One of the perks of working from coffee shops is the amount of meaningful conversations you can have – based, obviously, on the number of interesting people you meet there. Since lockdown relaxed, a couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to restart my working from coffee shops routine (slightly trimmed down, but still). And today I had one of those interesting conversations that I was talking in the first sentence.
It was with one of my fellow digital nomads, we knew each other for some time and we had quite a few meaningful conversations before. This time we talked about how lockdown changed people’s lives. At some point, I briefly mentioned how I met someone during the quarantine, (like getting romantically involved in a long-distance relationship, under the most incredible circumstances one can imagine). To my surprise, he told me there’s nothing extraordinary to my story, his brother also met someone, in almost identical circumstances.
And from here, we segued into how lockdown changed people’s lives, in so many different ways. For some, it meant the end of a nice life and the beginning of a horrible struggle. They got fired or their relationship crumbled to pieces. But for others, it meant the end of an average (or a stagnating) life, and the beginning of a new, incredibly rewarding period in their lives.
Now, the lockdown was the same for everybody. We all had to obey the curfew, the social distancing measures and the lack of human connection. The world stopped for everybody. What was different, though, was each person’s attitude.
It wasn’t the “what” was happening, but “how” they decided to deal with it.
For some, the lockdown was perceived as an obstacle.
For others, it was perceived as an opportunity.
Interestingly enough, both words start with the same letter.
And for me, this means we still have a choice even when we thought we already know the word by which we define our current situation. We still have a choice even if we already opened our mouth and started to say: “This is an o…”, and we’re preparing to continue with “obstacle”. Even at that point, we can still stop, switch words and say: “opportunity. This is an opportunity”.
There’s nothing intrinsically bad in any situation. There’s nothing intrinsically good either. All this “good” and “bad” stuff is literally forming in our minds as we go along. And with each evaluation, with each “this is good” and with each “this is bad”, a certain inertia is forming, some shortcuts are created in our minds, and we’re evaluating more and more on auto-pilot. In time, this auto-pilot, knee-jerk reaction is becoming our attitude. We’re “optimists” or “pessimists”, but neither approach is unchangeable, shaped in concrete, or coming from outside. It’s all created by us, by our reactions. We’re literally shaping the way we perceive everything, we’re building our attitude with every evaluation we make, second by second.
And when some major disruption comes, like a global pandemic, bringing the world to a halt, and hitting everybody the same, our attitude will make the difference, nothing else.
Because there isn’t really nothing else except this. That’s the only thing we can control, our reaction. And we can even shift this reaction even when we’re half way through, even when we already started to see whatever happens to us as an obstacle.
It might be just an amazing opportunity.
They start with the same letter, after all.