Covid-19 is perhaps one of the biggest challenges this generation will face.
And it has impacted life at all levels—mental and physical health, economy, jobs, travel, big and small businesses, education, property, gold, share markets, basic needs, and freedom. Basically, there is perhaps no one individual on this planet who could claim that this pandemic has not affected him or her at all.
Everyone of us is leading a life that is slightly or majorly different from the one we led prior to the explosion of the virus. The problems, suffering, deaths, destruction, devastation, and sheer helplessness are unimaginable and cannot be described. And yet, today, as I stand looking out at the world, I have a choice to make: do I focus on what is unpleasant, scary, unwanted, worrisome, and take a fatalistic, pessimistic view, or do I voluntarily shut out the negative and focus on the positives that I have accrued, personally, due to the pandemic and lockdown?
Each one of us has the same choice to make. Granted, some of us are much less affected, while others have lost their jobs, income, and their close ones. Yet, I would still say: “Where do you want to focus? On the loss or on the gifts?”
Today, I choose to focus, with gratitude and joy, on the gifts that this pandemic has brought me, while keeping at the back of my mind my duties as a doctor and as a citizen of my country and this planet to engage in safe health practices, hand washing, wearing a mask, avoiding anything that is not absolutely necessary, actively promoting social distancing, and following the guidelines issued by the government and by the World Health Organisation.
Here is a list of 20 things in 2020 which I am thankful for—my Covid-19 gratitude list:
1. This pandemic and lockdown has given me enough time to be able to relax, rest, and think about my life, my priorities, my beliefs, my dreams, my shortcomings, my relationships, my passions, and my goals—something that feels impossible to do when life is spinning by, like crazy.
2. This situation has made me realise who my true friends are, and who they are not. We can now, because of this tragedy, easily identify those who genuinely care about and love us, and those who are in relationship with us out of compulsion or out of their own needs.
3. I have realised who I love, and who or what is dear to me. They are my close family and a handful of friends, with whom I am in daily contact over the phone—people who honestly ask each other, “How are you? How are you coping? Is there anything you need? Take care. Stay safe.”
4. I recognize that the human mind is capable of flights of fantasy, can take us into the future, and can fabricate all sorts of scary scenarios. I am grateful that this pandemic has made me understand the true value of being focused on the present moment, the now. I used to talk about being in the now, but now I know what it really means—where the moment I think about tomorrow, my heart races and my palms sweat and I am forced to bring my thoughts back to what is actually happening, in this moment.
5. Every morning, I am grateful that I am alive and my immediate family and friend circle is healthy. I thank the Almighty for keeping us safe, for today.
6. I have realised that fear comes naturally to us, and every fear is actually a chance for us to go through it and overcome it. But invariably, when there is no pressure, we tend to avoid or deny it. The coronavirus pandemic has ensured that we have nowhere to escape; we are being forced to face our fears, head on, if we are to remain healthy and safe.
7. Money is needed, of course, but the pandemic has taught me how little we actually need to have a fulfilling life. We only need 25 to 50 percent of what we were spending. The rest is luxury.
8. The biggest challenge of the pandemic is to the human ego, and especially to hypocrisy. This pandemic has shown me that only truth can survive. There is no place for hypocrisy in the world post-coronavirus, and the sooner we realise this, the better it is for everyone.
9. I am thankful to be able to see a sunrise or a sunset, a bird chirping, a dog crossing the street—things I took for granted earlier. I’ve learned to cherish everything.
10. I now see that nature can easily exist without man, but man wouldn’t last very long without nature, which is a humbling revelation.
11. Man is an interdependent creature, and this virus has made us value those who work with us or for us. We have a chance to witness their true value and to hold them close to our heart in the future.
12. Love is the only thing that truly matters. Everything else—money, pride, fame, assets, position, degrees, arrogance—all stand paralysed in the wake of the virus. But love is the only thing growing along with the virus. And in the end, love will be what helps us triumph over the virus.
13. Health is so important and we tend to neglect it so easily by poor eating choices, lack of exercise, lack of rest, and unnecessary worry. Covid-19 affects those with pre-existing diseases, and it is an incentive for all of us to pull up our socks and start eating healthy and moving our body, so that we keep lifestyle diseases at bay. Eventually, the difference between those who survived and those who did not might be the presence of these lifestyle changes.
14. There is nothing like cooking our own food. Once this epidemic is over, we need to think twice, thrice, or even more, before picking up the phone and ordering unhealthy meals or junk food.
15. When life decides to humble us, we often have no defence mechanisms, and humanity can crumble in a matter of weeks or months. This is enough to fill me with awe, reverence, and gratitude for this life.
16. We are all visitors on this planet, inhabiting it for a particular amount of time. We are tenants, but problems have arisen because in spite of being tenants, we have started behaving like owners, doing what we please with this planet, without asking permission. We violate this planet, we pollute it, and destroy it for personal gains, without realising that this world doesn’t belong to us. We are only passing by. How would we feel if we rented out our house to someone and that person destroyed it? Are we not guilty of the same offence to planet earth? It’s time to think about how we’ve contributed to that destruction and what we can do to fix it.
17. I have developed a newfound respect and love for those who put duty above personal safety: healthcare workers, truck drivers, grocery shop workers, nurses, ward boys, soldiers, policemen—hats off to you.
18. I have realised that 90 percent of my stress comes from listening to the news and reading stuff people share on social media. For two days, I shut myself off from the television and internet. My stress levels dropped considerably. I would advise others to try out this experiment, especially now, and see for yourself how much you are adding misery and stress to your lives by remaining electronically connected all the time.
19. The basic industries dealing in food, health, electricity, the internet, and water will never face recession. If you are planning to invest your money in the future, these are good areas in which to do so.
20. If you don’t have faith or trust—in yourself, in your family, in your friends, in your community, in your country, in your elected leaders, in the goodness of mankind, in truth, or in God—you are in for a rough ride, not only during this pandemic, but all through your life.
Take care, wash your hands, wear masks, keep at a safe distance, and stay at home. And hold tight to your unlimited faith and trust.