12 Crucial Lessons We Can Learn From The Coronavirus Crisis
The impact of the present COVID-19 virus has taken the lives of many and stirred up large amounts of fear and chaos in nearly every corner of the planet. As events unfold, people are falling ill, losing their incomes, becoming isolated or losing loved ones in unfathomable numbers. It seems that no one is left untouched by the devastating effects of this pandemic.
Yet hope remains. Due to humanity’s natural tendency to prevail, we know that eventually, the crisis will resolve itself, people will recover and life will move forward once again. But in the meantime, how do you best weather the storm? Aside from taking physical precautions and practicing social distancing, what can you do to protect your mental health and foster hope, even in your darkest hours?
The answer lies in the scope of your perception. For if you can expand your perspective beyond your individual awareness, and seek instead the equalizing current underneath the calamity, you will find that there are valuable insights, lessons, and even a bright side presenting itself to each of us through this experience. Life is a continuous learning experience. The following represent some examples of the many lessons currently presenting themselves to humanity at this time.
1) Busyness vs. stillness
In the past few decades, our society has become increasingly addicted to busyness. An overvaluation of material acquisition, social popularity, and personal achievement has caused many of us to become disconnected from our own inner peace. But as the quarantine forces a slower pace to life, you may notice an improved quality of the time spent with less activity. The realization of this begs one to question the need to strive for incessant activity in pursuit of worthiness.
The time spent in quarantine is serving as an excellent reminder for some, and a new lesson for others, that busyness does not equal happiness. Now is the perfect opportunity to recall the gifts of peace and beauty that are to be found in stillness.
2) Diminish addiction to time
Even though we know that time is an illusory construct of humanity, we continue to set the pace of our lives according to the clock. Yet as most of us no longer have work, school or social engagements to attend during the quarantine, our schedules have disappeared and with them, a normal sense of the passing of time. This is new to many of us, the feeling that with each day of confinement, time is passing in an unrestricted way. Suddenly, one day, one hour, one moment flows into the next, and our lives find their own rhythm.
The paradox of time, where it seems to pass differently according to how much attention you place on it, is now more apparent than ever. This offers a unique opportunity to rethink your relationship to time. Perhaps in the future, you will choose to live according to your own internal clock, rather than society’s version of it.
3) Rethink consumption levels
The economic devastation and the uncertain future we are facing is forcing many of us to purchase only what is essential. It serves to highlight the large amounts of unnecessary consumption our society tends to partake in regularly. Through this pandemic, we are proving to ourselves that we can live with less. You only need to look at the devastating effects of pollution on the environment to understand how necessary this lesson is for the future of our planet.
As we rethink our consumption levels, how can we go back to the way things were? The lesson here is not only that we can live with less, but that it is in all our best interest to do so.
4) Recognize our connection
The rapid spread of COVID-19 around the globe proves how connected we all are to one another, including those on other continents. But there is a bright side of this connection being demonstrated, as people from all around the world are uniting their efforts to help fight the virus. We truly are all in this together. When this crisis passes, hopefully, the lesson of our global unity will remain, and we will look at each other not as strangers, but as fellow human beings. This lesson, if learned, has the potential to usher in much-needed peace and harmony in the world.
If you haven’t already had the lesson of patience served to you throughout your life, you are certainly in for it now. As we deal with the COVID-19 spread, patience is not an option now, rather a necessity. At its core, patience is simply a practice of acceptance and release. Through the pandemic, we practice patience as we strive to accept the current situation, release what we cannot control about it, and focus instead on what is right before us in the moment. The lesson of patience offers a valuable tool to each of us, as it makes life more tolerable, emotions more stable, and inner strength more accessible.
6) Reassess our heroes
At this time, the people we celebrate and admire in our popular culture have suddenly shifted. To name a few – grocery store clerks, farmers, janitors, food bank volunteers, truckers, first responders, factory workers, mental health and well-being practitioners, mail carriers, teachers, pharmacists and most especially, medical professionals, all have a deserved spotlight shining on them for their heroic service to all of us, while our overly-worshiped celebrities and sport heroes have taken a backseat.
