Everyone knows that Covid-19 is wreaking havoc in the world. I was going to ignore the Coronavirus entirely, but that’s impossible (believe me, I tried).
So, since I can’t ignore it, I decided to do the next best thing: use it as an opportunity to practice gratitude.
I had spent the last 5 months living in Portugal. Before the country entered a state of emergency, I took advantage of an evacuation clause in my travel insurance and got a flight back to the United States. I’ll be hanging out in Florida for the next few weeks.
During my 9 hour flight from Lisbon to Miami, I reflected on things through the lens of gratitude. I took note of some of my thoughts about the state of the world.
The best thing to do in these hard times is to remember…
Remember that if you’re reading this, you aren’t dead. You probably aren’t even sick.
If you know someone who has passed from the virus, the chances are high they lived a pretty good life. At the very least, it was more than likely a long one.
Remember that if the worst thing that happens to you is that you get stuck in the house for a few weeks, this means that your life is going well.
If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who lost income or even your job, remember: loss from “force majeure” is always recovered once we recover from the event.
You aren’t being replaced, downsized, or bought out. It may be tough now, but your ancestors survived the Great Depression. You’ll be alright
Remember that it’s always worse in your imagination.
While it’s true that this is only the beginning and things may get worse, we tend to imagine the worst case and not simply a worse case. Even our stock market is largely a reflection of people’s fear about the future.
When people feel hopeful, the market will rise again–whether things are objectively better or not. Plan for the worst but realistically keep in mind that it may only get worse, but it won’t stay that way for long.
Remember that there is a silver lining.
If you can’t find anything positive about this situation, I’ll give you one: this happened in 2020. Not 1920.
Although “social distancing” is preventing large gatherings, our technology has removed limitations on communication. We don’t have to deal with this alone. Even a facetime call goes a long way in curbing any isolation you may experience.
Remember that you are not alone.
If you start feeling sorry for yourself, remember there is someone who is being hit harder. Everyone’s life, as they know it, is disrupted. Your hardships from this virus are not unique.
Remember that this will eventually be over.
If you aren’t using this time to get better, you’re getting worse.
The world has slowed down, but it hasn’t stopped. You’ve been given a chance to get ahead. Hell, some of you will receive a temporary loan from the government while you get a chance to make moves and get ahead.
Remember that the future, though different from the past, will be brighter
Everyone who can work from home is working from home. Uber Eats and the delivery business is booming. Movies are being released straight from the studio to streaming services. Universities are showing that most of their curriculum can be taught online. Online businesses are thriving.
As Nina Simone famously sang, “And this old world is a new world, and a bold world for me.”
Keeping Busy During Covid-19
“They say you only do two days in jail: the day you go in and the day you get out.”
-Avon Barksdale, The Wire
I said this to a fellow recruit during basic training. I’ve never been to prison, but I understand its meaning. Basic training is as good a place as any to apply the wisdom contained in these lines.
The idea is that you need to stop counting the days until you’re free and instead, embrace the routine. The outside no longer matters because you can’t interact with it. At the same time, your prison (or in my case, the barracks at Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri) doesn’t matter because you’re stuck there and there’s nothing you can do about it.
As a result, you stop thinking about your location since you can’t do anything about that either.
You simply go along, get along, and do your time. You don’t think about what you’re missing out on. You don’t think about how much you want to be someplace different. When your sentence starts, you start living in a different world.
This is how I want you to think about this social isolation/quarantine. You only do two days of quarantine: the day it started and the day it ends.
I know that with every new update on the virus, it’s hard to stay focused, but let me paraphrase an idea I got from Ryan Holiday: save your energy for things that matter AND that you have control over.
There are a ton of things that matter (like the spread of Covid-19 around the country) that you don’t have control over. There are a ton of things that you have control over (like choosing to argue with people on the internet about conspiracy theories) that don’t matter.
The sweet spot is what you can control and what matters–like how you use your time in isolation and quarantine.
You can either do the time or let the time do you. If you choose the latter, you’re gonna wear yourself out worrying when it’s going to be over. If you choose the former, you’ll only do 2 days: the day you get in and the day you get out.
Here are some things I’ve been doing to do the time and not let the time do me. Maybe you’ll get some ideas.
“Find new shit to master, make the time move faster”
-Xzibit, Release Date
Not just on my blog and newsletter, but I’ve been sketching out a fiction story. Escaping from this world and building my own is satisfying.
My blog and newsletter are full of non-fiction pieces, so I’m curious to see how this turns out. I’ve always wanted to write fiction anyway, and now is as good a time as any to start.
Playing a board game forces you to interact with other humans and step away from the screen. There are MORE than enough ways to get in front of a screen. Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, social media, and video games are going to demolish the brains of 95% (conservative estimate) of people over the next few weeks.
Do yourself a favor and round up some folks (less than 10 and who haven’t shown symptoms) to play a board game.
Talk to loved ones
If you ARE going to spend time in front of a screen, then use it to make a facetime or skype call to someone. In my last email, I mentioned that the silver lining of this situation is that it happened in the internet era.
This means that you can talk to people “face to face”, even from isolation. Do it. Catch up with people.
A lot of people are going to use this as an excuse to get out of shape or return to bad habits. Do not let that be your fate. You can still go outside and run and do bodyweight exercises.
You need to keep your health in order anyway, as we know that healthy people are harder to kill.
Sharpen old talents
I’ve been playing a lot of chess. Today, I actually skyped with a friend who’s in Bogota and played a few 10-minute blitz games against him. I know not everyone is a chess dork, but whatever your skill of choice is, you probably will have some extra time to sharpen it.
Spend time alone
This won’t apply to the people who are social distancing alone. For the rest of us, don’t forget: you still need to take some time to yourself. This is especially true if you normally operate on a schedule that grants you some time alone throughout the day but now it’s disrupted.
Don’t lose your mind because you don’t let it recharge.
“Just do the time, homeboy, don’t let the time do you”
-T.I., You Ain’t Missin Nothin’
No one is saying that you need to become a full-time internet entrepreneur, but you should probably at least learn how to grow an audience and use social media to turn a profit. The ability to make an extra $500 online is the difference between being able to go to Medexpress and freaking out about a medical bill you can’t pay.
I won’t lie to you and say that it’s easy, but it’s super simple and all you need to do is work some basic principles. It’s easy to learn, but you’ve gotta put some time in upfront.
Hopefully, you follow some of these suggestions to help you out over the next few weeks.
As always, the rest is up to you.