The beginning of 2020 has felt just like a Hollywood blockbuster. All those movies we’ve watched about a virus spreading across the world, and experts scrambling to find a cure, has become our reality. But there is a silver lining, if you’re willing to look for it. Life’s adversities also offer the opportunity to learn a tough but valuable lesson. Here are some of the messages that I hope we can take away from this unprecedented experience:
Re-evaluate your priorities
It’s amazing how, when we’re in a crisis, all the issues that we worry about on a daily basis suddenly become insignificant. Who cares what your mother said about you at your last family gathering, or that scratch on the car, or the fact that the colleague you hate got promoted instead of you? From now on, focus only on the people, goals, and tasks that matter to you.
Health > Wealth
I have spoken to a number of people whose investments have diminished in value as a result of the economic fallout of the pandemic. Every single person said something along the lines of: “I know the economy will bounce back. It’s a bit scary, but I would be a lot more worried if I got the virus, or if someone I cared about was infected.” I know it’s hard to adopt this perspective if you have bills piling up, your business is losing money, or you can’t pay rent. Chances are, however, that if you were sick and on a ventilator in the hospital, you would not be thinking about your investments, rent, or bills. The same applies to your mental health. This lockdown has been an opportunity to reassess your life. Are you truly happy? Do you feel fulfilled? Are you savoring every moment? Are you content with your relationships? Is your psychological health in good shape? If the answer to at least one of these questions is “no,” take steps to improve your mental health. Talk to a therapist or life coach.
Aim for more than just “getting back to normal”
We all want things to be up-and-running again. We all want to be able to shop without fear, visit family and friends, and not have to wash our hands dozens of times a day. However, whether we like it or not, this pandemic has changed a great deal. Most governments were vastly unprepared. The economy took a huge hit. Don’t go back to some semblance of a normal life and pretend none of this happened. Use it as a lesson, use it to plan more effectively for the future, and always let it be a reminder that when we mess with nature in an unnatural way, nature fights back.
Stop and smell the roses more often
Life came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit. We were forced to press pause, and adopt a more laid-back approach to life. People have used this time to renovate their homes, try new recipes, get started on their garden, and engage in family activities. We finally have time to do the things that we say we never have time for. And it’s been AWESOME. Don’t forget that feeling. Let it be a reminder of the importance of taking more “life breaks”.
Start living life to its fullest
As I am writing this, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 on a global level is 7,570,801. The total number of deaths is 422,981. Every moment we have is precious, so don’t waste it on bitterness and hate. Make amends to those you have hurt, forgive those who have hurt you, stop worrying about all the things you’re worrying about, and just live in the moment, because the present moment is all we have. Do more stuff that you enjoy. Let go of the goals (and perhaps even a few people) if they no longer bring you joy.
When you’re prohibited from visiting anyone, or from having people over, it’s a good reminder of how much we thrive on having a connection with others. We are social beings. Don’t take your relationships for granted. Call more, have more fun, have more ridiculous or philosophical conversations, and say “I love you” a lot. Even those of us who need alone time understand the importance of reconnecting with people every once in a while.
Learn to be more be more discerning of the information you read online
Take everything you hear on social media with a grain of salt. If there’s a health crisis going on, get the latest information from a reputable website, like the World Health Organization, not Facebook or Twitter. Use your critical thinking skills. Do your own research. Question everything you hear until it can be backed up by a trustworthy source.
Show more empathy towards extroverts or introverts
I enjoy my time alone, I thrive on “me time”. It lets me recharge when I have been around people too long. However, I also understand that not everyone feels this way. Some extroverts become sad and melancholic when they spend too much time alone. I may not always see eye-to-eye with extroverts, but I do have a great deal of sympathy for those who have been struggling to cope with isolation. Do what we introverts do: Find projects to occupy you, read, meditate, or just do something fun. It will be over soon my friends…and perhaps there will be a newfound, mutual respect between us.
Selflessness conquers selfishness
The image of doctors standing united in silent protest, in response to people who wanted to end the lockdown so that they can get a haircut is an image I will carry in my mind forever. People on the front-line are the unsung heroes in this pandemic. Most importantly, they taught us all a valuable lesson: That the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.