Paul Hargreaves: Moving to a new normal?
I’ve heard a number of people within the last week longing to get back to normal. And, of course, there are many things it will be great to be able to do again, like visiting my local pub, but I still think that is a very long way off yet. I am rather hoping we can move towards a new normal and put into practice some new practices we will have learned during lockdown.
A few people have reprimanded me during the past week for being too positive, but I can only say what I see and feel! The fact that people have connected with themselves a little more, with their families and with nature I find incredibly positive. I have heard a number of people comment on how loud the birdsong is this year. A reality check; it isn’t! Perhaps you are able to hear it better due to the lack of traffic noise, but more likely that you have slowed down enough through lockdown to notice it more.
I wrote an article right at the beginning of this year hoping we were not entering a “Roaring Twenties” like the 1920s when consumerism advanced massively, rather than we needed the reverse of that to happen of consuming less. What I didn’t expect were the parallels we currently have with the 1930s, the Great Depression. What we are learning during this time is the value of the things that money cannot buy: time with our families, quiet time with ourselves, time to exercise, time to read and time to spend with nature. We are learning the value of relationships, kindness and collaboration, which, if we had asked them, many communities in the developing world could have taught us decades ago.
Psychologists say it takes 45 days to break a habit and create new habits. We spent 21 days in lockdown from 23rd March, then 3 days waiting for the next government announcement, which announced another 21 days. That adds up to 45. Maybe this could be 45 days to create new habits that will last a lifetime. Consuming less, doing less, being more and having a positive impact on people and planet.