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  • Terry L. Sumerlin

What Will We Do Differently

We are starting to come out of isolation and transition into a new normal. How long it will take to complete the process and the various steps involved are matters that are way beyond my pay grade. However, I know this: Before us lie great opportunities for introspection.

Along this line, what has each of us learned over the past few months that might be of personal value? As a result of what we’ve learned, are we better, stronger, more disciplined and more mature? Let’s hope we’re not weaker, less disciplined or bitter.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Buy ‘em books and buy ‘em books and all they do is chew on the covers.” It’s the same way with experiences from which we fail to learn. It’s like a person who, instead of living X number of years, lives one year X times. What a shame.

So, with these thoughts in mind, let’s give some attention to what we will do differently as a result of the coronavirus. Here are some suggested “differences.”

Greater courage: General George S. Patton defined courage as “fear holding on a minute longer.” We’ve held on and we’ve pulled together. But what does that mean to us? What does it mean for individuals, families, workplaces, communities and society? It should mean that we’ve been toughened for other challenges and against other fears. Where previously fear might have caused us to give up, now we have a foundation of hardened experience on which we can build. We can build courage and confidence that conquer rather than cower when life and relationships get tough.

Greater appreciation of others: I’m a believer in the concept that strong relationships are forged by shared experiences, and that the tougher the experiences, the stronger the relationships. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. It all depends on how we treat others during and after the experiences. And keep this in mind: Under all circumstances, we get to choose how we treat people. However, we do not get to choose the results of that choice. Hopefully, during these stressful times, we’ve chosen to treat others with kindness, consideration and appreciation. If not, now would be a good time to start. If we’ve learned anything as a result of the crisis, it should be that every life is fragile and relationships are precious.

Greater patience: I’ve always taken the approach that “patience” is two or more people in the presence of a physician. It’s always been sort of a foreign concept to me. So, when isolation replaced my going-and-doing routines, it was quite an adjustment. Perhaps for you as well. But we adjusted, right? I now see things differently. I’ve discovered that regardless of whether or not I’m able to continue as I’d like, life goes on. I’ve also discovered that impatience and restlessness are often ego things that grow out of an inflated sense of importance. Maybe the discipline required by present circumstances has taken us out of some of that and made us more patient. Use it or lose it!

Greater compassion: Where do we begin to talk about opportunities for compassion? First we think of those, and the families of those, who have been most directly affected by the coronavirus. There are also those who tirelessly risk their lives on the frontlines. We’re likewise mindful of those who have suffered tremendous financial loss. Our hearts ache for them all. Lord Byron said: “The dew of compassion is a tear.” The dew will evaporate. The milk of human kindness must never be evaporated. Going forward, when we tend to become desensitized by the world around us and as we busy ourselves with our own affairs, let’s permit our hearts to stay in the perspective of we’re all in this together.

Greater gratitude: We so often take so much for granted. Ever wonder why? We lose our perspective. Author Ryan Holiday says: “Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.” In seeking our own ambitions and interests we often lose our way by overlooking the past and the present. We should now be able to see more clearly that we had and have so much for which to be grateful. Our health, our families, our friends, our homes and our freedom are so much for which to be thankful. The main thing, my friend, is mainly to keep these main things the main things. If we’ll do that, then greater gratitude will be ours.

CONNECTOR TIP: As we become better people, we’re better with people.

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