I was talking to a friend recently who lives in Minnesota, who got me thinking about compassion and understanding. Last month the Midwest and Eastern states experienced the Polar Vortex. Temperatures dipped to -30°F with wind chills hovering near -70°F. Schools, businesses, restaurants, malls and even the mail was canceled during the coldest of these days. If work was not canceled, but an employee was going to be late or couldn’t make it in because their car wouldn’t start or they didn’t have childcare usually the boss was more than understanding.

“We’re all in this together.” was how my friend explained this phenomenon of people bending over backward to be accommodating and understanding during stressful times.

Neighborhood pages on Facebook and Next Door, online areas that can be filled with bickering and name calling, because places where people reached out to one another to see if anyone needed help with anything. Getting a meal, fixing the furnace, starting the car, and just checking in to make sure everyone was okay. It was wonderful to experience this much goodwill.

It’s no surprise that people come together in difficult times, we all do that. If someone is late for work, or can’t make the appointment and there is some kind of disaster taking place, we’re understanding and compassionate. We may be slightly inconvenienced because an employee didn’t make it to work or an appointment had to be canceled, but we know it is for the best, make accommodations and move on.

Why don’t we do this on a daily basis and when there is no disaster?

Imagine if we could all let the little things roll off our backs? Imagine if we showed compassion and understanding at all times, not just during disastrous times? Helping one another because we can and not worrying about getting credit or getting anything in return, what a wonderful way to live.

I know that life gets in the way sometimes. Just driving can kick off so many negative emotions and then we react – and not often in the affirmative. Instead of reacting, we should practice responding. We should respond as we would if there was a disaster taking place – with kindness, compassion and understanding that things are not at their optimal and we should be accommodating.

Like the recent government shutdown, people pulled together to help those who were struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. We see this time and time again, and yet in our day to day lives we let our irritations get the better of us.

At any given time, someone is living a disaster. It might not be on the scale of the recent Polar Vortex, or a hurricane or 7.0 earthquake, but everyone is fighting something at any given time so we should just treat everyone with kindness, compassion and understanding, even if we have no knowledge of the struggle they are going through.

Disaster, while horrible, brings us together. We’re all in this together, let’s treat each other with kindness, compassion and understanding in the best of times.