Reassessing the Important Things in Life
Panic buying. Isolation. Illness. Family far away.
So many negatives - but when we look back at this period, what positives will we take?
This has been a gigantic opportunity for the whole World to step back, look at what’s going on, and reassess the important things in life.
What have we been noticing?
Each one of us has probably taken onboard different revelations during self-isolation and social-distancing.
Certain things that were often shoved to one side, during our ‘normal’ lives, have become much more apparent. Like a low tide revealing something we had never noticed.
Our routine, our day-to-day, suddenly got thrown up in the air.
We were bombarded by the coronavirus and constant death through the news and social media feeds (which often seemed beyond the ken of the politicians and even the health professionals).
We had to adjust to life indoors, and working through the internet.
What did we find out was important?
Self-discipline. Working from home meant examining our daily routines, and finding out what helps us work best.
Sleep. Many of us have slept more easily and deeper, with cleaner air and less noise. Others have had terrible trouble sleeping, what with all the stress and the lack of physical activity throughout the days.
This, in turn, may have brought to our attention the importance of a good sleeping routine and respecting our sacred bedroom space.
Relaxation. It’s been so important to de-stress, take a break from the news, and get involved in other activities. As well as meditation, and many other stress-control techniques, hobbies became central. With fewer social activities, these pastimes have also kept us occupied.
Many people who in the past may not have made time for hobbies, have found that they can be highly beneficial to our lives.
Stores and factories closed. People found themselves furloughed, or, worse, unemployed.
Working from home - debated as a possibility for decades, suddenly became implemented in two or three days. And it worked.
But as people sat at home, they suddenly realized that things had changed. Noise pollution was down. Air pollution plummeted. Animals started appearing where they hadn’t been seen in living memory.
Here, in my city, we saw hummingbirds, frogs, honey bees… we could hear birdsong in the morning, rather than planes and trucks.
We could see snow-capped mountains in the distance, which just hadn’t been visible.
We all knew that the environment was important, but to make a positive impact in our lifetimes seemed, well, improbable at best, and, being honest, unattainable.
And look. It happened.
We all have had to reassess how we look at helping the environment recover from decades of abuse. Now we know that we can.
We learned to appreciate food (you can tell by those lockdown bellies we’ve all cultivated).
Snacks and fast food deliveries have been the downfall of many, but this has forced us to take a second look at the way we are eating.
Instagram became awash with people doing conserves, jams, and home-made bread.
Our food supply chain coped. But became exposed as slightly fragile. Panic buying initially meant several items disappeared from the shelves.
Our shopping carts got filled with canned and frozen goods (and toilet paper), to see us through the coming Armageddon!
Many who had never done so before started growing-our-own.
This was a reaction as consumers, because food security is at the end of the day one of the most important things in any society, but it was also to do with our mental health, and keeping our minds occupied. We found the healing power of plants, and the joy of nurturing and seeing them grow.
One amazing change that may come out of all this is that people might reassess ‘city life’ as we know it. We now know that food can grow in backyards and window gardens.
Sales of sweatpants went through the roof. People began to choose comfort over polished appearances.
But that isn’t the only priority that has been re-examined.
With the stores closed, we see that cheap clothing won’t see us through. Throw-away culture was exposed. We have reassessed what we should be looking for in fashion.
We want clothing that will last - good craftsmanship, repairability, and versatility.
2020 will perhaps be the start of a new approach to the way we look at our wardrobe.
More united with our community
People brought the elderly food packages so they could stay inside. Many took the decision to support small businesses. Daily hardships, such as giving up vacations and sports events, were taken on the chin because we knew it was to help. Phone calls or video chats kept the older folk company. People around the world took to their balconies to play music, or cheer for the health workers.
Technology came to the forefront.
If I am meeting my work colleagues on video call, we asked ourselves, why can’t I chat with my friends and family who live on the other side of the country (or even world)?
We got in touch with long-lost friends, to ask how they are, and to spend some time together (virtually). We were genuinely concerned for family and friends, and the internet provided the connection we needed.
As we assessed our lives, the One World maxim became truer than ever. The virus affected old, young, African, European, Muslim, Jew.. all of us! It knew no prejudice.
Japan and China have not always had the best relationship - however, in one of the many acts of solidarity we’ve seen in this pandemic, Japan sent China supplies. On one of the boxes was tagged a note: “Though miles apart, we are under the same sky.”
In this pandemic, we learned to appreciate other people, and those moments we spend with friends and family. Just one of the little things.
Valuing the little things
My local mayor said, when our lockdown first began, “after this finishes, we are all going to change the way we live. We will value the little things much more - such as going out into the street.”
How true it is that the things we took for granted will seem much more important. We will savor a hug, a kiss, even a handshake, playing with kids, or holding your grandparents’ hands.
Eating together. The night out. Parties. Playing soccer. Going to the theater. Chatting to folks over a coffee.
For those who lost people to the virus, or even who worried about losing people, this has brought on moments of realization. If we don’t use now, this moment, to appreciate every second with friends and family, then it may be too late in the future. Lives and time are fleeting.
There is a huge potential and impetus for change and learning, but it’s essential to be conscious not to gradually fall back into the ‘same-old’.
We have had a chance to take stock of our mental health, and our work / life balance. That long commute has stopped making sense to many, who are finding this lifestyle more productive, creative, and healthier.
The downward spiral of the environment, and the contamination in the cities in which we pass our days, seemed inevitable. Suddenly, we are able to reassess that and perhaps give it more importance in our lives.
It comes down to one question: When ‘all this is over,’ what will we have learned?
We can accept positive change into our lives - but more than that, actively keep that change growing and solidifying.
Why not share this with your friends, to see what their experience has been? Leave me a comment below to tell me what lessons you have taken from these unusual times, in 2020.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts.
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