One of the greatest lessons of this situation is that 2020 was a master class on stoicism’s concept of focusing on what we can control.
Category: Finding silver linings
The novel coronavirus pandemic must be one of the strangest and most challenging experiences any of us have had. We have all had to adapt in the best way possible. I am writing this in September, half a year after the pandemic started for me, and it seems like a good time to evaluate my approach during the pandemic to see what I might learn from it.
I had minor surgery on March 12th, just days before our city shut down. Because it was my first surgery, thoughts of my recovery dominated my mind. Then, when we had to close our office and move to remote work on the following Monday, the surgery was overshadowed by the indefinite work-from-home order. In the span of two days, my life shifted to a fight for the basics of life: education for my girls, figuring out my household in this new environment, and scariest of all, what would happen to our company. That first week was filled with fear and survival-mode action.
These unprecedented times can be paralyzing. Everything that we have worked hard for and have dreamt about seems to, in many cases, have evaporated. This feeling may not be true, but at least in the short term, nothing is working the way it was in the past, and we need to grieve what we believe to be lost. I say we pause and acknowledge this massive sense of loss we are all feeling, for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our countries.
In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, David Kessler, author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief (public library), describes what we are feeling as collective grief. It is helpful to understand the stages of grief, which, according to Kessler, do not necessarily happen in this order. They are denial, anger, bargaining (trying to negotiate with the situation by saying if we do this, then maybe it will all be better), sadness, and acceptance.