There’s truly no teacher as harsh nor as unrelenting as life. Yet since most of us are now forced to examine the world from within our homes through TV screens, computers, and mobile devices, many of the opportunities to learn from life may seem like they’ve also come to a halt. Well, guess again.

Living in self-isolation while the world is coping with the virus can in fact be our best opportunity to grow. In ancient history, a select few individuals actually made it their mission, their raison d’être, to simply think about life. These individuals were called stoics or philosophers.

Practising Stoicism in a Pandemic

You may be wondering how this concept of stoicism is important in today’s world of business and our ability to learn lessons today.

The life of a Stoic philosopher was one of introspection, as well as action. In everything that happened to them, there was always a considerable amount of time dedicated to simply thinking about how they felt, thought, and saw these events. They did this because they wanted to seek the truth about themselves and the world, and they wanted to grow.

In the midst of a pandemic, there is an opportunity to look beyond our everyday tasks and make time to reflect on how to become a better person and perhaps it seems only fitting to follow in the footsteps of the stoics if we want to undertake this journey to personal growth. So, if we were able to somehow imagine the thought processes of these wise men, what crucial life lessons can we hope to learn in these uncertain and challenging times?

Let’s take a look at some points for reflection:

Pause and Be Grateful

As bad as things are, it could also be much worse.

The fact is, most of us have been living in a privileged position with everything that makes our life much easier. So, instead of being depressed about not being able to keep to the plans we made during our pre-COVID days, let’s take a moment to be grateful for what we do have. We can start with the simple ones: that we are alive, we have a home, we have time to relax, and read this article because of the internet.

Make an Inward Change

Since we’re spending less time out, we can finally take a rest from perhaps the more superficial past-times and focus on the changes that need to take place within. For this, you’ll need a reality check on your strengths and weakness. This is an important, but not an easy, task. After that is done, take action.

Do your communication skills need work? Take a course on effective communication. Maybe you have a problem with how to manage your finances. That’s definitely one thing to change that can benefit you in the long run. Remember that any personal change you want to stick has to be practised regularly. So, consider changing your habits for the better and pay attention to your self-talk.

Choose Love

Every situation is made a little better with a positive attitude and with a little love.

In a quote from Seneca, he mentions how Hecato, another Stoic philosopher, says, “I can teach you a love potion made without any drugs, herbs, or special spell — if you would be loved, love.”

Bob Marley a few centuries later also mentioned something in one of his more famous songs: “one love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right.”

In the time of social distancing, we can skip the “let’s get together” part though, at least in the physical sense. Still, the message remains clear and has been repeated through the years: to love despite adversity can transform the world.

Be a Force for Good

In these uncertain times, it can be hard to fight certain impulses such as wanting to hoard essentials like rolls of toilet paper and every bottle of hand sanitizer. But these acts take supplies from others.

But being a good example for others, and actively influencing others to be considerate is a great way to be a force for good.

As Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations, “often injustice lies in what you aren’t doing, not only in what you are doing.”Similar quotes in our modern times, by Edmund Burke, and then John F. Kennedy “the only thing required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

One of Tolkien’s most beloved characters also has an important life lesson to impart to everyone coping with the virus:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

There is little to be gained from worrying about things we don’t have control over; what we can do is just focus on what is still within our power to change. Even in the time of self-isolation and social distancing, there are still plenty of new things about the world and us that we can discover, explore, and continue to develop. Life never stops teaching as long as we are still breathing, so keep your eyes peeled for any opportunities to learn.