Feeling Pain to Clarify Purpose: What COVID-19 Can Teach Us About the Climate Crisis

The pandemic is teaching us powerful lessons about emotions, change, and preparing for the future. Can pain and anxiety be a catalyst for growth, clarifying our own purpose, and creating a better future for all?

By Michael Miller – April 29th, 2020

The Climate of Emotions conference brought together an awe-inspiring group of youth climate activists, emotional intelligence experts, scientists, psychologists and more. The panelists explored some of the biggest questions at the intersection of youth, climate and emotions, and how the current COVID-19 crisis can provide a blueprint for engaging climate grief and inspiring purposeful climate action. Here’s a 3-minute recap from Six Seconds CEO Josh Freedman, plus 3 key takeaways in the expert’s own words:

What are the key takeaways from this deep dive in the expert’s own words? Many of the common themes aligned perfectly to the 3 pillars of the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence: Know Yourself (awareness), Choose Yourself (choice) and Give Yourself (purpose).

Takeaway #1: The current crisis is an opportunity to improve self-awareness and engage with emotional openness in a new way.

“The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated this process of getting over the inability to talk about anxiety and fear, which will also be helpful for us in taking on these issues related to climate change.”
Dr Renée Lertzman, Founder, Project InsideOut

“It’s important to sit with grief. We have to move past this limitation that we’re only supposed to feel positive, happy feelings. How can we make space to metabolize these challenging feelings? These problems feel so big and so untouchable that it’s hard to slow down, feel, and be present. Once we do, we realize the agency we have, and find new avenues of change and connection. It starts with this emotional process of turning toward feelings, instead of away from them.”
Laura Schmidt, Co-founder, Good Grief Network

“By traveling into big feelings, we ignite agency.”
Clover Hogan, Founder, Force of Nature

“The ‘present bias’ creates a hesitance to change behaviors today so as not to impact future generations. But now we know that in the long-term it can save us money.”
Juan Carlos Monterrey Gomez, Founder, Climate Resilient




Takeaway #2: Taking inspired action on climate change starts with intentional choice

“Be curious about what’s inside of you without shame. See these feelings as your connection to the world. Think of eco-anxiety as eco-empathy, and decide to use emotions for good instead of letting your feelings overrun and use you.”
Britt Way, PhD, Author, broadcaster and science writer researching the mental health impacts of the climate crisis

“The world’s problems are a billion piece puzzle. Which puzzle piece will you commit yourself to tackling?”
Clover Hogan, Founder, Force of Nature

“Hope does not come from doing nothing. Hope comes from taking action… In reality, there is no magic deadline. Every single action matters, it matters now, and it matters tomorrow.
Katharine Hayhoe, Political Science Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law, Texas Tech University

“Naive optimism or apocalyptic pessimism? Neither helps. The answer for the climate crisis lies in the space between. You have to be the hope you want to see!”
Jamie Margloin, Co-founder, Zero Hour

“Consider: what’s the best decision I can make for my children’s future?”
Jonah Gottlieb, Co-founder and Executive Director of the National Children’s Campaign



Takeaway #3: Connection to a bigger purpose and to others will help fuel the changes we need to see.

“Find your why. Once you understand why it’s important to you, then connect with other people who think it’s important, too. By doing that you can support each other and build each other up.”
Andrea Manning, Founder, Access the Polls

“This crisis has shown us how interconnected we are as a country and as a world. Let’s work together for the common good.”
Natalie Mebane, Associate Director of United States Policy, 350.org

“How can we use this experience to help us be more prepared for the future, and create a future that’s better for all of us?”
Joshua Freedman, CEO, Six Seconds

You can watch the full livestream free by clicking on the button below, or explore the Climate of Emotions Action Pack.



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Why Six Seconds?

Why do leaders from places like the UN, FedEx, Amazon, Qatar Airways choose Six Seconds’ tools and methods?

  • Global: Used in 157 countries & territories — this approach works everywhere.
  • Scientific: The latest research creates a robust approach by the pioneers in EQ — these tools are reliable.
  • Practical: It’s not enough to talk about emotional intelligence — Six Seconds helps you put it into action.
Michael Miller

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