By Prem Lamichhane
In the time when we are witnessing the extreme opposing sides of the COVID-19 pandemic globally, there are positive sides too. There are not only threats but also opportunities. So, here are 13 positive sides of the COVID-19 pandemic:
Reliably more time:
Today, people spend more time on social gatherings and entertainment such as going to the theater, cinema, restaurant, bar, sports club, gym, music, festivals, concerts, celebrations, etc. Suddenly, all of those events are canceled or forbidden, giving us significant amounts of extra time. Although this doesn’t apply to the healthcare sector and other crucial sectors, it applies to many industries. Instead of wasting time, the opportunity is to spend this time on other things, not just during the crisis, but also after the crisis.
Reflect and reconsider:
The fact that the COVID-19 disrupts our day-to-day lives allows us to reflect on things and reconsider what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Things we took for granted, like going to social gatherings, are suddenly not possible anymore. Further, many people have had to change their mode of studying and working from home. This offers an excellent opportunity to rethink our habits and routines and make changes. You can do all the things you never have time to do, for instance, practicing yoga and meditation, cleaning the home, reading, writing, taking online courses, etc. The virus forces you to make changes to your daily life that you might want to keep after the crisis.
Reincarnation and innovation:
Many organizations suffer from slow procedures, complex bureaucracies, and rigid hierarchies. The COVID-19 has forced many of them to break through these strict systems and act instantly. This leads to remarkable innovations. E.g., employees started working from home, closed restaurants shifted to delivery mode, and educational institutions began online teaching and testing. This brings the opportunity to create innovations now that can be maintained after the crisis.
Valuing our health:
Most of us have taken health and wellbeing for granted for a long time. We had to become ill to go to the hospital for checkups. Although we had seen that many more people die every day for many other reasons, it’s unbelievable that even an invisible virus can take the lives of people spreading this quickly. When no medicines have been found, it gives us more time to understand our health. It allows practicing healthy habits such as yoga and meditation to preserve physical and mental health, realizing that health and wellbeing can’t be taken for granted.
Reconnect and help:
Difficult time offers an opportunity for social bonding with the new way of helping people. In some cases, not being able to visit friends or family has increased isolation or loneliness. This time has realized the importance of spending more time with your family. The feeling of “we’ has triggered exciting ways of connecting. This time learns our respect and love in the family become even closer. It also connects people socially. For example, a few weeks back, Italians sang together from their windows and balconies, which went viral in social media. In the individualized societies, many of us live in, this provides opportunities to reconnect and create more social coherence during the crisis and afterward.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most industries are shut down, road traffic has drastically dropped, and air traffic has been suspended. Due to the lack of tourists, famous streets in overcrowded cities like Paris, Venice, and New York have become lonely. The carbon emissions are sinking at the speed of light. In China, Forbes says 77,000 lives were saved by reducing pollution. In Sardinia and Venice, fishes and dolphins are seen swimming happily. It has led to a significant reduction in greenhouse gasses and other air, water, and land polluting; It has directly contributed to mitigating climate change. Although it may be bad news for those working in the affected industries, this is good news for our entire living planet to make long-term improvements even after the crisis.
Modesty and acceptance:
The COVID-19 pandemic offers a chance to get aware of the moderate role we play on this planet and accept the things that cannot always go as we want them to go. This is an unpredicted global crisis in modern peacetime. Although we had other pandemics like SARS and ebola, their impact was less substantial. The COVID-19 is not human-made and yet disrupts lives across the planet. This shows us that no matter how well-planned and organized we are, not everything is under human control. The coronavirus provides an opportunity to take a more modest role and accept the things beyond our control.
Due to COVID-19 lockdown, many people started working from home. This has resulted in less consumption. For instance, we use less plastic, travel less, and shop less. These are the positive aspects of the environment. Further, many people have started making conscious choices in nutrition and exercise. We are forced to adjust our new living patterns and working methods. We also see that improvisation and creativity suddenly became very important. If we become able to continue this even after the crisis, that would count in the long term.
Less reliance on spending money for fun:
Due to the COVID-19, we’re learning that more accumulation and acquisition of stuff doesn’t equate to a better life. In recent weeks, we have realized that we need not spend the amount of money that we do in social gatherings and entertainment. People seem to be happy and satisfied with nature, involving in yoga and meditation, and being around with their family and children. The material consumption of physical assets that have prevailed in recent times has radically reduced. Hopefully, after this crisis, many people will start saving for the future rather than spending on materialistic stuff such as shopping or eating out weekly.
A renewed focus on improving the world around us:
During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, we are giving better care of our health than the physical property. To keep ourselves busy and utilize our time, we perform different works such as painting, decorating, gardening, etc. The crisis has made us realize the importance of small things around us by taking better care of them. Social relationships and neighborhood spirit seem to be appreciated more than ever. We do have conversations with neighbors, maybe from windows or roofs, and it’s nice to feel a community spirit growing in the community.
Advancement in education and work system:
Many educational institutions have started running remote learning as it was an end of the semester or academic year. Although there have been some technical and cultural issues, it seems to have been mostly successful. Remote learning seems necessary at present both in education and work and per the need of time. Currently, many organizations and offices are active through remote work. While it’s prompting a lot of learning adaptability for many, distant learning and working seems to prove more sustainable even after the crisis.
Becoming less wasteful:
We have limited food stocks due to limited supply chains that seem to take longer to return to normal. Thus, we have started encouraging our kids and family members not to waste anything. It means being satisfied or grateful for what is needed for enough, rather than being mean or greedy just because there’s more available. Controlling food wastage means we are saving the hunger. It’s not only with food, but we shouldn’t waste anything. Becoming less wasteful realizes how little we need to survive and to live a happy life.
Being a social animal, we function better with social interactions and mutual support. Sharing our problems helps us come up with better solutions. Similar to this disaster, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal taught us the power of social solidarity. Social distancing takes away the comfort of identifying as a social being. We can compare these two situations to show how social contact restriction has worsened the condition leading to hysteria or isolation. Although this comes with reasons, social distancing disrupts the sociological theory. Yet, this is the basic principle we have learned from the COVID-19 crisis to save both personal and other people’s lives.
This article written by Prem Lamichhane, the APYouthS Ambassador of Nepal, was submitted as a part of APYouthS’ Article Submission program. We are calling for enthusiastic and impassioned youths in Asia-Pacific who are willing to share their opinions on current situations of the world. Submit your article now through https://bit.ly/submit-writing-apyouths.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of Asia-Pacific Youth Service.