The Crossroad of Opportunity and "Normal"
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Will we take the opportunity Covid has given us?
“Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but I’m quite enjoying lockdown...”
That’s what, well, pretty much everyone has said to me over the last couple of months. Clearly there have been people devastated by the virus, with lives sadly lost; people struggling with job cuts or working on the front line. But for many of those who have ‘just’ had to stay at home, once the initial clunkiness was over, it’s not been too bad. In fact, many have found not commuting, seeing more of the kids and not having to go for that dinner with those people they don’t really like, really quite refreshing. Yes, some parts have been tough, but overall, there have been unanticipated positives.
My biggest fear (once I knew my family and friends were largely safe and sound), was that the world would go through this crazy journey and then go back to normal. Back to driving angrily to work; rushing on the tube; to not talking to our neighbours and losing that connection we have so thirsted for in lockdown. Wouldn’t one of the most terrible outcomes of this be that we do just that?
When corona hit I was in Australia, and I decided for the time being, it was the best place to be. So far, it’s ended up handling the virus well - much easier when you are an island with 7 people per square mile. Now it’s starting to open up again and ‘normal’ appears to be rushing back at tremendous speed. Whilst the excitement of going out for a meal or seeing friends has been extreme, the pace at which people seem to be zooming back to the norm is frightening. People’s minds seem to be swiftly moving back to where they were BC (Before Covid). It’s related to ‘hedonistic adaptation’ defined by Wikipedia as:
“the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes”.
The wonderful thing about this concept, is that it enables humans to deal with massive change and still function. Research by Sonia Lyubomirsky(1) shows that if you befall a terrible accident like losing your ability to walk, your happiness levels return back to roughly where it was (your hedonic set point). With Covid, after the initial shock, we all adapted and will do the same as it loosens its grip.
So, from the perspective of someone in a country pretty much out the other side, the request is this.
Before it’s all over...before the normal kicks back in and you find yourself back on the hamster wheel sprinting and you aren’t sure why, write down what’s been positive about Covid.
What’s improved? What has this taught you, your families, friends and colleagues about what’s really important? What just simply doesn’t matter – the irritations of life that you don’t need to pick back up again? What time has been precious; great memories and laughter; and how can we consider the climate more in our day to day lives? It’s so important to identify these things, to shift how we live so it hasn’t all been a waste.
Because wouldn’t the biggest tragedy from this be that we didn’t learn a thing?
Caroline Brewin is a professionally trained Executive and Personal Coach at Brain Powered Coaching. She has also studied Applied Neuroscience for Coaching and Leadership with the Association for Coaching.
(1) Sonia Lyuborisky – Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change