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“Am I the Only One Not Living My ‘Best Life’ During Coronavirus?”

I don’t know about you, but I’m already exhausted by the avalanche of motivational quotes online right now.

Advice everywhere. Everyone talking. It’s kind of numbing.

But I think there are some very manageable ways we can feel a little better right now, and release the pressure of the unrealistic expectations many of us are putting on ourselves in what is already a very difficult time. I explain them in the video…

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So it feels like, by the day, we’re all coming to terms with the fact that this situation right now is going to last a lot longer than perhaps most of us anticipated or we were told. There’s a lot of emotions that come with that. I am seeing people in my own life who normally have zero problems with motivation finding it difficult to get going, difficult to get motivated, feeling really apathetic. Other people who just feel like they’re not… they keep thinking they need to be super productive, but then they’re not even close to being as productive as they are in a time when they’re 10 times more busy.

And of course, the low-level anxiety that we feel and the uncertainty that we feel, the frustration that we feel, in many cases, the anger that we feel – all of that going on in the background of our minds, whether consciously or unconsciously, is draining. And many of us wonder, “Why do I feel so tired right now?” And it’s, well, aside from the fact that we’re a lot less active right now, we’re also exhausted emotionally from having to process this every day in ways that we don’t even realize.

And whenever I put out something right now, there are always comments that say “What’s everyone so worried about?” “Why are people making such a big deal?” “This is the greatest time ever.” “Is it bad that I’m not feeling bad at all, that I’m actually enjoying this time?” There’s those kinds of comments, which I find either emotionally numb to the situation or reflective of someone in denial where they don’t realize that those emotions are coming for them and they’re kind of in this blissful state of unawareness or ignorance right now. Or honestly, just lacking in empathy for what other people are experiencing.

Right now, I was on a run and I stopped by a place that was still serving coffee, this place that normally is a fully functioning restaurant that is just serving takeaway right now, and I said to the guy behind the counter, I said, “How you doing?” And he said, “Well, we’re trying, and we’re still making things. And we have these meal plans. If you want us to, we’ll literally do free delivery at home for you. We’ll send you the meals and you can pick what you want and have it customized to you.”

And as I’m hearing this guy talk, my heart breaks because I think, “God, this poor guy.” He started a business. These kinds of businesses are hard, even when they’re easy, even when times are good. Right now, they’re hanging on for dear life. And my heart breaks for those people.

And so whenever people say right now, “Oh, what’s the big deal? This could be the greatest time ever.” I think we’re almost not accessing the breadth of experience that’s happening right now.

And I also get a little frustrated right now, whenever someone voices something they’re struggling with and the comments underneath are littered with, “You should remember to be grateful. Other people have it this bad,” and so on. And I think, well, of course, that’s true, that’s always true. But we have to allow people their pain. We have to allow people their truth, their suffering. I think of it as pain shaming. I almost want to have an environment right now where people feel a bit more free to be human without being judged for being human, without the self-help world telling them, “You should be so productive right now.” “This can be an amazing time.” “Step up and be a hero right now.” “You’re going to come out of this a winner or loser.” We have to get out of that mindset and get into just acknowledging each other right now.

I actually think that what’s even more important than advice right now is just humanity. So much of the motivation that’s thrown at us constantly, grates on me a little bit. I feel like there’s an avalanche of motivational quotes that drive me a bit bonkers. And I realize the irony of that in the context of this video that I’m making right now. I may well be contributing to the problem.

But I struggle with it myself right now. When I come to post something on Instagram, I’m like, “Oh, god, I don’t want to put up a quote right now and just become part of that platitudinous abyss of mind numbing motivation.” That when you see it, sometimes the instinct isn’t, “You’re right,” the instinct is off, “Oh, fuck off.” Like it’s hard, I’m having a tough time and you’re telling me it’s got to still be my best year ever. It becomes annoying.

And we also have to remember that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. We can try and white knuckle this and I’m going to make this the greatest week ever, but we’re also going to have next week and the week after. And if we don’t start setting ourselves more modest ideas of what success looks like during this time, we are absolutely going to burn out before we’re even halfway through.

