Could you have imagined sitting at home for 4 months straight? I certainly couldn’t have! This pandemic has made reluctant hermits of us all. But while it has taken away our freedom of movement, it has given us the luxury of time.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean to be disrespectful towards those who have lost their livelihoods to the virus. I suppose I am just trying to look at the silver lining. While we all fight the effects of coronavirus in one way or the other, most of us now have more time to reflect.

Usually, we are so busy in the hamster wheel of life that we hardly take the time to think of our selves or our relationships. I work 8-hour shifts at a software development company, 5 days a week. After work, I go to my gym, and then I have an online class. After all this, I am so beat that I usually don’t have time to wash my face, let alone have meaningful conversations with your family or friends.

While living close to my family, I have realized that often we take these beautiful relationships for granted. We don’t know them, and thus we often miss the opportunity to learn from the experience of our elders or the innocent curiosity of our children. In this pandemic, I forged a deeper connection with two generations, and I am much richer for both.

I live two blocks away from my grandparent’s house. Before the pandemic, it would be weeks before I popped over to say hi. But since the gym was closed, I took to walking. I took a walk to their home every day, where I stopped to chat with my grandma. Always up for company, my silver-haired, 90-year old grandma recited poems from her memory and recounted fascinating stories from her childhood to her marriage.

The second relationship I forged was with my 2-year-old niece. My sister came to live with me a few months into the pandemic, to be closer to family. Her daughter is my only and most favorite niece. Although I loved her dearly, before this viral outbreak, I didn’t have a chance to watch her grow and learn. From mermaid parties in her kiddy swimming pool to baking banana bread, I have learned many valuable lessons from this toddler that I had forgotten as an adult.

Here is what I learned from my 90-year old grandma and my 2-year old niece:

  1. Play the Long Game

I once read that a wise man seeks perpetual contentment instead of temporary joy, and that’s exactly what my grandmother has taught me. Often, we focus on small things rather than envisioning the border picture. We stress when we don’t have one good day at work, we are miserable when we fight over a small thing with our spouse, and we generally become unhappy.

When you play the long game, you give yourself and other more space instead of focusing on instant gratification. It allows us to step back and take a deeper look at things and say, okay, so this is happening right now, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. For instance, your partner may be unavailable because of work, family challenges, or any other reason. Instead of fixating on this issue, you take a step back and realize that unavailability right now does not mean rejection.

A little patience today can lead to years of contentment in the future.

  • Know What You Want and Go for It

When we grow up, we learn to hide our true feelings in favor of being polite or political. We become hesitant and unsure of yourself, traveling the world? That’s just not possible. Starting a new business? I couldn’t possibly do that.

The lack of finances, socio-cultural constraints, familial obligations, and our fear holds us back from even naming the thing we want, even to ourselves. My 2-year-old niece taught me the value of being honest to yourself and knowing exactly what you want.

She is so unafraid and unapologetic when she wants to do something. I want puzzles right now. I want the bird puzzle, not the hippo puzzle. She is very specific and very sure of herself. I realized that I stopped being sure of myself some while back, and while trying to fit the mold, I let go of what I wanted.

I have learned to be fearless and unapologetic in the pursuit of my goals. What have you learned?