What Can I Learn from the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The pandemic, COVID-19, is the great equalizer. No one is too rich or too poor, too fat or too slim, too young or too old to be immune. It attacks and kills the famous and the unknown. It doesn’t care if you live in the mansion on the hill or the shack in the slums. It attacks you regardless of the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your religious preference, or your political party. It doesn’ care if you have a Ph.D. or are just starting Kindergarten or whether you speak English, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, or any other of the 6500 languages spoken in the world today.
It just doesn’t care who you are, what you do, how much you know, or who you love.
It is sweeping across the globe like wildfire with no end in sight.
Sometimes there are essential lessons in adverse events. For me and many others, one of the big questions is, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
What am I supposed to learn?
This has already been addressed by several people. One of my favorites is that of MarketWatch that lists these 12 things we should Learn:
- Prioritizing our relationships with family and friends
- The importance of health and wellness
- Decreasing pollution benefits us and the planet
- We really don’t need to spend as much as we usually do
- We need to have an emergency fund
- Career backup plans are important
- Social media exaggerates
- Our teachers are so, so important
- We need to slow down
- Mental health is important
- Who we consider essential has changed
- We are all equal
These are all important life lessons that you may want to consider even if there were no COVID-19. But what about those of us who actively pursue self-improvement? We want to do better, be better, and find happiness even in the middle of a pandemic.
What about us?
Lessons for those who want self-improvement
We are not in this alone
John Donne, in his poem Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Seuerall Steps in my Sicknes – Meditation XVII, 1624 wrote:
No man is an island entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
Modern quantum physics talks about a unified field, which underlies and connects everything in creation. Who we are, is pure consciousness or Oneness, expressing itself in different forms at different times in our evolution.
If it is true—that everything that happens to you affects me and vice versa— then we need to care for each other.
We have a whole world of humans to share with. It is a time for compassion and service.
That is something you might want to ponder in meditation. If you are a part of something much bigger, how does that change the way you think and act?
Our thoughts are powerful. Keep them positive
The world seems gripped with fear. The news headlines are consistently about the spread of the virus and how many lives are affected. Every day we hear about how many have died and about how the hospitals are filled to overflowing. We can look on the Internet to find how many are infected in our Zip Code or any zip code. We can follow the death rate in any part of the world. It would be easy to slip into a “woe is me” kind of thinking.
COVID is teaching us that we have to become aware and in control of our own thoughts and emotions. Let’s look at the effects that positive or negative thinking has on our health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are definite health benefits of positive thinking. They state:
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Conversely, negative thinking also affects your health: According to Marque Medical:, some of the common effects of negativity include:
- Chest pain
- Upset stomach
- Sleep problems
- Social withdrawal
- Drastic changes in metabolism (i.e. overeating or under-eating)
So just how do you practice optimism rather than pessimism? According to the University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine:
Whenever you’re having trouble with thinking negative thoughts, expecting the worst, or feeling powerless, try any of these exercises for a few days.
- Focus on what’s going well. Write down three things that have gone well in the past day. These can be large, like getting a raise, or small, like “I talked with an old friend today.” Describe the cause of each event, and credit yourself for the part you played in it, such as “I made that phone call I’ve been putting off for a long time.”
- Practice gratitude. Write down three things in your life that you are grateful for. This kind of focus on what enriches your life can help keep your thoughts and feelings more positive.
- Look for the benefits. Think of a negative event from your near or distant past. Write it down. Now think of something positive that has or could come of it. Write it down. For positive thought, use larger handwriting or a favorite color.
- Look ahead. Picture yourself doing something that feels good. Expect good things to happen.
- Build yourself up. When you need it, lean on others or your faith to build more strength. Say to yourself often, “I am strong.”
If you are skeptical about the power of thought to affect our health, you might want to read more. Here are some suggestions:
Change is inevitable
Things will never be the same. That’s most likely understatement. With COVID-19 families are torn apart, businesses are devastated, medicine is stretched to the limit and still lacking, politicians are in a frenzy about the disease and their elections, educators don’t know where to teach their students, and …on and on. When the “dust settles” what will we have?
It is predicted that COVID-19 will be around for a very long time and we will have to deal with health, the economy, education, relationships, social life and even how we handle death.
For those who say, “But we’ve always done it this way” you need to adjust your thinking. The old ways may be gone entirely. That may not be a bad thing. We just don’t know yet.
So it’s time, self-improvers, to work on positivity, resilience, gratitude, self-awareness, and all those other things you’ve been working on.
Step it up.
And my best advice? To help you with all of this, in the words of the gurus, “Meditate, meditate, meditate.”