Five Ways to Thrive in a Crisis (Coronavirus)

The coronavirus is spreading like Beiber fever in 2010. And it has rattled the world. Everything is shutting down. Sporting events. Canceled. Malls. Empty. Toilet paper. Where? Seriously, I’m running low. But there are ways to thrive in this mess!

And I think it’s on its way to causing one of the greatest economical disasters in recent history. You can’t just shut down the world and expect everything to hum along as usual. So, I’m saying I expect it to get worse from here. I would love to be wrong, but in case I’m not, here’s how we can respond.

1. Sprinkle a bit of Stoicism into your life

Marcus Aurelius said,

“Do not disturb yourself by picturing your life as a whole; do not assemble in your mind the many and varied troubles which have come to you in the past and will come again in the future, but ask yourself with regard to every present difficulty: ‘What is there in this that is unbearable and beyond endurance?’ You would be ashamed to confess it! And then remind yourself that it is not the future or what has passed that afflicts you, but always the present, and the power of this is much diminished if you take it in isolation and call your mind to task if it thinks that it cannot stand up to it when taken on its own.”

The brilliance of this quote is in how it clarifies our strength. When we try to conquer the entire picture of our lives, including all past and future struggles, we fail miserably. When we even try to conquer a single day, with all the struggles it carries, even it can overwhelm us. But when we focus all of our power against the explicit challenges of this very moment, we can be victorious. You can be victorious in any moment with this perspective.

If you get the coronavirus or any other kind of scary affliction, remember this. Focus on dealing with each moment on its own. Don’t look ahead unless you’re formulating a plan. Don’t look ahead just to stoke the fires of fear, as they will not help you.

2. Come to terms with your mortality

I am going to die. If someone walks up to you and says that, your first reaction is likely that of horror (unless you really dislike the person). But that statement is true of us all. The richest, strongest, healthiest, everythingelseest people will die.

This natural fragility of life is part of what makes it so beautiful. Our bodies, which will one day perish are like a glass vase, not rugged steel. We are fragile, yet resilient creatures.

3. Don’t under or overestimate any crisis. Put it in its correct place.

The coronavirus has been underestimated and overestimated. Both. People have said it’s just the flu when it is about 10x deadlier and nobody has existing immunity to it. People have also acted as if it will destroy humankind, which I certainly hope is an overreaction. Likely, it’s somewhere in between—a serious pandemic that will affect us all directly and/or indirectly.

When you underestimate a crisis, you don’t prepare for it.

When you overestimate a crisis, you generate fear in yourself and others, which can be dangerous in multiple ways. 44 people in Iran died from consuming industrial strength alcohol, believing that it offered them protection against the virus. Their better move was to wash their hands. That’s why you can’t overreact to a crisis.

Do your best to size up a crisis or threat as accurately as possible. That’s difficult to do with a new threat like the coronavirus, but many of us are being too quick to jump to one extreme or the other, when the reality is almost certainly in the middle.

4. Talk to your friends and family

Family and friends are our external support system. And with the brilliance of technology, we can communicate with them without physical contact, which may become increasingly important. One way to thrive is to talk to people you love!

5. Embrace your habits

There is not a more important time to embrace the good habits that you’ve cultivated than in a time of crisis. They say things like there’s no place like home, and home is where the heart is. But if we’re all quarantined, we’re going to get a little antsy in our homes. Life is not going to feel normal.

But that’s where habits come in. Habits are the home of our behavior. They’re familiar. They’re grounding. They’re really good at calming us because they speak directly to the subconscious brain. Habits are a way to thrive inside or outside of a crisis, but especially inside a crisis.

If you’re quarantined, whether by choice or force of government, use this time to get even better at your most important good habits. They will be your internal support system.

With internal and external support, dire times will become a little bit brighter. And in a dark room, a small amount of light makes all the difference.

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