What I wanted to talk about today is how we can deal with the emotions that we’re feeling right now, and how we can have perhaps a slightly better experience of this. This isn’t a video about how to be blissfully happy during this time, but how do we have a better experience of this really challenging chapter of our lives? I don’t claim to have this figured out, but there are things that in the past in my life, I’ve used to deal with situations where I feel very much out of control, where I don’t feel like I can just fix the situation. And this is one of those situations, I think, one of the things that a lot of people are feeling uncomfortable with right now.

And in some ways, some of the things that the self-development world is struggling with a bit right now, as an industry, is that so much of it is used to controlling things, is used to fixing problems. And part of this is a problem that we cannot fix. We, as individuals in our homes, don’t have control over. And for the problem solvers out there, and the people that are used to making things happen and taking charge, they’re deeply uncomfortable with this feeling of being out of control right now.

So how can you deal with those feelings and how can you deal with the negative emotions you’re feeling right now?

Number one, surrender. My boxing coach, Martin Snow, told me a long time ago, “Surrender doesn’t mean giving up. Surrender means acceptance. Making peace with.” We, right now, have a situation that we can either fight against – and many of us are fighting against it. You can imagine that image of a child kicking and screaming and crying. Eventually, that child might realize, if they have a parent that doesn’t respond to that behavior or if life doesn’t change because they kick and scream and cry, that they stopped crying. Because that’s our way of lashing out against the situation.

What we begin to realize is this isn’t a situation that kicking and screaming is going to change. We’re all going to have our kicking and screaming moments, right? I’ve had mine in one form or another already. Moments where I’m angry about the fact that we’re having to make all these changes. Moments where you just get very sad about the whole situation and sit there and don’t do anything. We all have those moments in our own way.

At a certain point, we have to surrender to the situation and say… It’s almost like I’m going to give this situation permission to exist. Instead of fighting against it, I’m going to… “OK, this is where I’m at right now.”

And interestingly, and paradoxically, hope isn’t always a good thing in a situation like this. Hope can be a good thing when we say, “Three weeks from now it’s going to get better because we know that blah, blah blah.” But we know right now that everything that’s being said to us is just an estimate. The goalpost for when this ends keeps being moved. And the living in hope of the moment when this changes stops us being here now in this moment, stops us making peace with the way things are right now. It actually stops us living because it puts us in this perpetual state of waiting. “I’ll be happy when this changes.” “I’ll start living again when this changes.” And then of course, when an authority figure says, “We said it was going to be on this date, but actually now we’re going to loosen up these restrictions on this date,” the reaction to that is anguish, is huge pain and disappointment.

Paradoxically, the way to get through this is for us to make peace with the way it is right now and to focus on, “OK, maybe I’m not going to be able to do everything I want to do. Maybe all the goals I wanted to achieve can’t all be achieved. Maybe while I’m dealing with the stress of all this, I’m not going to be as productive as I normally am. Or getting the best workout. Or do this… But I’m going to make it my own little work of art in whatever way I can. Even if just that’s a modest way.” My work of art could be just me navigating my way through this emotionally. But surrendering to that. We cannot live for the day that this moves on.

Number two, we have to focus on the emotional component of this, not the circumstantial component of this. In this case, the circumstantial component is the virus, is the restrictions we have on our movement right now. Social distancing, quarantining. For some of you, it’s the loss of a job or the breakdown of a relationship during this time. We can’t always change or exert control over the circumstantial component of something, right? And even if you can, you learn that you might be able to manipulate it by 1% or 2%, like, “Oh, I can’t go out, I can’t do a lot of things, but I can still take a walk.” OK fine. So we are able to manipulate it to some extent, to alleviate some of the pain that we get from the restrictions we have right now. But it’s still small percentage shifts.

Then there’s the emotional component, which is the way that we’re relating to this situation. Now, what’s encouraging is the emotional component is both the source of the pain that we’re feeling, and it’s also the part that can be the most heavily manipulated. One of the things that can help us manipulate the emotional component to this is a lesson that was passed on to me by one of my mentors when I came to him about a chronic injury, something that was causing me pain on a regular basis that I could not make go away. He said, “So, right now, you see it as a foreign invasion. And every time you notice that that pain is still there – it might be that you lose yourself in a flow-state working or you’re able to distract yourself for an hour or two – but the moment your mind goes back to that pain that you’re feeling, you instantly get upset because it’s like there’s this foreign invader that’s there right now that’s back. ‘There it is again. I thought it was gone. Now it’s back.'” He said, “As crazy as it sounds, we have to start seeing this as an old friend, as a kind of companion in your life that you actually make space for.” And he said, “That may seem so ridiculous to you because you hate this thing.” He said, “But we have to start taking that energy out of it and start seeing this as an old friend.”

