The pandemic has hurt many people. Beyond the death toll, people have lost businesses and jobs, struggled to trust political leaders in certain countries, looked to drugs as a salve for their discomfort, acted out negatively as indicated by the rise in domestic violence, and so on.
Despite negative consequences, many others are reflecting on the positive consequences that could become part of a new normal. Here are a handful of examples from organizations and individuals.
- Carving out time to focus on important things.
- Getting more creative [and prudent] with finances.
- Growing community and networking skills—We’ve seen strangers helping strangers.
- Better family time.
- Ecological sustainability—We can see the impact of climate change because, with the lockdowns, so many vehicles have been off the road.
- Positive changes in education—Many are taking online courses to upgrade their skills, and many now have access to computers/internet who did not have this before the pandemic.
- Connecting humans and forest
- Holistic approach to the role of forest-water interactions—“Solutions focused on small-scale water harvesting as well as forest and soil restoration, especially in upper catchment areas was implemented to increase the quantity and availability of water in the state.”
- Forests are part of the solution because they provide for human well-being and biodiversity.
- While recognizing [from Positive Psychology] that a person can feel negative consequences of pandemic, many people have a more positive outlook.
- The pandemic has inspired a firm sense of hope in some people.
- Achieving well-being and finding meaning. We can see on various social media platforms how people have started cooking together as a family, are having game nights, and are engaging in various other forms of activities, spending quality time together.
- For those who live alone, technology has been a boon where you can find several apps like Houseparty, which help you spend fun time with your family and friends online. And for people who might not have close family or friends, they are now getting help from their neighbours and are connecting with the community around them.
- This in the long-term can bring families and communities together and add meaning to their lives.
- United by our collective experience.
Pip Marlow, CEO of Salesforce Australia and New Zealand
- Innovating in times of crisis.
- Leading in the midst of ambiguity.
- A new spirit of “selflessness” at work arising from frontline workers who put themselves at risk to help others.
“We should revel in the discomfort of the current moment to generate a ‘new paradigm’, not a ‘new normal’. Feeling unsettled, destabilized and alone can help us empathize with individuals who have faced systematic exclusions long-ignored by society even before the rise of COVID-19 — thus stimulating urgent action to improve their condition. For these communities, things have never been ‘normal’.”
Mauricio Cardenas (2020, July 13). Looking at the Bright Side: 10 Positive Effects of the Pandemic. Americas Quarterly.
- Financial inclusion.
- Greater investment in hospitals.
- Greater use of information and communication technology (ICT) and digitalization.
- More awareness about the effects of crises.
- Aversion to unnecessary travel.
Add to the above, 5 “non-permanent” changes
- A reduction in carbon dioxide.
- A reduction in crime.
- Less use of paper.
- Increased punctuality (employees have a tough time finding excuses such as “running late” or “missed the bus”).
- Enhanced family life.
Lucy Douglas, (2020, July 1). Latest Issue of Positive News magazine offers inspiration for the new normal.
- Stronger communities.
- Greener economy.
- Slower lifestyle.
- More racial equality (BLM is reportedly different than other times).
- Pandemic is shown, contrary to the popular idea that we are selfish, that we are “on the whole pretty decent.”
Helen Johnson (2020, July). Arts and culture in a ‘new normal’. The Psychologist, 33, 98–99.
The pandemic has significantly increased the making of art. Online music lessons, painting tutorials, and even dance instruction has grown rapidly since March 2020. Johnson suggests that psychologists should help clients discover the value of art as part of the new normal.
“Meta-analyses and reviews, including a recent scoping review for the World Health Organisation by psychologists Daisy Fancourt and Saoirse Finn, have assembled a wealth of evidence that the arts and culture impact wellbeing and healthy development throughout the lifespan. Artistic and cultural engagement can reduce medication use and GP visits; moderate symptoms in chronic health conditions, including diabetes, dementia, stroke and respiratory disease; decrease mortality rates; reduce pain and fatigue; and increase healthy behaviours. Arts and culture can improve our sense of self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem and positive emotional expression/regulation, and reduce incidences/severity of depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness and suicidal ideation, enhancing wellbeing across a range of dimensions. The arts can thus be considered to be a social determinant of health.
Beyond basic mental and physical health, arts and culture can enable us to flourish, providing meaning, purpose and joy (see the 2015 report Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth). In the introduction to a 2017 report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, the artist Grayson Perry declares: ‘Art helps us access and express parts of ourselves that are often unavailable to other forms of human interaction. It flies below the radar, delivering nourishment for our soul and returning with stories from the unconscious. A world without art is an inhuman world. Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.’”
BBC: Coronavirus: How can society thrive post-pandemic?
The BBC article cites 31 experts mainly in psychology and public health, with contributions from the Dalai Lama, economists, and historians. Among their comments:
- The pandemic has reminded us of how interconnected human beings are.
- The pandemic has highlighted society’s fault lines, such as the struggles of girls in many countries to attend school.
- Most people are resilient.
- The pandemic helped us appreciate the value of our loved ones.
- We need to put human well-being at the forefront of all we do.