In every situation there are a multitude of perspectives, and COVID-19 is no exception.
On the one hand, we’ve got a global viral pandemic that the world hasn’t seen since the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in 1918. On the other, we have society coming together in displays of solidarity, kindness, and support for one another.
As my friend and colleague Sayre Darling so poignantly says, “It only took a pandemic…”
While you may label any of our present conditions “bad” or “good” depending on your perspective, these are certainly unusual and uncertain times. And perhaps the most challenging piece is that we can’t predict what’s coming next. Sure, we have scientific studies and history books, but they can’t tell the future. We have to create it.
With the onslaught of daily news updates and social media noise, it can be easy to focus on all of the negative aspects associated with this pandemic—the deaths, sickness, social spread, and the loss of so many plans. But in the grief, there’s also good—people coming together to make masks, distribute food, and offer support in new and creative ways.
Being a relentless optimist, I’ve spent most of my life learning how to focus on the positive aspects of every experience. It’s something I learned from my Mother, who learned it from her Father, who learned it from growing up largely on his own during the Great Depression.
Much like the Chinese symbol for crisis—presenting both danger and opportunity—there are many gifts being born of this pandemic, and one of the biggest benefits of this crisis is the gift of time.
Before COVID-19, we spent copious amounts of time traveling to and from work; running from one activity to the other; shuttling kids to and from school and sports; attending concerts, sports, shows, and other events—all of which have currently ceased, at least for the time being.
Suddenly, we’ve reclaimed big blocks of time—and we are all discovering the true meaning of how to use the time we have more productively. Time is valuable, but it’s also expendable, and how we choose to spend our precious time is up to each one of us.
Here are few of the ways in which our use of time has been affected positively by these circumstances that are out of our control:
Time with family. Sheltering in place has brought families together—for better or worse—and has created a unique opportunity for people to become explosively creative. It may take some adjustments, but time with family is never wasted. When we look back on this crisis in the future, the extra time spent together can create special memories that will last a lifetime. Take the time to create those memories now.
Time with yourself. Even if you haven’t spent much time with yourself in the past, you’ll have received opportunities for healthy doses of introspection in the past couple of months. Whether setting aside time to relax or time to work, creating a personal space has become a priority, not a luxury. And if the saying is correct and home is truly “where the heart is,” then it’s time to do the homework and time to reconnect with yourself.
Time to appreciate. We’ve been given the opportunity to appreciate the things and people already in our lives. In times of crisis, we’re often reminded of the things we take for granted, such as our daily freedoms and normal routines. Now that we’ve lost some of those things, we can see what’s really important and develop a sense of gratitude for what we still have. When we stop and look around us, there is always something or someone to appreciate.
Time to re-evaluate. When we have an opportunity to step back and look at things from a higher view, we see them differently. Perhaps many of our previous priorities really weren’t that important after all. The busyness that we claimed was consuming our lives is no longer there. Now we can see what’s really important—which is more about the people and relationships than about the stuff.
Time for nature to heal. Among all of the devastating effects of COVID-19 on people and the economy, there have also been tremendous benefits to the planet due to reduction in road and air traffic, industrial pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Talk about irony. Looks like it’s finally time for Mother Nature to take off her ventilator and breath some fresh air again. Let her.
Time for new direction. For millions of people, COVID-19 will be blamed for their being furloughed or laid off. Some will be able to return to work. But for many, that won’t be a reality. This is a time of change and can be an opportunity to create a new career direction. Sometimes, change comes to us in the most unlikely of forms, but that doesn’t mean the change won’t turn into something good.
Regardless of the long-term effects that COVID-19 will have on our planet, our homes, our health, and our hearts, we’ve been given an opportunity to re-examine what we focus on and how we spend our valuable time. And understanding the potential benefits this pandemic is having on our lives helps us create positive changes in the ways we spend our energy—and for that, we can be grateful.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is a career coach, best-selling author, and founder of The White Box Club™ — live coaching and resources for people in career transition. Find his syndicated blogs on Thrive Global, Medium, and The Huffington Post. Learn more at connect.michaelcreative.com
Want to continue this conversation? Join Michael online May 20th for the Saint Paul Mastering the Law of Attraction Meetup where he’ll be presenting more about the power of clarity and how our thoughts create our experiences.