What happens to us on the journey of life is not nearly as important as how we handle what happens. ~John Templeton
Masks? We’re Done with All That! screamed a recent NY Times headline. Its origin was a woman from Lubbock, Texas where, not coincidentally, the city was going through a spike of Coronavirus cases. She explained away her refusal to wear a mask, saying something about personal freedom, oblivious to the harm she might cause her family and friends, not to mention herself.
Even though the pandemic is raging in most of the US, it seems like for many the clock has run out on mask-wearing. Personal choice trumps the greater good. Meanwhile, as the number of Covid-19 cases skyrockets, in the parts of the world where people followed the recommended health guidelines, cases are way down. Some resemblance of normalcy is returning. That’s not the case here.
What can you do when you’re following the rules, but others are not? You may have even heard seemingly rationale people try to explain the Coronavirus away, saying they’re not personally concerned or that while cases are up, hospitalizations are down, unaware of the fact it won’t stay that way for long.
In troubling times like these, I often go to the same source for inspiration and/or guidance: John Templeton. What would the late-billionaire businessman, turned wise spiritual philosopher, say about the current situation? For starters, he might put our situation into context this way:
Imagine for a moment that you have reached the end of your life and are reflecting on the many and varied scenarios that have comprised your world. Wouldn’t you want to look back with pride, knowing that you made the best of each situation, regardless of how difficult it may have been? Isn’t this better than looking back and wishing you had handled things differently?
So how do we avoid looking back in regret, not just in this situation, but in any situation? How do we avoid wishing we could turn back the clock and do things differently? John Templeton tells us that we need to “do things to best of our current abilities.” You need to “reach inside yourself a little deeper to garner greater strength.” Because when you give it your best shot:
You can experience the inner peace of those who know they gave it their all. You can look back over the events of your life with satisfaction and peace of mind, because there will likely be no regrets.
With those words in mind, here are two traits that we sorely need, and seem to be lacking, today:
Trait #1: Patience
Patience is a state of mind that Templeton says is characterized by “poise, serenity, inner calmness and quiet endurance—especially in the face of trying or upsetting conditions.” Given our current situation, patience might be best explained in this quote from the Zen master Jon Kabat-Zinn:
Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.
You cannot get impatient with this virus. It must unfold in its own time. You might want to eat at an indoor restaurant with friends, the virus doesn’t care. You might want to do a Zoom class at the local gym, the virus doesn’t care. You might want to wander mask-free through a crowded bar, the virus doesn’t care. The virus is out there, in many places more prevalent than ever. You’ve got to be patient and wait this thing out—at home.
Trait #2: Perseverance
To persevere is “the ability to persist in, or remain constant to, a purpose, an idea or task, in the face of obstacles or discouragement.” It’s what you might call stick-to-it-ness, staying with a plan, like sheltering at home, even when you grow tired of it. In the words of Templeton:
When faced with difficult or challenging situations, we can utilize our strength to be calm, wait patiently for confusing and conflicting thoughts to cease, and then move forward with a well-planned strategy.
We need to show some character here, because the battle against this virus is not done. This quote, from the Scottish political leader Walter Elliot, sums it up best:
Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after the other.
Each day is another short race. Another day we can get it right. Another day we can do our part to keep our families and communities safe, by engaging in a few simple acts that can help others stay safe as we help ourselves do the same.
3 Simple Rules to Follow Today
There’s a daily email I read called Lunchtime Pandemic Reading, written by the technology writer Chris Penn that includes daily updates on the Coronavirus. Here’s an edited version of Chris’s 3 simple steps you should be taking each day to be safe. They are truly words to live by.
- Wash/sanitize your hands every time you are out of your home for any reason.
- Wear a mask when out of your home. Consider wearing a face shield if you can’t breathe through a mask.
- Stay home as much as possible. Minimize your contact with others and maintain physical distance of at LEAST 6 feet. Avoid indoor places as much as you can.