‘You’ll only miss me when I’m gone,’ goes the song. In Times of Corona, a lot was gone, and we missed a lot. Nonetheless, precisely in this missing we realised its presence and learned to value it. Therefore, Corona has taught us a valuable way to happiness: being grateful.
People who practice gratitude experience greater levels of happiness, and resiliency. Therefore, it is often even mentioned as a coping strategy for sadness, anxiety, or even feelings of being lost and not belonging.
Missing when it’s Gone
Nonetheless, most of the time we only value what is gone. We look back at the glorified past, the lost memories smoothened by the dust of time. Often it is only in the missing, we start valuing, in the sudden awareness of the gap we see what was filling the gap all together. Covid-19 took away what we had taken for granted; but it gave us awareness and the opportunity to be grateful in reward.
Stay at home to flatten the curve. Most people were not even aware of having a home altogether. They took it for granted. Until they, like me, lost their house because of the crisis, or realised they had no real home all together. For some going home meant walking hundreds of kilometres to go back to their town of birth, for others it was flying thousands of miles.
Worse did it get for homeless people. Where do you quarantine if you have no walls, no roof, no protective structure around you all together? Where do you isolate if you are imprisoned with too many inmates on too few square metres? Are you safe at home if violence or abuse awaits?
As described before, home should be a safe heaven, a peaceful station you can hop off of our fast-paced society.
Be grateful if this is where you where during the lockdown, and if this is the place where you’ll walk in and out again once this is over.
Even though you worked hard for it, tapping yourself on the chest, you cannot take your home for granted. Like we have seen with the Australians who lost their houses in bush fires last year, and the recent houses that got swept away by a cyclone on the island of Ulu Vatu, just to name two treats that not even in times of Corona show us how fragile our home can be.
Outside our homes, it was the health care sector who was fighting the virus on the frontline. Yet, it became painful visible how fragile this sector is. How underinvested in some countries and underdeveloped in others. How poor we were prepared, even after previous virus outbreaks and repeated warnings of experts all over the world.
Corona has shown the cracks in the system, and these are huge cracks.
Doctors and nurses that even had no protective equipment to confront their highly-infectious patients. Highly-ill patients who had to be send home or could not be connected to breathing systems.
Health is the basis for wealth, as described before. Therefore, if governments have the duty to invest in one sector, is it the health sector. Nurses, and doctors all over the world, work long hours, long days, are most of the time understaffed – not only in Times of Corona – and have to struggle with the few means they have.
For too long, the health care sector has been treated as the leftover of budgets, the leftover of society, even during Corona medical staff had to face more aggression, violence and even abuse.
Corona turned our health care workers in heroes, but more of all, they are human. Let’s not take their work for granted; let’s not take the fact you have health care for granted. Health is our communal responsibility. We have to take care of one another, of ourselves, and of our health staff, so they can take care of us as well.
The Great Pandemic taught us to be humble, showing us how no single country can take health care for granted
Another sector of our society that people had taken for granted was education. It was an evidence to send children to school and expect them to be educated and entertained. How many people complained about schools and teachers, telling they exaggerated about their work load, underestimating their capacities and efforts. But how many of these people where among the first to send their children back to school as soon as schools opened up again?
School is about more than classes solely, it is about the social interaction between teachers and students, and between students among their peers.
Moreover, it structures children’s days, teaches them to deal with authority, learn things they might not like at first, but opens their mind. Shows them another part of their community and the world by interacting with children and teachers that don’t make part of their socio-economic cocoon.
And if education is organised well, it can break inequality in our societies. Which under Corona has become painfully visible. There were schools remained open, socio-economic weaker families did not send their children back. They might have had less opportunities and facilities for home schooling, increasing the gap with their peers. To many of these children the flattening curve of Corona, resulted in a flattened learning curve as well.
The flattened curve became an economic flattened curve as well. Many of us lost their job, while others received reduced hours and salaries. Whole at a sudden, the daily distraction disappeared and left us facing with what has been left, what some have been hiding or running for, or what others were missing.
