We are still locked up for the most part. There are some glimmers of hope as Spain and Italy the two worst-affected countries in Europe, start to return some people to work. In all likelihood we are weeks if not months away from returning to anything even remotely like what life used to be like but there is some light at the end of the tunnel it would seem. Hopefully we have adjusted to our new (hopefully temporary) reality and found a way of surviving if not thriving. Most of us are dying to get to life as it was before lockdown and it might be the most appealing thought for us at the minute to just slip back into our old lifestyle like a warm duvet but maybe this is an opportunity we shouldn’t be wasting.
Human existence has been punctuated by horrible events that at the time are traumatic for those going through them but it’s not all doom and suffering. These events have often led to progress in the human condition.
- After the black death in Europe labour was more scarese and those who were the underclass in society all of a sudden had much greater bargaining power. This led to a shift in power and living standard for those who sold their labour which changed society towards a more modern trajectory.
- After the first world war, the great depression and the second world war a lot of the social safety nets and health care systems within western countries came into existence measures that improved the lot of the bottom runs of society immeasurably.
When we are comfortable it is easy to fall into lazy habits and to just allow the status quo to sit unaltered. There are even those who make it their life’s work to keep the status quo as it is. That isn’t to say that the status quo is a bad thing or that we should all teeter off to the left with wanton abandon the civil and constant tug of war between those of differing viewpoints is what creates a stable and successful society. Lurching too far to one side or the other has for the most part just created more pain and suffering.
The point of this introduction is not to announce my change of profession from strength and conditioning coach to political historian and commentator; it’s to use it as a metaphor for what we as individuals are suffering through together. We have been forced to change our way of life drastically. We have been forced to give up most of our social habits either positive or negative.
This is an opportunity more so than any new years you have been through to actually make some lasting changes to our lifestyles and how we spend our most valuable resource, our time. God, I am so deep. But outside of my pseudointellectual meandering the fact that your normal existence and day to day routine has been punctuated so drastically means you are in a unique position where you can get the fuck out of your own way.
There are very real and powerful forces in our brains that are designed to keep us rolling about not questioning what goes on around us on a day to day basis. Protecting your ego and sense of self is a very real survival concern for your brain and as such your brain geared up to protect it. This stops you from constantly questioning your own worth and ability.
If you are wanting a book to read around this area there are two I would recommend as a good start
- You are not so smart by David McRaney focuses on heuristics and why your mind and psychology isn’t the fountain of reality that you might think it is. When you understand how flawed and janky our own mind is at interpreting the world around us you will become more critical of your own thoughts.
- Ego is the enemy by Ryan Holiday is an excellent intro into some of the take aways of stoic philosophy and it’s meaning for our sense of self.
If you don’t go out of your way to seek this kind of thinking or to try and challenge your own thinking it is pretty much impossible to get out of your rut or day to day existence. This experience will force you to break from that. You might find yourself with more time on your hands or you might find yourself having a think about a few things.
What is actually important to you?
For my own experience, this time has really focused my mind on what is actually important to me. There are some things that when taken away they have had a massive negative effect on my mental well being. Things that I went out of my way at a pretty large personal expense to rectify, namely having a barbell, rack and some weights. The inability to train the way I wanted to was a huge challenge for me and it fucked with my mood and happiness. I worked around it as best as I could, happily I am in a position where I could do something about it. During the 2 weeks when I couldn’t train with a barbell and weights the only thing that really approximated to training and I found engaging was running.
Being able to spend time with Laura (my missus) and Jura (my doggo) has also focused me in on what else is important in my life and somethings that might need to be prioritised when we finally go back to a more normal cadence of existence.
The inability to eat out, get take aways, drink when I want or how I want have been at worst an inconvenience. I could easily adapt and live without these things in my life and so I am going to use this as an opportunity to reset to a new normal. Of course, cutting back or doing more home cooking is something I could have easily done in my own time of my own volition but it’s something I didn’t because I couldn’t be fucked at the time.
The ability to sleep for 8 hours a day regardless of what the schedule for the following day is has shown me how sleep deprived I have been. My thinking is much better and consistent at the moment however even if it is in an environment where it can be easy to not utilise it in a constructive manner (if you don’t count naps, wanking and playing call of duty warzone as productive then I guess you can call me unproductive).
Some adversity can teach us the things that are important and the things that aren’t important.
What have you been missing? What have you not been missing?
Some time for introspection during this period can set you up to reorder your schedule going forward so you can make more time for the important things by taking away time from the things that aren’t so important.
I could pivot and use this part of the article to try and to give a prompt towards what I think is important but that would be against the point of the exercise. For you to be happy and fulfilled (if these are even meaningful or achievable goals) you need to decide what is important to you and what you think could help to enrich the quality of your life.
If you stick around on the blog I might take some time to brainwash you into thinking the same way as me but in the meantime take this opportunity to have a look at yourself in a new light and see what you find.