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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

5 powerful lessons from lockdown for authentic happiness [Wise Wednesdays]

The spectrum of reactions to lockdown has been wide. From introverted thinkers who’ve relished time away from the office with their creative thoughts to hyperactive extroverts screaming for an outlet to their energy, thoughts and emotions.

It’s all an opportunity for a breakthrough in self-awareness. If we heed the lessons…

When lockdown started I suggested that we were undergoing a big pivot and that our priorities came under 4 headings:

  1. Survival

  2. Transition to remote work

  3. Redefining purpose/career path

  4. Existential: what does this all mean ultimately?

Having worked with high performing clients from all backgrounds (including doctors on the frontlines as well as entrepreneurs and organisational leaders in lockdown) and co-led a series of conversations through the Royal Society of Arts, I’ve become aware of some of the common themes.

The top 5 regrets of the dying researched by palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware in her book seem to have surfaced in individual and collective consciousness as part of the coronavirus wake up call:

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me (this was the most common)

  2. I wish I hadn't worked so much

  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings

  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

Most people ignore these when life is comfortable enough. Difficult conversations are avoided, work projects are taken on, friends are left to be, and feelings and truths are suppressed. Until something strikes: a loss, a death,… a pandemic.

What if we didn’t have to wait for the worst to happen? What if we stepped into the courage to speak up, say “no”, and take a leap into the unknown while we have our energy and our strength?

If we are to learn from the wisdom of the dying (and heed the pandemic’s wake up call), perhaps we might embrace the following 100%:

  1. Live a life true to your (deepest) self, not to other people’s current or past expectations of you

  2. Slow down, work less, care for yourself

  3. Express how you feel more often, more deeply, and more honestly

  4. Honour human connection with yourself, with close ones, and beyond. As Mother Teresa said: “don’t draw your family circle too small”.

  5. Give yourself permission to be happy now, regardless of your goals. Then your goals are just a cherry on the cake of life.

Change is the only constant in life. The pandemic created enormous change in our external world. It’s an opportunity for a breakthrough in self-awareness and a realignment with what we know to be true in our internal world.

Will you heed the wisdom of your inner-voice?

Have a good week,


p.s. Join me for a unique workshop on Wednesday, May 28th, where I will share with you the powerful principles and tools that help me and my clients sustain and channel energy in alignment with deep values and vision. You’ll learn science-based strategies to manage your energy; how to shift your mindset by modifying limiting narratives; and the key pitfalls to avoid in times of high uncertainty so you can make a positive impact when it’s most needed.

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