• Jackie Luo

The COVID-19 Crisis is a Great Opportunity for Personal Growth

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

March 21, 2020

Across the country, schools are closing with uncertainties about when, or if, they will reopen.​ Many high school students, my daughter included, are feeling anxious. Suddenly, they don’t have a schedule during the day and all their after-school hours, which were once filled with extracurricular activities and organized sports, are now being cancelled. This unstructured time at home, forced by the COVID-19 crisis could feel strange. Students are not used to this, and many of them don’t know what to do with their time. It is very unfortunate that our country is in a pandemic. I hope everyone will take good care of themselves and their families. I also hope everyone will reach out to friends and neighbors who need help.

This is a time for us to care for ourselves and come together as a community.

However, we should all make the most out of this extra time by doing the things we never had time to do. It is a great opportunity for individuals, allowing them the time to learn and experience new things. We can’t control what is happening with COVID-19, but we can control what we do every day. Here are some of the things you can do: 1.    Read new books. Reading cultivates our intellectual curiosity, which is an important element for personal growth. Successful people such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are all voracious readers. When schools are in session, high school students are loaded with work, leaving little time for reading just for pleasure. Local libraries are closed, but you can read books free from Amazon with an Amazon prime membership. You can also download the Libby app, and read eBooks and audiobooks from your local library. 2.    Play new and challenging online games. I know some of the students have already been playing a lot of video games. Now with extra time on hand, why not try to play some new games, and try to improve your scores? You can learn a lot from playing video games: setting the strategy, analyzing the rules, making changes when things don’t go as planned. But don’t just stay with the games you are familiar with. Try new and more challenging games. Also, keeping scores and improving them is important. This is called “deliberate practice”.  All athletes do that. This is a key part of achieving great performance. This mindset is important for you to succeed in whatever you want to do in life.    3.      Take the time to think independently. I am a big believer in taking a pause to seek clarity of our purposes. When students have all their time lined up in structured activities, they don’t have much time to think. Often, they are running on auto pilot, doing things expected of them, but not necessarily clear about the purposes.  After you have the time to reflect, try new things, discover new interests, you should review how you have spent you daily hours before the COVID-19 crisis. You may have a different perspective. That’s a good thing. That will help you to become more effective in whatever you want to do in life. At this time, when most people are staying at home and practicing social distancing, it feels like the world is still and everything is so quiet. You may not be used to this, but it is a great opportunity. As Lao Tse, a famous Chinese philosopher once said,

“Where there is the silence, one finds the anchor of the universe.”  

​P.S. This week, I am taking a lot of walks outside and listening to the audio book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. and Stanford University Psychologist. It discusses the difference between “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset”, critical for personal growth and achieving optimal performance. Having a “growth mindset” will reset our perspectives about “success” and eliminate a lot of anxieties associated with “failure”. If you’re looking for a new book to read during this break, check out this one!

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