How to win the day during COVID-19 (or any day).

To understand something, you must strip it down to its raw ingredients, making sure you then understand each of them. Only then can you put them back together and assert that you know why the product of their constitution is what it is. The same applies to optimizing well-being. We need to understand the problems we have, the challenges to be overcome. 

As we continue to practice the new art of social-distancing, we may find ourselves beginning to get anxious. We feel unproductive, captive, disconnected. This need not be so, if we break things down to examine our predicament. Instead, we need to focus on winning each day, challenging ourselves to find meaning and achieve success in our new way of life. 

Stoic ethics provides a framework for identifying the most basic components of human nature. Satisfy these things, deliberately and consistently, and we’ve won. The Stoics professed that we ought to be, “living in agreement with nature.” This includes nourishing and attending to our biological functions, caring for our offspring and others, and nurturing our unique human ability to reason. 

These are the ingredients that we must deeply understand, for when we put them together, in any one of us, they constitute who we are. One could delve into all manner of rich dialogue about any one of these, but for our purpose today I put forth a simple quiz one can employ to determine if they’ve won the day:

  1. Did you do something good for yourself today?
  2. Did you do something good for someone else today?
  3. Did you learn something today?

If we answer yes to all three, we win. That’s it. Simple. It matters not how profound or wide-reaching the actions, or their outcomes, were, but rather that they happened. In this vein, our productivity does not need to centre around a vocation, or any other thing in particular. In the age of COVID-19, if we got outside for a walk, then stayed home, and read a chapter of a book, we won the day. This is living in accordance with the human condition. If we apply this way of thinking, anything extra we go on to do is a bonus. 

As you reflect on the current state of things, think of how to win today, or any day. It is eminently achievable. 

Be well.

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