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April 1, 2020

The 8 Ways COVID-19 can Teach You to be a Better Human.

It is nothing short of astounding that the entire world has been put on hold.

Fear and uncertainty have permeated virtually every corner and every mind.

I’ve always been of the opinion that when you go too fast, when you forget to check in with yourself for too long, life eventually forces you to stop.

Maybe you get sick. Maybe you lose your job or experience some other type of loss that brings you to your knees. Then you have no choice but to put all distractions aside and simply face the essence of things, including your own essence. It’s an enforced time of meditation—an absolutely necessary step to stay sane and to be able to continue functioning.

The current state of affairs feels like this is happening on a global scale. We have been running so frantically, we even forgot where we’re going, and why we’re so desperate to get there. We are now being invited, collectively, to pause, think, and reassess our existence.

On the one hand, we can evaluate whether we are satisfied with the way we have been showing up in the world so far, as individuals. We also have the rare opportunity to look at the structure of the society we’ve created and seriously question whether it helps us fulfill our fullest potential as human beings—mentally, physically, and spiritually.

With so much at stake financially and with imminent danger threatening our health, our survival instincts have been triggered. The carpet is being yanked from beneath our feet, and many are struggling to find the silver lining of this global crisis. Fear, anxiety, insecurity, and greed are ripe, and when isolation and stillness—both powerful magnifying glasses—are being imposed, the circumstances we face can feel overwhelming at best, and unbearable at worst.

But what if this virus is a teacher in disguise? An unlikely guru causing havoc on every level of our existence, but presenting itself to us in the only way that will ever catch our attention: with a stark reminder of our mortality?

Let us try to picture the virus as a stern teacher, then, and take inspiration from the lessons it has been teaching us and the opportunities it’s presenting. Perhaps extreme circumstances can give way to extreme changes.

Make your Home your Temple

Many people’s schedules usually leave them little time to fully inhabit the space they call home. There is a tendency to use it as a base for sleeping, eating, and little else. But our homes are underrated sources of well-being. When taken care of, a home can become a temple for regeneration and a safe laboratory for creative expression. It’s the cocoon that makes the butterfly. Extended time at home can be regarded as a gestation period when the self can be molded into its most authentic and balanced version, ready to fly high when it reemerges outside.

Be a Mindful Consumer

As small, independent businesses struggle and larger companies can barely keep up with the overwhelming demand, we are instinctively becoming more mindful about which economy we want to feed, and more selective about the products we actually need. The current circumstances are forcing us to define what “essential” really means, and discover that the majority of material objects fail to make the cut.

Respect Personal Space

Social distancing means you notice every single person walking past you when you take a walk outside, which is usually impossible to do in a big city. It’s wonderful to acknowledge passers-by as individuals and to be fully aware of the presence of another.

As social beings, it can be hard to stay separated, but let this time be a reminder to honour each human’s personal space. Let’s imagine the safe-distance area around each person as a picture frame calling attention to their existence, a drawn circle highlighting their importance.

Sharpen Your Awareness

The presence of a deadly virus means that we have to stop and think before every single action we choose to take. We have to be aware of what we touch, whom we get close to, where we go, and whether we actually need to go there. Let’s retain the habit of acting deliberately and according to our best judgement.

Rethink the Workplace

One exciting piece of news that has emerged these days is that pollution is clearing. It’s beginning to really hit home that some, if not most, movement around town is unnecessary, and that our earth pays the price for every single trip made.

Thoughtless travel and commuting are literally poisoning the air we breathe. Many are now finding that they can get a lot of work done remotely, and that much of the stress vanishes when working in a comfortable environment. To save our energies and resources for what truly matters, perhaps some companies can consider, whenever feasible, permanently moving the office where the worker is.

Give Nature a Break

The earth is a luxury resort, and humans are its lucky guests. Of all the creatures that inhabit it, we are the only ones disrespecting it.

If this enforced self-isolation is nature’s way of temporarily banning us from enjoying its resources, if this is an en masse expulsion from Eden, we could not possibly protest.

We must willingly go stand in a corner and reflect. We must show gratitude for the innumerable free gifts we receive from nature and stop abusing our privileges. Let’s grow up and stop acting like the embarrassing guests no one wants to host.

Talk About Death

As we go about our lives, we know that death is lurking somewhere in the background, but we rarely want to face this fact. Birth is celebrated not just once, but at every yearly reoccurrence of the date, so it seems odd that the other side of the coin is considered a taboo subject.

We are not really honouring life if we do not honour the entire journey from beginning to end. We prepare for the birth of a new person so as to be able to deal with all the difficulties that may arise in the best possible way. We need to educate ourselves about death, too, just as expectant parents cultivate their knowledge about birth and brace themselves for all the feelings it may bring up.

As an exercise, we should tap into our spirituality (which will look different to each one of us) far more often, and familiarise ourselves with the full spectrum of emotions that navigate within us. Watch fear, anxiety, and worry swim around, and get acquainted with their form and their purpose.

Knowing something intimately makes it far less threatening. Acknowledge everything—from the brightest to the darkest feeling—and maybe learn to talk about it, to give it a finite shape by enclosing it into sentences.

A strong awareness of mortality heightens our sensitivity, our sensibility, and our sense of purpose. It makes us humane. While loss is inevitably painful, we must remember that no story line goes on forever. A full stop defines the edge of a story, containing it like a special message in a bottle to be treasured.

Self-Isolation: the Incubation of a New Society

An established social system looks like an incredibly solid force when the world is going at full speed, and it seems impossible to change its course. And yet, here is a chance.

While this is a time of uncertainty that may be bringing up all sorts of uncomfortable emotions for many, let’s not forget that somewhere within the walls of our prison cells there’s the chance to grow, to heal, and to get back in touch with our humanity.

Never before was the reset button activated globally. Let’s all try to grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shed all that is superficial and become the best human beings we can be.

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