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How the pandemic brought us opportunity for health, wealth and happiness

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It is often said that health is wealth, and at no time in our lives has this truism proven more correct than during the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. political upheaval.

This has been a year unlike any other in my lifetime. Individuals have learned a lot about just how precious life is. At this point, nearly a year into the pandemic, each of us probably knows someone who has contracted COVID-19. While most have managed to defeat this insidious virus, going through days of unpleasantness but ultimately emerging a survivor, others have not been so fortunate. 

Sadly, hundreds of thousands of Americans — and many more across the globe — have succumbed to this awful virus. The recent months are a reminder that, above all else, life is the most precious thing we know. 

It is painfully clear that the virus does not discriminate. It cares not about the ethnicity of its victims, their religious practices, or their political affiliations. Rich and poor alike find themselves equally vulnerable.

So, in the face of COVID-19, we are all the same — and this means that each of us rolls the dice, unsure whether contracting the virus will mean an unpleasant illness or paying the ultimate price.  In these trying times, lessons abound.

For many of us, the pandemic has been a time of reflection. Many people are finding that being restricted mostly to our homes has had a material difference not only on our health, but also on our wealth.

Consider for a moment the sums of money that conscientious Americans may have been able to save during the months of this pandemic. No longer are many people spending a large chunk of their income commuting to work or shuttling their children to activities. There’s no longer a daily need to purchase subway or train tickets, pay highway or bridge tolls, or put fuel and pricey maintenance into automobiles that are not being driven much.

What about clothing? With so many of us working from home, we no longer have to pay for dry cleaning to keep our shirts and suits pressed. Why spend money on a new tie or a new blouse when, after all, you can work from home in casual clothes? 

The consumer culture, notorious among Americans for decades, has taken a hit as a result of the pandemic. Many people have recognized that acquiring objects and spending money on material things makes little sense and, perhaps more importantly, is a serious obstacle to amassing wealth.

Consider also the tremendous savings we stand to retain now that we no longer are spending money on things that we once would have sworn were essential. I’m talking about live sporting events, concerts, plays and other forms of entertainment — nightclubs, expensive restaurants, dinner parties, alcohol, fancy excursions.

Those who preserve their hard-earned capital should see a tremendous spike in their savings from the past nine months. The lifestyle to which so many Americans had grown accustomed and to which many had dedicated so much of their energy and money has been altered. Staring us in the face is a rational choice: continue spending money on those material goods and activities, or instead start setting aside the money for different reasons that are more likely to pay off in the long run.

That is not to say that there isn’t tremendous value in spending money on entertainment. After all, I for one appreciate the drama and exhilaration of a spirited sporting event. There’s little to compare with the excitement in a crowded arena or stadium as you cheer for your team with your fellow fans. However, COVID-19 essentially has served as a much-needed reset. 

The virus has forced a reckoning for each of us, whether we were ready or not. Today we are making significant changes to our lives and re-evaluating what is of the utmost importance. Many have used this time to rediscover the wonders of nature, the joy of exercise, the opportunity to speak with friends and family about issues that matter, as opposed to filling our conversations with the surface-level banalities that had defined so many of our days. 

My prayer for all Americans in this holiday season is that we continue to stay healthy in the coming months. Perhaps we may even emerge from this strange era stronger mentally and content in the knowledge that we have clarified what brings each of us the most happiness in our lives. Above all, my hope is that we will continue to take care of ourselves and one another.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.

Tags coronavirus economy coronavirus shutdowns COVID-19 pandemic

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