My friend Madonna pointed out this morning that as cities and states across America gradually start opening back up, each in their unique way, we are going to start seeing what the real new normal will look like.
For a long time, many people are going to be living in heightened caution. Wearing masks, avoiding large groups, hugging a little less (unfortunately), and the list goes on.
Massive world-changing events drive cultural shifts. It’s happened time and time again through history. Humanity comes out on the other side of massive events with collective changes: New widespread traumas; Heightened awareness of different issues than before; Increased and even urgent motivation for ingenuity and innovation; Maybe a little more consciousness. . . .
And it leads to new cultural flavors and norms: Widespread increases in security; A change in financial priorities, like saving money; Outspoken support of human rights that were once overlooked. . . .
A couple months in, over the first big hump of crisis and shock and solidarity, we notice that the masks aren’t going away any time soon. And we notice that even after they say “you can be together again now,” people still have this uneasy doubt and confusion over what and where is safest, over whether this or that friend is still too uncomfortable, and over when it’s going to be okay to hug again.
So, as my friend pointed out this morning, it’s sinking in that we are not going back. By the time we even could go all the way back, we’ll be a changed world.
There will be collective trauma. Loss. Fear. Changed priorities. Stress.
But what else will the new normal look like? The long term new normal? The world as it comes out on the other side of this pandemic–what will that new normal be?
Before you answer that, stop and think about two interesting points:
First: How does a trend start? A person does a thing. A weird thing. A new thing. A not normal thing. Quite possibly a brave thing. One person. ONE person. Somebody is the first one to do it. That is how a trend starts. That is how new practices start. That is how a tradition is begun, how a cultural norm is born: ONE person does a thing.
Second: Have you ever lived through a time of such widespread understanding and acceptance of whatever-the-heck-you-have-to-do to get through this? Suspension of judgment about how emotional and mental needs are met. Everyone suddenly getting super creative. Psychologists and non-psychologists all rushing online to say “IT IS OKAY IF YOU NEED TO [fill-in-the-blank] RIGHT NOW.” Or “IT IS OKAY IF YOU CAN’T.” In other words . . . all of a sudden, people are calling foul on “Expectations,” walking away from arbitrary standards of what works and what doesn’t. As everyone’s worlds have imploded, humanity has granted itself a free pass on being “normal.” Normal isn’t a thing right now.
Recap . . . First: ONE person can start a “new normal” thing. Second: All “new normals” are currently being accepted.
Can I just suggest that there could not be a better recipe for cooking up a beautiful new normal?
And that every single one of us gets to help decide how that new normal is flavored?
What are we going to put into the mix?
More friendliness? More vulnerability about things like personal struggles and mental health? More meditation? More conversations? More quiet time and down time? More acceptance? More smiles? More outdoor time? More volunteering? More concern and action for the people who need help or are hurting? More respect? More equality? More generosity? More kindness? More solidarity? More compassion? More diversity? More asking “No really, how are you actually doing?” More love?
What are you going to start doing right now, while everyone is allowing it?
What are you going to stop doing right now, while nobody is counting on it?
You actually get to be a part of creating the world’s new normal.
What’s your first ingredient you’re going to mix in? Message me, comment here, call a friend, post it on your story . . . say it out loud, embrace it, run with it: What are you going to bring to the new normal?
It’s ours to shape.
P.S. I’ll start. I’m going to say hi to strangers more and check in on friends more. Love to you all! <3
P.P.S. Thanks for the inspiration to start thinking about our new normal, Madonna, I want to hear yours! ;)
2 thoughts on “The coming “new normal””
You are so right – despite the obvious heartbreak and tragedy that we are currently facing, what a wonderful time to define a new normal. I’m not sure if I have any grand aspirations at this very second, but one thing that I feel like I have already started is consciously trying to step away from the status quo (when it is necessary). For example, in my small town of Zimmerman hardly anybody is wearing masks in public so I feel like an outsider. It’s an uncomfortable feeling but as somebody that has a high probability of being an asymptomatic carrier (my wife is a doctor) it seems like a reasonable measure to try to keep those around me safe. While this is a fairly obvious example, i’m sure that there are several other things that I did in the “old normal” that could easily be changed to make my surroundings just that much better. Maybe I say hello to more people I pass on the street, or maybe I make sure to help a neighbor when I see they are struggling with something. Maybe I can be the catalyst for that one person to say “oh that guys wearing a mask – it isn’t that weird – I can do that too!”
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Love it and thank you Zach! Miss you! Yes sometimes all it takes is one person. :) Sending good vibes for your wife!