6 Principles To Change Your Life After COVID-19
How to turn this pandemic into our greatest chance for the future
As I am writing this article, 1.92 million people have died from coronavirus, and by the time this article will be published, more will be added to this list. Countless people have seen their loved ones dying, countless health care workers have lost their lives on duty, countless people have lost their jobs. Yet, I often hear people, whose major problem during the pandemic has been not being able to party or to go shopping to the mall, complaining how heavy and unbearable their life has become, ever since COVID-19 has started its World tour at the beginning of 2020. I believe that’s unfair and selfish to say that the virus has taken the same heavy toll on everyone. I refuse to compare the limitations that the pandemic has imposed on my life to the tragedy that is hitting thousands of people around the World.
What’s the worst thing that has happened to me? I can’t go out for a stroll on a sunny day because the government imposed a 2 weeks national lockdown to control the spreading of the virus. This is the cost I have to pay.
I find shameful how people can be miserable about their own lives, when they do not realize how lucky they are. And the proportion of this tragedy made me realize how unbelievably lucky I am.
It is part of the human nature being stubbornly blind in front of someone else’s misery and overly dramatic about our own problems. But the truth is that this pandemic really is the greatest opportunity we have to drastically change our lives. What a shame would be letting this opportunity go, when so much could be learned and changed. So, I though of sharing what I personally learned during the course of the pandemic.
1. Be the source of your own happiness
They say the best teacher is experience, and chances are this pandemic has been for many of us the most challenging experience ever since we were born. I am pretty confident that many, including myself, can now relate to a famous quote by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal
“All of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room” ~ Blaise Pascal
After the virus outbreak, in a matter of days, we have been dragged away from our social circles, we have been told that we can’t meet, hug, see our friends and relatives: we have to stay at home, it doesnt matter if you live alone or you want to meet your best friend to go shopping over the weekend. You can’t go shopping at all anyway! We had to learn to be alone, in the company of ourselves and our thoughts. And we learned that this is what scares us the most, because it reveals to us who we really are.
2. Become aware of the passing of the time and make the best out of it
Time flies. It sounds so cliché but I swear I had never been so aware of the passing of the time as I have been during the first lockdown. It seems nonsense, considering that, when there is no much to do, time goes on extremely slowly.
But as the days went by, I started looking at time from a different perspective: every day was unfolding exactly in the same way as the one before, eventually melting together firstly into weeks and then piling up into months, lefting me unaware of how much time had already passed since all this began. The lethargic consciousness of how my time was ticking away, continued until one day I came accross this quote by Murakami
“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” ~ Haruki Murakami
The very moment that I finished reading the quote, the town bell struck midnight, telling me that it was time to go to bed: another day was over. I took it as some sort of sign that something had to change in the way I was managing my time. I suddenly realized how much different my life would have been by then, if I had more wisely used my time. I could have started that language course I had always promised myself to attend, I could have started that blog I had been thinking about for so long. I could even have become a pro in cooking the perfect lasagna by now, if I only had dedicated time to it! Don’t do like me. Your time is precious, invest it into whatever you love to do.
3. Your time is limited
Now that you are aware of the passing of the time, bear in mind this quote by Chuck Palahniuk, which you may already be familiar with from the movie “Fight Club”
“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time”. ~ Chuck Palahniuk
It is basically the updated version of the Latin “Memento mori”, which reminds us that one day we will die. Yes, not very positive but extremely impacting, at least for me. By reminding me the approaching of my end, it does the miracle: it also reminds me I have to fully enjoy life, and any instant is the right moment to do it because, after all, time is all we have.
We all know that one day we won’t exist anymore, but I think only few of us are really aware of it. We go through life as we were supposed to exist forever: “I will do it tomorrow” because I am sure tomorrow I will be there. Now, more than ever, we should know that life shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Your time is running out, so if you have to do something, do it now. If you do not have anything to do, read point 2.
4. Be grateful for what you have
You shouldn’t compare your life with anyone else’s by default. However, if you really can’t help it, compare it to that of people who have less than what you have. It will put everything in perspective: it is part of the human nature craving what others have and underestimating what is already ours. Keep in mind what Epicurus said
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~ Epicurus
and also remember that more people than you think would like to be in your shoes, the very moment you would like to be in someone else’s.
5. Have the courage to take chances
Now that we are stuck at home, we can think back at what our life looked like before the pandemic started. Are we happy about it? Is there anything we would have done differently, when we still could? Let’s not be afraid to challenge ourselves with these questions. The acknowledgement of our problems comes only when we accept the possibility we may have any. To me, there is not a better way to challenge the spirit as by reading Mark Twain’s quote.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines! Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails” ~ Mark Twain
I hope you will find it as inspiring as I did, when I eventually took the courage to set sail into my adventurous early 20s across Europe.
6. Think of others
If there is something this pandemic should have taught to any of use is the respect and care for others. We sacrificed our lifestyle not only for our own wellbeing, but also for that of others. We put on a mask and kept social distancing not only to protect ourselves, but also to not be the cause of someone else’s suffering. We should remember than if we want to live in a complex society as the one where we find ourselves to be, our actions always have an impact on others, whether we like it or not.
Since no good ever came from selfish behaviours, I leave you with a very eloquent quote by Immanuel Kant
“Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature.” ~ Immanuel Kant
and wish you all a brighter and more positive future ahead.