Hey Human!: Rainn Wilson hosts Instagram Livestreams


The Office star Rainn Wilson has been hosting Instagram live streams amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Lillian Reid, Features Writer

If you’re bored in quarantine, and you want something productive to do, look no further. Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight Schrute from The Office) has been hosting Instagram Live shows called “Hey, Human!” every weekday at 3 p.m. with a company called SoulPancake that Wilson co-founded with Devon Gundry, to help people keep their minds healthy. SoulPancake was started 10 years ago as a way to creatively “chew on life’s questions and figure out what it means to be human.” Since then, they have become a source of positivity and creativity for many.
Wilson always hosts, having another viewer, celebrity or specialist of some sort go live with him as they talk about ways to stay sane in these indefinitely uncertain times. Other viewers that are not actively featured in the livestream can still stay connected by typing questions or comments below the livestream. Wilson always brings a sense of humor as he interacts with others as an attempt to lighten this season of enhanced anxiety. In each episode, lasting about 30 minutes, Wilson fixates on a different relevant topic, such as unity, mental health or gratitude. Here are a few highlights from the first five featured episodes on the SoulPancake Instagram page:
March 27: Introduction
Wilson begins the stream by using his pet Guinea Pig, Lemon, as a vessel for what many people are feeling in quarantine – anxious.
“The silver lining of all of this is that perhaps this is making people all over the world think of ourselves as interconnected and as international rather than national,” Wilson said.
Wilson also featured a collegiate couple, asking them questions about if their loved ones were still doing alright and what advice on anxiety they might have for others.
“The best thing to do is find an outlet. Whether it’s friends, family, journaling, reading a book, watching The Office, whatever it is that you wanna do, find an outlet to express what it is that you’re feeling. Don’t keep that all bottled up inside of you,” Trevor, part of the couple, added.
Wilson commented that when anxiety and depression are high, exercise is quite helpful. He then ended the first episode by getting Trevor and Alexis, as well as the rest of the viewers, to get up and do some squats.
March 31: We’re better off together
Wilson begins this stream with another fuzzy friend, Poe, his pitbull, again discussing the fears that “Poe” has surrounding the frenzy. He also briefly has Diamond, his other pitbull, come into frame before she follows Poe out of the room. Wilson then introduces his theme for the episode.
“The more we can come together as a species on a planet, the better off we’ll be,” Wilson said before launching into the importance of gratitude.
He began citing facts about the positive effects of gratitude from https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/ .
Wilson and the site recommend journaling five things before you fall asleep, talking to a friend or starting a text chain with other friends about what you’re grateful for to improve self esteem, sleep better and become happier, among a myriad of other benefits.
“It’s very easy to focus on the negative, [but] when you do that, your anxiety rates increase,” Wilson said.
A woman named Alex Cole joined Wilson as they talked about her job as a special education therapist and the challenges that come along with it during these few weeks. Cole and Wilson reminded viewers that this is only a season, and it will pass. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect all of the time.
“Just remember that you, hopefully, have your health, and hopefully you know you’re safe. We just have to know that things will swing back the other way. We just have to be patient,” Cole said.
April 1: Is that not a real fear?
Wilson begins the episode by discussing a fear of his. He commented that fear, for a lot of people, is just a lack of control. He then explained to viewers the importance of monitoring your breathing, which, of course, is something you can control. To calm down, you can inhale for five seconds, hold your breath there for another five, and finally exhale for five more seconds.
“When we have fear, it needs to be acknowledged, and it needs to be respected,” Wilson said.
Once you understand something, it’s much easier to calm down because you’ve given yourself a sense of control. He also briefly discusses neuroplasticity and how we can always rewire our own brains through practice to see the world as less of a fearful place and as more of a positive place. To help us become more in control of our lives during quarantine, Wilson again recommends making a gratitude list, making a daily schedule, or even just making sure to not spend the entire day on a screen.
Jordan Wilson and his girlfriend, Gracie, were selected to go live with Rainn Wilson as Gracie explained how she relieves her anxiety by talking to others about her feelings in the moment and listening to music to calm her down.
