10 minus 1 things COVID has taught us
1. Spend time with your loved ones
The lunch with your mother that you have been postponing as you were too busy with work…The visit to your best friend’s house that you so much wanted to do but could not find the time…The time you promised your son you will play hide and seek with him but ended up working late…The time your girlfriend asked you to go to the movies and watch that girly movie you found too boring and made an excuse… That time has now come and you have run out of excuses…Don’t worry about work, there will be always more work and you can always finish it off on Monday. Don’t worry about checking your ex-boyfriend’s story on Instagram or watching that crap reality series on TV, there will always be a next one – series or boyfriend…Spend more time with your mum, dad, sister, brother, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, daughter, son, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, cousin…Spend more time with your loved ones and more quality time with yourself.
2. Be grateful
Gratitude has reached a whole new level now that COVID has hit humanity. It is no longer related to faith, religion, meditation and all these notions. Being grateful now has got much simpler. It translates to being grateful to just spend time with your loved ones. Special note here to elderly parents and grandparents. It translates to being grateful for being healthy. Being grateful to be able to attend a concert and to listen to your favourite band. Being grateful to catch a plane and go to your favourite holiday destination. Or to throw a party for your friends. Or to go out for dinner and not worry that it is crowded. Or to just get out of your home for no reason. Yes, being grateful for all those things that we took for granted and that we now are learning to appreciate.
3. There is no better time than now
As things can certainly get unpredictable and nobody knows what the future holds, there is no time for excuses. Stop living a life of routine or doing things others expect you to do just to please them. Stop making excuses or saying to yourself that this can wait until tomorrow. COVID taught us that it cannot…We can only control what is happening now not the future. Be present and embrace your wishes and, yes, your craziest dreams. And there is no better time than now to do what you love and dream of the most. So book that ticket, hop on that plane, learn to dance, study what you always wanted, take chances, take risks and do not postpone! Because nothing can wait until tomorrow! And the best time to do all the things you ever wanted or dreamt of but maybe were too scared to admit is NOW. Because, simply put: it is better to regret the things you have done than the things you haven’t.
4. Learning about accountability
If there is one thing that COVID taught us, it is that we should think of others. And that if we don’t, well, results can be devastating. COVID has taught us to care about others, even if we sometimes had to learn it the hard way. Because we might be healthy, we might not be in the so-called vulnerable groups but what if people close to us – that we care for and love – are? What about our elderly mother or great grandfather or friend in the vulnerable group? We had to think of them, before we took any decisions. Now more than ever our actions could affect their lives, even end them. It was maybe one of the first times we had to put others ahead of ourselves. We might have wanted to go so badly to that friend’s gathering but we knew it was the wrong decision. Would we jeopardize the health of others we were living with or planned to meet up with, just to please ourselves? Would we risk seeing them isolated in the ICU of an overcrowded hospital with breathing problems? Now more than even we have to think of our actions, take responsibility and be accountable for them…
5. Staying at home can be creative
During the pandemic, people stayed at home more and more either because they were forced to, or because they were scared to go out. After spending a few good hours on TV, tablet, social media, they soon realised they needed to find other ways to spend quality time at home as this could go on for a while. Recipe blogs and vlogs reached record viewings as people took up cooking. Others subscribed to online training courses or spent a lot of time exercising at home. Parents started doing crafting, drawing and home teaching for their kids. Couples focused more on their relationship or just had more time to argue and finally decided to call it off. Singles found time to meditate, read more, listen to music and spend more time with themselves. Home chores, redesigning the home, or just organising that drawer we never had time to sort out, seemed like a good idea to keep us busy. Home became a place where we could find our creative inner side. Spending time at home creatively or just having a good time at home became everyone’s mojo – or at least that’s what we hope…
6. The planet can survive without us
We’re back in 2019 and despite scientists’ warnings that Earth is reaching a critical point, pollution is at an all-time high, ice is melting at the poles and the ozone layer is getting thinner and thinner, and nobody or at least the vast majority seems to care. We just go on with our lives, focused on our own goals, way too self-centered and arrogant to think about anybody else but ourselves. And then in March 2020 COVID cases start rising sharply and many cities go into lockdown or semi-lockdown. Planet Earth forced us to abruptly stop what we were doing and stay locked inside our own houses. It took a highly contagious virus for humanity to cease activity and rethink its lost values. Nature started to revive. Pollution levels went down and wild animals were given some space. As a lot of bars, cafés and restaurants were closed down, people started spending more time in nature instead. In some cities, during lockdown and semi-lockdown, the number of people seen on bikes reached an all-time high. And although we believe that COVID will be long forgotten by 2022, we really hope that this pandemic made us realise how helpless we are in the face of nature. We hope we learnt our lesson. And that we become less egocentric, less money motivated and respect Mother Earth more. Because at the end of the day, nature can survive without us but we cannot survive without nature.
