Contribution by Kayleigh Alexandra.
What really matters in your life? You might think I’m being rhetorical, trying to suggest that your first response would likely be ill-considered, but I’m not. I mean it to be a serious question. Each of us must decide what we hold most dear, and it’s interesting to ponder where your priorities might lie. Primarily, though, I ask because it’s particularly important to have the answer clear in your mind while the world bears the necessary lockdown measures.
This is because this pandemic, like every cloud, has a silver lining — namely that most of us now have the time and opportunity to engage in some introspection and consider where our lives are going. Are you the kind of person you really want to be? Are you moving towards your dreams? Have you been so wrapped up in the daily grind that you’ve made mistakes?
To really make the most of this relative downtime (even if you’re still working, or you’ve found a new job, your schedule should be somewhat more relaxed), you should focus on looking after what’s most important to you. Allow me to elaborate regarding why:
With no plans for tomorrow, you can look to the future
I’ve always liked flying, even when I’m on long flights that quickly get uncomfortable. Many people hate it, and I understand why, but not me — so what do I like about it? The views are nice, true (who doesn’t love looking down through the clouds?), and it’s always nice to have food brought to you, but those are just added benefits. The main reason is the confinement.
Not in the sense that I generally like being trapped, but in the sense that I’m not burdened by thoughts of what else I could be doing: what skills I could be working on, which people I could be talking to, or how I could otherwise be spending my time. I’m there until the place lands, and there’s a tremendous level of peace inherent to that. I can concentrate entirely on reading, relax with a clear mind, or simply watch some crappy TV without feeling anything approaching guilt.
The lockdown is similar in the sense that we can’t get stuck on all the social events that we’re missing or the cookery classes we could be attending, because almost everything is off the table. And with no immediate plans to distract us, we can think more deeply about our long-term plans, paying attention to all the things that we normally put off because they’re awkward.
Take something like insurance, for instance. It isn’t fun to arrange an insurance policy, because there’s no short-term benefit: only short-term loss through the money you pay. But when your mind is clear of other things to focus on, you can make that rational decision and action it. If you don’t have contents insurance to protect your possessions, find some as a matter of priority (I suggest checking here), and — however ghoulish it may feel to consider it — you should probably think about life insurance and arranging your will. In case something should happen to you, you’ll want to know that your affairs are in order (Cake has good advice on this).
Hard times show us what we most fear losing
It isn’t generally easy to know what you really care about, particularly when you’re very comfortable and there are no clear threats on the horizon — but when times get tough, it sharpens our minds, and we can tell the things that really matter to us by considering what we fear the most. For most people, it’s the loss of their loved ones. They accept that no matter how many arguments they may have with them, they couldn’t bear to lose them.
But it isn’t just a matter of understanding what matters to you: stress and anxiety are also tremendous motivators to fight for those things, and it’s when you’re most motivated and passionate that you’re best positioned to make good long-term decisions. If you have a partner, for instance, then it’s possible that you’re normally quite reserved about expressing yourself — but having your hand forced by the circumstances can make you a stronger communicator.
How many petty spats get in the way of the things that we should say to one another? That we want to say? Two people who love each other can perpetuate trivial animosity because they’ve lost perspective. Well, people are getting that perspective back at the moment, and it’s making everything much easier to figure out.
If anything, people are connecting more deeply
Speaking of strong communication, it’s interesting that being kept apart physically has actually made us communicate more deeply than we did before. It’s a classic case of not appreciating what you have until it’s gone: only when that kind of closeness is taken away from us do we notice just how important it is, and seek to make up for its loss through technology.
What’s more, anyone who’s important to you is far more likely to be available to talk at the moment. Perhaps you have distant relatives that you rarely speak to but care about massively regardless of that: if so, you can reach out to them through the internet, knowing that they’re probably getting to grips with video chats (if they weren’t already familiar).
You can look after those people not only through talking to them on a regular basis but also by sending them gifts. You can have supplies shipped to them, for instance, helping them to endure this crisis. It’s definitely something worth considering.
How much time do we normally waste on the distractions of daily life? During the lockdown period, we can make the best of the bad circumstances by trying our best to look after the things that are most important to us.
Contribution by Kayleigh Alexandra.
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