“I don’t really know what the solution is [to being vulnerable with your fears/feelings], but I do know that a great way to overcome anxiety and fear is to just talk about them, give words to them, and to have empathy,” Rainn Wilson said in a closing statement.
April 3: For all the moms out there
Wilson opens the episode with appreciation for mothers. He has a teenage son himself, so he commented on how helpful mothers tend to be during this whole coronavirus frenzy.
Wilson continues the episode by asking his viewers to join him in his own guided meditation, allowing them to take a moment and appreciate their present state.
“It’s so easy to shift your perspective – the power of meditation. We realize we’re often held captive to our thoughts,” Wilson said.
A Twitch streamer named Brooke Thorne, also known as “Dodger,” was the first guest selected, as she and Wilson discussed some issues she’s been dealing with in regards to her moving to England to be with her husband. Thorne also briefly talked about her child and being a mother during this time. She recommended that mothers of young children with short attention spans could go onto Google or Pinterest to find a project to help their children during whatever developmental stage that they’re in. Even just going for a walk outside can be helpful, she added later.
Another guest, Trace, came on later to talk to Wilson about his hobby of making things out of cardboard, such as forts, scientific models and band aid holders. Trace, age 11, ended up being a member of “Kid Congress,” another program run by SoulPancake for kids who “seek good, create good, and celebrate good,” as an attempt to try and draw some attention away from all of the negative ongoings in the world.
April 4: Isolation nails with @noahcyrus
Wilson’s dog, Poe, returns to the camera in a short and sweet introduction. Once Poe leaves, Wilson revisits a central theme of “Hey, Human!,” discussing all of the disunity in the world and how it’s important to stay connected and united, especially during this time, regardless of political affiliation, race, gender or economic status.
He recommends a serenity prayer (https://www.celebraterecovery.com/resources/cr-tools/serenityprayer), or prayer in general, a constant that can be kept in people’s lives even throughout the obstacles of quarantine. Some mental tools that we can focus on instead of the anxiety accompanied with the virus are peace, harmony, unity and serenity. A few ways to cultivate those mental tools could be through prayer, meditation, exercise or reading, Wilson suggests.
“It’s the wisdom to know the difference between the two things: what is in my control? I hope I have the courage to do the things that are in my control, and accept the things that are not in my control,” Wilson said.
Shortly after, Noah Cyrus joined the livestream, and almost immediately began discussing mental health and what to do for those struggling in close quarters. She recommended continuing projects that were being developed before quarantine began.
“This isn’t gonna last forever, so whatever you were passionate about before is not going away,” Cyrus said.
She continued, talking about struggles she had had with her family members’ physical health, as well as her own mental health. Cyrus mentioned an organization she had partnered with, The Jed Foundation, which “protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.” She stated her concern for those still in school and their mental health, as teenagers and young adults today have become increasingly overwhelmed with schoolwork. Wilson agreed, commenting that at Yale, all freshmen are now being required to take a class on happiness as part of their general requirements for schooling as an attempt to focus more on that mental health perspective.
Cyrus left the livestream after discussing her music and how she incorporates her passion for mental health awareness into it. Wilson had his last guest of the day, Cassandra Ostby, come onto the livestream as they talked about quarantine life in Michigan and the importance of maintaining personal connections through technology.
If there were to be any takeaways from this snippet of “Hey, Human!,” it would be to keep in touch with friends, to make note of what you’re grateful for, and to try to do something calming for you. And of course, if you’re in need of something to do, watch “Hey, Human!” on the SoulPancake Instagram every weekday at 3 p.m., or watch the recordings of previous episodes. Just do whatever you can to remain sane until quarantine finally ends!
Good Quotes:
March 27: “For the inevitable and essential maturation of the human race, we need to come together as a species on a planet, because that’s what we are. We have to put countries and nationalism aside… We are human beings. We need to work together whether it’s climate change, or whether it’s something like COVID-19.”
“The silver lining of all of this is that perhaps this is making all of us and our governments and people all over the world thinking of ourselves as interconnected and as international rather than national.”
“The thing that I’m grateful for in this situation is hoping that it helps us human beings look at humanity rather than just our local town.”