7. Yes, you can work from ‘home’
You always thought the office was your comfort zone right? And that you could never effectively work from home? Or you dreamt of being able to work from home but your boss/company policy would not let you do it? And boom…suddenly COVID comes…You need to work from home with your children crying, fighting or just being loud. You need to work from home with your parents in the other room watching TV with the volume up full blast. You need to work from home with your other half / friends listening to loud music. You need to work from home alone and with a crappy internet connection. And when you think that things can’t get worse…the boss gives you a tight deadline. But well, you managed to work from home, and actually you learnt to like it and found ways to make it more enjoyable. And now you are thinking: let’s redefine ‘home’. ‘Home’ can be a pool villa in Bali minutes away from the beach. ‘Home’ can be a chalet in the Alps, minutes away from that fresh powder that’s perfect for some morning skiing. ‘Home’ can be a Latin city somewhere between Argentina and Brazil with tango, salsa, caipirinha and a bit of Copacabana. And boom again…a digital nomad that wants to travel the world is born out of you…And the best part: it is all so easy now and your company has no objections to it!
8. A 9 to 5 work day does not seem reasonable anymore
Why should people work 8 hours per day from 9am to 5pm, 5 days per week? Why does this seem like a productive schedule for getting work done? Why not work 10 or 4 hours a day instead? Or 12 hours one day if needed and 1 hour the next day when there might be less work? I understand there needs to be some sort of rules so that people in an organisation – let’s call it a company – can work effectively. However, during the pre-COVID era people were getting things messed up as working crazy hours was thought to equate to success. Is that really the case? Because it is proven that the human brain needs to rest and have frequent intervals in order to be productive. Also, after X number of hours, our brains are just not productive anymore. The COVID era forced people to work from home and, truth be told, nobody could monitor whether they were working 8 hours per day. In fact, a lot of companies are now reducing their office space to cut costs with more and more employees working remotely. Also, a lot of people are now questioning the number of hours one should work and suggesting reducing the 8 hour work day. In fact, it makes more sense for employees to be measured on goals and tasks achieved rather than be expected to work X number of hours per day. And as companies are embracing remote working, checking the actual number of hours an employee works daily is getting more and more difficult.
9. Our values got badly messed up
During the time of writing of this article the pandemic is still ongoing. Scientists are testing vaccinations and we are told we are very close to finding the vaccine, but no vaccine is out on the market. Some countries – including Indonesia – have closed their borders, while cities are in lockdown or semi-lockdown once again as COVID cases have re-risen. Some are scared of a second COVID wave during winter time in Europe and USA. And at the same time for some reason, everybody deep down believes that by 2022 COVID will be a thing of the past. And hopefully the number of deaths worldwide are falling so humanity is getting more and more immune to this highly contagious virus…One should question if there is one thing we have learnt from this pandemic what should it be? Well, for me personally the biggest lesson learnt is for us to realise how badly we have messed up our values. And that it is now time to rethink things. In fact, according to a Harvard study that is almost 80 years old, what makes a person happy is not success, material goods or money but healthy and happy relationships with loved ones. Hopefully, our gut instinct will be right and COVID by 2022 will be a thing of the past. We, as humans, can only take the positive learnings from this experience and try to make sense of it.
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