Nicholas Vardy recently quoted Yogi Berra, writing, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
And one of the biggest curveballs we’ve faced was the onset of COVID-19. But as the world begins to open back up, it’s important we take a hard look at the habits we’ve created over the past couple of years.
In today’s article, Dr. Joel F. Wade discusses the important steps we need to take in order to reorient ourselves. While we may have developed some helpful habits in the past two years, there are others we need to let go of.
These decisions can impact us as individuals and as investors.
For those who aren’t acquainted with Joel, he is the author of The Virtue of Happiness, Mastering Happiness, and his new course, Mastering Emotions, Moods and Reactions. He is also the host of The Mastering Happiness Podcast.
Joel has two courses available for anyone looking to take control of their emotions and life.
His course A Master’s Course in Happiness can help you take charge of your habits and your life in ways you may not have thought were possible.
And his course Mastering Emotions, Moods and Reactions can help you use these biological systems more effectively, with deep understanding and practical skills for mastering them and living well.
And he’s now offering BOTH at a lower price.
– Madeline St.Clair, Assistant Managing Editor
For two years now, many of us – to one degree or another – have had our worlds restricted.
To whatever extent we’ve dialed back our activities due to the pandemic… that will now be what we feel as “normal.”
The challenge as things continue to open up will be to remember that what we are used to now is not normal life; this has been a temporary constriction of normal life.
It will take a little time to orient to the wide world again, but it will help to remind ourselves of what we’ve lost and what we need to regain.
When my wife and I were first married, we had an adorable little malamute puppy. We also lived in one of those apartments with a long, bowling alley hallway.
For the first several weeks of puppyhood, before she could go out and mingle with other dogs, that hallway was the extent of our puppy’s running world. She’d get a burst of excitement and bolt back and forth, up and down the hallway dozens of times in a row.
Finally, she was old enough, had all her shots and could go out into the world. We brought her to a park down the street and let her off her leash to explore.
The first thing she did was run as fast as her little puppy legs could take her… exactly as far as the length of our hallway.
In this big, expansive park, she would run only as far as she had been used to running. She ran back and forth dozens of times within that range, just as she did in our apartment.
This, of course, was hilarious. It lasted for a few days, and then something registered in her. She discovered that she could run wherever, and as far, as she wanted to.
Hopefully our lives haven’t become restricted to the length of an apartment hallway, but chances are there are limitations we’ve become accustomed to that will take some conscious unwinding.
We’re creatures of habit.
In effect, we teach a part of our brain to help us to continue to do certain things. We keep regular routines, react to things a certain way and expect things to unfold exactly as we’ve become accustomed to them unfolding.
Over the past two years, we’ve all assumed some new habits. As things continue to open up, some of them may turn out to be good ones – less time commuting, more time appreciating the people we care about, a degree of healthy slowing down…
Many of them, though, deserve to be let go. Some of our pre-pandemic habits will need to be consciously reestablished.
One of the big obstacles to overcome is the underlying fear that many of us have adopted in reaction to the pandemic. I’ve had friends who have gotten terribly sick from the coronavirus, and I’ve had two friends die from it. I understand the potential gravity of the virus.
But we have a big problem with our media.
When they identify something that’s potentially dangerous, they lose all objectivity and build up the intensity and the fear as high as they can. The media focused on the worst cases, the most pessimistic numbers, and graphic descriptions or displays of the very worst experiences there can be.
This is part of what drives their business; it’s in their nature. As the saying goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Whatever is most awful in the world is what we’ll see on the news – and with close to 8 billion people on Earth, there will always be something awful going on somewhere.
Our fear and sense of helplessness are part of what builds the news audience. It’s what gets us to tune in again and again – to see whether events, over which we have no control, have taken a turn for the better… or the worse.
In the case of COVID-19, this has served to focus our attention on one single variable – one dangerous threat that we must avoid at all costs – and, in effect, terrifying us all with doomsday scenarios.
In the process, all perspective is lost. All awareness of other variables, all consideration of trade-offs and consequences, is gone.
But the fear that we’ve lived with for the last two years will take time to dissipate, and it will take a conscious, deliberate effort to rebuild and regain our full range of functioning again.
Let’s come back to look at this on a personal level: What are some of the habits you’ve adopted during this pandemic that you can begin to let go of now?
Are you ready to shake hands again? Hug friends? Go to the movies, to concerts, to plays? Those of us who are naturally extroverted will likely expand outward quickly and with pleasure.
Those of us who are naturally more introverted will likely need to consciously lean outward again, taking awkward and exhausting steps to get together with people and to put ourselves out there.
There are always trade-offs in life. We feel more comfortable but less excited; safer but less thrilled; less nervous but more depressed; more hopeful but less certain…
What have your trading habits been during this time? And what do you need to reassess?
We tend to favor the status quo, and after two years of lockdowns and limitations, a new status quo will have been established that’s different from what we were used to back in 2019.
Take some time to reevaluate your daily habits, your vision for the future, and the kinds of experiences and activities you value.
Pay attention to your impulses and emotions, the draw of momentum that your current, more restricted habits prefer.
Then think of how you’ll feel if you continue to follow those habits and how different you’ll feel if you lean into life a bit more than you’ve been doing.
Think about it, imagine it, feel it… let yourself experience – on an emotional level – what your personal trade-offs are.
Then decide what you want to do about it.
For some of us, more comfort may be just the thing.
We may have built a tremendous amount of complexity into our lives, leaned in hard and accomplished much. It may be wonderful to spend some time with more simplicity.
For others, comfort is not what we need most. And continuing to dwell in that comfort will likely be more depressing and disappointing than anything else.
Rather, finding our energy, ambition and courage is what will bring us the joy and satisfaction we’re longing for. And leaning in, taking chances, building and creating more fully in the world is what our deepest longing needs of us.
What kind of hallway have you been limited to over the past two years? Consider whether it’s time to head to the park and run free again.