It made people think of the value of their job. At one side the economic value, and the life – the mortgages and loans – they based on it; at the other side the psychological value – the meaning it gave to their lives, the emotions it caused, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and the social one.
Whole at a sudden that daily pattern was interrupted, and precisely that gap made people aware of the habit in the first place, and the real value of it in the second place.
Right before the lockdown set in, a lot of people started stockpiling groceries. From toilet paper to pasta, supermarkets got empty. Not only could supermarkets not keep up with the increasing demand, supply chains dried-up because of the entire economic engine started slowing down.
Eventually, all other but essential shops had to close the doors, making me wonder what essential is. But it wasn’t only our consumption pattern that was questioned and became impossible to sustain, it was as well our supply chains. Where do our products actually come from? Which countries, which regions, who produces them? What happens with them, before they end up in our shops, who has taken care of it?
Walking through a supermarket always have surprised me, and embarrassed me at the same time. For the abundance of products, we actually don’t need; the showroom of consumerism.
In times of Corona, however, on the empty racks only the awareness of what once was had been left, together with the sobering insight that we had taken it for granted.
Only being allowed to go out for essential shopping, exercising, or health care, made us become kind of prisoners in our own house. One of the arguments against lockdowns was the huge involvement of governments on its citizens’ lives, especially the limited freedom to move.
Yet, in some places around the world, this is the daily reality of many people. Safety concerns have turned them into prisoners in their own house. For others, economic limits limit their freedom to move.
The freedom we were used to in many countries was a freedom we have fought for. A freedom we worked on.
But by far it was a freedom that always have been there, not always would be there.
The fragility of freedom means we always will need freedom fighters to defend it, and we should honour and protect the freedom we have; yet know when it is legitimate to limit that freedom temporary.
For instance, the limitation of freedom to move has limited the spread of Covid-19 and was a necessary and useful measure. Yet, the limitation of freedom of speech and freedom of information and press was absolutely out of place and even a contradictive measure.
The Way to Happiness
Besides these basic needs, other domains of life dried up as well. There was no more travelling, large scale entertainment, going to the club or the restaurant, the gym or the theatre. There was no more visiting of friends and families.
We were so used to our world, the luxury and the small things, the freedom to move and travel, to leave our house at our convenience, to work, to visit friends and family; whole at a sudden our world stopped. Loneliness and anxiety filled the gaps.
However, one should never let a good crisis go to waste. Therefore, we might as well grab this opportunity to turn our awareness of what was gone into gratitude for what once was and what even will come back.
Filling the gaps with gratitude helps kicking loneliness and anxiety out. It smoothens the pain, and turns the losses into gain.
Being put on pause, having taken away what we had taken for granted, has made us aware of what we have; and moreover, of what really matters.
It gave us the opportunity to be grateful; and gratitude is the real way to happiness.
This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read
- How this too shall pass
- how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
- how you can contribute to this battle,
- how gratitude lights up the dark,
- how united we will stand strong
- on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis
- how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands,
- how being calm can get us through the storm.
- about Love in Times of Corona
- how to discover your own talents
- why we need stories to hold on to
- how you can be creative and innovative.
- how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
- how to listen to the sound of silence.
- How breath taking Corona really is.
- discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us,
- about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
- about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
- about the position of nature in this entire story
- about nature bouncing back
- about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
- about the game to play
- about star gazing in dark times
- About looking for Meaning
- About how Music Connects
- about what Easter and Corona have in Common
- About the Shark and the Turtle
- About the Irony of Distance
- Why to Hold on
- Fake News
- about The Big Unknown we live at
- about Feeling Alive
- About turning obstacles into opportunities
- about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life
- About where we should go from here?
- About coping with incertitude
- About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
- about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
- How one country could rule them all
- About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic
- about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
- about when the poppy flowers
- about what’s in a number
- masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
- What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
- how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
- why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
- How Spring can happen in Autumn
- How to unlock the lockdown
- Why education matters
- How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
- The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
- the remarkable rewards of health
- The queeste for global health care
- Health Heroes
- Pains and Gains
- Solidarity 3.0
- Work-Life Balance
- Home sweet home
- Real Connections
- Leadership 3.0
Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark times.