Now that the worst immediate consequences of the global pandemic appear to be abating (at least in the U.S.), I’ve been reflecting on what we might take away from the experiences of the last 16 months.
A crisis has a way of illuminating what really matters to us. Clearly, having good health has never been more obvious and important to living a good life. Having contracted COVID-19 myself, I can imagine how devastating the virus can be to those who are immune compromised or weaker because of age or physical condition. Thus, I can understand how fearful, anxious, and insecure the virus has made many people.
Yet, I also value my ability to interact with others without the restrictions we’ve been under for much of the last year. We all sacrificed a part of ourselves that thrives on human connection. Thus, many of us were less able to live life fully. Perhaps, as a result of the constraints we’ve had to live through, we’ll become better at recognizing the fears, anxieties, insecurities, and self-sabotaging patterns that prevent us from living life fully. Maybe we’ll question why we allow these emotions to have such power over us. Perhaps some of us will even vow to overcome them. Perhaps some of us will simply decide to let these negative emotions go and replace them with better, more positive thoughts and patterns of behavior.
Our experiences sheltering in place, social distancing, and mask wearing might motivate us to become more curious about the world around us and the people we come in contact with. We might now have a higher value for our everyday freedoms. I know for myself, I’ve enjoyed getting out and traveling again with family and friends, dining in restaurants, and being able to interact with others without wearing a mask and without many concerns about Covid infections. Like many, I’d like to forget about what we’ve been through and leave it all behind me forever. Yet, it also seems unwise to quickly forget what the pandemic revealed about what matters most to us as human beings.
Here are a few insights that I’ve gleaned from my pandemic experience:
1. Human beings are social creatures who thrive on connection and suffer in isolation. Perhaps we’ve experienced certain advantages of a lifestyle based solely upon telecommunications, interacting with others only via electronic devices. Yes, now more than ever, location matters less when it comes to some business and personal matters and transactions. But without real, authentic human connection, we suffer in the long run.
2. Disruptions create unavoidable transitions in one’s life. Navigating these transitions well is what optimizing True Wealth is all about. One of the key factors in navigating transitions is to see crises, adversity, setbacks, etc. as opportunities. Because so much in our lives has been disrupted, we have choices to make that we might not have had otherwise. For example, we might ask ourselves:
- What reliable old patterns of behavior and beliefs will we maintain?
- What old habits, patterns, beliefs, will we discard?
- What new ideas will we explore and experiment with?
Perhaps we’ve learned that we must adopt a growth mindset; that we can’t go back to the way things used to be or the way things have always been.
3. The military has an axiom that In a crisis, we revert back to the level of our training. That’s why the military places such an emphasis on training and preparation. By analogy and from my own experience, I see practicing Gratitude as a way to sustain the insights gained from the pandemic. If we’re grateful for our health, for the people who matter most to us, for the experiences we’ve had and can have, for our ability to contribute to the wellbeing of others, and for our faith, we can continue to be connected with the experiences and emotions that support our priorities.
“Gratitude is the way the heart remembers––remembers kindnesses, cherished interactions with others, compassionate actions of strangers, surprise gifts, and everyday blessings. By remembering, we honor and acknowledge the many ways in which who and what we are has been shaped by others, both living and dead.” – Robert Emmons Have you had a chance to reflect upon what we might take away from the experiences of the last 16 months? Have you any insights that you’ve gleaned from your pandemic experience? We would love to hear. We would love to learn!