Change has been on its way for a long time. We keep talking about the new normal and the new priorities that have risen from the COVID-19 crisis…
…but what we sometimes fail to realize is that it was just a catalyst.
We have seen amazing progress, technological advances, market growth, etc. in the last few decades, and everyone wants to be a part of it. We all work hard, tirelessly. We’re constantly busy, and along with the aspirations of grandeur, many of us have forgotten to take care of the things that truly matter.
It seems that mindfulness and self-care have always kind of been there, but the busyness of our lives keeps it as background noise. So many of us have made a commitment to our wellbeing only to let it fall behind other priorities. And even as I state that the health crisis has forced us like nothing before to take care of ourselves, I do so understandingly that it is still not at the top of our lists.
I want to start by saying that I have just only begun to experiment with mindfulness, and the reason that brought me to it is the reason why it feels so important to me to share this message. It all comes down to the fact that COVID-19 exposed our vulnerability. COVID-19 doesn’t care how hard you work, how much money you have, what your race is, where you come from, or what you do with your life. We’ve all been equally exposed, and even though there are measures we can take to stay safe, there is so much we cannot control. So many people were laid off their jobs, were forced out of their daily routines, were stuck in confined spaces. For my part, as a businessman in the tourism industry, my anxiety levels have been at an all-time high. How would I not lose the business that I’ve spent most of my life building up? How would I pay my employees? How would I recover? How would I survive? And I’m one of the lucky ones who has thankfully not had anyone close to them physically affected by the virus.
I realized I wasn’t alone. I realized that what brought us all together wasn’t the crisis, but our humanity, our emotions, our need for support, and our pursuit of happiness. At a time where so many things are out of our control, the only thing we can hold on to is ourselves. Starting a mindfulness practice has changed my life. I would even go as far as saying that it has saved me during this time. So yes, I strongly encourage everyone to explore mental wellbeing.
But what’s even more important is that businesses and institutions recognize this fundamental need and incorporate it into their models. I believe we must invest in what I would like to call “elevated consciousness spaces”: structures in everyday life that provide the physical and temporal space and opportunities to practice mindfulness and self-care. I believe we must move towards business models that foster the most human side of things. That cultivates kindness, empathy, respect, openness, and inspiration so that we may help each other in our journeys. We must shift from the idea that the pursuit of happiness is solely individual. It is not. We’re all looking towards the same light. We must care for each other, care for our planet, and work towards a system that encourages those values.
If there is one thing this crisis has taught us, is that we’re all in this together, but it all starts with ourselves.