Covid-19, our modern plague, is tragic; but there is an upside for many of us.
Because I have some financial security from social security income, I ‘m able to step back and see over 30 benefits from the pandemic. I hope this list helps you feel more positive.
Our Collective Experience
- Globally we are all in this together. There’s shared humanity
- World-wide there’s a greater appreciation for front-line workers, teachers, healthcare providers
- We have global cooperation to find a vaccine
- More volunteerism
- Younger people are feeling inspired to create change
- Underlying inequities in our society have been exposed – in finances, education and healthcare
- We had time to watch and reflect on George Floyd’s death – and react
- There’s increased focus on how to solve the inequities
Impact on Nature
- By staying at home, we have created less air pollution. The earth will have a 7% decrease in carbon dioxide this year
- Nature has begun to heal
- Plants are healthier
- Animals are more abundant
- The birds are happy
- As a society, slowing down has made us kinder
- We’ve had a chance to refocus on what really matters
- We learned that when working from home many of us are more productive
- Zoom works well for meetings and gatherings of all kinds and for small group learning
- We’ve seen an upsurge in new music. There’s the Rolling Stones’ “Living in a Ghost Town,” plus 5000 songs on the Spotify virus playlist
- We have greater appreciation for “normal,” such as haircuts, eating out, travel
The Personal Impact
- Feeling humility in the face of fragility
- Becoming more patient. With the uncertainty, I’m learning to take things day by day
- Feeling more relaxed. Reduced traffic makes driving less stressful
- There’s less pressure – no longer over-scheduling every day
- Appreciating the quiet and listening to the birds
- Time to be one on one with friends via zoom, phone calls or walks
- Getting to better know my neighbors and their children
- Time to paint, practice the guitar, bicycle, hike, clean the house, cook, garden, and read
- Finding new TV shows
- Watching “Conversations with Authors” from Book Passage
- Thanks to Zoom, taking online classes – yoga, Pilates, sketching, guitar, and gardening
- Finding new local hikes and bike rides. Exploring local neighborhoods
- Making new hiking and biking friends
- Saving money – no gym dues and reduced restaurant expenses
A Huge Change, But Not All Bad
It’s true our world will never be the same. So, when you feel discouraged, please refer to this list. I hope it helps.
Note: I’m eager to hear your thoughts. What would you add to the list?
Flexibility and New Perspectives
Some important themes have been appearing in my coaching work lately. One is flexibility and the other is changing your perspective.
We Need to Be Flexible
After I taught a workshop at a local library, I met with several people who are struggling with the high cost of renting in Marin County, CA. One person has decided that if staying in the county means that he needs to do Senior Homesharing – sharing household help in exchange for reduced rent, he’ll do it. A friend who has lived alone for 20 years is looking for a roommate.
However, another person told me a litany of things that “must” stay the same “or else.” This person is angry, depressed, and unwilling to change.
Most of us don’t like change. I know I don’t. However, I’m continually reminded of these lessons: Stay Flexible and Keep an Open Mind. We don’t know what is supposed to happen. Sometimes a change that looks bad, turns out to be good; the change often leads to something positive that we couldn’t predict.
I recently saw the fabulous Broadway musical, “Come From Away.” On 9/11, 2001, 7,000 airplane passengers were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. They were stranded there for two weeks, and, at first, they felt angry and lost. But then the locals took them into their homes, fed them, entertained them, and showed them other remarkable generous qualities that humans are capable of. Some of the passengers, who were strangers at first, got married to each other afterwards, and most struck up life-long friendships with the folks from Gander. Yes, it looked like a disaster, but such beauty came from the experience.
Change your Perspective
I was hiking yesterday with a man who had a motorcycle accident two years ago. He lost vision in one eye and has compromised the use of one arm. I asked him what he learned. He said the accident reinforced what he always thought: “Nothing bad has ever happened to me.”
My girlfriend, who was part of the conversation, added, “There are no mistakes.” She said, “When I say what seems like the wrong thing, I no longer get angry with myself. I wonder if what I said might, ultimately, be helpful for the person who heard it.” Wow! These are interesting and refreshing perspectives.
Speaking of perspectives, last week I taught a class on Positive Thinking and referenced the work of Martin Seligman, the author of “Learned Optimism.” Seligman’s research proved that three attributes make the difference in how optimistic we are. He studied how people view the Permanence of a situation, their view of Pervasiveness, and if they take the situation Personally. It turns out that you will be more successful and happier if you view a situation as:
- temporary (not permanent)
- limited in scope (the situation is not going to impact everything, it’s not pervasive), and
- if you believe the situation is due to outside factors and is not your fault (not personal)
As some of us face hard times – debt, high rent, underemployment, health setbacks – it’s helpful to think about staying flexible and looking at life in new, more optimistic ways. It’s wise to see the situation as temporary, limited in scope, and not your fault.
Feeling that our lives “must” or “should” look a certain way, only leads to depression. It’s more helpful to simply say, I “prefer” this to happen….and “I’m flexible.”
Finally, when life feels hard, try to stay open to hearing what others are telling you. If you say, “But, but,” to others’ recommendations, you will find yourself alone. What sounds crazy at first, might be the seed of something worth looking into. It’s easy to say, and harder to do – we need to trust and “live into” the answers. The answers are coming.