I tend to be an optimist.
Not a Pollyannaish one, but I always try to see the bright side of things.
It’s part of how I stay focused on things I can affect, without letting the things that are out of my control paralyze me.
Still, like almost everyone, I’m finding this a trying time. Whether its concern about those directly affected by COVID-19, or about what our economy will look like in a month, two months, six months, a year; or something as relatively mundane as whether my favorite neighborhood gym will survive to reopen its doors when the pandemic is over.
My List of Silver Linings
To help cope with these dark thoughts, I put together a list of things to be grateful for, silver linings in a dark storm. I hope these will brighten your day at least a bit, like they have mine.
Here’s what I’ve come up with, in no particular order.
- Experts estimate there are five to 10 times as many people infected than we know about, implying the coronavirus fatality rate is significantly lower than current estimates, possibly under 1%.
- The worldwide effort to develop effective, accurate, and above all quick coronavirus tests is starting to bear fruit, with tests coming on the market that can give results in less than an hour, and possibly faster than 10 minutes. Combined with the previous point, this means you would be able to get tested, and if the test shows you’re not infected but do have antibodies in you, you’re safe to go back to work without fear of infecting others or getting reinfected yourself.
- Industry is doing amazing things to help us in this battle. Whether it’s local distillers changing over from producing brandy, rum, and vodka to making hand sanitizer for local hospitals; or Dyson who switched from making vacuum cleaners to making ventilators to augment hospitals’ ability to keep the severely ill alive through the pneumonia stage of COVID-19 until they can get better.
- Several existing anti-viral drugs approved for other conditions (and thus shown to be safe) may potentially cure COVID-19, and are under testing for efficacy for this new use.
- Vaccines are already in the first stages of human trials, and will hopefully become available at least for healthcare providers in a few months.
- Governments and central banks worldwide are showing their commitment to taking rapid, massive action to minimize the economic fallout of what could have been a global financial catastrophe.
- Related to the previous point, at least the US government is about to give money to people on a massive scale, which may become de facto the largest experiment in Universal Basic Income (UBI). This may be a test case that opens the way to reducing income inequality.
- Although there are many industries that can’t work remotely (think airlines, hotels, event venues, etc.), there are many others that can do so, and current technology allows this at a level seen only in science fiction less than a generation ago. The same technologies allow us to connect safely with friends and family through videoconferencing apps such as Zoom, Facetime, etc.
- Streaming video and ebooks purchased online give us an almost infinite entertainment resource while we’re shut in our homes as we try to “bend the curve” of infections.
- As a side effect of people staying home, air pollution dropped so dramatically that it’s observable from space! That's very good news for slowing down global climate change.
- Our out-of-control consumerism may have just come under some level of control. This may translate to permanently more conscious decision-making before we pull out our credit cards or click “Place your order” on Amazon.
- Related to the previous point, I expect most of us will increase our personal savings rate once our incomes come back after the pandemic is over. Considering that even Americans in their 60s, almost at retirement age, have a woefully low median retirement savings balance of $172,000, that can only be a good thing.
- On a personal level, if you’re one of those lucky enough to be able to work from home, your commute time has likely dropped to nothing. From a nationwide average commute of nearly an hour a day, we’re down to the minute or two it takes to go to the kitchen table or home office.
- If you’re like my wife and I, you’re probably walking a lot more these days, which is one of the healthiest forms of low-impact exercise. Along with that, while we occasionally get carryout food from local non-chain restaurants to support local businesses, we eat home-cooked meals most days, which is healthier for our bodies as well as our wallets.
- In times of crisis, we often see the best side of humanity. A local example is a billboard-size homemade sign I see on the side of the road near our home, offering free lunches to anyone who needs them. The sign has been out during the day since the start of the pandemic here in the US. The fact that it’s not out at night points to an ongoing activity rather than someone doing it once and forgetting to remove their sign. Although thankfully we don’t need this help, I’m grateful that it’s there for those who do need it.
The Bottom Line
Although the coronavirus pandemic impacted our lives in a massive and mostly negative way, and will likely continue to do so for several weeks or months, there are silver linings and things to be grateful for.
I hope my ad-hoc collection of 15 such silver linings brought a bit of brightness to your day. If it did, please share it with your friends and colleagues, so this bit of cheer spreads widely and helps as many people as possible, at least a bit, as they navigate these challenging times.