To state the obvious: the pandemic sucks. But complaining only gets you so far before it turns into its opposite ─ and then a negative attitude becomes another problem to deal with.
So instead, let’s look at what good can come from the pandemic. (Did they say “good”?) In other words, how we can use the pandemic rather than be consumed by it?
Consider then the following four areas.
1. A time to consider our history
Given humanity’s eons of tragedies, including disease, there are many periods throughout history that were worse than now. Most of us have been fortunate to live in a relatively peaceful time until experiencing this pandemic.
During Shakespeare’s lifetime in the sixteenth century, for instance, he referred to two ongoing plagues that ravaged the world, causing isolation and more. There have been many plagues that have upended societies and caused huge disruption.
Besides plagues, consider how wars have torn apart society too. To take one of countless examples, if you were living in 1940’s England, you were the target of ongoing massive air attacks, the so-called “Nazi Blitz” bombing campaign. And of course, this is just one example among so many others.
Take a breath… This disturbing part of our history sheds light on what we are now facing.
Takeaway: Let’s put things in perspective: it could be worse. As Homer said, ”Be still my heart; thou hast known worse than this.”
2. A time for self-reflection
The pandemic has limited our mobility and in-person connections. As a result, we have more down time, time when we can go within. Consider it like a long retreat, time for retreating into yourself a bit more than previously.
We can reflect on what’s going on now. And big-picture, we can view where our life has been and where we can go from here.
Self-reflection, by the way, is a key component of wisdom. As we take stock of ourselves and our world, we become more aware and wiser. Yes, life is for living, learning and growing.
Takeaway: Reflect, be patient and go one step at a time. Keep a sense of the big picture.
3. A time to innovate
Since our physical in-person contact is temporarily limited, we can become more resourceful. Being resourceful means “able to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations.”
Examples include expanding food delivery choices and options, along with construct-your-own meal kits.
On another front, we keep developing online communication through video conferencing, expressing ourselves on social media and working from home.
Phillip, for example, has reconnected with some of his college buddies from many days gone by. They now have an enjoyable, exploratory monthly Zoom meeting called “Lightning In a Bottle,” rekindling the special time they spent together many years ago.
Takeaway: Get creative and innovative. Make lemonade out of lemons.
4. A time to appreciate
Joni Mitchell sang in “Both Sides Now” that “something is lost, but something is gained.” So although we have lost some freedom, we’ve gained other things as described in the previous three benefits: a historical perspective, self-reflection and innovation.
In addition, most of us have good health, access to nature and the potential to create a fulfilling life, one with meaning and connection.
Just remember to allow for these possibilities to occur in sometimes surprising, unexpected ways.
Takeaway: Appreciate where you’ve been, where you are now and where you can go.
Final Thoughts on Making the Most of the Pandemic
The pandemic is bringing suffering and disruption. With financial and emotional hardships, we can have compassion for others and ourselves. Even such disruptions can be used in positive ways.
Today’s challenging circumstances can help us re-examine things to find new solutions. Consider what works and what doesn’t. It strips away a lot of things, so we can focus on what to value.
Maybe these times will lead to us coming together, even if we must be apart for a while longer.
When the chaos subsides and the dust settles, we can take a look around. We can incorporate the benefits we’ve described: the sweep of history, our self-reflections, our ability to innovate and appreciate.
As we become more conscious of what we think, feel and do, new possibilities emerge. In turn, we can become bit wiser and more able to make the world a better place.
We have also written further about lessons from the pandemic.