With the COVID-19 crisis still upon us after almost two years, along with a general sense of fear and anxiety, people are stressed out. They are also anxious. Inflation is sky-high, and supply chain shortages are real. Politicization and division seems to be great than ever before, while empathy and kindness are much rarer than most of us would like. A lot of data paints a picture of a world whose optimism and resilience has been depressed by the events of the last two years, and most people are reporting a worsening of their mental health, along with fatigue and burnout.
At this moment, there is no advice that is better than simple advice. When we are stressed and anxious, complexity only adds to the picture. Stressful times call for simple solutions. Note, not “simplistic” solutions, but simple solutions. Calling on ancient wisdom, Lao-Tzu, in Tao Te Ching, said this:
“Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.”
So, here are 12 Simple Ideas For Navigating Crisis…
- Gratitude – Be thankful. Express gratitude for the experiences you have had, the things you’ve learned, and the people you love. Does it get any better than this by William A. Ward? “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say, “thank you?” The mindset of Gratitude is so crucial for balance, true abundance, and your happiness! So many times, our level of gratitude flexes and flows based on our circumstances or our happiness in the moment. Be reminded of the words of Kak Sri: “Gratitude is the art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.”
- Simplicity – Aim for simplicity now and into the future. In simplicity we engage the moment, embrace the creative, and excel at being who we really are. Our joy in life rises and falls exactly with how complicated we make it. When life becomes complex, it is no longer any fun! As Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Jesus said, “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?” What a modest and yet elegant way to live: trusting that life will look after itself! Less is more!
- Engagement – Be fully engaged with whatever you are doing. Being fully engaged speaks of being fully aware, fully involved, and fully alive. It is being present, in the moment, and not letting any part of life just pass you by. Think back to how much time you “killed” pre-COVID, and remember that when you “kill” time, you never get it back. Being fully engaged, alive and passionate about what we do empowers us to not waste any moment, opportunity, or relationship.
- Thoughtfulness – Be thoughtful, both for others and yourself. Be thoughtful for others by caring a little more than you have before, showing respect at a deeper level than you have before, and going the extra mile. Thoughtfulness paves the way for the growth, advancement and empowerment of others. Be thoughtful towards yourself as well. Care for yourself and make sure you are nourished, replenished and energized. When we do not care for ourselves and focus solely on caring for others, we soon lose the ability to properly care for them because our own tank runs precariously dry.
- Spirituality – It makes sense to give room to your unique expression of spirituality. One of the things I love about being a Certified Life Coach and Certified Executive Coach is the holistic nature of what we do. Healthy spirituality is a part of our make-up as human beings, and as we respect and flow with that part of ourselves, we will continue our journey into true and complete wholeness. Some people spend a lot of time arguing over what constitutes “true” spirituality. The wise will simply celebrate qualities such as integrity, compassion, meekness, kindness, selflessness, meditation, contemplation, and stillness. Spirituality is not a building you frequent or religion you ascribe to, but a way of living that validates all components of life. Respect your spirituality moving forward.
- Authenticity – The art of authenticity is all about being true to yourself. So many times, we feel a pressure to be someone we are not, or a stress to not be who we are. Authenticity is about making a conscious choice to resist that pressure, and to succumb to the temptation to simply be you! I love what Judy Garland said about authenticity: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else.” Make a commitment to just be you because YOU are amazing!
- Laughter & Tears – Literally thousands of years ago, before medicine became a science with research and test cases, the ancient Proverbs offered this guidance: “A merry heart does good, like a medicine.” Now, with our test tubes and super computers, we have validated this ancient wisdom: laughter is healthy, and benefits us at all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically, physiologically, relationally and spiritually. It even benefits our immune system. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well. In the same way, tears benefit us. We heal through our laughter and our tears. Those who do not give healthy time to both laughter and tears end up bottled up, stressed out, and carrying an invisible label over themselves in life that screams out “Contents Under Pressure!” This is not a healthy way to live.
- Purpose & Faith – Live with purpose and faith. One huge challenge in the current COVID-19 crisis is the sheer lack of hope out there. We all know that when there is no vision, people perish. Because of fear and lockdown and anxiety, people are dragging their feet, wondering how much worse it can get! The best way to counter this is to stuff your mindset and heart with treasures of hope and confidence and expectation and courage! Embrace crisis with purpose and vision and hope and faith, believing that things will get better! We will get through this together.
- Clarity – Have clarity. Don’t give 80% of your time to the things that drain you, those things that really are not at the top of your ability and giftedness. Give 80% of your time to those things that fuel your strength, those things that you make you feel alive. As Andy Stanley said: “If you really want to make a lasting impact, then you need to eliminate what you do well for the sake of what you can potentially do best.” If you struggle to define this, please pick up a copy of my book, “Getting Where You Need To Go”, found on Amazon. The Buddha said this: “Your work is to discover your work, and then with all your heart, to give yourself to it.”
- Humility – Humility is a keyword for the now. There are many misperceptions of humility. Some think it is about letting people walk on you and mistreat you, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is about a person who knows who they are, and who they are not. It is a man or woman who is comfortable in his or her own skin. As a result, they are very secure. As Gilbert Keith Chesterton said: “It is always the secure who are humble.” We can all resonate with the words of Benjamin Franklin: “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
- Selflessness – George Bernard Shaw wrote: “This is the true joy of life: being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” What more could I add to that? Be selfless in the now, for in selflessness we find ourselves; in care for others we care for ourselves; in refreshing others we ourselves are refreshed.
- Social Connections – Language matters. And in my view, one of the most harmful phrases ever is “social distancing”. We can be physically distant without being socially distant, and we may be doing long-term mental health damage by using the term “social distancing”. See, human beings are social animals, hard-wired to connect with others. Research across a wide variety of disciplines consistently demonstrates that social support enhances productivity (we get more done), psychological well-being (we feel completer and more fulfilled), and even physical health (our body breaks down less). In fact, George Vaillant, Harvard professor of psychiatry, who directed the world’s longest continuous study of physical and mental health, when asked what he had learned from his 40 years of research, said that, “the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
The difference between discouragement and disappointment is subtle. Disappointments happen to us all as a part of the journey… but discouragement is a choice we make in reaction to that disappointment… and it eats away at our soul. Navigate disappointments using a choice other than discouragement because discouragement can surely lead to defeat.
Leonardo da Vinci said that, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. I hope that these 12 Simple Ideas For Navigating Crisis will help you as you embrace the now, with all its challenges and unknowns, as you take the steps to make the next 12 months your best year ever!
About the Author
Abe Brown is an Entrepreneur, High-Performance Leadership Coach, Speaker, Executive, and Best-Selling Author. He has been called the Coach’s Coach, and is the Founder and CEO of Certified Flourishing Coaching. Most coaches struggle to make an impact while also making income. At Certified Flourishing Coaching, we’ve created an evidence-based framework for coaches to create significant impact while making a significant income so you can fully live your dream.