So it seems we have all suddenly found ourselves in this globally shared experience together. The pandemic outbreak has brought with it some old and new fears but I am the first one to believe that it comes bearing gifts…lots of them. It’s not just the proverbial silver lining or the light at the end of the tunnel. The gifts have been handed to us right now.
Trust me when I open-heartedly say that this is not some ‘trying to be positive while the ship is sinking’ talk. It is a genuine message of hope. Thousands of us have already been affected more directly than other with loss of dear ones. My sympathy and love extends to all of you who have already endured the bitter end of the crisis. Yet we have a huge opportunity at hand now.
As I have mentioned many times before in other articles, I strongly believe that real positive and transformative change only happens through a crisis. It’s an opportunity for reinventing, re-evaluating and leaping forward as against just moving forward or worse staying paralysed. This is what is sometimes offered to us on a personal level. We pass through some sudden change, loss or crisis and we face a y-point or a cross-road. We either embrace the challenge and see through it by making some hard but important choices or we miss out on it as we sit back and deal with the pain.
Globally we have been there too. In some crises such as past global recessions we had an opportunity to do some systemic changes that could alter our course in a positive way or try to hold on to what has been used to in the past and return to business as usual.
This crisis we are facing right now again, and we are not yet realising or feeling the full repercussions of it, is an opportunity for positive change on a social and personal level simultaneously. It is a time when some things may be forced on us – such as being locked at home and not being able to live the usual social life – but that I believe will create many conscious changes that are positive, socially transformative and long term.
I am here breaking down these opportunities in points:
Re-evaluating our Lives
In moments of crisis we retreat for a while. In the current circumstances, millions of people have retreated back to their homes or private spaces. Yet the retreat is not just physical but also an inner retreat. Faced with apparent threats and drastic circumstances, the mind and heart open up and might even work together to reconsider and re-evaluate a few important things.
First of all, being forced to change lifestyle and routines will by itself make one think something as mundane as “hey, after all why were I always hassling myself to keep up with this social event on a Thursday evening for the last 5 years?” It will make us question our lifestyle and habits or ways of doing things.
But it will also give us an opportunity to re-order something far bigger such as our value system. Being at home for a few weeks will give
us the space to put some values in the right order where they belong. We might have been putting our time and energy on the wrong things such as trying to be socially present at certain events while missing out on important family time or a personal project that bears some weight on your future.
Re-evaluating things is a two way thing. You can discover where you should be putting more value and importance and at the same time, and this is a gem in itself, understand what you can discard because it is inessential but have been holding on to it out of habit.
These are just a few items running on top of my head. The list is inexhaustible. I have this really nice intuition that this has been happening already so much among a lot of people. Wish I could hear those stories!
Changing Mindsets & Habits
This is related to re-evaluating our lives of course but I give this a more permanent status. Let’s face it, most of us have usually little time (not to speak of the will and courage) to stop and consciously make some deep change such as a change in mindset or changing a deep habit that is working against our growth and success. But when life circumstance get harsh or out of the norm for some time, it becomes a driving force to change the way we normally do things or respond to things and this can, and is, working in our favour.
In a few months time, I am sure that a lot of mindsets will change. We will look differently at many things we had taken for granted before or left on the wayside. We will change a lot of useless habits and routines and we will take on board a fresh new approach to many life circumstances that would have otherwise bothered us.
Already a lot of people are looking differently at many aspects of their lives such as the time they usually spend on useless things, creating and learning new things that is more aligned with their purpose. Coming up with new ideas or continuing on something they have left aside.
Crisis is an opportunity for positive change because it inspires innovation – precisely finding new ways of thinking and doing things that break free from what we have been accustomed to in the past.
On a small scale this is already happening in kitchens and living rooms across millions of homes worldwide. All those people spending more time at home and perhaps with limited access to resources are discovering new ways of doing things. From as simple as missing pantry items inspiring a new recipe to jamming a song in the living room with makeshift instruments or finding a clever new way of solving a domestic problem that has burdened the common man for years.
All this is fun and cool but I have a strong feeling that a lot of more socially impactful innovation is going to come out of this crisis and, yes, some of it will be coming out of the domestic space. Already we are seeing a lot of small businesses not only survive but also starting to thrive by completely reinventing themselves and re-aligning their goals to create more social impact. Many others will follow suit – from home-made tech innovation to decentralised network-based business models – and a renaissance of sorts will be on the horizon pretty soon.
One important thing that has happened in this current crisis are the creation of stronger ties at a community level. Some new bridges have been built at the community level – from neighbourhoods keeping up each other’s spirits through positive messages or singing to sticking more together than ever before through online video group chats.
Times of crises bring people together in unexpected ways and where people meet and stick together, new interesting things are bound to be created or at least explored. What is happening within the family is connecting at the small community level such as extended family or neighbourhoods and then to larger communities worldwide. The crisis is making people connections stronger.
The social media has never been active but not just because people are bored out of their mind. It has become more focused in becoming a channel of hope, help and creativity. More importantly here it linked people in more meaningful ways that the ordinary life outside of the crisis could not.
And here is where the biggest gift and opportunity lies. No doubt that what is happening naturally instilled fear and panic and perhaps the fear was more contagious than the virus itself. There is a very positive side to this as it presents another huge opportunity for change. You can either succumb to fear or overcome it – and not just the fear about this particular thing, say the pandemic and its repercussions like losing jobs, income, relatives and so on – but other fears that have been clutching on to you for a long time.
This will be particularly powerful and helpful when people are facing the same fear together at the same time. Some people who manage to face and overcome the fears become beacons of light and hope that affect, inspire and uplift others. It encourages the others to take that step forward out of their comfort zone or out of their shell hardened by fear, and set themselves free.
This has happened so many times in the past in terrible situations such as the holocaust, wars, refugee camps, people who lost their homes and livelihoods due to natural catastrophes, etc. These are the situations that can bring the best in humans and inspire each other to overcome fear and find hope out of despair. The bigger and more global the threat is, the greater the opportunity to overcome fear and to turn the situation around through the power of communities, the spirit of human endurance and love.
Wish you lots of positive change. Stay safe and positive.