rather than compassion and nurturing. We need to increase societal support in general and specifically within businesses to encourage people to stay home when they are ill. It is common sense to wash hands, pay attention to your health and stay home when sick.

Now in this State of Common Sense we are encouraged to calmly ask ourselves – What increases my immune system and my health? Some ideas are: deep breathing, exercise, meditation, being in nature. Giving yourself a big hug – go ahead and wrap your arms around your body and love yourself. I feel healthier when I laugh, smile, and think of five things I’m grateful for. Remember others, connect safely with friends and family, reach out and do something nice for somebody.

An easy way I’ve found to support others is through donation. For all the events that have been canceled, I am donating my tickets back to support the performers and the venue. For a conference that was canceled, I’m still paying the retreat center for the room and meals I would have used had I been able to attend it. This also includes any services from people like haircuts, massage, and housecleaning. It’s super easy to be generous because I already either spent the money or I was planning to spend the money. I’m still able to work, for which I’m very grateful, and it’s a way for me to help those who aren’t able to work. I haven’t figured out how to support the restaurants I love but I’m thinking of just sending a check to one of them. (I don’t care for takeout and the packing waste it creates).

This new State of Common Sense around health is positively affecting the environment. I work with the Institute of Noetic Sciences ( that has been working on creating a shift in global consciousness for almost fifty years. They believe the only way to deal with climate change, and other problems is by changing the way humans think. We need a shift in consciousness. But sometimes that has felt almost impossible, especially politically. But now the whole world is focused on health and starting to make the changes that we’ve needed to make in order to address climate change. While I have deep compassion for everyone who is affected by this transformation, it is also very hopeful. I suggest looking at pictures of China with improved air quality and Venice with cleaner waters. It shows people that if we change our behavior and our priorities, we can make the choices to truly address climate issues.

I suggest we all do things for our health and to support others. This is a link to some ideas

This is an amazing poem “from” Covid-19 that was written by Kristin Flyntz

Thanks for allowing me to share these thoughts.
I’m very pleased to see how many people are outside walking in this beautiful area because keeping social distance doesn’t mean isolating inside. Being in nature is healthy.

The good news is we are re-arranging our society around health. The bad news is we’ve been so out of balance with health that it is taking a lot of re-organization and it comes at a cost. Let’s support each other and put our health, our community’s health and our world’s health in a continual State of Common Sense.


Jan Ogren, MFT

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