I’m one who tries to look for the blessing inside the curse.
Though I feel the unease around me as our society (and really, entire world) tries to figure out how to navigate the spreading novel coronavirus, I’m looking for the gifts that are inherent in a time like this. And what I’m finding is that these precautions we’re using to avoid the virus are actually exercises in mindfulness.
Mindfulness is certainly something that can enhance each of our lives.
Just think of the ways we’re being more mindful:
We are mindful as we wash our hands for 20 seconds, making sure to wash away any pathogens. Before the coronavirus, when did you really pay attention to washing your hands? I sure didn’t. My mind was always somewhere else. For me, it was a mind-LESS exercise. No more!
We are mindful of what we touch, how we move in the world. That’s another area that was typically mind-LESS for me. I moved about on autopilot in the grocery store, at the gym, when standing in line for a purchase. But now I pay attention to all of that. I watch what I touch, who I’m around, where I’m going.
We are more mindful of our needs and the needs of our families and friends and co-workers. We are making decisions based on their welfare. We don’t want anyone who is immune-compromised to be exposed to the virus, so we are thinking of the welfare of others much more than we typically do. We are mindful of what is best for ourselves in the context of what is best for those with whom we spend time .
Yes, I know the examples of hoarding of masks and wipes and medicines is not being mindful of others, but most people are thinking of taking care of their families when they do this. Most are not thinking, “How can I use this situation to take advantage of others?” (Though I know some are, most aren’t).
I know from past crises that the general tendency is to be kind to others, to be thoughtful of the needs of family and friends and neighbors, to be caretakers of those who walk with us on this life journey.
I know from past crises that we will see some of the very best of humanity.
So instead of focusing on the anxiety and fear I feel around me, I focus on the kindness I’m feeling, the generosity, the we’re-in-this-together sense that can come with crisis.
And just as when I was going through my cancer journey, I remind myself that uncertainty is actually what human existence is about.
Certainly is an illusion. Disruption is inevitable.
And disruption can be a gift. It makes us reevaluate what is important to us.
It makes us be more mindful.
And it can make us more grateful for the small gifts we often overlook:
- Soap and water.
- Abundant food (even though some things may not be available, think of how much is).
- Quality time with friends and family.
- Less-rushed lives.
- Time in nature (where we are not on top of each other and worrying about catching a virus).
I’m also one who tries to take the long view of events. This coronavirus is changing many parts of our society. Some of those changes will bring new and better ways of living. Right now there are people figuring out how to combat the virus, how to implement ways of not being exposed to the virus in our daily activities, how to reduce our dependency on cheap labor and products from other nations—how to improve our lives in ways I can’t even imagine yet.
So in times of forced changes, I actually get excited. Because I know that forced changes in my life have often (usually!) been changes I needed to make but couldn’t until I was forced. And those changes made my life better. They made me better, a better person overall.
So even though this is a time fraught with social and personal anxiety and stress, don’t despair.
Look for the positives that are happening, too.
And be grateful for the opportunities to be mindful every day.
Because a mindful life is an improved life.