The Coronavirus Silver Lining Playbook
When there's a crisis, I have an odd reaction. I calm down. Because it’s so clear that I have no control over what’s happening, I finally let go of all the little stuff that typically drives me nuts and stresses me out. If only I could remember this when things are "normal"!
Last Friday, the bare shelves at Trader Joe’s were a shock and made me wonder how long I could subsist on pancake mix and rice (two things I seem to have plenty of). For the first time I “got” how big this pandemic is: Do I have enough food to last the week? Would they re-stock the shelves? Is it possible that Portland could run out of food?
And then I used all those questions to rationalize why I was eating Smartfood popcorn for dinner. (True story.)
Seeing empty shelves at Trader Joe’s thrust me into a new reality, from a predictable universe to thinking about whether I can actually feed myself for the next couple of weeks. When reality as we know it makes a 180-degree shift, it can force us to question long-held beliefs and re-think what really matters. And that can be a good thing.
Hear me out; I’m not saying that panic is a good a thing. I’m saying that questioning our belief systems is a good thing. Most of us don’t change until we have to.
And, if there’s anything that needs to change, I’d say it’s how the world currently operates and the myths it perpetuates. So many of us live within prisons of our own making—our own minds. Maybe this crisis is the kind of pain and rattling of comfort cages that is needed to create real change. I’m nursing the small hope that shaking the world up from top to bottom will re-orient us to things that are truly important, like basic needs. Food. Shelter. Connection.
Stripping away predictability and turning the world upside down might be just the thing to help us recalibrate and create a world that is more sane. Maybe, just maybe, we have to go a little crazy in order to go sane as a society.
Where I get myself into trouble is when I “future trip”; that is, when I allow my imagination to run wild with all the “what ifs.” By trying to predict what will happen in an environment that is completely unpredictable, well, that’s kind of crazy-making isn’t it?
But, if I can pause and ask myself, “Am I ok in this moment?” That moment of pause stops the runaway thoughts in my head and I can take a deep breath. Usually in the present moment, I am ok.
Following the Herd
“The herd will always panic.” –Dax Moy
Many of my clients wish they had more time for the things that matter to them. How often have you said to yourself, “I’d love to ___, but I just don’t have time.” Or, “I’m too busy, I just can’t think about that right now.”
Since the coronavirus has brought much of the world to a grinding halt, my not-so-secret hope is that it will give all the people who are overworked a chance to catch up on sleep and prioritize their health. AND, that when it’s time to return to work, there will be a collective unwillingness to do work the same way it’s been done. I really hope people will say “Enough!” to the expectation that they must sacrifice their health to be successful. Fingers crossed.
A friend of mine reflected that now IS the perfect time to reconsider his career. He's got time and none of the usual distractions--travel, social events, etc. What better time to delve into some juicy self-reflection?