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‘The COVID positives’ – Life lessons learnt from the pandemic

06/04/2021 06:54 PM

Indian quiz master Phanindra Ivatury, now residing in Utrecht, the Netherlands, reflects on the life lessons learnt from his quiz series on the COVID-19 theme.


UTRECHT, The Netherlands, April 6 -- After being host to an online ‘Quiz series on the COVID-19 theme’ the past year, there is a sense of realisation that I have become more and more reflective towards life during the pandemic – often wondering whether everyone else around me were also experiencing it to some degree.

Are there any mental ‘take-aways’ from the pandemic? Is there a desperate need to learn from it? Did anything change in our priorities, or got added to our life goals and ambitions post-2020? Questions kept mushrooming in my mind.

I realised that the best way forward was to open a dialogue box with my global community of Quiz participants by asking them a simple Question – the answer to which, I am sure, was not so simple for them to instantly come up with. I asked each of them -- “What was the biggest lesson COVID-19 taught you?”

To attain a wide variety of perspectives from every corner of the world, based on social, geographical and economic conditions people were accustomed to in their part of the world, I chose to pick participants from as many countries as possible.

Many of my Quiz participants, friends and followers from Malaysia, India, The Netherlands, New Zealand, US, Singapore, Lebanon, Germany and Mexico took this survey and each of them came up with their own analogy of life perspectives during COVID-19 times.

Major findings from this survey are explained below:


  1. Harmonious co-existence between humans and habitat;

Many participants felt that there was an immediate urgency for humanity to establish a ‘mutual connect of co-existence’ with habitat. Love, care, compassion and affection towards nature and animals is not just the dire need of the hour. It should be an ongoing process which should become the prime focal point of any Government’s social plans or welfare measures.  Many felt that humans should stop living with the false feeling that they are superior to animals.  A good amount of wisdom and logic must have gone into framing the term ‘mother earth’ by our earlier generations from times immemorial.  The more we dig into forests, the more we encroach on habitats, the more we invite catastrophes like COVID19. We learnt it through the hardest experience possible, a lesson which came at the cost of many lives and living.


        2. Basic health is the biggest wealth;  

The pandemic has painfully showcased that people with underlying health conditions proved to be more vulnerable in succumbing to the virus. ‘Self-esteems’ of many have taken a brutal beating after testing positive during pandemic times. Many participants surveyed urged on the importance to ‘build’ and ‘strengthen’, not just on their economic front, but to nicely balance it out through healthy lifestyle choices. Healthcare became vital after the COVID-19 scare.


        3. Need to adapt to changes by not taking near and dear ones for granted; 

COVID-19 turned the world upside down in every possible way. Participants of the survey felt that a new routine kicked in through the pandemic, and life’s mega-pace underwent a paradigm shift with some of them suddenly re-discovering long forgotten domestic pleasures like long walks, little hugs, and the pleasures of self-cooking instead of reaching out to a packed meal box. However,  many felt that the most important positive take away for them was to adapt to changes and to always be equipped to fight challenges life throws at you, which they felt was only possible by not taking their nearest and dearest for granted.


        4. ‘Life is what happens when you are busy making plans’; 

‘Ambition’ is a big word, but many participants surveyed have now opined that the word ‘Unpredictable’ is also quite big. Some of the most repeated lines participants came up with throughout this survey were;

  • Take life as it comes

  • Don’t be overly ambitious

  • Don’t plan too far ahead in life, try and have short term goals

  • Be nice to people around you


        5. Sense of ‘minimalism’ and spending sensibly;

All of us, at some point of time in our lives, have heard religious sayings and ethical preaching on holding back and letting – if not many but a few material needs or cravings – go.  The pandemic times opened arms for each of us to put some of these words of wisdom to practice. Many participants mentioned that they started to enjoy nature from their backyards and streets more than checking into an expensive skiing resort or hill station elsewhere in the world.  Many of them explored the joys of cooking at home, not just the regular food but also try their hand at making fancy foods we are used to eating at fancy restaurants for an equally fancy price. Necessity became the godmother of invention here. Gone were the expensive event celebration parties we hosted for friends and well-wishers with a lot of paraphernalia, parties which used to get forgotten by guests, the day after.  Personal finances were understood better and spending took a more sensible and sustainable path.  More importantly, participants felt that they understood the thin line of difference between fruitful and frivolous spending.


        6. There is no such thing called the ‘old normal’;

Some of the young participants from the survey felt that ‘life plans may change and a greater need to respect and adapt to the new changes is one of the biggest lessons learnt through the pandemic’. Life may never be the same, even post COVID-19 times, and a return to the ‘old normal’ which many talk about may never happen. Instead, the sooner humanity builds strength and resilience to embrace the ‘new normal’, the better life gets. Some young participants also felt that ‘hope’ is a big word which assumes an altogether different meaning for them after this crisis. Life experienced by most youngsters these days is often confined to laptops, online studying, ‘zoom’ meets and mobile phones.  Some of them opined that the need to go out, express ourselves, physical bonding and valuing human contact need to be respected.


To sum it up in the words of Director General, WHO, “Countries spend billions in treating lung cancer instead of stopping the scourge of tobacco, in treating injuries instead of making roads safer, in treating depression instead of promoting mental health, in treating obesity, diabetes and heart disease instead of promoting healthy diets and in responding to outbreaks instead of investing in preparedness’.  ‘Preparedness’ is a huge responsibility of the global population too, and lessons learnt hard can never be forgotten.


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