This isolation that we’re feeling right now, the loneliness that comes with it, the social distancing, all of this, can be seen in the context. Even though it’s new and many of us are struggling because we see it as a foreign invasion, we could start to actually make friends with it and wake up into a new day. And instead of going, “Is the nightmare over? No, I’m still in isolation. I’m still having to quarantine. I’m still having social distance.” Instead, we could wake up into this and go, “Oh, here we are again. Another day, another day of quarantine, another day of social distancing. There you are.” There’s this sort of companion I’ve made space for now. “Oh, loneliness. There you are. Welcome. Welcome back. We had dinner yesterday, didn’t we? Well, let’s have breakfast this morning. Hello.” It’s a much more… There’s a lack of resistance there that actually makes it hard for that thing to wrestle with you and exhaust you the same way.

Number three, we can benefit from placing the pain of this in a larger context. Right now, this seems like everything. It seems like everything has been leading to this and this is the great big, painful moment of our lives right now. But seen in a longer context, it will be part of the fabric of a life of many different moments, many different emotions, and it certainly won’t be the only painful moment of our lives.

We can, therefore, see this as a kind of training for other situations that we’re going to confront in life anyway. That this is actually useful for the purposes of that training. And we see it that way when we go into the gym. We see the pain we create in the gym as being valuable pain. Sam Harris talks about this. He talks about how pain is contextual. That if you were to wake up in the middle of the night feeling the intensity of pain that you feel at the height of a difficult gym session, you’d think you were dying. And yet, when you feel it in the gym, you’re perfectly relaxed about it because it’s pain that you’ve not only chosen, but accepted as an acceptable part of your growth. We can actually frame this up in the context of this being a gym right now. We’re training, and the pain we’re feeling is an acceptable part of the growth of who we’re about to become. And everything else that’s coming, we’re going to be more equipped for, because we did our training here, now, in this gym.

So look, we’re all finding our way with this. I have bad moments in my day and my goal is not to have no bad moments or even no bad hours or, in some cases, no bad morning or evening, but to try to use these techniques I’m sharing with you. These are very personal to me because I use these for myself all the time. To use these techniques to try to prevent a bad hour from turning into a bad day or a bad week. Because these are techniques that allow us to kind of, when there’s a fork in the road where we can spiral into something even worse, there’s actually an off ramp that takes us somewhere more positive.

The one thing I know that is going to be universal from this, is that we, as human beings, are going to be reminded of how adaptable we really are. And many people who have never learned how adaptable they can be, are going to learn for the first time, perhaps, just how adaptable they can be. And no bad can come from that.

I’ll leave you with this. There was a comment that was left by someone called K.M.M. Healy on my last video. She said, “I’m blind, and I find it fascinating that this pandemic is forcing sighted people to have a taste of physical and emotional isolation. It’s the same isolation that many members of the blind community experience with or without shelter-at-home orders. Though most people considered blind legally have some residual vision, we don’t necessarily see people while out running errands, which means we often have fewer casual conversations with strangers. I never see smiles or any attempt at eye contact from my own friends and family who forget I can’t see them, much less strangers who have no idea (apparently, I don’t look blind). It can feel very isolating. And blind people have to take deliberate steps to change that feeling. It’s interesting to me, how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the sighted people in my life. Many of them are taking their isolation hard. But as you said in this video, it’s a matter of perspective and resilience. But they’ll adapt, just like every person I’ve met who suddenly lost their vision. It’s what humans do.”

It’s what humans do. And it’s what we will do, as we go through this situation. Not alone but together. I love you and I’ll see you in the next video.

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152 Replies to ““Am I the Only One Not Living My ‘Best Life’ During Coronavirus?””

