Some experts are saying that Israel is currently going through a second wave of coronavirus. Others disagree and say it’s a less serious derivative. Call it what you want but it appears that we must get used a new normal until some form of inoculation is approved. ‘New normal’ requires some serious life-changing adjustments and there are definite negative ramifications to social distancing. However, coronavirus has also brought some potentially positive changes, which give everyone an opportunity for a coronavirus reset. I have mentioned some adjustments in previous articles, but I now want to expand on the idea.
Adjusting to a harsh reality
During the past decade, most people were living an increasingly materialistic life. The stock markets were riding high, businesses were doing well and opportunities seemed to be there for the taking. Many people didn’t think twice about buying the latest gadget, renovating or replacing something that was still in good condition. Even younger workers had excellent job prospects with good salaries that enabled us to avoid making those tough tradeoffs in our day to day living. Until corona. Suddenly everyone had to stay home, and pretty much the only monthly expense was an ever-increasing food bill. Take for example how people were forced into a much simplified and downsized Pesach celebration. New clothes and holiday gifts just weren’t happening even if you had the money because the stores were shut, so the whole shopping experience was minimized. We were forced into a coronavirus reset.
As countries are trying to revitalize the economy and businesses open, the question is will we adapt to that reset situation or try to go back to many of the extras that we enjoyed in what seems now to have been a lifetime ago.
Unfortunately, many people won’t have the luxury of a choice. With a very high local and global unemployment rate combined with businesses that are restricted in the services they offer, many people who until recently were financially stable with solid employment, are now restricting their spending because they simply have a much reduced or non-existent income. These individuals need to exercise their creative income producing tendencies and look for ways of generating income to get through this period, without creating too much debt that can hinder them for years to come.
But what about those who do have income? Sometimes in life we adjust via incremental change and sometimes a new reality forces us to make more extreme changes in our lives. I feel that within all the difficult elements that form part of life in the shadow of the coronavirus, there are silver linings that we need to grasp onto that can lead to long term positive changes in society.
Less materialism is a positive result
Take weddings as an example. Without going into the changing details of what is currently permissible and where, the current style weddings are on the whole much simpler and smaller. However, according to the families of many brides and grooms as well as their guests, these creative weddings are still beautiful, lively and fun, and the long-term happiness of the bride and groom is in no way impacted by the actual wedding. For many, these weddings have turned from a compromise situation into a preferred circumstance providing extra meaning and focus on the couple and less on the material supplements.
So maybe it’s time for people to recognize that a simpler wedding is a positive thing for all involved. Even the fact that this discussion is taking place in many circles, from national organizations I am associated with, and international initiatives like the “The Simcha Initiative”, to my local shul email list, is a major step in the right direction as we struggle to balance the various requirements. Balancing parental needs, family and community together with the couple itself can be very challenging.
The current situation creates an opportunity for us to ensure that we are acting in a financially responsible way by staying within our means, not only as regards our own financial constraints, but also taking into account how the standard of weddings affect others in the community. If we use the unique opportunity that has been thrust upon us to create a new reality, it can lead to a stronger long-term financial outlook for everyone.
Many companies who were forced to have their employees work from home now recognize that the quality and quantity of work produced was not significantly impacted. Numerous companies are now choosing to give their employees the option of working from home part of the time. Generally, the employees’ quality of life is improved with less commute time, and they continue to enjoy more time with their families at home doing the simple pastimes they were forced into during the height of the lockdown.
Vacations in the short term are also being adjusted with restricted air travel. The irony is that sometimes vacations abroad were cheaper than those in Israel, but that doesn’t mean that simpler and less expensive vacation options can’t be found here too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not minimizing the disaster that also goes by the name coronavirus, but if we can all reduce our expenditure and get back to the source we will benefit from the new simplicity in our lives. Reducing our financial footprint will also help to eliminate the many financial pressures that cause stress and a myriad of other related problems and help us to find more meaning on a day to day basis.
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