It is hard to imagine that anything good could come out of the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020, especially as we are witnessing the loss of life, the impact on the healthcare system, and what the Wall Street Journal calls “a tsunami of economic destruction” that is having a real and palpable impact on the lives of millions around the world.
But amidst all of the challenges, I ask: Is there a silver lining in all of this? Is there hope in the aftermath of these historic and epic times? I believe that there is, and we are witnessing it every day in the people who are rising above the tragedy and noise with optimism, hope and humanity. For those who are impacted more severely, it may require digging a little deeper to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
There are those who may never fully recover after losing loved ones or dealing with the personal financial devastation that this epidemic has caused, yet who may look back and see how they grew from the experience, were never completely overpowered or defeated by it. They acknowledge that pain in life is inevitable, but suffering is most definitely a choice.
The real winners will be those who are willing to face this disaster with optimism and seize the opportunities as they arise from the cloud of dust. It is a universal law that after every hurricane there is a calm when the waves and storms subside, when the sun returns and life regenerates spontaneously. It is within that calm where you find those who are pining in their sorrows, and wallowing in the mire of loss, while others immediately start cleaning up, rebuilding and looking for ways to help others to do the same. Indomitable spirits like these seem to move forward, unattached to their material losses and are always alert, attentive, willing and able to charge forward and reconstruct their lives with optimism. They are like a magnet, attracting and finding new opportunities in their way, as they are ever determined to come off conqueror.
I’ve been studying the events surrounding this pandemic with intense interest. I’ve been inspired over and over again by those whose mindset of optimism and charity is cemented so deeply into their being that it is second nature for the to immediately begin looking for ways to lift the spirits of others and to solve problems, even in the chaos that surrounds them. While there are those who focus on finger pointing, doom, gloom, and conspiracy theories, I think I would rather be inspired by the voices of reason, hope, kindness, optimism and most of all, godly charity.
As you determine how you will respond to this world-changing time, here are a few tips that might help you create the same kind of mindset as those who seem to be immovable in their resolve to win in the long run, and to share their winning attitude with others.
Before you can see the silver lining, you must be willing to…
Choose to see the beauty instead of the ugly
We’ve all seen the famous optical illusion that I will call “Young Girl – Old Woman” where the same picture can be perceived or seen either as an old, tired woman looking down towards the ground, or a youthful, prosperous and beautiful woman draped in elegant clothing. The one you see depends greatly on the patterns your eye first picks up on. If you are willing to change your perspective, your mind will see something completely different, and it will continue to see the one that it decides it wants to see. Perspective is a conscious choice.
I have made a conscious decision to try and see the good and the beauty in humanity, and I highly recommend it as a strategy for dealing with this pandemic. It will lift your spirits to see great acts of compassion and charity as people forget about their political, religious, or cultural differences, and simply serve and love each other.
Reverse your habits of resistance
I often observe people who seem to have a need to be involved in a fight against some kind against a social injustice or in opposition to the “other” political view. Many of their causes are noble, while others I may not agree with. Who can be sure they are absolutely right? And yet, they are so enveloped in their causes that they seem to lack the objectivity to change their views or perspective when valid or revealing information should cause them to be able to see things differently. They are so emotionally invested into their causes with their followers that they have to dig in deeper. It is a way of life, and yet I always wonder, can they really be at peace with themselves when they are always at odds with their world?
When I was a child we used to play with Chinese Handcuffs, or what are also called The Chinese Finger Trap. This little gag device is made from a woven cylinder of bamboo that slides over your index fingers. When someone asks you to put them on, your fingers slide right in but as soon as you try to pull them out the device quickly contracts around your fingers, trapping them inside. The harder you resist as you try to pull your fingers out of the grip, the tighter the grip becomes. The only way out is to relax instead of fight, and the grip releases.
There is a great life lesson in Chinese Handcuffs. Whenever you feel a need to put up a resistance to anything, you are expressing some form of non-acceptance, or resistance to what “is.” But if you are able to relax your mind and heart, and become an unattached observer, the answers seem to appear with more clarity. Yes, there are times when revolutions are necessary. But most of the time, when we resist what is, we are simply in the habit of creating a fight against something we do not like or understand, and it is usually met with an equal resistance from the other side.
The universe is like a mirror that reflects back at you the same kind of energy you put into it. Whether that energy be positive, negative or indifferent, our perspectives and energies are so important in determining how our life manifests itself. The great sages and wisdom teachers over the centuries have continually taught that this is the essence of the law of attraction, the golden rule and the law of the harvest. You reap what you sow, which is either abundance or lack, or something in between. The abundance of the universe cannot come towards you when you are in a negative or resistant mode of thinking. Remember, energy flows where your attention goes. When you realize this principle, it becomes easier and more motivating to change your mindset from one of resistance, to acceptance and optimism.
