A virus becomes the vaccine. Doses of uncertainty, hoarding, panic, reality and then ultimately reflection will be the steps of our current events. With any perceived crisis, the first response is often the Henny Penny cry. With time, thoughtful reflection will set in soon enough. The initial reactionary position will be forgotten like the common cold. The thoughtful reflection is the portion that will endure and transform our lives in inverse proportion to the initial cry.
Small doses of crises inoculate us from new crises and teach the best ways to respond. Doses of unhappiness lead us to seek ways to be happy. Large doses of crises lead to superhuman responses. Think about a matter of life and death—a rollover accident with a car on top of the driver. One man witnesses the accident and lifts the car off from the trapped driver. We have all read about these stories and have seen them depicted on t.v. or in movies. People reach beyond their former capabilities under real pressure. People will become more capable out of this crisis. People will become happier in ways they had been previously incapable of believing or even contemplating. The virus will spawn the cure in our practical, day-to-day lives and more importantly in the broader picture of ourselves.
Practical changes for each day:
- Time: Being at home now means no harrowing commute for those who typically must jump out of bed and enter the grind to travel to a far away cubical. No commute time wasted means more TIME to work more efficiently, and in turn, save more time for ourselves. Happiness and wealth, two complex subjects, are connected to control over our own time. Enter more time, enter more time to pursue happiness.
- Education alternatives: Students will learn something quite valuable, in more ways than one. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent annually by college students to congregate in lousy housing, to pay for lousy food choices and to study subjects that offer no real end value. The crisis will teach the ease of learning through virtual classrooms and cut college costs in half for those who continue the new path to a degree. Younger students may prefer such methods as well once they learn that it works. The value of learning may very likely become more valuable.
- Work alternatives: Working from home has been resisted by many while embraced by others. Old school companies and employees resist working from home due to perceived goofing off, lack of face time with coworkers and myriad other reasons. These folks are the same ones who do not see the time wasted by the gossipers, back-biters and socializers in the office environment. The crisis has sent many home and as productivity remains steady or increases as predicted here, many more companies will embrace and expand the idea. The virus will help cure unhappiness in the workplace and increase business revenue.
- Personal opportunities: As above, time granted by the virus can heal. Cooking our own healthy meals, focusing on fitness, taking care of home projects formerly on the back burner, or getting to the books we’ve promised ourselves to read . All of these areas of life are now possibilities that the alibi of “no time” has lost some its vigor.
Daily action is full of practical choices. A virus has caused the choices to be different ones, but still the choices are ours to make. These practical choices steer our pursuits of happiness or unhappiness. A virus has provided the cure to poor choices.
Philosophical changes and the big picture. The factors that lead to increased happiness are well known. Examining them under perceived extreme times will create positive pursuits within the bigger picture of our lives.
- Relationships—Time and again, studies have proven that personal relationships and especially loving relationships make for happier lives. Difficult times enhance the personal relationships that matter. With stay at home orders, the excuses of time or distance are removed as barriers to spending time with loved ones. The number of hours spent with those that matter to us will increase exponentially for vast numbers of people. They are going to like it and it will change their lives for the happier. More time for relationships is time well spent.
- Gratitude—When things get tough, human nature often turns to an “at least I’m not him” or a misery loves company response. The flip side however is what works in creating happier lives. Rather than wallowing in fear or self-pity, there is now time for actual thought about the positives in our lives. When we have our health, our family members /loved ones/friends and the stuff we REALLY NEED, thinking about and expressing gratitude for them makes us happier people. More time for gratitude is time well spent.
- Reflection on our purpose—Social distancing is a new term applicable to interacting with others but staying at a safe distance. Alone time is an old saying but no less a promoter of health. Many will use some of the extra time they now have to reflect on what’s most important in their lives. Having a purpose, whether it’s being a great spouse or parent, a caregiver for the needy, a spiritual advisor or a mentor of others unequivocally increases happiness in our lives. More time for finding and reflecting on our purpose is time well spent.
- Wisdom/Faith-seeking—With crises come questions and with questions we seek answers. When bigs things happen big answers are pursued. The answers are found in faith when reason doesn’t seem to provide any solace. People who have faithful beliefs in something bigger are nearly always happier people. If a crisis results in more people turning to faith and seeking wisdom beyond our conscious minds, only positive long term results are on the horizon. Time spent in faith is time well spent.
- Accept happiness as a moral obligation—When confined with others, the necessity of a happy, or at least pleasant, disposition is underscored. Be happy, act happily, and it spreads to others. Being together and reliant on the others closest to us will lead to more understanding that pursuing happiness and being happy in our lives and interactions is a moral obligation. The Founders understood this and so will we.
The unhappy will embrace a crisis. They will wallow in lost money, depleted 401(k)’s wasted downtime, and any number of doomsday scenarios only imaginable in the “Book of Eli.” However, no crisis goes un-dichotomized—the happy will pull through and they will pull others through. The unhappy will moan and gasp, drowning in the sea of crises until the happy extend an arm to save them. Nothing changes except the crisis.
A big dose of crisis thinking will cause America to be even better. The crisis is the vaccine for the happy rather than the infection that kills. Each individual will learn a bit more about how to rely on self, each family will rely a bit more on each other, and the government will learn a bit more about how it may rely on the people who learn to choose to pursue happiness just as the Founders instructed.