The world has changed a very great deal in a very short space of time. Businesses, and entire industries have virtually ground to a halt. Huge swathes of the workforce have been put on temporary furlough or are expected to work from home. Many of us have found that we have to make ends meet with a 20% pay cut. If we’re even lucky to hang onto our jobs at all. Those less fortunate have been placed at the back of a seemingly endless queue for Universal Credit amongst almost a million other applicants. Much of the world has gone into lockdown, unable to visit friends and family. Even family walks on a quiet Sunday have to be carefully rationed as citizens are advised to spend no longer than an hour a day outside for recreational purposes.
It’s fair to say that this is a period of national hardship that eclipses the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Not since the second world war have we had to sacrifice so much of our lifestyles for the sake of our nation’s safety. Still, even in the darkest times, there are silver linings to be found and life lessons to be learned. Let’s look at what the coronavirus has taught us.
Hold your family close… because nothing’s more important
It may not be easy to appreciate your family when you have a house full of understimulated and rambunctious kids whose energy levels you can’t possibly hope to match. Still, the more we learn about people all over the world losing those they love to this potentially deadly disease, the more we appreciate our own families.
Hold your family close if you can’t. If you’re separated from them in this difficult time, think about the rib-cracking hug you’ll be giving them when all this is over.
We can disagree and still show respect
Politics can be such a nasty place, it’s understandable that so many have no time for it. Nonetheless, the outpouring of respectful good wishes to our divisive PM as he recuperates from the virus in hospital is a lesson to us all. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been utterly magnanimous in wishing the Prime Minister a speedy recovery, as have world leaders of all political persuasions.
It’s healthy that we disagree. But this display of goodwill from around the world teaches us that we can and should show respect and humanity to those we disagree with.
Some things are more important than money
Yes, most of us have taken a monetary hit in these uncertain times. And while we may reel from the financial blow we’ve received from the loss of work and / or income, we’ve all been given a stark reminder. Some things are more important than money. We’ve been encouraged to think harder about the good health we’ve taken for granted. We’ve gotten the opportunity to spend more quality time with our kids. Through phone calls and video chats with friends, we’ve come to realise how much we miss them, and resolved to stop putting off getting together ASAP.
We’ve learned what really matters in life and that some things are more important than money.
Speaking of money, maybe we should be more adventurous with ours
Of course, as long as the wheels of consumer capitalism keep turning, we’ll never be able to stop thinking about money. But perhaps recent events have taught us that life is too short and that we should be more adventurous with ours. Maybe we should start looking for opportunities to diversify our investment portfolios? Or think about finally taking the plunge on that investment opportunity or holiday home. Especially with such great prices on overseas property right now. Take a look at Malaysia, where you can buy semi detached house with incredibly high spec for a fraction of the equivalent value in the UK. At the very least, we should stop living in fear of our money (or lack thereof). Stop wasting your money on interest, especially when rates are so low. Consider refinancing your home to pay off your mortgage faster and spend less on interest which goes straight to the bank. Or, at the very least, consider moving your credit card debt to new products with lower interest rates.
We’ve all been taking our bodies for granted
One thing’s for sure… we’re all going to be thinking harder about our health in the foreseeable future. Even if you’re lucky enough that nobody in your circle of friends and family has been exposed to the virus, you’re probably thinking about how you’ve taken your body for granted. In an effort to improve your immune system, you may have already started being more disciplines in your diet, eating more fresh fruits and veggies which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and immune boosting phytochemicals.
Now’s the time to start making good on the promises you made yourself over the new year. To exercise regularly from home, cook more nutritious meals, drink more water and expand your culinary repertoire. And to catch up on all that sleep you missed when you virtually lived at the office.
The virus has been indiscriminate, having fatal effects on the old and the young, the seemingly healthy and the vulnerable alike. We owe it to ourselves to look after our bodies not just now but when the pandemic is over.
We should do more to protect the environment
And finally… around the world, our cities are slowly transforming. Streets that would have been crowded are now empty. And places that would have been clouded with smog now have crisp, clean air. With fewer of us using our cars and more of us walking and cycling to stay fit and healthy, the planet is taking a well deserved breath. But can we really allow things to get back to normal in this regard? Hopefully, we’ll all be thinking about how we can keep our skies clear and better protect our planet going forward.
After all, there is no planet B.