Trish Thomas, CEO, TEEM
For me, the glass is always half full.
Sometimes that point of view leads me to tackle the world with an excess of undue optimism, but I wouldn’t live life any other way.
So, in true “Trish form,” I want to share some of the positives – the unexpected bright side, so to speak – of the coronavirus outbreak.
In no way do I want to minimize the loss of life, the economic devastation, or the epic disruption this nasty virus has caused around the globe. The bright side does not negate the dark side, but rather it offers a chance to extract all the good we can as a society from an otherwise bleak situation.
The first bright spot is that crises help us become more aware of each other. More in tune with our struggles, our triumphs – our sorrows and joys. My hope is that this worldwide emergency will inspire us to take better care of each other.
I’d like to believe that there will be a residual benefit to this short spurt of empathy and care. That we will be more authentic, more able to rely on each other, and more attuned to suffering or desperation when it appears. Whether a global pandemic is going on or not, there are always families and businesses who need a helping hand, and perhaps heightened awareness of the plight of our fellow man will drive greater giving, kindness, and love in the future.
Another bright spot to the coronavirus epidemic is the gift of space to rethink our priorities. I don’t know about all of you, but my day-to-day life was a whirlwind of meetings, happy hours, traveling, shopping, and obligatory wasted time. Sheltering in place has carved out previously unseen hours spent driving, performing pointless activities, or buying and eating things I didn’t really need.
One happy result of a lighter meeting schedule and increased time at home has been an opportunity to step back, breathe, and reconsider how I’m spending time and money. I truly think that some of my priorities and activities will shift permanently after this somewhat unsettling forced respite from the rat race. I welcome a more contemplative, measured, conscious life.
The final unexpected benefit worth mentioning is the overwhelmingly positive impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on our natural world. And I include humans in the “natural world.”
Highways deaths from car accidents have plummeted by 50%. Pollution has been reduced by 30% in many densely populated regions like the Northeastern US, China and India. Billions worldwide can enjoy blue skies, clear air, and mountain ranges in the distance again. Wildlife is making a resurgence in recreation areas previously overrun by people, and families with more time at home have emptied shelters of homeless pets.
As difficult as it has been, studies in China indicate that the coronavirus may have saved more lives through indirect effect than it has claimed directly. And most importantly it has proven that lifestyle changes can in fact dramatically reduce our energy use, emissions, and consumption – offering hope that we can arrest climate change, which looms as a great global crisis to come.
The death toll of the COVID-19 epidemic is frightening, being stuck at home is boring, and the crushing stress of lost jobs and struggling businesses is nothing to be minimized. But I hope you watch for and relish moments of magic and reflection in this time of mandated change.
Take the time to really engage with your family. Step away from the screens and nurture yourself through meditation, exercise, reading, music, and art.
Think about what you deeply miss about your old life, and what elements of your ‘“new normal” might be worth hanging on to.
I urge you to use this brief quiet period for introspection, healing, and inspiration.
The coronavirus is a bad thing… no doubt about it.
But let’s take lemons and make lemonade.