EDITOR’S NOTE: You can find a number of helpful coronavirus resources and all related Tiny Buddha articles here.
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.” ~Kitty O’Meara
While this pandemic is turning out to be a very confusing and difficult time for many people, it is undoubtedly giving humanity an incredibly rare opportunity to learn some challenging lessons. I believe these lessons will trigger a much-needed change of perspective for how we do things on this planet and will hopefully enable us to turn over a new leaf.
For so long it felt that we had been living in a way that went against everything that is natural and sacred.
We had been living in a way that neither serves humans nor the natural world, and yet we continued on this path seemingly powerless to stop what we were doing.
It’s as if we were all part of this machine that kept on chugging along, but no one could find the stop button. Well, that stop button has arrived and it’s not like anything we could have ever imagined.
Over the last several weeks we have seen a massive change in our priorities, and the economy has echoed this to a great degree. Sales of food and health products have gone through the roof, while sales of clothes, makeup, cars, etc, (you know, the stuff we don’t really need but think we need to attain some kind of happiness) has plummeted.
In my personal life, I can feel that my priorities have massively shifted due to this pandemic, and it has been eye-opening to see how so much can change in such a short space of time.
I recently found myself looking at pictures I had taken a couple months ago of me and my daughter out and about, and suddenly this strange thought came to my mind: In some way, life will never be the same again.
I think most of us are wondering what the future will hold and how this pandemic will change the way we do things, but I feel there is no way to escape the change in perspective that it will bring.
This is our silver lining, and it will hopefully allow us to look back on this time and feel there were some benefits.
Here are six valuable lessons I think we will learn from this.
1. The power of stillness.
Our lives were put on pause, many were forced to work from home, and we can longer travel unless necessary.
With this, we were given the power of stillness and the opportunity to unapologetically slow down. There is no other situation other than an outbreak of a virus where our world would come to such a pause. This will most likely be an opportunity that we never get again (and ironically, we are all hoping we won’t ever get again).
As such, now more than ever—for those who are still under lockdown—this is the time to go within and be still with yourself. Heal, remove emotional blockages, meditate, and practice yoga. Take this opportunity to do the inner work that you previously had no time for. If ever there was time for personal transformation, it’s now.
And as the lockdowns begin to lift perhaps we will see the value in living a quieter and more peaceful life.
2. Friends and family mean everything.
Probably the most difficult part of this journey for most people is being separated from their friends, family, and maybe even a romantic partner.
I once heard someone say that “connection is something that all humans need, but we are just not very good at it.” Who here feels that maybe they took human interaction for granted before this? I will raise my hand to that.
Connection is something that is so critical for our emotional and mental well-being, yet it something we often take for granted.
After this is over, I think people will reach out to each other like never before and everyone will be so overjoyed to see their loved ones again. And just maybe we might be a little bolder and share our smiles and greetings with those we don’t even know.
3. Nature continues to thrive even if the world has shutdown.
For many during this lockdown, including myself, nature has been a life saver. Whether we spend time in our garden, walk through a park, do gardening, grow food (I grant that not everyone has been able to enjoy these luxuries), or simply poke our head out of our window for some fresh air and sunlight, the serenity of nature has been something we can rely on. While the world stopped, nature remained constant.
Incredible stories have also emerged about wild animals taking over quiet city centers and dolphins returning to waters that they haven’t been spotted in for hundreds of years. Nature never stops, and the sad truth is that less human activity has meant that nature has been able to thrive in a way that most of us haven’t seen in our lifetime.
Yet, maybe seeing nature in full force with all its beauty will prompt us to create new systems where humans and nature can thrive together. I can’t bear to think of losing our new fresh air or the animals that have finally felt safe enough to come closer to us. Perhaps this will be the big wake up call we needed.
Either way, I believe humans will make a renewed relationship with nature and just hopefully this might lead to big environmental change.
4. Material goods mean nothing.
As I have already mentioned, this pandemic has forced us to completely rearrange our priorities, and I can’t help but feel this is a good thing. What good are material things when your health, safety, and access to food are jeopardized? They mean zero at times like this, which I think just helps us put into perspective exactly what we should be prioritizing in our lives.
Since realizing this virus was going to be something that was very serious, I have barely bought anything that isn’t absolutely essential. And of course, this doesn’t mean that I am done with buying beautiful clothes or things to make my life more enjoyable, but it has cast a light on how little I actually need and what truly makes me happy.
5. Our health is gold.
Health is something we so easily take for granted until it is at risk. The possibility of our health taking a downturn has made many of us pay more attention to our nutrition intake and cleanliness. Some of us have even been taking preventative health measures and steps to boost our immune system.
If we have a working body with no serious physical ailments, we should be beyond grateful!
6. Essential workers are heroes.
Every good story needs its hero, and in the story that is playing out on our planet right now, our heroes are of course key workers—healthcare workers, delivery drivers, bus and train drivers, and those who work in the supermarkets and food distribution. These are the people who are keeping everything going and right now risking their health and safety every day to do it.
In the past, so many of these professions were deemed as jobs that require little skill or don’t deserve much pay, but right now there is no saying what we would do without these people.
I hope in the future these professions shall be seen with high esteem, and the soldiers fighting on the frontline will be remembered. If this pandemic is teaching us one thing, it is not to take anyone or anything for granted.
What Will Be the Outcome of All This?
I think everyone is wondering what exactly will come out of this crisis and whether we will really change our ways. Will we learn the lessons or go back to the way we were before—our unhealthy ‘normality’?
This is yet to be seen. However, as individuals we can make our own choices, and it is our individual choice that will make all the difference.
Let us learn from this situation and do what we can to preserve nature, to bring more stillness into our lives, and to never take people or our health and safety for granted again. As always, individual change and transformation will always triumph.