Written by Sam Conway

Staying positive: An optimist's guide to social distancing

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of change and anxiety! Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has shaken us and impacted our lives significantly for the foreseeable future. It isn’t surprising that some people are jumping into action and making the most of it, some are in a holding pattern unsure of what to do next, and unfortunately, some are slowly spiraling down a negative path.

These strange circumstances have given us the opportunity to reflect on life differently. Social distancing has helped us connect with ourselves and those we care about in a more meaningful way. Personally, it’s taught me lessons that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Hopefully, these lessons offer an optimistic perspective to help you navigate these challenging times.

Lesson #1: It’s important to know what you’re made of

In times of uncertainly, your character comes into play in a big way, often becoming more and more obvious to everyone around you. The traits you possess, both positive and negative, are exemplified when faced with adversity. Traits include things like ambition, positivity, kindness, grit, and perseverance. If these words describe you, they’re likely coming in handy right now.

However, character traits also include things like fear, negativity, anger, and indifference. If this is where you see yourself gravitating, it’s likely not doing yourself or those around you any good. Being aware of the type of energy you’re giving off to friends, family, and colleagues during these troubling times is more important than ever.

Lesson #2: We’re more resourceful than we think

Whether you’re figuring out how to have conference calls in a noisy house, where to buy your next roll of toilet paper, or how to get a decent workout in without any equipment, we are all navigating some new challenges. But guess what? We are doing it!

We are solving problems, being innovative, thinking on our feet, and making the most out of a less than ideal situation. I never knew that I had it in me to homeschool two kids, keep the house clean, work a full-time job, cook three meals for a family of four, and maintain my sanity. (Well…sort of!) Humans are resourceful! Need some inspiration? One man figured out how to walk his dog via drone!

Lesson #3: “Guilt” is our worst enemy

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say there are many times in life where guilt kicks in and keeps us from doing the things we really want to. Whether it’s sleeping in, spending a day on the couch, or skipping that event that you really have no interest in going to. COVID-19 has forced us all to embrace those “lazy” moments by taking away the guilt of it all!

We have no choice but to clear our hectic calendars, stay home, and read that book that has been collecting dust on your bedside table for months. My take away from this experience is that it feels good to have the spaciousness to just be! It’s liberating to not have a jam-packed itinerary and to just slow down for a minute. The lesson here is to not wait for the next pandemic to take time for the little joys in life and to most certainly not feel guilty about it!

Lesson #4: Life is humbling – keep that in mind always!

Life throws us curveballs all the time. And guess what? They are going to keep coming when we least expect them. When times get tough, it’s easy to start to feel sorry for yourself. I know my first thoughts when things began to close down were definitely selfish!

But unfortunately, everyone had to cancel big plans, postpone their trips, miss out on experiences they were looking forward to, and live in a way that none of us would prefer. C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”  And, those words have never rung more true than right now. There are people across the world fighting for their lives, and if you can count yourself among the lucky that are not, then we should be humble enough to find gratitude for what we do have.

Take some time to think about what lessons you’ve learned. Maybe you learned how to properly wash your hands (I won’t judge), or how to use technology to stay connected to your friends. But the important thing is focusing on the fact that these lessons exist! The universe has decided that these are the lessons we all need to learn right now. But the good news is that lessons lead to learning, and learning leads to growth. Let’s all count our blessings, stay positive, and get through this together, as wiser, stronger, and perhaps more well-rested individuals!

Share this blog post: