Pandemic survival lessons in resilience from a flower

pandemic survival


Over the past months, I’ve talked to dozens of people who are suffering during this pandemic. Some of them have been in tears. Trust me when I say that even the people who seem like they have it together are experiencing loss in their own way. Everyone is focusing on a pandemic survival strategy!

The crisis is a unifying force through its sheer ability to humble our hopes and disrupt even the smallest expectations of life right now.

I’ve had many setbacks, too — economic, psychological, and physical.

One thing I’m struggling with is the loss of the dream of my future. I’ve worked very hard for many years. This is the time of life when I should be traveling with my wife and having adventures around the world. That has been my biggest life goal … but that vision has been upended, probably for a long time.

I’m grieving that this goal is unattainable during a precious window of my life when I have the time, health, and resources to make this dream come true. So, I need to re-frame my vision and find new joy and new goals to hold on to.

I know I’m not alone. I know you are suffering in your way, too. So I wanted to share a story that is helping me think about the world in a different way.

Flower therapy as pandemic survival

I have an amazing customer called GEMS, a leading importer of flowers. Working with them has helped me learn about the documented therapeutic value of bright blooms. Flowers can literally calm you down, help you sleep and improve your outlook.

But there is one flower in my yard that is reminding me of a pandemic survival lesson every day: the daylily.

In my home state of Tennessee, daylilies are among the most popular flowers you’ll see. They are everywhere, in so many shapes and colors … even growing along the sides of roads.

I have never been a big daylily fan until a friend who is in the business (Oakes Daylilies) sent me a batch to plant in my yard. These blooms have been amazing to observe, as a new type of flower blooms every week. It’s like Christmas in my yard every time a little gift pops open.

But here is the thing about daylilies — they literally bloom for one day.

The daylily’s botanical name, Hemerocallis, means “beauty for a day”, and indeed most daylily flowers open in the morning and die by nightfall. However, each flower stem typically has many flower buds, so the plant stays in bloom for several weeks.

They live brightly for a day, and then come back for another day.

Since I planted these humble, dirty bulbs, I’ve watched the plants strain upward, gathering all their energy into a bud. The bud grows and grows, finally hinting at the color still hidden inside. And then one morning, POP! It arrives! The flower explodes into the world with radiant color.

pandemic survival

All of that time and energy in the plant is devoted to this one beautiful, spectacular day.

For me, the example of the lily resonates in this pandemic.

I recently reviewed a slide deck from a noted analyst and futurist. He was comparing the optimistic projections of his January presentation with the decidedly bleak deck he prepared for this month.

Regarding the pandemic, his last, thunderous slide said, “Literally everything is uncertain.”

That is not true.

There is beauty and truth and certainty in this one day. In your day. Like a daylily.

Calm your body

Dr. Rick Hanson was recently quoted in The Wall Street Journal about his mindset on daily resilience:

“Find your footing. In any kind of shaky situation, you want to slow down, listen to the experts, find out what’s really going on. When you are dealing with massive uncertainty on a large scale, at least be certain about your plan for today.

“Calm and center yourself. Carving out that 10 minutes a day to just sit there with a cup of tea and stare into space. Some people will meditate or pray, do yoga, go for a run or walk the dog.  Being able to calm your body is absolutely fundamental.”

Going to visit my daylilies every day has been a sort of meditation. There is some interesting new form of beauty to observe every day. Even flowers from the same plant have different characteristics. This flower zen helps “calm my body.”

Avoid rumination

I think if we constantly focus on this darkening unknown future, we’ll go absolutely crazy. If I dwell on the loss of my life dreams, I could become bitter and miss the unique opportunities blooming on this one day.

Like the lily, you have one shot today. Be centered, calm, and the best you can be in this moment. Put your face to the sun, bask in a warm glow of this day, spread your petals as wide as you can for the world, right now. It’s really the only thing we can control in this crisis.

Focus on one beautiful thing in your life today. What is the “daylily” reminder in your life?

(This one is my favorite!)

pandemic survival


Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.


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