Finding peace nowadays can seem easy for some with the imposition of social distancing, allowing for much needed downtime and inward reflection. But, difficult for others who are accustomed to being outside the house, around people, and occupied all the time.
As a strategy and management consultant, my day-to-day varies anywhere from working 12-18 hours a day. So this pause from taking weekly flights to be at the client site, and managing my day with more flexibility, and to an extent, at a slower pace has allowed me to catch my breath. It has gifted me with time for the little things that emanate bliss and the personal big things that have been placed on the back burner for months.
These steps have brought me closer to myself during this period of self-isolation:
Allotting silent coffee time
Brewing espresso every morning is my ritual of renewal, an act I appreciate so much more now that I get to do it on a daily basis (something I could not do 4 days a week, living out of hotels). I snuggle up on my couch with my cup of roasted beans and bask in the aroma of Dominican coffee hills in a trance-like state. This time in the morning is sacred. And to make it even more so, I put my cell phone away for the time I am sipping. It is my uninterrupted moment to start the day and to get in the right headspace. To be present and grateful for the pause. Just me and my coffee in my favorite mug.
Buying myself fresh flowers
I bought not-yet-bloomed lilies and placed them in a vase near my working space at home. And over the days of video-conferencing and PowerPoints, I have watched the buds unfold into the season of spring inside my apartment. Other plants, ranging from succulents to a medium-sized palm tree, also reside at home, illuminating the dimly lit corners of my living room. Caring for these life forms provide me with a sense of warmth and peace. Mother nature, whether outdoors or indoors, has a way of reminding us that life continues. That there is steadiness in the chaos, as they stand unfazed, rooted in water or dirt. That there is rebirth after every end. And that there is hope.
Doing the things one always says one will do
Lastly, the loss of time spent commuting to work, getting ready for work, and having unproductive meetings is now allocated towards achieving personal goals. Albeit, the first few days of quarantine, I spent it watching Netflix, looking at infinite amounts of coronavirus memes, and mindlessly scrolling through the internet. But after a few days of allowing myself this luxury, I decided I would stop making excuses and get myself to do self-transformation work.
Whether it has been sharpening skills, feeding into curiosity, or connecting with loved ones, I thought about how I could use this time to better myself and deepen my connection with others. I started with the been-meaning-to-get-to phone calls with relatives and friends who I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I learned what’s keeping them up at night (aside from this pandemic) and what’s keeping them motivated. I finally picked up that book I wanted to read. I am half-way done. I started deepening my knowledge of the stock market…I am looking into investing. And I began writing again…Love letters to myself. Messages of hope and resilience to others. An article on the economy, co-written with my partner. This article to you.
If you’re like me, you want to maximize productivity and achieve your long list of neglected goals to ease the mind. But if you’re also like me, “l’arte di non fare niente” (the art of doing nothing) is extremely tempting. For a stimulated brain and a peaceful soul, balance both. Reward bouts of productivity with periods of nothingness.
Find your peace. Find your purpose.