“Wake me up when Corona gets over!” This is a phrase that I came across while going through my Instagram feed yesterday. Well, even I wish for this because let’s admit it – the recent times haven’t been normal for anyone. This period has taxed us physically, emotionally, and socially. But, as we all eagerly wait for things to get back to normal – we can take this ‘window of opportunity’ to re-evaluate our choices, habits, and relationships. We can reconnect with things and people we truly value.
It’s one thing to say that we live by our values and a different thing to live by it. We know that the lockdown reflected this reality in so many ways. I’ve observed how some of my friends who’ve been living with their parents for over four months, are more than eager to go by their autonomous lives again. I’ve seen some of my home-bound friends become work-oriented in surprising ways. Some of my friends who used to be very passionate about their work just couldn’t put up with the productivity pressure. I’ve seen people work on fitness and health more than ever. There have been enormous changes in the way people look at life because of this lockdown.
Even as I counted days during the lockdown, I got a sense of reinforcement for some of the values that I was already living by. Simplicity and minimalism are two aspects I’ve regarded for a couple of years now. The lockdown bolstered my belief in them further. I think we all realized that what we need at the end of the day is healthcare, need for protection, emotional well-being, and reconnection with people in our lives—in some way or the other. Everything else—the conveniences, a bigger house, the latest car—is secondary.
I have to admit that some of the values that I decided to stay true to initially received a lot of bumps along the way, especially the aspects of remaining fit and productive. Despite my best efforts, I found it difficult to work out and become productive every day because each day brought with itself, a new set of challenges and uncertainties. And, as they say, the true test of values is when a crisis befalls us. Under normal circumstances, we can all give our best but, it’s when the times are challenging, it gets difficult to partake in meaningful experiences and pursuits.
My experiences in the lockdown have made it more than clear to me that values are not what we say is important to us. Values are reflected in what we do, day in day out. Unless and until our actions, choices, and habits don’t align with what we say—it doesn’t matter what we say. Values without actions are just aspirations, and we can’t fulfill our aspirations until we work toward it. Values also do not have to be grand. We can even live by one value (possibly more than that) which can help us navigate life when ninety-nine things could be going wrong. It’s a matter of finding out what we consider important and letting them grow through us so that we can become better individuals, little by little, every day.
A great way to find out and reevaluate our values is to examine our thoughts and perceptions. Instead of trying to nail a clear set of values straight on, where we might want to begin is—asking ourselves some reflective questions. Here are some questions that help me gather my thoughts.
- What am I grateful for?
- Where does my attention gets easily drawn?
- What can I truly not do without?
- What do I enjoy giving time to?
- What do I appreciate in my daily hustle?
- What do I find myself mostly indulged in?
- What makes me wake up in the morning?
- What kind of relationships do I cherish the most?
- What is it that I can’t separate from my identity?
- What gives me joy?
- What adds value to my life?
- What do I find worth struggling for?
- What have I grown through?
- What’s my go-to?
- What gives my life its meaning?
When we start asking ourselves questions like these, we welcome our perspectives about the kind of ups and downs we’ve grown through, where we stand at present, and how the things we value today will shape us tomorrow. We may not find answers easily but, we may arrive at better questions to reflect on. As Nancy Willard says, “Answers are closed rooms; and questions are open doors that invite us.” So, let’s reflect. Let’s ask ourselves some meaningful questions all the while transitioning to normalcy bit by bit.