I quite like to endure physical pain. I love to jump on my bike and cycle long distances – I dislike e-bikes which takes the effort out of pedalling. I go the gym four times a week (well, because of corona I now train at home with resistance bands). Choosing between a staircase or an escalator is a very easy choice to make for me. I adore going on hikes with my partner until my feet start to hurt. Love it.
However, when it comes down to mental suffering this is a lot harder for me - and half of the world. Most industries – including the one we are working in – the travel industry – are complaining and venting their concerns and fears non-stop due the effects of the coronavirus. COVID-19 has also infected us with a complaining virus over the past 2 months. Lamenting, whining, bewailing, frustration, concerns… the pandemic has led to unprecedented doom and gloom. As a PR agency for the travel industry, we too had a few bad days when some customers decided to put the PR activities on hold for a temporary period.
How come we excel in negative thoughts during this crisis? It seems somewhat strange because our brain is infinitely more powerful than our body. I can lift 30 kilo’s but 150 is not going to be possible for me. But the overwhelming potential of our brain almost has no limits. Why therefore is it so difficult for many people to keep thinking positive in times of recession? The past months negative and depressing opinions and articles have been hitting headlines non-stop in print, on websites, radio and tv stations. A thousand times a day we are confronted with the corona crisis, recession, doom, disaster, drama and a million other negative thoughts. The dark side of the moon.
Is there some logical explanation for this trend? It is based on - I suppose - one key word: change. We humans tend to cling to patterns. We are creatures of habit and love daily routines. I won’t not deny it: I also feel quite comfortable with a certain amount of autopilot life. Work and social rhythms are pleasant, almost everyone needs some structure in life. I don't have to think about brushing my teeth every night before bedtime, at the gym I invariably walk to "my" locker. My working days start as an autopilot at 8 a.m. reading newspapers on my tablet. Breaking patterns is difficult. Most people dislike or even detest change. And that is exactly what the COVID-19 virus has done: changed many things forever – the world will look different when this pandemic has vanished!
The coronavirus is forcing us to break with many routines. We can no longer continue on the well-trodden smooth path, but are forced to choose a different route. So instead of complaining about how hard hit we all are, we need to think about possible alternative options. We need a new mindset. So no more ‘doom’ thinking but ‘do’ thinking. How simple can it be. For the past 10 years I have been looking at the same wall from behind my desk in the office. My colleague Agnes suggested the other week that I should sit somewhere else in our office – space enough. I went for it and moved my desk to another spot. Wow, it almost feels like I'm in another office. A different angle, a new view, a more residential look and feel – this fresh perspective will guarantee innovative insights. Thank you COVID-19!