4. We need less stuff than we think
Before the current shelter in place took hold, I never would have guessed how easy it is to do without so many modern conveniences. Now that shopping at the mall, getting my hair done, or popping into the grocery store for a single ingredient has become impossible, I’ve realized that I’m surviving just fine.
It’s pretty clear that we don’t need so much stuff or as many conveniences as we’ve become accustomed to. The basic essentials—food, clean water, and good health, for example—are much more important than having a manicure or buying the newest computer. Given how many of these consumer items and activities negatively impact the health of the planet, it makes sense to rethink our priorities and consider skipping some to allow everyone to have the basics for survival.
Luckily, our well-being isn’t dependent on consumer products. Studies have found that kindness and generosity make us happier than pampering ourselves or buying ourselves stuff. It may be hard to believe; in fact, researchers often find that people underestimate the impacts of giving to others on their happiness.
But it’s true: We will likely be happier and create a healthier society if we can consume less and give more.
5. We are stronger when we act together
As communities around the world manage the pandemic, one thing we’ve all learned is that cooperation matters. Only through group effort can we do something to make a difference in the trajectory of a worldwide threat.
This became crystal clear when comparing state and national responses to the viral outbreak. Some governments were laissez-faire in their response—or even actively punished people who sounded the alarm. Others heeded early warnings and quickly put into place orders to keep people at home. The latter approach, where science was heeded and everyone pitched in to shelter in place, is what paid off in flattening infection curves and saving lives.
Of course, suffering through this time has shown us that there is still much that needs correcting. Not everyone has good health or health care, and many people are living at the edge of poverty. Some people have been forced to go to work despite the risks, and others are dying at higher rates than the general population because of a long history of discrimination. This is unacceptable and needs changing. If the pandemic has opened new eyes to these inequalities, then perhaps they’ll be more likely to become part of that change.
Seeing how willing people were to cooperate with draconian measures for the good of all gives me hope. It’s not easy to herd that many people in one direction, especially when they have to sacrifice some of their personal freedoms to do it. But working together for the common good has helped us fight the pandemic and could bode well for solving other worldwide problems requiring cooperation—like poverty, ethnic violence, and climate-based disaster.
That’s why I hope we will hold on to that lesson after we leave our homes when lockdown ends. There is power in keeping in mind our common humanity and our sense of interconnection. If we also remember the importance of our relationships, resilience, gratitude, and doing with less, we can move forward into our un-sheltered lives again with a renewed sense of purpose and tackle some of our most difficult problems. It could be that collective, compassionate action will be the key to creating a better future for us all.
These are 5 important lessons to remember when lockdown ends.
Enjoyed reading? What is your lesson from pandemic and lockdown? Let us know in the comments.
Written by: Jill Suttie