We are in the middle chapters of our continuing crisis. Pundits and prognosticators are suggesting that our lives will never be the same, that we will be changed, altered by the events of our time, as were our parents, grandparents, and our ancestors. If this is true, then we should decide for ourselves what those changes might be.
If you are going to be changed by this crisis, the right place to start is by being more grateful, especially for the things we take for granted. Losing something often causes one to be more thankful for what was lost.
You might be grateful for the freedom to go where you want to go when you want to without restrictions. Until you are deprived of that freedom, it’s easy to take that freedom for granted. You might also be grateful for the unbelievable options available to you for eating, entertainment, and things you buy.
You might not have been grateful for your job, your clients, or your work family until events beyond your control disrupt those things. You may even be thankful for the grouchy guy that works in your IT Department.
The ability to gather in small and large groups, to hug people when you see them instead of bumping elbows, the ability to sit next to someone, or fly across the country or the world are all worth your gratitude.
There are dozens of conspiracy theories about this virus, something that the human mind conjures up when it tries to explain something it doesn’t understand by creating a narrative to make sense of things it doesn’t understand or refuses to believe. The best conspiracy theory I have found is that this was a plot to get us to wash our hands. I guess that while we are dealing with a new virus, the old ones will be significantly reduced.
If you are going to be changed by the events of 2020, after gratitude, there is no better place to start than your physical, psychological, and emotional health. The importance of things like sleep and recovery, hydration, exercise, and diet are all critical to health and well-being, including your immune system. It’s also crucial to take measures to reduce your stress level, whether that be through contemplative prayer, meditation, yoga, journaling, sitting in a hot bath, or simply taking a nap and resetting yourself. The Dali Lama has suggested that the best mediation is sleep.
Crisis and disruptive events can take a toll on you emotionally.
The essential things in life are not things. They are not a “what’s,” but instead, they are “who’s.” While you might miss your car, your house, your first edition, signed copy of some book you treasured, none of these things will come before your people, your relationships.
Many of us are calling the people we love and care about to make sure that they are okay. Some of us are delivering things to the people in our lives who are not able to acquire the things they need or take care of themselves. When we are worried and concerned, we recognize what’s most important, taking actions we wouldn’t take under different circumstances.
Allow this event to change you positively by reminding you of what is important in your life. Let it cause you to continue to value your relationships and increase the time you spend with the people that matter most and to ensure that they feel they are what you truly appreciate.
In 2001, two buildings fell in New York City. In 2008 and 2009, we experienced the second deepest recession in our short history. Now, in 2020, we face a health crisis to match the intensity and destruction of these events, which seem to show up every decade or so, following a period where things are good and stable.
Experiencing these events can prepare you for the next disruption or crisis. Navigating through a crisis is how you learn to find your way when there is no playbook, and when there are more unknowns than knowns. Part of the experience is learning to live with the unknowns, something that makes it is easier to accept when faced with similar challenges. The other part of the experience is making decisions, right or wrong, and learning what works and what doesn’t.
The greatest of human attributes, the linchpin of all character traits, is resourcefulness, our creativity as applied to our problems, challenges, and obstacles, our ingenuity.
If there is a trait you find in all human beings, except for those plagued by learned helplessness, it is the ability to discover and create solutions to intractable problems. I’m referring to problems like polio, measles, mumps, smallpox, traveling through space, feeding a growing population with fewer resources, and miniaturizing supercomputers to fit in your pocket allowing you to have a television, movie theater, radio, video camera, calendar, communication hub, conference calls, email, books, newspapers, notebooks, habit trackers, and a zillion other apps. All of which is to say, “We’ve got this.”
The lessons you learn now will prepare you for the next crisis, even if only preparing you to operate in a world of unknowns.
Your goals and dreams might not have been getting the time and the energy they deserved. You might have written them down at the end of last year, only to allow them to sit collecting dust, making little or no progress on what you profess to want. Let this be a time you increase your commitment to your goals and dreams.
A positive change from a disruptive event like the one we are experiencing now is to finally take action on your goals and dreams, giving them priority over other things, including your excuses, your distractions, and procrastination. There is magic in goals so big they scare you and even more magic in doing the work that brings them life.
You can be reborn in times of turmoil and tumult. You can decide to be changed by being more, doing more, having more, and contributing more in the face of the disruption. It’s an act of defiance to live a life of your choosing and your design under ordinary circumstances, and it’s a revolution to do so in a crisis.
If you are going to be changed by this crisis, be intentional about that change and allow it to make you stronger.
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