  • Wait a sec. So feeling accomplished and completely fine in these times is suddenly a bad thing and considered as insensitive and numb? Also: why should we be productive to that crazy extent of productivity of the world on normal speed expects us?
    To be honest I feel grateful and lucky for everything I may do nowadays. At the same time I am more social than I ever was and I can stay home and I’m praised for it. Isn’t it just awesome? I understand there are certain people out there who really annoy themselves at home, yet I haven’t even caught up with all the things I wanted to do. I admit, I don’t expect myself to be 200% productive, just 50-75% and I’m happy if I reach the top of my productivity.
    Don’t want to post a quote to Instagram? Then don’t do it for a change and see what is does to you (not to the brand Matthew Hussey), but to you as a person. I think it’s completely fine and alright to be less productive, less motivated and just be a tiny bit lazy. Slow down, and just as you said: there’ll be another day and another week when you’ll have the motivation to do all the stuff you wanted to.

    Is it a heresy to think like that? If it is I’m happy to take the role of the heretic here ;)

  • I was thinking that this is actually the perfect time to write a book. Always wanted to write, but never found the time. During crisis we become more creative

  • Thank you Matthew so we need to just try to accept this situation. God bless the people on the front lines.

  • Truly one of your best. Appreciate your non stop reaching out to us. RN still working and adapting.
    June 2015 Retreat

  • Thank you so much. I could not understand what is happening with me all this time, even I am one of ‘thous inspiring people’. After about 5 min of your video I started to cry… I even didn’t understand that I’m trying so hard to stay ‘ balanced and cool’ . Yeah.. Thank you so much. Much much love xxx

  • Such a refreshing video, to remind us to treat ourself with some extra space and kindness and allow what is going on inside of us. We sure all deal with the situation differently depending of our own context, but also day per day the mood might be fluctuating. What a unique time to take stock of what we like in our life but also of the areas that might require our most attention in order to evolve the way we truly want.

    Our lockdown here in Canada has been extended but also areas we normally could go walk to with beautiful scenery are now restricted. We look at other places where measures are not yet strict and i feel almost envious at the extra days or week others might have to enjoy the extra freedom. But knowing these measures are necessary to continue save lives and help people who need the ressources right now because they are fighting for their lives totally make sense and help with acceptance. My pain seems luxurious to compare to what others are living if they are losing their jobs and need to feed their families. I have the luxury of being safe in so many ways. I am alive and moments of boredom is such a luxury too.

    This will take a while and if anything allowing these various emotions at our table might be the only company available. Learning to make peace with the ones I usually was good to avoid is likely to bring growth in a way I never expected. We are just getting started. Patience and kindness toward these less friendly emotions might finally allow us to hear what they have been trying to share for so long.

    Stay safe and healthy.

  • Thank you! It is exactly what I needed to hear right now and I feel less guilty about feeling bad :)

  • Forgot to thank you for this video in my previous comment. I’m also exhausted emotionally like you described, and it does help to know that we are in this together,on the same boat and supporting each other the best way we can. Sending you lot of love.

  • Thankyou Matt!
    Your utter openness at every thought is like the first breath of fresh air after holding it and coming up out of the water.

    Your light hearted banter at thoughts we all may have is so relieving to feel and recognise in another.

    I believe that you would be the first self development leader for me which I have many mentors but that recognises we can all get bombarded with “positivity” at this time and that as well and good the intentions are that at times when our emotions and expectations of this current circumstances can and do fall short in moments, hours or days for any of us. To recognise and acknowledge that we can still be productive even with surrendering to these emotions it doesn’t take away from been optimistic in itself.

    I live in Australia, and appreciate so much that I have access to you to your genuineness and your teams help in continuing your work through this pandemic as the whole world looks for genuine, open and honest emotional support and connection.
    Thankyou Matt. Thankyou for being who you are.

  • The virus has really made life extra challenging. I’m at home taking my college classes online. It’s nice to be home with family but it’s hard to find the motivation from school. I turned 21 today too and this isn’t how I imagined celebrating my birthday. On top of that, my boyfriend lost his dream internship and some of his college friends moved back home (he thinks it will be the last time he sees them again because they live so far). We’ve been physically apart for weeks now. He broke up with me a few days ago using my mom as an excuse. Yes, they had their differences but my mom was willing to work them out with him. I felt like it was a fixable problem but he didn’t put the effort in to try and fix it, but instead believed it would affect us long term. I can still tell that he cares (he texted me at midnight wishing me a happy birthday like I did for him on his birthday and he apologized for everything he’s done). I’m thinking that with everything going on, he might’ve need space and used my mom as a scapegoat. I’m not sure though. I’m giving him space right now but I don’t want to keep my hopes up that he will come back to me if he never does.

