April 20, 2020 - The Stoic Gym Blog
The Positive Side Of Covid-19
By Dr. Chuck Chakrapani
The positive side of Covid-19?
No, I haven’t gone completely nuts. Really. So much has been written on the negative aspects of Covid-19 and rightly so. Maybe you remember that I wrote a blog, too! Yet many of us fail to notice the brilliant silver lining surrounding this dark cloud.
If you or someone you love has Covid-19, then it is only natural and appropriate that you concentrate on mitigating its consequences. But if you are not directly affected by it and if you are frustrated that your social life is interrupted, if you feel that you are under a virtual house arrest, if you think life would be much better if everything went back to normal, this one is for you. Not everything I say will apply to you personally, but I am sure at least some of it will.
"How often has what seemed terrible turned out to be the source and beginning of happiness? "Seneca, Moral Letters 110
We have things to be hopeful about
Shouldn’t we be hopeful of the fact that, if we are in a position to take all precautions (staying indoors, washing our hands, not touching our faces, keeping physical distance, etc.), we only have a small chance of contracting the virus?
Shouldn’t we be hopeful because pharmaceutical and biotech companies are currently testing remedies and vaccines for the pandemic?
We have things to be thankful about
Shouldn’t we be thankful that even if we manage to contract the virus, our chance of recovery is high — at least 95%, if not better?
Shouldn’t we be thankful for the fact that dedicated front-line workers are working to help us at great personal risk to them?
Shouldn’t we be thankful that many of us have the technology — not available just a few years ago — that enables us to work from wherever we are, even when we cannot move out of our homes? Shouldn’t we be thankful for the technology-enabled services such as Amazon and UberEats, that make it possible for some of us to buy things — from exercise equipment to clothes to food — right from home? That we can have all our daily needs met even if we cannot go out?
We suddenly have time for things
How about quality time with your family? Most of us spend between 1 to 2 hours a day in preparing to get to work, commuting to work, and unwinding after that. This time is now ours. We can spend it any way we like. We can spend quality time with our families, read a (Stoic?) book, or watch a good movie. We now have time for things that we didn’t before. How about doing things that we could not before because “we didn’t have time”?
How about time to reflect? Now that we save the commuting time and avoiding downtime at work that can’t be used productively, we have time to think. We have the time to reflect on things. We have time to read a book. We can re-evaluate and redesign our life if we want to. Taking a long break from our workplaces may give us a new perspective on life.
"People try to retreat to the country, to the beach, or the mountains… Any moment you choose, you can retire within yourself… Make use of this retreat often and keep renewing yourself. "Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.3 (Chuck Chakrapani, Stoic Meditations, Book 4.3)
We give the planet a rest
Because of Covid, not many flights, trains, or buses operate. We pollute the planet less, even if only for a few weeks. Not many people are outside and not much garbage is strewn around. The planet, which we abuse so much, can take a breather. Because we can’t go out, we potentially spend less. For a few weeks, we can reduce our consumption, which is not a bad thing.
"Some things are superfluous. Others are not worth the price we pay for them. "Seneca, Epistulae Morales, Vol. 1
We have an opportunity to help someone
Crises always bring opportunities with them. We can think about being of use to someone. At a minimum, we can reconnect with someone from the past and renew friendships.
"Think of the bond that unites everything in the universe. They are all dependent on one another. All are interconnected and in sympathy with one another. "Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.38 (Chuck Chakrapani, Stoic Meditations, Book 6.38)
We can reflect on the futility of negative thoughts
The pandemic does not respect status. Whether one is the Canadian Prime Minister’s wife, the Prime Minister of the UK himself or next in line for the British crown, we are all equally susceptible to the pandemic. Any of us can die. When we see that, perhaps we can develop compassion for others and refrain from blaming someone or the other for our predicaments.
"Don’t live as though there are a thousand years ahead of you. Death is at your elbow. Be good while you are still alive and able."Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.17 (Chuck Chakrapani, Stoic Meditations, Book 4.17)
So, if you feel depressed about your extended stay at home, take a moment to see that it is not all bad. There are many good things too if we care to see.