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A new kind of world peace?

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

-Kitty O’Meara

This poem does a great job at summing up how many of us are dealing with the changes in our world, those of us who are lucky enough to ‘shelter-at-home’. As described in the reports of the Spanish flu, so many working in healthcare, (many were volunteers), risked their lives in order to serve others. In the end, it was because of the pandemic that Canada created a federal department of health. That is just one example of how society improves after taking a turn for the worse.

A group photograph of employees from the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Calgary during the Spanish flu epidemic. Wearing masks in public was made compulsory by the Alberta government on October 25, 1918. Coughing, sneezing, and spitting in public became finable offences in Regina.
GLENBOW ARCHIVES/NA-964-22

What kind of changes would you like to make in your post covid-19 lifestyle? Not that coronaviruses will be banished, but the current shelter-at-home and/or quarantine orders will be lifted somewhat. In that new world, how do you want to live?

In a recent business meeting, (over zoom), one of the leaders at my workplace gave a description of ‘misses’. See below for my perspective:

  1. What I miss most – hugs, going out for dinner and travelling to visit my family
  2. What I won’t miss – the word ‘unprecedented’, masks and social distancing, (although I think it will be awhile before these things disappear from the lexicon and daily habits
  3. What I don’t miss – my commute, open seating plan at work with far less than 6′ of separation between people

The leader went on to describe that in Chinese the character for the word ‘crisis’ is a combination of ‘danger’ + ‘opportunity’. From that one thinks of the silver linings coming out of the worldwide covid-19 situation. For me it is easy to describe:

  • time to cultivate my garden
  • greater focus on health, (particularly exercise)
  • more sleep

I love the fact that we are starting to think about what this time at home has meant to us in terms of a positive experience, rather than only an inconvenience. I am taking 2 online courses. We are eating together as a family, almost every meal. I have time for deep conversations on a daily basis with each of my family members that I live with. This connection has strengthened over our time together and I treasure the bond we have formed. It is interesting to see how each of us are Designing Happier, Less Stressful Lives After the Covid-19 Pandemic.

This is also a time for Rethinking Our Relationship to the Natural World After Covid-19. If you go beyond the daily deluge of reports about the rising number of cases and deaths, there are a whole bunch of ways that our natural world is reacting, and that is a hugely positive thing. Not to mention that many of us are establishing a new relationship with the act of ‘getting outside’, that will make us healthier and happier.

Now is the time to get into the work of planning for Happiness in the Age of COVID-19. Since we are well into the pandemic, there is no need to continue to argue over the response by governments or corporations. Now is the time to do our part in the efforts to suppress the spread of the virus as we ease back into the public sphere. Even though we are all going to be masked, we can also be happy. In fact, spreading happiness is what we should all be trying to do.

What an amazing opportunity to transform the way we live! I could never have hoped for such a fundamental shift in the fabric of society, the world over. We are respecting each other and every other living thing in a completely new way. If you can, get outside and grow something. Connect to mother nature and give her a helping hand.

Ultimately, we are all going to find a New Way to Be Happy. Even though we are sharing similar scenery, each of our paths will be different. Our feelings will ebb and flow with the news of each new day. Our focus will turn to our own health and to concern for our loved ones. As we continue to focus on our physical health, with the passing of time, we would be remiss to forget about our mental health as well. A total picture of personal wellness will be very important as we head into what comes next.

I’ve gone through a range of emotions during covid-19, so far. I have felt like I was on a roller coaster and I really don’t like the big drops which come after the dizzying heights. I know life is ‘like that’. But I also know that I can control my feelings and reactions and not the havoc that the virus was spreading. By spending the time to get in touch with how I respond to news, I am able to adjust my consumption of it. Ultimately, the positive stories fill my field of view and inform how I live my life. I’ve made peace with the pandemic and my world is better for it.

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