There has been an monumental awareness shift within a large number of people in societies throughout the world. It is worth noting that COVID-19 arrives on the heels of an era in which we were told to celebrate our individuality, and our technological advances. And we were also urged to be uncompromising about our personal needs.
Despite all of the promise, all of that focus on the self ultimately lead to the loneliest; the most stressed; and the saddest generations in history.
In an ironic twist however, the stress of COVID-19 has lead to a lot of improvements in society. People are so much more present. For anyone over 50, much of our COVID19 experience has resulted in a return to the casual civility that was commonplace not that long ago.
People on the street no longer avoid eye contact, they welcome it and engage with it warmly. Casual conversations are again taking place in lineups, even if those lineups are all a fair distance apart.
Also, no one is sure who has lost family members, or who the medical professionals are that we all owe a debt of gratitude to, so everyone’s being judicious and polite with everyone else.
Other than very understandable displays of short-term frustration or fears around accessing information or resources, very few people are complaining about things they previous complained about all the time, whether those were about personal demands or bad parking. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, we’ve all rediscovered patience.
As a result of COVID-19 there will be many painful aspects for virtually everyone to experience. But that reality does not diminish the genuine value that is expressed in a more cooperative and socially connected society. During times of struggle we can find some solace in actually considering the fact that many of our requests are being fulfilled:
Kids want to spend more time outside; parents are seeing their families using less tech and having less screen time; our physical health is benefiting from more walking and exercise; we’re socializing more, even if its by phone or video link.
Consumerism has dropped, creativity increased, and inexpensive, social pastimes like board games have gained popularity. And today, once again, knowing our neighbours is now seen as a basic aspect of life.
We must remember, how we feel will depend entirely on what we focus on. Life never delivers all good or all bad. As the Buddhist saying goes, ‘every coin has two sides.’ We’re not being foolish to focus on the side that gives us strength and resolve. We need that fuel for when we deal with the other side.
In the end, nurturing joy, peace and connection isn’t done to avoid our responsibilities. Those things are valued because they provide our best form of defense and offence, any time we find we’re facing any ugly reality.
Look at the bright side. Many times it is the only thing that lights up the darkness.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.