  • Really comforting listening to you being so real. The timing was right as I am feeling that pain today. I am going through the grieving process that comes naturally when huge change occurs and I realise once again how powerless I am. While I am surrendering to that powerlessness there is great healing and I am reminded that my life and all life around me is in the hands of a Higher Source. A Higher Source which I place my trust in. As I am healing I am given the Grace to accept all that I cannot change. Through the pain I receive more insight, empathy, and wisdom. I can really only know anothers pain when I have walked in their shoes. It is only then that I feel less alone. It is through all this time during Coronavirus that much healing is taking place and we see that the veil between this world and the spiritual world is becoming more transparent.

  • Hi Matthew!
    I have found so many of your talks helpful and inspirational, but this one seemed even more authentic and heartfelt. Thank you for that.

    I have spent 25 years caring for my children. As a stay at home mother, you would find that most women in that situation feel alone, isolated, and “contained.”

    Then, more recently, I have felt a different kind of isolation, alienation, abandonment, loneliness, and despair when my husband moved out.

    THAT was my prep for this, and in comparison, THIS is so much better. In fact, I do thank god everyday that I’m not living with him right now because WITH him, this situation would feel even lonelier.

    Now, I’m quite content. I have been living by myself for three years. Most of my normal day is inside writing and researching. But during that time, as I have navigated my new normal, trying to figure out who I am and what I’ll be as a single woman, I have felt left behind after years of mothering.

    This social distancing feels different though. And believe me, I have friends who are taking pay cuts, and my house sale fell through, and my divorce had been put on hold, and my parents are in compromised health. Those are all difficult. But now EVERYONE has to slow down and I no longer feel like I’m being left behind. I’m fact, opportunities are being presented to me and I’m making NEW friends. And I’m catching up with friends from long ago. And I’m still on the dating apps, but meeting men on there from all walks of life that I would have swiped left on because they didn’t meet my requirements. I will most likely never meet them, but I’m okay with that.

    I have prepped for this. And I’m fine. And I keep reminding myself of that every time I hear bad news. I can be moved by people’s plightS AND be grateful for my blessings.

    Okay… that’s enough. But this was a good exercise, revealing to myself why I’m okay.

    PS: for Matt specifically… we kinda met at Elvis’ wedding. I was the one that nearly shut the elevator door on people. I regret that I didn’t formally introduce myself. So, hi!

  • Matthew…
    I absolutely, positively love your videos and your gift to be able to deeply lock into the emotions that we are all experiencing at this very moment. You have helped me dig out of some of my darkest days when my marriage ended and yet here you are again to help everyone through empathy rather than exaggerated optimism. So with that I say thank you again for just being you!! I know all of us can say we are beyond grateful!

  • Hi matt.

    Watched your video, what you said in it is all true, we all have to adapted to this new situation we are all facing. Yes it’s hard and not easy at times, our first reaction we all want to do is go out and see our friends and family hug them and talk to them face to face and probably get on a plane and go somewhere and relax and let our worries all disappeare.
    But, at the this present time we have to listen and obey to the authorities and save ourself’s has much as possible from this deadly virus that’s going about.
    Take care Matt.

  • I understand where you’re coming from, but do hot feel it’s right to undermine someones happy feelings when they are genuinely feeling optimistic and good during this downtime period at home. Just as you are feeling empathetic to people who may be suffering during this time, you should also not judge those that are feeling positive rather than negative. In fact, people who are feeling better than most are more emotionally available to help those that don’t feel as good. Keep strong, and keep making these awesome videos, but will lose me as a fan if you cry and complain about people who are still doing well.

  • Thank you again Matthew. You don’t know how much this content is helping me. Often I don’t post on the community chats for the reasons you have stated. I don’t want to be made to feel bad when I know others are far worse off than me. Have been feeling very lonely but I got involved in your one great hour this week which was indeed great and productive. Love to you and all of Team Hussey

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