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How to find a silver lining in the most challenging times

These individuals have found greater purpose, passion and well-being in the midst of COVID-19

Photo by Aakanksha Panwar on Unsplash
Photo by Aakanksha Panwar on Unsplash

You know that 1990’s Proclaimers song about walking 500 miles? Peter Larsen in Cologne, Germany puts them to shame. When the pandemic put his normal life on hold, he started embarking on socially distanced long walks way before dawn, logging in more than a million steps in a month. The Agile Coach for developers also took up yoga and meditation, started savoring audiobooks and rediscovered a deep love of nature. While already interested in wellness, Larsen probably wouldn’t have embraced this level of well-being if it wasn’t for COVID-19. All of which proves that there can be a silver lining, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Hey, I’m a big believer in the concept. Without having a business failure during the Great Recession, I would not have built my current purpose-driven career. Going through the pain of divorce and self-growth that followed was essential in meeting the terrific man I am married to now. Most of us can find a silver lining during hard times, even if you only see it in hindsight.

For Sara Kimble in Northern California, a major upside to quarantine orders has been the impetus to leave a toxic relationship that she says should have ended years ago. Today the mother of two is especially grateful for her strong network of support.  

“I feel free. I’m scared but also excited to start a new chapter of my life,” said Kimble.  “Through this process of leaving during the shelter-in-place, I was forced to lean harder on many friends and family than I ever imagined possible, including for housing, food delivery, and child-care when I was sick. The best silver lining was learning how many people love me and have my back, even in this extreme circumstance of the pandemic. I found out how truly blessed and fortunate I am to have such good friends and family.”

The economic fallout of COVID-19 has been devastating worldwide. Millions of people have seen their jobs furloughed or permanently lost. Koury Wilson, a public affairs expert in Richmond, Virginia who was furloughed four weeks ago, knows this first-hand.

“Furloughs are designed to be temporary, but with the current state of the economy, there’s also the chance my job may not come back,” she noted. “I know my organization is doing everything they can so this isn’t the case, but the reality is – there is no absolute guarantee. As you can imagine, I’ve been preparing should this be the case. There’s the business side of your brain that understands cost cutting measures in light of the pandemic, but the human side feels discouraged and it can be morale draining.”

Exercise is a long-time passion for Wilson, who teaches group fitness classes. So she has taken advantage of this time to actively pursue personal training certifications. Over the past few months, Wilson completed a TRX suspension training course and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Group Personal Training certification. She is taking her NASM Certified Professional Trainer exam this weekend and looks forward to starting a nutrition program certification this summer.

“I’m an older millennial who was also impacted by the 2008-12 recession. It taught me grit, to keep my eyes open and find opportunities to diversify my skills,” added Wilson. “Keeping busy and taking the time to learn something new can help boost energy, optimism and gives you something positive to look forward to when the waters settle and you find a sense of security again. Even in these times, I’m find myself excited for what the future may bring.”

The advent of COVID-19 has also caused some entrepreneurs to explore new ideas and opportunities. Like Aviva Hirschfeld Legatt, Founder and Elite Admissions Expert at Ivy Insight in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Over the past two months, she has focused on checking off business bucket list items like launching a summer program and online course that would have otherwise remained on the backburner. “The pandemic has provided me with an added sense of urgency to help people and make the world a better place through my business activities,” said Legatt.  

Alisa Mahmic, a hair stylist in Atlanta, Georgia, had thought about going out on her own for years. Frustrated by a lack of communication from salon management when the pandemic closed down all personal care facilities, she decided it was time to make a change. Mahmic partnered with another stylist to secure a private space that allowed plenty of room for social distancing and stringent sanitation practices. When her state allowed salon services to reopen, Mahmic started treating clients. “This has been the best decision I’ve made in my business life,” she noted.

Have you experienced any silver linings during the pandemic? Looking back, did a challenging time end up making your life better in some way?

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