In June 2020, Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum, commented "The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world".
Of course, none of us could have foreseen that COVID would continue to wreak destruction on lives and communities across our planet well into 2021, disconnecting us from our families, from the freedoms of our everyday lifestyles, and from our taken-for-granted opportunities to travel, meet new people, adventure and explore.
2021, for many of us, has been a year in which our world has grown smaller, cocooning for months on end inside our homes, living our social and work lives through laptop screens and phones.
For others, it’s been a year of extended work hours in manufacturing, retail, healthcare, freight delivery and all the other services that function to keep our communities going with the essentials to survive.
Under such circumstances, it’s not hard for deep fatigue, irritability, worry, depressed thoughts, and a motivation-sucking vacuum to slip unnoticed into our minds and bodies, weighing us down and drowning out the small pleasures of our daily lives – the coffee we drank in a slant of early morning light, a giggle we’ve shared, the early feel of Spring, the lengthening twilight of our evenings.
While the pandemic has taken away from our daily lives, it has also given something back in equal abundance – the gift of time.
With the lessened need for long commutes and the general busyness of our everyday pre-COVID activities, and to paraphrase Professor Schwab, this precious window of time offers each of us an opportunity to reflect on how we have been living our lives, re-imagining what we would like to change about our every day, and resetting what is needed to bring about sustained, meaningful and purposeful change to our inner and outer lives.
A way to start reflecting on this is to have a think about what really matters to us in life – what we would want our legacy to be.
Some questions we can ask ourselves to identify our deeper values are:
How do I want to feel about myself and how do I live my life?
How do I want my loved ones to feel about me?
What matters to me about my physical and emotional health?
What do I want to give to my community/other human beings?
What kind of parent/partner/sibling/child do I want to be?
What is important to me about my work life? How do I want to grow as a person?
In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, we call this the Life Compass – a navigational tool to help us conduct our lives guided by a deep sense of stability and inner wisdom. One of the great things about reflecting on these questions is the realisation that we can all make positive changes in ourselves and in our actions now.
They’re not dependent on pandemics, lockdowns, vaccination status, what we have/what we don’t have – we already have the seedlings to grow and cultivate new attitudes and behaviours in each new moment.
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