This has led many of us to reassess who our cultural heroes have been, and why. The lesson here is to recognize that we are all equal and valuable. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if this shifts how we recognize and appreciate others. How much admiration should we place on wealth, fame, and celebrities, as opposed to those who work daily to contribute to the good of the whole?
7) Creativity and play
When you find yourself with lots of time and nowhere to go, you eventually turn to your creativity in order to keep yourself occupied. If you have time at your disposal, why not do that puzzle you’ve had in the closet for years, or bake a cake, paint a picture? Why not play some games, write a story, learn a new dance, make some music? What meal can you prepare with the things in your pantry? How else can you entertain yourself and your family?
The time you are spending in quarantine doesn’t have to be miserable. For at least some of it, let it be an exploration of the joy to be found in the natural, human inclination toward creativity and play.
8) Release fear
It’s natural for us to feel fearful as we watch the COVID-19 devastation spread around the world. But as the situation unfolds over lengths of time, fear is not a healthy state to maintain. Because of this, many of us are learning how to purposely redirect our attention to more comfortable thoughts and actions, such as limiting the amount of news we consume every day or focusing on spending time with our loved ones.
Out of necessity, this crisis has become a crash course on how to release fear. For when you choose higher thoughts that uplift your mentality, you feel much better. And this is a rewarding practice because as you release fear, you uncover your capacity to make logical choices that help save lives. Imagine a world without fear, and you direct yourself to the beautiful possibility that life can be.
9) Practice gratitude
It’s as though the outbreak of COVID-19 has put a filter over the world, causing everything to appear different than it was before. Gathered groups of people, trips to the grocery store, and simple exchanges between neighbors suddenly appear threatening.
Yet this filter has increased the contrast over all of life. So, even though the negative things stand-out more, the positive do as well. This contrast has created a unique situation in that it is easier than ever to find things to be grateful for. And when you feel grateful, you shift into higher emotions, boost your immune system, increase your inner fortitude, and become a presence of grace and stability for others.
In this way, the practice of gratitude is not only a gift to yourself, but also a powerful tool to uplift others, in order to combat the prevalent fear and devastation of these times.
10) Cultivate compassion
It’s logical to say that there are very few people in the world right now who have not been affected by this virus. Surely, we can all feel its impact. But the acknowledgment of this offers you a choice; you can either slip into complacency and dismiss the suffering of others, or you can use your own suffering as a way to increase your capacity for compassion.
If you choose to cultivate compassion, you will naturally feel driven to lessen the burdens and alleviate the pain of others. The importance of this is paramount because if we can all learn to rely on one another, we can survive even the darkest of days. And keep in mind that compassion is a two-way street because if you can feel another’s suffering, you can also feel their joy.
11) The Yin, the Yang, and the flow of life
The universe is dependent upon the interaction of opposing forces in order to maintain the flow of life. The continuous interaction of yin with yang, positive with negative, dark with light, portrays the contrast responsible for shaping the forms and maintaining the functions of our reality. What this means is that there is good in every bad, and bad in every good. The two only appear to be separate through your perception of it. Both are always present, but in every moment, you choose which side to place your focus on.
So, it’s up to you whether you deem this crisis as either good or bad, but there is also another option – you can decide to view everything as one unified system. If you take the perspective that everything is part of one system that is continually seeking equilibrium, you will likely recognize that this pandemic is a reaction to a world out of balance.
In this way, the crisis is an agent of change designed to stabilize the energies of life on the planet, perhaps in some ways that are beyond the scope of humanity. The acceptance of this viewpoint can help curtail any fear and uncertainty you may be feeling right now, because you can endure much more if you understand that the good and bad will ultimately balance one another, as this is the natural cycle of life.
12) The redirection of humanity
No one knows how long the coronavirus crisis will last, nor can anyone predict the amount of damage and loss of life that will occur by the time it is over. Certainly, in addition to the above-mentioned lessons, there is much more to be learned from these times. But to find the lessons, we must be willing to consider the questions we should be asking ourselves.
For example, what can we learn about ourselves through all of this? When this is over, do we want things to go back to normal? Was normal working, or can we do better?
Can we use the knowledge we are gaining through this to help us to rethink, redesign, and redirect the trajectory of humanity to a more positive and sustainable future? If we can view the crisis in a way that teaches us more than frightens us, perhaps we can.
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