Most Important Lessons I have learned so far during the pandemic

Picture credits: Roffey Park Institute

Every event in our lives teaches us something. If you believe it doesn’t then I’d suggest you take a look at any event of your life again: this time more carefully. I am pretty sure you’re going to see it yourself that you had some learning. It’s impossible to believe that the pandemic is not teaching us anything. There is so much learning each day and remembering and not forgetting those lessons ever may help shape our lives for the better.

Personally, I have learned a lot of things in the past one year. While I was grateful of my life during this time, nonetheless it wasn’t an easy year. Actually it wasn’t easy for anyone. In spite of everything I have had a few realisations and I’d like to share some of them with you.

You’re always hanging by a thread

What I am about to say is going to sound cliche but it’s the harsh reality of a human life: life is very short. You can put your 100% energy into predicting the future still you will fail. You will fail badly. Everybody is hanging by a fine thread. If the thread breaks up it simply means that you are alive no more. What may sound scary is that you can never know when your own thread is going to break. One day you’re like ‘life is a bed of roses’ and another day your worst nightmares have come true. I don’t mean to make you feel depressed. My purpose is to bring it to your attention that don’t disrespect life. Don’t treat it like garbage. Value it. Bad things do happen. Sometimes the worst possible things but such events are supposed to make you stronger and not ridicule at life itself.

Never stop fighting for your/loved ones life

When we are at a very dark place it is natural to start losing hope. Giving up seems like the only option. I am not perfect. Even I tend to start losing hope sometimes when nothing is in my favour. In those moments only our resilience and bravery is tested. If we try our best to maintain our demeanour we can think clearly. When we think clearly we stop focusing on what has happened to us and start focusing on what we can do now. Options, which we thought earlier we had none, become very much visible. I believe it is about intention. A good intention make things possible while no intention does nothing good to us. No matter what you’re going through in your life never stop fighting for your life and the life of your loved ones.

Your focus must be on what you control

There are two kinds of things in this world: the things we control and the things we don’t control. Humans want to control everything. They often believe that they have a control over everything and that’s why their lives become miserable. Some people have a good sense of what they control and what they don’t. Such people have a much better life than those who focus way too much on the things beyond their control. I know it sounds easier than done because while I understand the fact intellectually it is hard for me sometimes to act upon it. Nevertheless, it is never too late. The next time you are in an adverse situation ask yourself one simple question, “What I can change and what I cannot?” I am sure you’ll be having enough clarity to make a better decision.

Each day is a gift

We have a tendency towards believing that life is short but not too short. We have a lot of time. There’s no need of hurry. Indeed, that’s the reason we fail to celebrate each day. The pandemic has shown me very clearly that in no time you can lose anyone. One day you’re talking and laughing with someone and the next day that person is gone forever. It can give you the chills if you think about it deep enough. Therefore, be grateful every single day. Try to look at each day as if it were your last. By saying this I don’t mean you start living in a fantasy world where nothing is broken. You shouldn’t stop feeling all the negative emotions. But every day remind yourself: how would you want to live your life today if this was your last day?

Impermanence is a reality

Everything is transitory. I am sure you have heard it many times. Accept it. Accept the fact that your life, the life of your closed ones, your possessions and your achievements are all temporary. None of them is going to stay with you till eternity. Focus your attention, time and energy into the things that matter: a purposeful life, good deeds and spreading love all around.

Meditate on these quotes every day

Picture credits: The Daily Stoic

Stoic philosophy is a very practical philosophy. Many stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus had spoken of some of the ultimate truths of life. They were not gods. They were common people like us with responsibilities at home and workplace. They had families to look after. They had jobs to do to. They had adversities and challenges to face. In the middle of all this they did not stop being philosophers. They did not stop working on themselves. It was only when they were striving for mental clarity, peace and self improvement did they reveal some beautiful words which still survive today- more than 2,000 years later. 

1. “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”– Seneca

Stoic philosophers believed events are objective. They are ‘what they are’. If someone has ridiculed us on social media then it is an objective reality: it is what it is. We cannot go back in time and change it. But how we choose to look at those events will eventually decide how we are going to feel about them. In other words, our subjectivity or perception is going to determine how we feel about that particular event. How we are going to react to that ridiculous comment someone has made against us on social media is either going to make our day or break our day. A lot of times things are not that bad. Our judgement make them. Therefore it is of great importance that we work on improving our perspective. A lot is at stake when we do not have a favorable perception.

2. “Why should we feel anger at the world? As if the world would notice?”- Marcus Aurelius

Every time I read this, I feel a little different. We are not always angry at ourselves. Majority of the times we are angry at the world; at people- for not being kind enough, for not being honest enough with their jobs, for not being understanding enough, for not being like us. It is a big mistake to expect the world to work as per our preferences. People are not going to be like us: they do not care much if they are being greedy or not, they do not care if they are efficient at their jobs or not, they do not care about your expectations. They are just carrying on with their lives just the way you are.  Then what is the point in punishing yourself for someone else’s mistakes. Why are you angry? Why you? Do you think they care? Do you think they are noticing your anger? Do you believe they are going to come console you? NO. NO and NO. We can influence people. We can make a difference in this world. But we cannot do it for everyone.

3. “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

We all dread mornings because we have to go to work, we have to do household chores; we have to think of innumerable tasks on to-do list. In the middle of all the responsibilities we forget what a privilege it is to be able to breathe; to be alive. We forget it is a new day to correct our past mistakes. We forget it is a new day to make our plans again. We forget we have another day to care deeply about the people we love. This is what Marcus Aurelius said. He wanted us to make time for gratitude. If we are focused too much upon what we don’t have, we will never be able to enjoy what we already have. This is what gratitude teaches us. Strive for better but also enjoy what’s already there.

4. “You have to assemble your life yourself – action by action.”- Marcus Aurelius

Life is never build instantly. There is no magic formula to build our lives quickly. Everything is done brick by brick. In other words, one step at a time. Human beings are very impatient. We expect instant results with little time and hard work. We do our work on a daily basis and feel like we are not getting anywhere, like we are stuck. I am most certain it happens with everybody.  Every day progress doesn’t seem to matter a lot because we don’t get to see any changes. But in reality, we get better. We make progress. Like Marcus Aurelius said we have to assemble our lives action by action. Act once. Then act again. Act once more. Keep doing your work. You will definitely get there.