One of my best remedies for this is to cultivate curiosity and imagination. Think back to when you were a kid and were full of questions, like “Why is the sky blue?” or “How do birds fly?”. Did those questions ever get answered to your satisfaction? What other questions do you have? While we don’t have control over the thoughts that pop into our heads, we do have control over which ones we continue to give attention. Notice the thoughts that make you feel “off” and replace them with curious thoughts. You could take a remote class in something you are interested in. Lots of colleges are offering online summer classes, many of which are interactive. Not only will you enrich yourself, you’ll also be supporting education. If money is an issue, use your search engine to explore “free online courses”, and be amazed at what’s available. Or be an autodidact and do research yourself about esoteric ideas or common everyday things. Learn how to use your local library’s resources or how to Zoom or Google Meet to stay connected.
Be curious about yourself and others. Ask questions of your friends and family and write about your own experiences. Write or ask about what you wanted to be when you were 10 years old, or your first love, how your parents met, the most important thing you have ever learned. Write about whether you were content with yourself and your life before quarantine, who was your most influential teacher, what gives meaning to your life, your favorite animal, your happiest day, a person who changed your life, the silliest thing you ever did….. These days abound with opportunities for self awareness and intimacy….oh, and what does intimacy mean? Write about that.
“Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.“ Albert Einstein
In 1946 Viktor Frankl wrote Man’s Search For Meaning, a book resulting from his experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, a situation that is perhaps the epitome of uncertainty, grief, and powerlessness. He emphasized the human need to find meaning in life as the most powerful motivator and driving force, and described his methods of using his mind and imagination to find strength in adversity.This inspirational book has sold over 10 million copies in 24 languages and is still widely available, a valuable resource if you are struggling to finding meaning in your life today.
Just as we cannot go back to when we were 20 years old, we can’t go back to the way things were before this virus came into our lives. But we can focus on creating what it is that we want to have using our imagination. Frankl observed that how a prisoner imagined his future determined his longevity. What do you want your future to look like? What do you want to carry with you into the future? What do you want to do differently?