WITHOUT NOTICING, HERE’S HOW THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC FORCED YOU TO IMPROVE YOUR CHARACTER

May 29, 2020

As we now surpass 100,000 deaths nationally due to the global pandemic and now witness civil unrest occurring not just in America but also around the world, it is definetly a time for self-reflection. Each of those countless victims was for someone their loved one, for others a friend, and for many of us, although we didn’t know them personally, a cause to ponder our own mortality. As we think about the global pandemic’s full impact from that vantage point, a key question comes to mind: Have we fundamentally changed in any way as a result of it?

You might be feeling a little unsettled that for the months while you’ve been stuck at home, your job perhaps irrelevant, while those front-line workers like nurses and even grocery store clerks put their lives at risk to protect yours. While front line workers dressed up in scrubs and PPE to test and treat hundreds of Coronavirus victims for 15 hours a day, you stayed at home, wore pajama bottoms in your Zoom calls, and fought over toilet paper, flushable wipes, and hand sanitizer.

As these last few months come to a close and reopening is now taking place, will we look back and think about the countless wasted hours?

Will we think about the time spent on Netflix, playing video games, or posting on social media and wish we instead focused on some sort of character development skill to take with us into our next life chapter?

If you think you’ve done nothing during the global pandemic, here’s what you actually have done to improve your character:

  • You’ve spent hours watching live broadcasts of politicians, both local and Federal, waiting for someone else to determine how many of your freedoms you get to keep and how your immediate life will play out. For many of us, this means giving up control for maybe the first time in our lives.
  • You’ve watched as people came together – apart – and provided for each other, stood up for each other, and gave each other hope as people died. People you’ve never spoken to before, grocery store clerks and nurses, have become hugely important as they keep you or your loved ones alive. Hell, you’ve sung from balconies and rooftops for them. As a result, you’ve shown empathy in ways that you might not have in the past.
  • Separation from our family, friends, and the normalcy of our lives has forced us to feel distressing emotions – of disconnection and the associated anxiety – and understand who we want in our lives and who is worth being a part of it. The global pandemic is responsible for altering our perspectives of ourselves and those around us. Those of us with anxiety, PTSD, and depression understand these distressing emotions and for those who have not suffered from those ailments, it provides a window into the daily life of someone who does.
  • You know what it means to be bored for the first time since childhood. Our busy lives of constantly needing to be somewhere or do something slowed down to the point that we needed to think about what you were going to do or can do today. We’ve been in a constant struggle to get more done, and now we know how to do it with more creativity, focus – and the power to be happier while we do it. It’s allowed us time to think and be more mindful.
  • We sat in our houses while leaders conflicted with their opinions on what we should do and the safety precautions we should take. It’s allowed us to see how much governments struggled with comprehending the enormity of the situation and misjudging the correct response.
  •  You were able to see the coast or mountains that are typically blanketed in smog and pollution. You saw the return of wildlife and the wilderness’s tranquility as you had more time to take walks and venture out. You witnessed the positive impacts of the slowdown on our environment and a small glimpse of what is needed to slow the coming climate crisis that is barreling its way towards us.
  • You have witnessed another black life unjustly taken away and the riots (both peaceful and violent) that have followed. You’ve seen a nation torn apart by the anger of the event and brought together in our solidarity that this type of brutality against any human regardless of race, color, or religion can and must no longer be tolerated.

An After-Effect of Periods of Stress and Uncertainty is Character Development 

Is the examination of the small portion of our lives that we lived in fear of death – the fear of contracting COVID-19 – what truly forced us to improve our character without even knowing we’ve done so?

Being thrown into the midst of a global pandemic with not much more than a couple of weeks’ notice definitely took its toll on the widespread population. A country that prided itself on individualism was quickly forced to thinking about the bigger picture and the uncontrollable spread of a life-threatening disease. Society as a whole had to change to save lives – and so we adapted as the pandemic took hold.

According to CERC (Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication), “Crises do not only create negative emotions and behaviors. Positive responses might include coping, altruism, relief, and elation at surviving the disaster. Feelings of excitement, greater self-worth, strength, and growth may come from the experience. Often a crisis results in changes in the way the future is viewed, including a new understanding of risks and new ways to manage them.”

What are you going back to once all of this is over? Now that you’ve been able to look back at the perspective you took on life both before and during this pandemic, how can you, how can anyone possibly go back to the way things were? We know now that our society’s structure wasn’t perfect and can pinpoint each flaw and weakness. Thankfully, now we have the strength to build ourselves up stronger than ever before. We just survived a global pandemic – we can handle whatever might come next.

Stephen Covey Quote on Character DevelopmentThere’s an opportunity to take what we’ve learned in this crisis and use it to push ourselves into becoming the best we can be in our own lives. No more wasted days or years of following a path we didn’t plan for ourselves or a mindset we don’t know how we conjured up.

How Will Your Character Change Now That the Global Pandemic is Slowing?

Although these past months may not have resulted in the adoption of a new skill, the perfection of our cooking or knitting abilities, or the first draft of the next Great American Novel, we’ve come together as Americans. We are now working towards achieving the same goal. How will we take this with us and evolve our lives to lead us more happily as we navigate this big, complicated world that’s suddenly far smaller and more connected than before?

Perhaps it is time to put away those negative thoughts about our lives and passions.

We learned through this pandemic that what we thought was important isn’t, and what is important can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Therefore, this is the time to look back on the past weeks and what they taught us. Applying what we learned and approaching the future with stubborn optimism. Will you just go on as you did before or will you realize how you reacted to surviving a crisis and how you improved your character?

 

 

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