“Every cloud has a silver lining.”
– Source likely John Milton
The current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has cast one of the largest dark clouds our world has ever seen. As of this moment in time, the total number of Coronavirus cases worldwide is 2,199,560 and the death toll is 147,749. One cannot even begin to put into words the emotional and physical devastation that this virus has caused across the globe. Children have lost their parents, mothers have lost their children, and people have lost their partners. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers on the frontlines have been working around the clock to care for the infected. Many people have had to die alone. In addition, due to stay at home orders, rates of domestic violence and child abuse have been increasing. Mental distress is on the rise from isolation and Coronavirus related fear and anxiety. People aren’t able to go to work and are losing their jobs. The financial and economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is on a scale the world has never seen before. I could go on for days listing all of the negative consequences of this pandemic. But I won’t.
Instead, I’d like to talk about the concept of yin and yang. According to ThoughtCo:
Yin and yang (or yin-yang) is a complex relational concept in Chinese culture that has developed over thousands of years. Briefly put, the meaning of yin and yang is that the universe is governed by a cosmic duality, sets of two opposing and complementing principles or cosmic energies that can be observed in nature.
While the world is composed of many different, sometimes opposing, forces, these can coexist and even complement each other. Sometimes, forces opposite in nature even rely on one another to exist. The nature of yin-yang lies in the interchange and interplay of the two components. The alternation of day and night is just such an example: there cannot be a shadow without light.
The balance of yin and yang is important. If yin is stronger, yang will be weaker, and vice versa. This balance of yin and yang is perceived to exist in everything.
According to the concept of yin and yang, there can be no shadow without light and no light without shadow. I very much believe in this concept, and as I look around at the current state of this world, I can’t help but see the concept of yin and yang at play.
I have seen this pandemic bring communities and people together to face a common enemy. I have seen families who are spending more time together and getting to know each other in ways they never would have before. I have seen people spending more time in nature and finding peace in isolation. I have seen people taking their health more seriously and attempting to eat better and exercise more.
Parents are now witnessing their child’s first steps which they would have likely otherwise missed. People are learning all kinds of new skills like gardening and cooking. Pets are enjoying more love and cuddles from their owners. People are checking in more frequently on their loved ones and families are growing closer.
On top of all this, the earth has had a moment to breathe and heal. Earth-observing satellites have detected a significant decrease in the concentration of air pollution. People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in decades. Noise pollution has gone down across the globe, and many people are listening to the songs of birds for the first time.
I do not mean to downplay, for even a moment, the level of devastation that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused. However, I do believe there is a benefit to seeing all things in the universe as the miraculous balance that they are. In addition, I believe that we can use cognitive reframing to help us during these stressful times.
“The premise behind cognitive reframing is that it’s not really the things that happen in life that drive our emotions and behaviors, it’s the way we think about those things.”
This helpful meme from the Depression Project shows how cognitive reframing can help with depressive thoughts during our self-isolation:
In addition to cognitive reframing, we can help to rewire our pandemic-overwhelmed brains by cultivating daily gratitude. This is a habit, which I find immensely rewarding and in fact I like to write down my daily gratitudes in order to reinforce them in my mind. Here are mine from today:
- I am grateful for a healthy mind and body.
- I am grateful to spend time every day with my family.
- I am grateful for having the time and inspiration to plant a garden.
- I am grateful that I can work from home and support my family.
- I am grateful for the air in my lungs.
“Difficult times are like dark clouds that pass overhead and block the sun. When we look more closely at the edges of every cloud we can see the sun shining there like a silver lining.”
I encourage all of you reading these words right now to pause for a moment, and consider all that you have to be grateful for. Write it down. Say it out loud. And let that gratitude fill your mind and heart. Embrace gratitude and remember that if you look hard enough, you can always find the silver lining in even the darkest of clouds.