Let’s say it’s 2030 and the world is thriving again, and this whole Corona thing is way behind us. Will you be able to look back at yourself and say that you did the right thing? Can you tell inspiring stories about that tragic time in the ’20s where shit hit the fan and the whole world was in lockdown? Will you be the hero that children look up to?
Or will you tell your children how you panicked and bought all the toilet paper from the supermarket, so you could safely wipe your ass just in case an apocalypse would descend on earth?
Back to April 2020. We’re in the midst of the Coronavirus taking victims exponentially, and honestly, we don’t know what the fuck is going on. How could this happen? When will it stop? Is it the end of the world? We’re in a full-blown frenzy, and we want answers. Most people have a hard time dealing with changes and insecurity. And right now we have a double scoop of both at the same time.
And so we do what we do best: we turn on the news and scroll our social media, in hopes that someone else will tell us what to do.
It’s easy to get fully consumed by the non-stop news cycle of mainstream media, one item more exciting and fear loathing than the other. It’s also very easy to get lost in the dark corners of the internet, seeking answers to why this is happening in conspiracy theories. Is it a bioweapon? Are the lizard people behind this? Is it the final step in the plan for world domination? Or is it just that some adventurous tourist at a Chinese wet market ate a not so kosher batburger?
All very interesting stuff to dig deep into, but right now it simply doesn’t matter.
What matters is that we have to act in the now. And that means many of us sit at home, in lockdown, because that’s the best defense we have against this Coronathing. Yes, a sad conclusion when you realize it’s 2020, the singularity is near, and we have concrete plans to put people on Mars. But look on the bright side: For once in your lifetime you can be a hero by simply sitting on the couch binge-watching your favorite show. What a time to be alive!
While sitting in lockdown might make you feel like a 14-year old that’s grounded, and you might be tempted to stop taking care of yourself and watch Dr. Pimplepopper till late at night, there’s an opportunity for growth here.
The impact of this is going to be so much more than just the virus. If you think this will be all said and done in three months, think again. Businesses go bankrupt, people fall into depression, political agendas get pushed, and it’s highly likely that it will never turn back to the way it was. This might be a once in a life-time situation.
The question is, will you let this opportunity go to waste, or will you take advantage of this moment and not just survive, but thrive while you are in between the walls of your house? While you’re in the warm comforts of your home, here are five areas you might want to consider to give some extra love and attention.
1. Reconnect with yourself
This is it. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for your whole adult life, but never knew you needed. It’s the moment that always gets pushed ahead because something more pressing always magically pops up. We’re so used to being busy, that even in rare moments of peace and silence, we find something to do to calm our anxious demeanor. We quickly jump into things to do – social media, Netflix, popping pimples, or whatever floats your boat – because we don’t want to be bored.
While we’re always busy and focused outwards, connected with things and other people, we’ve lost connection with the one that matters most, ourselves. But now, you have this playground where you can truly be alone. A playground where you can focus your energy internally, where you can let thoughts simmer and give things their place. A place where you don’t have to wear masks or hurry up to spend time with others.
Sure, you can find a million-and-one things to do to fill the void of loneliness, and you probably want to. Being alone is scary. You might get anxious. You might find out you don’t like yourself.
But what if you didn’t hide behind those million-and-one things and sat with yourself? What if you really took the time to reconnect and find out who you truly are and what makes you tick? You might find out you’ve completely neglected yourself for the last years and live a life that you never wanted. Or you might find that you’re on the right track and know what you need to double down on.
Either way, good or bad, if there ever was a moment to reconnect with yourself, this is it. This is the time to reinvent yourself and to adjust where needed. You might come out the same way you went into lockdown, you might come out a different person. What matters is that you act on the opportunity you have at hand.
2. Think for yourself
Your state of mind is paramount in getting through this in good health, and the news is fucking your brains six ways sideways. That’s right: The news ain’t your friend. It’s here to get clicks and views, to push a narrative, to support an agenda, and to rail in the big bucks on ad revenue. Everything the news touches gets sensationalized and hyped. And right now it’s a gold rush for the media and we’re begging them to give us the latest craze.
If it ain’t the news, it’s other people pretending to know exactly what’s going on. And while you know you’re clueless about everything that’s going on, you get fed bullshit stories on every corner, cause
Polarization will skyrocket and the people pushing their ‘truth’ probably have your best interest at heart. They genuinely think that their info will help you because deep down they are scared and need an explanation that resonates with them. But here’s the kicker: no one knows what the fuck is going on.
