There is a lot to be grateful for after having gone through a global pandemic.
While we may still be navigating the situation (and who knows whether COVID variants will continue to pop up), the truth is, we have all changed as a result of the past year and a half. Work has changed. Travel has changed. Even the ways we relate to each other have changed. Which means we all have the opportunity to come out of this with a greater appreciation and awareness of the things we truly appreciate about each other, the work we do, and even life itself.
On a personal level, this pandemic has taught me a lot. About myself, about what I care about and value, and what matters most.
As we begin to come out on the other side (fingers crossed!), these are the 9 little things we should all be grateful for in a post-pandemic world.
1. In-person connections
Zoom, Slack, and other technologies have had a monumental impact on our ability to work, as well as keep in touch with friends and family.
However, they have also shown us how many human dynamics don’t come through as well via screen:
- Body language
- Eye contact
- A person’s physical energy and emotional state
When it comes to building a connected team — or even relationships and friendships — nothing beats sitting in the same room as someone. Who knew this was something that could ever be taken away from us!
We are now acutely aware of how meaningful something so simple — being together — can be.
2. Seeing people’s smiles (without a mask on)
Seeing real, in-person, genuine smiles is the greatest thing ever!
It’s another one of those things you don’t realize is so important until it’s gone. Sure, with a mask on you can see the smile in someone’s eyes (if you’re looking carefully!), but nothing beats a real, unadulterated smile.
All throughout the pandemic, part of what made it so difficult was the fact that we couldn’t truly connect with each other. Now we realize that seeing someone’s facial expressions up close and personal is such a key piece of connection.
Hopefully now that we can see each other’s faces, we will all feel compelled to smile — even just a little bit more.
3. Chance encounters
One of the problems with a digital-first work and/or lifestyle is that everything is planned.
Zoom calls with your coworkers are planned. Your catch-up calls with friends and family members are planned. My calendar over the past year and a half has been as booked and as busy as it’s ever been.
But all this planning — combined with the fact that we’re spending so much time in our homes — has removed so much serendipity from life.
Being able to see and connect with people in person again has been so overwhelming energetically, and so stimulating (in a good way). I had forgotten how energizing it can be to randomly meet someone at an event, or spark up a conversation with someone while walking your dog.
As we reemerge from pandemic life, the pleasant little surprises and unexpected encounters will be possible again and we will appreciate them more than ever.
4. A raised consciousness around how we are all showing up in the world
For the past year and a half, we haven’t just been wearing physical masks.
Many of us have also been wearing emotional masks, whether we’ve realized it or not.
I have noticed how the pandemic has affected how I’m feeling and, as a result, how I’m behaving. And I have noticed how it has affected those around me. “Dulled” is the word that comes to mind. It’s as though we have all suppressed little bits of who we are just so we could make it through.
Well, as we return to the world, and come back together again, this is an opportunity to show up more fully — fully ourselves.
5. Noticing our thoughts (and not focusing on “living in a pandemic”)
As things start to feel more normal, I am starting to catch myself in certain moments forgetting about the pandemic completely. (These moments are dreamy, by the way.)
I’ll be out walking my dog, or meeting a few friends for lunch, and I’ll go an hour and completely forget the doom and gloom of the past year and a half. It’s been so long since we’ve had that luxury (freedom from the pandemic); it seems like every hour of every day has been focused on COVID-19, because we’re zooming, wearing masks, watching the news, discussing it with friends.
And now, one moment at a time, we are starting to feel what it feels like to be mentally free of it.
It feels like the weight of the world is slowly lifting off of our shoulders. And this is something to feel grateful for.
6. The joys of sitting in traffic
Especially living in Los Angeles, who would have thought there would be a day where I was thankful for traffic?
(Well, maybe that’s a stretch.)
As I’ve started acclimating again to my old daily routine and doing things like sitting in my car on the way to work or to a meeting, I have noticed that I have a higher tolerance for things that seemed massively inconvenient in the past, including traffic.
I am looking at those types of things differently now. At moments, I even appreciate them, because I am able to say, “There was a time when all I wanted was to leave my house — and now I can.”
7. More adventurous travel
Sure, it may be annoying to have to get COVID tested before traveling (especially internationally).
It may be time-consuming getting all of your paperwork together in advance and going through so many checkpoints at the airport.
But I’m ok with it — and so are millions of other people.
Being stuck inside for so long has made us all exponentially more appreciative of our ability to travel the world, step outside our comfort zones, experience new destinations and cultures, and gain new and valuable perspectives. We forget it wasn’t that long ago when hopping on a plane across the pond (or even the country) was considered a novel innovation and a luxury.
Never before have I been so happy standing in line for security at the airport.
8. In-person collaborations at work
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has called remote work a “pure negative.”
I don’t know if I’d go that far and say it’s all terrible, but on some level, I tend to agree with him. At first, working from home was nice — for everyone. But after a while, I started to miss it. I missed being able to collaborate with people in that way, be in the room and feel the creative spark.
Now, as we return to the office, that spark is coming back. The feeling of connection with the team, those moments where you have a more active appreciation for a feeling of progress or novel ideas.
And I can only imagine all the incredible things the world will create after having been apart for so long.
9. Making plans
A year ago, we all stopped asking each other what our plans were.
Because none of us had any.
“I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing: sit inside.”
The simple act of being able to make plans again, and relish in those plans with friends, coworkers, and family members is special. And if there’s one reason why so many people are beginning to feel alive again, it’s because we are all able to find things to look forward to again.
The pandemic has changed us all — and there is a lot to be grateful for.