Acknowledge the mess, but don’t become attached to it
It’s ok to acknowledge the mess we are in, and to recognize that there are long-term implications for the entire world. It has been suggested that our management of the outbreak will bankrupt more people than the virus kills. But giving energy to the disaster is an entirely different thing.
Everyone is wondering how they will climb out of this mess. Knowing how to deal with COVID-19 is a modern-day quandary and we are treading new waters in a very different world from pandemics of the past. We live in an era where everyone is tightly knitted into an interdependent global economic infrastructure and the economic ripple effect is far greater than pandemics of the past.
Perhaps we just need to trust the many health experts, government leaders, and other decision makers who are doing their very best with the information they have, without being harsh critics or armchair quarterbacks. There is no upside in dwelling on conspiracy theories or partisan politics, either. This is hard stuff and we will make mistakes. But hopefully it will give us insights that will help us be better prepared for what could be a much more sinister event in the future.
Stay engaged in the arena
Over a hundred years ago, former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, travelled to Paris to give an important speech about citizenship in the republic. In that discourse he delivered a quote known as the “Man in the Arena” and it has stood the test of time, both in relevance and impact.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I hope we can all have the courage to stay in the arena and not give up. We can do this! We can have in our hearts the resolve not to be defeated by this monster that is a hundred times smaller than a grain of sand. And by so doing, we might experience a change in perspective that will allow us to see something other than a devastating pandemic.
The Silver Lining
If you are willing, and if you set your mind to it, you will see the silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have to take off the Chinese handcuffs, as well as consciously work to change the way you naturally or habitually want to see things. When you change your lens, you will then enable your eyes to see something beautiful with a totally different perspective than solely seeing a disaster and its collateral damage. Your outlook will change, and you might see the opportunity to experience gratitude like you never have before, which will enable you to find ways to rebuild, thrive and share your infectious hope with others. You will have developed a mindset that is ready to see the abundance in the aftermath, and you will find hope along with myriad other benefits like these:
1. You aren’t fighting about politics and things that don’t matter
Instead of worrying about being right about politics, religion, social status, economic philosophies, health, or whatever, you are likely seeing ways you can help, and your attitude will be far more contagious than the disease, so others will derive strength from you.
2. You have likely developed more gratitude for things that do matter
If you haven’t already, you will also gain an increased appreciation for what is really important in life. Things with lasting value such as health, family, love and connectedness, and a simple, less cluttered life. You might also find that you have developed a new appreciation for spiritual development, a pursuit that is sure to pay dividends in the future.
3. You will be better prepared next time around
You will likely have a newfound resolve to have a stash of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, N95 masks, cooking oil, flour, yeast, and some emergency essentials in your home for the future. We all want to feel better prepared for what could be something even worse than the coronavirus.
4. You are likely finding ways to reinvent yourself
In a crisis like this one, you realize that your skills, marketability and experience may not be as marketable in a down economy that will likely result from this pandemic. Hopefully, the downturn has created a perfect opportunity to sharpen your saw, and to learn something new, or to develop or utilize talents that have been put on the back burner out of necessity.
5. You are finding ways to recharge your batteries
While many are working longer and harder than they ever have, most of us have some extra time without a commute, or without employment, or during the downcycle of business. It is an opportunity to recharge our batteries. Read some books, do some writing, find time to exercise or do something new. Even if you are as busy as ever, the change in routine gives your mind a break from the ordinary pace of life and affords an opportunity to refill the emotional, physical or spiritual gas tank. We can also take the time to organize & declutter our lives and get to a few projects that have been waiting for our attention. Do it, it is liberating!
6. You are seeing new opportunities and you are ready to pounce
Coming out of the pandemic we will see pent-up demand for rebuilding and growth. If we have prepared ourselves and our mindset, we will be able to take advantage of the wave of opportunity that will likely follow, and with a little luck we will find successes we never thought possible. They say that luck is where opportunity and preparedness meet. Those who are alert, attentive, aware and ready will be the “luckiest.” They will be the ones who find the new opportunities and will be ready to cease the moment as the opportunities appear.
7. You are restoring your faith in humanity
The greatest silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic is definitely the opportunity to restore your hope and love of humanity. The charity that is being shared world-wide is beyond inspiring. The willingness of healthcare workers to put themselves at risk to save others is staggering. The politicians in every country who are breaking down partisan lines to find bipartisan solutions shows that even politicians can work together when they are motivated by the greater good. And the greatest inspiration will come as you witness the miracles of healing that come from the helping hands of people serving people.
There is beauty all around, and if we are willing to see it, we just might find that silver lining in the mist of such a devasting pandemic as COVID-19.
VP of Marketing