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The Better Normal Research Project

"The crisis management strategy phase of ‘getting back to normal’ is dead. People want more. They want better. True leaders will use lessons learned from COVID-19 to do better,  to build a ‘better normal’ to reassure, strengthen trust and build confidence with realistic optimism."
Robert Masters, Chair, The Centre for Optimism

Almost 3000 people from 37 countries have participated in our survey on "The Better Normal" using Survey Monkey.

1500 Answers to "What is the better normal you foresee for yourself?"

There is a huge groundswell for change - a "better normal" as we say. 

What's been interesting is that while our study showed around two-thirds have an appetite for personal change and have made positive changes, polling done by News Limited while reporting our report found 84% of their readers have made positive personal changes.

55% of participants believe there's a better normal for their community and country.

Our plan is to leave the survey open to allow people to collaborate and use the survey to inspire their friends and teams to express their better normal.  

"Participate in the "Better Normal Survey"

Some Media Reaction

Results to Date

From your experience of the pandemic, do you see a "better normal" for yourself?

Do you see a "better normal" for your community and/or country?

What is the better normal you foresee for yourself?

We asked those answering yes to "From your experience of the pandemic, do you see a "better normal" for yourself?",  "What is the better normal you foresee for yourself?"

Some examples:

  • "Despite the fact that I’m 88 years of age, I always think my best days are ahead. I don’t know how I’ll make the future better; I just know I will. There are closer family ties.  I give myself permission to not be productive all the time. The pace of life slowed down. I think some good things have already happened."
  • "Better life balance with more efficient work between home and office and productive social contact that encourages innovation, relaxation and clearer thinking."
  • "I have better routines in my life every day: Moving, meditating, eating clean, connecting with family, friends and laughing. I use my voice and my abilities to advocate for new business models and ways we can improve society to be fairer, my equitable, more sustainable more inclusive, smarter, more prosperous for all and more time to contribute to society as a volunteer, a learner, a carer or a tourist."
  • "I am committing to more the things I truly care about. I hope that in the future, I can easily say no to the things I feel obliged to do - instead of what I want to do."
  • "I have more flexibility.  The use of video conferencing has cut down on my need to travel as much leading to a smaller carbon footprint"
  • "Personally, it’s been a bummer - I became a grandmother as isolation set in. I have held my grandchild three times in total. He is now three months old. I have missed significant bonding time. New normal - more time with family - less with work!"
  • "A higher level of engagement with others - consistently reaching out and staying connected, becoming the better normal."
  • "I can be more selective about what I want to participate in, where I want to be and who I want to be with. I can contribute to things previously back benched because their importance has been highlighted. I feel free to pursue what I care about."

What is that better normal you foresee for your community and/or country?

We asked those answering yes to "Do you see a "better normal" for your community and/or country?",  What is the better normal you foresee for community or country?

Some examples:

  • "A better appreciation of supporting each other and especially the small businesses and community groups that are the heart of our rural towns. Acceptance that we can do things differently and still have good results."
  • "I believe we have been able to connect with others in our community, and we have all been moved by small kindnesses and expressions of appreciation."
  • "Less commuter traffic on the roads.  More connection of people more experienced in using better communications technology.  More time spent in local neighbourhoods and with neighbours."
  • "More flexibility in the workplace to allow us to relate more to family and neighbours.  More caring and contributing to neighbours as working from home provides more time in the local community."
  • "A more cooperative, kind community and country - living out the COVID mantra of ‘we’re all in this together’.
  • "Greater emphasis on community relationships, prioritisation of people and the environment over company profits, an awareness and appreciation of the importance of essential worker roles. Greater empathy and understanding for those who due to disability, unemployment, mental health or other health concerns are often confined to the home and the challenges they face. Employers are providing flexible options for working at home, and possibly thinking about work done rather than the number of hours worked. Supporting local businesses, thereby helping your community and thinking about the benefits of creating, rather than consuming, also the health and environmental benefits for using a mode of transportation that requires you to exercise."
  • "A kinder more compassionate community and a balance between prosperity for all yet caring for the planet and make changes needed to stop climate change."
  • "I’m sure others can see the possibility of a better normal rathe than simply reverting to type. We not aim for a fairer, more balanced existence that prioritises the needs of the individual? A life where we measure success by our wellbeing rather than how much money we have in the bank." (Martin Stone)
  • "Greater awareness of global interconnectivity will generate more strategic thinking, including eventually overcoming simplistic preconceptions."
  • "Having the ability to assist a family, no matter where they live to get the right care for their ageing or disabled loved ones. It's more accepted to do business remotely."

Answers to "What is that better normal you foresee for your community and/or country?"

What makes You Optimistic?

In our survey, The Better Normal, we asked those answering self-identifying as optimists, "what makes you optimistic?

This is the question we have asked of thousands of people - see "Optimists on their Optimism" and "Why ask the question 'What makes you optimistic?"

Click through to "What makes you Optimistic?" Answers from "The Better Normal Survey" 

Some examples:

  • "The fact that there is a natural and innate evolutionary tendency for people to be moved by the stories of individuals ahead of the abstract arguments of the few."
  • "That the essential goodness of humanity will prevail" (Anand Kulkarni)

What if anything supports your optimistic outlook?

We asked those self-identifying as optimistic, "what if anything supports your optimistic outlook?  The top answer was "mindset" followed by "life-experience" and then "most people are trying to do the right thing."

Do any of these 'optimisms' describe your optimism? 

We asked the self-identified optimistic respondents, which of the options offered described their optimism.   The top answer was "resilient optimism" followed by "realistic optimism" then "natural optimism" and "purposeful optimism."

What has helped keep you optimistic in these difficult times?

We asked those describing themselves as optimistic, "What has helped keep you optimistic in these difficult times?"   The respondents could select multiple choices.

The top answer was "regular positive conversations" followed by "expressing gratitude then "keeping the company of optimists."   Smiling, yoga and reducing consumption of news characterised over 25% of the respondents.


Our valued partners in this survey include Symphony 7.

United Nations Policy Brief: The World of Work and COVID-19

"To soften the impact of the deepest global recession since the Second World War, governments and other key stakeholders, including the private sector, need to take coordinated, timely and sustained large-scale action. Interventions will differ depending on the stage of the recovery process, but through all phases, the key question for decision-makers will be how to use their scarce resources to enhance income security; create and retain decent jobs; strengthen the social and ecological fabric of our economies and transition towards a “better normal” – one that is human-centred, inclusive and accessible, gender-responsive, and sustainable."

June 2020 Full Report

Maria Isabel Garcia, managing director and curator of Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc 

"Why not think of not just a new but a better normal?" 

General Martin E. Dempsey

"My hope is that you won’t settle to a return to normal, but rather that you will contribute to a new and better normal.”

Mark R Kramer

"Corporate America and the Business Roundtable have an obligation to go beyond tweets and quotes by committing to an agenda that will advance racial equity in meaningful ways. Some changes cost virtually nothing; others may create short-term costs. But research has shown that the changes that cost money create shared value and lead to greater long-term corporate profitability and a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable society. Now is the time to reset expectations for a new and better “normal” to which we can eventually return."

Reba McEntire

"I hope our new normal is a better new normal. I hope we're nicer, I hope we're kinder. I wish all this hate and anxiety would go away. I wish that would definitely go away. I want a better normal."

Mark Argar

"At every turn, adversity has been overcome, and a better, more real world has evolved. The response in my team to this crisis has been wonderful. It's being caring and a real step forward. I've seen this happen over many decades as a result of different crises. Mankind has an inbuilt ability to evolve in a positive direction when confronted with adversity. For this reason, I remain optimistic."

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