Making the Most of a
The Bright Side
Living through COVID-19 has challenged and strengthened our closest relationships—including our relationship with ourselves. Our lives have slowed down and quieted long enough for us to hear our internal voices and to respond to what we’re hearing. Issues once avoided come bubbling up—the ones we’ve always been too distracted and exhausted to pay attention to.
Now we have the time to reevaluate and redirect our lives. The pandemic—as tragic as it is—has given us a retreat. We have the time and space to ask ourselves the hard questions about who we love, how we live, and where we work.
It’s not easy to do this, but it’s an opportunity no one can afford to waste. It’s a chance to embrace new ways of living after taking stock of ourselves.
Here’s what we’ve learned.
We’ve been reminded that we’re resilient and adaptable creatures. When we’re jarred from a daily routine, when we don’t even know what “normal” means anymore, we figure out strategies to cope and to find new ways to work, celebrate, date, and grieve.
Even when we’re separated from the people we love the most, we’ve learned to use technology to communicate frequently and see the faces we love as often as we can. We’ve also learned that change is inevitable and that life is cyclic. There are times of calm, and times of disruption—and that disruption can be a creative process.
Most important, we’ve learned a lot about letting up on the control pedal. We are implementing and actualizing all those books and podcasts and news articles about the power of acceptance. We are walking the walk.
The takeaways from this unprecedented era are profound—and they’ll be long lasting.
We’ve discovered a new work-life balance. We’re putting people before careers, or a spotless house. Fathers are spending more time with their children. They’re becoming better partners and parents. We’re all getting off the hamster wheel and learning to enjoy each day and savor its smallest moments from morning coffee to bedtime stories.
Learning to sit with ourselves, to breathe, to relinquish control will allow us to find new meaning and the courage to redirect our lives to reflect new perspectives and values. Activities and people that were once on the periphery are now central: cooking and eating meals with family, taking long walks, reading the books we’ve had sitting on our nightstands, laughing with our kids, talking with our parents and other family, checking in with friends we’d thought had fallen out of our lives.
We can choose to redirect our lives to keep what matters most at the center. This may mean moving to a less expensive place to live so that we can work less or taking a job with greater flexibility so that we can do the school drop-offs and pick-ups ourselves. It may mean leaving an expensive city apartment for a more humble house with a backyard and room for a vegetable garden.
The pandemic has shifted our lives into a lower gear. That downshifting has brought home that it’s more enjoyable to cycle up the hill slowly, with time to breathe and take in the scenery, rather than racing up the next mountain to create a new “personal best.”
Part of us is afraid that after the pandemic recedes, we’ll go back to our old ways. But maintaining a sense of calm and equilibrium is as easy as breathing. We have the power to slow our bodies and our minds and reconnect with ourselves—one moment and one breath at a time.