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Why Now Is The Time To Thrive (4 Steps)

March 22, 2020

Earth is closed. Streets and grocery store shelves are empty. Panic and fear are in the news. And a virus is in the air.

This is scary.

This is not good.

This is unprecedented.

Extreme circumstances are a multiplier of who we already are.

Some of us are stricken with fear about what may come next.

Others are ignoring what’s going on, hoping the bad news will just go away.

Some laugh.

Some get exited to work from home.

Still others seem oblivious like they haven’t heard the news.

Whatever our reaction is, we may find our minds drifting into survival mode, wondering if we have enough toilet paper, disinfectant, or frozen foods.

We may find ourselves trying to “just get through this.”

I’m here to say we have another option. There is an opportunity beyond just surviving this.

That is thriving.

Yes, thriving, as in doing our best to turn this difficult and strange time into something great.

Out beyond the fears of these challenging times are the seeds of opportunity. Let us meet this moment there.

Unprecedented times create unprecedented lives. Here’s what we need to do to take the challenges in front of us head-on:

1. See things as they are, but not worse than they are.

The news of this virus is devastating, but let’s focus on the facts and reality and not get lost in endless what-would-happen-if scenarios in our heads.

Fear is automatic, it’s everywhere, and is more contagious than any virus. Do your best to separate what is real and what is imagined.

2. Get back to personal homeostasis.

Make sure you are doing the things that make you feel safe.

Wash your hands. Socially distance. Work from home. Etc.

Do what you need to do to have some sort of stability and protection from uncertainty.

You are likely already doing these things. This, though, is where most people stop in extreme circumstances. This is the survivalzone.

Only focusing on our own personal survival is emotionally taxing. We can fret away our emotional and mental resources that we may need if a true emergency presents itself.

3. Shift your focus to lifting up those around you.

It goes without saying that if you are in the medical field or are able to remotely volunteer your skills, you are already doing this.

For the rest of us though, it’s a scientific fact that our emotions affect our immune system. We can strengthen everyone to some degree just by sharing positivity.

It’s ok to feel good despite all this chaos. Not only can you feel happy, you should. One person’s positive emotions can be contagious and travel through groups of people just like a virus can.

You don’t need to force this. Just do your best to not hold onto fear and instability. Like the sun coming out after a rainy day, good moods and mental clarity are always just around the corner, even while the world panics.

The only thing that prevents our natural mood stabilizing system from working is fighting, resisting, and trying to change our negative feelings.

It’s ok to feel the stress of this. It’s normal. Don’t resist, it will pass.

And when it does, now is an amazing time to get the brightening effect of connecting with people. Social media is fine, but no one is busy right now. Use the phone. Use FaceTime.

There may be no better time than now to say hello to people you’ve been meaning to check in on. It will lift them up and you too.

4. Thrive.

Everyone, everyone, everyone says that they are always so busy. Well, now for the first time ever, we’re all not so busy (or at least less busy). Now is the time to do those things that you’ve always wanted.

  • Get a project done that’s been on your to-do list for the last year.
  • Read the books you’ve bought and have been meaning to read.
  • Finally get your digital life organized.
  • Workout at home and get in great shape for summer. Don’t have weights? Bodyweight exercises can be just as good.

Here’s a few more:

  • Take an online course. Level up your skills.
  • Write a book (or 10!). Learn to play the guitar. Finally start studying Spanish. Learn to code.
  • Reflect on life. This is an AMAZING time for personal growth. Without the distraction of busyness, are you happy? Are you getting what you want in life? Anything you’d like to get over or let go of?
  • Start a business.

Wait, start a business? Right now?

Yes.

As Warren Buffett says, “Get fearful when other people are greedy, and get greedy when other people are fearful.”

Did you know that IBM, GM, Disney, Microsoft, Burger King, CNN, and the reinvention of Apple were all founded in economic downturns? Read more about ithere.

I have to add one to that list. One of my remaining clients told me he started a restaurant in New York last week!

I’m of course not saying to go crazy or be selfishly opportunistic. But with a little perspective on this down time, we may be surprised to find ways to positively use it.

I want to end by again saying that this is an unfortunate time that is resulting in real deaths of precious human lives.

We have to take this seriously and see it as it is, but not worse than it is. We must lift up those around us. We must slow the spread of this virus.

But we also have the opportunity to do what Buckminster Fuller used to call “Emergence through emergency.” We can use this difficult time to emerge as improved, stronger versions of our selves.

I challenge you to go beyond just thinking about survival and to see if you can find a way to thrive. I challenge us all to come out of this so much better than we went into it.

Wishing you safety, clear thinking, and fits of uncontrollable laughter.

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