EDITOR’S NOTE: You can find a number of helpful coronavirus resources and all related Tiny Buddha articles here.
“What is to give light must endure the burning.” ~Viktor Frankl
The world is facing challenging times of crisis. Closed borders and travel bans, quarantine, shortage of food supply, scary news, and much fear. Viruses don’t care about our status, money, or fame, spreading from state officials to famous actors.
Being a human right now is not easy. My thoughts are with those who lost a family member or a friend. I can’t imagine the pain of those battling mental or emotional illnesses during dramatic life changes. Some are struggling to put food on the table. Some lost their jobs. Some are alone and afraid.
During turbulent times of stress, I feel worried, sad, and confused. Meanwhile, I show up every single day and do the best I can to help myself, my loved ones, and my community.
I keep myself informed from reliable sources and stay away from negativity and drama. With all the toxic news imparted to us over TV and social media channels, it takes some inner work to keep ourselves balanced and calm.
I know there are many things far beyond my control: earthquakes, tsunamis, the rain, the sunset, the stock market, political changes, economies that are going to collapse, this pandemic included.
But there’s one thing I can surely self-manage, and that is my inner world: my actions, my thoughts, my emotions. The way I respond to whatever happens outside my inner space is totally up to me.
There is much power in hope and faith. A positive mindset helps to boost our immune system with serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Feeling good keeps us healthy!
I choose to believe we live in an intelligent universe where everything happens for us, not to us. There’s no breakthrough without a breakdown. I think we are all here, students at the School of Life, to learn from our experiences and get more resilient, wiser, and stronger.
I’ve been asking myself this question:
What’s the message life is trying to give us? What’s the blessing in disguise, the gain in pain?
Here are five positive lessons I have learned so far from this global crisis:
1. We have a lot to appreciate.
“Your ancestors were called to war. You are called to stay on your couch. You can do this.” That’s what my Facebook newsfeed reminded me the other day.
Oh, boy! That really helped to put things into perspective.
A big thank you to the medical staff all around the world, those doctors, nurses taking care of the sick, facing sleep deprivation, while most of us are currently stuck in the comfort of our homes.
A big thank you to all the workers in the grocery stores or doing online deliveries these days. I see you, and I do appreciate what you do.
Because of this virus crisis, my family had to postpone our vacation—another wake-up call. There are so many things I’ve been taking for granted! Good health. The water and food supply. The internet and cable. The car. The shelter. The nice parties with my friends. The coffee shop. The gym subscription. The beauty salon. The freedom of traveling and seeing the world. And so much more! For all this, I am truly thankful.
2. Everything is easier when we stay grounded in the now.
Life doesn’t always go as planned; it can be very unpredictable. With so much confusion and uncertainty, staying grounded can be a challenge. Especially for people like me, who’ve lived decades trying to have full control over everyone and everything—how people acted or felt, how my future was going to look, and so on.
A panicked mind can’t see and think clearly, and fear sells well.
To be mindful is to realize our mind is full. So what is it currently full of?
Here are some of my worries since this pandemic took off:
What if we end up with no food? How am I going to feed my baby?
What if my mother (who works in a hospital) gets sick?
What if our savings get ruined?
Such concerns are human. But we can always choose which kind of thoughts we allow into our minds.
Whenever I find myself tormented by “what if” questions, I check the sanity of my thoughts. I ask myself: Is that true? How is this thought helping me right now? How would my life be if I let go of this thought?
Such questions help me realize everything in the future is an illusion, a possibility, and my worries are not real. Whatever I might be fearing, I am not there yet.
I need to learn how to trust the flow of life and surrender when the only reality is time will tell.
3. Life isn’t just about doing; it’s also about being.
Today’s modern society has transformed many of us into doers, performers, and over-achievers. Since an early age, we’ve been conditioned to value ourselves through how well we do things in life. Most of us were raised to deliver results, always running somewhere, always busy.
Most of us need a job, and money is a much-needed instrument for us to survive. But is our existence supposed to be all about our jobs? What if the ultimate purpose of us being here was just to be happy? No matter how, if through the work we do or not?
Today I am a coach, in the same way I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, or someone’s friend. I wearing many hats, and so do you.
Most of us are currently getting the gift of time. And what a golden asset that is, as it means life and it’s never coming back!
Some people are spending quality time with their loved ones. Calling old friends. Reading the good books on the waiting list. Playing with their babies. Talking to their children, asking questions, listening to what they have to say. Cooking, baking, eating together. Playing games and watching movies.
Some are doing yoga, Pilates, dance. Spending time outdoors, cleaning their gardens. Playing with their pets. Getting creative. Painting, writing, making art.
Others are learning new skills, signing up for new courses. Watching interesting documentaries on Gaia or Netflix. Decluttering their homes of things they don’t want, use or need.
We’re unable to go out, so many of us go in. Sleep, recharge, pray, meditate, journal. Reflect on what’s important and what makes us truly happy.
To many, it’s a transition from survival to living. During times of pain, we are invited to learn new ways of being—to do less and be more. To reconnect with our true human nature.
4. We are all one.
In a world with so much scarcity, hunger, poverty, divisions, and wars, we are reminded that, in front of adversity, we are all one.
During times of physical disconnection, staying emotionally connected is a true blessing. Unity, collaboration, giving, support, community, service, compassion, inclusion, empathy, collaboration—such human values have never been so essential as today. People all over the world are doing so many acts of kindness!
In our community, some ask their neighbors if they need anything before they head to the supermarket. These are the same people who, before this crisis, barely spoke to each other.
Many volunteer their money and time these days, making sure older people have all they need. They share food, medicines, essentials, baby necessities. Support those who don’t have any savings or income.
Some buy fresh flowers and groceries from the small local shops around the corner. Purchase vouchers and gift cards to be used later so they can keep small business alive.
Teachers and tutors offer support for busy parents with children.
Museums do virtual tours for free. Famous singers invite their fans to live concerts from the intimate space of their living rooms.
Coaches, consultants, trainers, healers, spiritual teachers, and lightworkers offer resources to help people stay healthy, calm and empowered. Collective meditations and prayers are held all around the world.
5. Challenges always lead to growth.
Real, sustainable growth happens during challenging times that stretch us, not when everything is nice and easy.
With so many children studying online these days, we can foresee a restructuring of the school system with a new view on homeschooling.
With so many bars, restaurants, and malls getting closed (fewer distractions and alcohol consumption, less over consumerism), we are invited to spend less time out and focus on what’s in.
Some people lost their jobs, which is sad. However, many were stuck with jobs they hated and didn’t believe in—a new opportunity to find something meaningful, something that brings them genuine joy and fulfillment. A great time to brainstorm possibilities and new business opportunities.
Managers in the corporate world see they can keep their businesses up and running without unnecessary meetings and travel.
Reduced traffic means fewer cars, subways, and planes. Less trash on the streets. Cleaner water and air. Our tired planet is taking a deep breath. Mother Earth is healing.
Besides keeping our hands clean, let us take a mind shower, and do it often. In most countries, this is the spring season, reminding us that all endings are new beginnings and this too shall pass. It is a time for evolution, creativity,and connection. Let us be the light we want to see in the world and press the reset button. Let us take a big leap from fear to love.