Cultivating Wisdom: The Challenge of COVID-19

Aug 31, 2020 | Wisdom | 2 comments

A quote about how to handle your life.

We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves–after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us. For our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world. The lives that you admire, the attitudes that seem noble to you, have not been shaped by a paterfamilias or a schoolmaster. They have sprung from very different beginnings, having been influenced by evil or commonplace that prevailed round them. They represent a struggle and a victory.– Marcel Proust


I resolved a number of years ago that I would never read another self-help book in my life. I know, I know. Never say never.

Then recently, a high school friend recommended ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’ by Jonathan Haidt. It’s proven to be a helpful book for these uncertain times. I’m feeling bolstered by the ‘wisdom of the ages’ content, such as the Proust quote above.

In these COVID-19 times, I’ve been digging deep into my tool box of life lessons and yoga learning to uncover resources.

A recent article from the on-line publication The Conversation suggested some survival strategies. These are ideas with which we are already familiar but I was happy to be reminded of them.

Six Wise Suggestions

Work with what can be changed

Since we are stuck with the pandemic into the foreseeable future, all we can do is change our responses to it. Rather than resistance or non-compliance with health advice, we can understand that we are protecting others and ourselves. This is a service. It’s an opportunity to grow our sense of community.

Be sure of what you speak

Psychology Today reports that as the rate of infections and the death toll associated with Covid-19 continue to rise, fearracism, panic buying, and conspiracy theories have become increasingly common.

But there’s no need for us to be jumping to conclusions or catastrophising. It’s not hard to find the truth regarding the sort of ideas that are circulating in the pandemic atmosphere.

One helpful fact-checking site that my husband subscribes to is Snopes. Wikipedia, too, will provide you with lists of fact-checking sites.

Take an expanded view

This is one of my favourite techniques for gaining perspective when I am confused or conflicted. Imagine climbing a ladder to get a view of the forest, rather than just focussing on this tree right in front of you. From your expanded view, you can see horizons and in all directions.

Consider the billions of people on the planet that are doing it much harder than we are. As well as the past and future generations who are likely to face greater hardships than we have or will.

Choose a role model

I have a local role model. She doesn’t have an Order of Australia and not many would know of her contributions. I call her Aunt Phyll. She is now a nonagenarian, and for decades she has been a volunteer in many of the Manning Valley communities.

Another local person I admire is my next door neighbour, Farmer Scott. When the droughts were getting close to Mitchells Island last year, he and I had a chat over his fence. His general attitude was: this too will pass.

Who are you inspired by? And who do you look to for inspiration?

Expect the worst but hope and work for the best

This may sound like negative advice, but it echoes the wise advice at the top of this page: life is all about how you handle Plan B. Preparing for disaster means that the fear and negative emotions connected with impending difficulty is more likely to be mitigated. Forwarned is forearmed. Then, if the worst does not transpire, we can breathe easy and feel fortunate.

Enjoy what is still in your power

Speaking of good fortune…. There are so many ways that our lives are good, even now when some of our freedoms have been constrained.

This is from The Conversation article, ‘What Would Seneca Say?’

Being stuck at home doesn’t stop us from loving, reading, studying, laughing (including at ourselves), listening to music, watching good TV, having great conversations….

In fact, the majority of my yoga colleagues have said that when we were in full lockdown, they enjoyed a slower pace. They were able to catch up on work that had been shelved. And there was that whole world of zoom, live stream and recordings to learn about.

At the top of the list for self-empowerment, though, is fostering our relationships.

While we couldn’t do this through being in physical contact, most of us have the Internet at our fingertips. And, our phones probably even closer.

Never have our networks of support been more important. So, this is my last suggestion: phone a friend…or family member today.


  1. Dear Eve

    This was very interesting reading, thank you.
    Considering plan B is the way to go.

    Thank you.


    • Thanks, Mary.Considering the Plan B advice came from a 90 year-old, I think it has experience behind it.
      Kindly, Eve


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