Times like these can feel like a slow car accident. You’re in a skid and you know the crash is coming, but it hasn’t arrived yet.
Reading the news and learning about the severity and extent of the disease—the number of deaths and the impact on the economy—can cause a state of extreme stress and anxiety. Then you go about your day, and you experience all the typical sounds of your house. You see cars going by as if nothing has changed. You run into people you know at the grocery store and chat about your kids and how your families are holding up. You stop and get gas on your way home. Even though circumstances are inexorably changed, so many aspects of our lives feel exactly the same.
Do you find yourself worrying constantly and running through worst-case scenarios in your head, or are you able to remain calm, keep some perspective, and find ways to make a positive difference? As I’m writing this, the planet is facing its worst public health crisis in a hundred years. The Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) is a newrespiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. As of this writing, 209 thousand people have been infected, and nine thousand people have died from the disease. It’s pretty scary. When faced with a crisis of this magnitude—one that has implications for our very lives and livelihoods—we enter uncharted territories. We face situations, choices, and challenges that we’ve never faced before. In some cases, we have to decide between our own and our families’ health and safety and the greater good. It’s during times like these that we really come to know ourselves and what we’re made of.
“I wish things could go back to the way they were…”How often have you experienced a life-changing event and wished you could go back to the way it was before? Do you wish that certain things would remain the way they are forever?There are a lot of reasons why people desire stability—they want their families to stay alive and stay healthy, they want to be comfortable financially, they want to be happy—we constantly take steps to give our lives a sense of permanence. We buy a house, save money, buy insurance, and in other ways try to guard the lives to which we’ve become accustomed.
The image of an ideal, perfect place where our every desire is met and every need fulfilled has long been part of the human psyche.The idea seems simple. We all have desires—experiences we want, things we would like—that we want to feel happy. But part of what makes those things so special is the journey we take in making them a reality. If we were just given everything we want, it would have little meaning, and our “paradise” would be far from a paradise.
How open are you to new ideas, new experiences, or new people?Some people are quite happy with their routine and feel like they don’t need anything new in their lives. But we learn and grow only when we face new things that we haven’t before (see Growth). When we go through periods of routine in our daily lives, it can be too easy to stick with our usual experiences or comfort zones. However, even if we feel like we’re happy with our routine, something new can offer us an element of surprise, excitement, or wonder that can enhance our outlook and mood. This might include meeting someone new or being open to different roles, or it might be a drastic departure from what we normally do, whether personally, professionally, or spiritually.It might also be as simple as increasing our awareness of the details of our current routine—an openness to the nuances that make each day special and new.