How do we live our best life in times of change?
Navigating the highs and lows that are essential elements of a living a meaningful life takes perseverance and a drive to carry on in the face of adversity. This resilience requires personal motivation, grit, optimism, hope, and a growth mindset. Thankfully, mental strength can be developed – a bit like a muscle – the more you work it, the stronger it becomes.
Whilst not every situation has a silver-lining, ‘cognitive flexibility’ allows us to mentally re-frame adversity, essentially seeing it through an alternative lens. A flexible outlook in life facilitates acceptance of ‘what is’ as opposed to what we believe ‘should be’. This adaptive capacity enables us to find creative solutions to problems that often arise in times of uncertainty, or rapid change.
Cognitive flexibility enables us to see life’s transitions as opportunities for personal and professional growth. Appraising events in a calm and constructive way helps us to distinguish the elements of a situation that are within our control (and those that are not). This reflection presents us with a learning opportunity that often inspires us to re-invent the way we live and work to meet new demands and circumstances.
80 years ago psychologist Abraham Maslow argued that humans have an innate drive towards personal growth in search of self-actualisation. According to Maslow, we move from the most basic needs of food, shelter and safety — to higher-order needs of belonging, achievement, optimal functioning, and self-transcendence. His model is a great blueprint for living a full and happy life.
As many people navigate the challenges presented by COVID, their basic needs have become their primary focus. Loss of health, safety or financial security are front and centre, as they prioritise putting food on the table, paying mortgages, and taking care of their children.
It makes sense, that in times of major transition and uncertainty, we are naturally propelled to regress to our most basic human needs. We are motivated to find resources and things that energise and support our mental, emotional and physical well-being. Food and nutrition, rest and sleep, managing stress, exercise, and staying safe take paramount importance.
When life is disrupted,
it is human nature to focus on survival
— to preserve our energy, well-being and safety.
One thing is certain — the planetary pause of COVID has given us all time to reflect. We have been given an unusual opportunity to stop and consider the things that revive and energise us, ways to stay sane under pressure, and opportunities to find meaning and nourish our souls.
My invitation to you is to consider what you need as a baseline – what self-care strategies energise and support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being?
Only then, can you focus on living your best life.