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The last few months have been an extraordinary experience for all of us.
Parents are struggling to entertain their kids, businesses are facing potential bankruptcy, and our mental health is being challenged more than ever before.
One could get frustrated about the new normal, but maybe we can find aspects of the pandemic that inspire us to do better on many levels.
As a yoga teacher, I basically lost my job in March, but this loss has led me to explore other talents that had been hiding underneath the surface of daily life. The current situation has forced all of us to reflect on what is essential and what’s not.
It started with my friend realizing that buying a to-go coffee every day is not only a waste of money but also produces a lot of unnecessary trash. At the end of his first month at his home office, he was surprised about all the money he saved.
“Normally I would spend 10 bucks before even arriving at work.”
Spending more time with kids hasn’t always been easy during these times, but many hardworking parents have actually enjoyed reconnecting with their families at a deeper level. Other friends have appreciated extensive Zoom calls with their companions and not having to sit in overcrowded bars talking to folks they actually don’t like too much.
Most of us had been on autopilot for many years. Work, eat, sleep, and repeat have been the way of life to many people. The coronavirus has flipped our world upside down and has forced us to continuously question self-chosen priorities that had seemed to be normal to us.
Especially when we are stressed out, our brain shifts into emergency mode and we lose our ability to see the bigger picture.
I remember when climate change activists were calling out business travel as a source of pollution that could be easily avoided. Managers from all around the world ridiculed the idea that the economy could function without executives flying eight hours for a 30-minute meeting on a different continent.
Planes are on the ground and the world has kept spinning. Deals are being sealed in online conferences, and all of sudden it is possible to have meetings without burning massive amounts of fossil fuels.
Many of us always felt the urge to spend more time with our families instead of wasting weekends getting drunk with coworkers. Single folks were forced to take a break from Tinder and have possibly realised that meaningless dates are not beneficial for their well-being.
Everything that seemed normal to us was taken away from one day to the other and replaced by a cautious approach to almost every aspect of our lives.
Creating a “new normal” might be challenging, but it is an opportunity for personal growth.
This once in a lifetime situation is like a reset button for society. What is essential and what unnecessary?
>> Party people who thrived on external approval are going through a challenging episode of their life. It seemed to be normal to dress up and spend our money in bars and clubs while talking to strangers we don’t really care about.
>> Admitting to having mental health issues was almost impossible in a fast-paced world, but sitting at home for months has forced us to look at our internal struggles. Talking to our friends without being interrupted by people trying to hit on us has opened the door to meaningful conversations.
>> We are collectively taking a break from a toxic way of living that was called normal before the pandemic hit all of us.
>> Avoiding big crowds forces us to carefully choose which people matter to us and who we can go without. Making our own food invites us to be more mindful of our choices around nutrition.
>> Spending time at home allows us to be creative and do things we never found the time for. Reading a book, playing an instrument, or creating art are just three of many options presented to us during a lockdown.
>> When it comes to children, we know that being bored is a huge source of creativity. Kids use their imagination in the absence of external entertainment, maybe adults could also awaken their creativity after years of operating in autopilot.
Breaking up toxic patterns and reinventing our being might be scary in the beginning, but really healthy in the long run. Instead of seeing this situation as a burden, we could shift our focus toward the positive aspects of it.
Most of us have experienced this on an individual level after the loss of a loved one or being out of work for some time, but now, we are all going through this at the same time.
Humans are social beings—we thrive on real connections with others, and this pandemic is a strong reminder of that. It is teaching us to show empathy toward other people and reflect on our own actions.
Once we stop arguing if this virus is real or not, we can join forces to create a new normal. As a society, we are able to find new ways to connect with each other and regain control of how we want to spend our days.
We don’t need to fly around the world to sign a contract anymore, our self-worth does not depend on how many dates we had last month, and apparently we can make coffee at home, not polluting the planet with hundreds of to-go cups every year.
Taking a yoga class from home saves us from the stress of getting there in time, talking to a friend on a video chat takes away the struggle to meet up in a crowded place, and being bored at home sparks our creativity.
It could be much worse—this is not a war, it is a collective break.
Wearing a mask, keeping distance, and working from home are the most visible signs of the new normal, but underneath there is another realm of reality that is waiting to be explored.
Once we stop arguing with each other on social media, there is plenty of time to work on ourselves and readjust our priorities in life.
This pandemic will be over one day and people will talk about what they learned during that time. Let’s try to make the best of this instead of denying the dangers of the pandemic.
We can discover aspects of our being that had been buried in our daily tasks. We can awaken our inner child and connect with our family. We can do something that will surprise everyone once this experience is over.
This crisis is a challenge to all of us, but why not flip the narrative and call it what it is: A unique chance for humanity to reinvent the way we live, treat, and love each other.
Let’s switch off the autopilot and be more mindful of our choices—we’ve got nothing else to do anyway.