Nguyen Sieu

As you hold this Heritage Fashion magazine in your hands, you will undoubtedly have noticed major changes in your travel experience. All of the flight attendants have masks on. Passengers are more cautious than ever about moving around the plane and greeting each other. Meals are hermetically sealed and hand sanitizer has become the most essential travel item. The changes are not taking place only on Vietnam Airlines; travel policies have been revised everywhere in the world. Delta Air Lines has committed to blocking off the middle seats on all of its aircraft, while Emirates flights offer a blood test service before boarding. Ryanair has banned its passengers from queuing up in front of the bathrooms. Just half a year prior, no one would have thought the simple process of going from one place to another would entail so many hurdles.

Unexpected changes are an inevitable part of the world we live in. After a few months spreading across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused monumental disruptions in social interactions and economic activities, with financial markets suffering massive losses and unemployment on the rise. Companies are forced to modify their business models. Countries close borders. Educators have widely deployed online learning for the first time. The first year of the new decade is radically different from the speculations of even the most imaginative.

Faced with these rapid and unexpected changes, disappointment is a natural reaction. What we need to remind ourselves is that the world never stands still. Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” Expectations for an immutable world are the first driver of dissatisfaction. To overcome obstacles in an era of unpredictable changes and unleash the potential of each individual even in the face of adversity, cultivating a positive attitude is the most courageous and righteous act.

Instead of seeing changes as a loss of the things we possess, we can view them as opportunities for self-growth. This global pandemic serves as a reminder for each person to take care of their body, driving their focus back to the most fundamental element of their existence. Face masks, hand washing and other safety precautions have become indispensable parts of a new lifestyle. The closing of bars and pubs and reinforcement of social distancing encourage human beings to spend time with ourselves: learn a new skill, write that book you’ve been thinking of for ages or finish an art project that was shelved to make space for more pragmatic endeavors. Living in an era of chaos sharpens our ability to remain calm and patient. The turbulent news cycle in this time of crisis trains us to differentiate facts from fake news, distilling truth from pure noise. Working from home, although as inconvenient as we can imagine, is a test of efficiency, an opportunity for the employed to prove that their skills and talent transcend physical hardship, that great work can blossom in challenging times. Life is more difficult now, but it is those changes and challenges that make us tougher, more resourceful and most importantly, more human. As humans, we have to constantly self-improve, and that growth is an arduous journey that cannot take place in the comfort zone. In the wise words of American psychologist Abraham Maslow, “In any given moment, we have two options: step forward into growth or step backward into safety.”

Not only on the personal development front, but on the business front, changes are also an opportunity for innovation, creativity and adaptation. No businesses want to swamp themselves in a financial crisis, but let’s take a look at the latest recession of 2008. Some of the most successful startups of modern day were born in those historic years, such as Uber, Airbnb, Venmo, Slack, Pinterest and WhatsApp, services that have become household names. The shortage of resources can become a golden opportunity for ideas that are nimble enough and can tap into the consumer culture to flourish. Generations of Vietnamese people have passed down the proverb, “You get smarter in difficult times,” which proves more pertinent than ever.

You, the passenger who is holding this magazine, are also participating in a process of change: moving from one place to another, shifting from one environment to the next or even changing time zones. Change is an inherent part of life and any sense of permanent stability is just an illusion. We cannot control what kinds of changes life brings, but we can control our attitude when they arrive. Human beings are not judged based on what happens to us, but by how we react to those happenings. A positive attitude and optimistic way of life will unleash our infinite inner strength to overcome even the hardest of days.