So, what can you do? You have to diversify your news intake and drastically cut down on it. You don’t want to end up a news junkie consuming every notification that comes your way. Be open-minded, be critical, and don’t believe everything you hear. Cross-check things and make up your own mind. Don’t be a dumpster where every newsflash gets thrown in without any hesitance from your side.
Try to look at the bigger picture, connect the dots, do your own research, ask what’s behind something, and most importantly: trust your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably best to stay away. And if something makes you angry or you go full-on defense mode, ask yourself what is triggered inside of you and why you respond this way.
And if you feel overwhelmed, turn the whole circus off. There’s no need to be up-to-date every single day. Hell, you’re probably better off if you just neglect the whole news thing altogether and use your common sense. Don’t worry, if hell freezes over, you’ll hear about it.
3. Create something and find meaning
There’s a lot of businesses that will go bankrupt because the way they are built doesn’t fit in the world we live in at this moment. There are also people that find ways to pivot how they operate and not just survive, but thrive in these challenging times. What will happen is entirely reliant on your ability to be creative and make things happen.
You probably have some extra time on your hands, and while walking around in your lockdown PJ’s all week, and not leaving the house sounds like a sacred little happy place, it’s far from it. Sure, the first couple of days, maybe even weeks, it’s the greatest place to be, but the happiness fades fast and you’re left without any meaning.
Being locked in your house only works if you do, and that means you have to get busy. I’m not talking about the normal busy, where we run from one thing to the next. I’m talking about focused time where you commit yourself to create something or learning something new.
This might be the one time where you actually have the time to pick up that hobby or learn that new skill that’s been sitting on your bucket list for ages. And right now it’s the best way to keep you sane and motivated.
Yeah, I get it, for a lot of things you have to leave the house, so why bother? But, you’ve got to be creative. Ask yourself “how can I make this work?”. The internet is your friend. There’s a lot of organizations that offer their curriculum for free now on the internet. Many communities and activities have moved their business online. Now is the time to make it happen.
So, turn the tele off and create some magic.
4. Embrace change
Yeah I know, change sucks. But, actually, it doesn’t. Change is a universal law. We deal with change every day, but in most cases, it happens slowly, and so we don’t really notice it. It’s just a nice transition from one point to the next.
The problem isn’t that change is bad, the problem is we don’t like uncertainty. We don’t like uncertainty because it’s possible that what we get in return is worse than where we are now. And that’s the exact reason people stay in shitty jobs and abusive relationships. Your boss might be an asshole and your partner might beat the shit out of you, but that’s much better than having no job at all and the risk of never finding the love of your life again.
If there’s one thing we should take away from this Rona thingy, it’s that tragedy can hit at any moment. And if there’s another thing we can take away from it, it’s that we’ll probably be fine. What I mean by that is that we’re forced into a situation and people are forced to adapt, even if they don’t want to. And even the people that have been stuck in the same exact position for the last 20 years will find that, yes change is a bitch, but you’ll adapt quickly to the new way, and be absolutely fine.
At the end of the day, we don’t dictate what happens to us, but we control how we respond. As the Stoics used to say in much more uncertain times: the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.
So, embrace change, be resilient, and use this time of uncertainty as a blueprint for how you’ll navigate the rest of your life.
5. Opt for optimism
In times of uncertainty, of chaos and destruction, it’s easy to point out all the things that are wrong. And while many things might be wrong, what really makes a difference, is looking at what’s right. Even when the wrongs outweigh the rights, it still pays to opt for optimism. As Elon Musk once said, “I’d rather be an optimist and be wrong than being a pessimist and be right.”
The optimist has the energy to push forward, the pessimist doesn’t even try. Why would he? It won’t work anyway. The pessimist doesn’t see a way out, even if the door is right in front of him, he doesn’t trust it, and so he waddles along without taking action.
The optimist knows there’s a way, even if it hasn’t presented itself yet. He trusts the process and knows small things lead to bigger things. He knows there are a million reasons why it won’t work, but he believes in the one that has a chance of succeeding.
Optimism is the creator’s way. The optimist says let’s find a way, the pessimist says this won’t work.
There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “I wish you an interesting life” (well, they certainly did that). Just because life is heavy, doesn’t mean you should stop living it. Humans are resilient, made to deal with tragedy. It gives purpose to life. Uncertainty is a part of life and it makes life interesting. We’re not made to have an easy life. We’re made to persevere.
We don’t know what the world will look like after this or any other tragedy, but life will go on. You can either give up or live a life worth living, no matter the situation. Just ask yourself: How can I make this situation better than the situation before?
This too shall pass. The question is if we’re ten years down the road, can you be proud of what you did today?
Photo credit Erik Mclean