The COVID-19 pandemic has forced hundreds of millions of people into the confines of their home. As I write this, I’m at home with my immediate family in Kuala Lumpur. My mother is at home in Southampton, and my in-laws are at home in Auckland.
Our goal, like your goal, is to flatten the curve and keep case numbers at a manageable level for medical professionals on the frontline. After two weeks in lockdown, I already have the feeling that one day is blurring into the next. While content at home, we are focussed on the immediate future, the basics.
The physical distancing strategy is one that can be adopted more readily by mid and high-income economies, especially those with established online-to-offline ecosystems that support home delivery. In this regard, China is far ahead of the rest of the world.
However, I am acutely aware that the poorest people in the most populous nations will soon have to face an impossibly difficult decision, working to feed themselves or isolation to protect themselves.
On the economic front, global markets are in free-fall. The Goldman Sachs Chief Economist, Jan Hatzius, was quoted as saying that “the global economy is not just experiencing a recession, but a sudden stop without precedent in postwar history”.
Central banks have reduced interest rates, and governments have introduced stimulus packages. Oil prices have been falling as a result of a spat between exporters (at a time when consumers cannot take advantage). Borders are closing, the travel industry has been devastated, and small businesses and startups are running out of cash. Just yesterday a Toronto-based friend wrote to me saying that his “company won’t survive the prolonged shutdown”.
Still, with all this in mind, I am daring to ask, “What Is The Silver Lining?” – And yes, I feel guilty for doing so.
Over the years, I have heard multiple stories about solitude and the role it played in developing the minds of the great thinkers throughout history. OK, I know, we are not in complete isolation, but we are indoors and have fewer day-to-day distractions and our lives have slowed down considerably. With this in mind, it’s time to listen to our inner voice, and it’s time to reflect on what is most important to us!
In recent weeks, I have taken an interest in news articles which have shown before and after satellite images with a dramatic reduction in air pollution – I can’t help but wonder if Sir David Attenborough was right when he said, “human beings have become a plague on the Earth”.
The poem, “And the people stayed home,” by Kitty O’Meara resonated with me. You can find it here. Every line is worthy of deep thought. At the same time, we should remember and be grateful to those who are meeting the crisis head-on.
As an optimist, I believe that for those of us in lockdown, it is time to:
· Live in the moment and enjoy simple pleasures
· Practice gratitude for what we have each morning. Recognition leads to optimism and a state of well-being.
· Improve our physical health through stretching and exercise; there are plenty of YouTube channels. My 7-year old son and I train with BullyJuice each morning.
· Build relationships, connect and re-connect, or even to disconnect from negative relationships
· Grow and learn using a platform such as Udemy
· Be more compassionate and help others
I encourage you to discover what your version of success is. Let’s innovate and map out a path to a different future, one where we heed the lessons of the past while developing more effective treatment.
Let’s make new choices.