World after
How do we navigate
the changes ahead?
How do we navigate
the changes ahead?
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Evgeny Osin, Personality & Positive Psychology


Personality & Positive Psychology

Evgeny Osin


Evgeny Osin is an Associate Professor of Psychology and a Deputy Head of the International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation at the Higher School of Economics. He is an award-winning teacher and has authored over 120 scientific publications on the topics of meaning, well–being, and personality resources. In 2018, he was the most cited Russian Scholar in Psychology.

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Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant positive societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?

The most important positive change is concerning the ways we communicate and cooperate when we strive towards common goals. During this lockdown, we have learned to be more flexible and more efficient, and many work events and activities that were thought of as quite indispensable, are now appearing less necessary and they can be more easily organized online. We have also learned to be more tolerant of one another to accept the unavoidable limitations in ourselves, in our colleagues, in our significant others, and being reminded that our powers are limited. That life itself is limited, can help us to become more mindful of our priorities, and to be more aware of where we choose to invest our time.

What kind of wisdom will people need to capitalize on the positive societal and/or psychological change after the pandemic?

We need to remember that life is about changing and growing as we deal with adversity. And we cannot really step twice in the same river, this pandemic is bringing about some lasting changes. And once it’s over, life will not be the same as we had before. The best we can do is not to struggle with this fact but to embrace it and learn how we can make best use of this change.

Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant negative societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?

This pandemic is a real threat, which reminds us of our mortality. And this is something many people might not be quite prepared for. Research shows that when we are faced with a threat of death, or with some greater uncertainty, we might stop thinking critically and we might start behaving in more irrational ways. This pandemic might encourage further growth of black and white thinking, conspiracy theories, prejudice and social antagonism.

What kind of wisdom will people need to master to overcome major negative societal and/or psychological changes after the pandemic?

What we need now is mindfulness to help us cope with our anxieties and to start taking our threats and problems for what they are instead of explaining them away. Instead of feeling upset, or sorry for ourselves, because we are not living in an ideal world, we can accept the complexity of life and of other people. Life can be ugly, terrifying and awful. But it can also be beautiful and amazing. And by acknowledging the bad stuff, we can start truly appreciating the great many positive things that are also happening each day. As the Dalai Lama says “if in the morning you wake up and you’re alive, this is already so much to be grateful for”. And this pandemic reminds us of this simple wisdom.

What piece of wisdom do people need to make it through the pandemic?

Let’s treasure and let’s appreciate the things that really nourish us, our relationships, our friends, our families, our enthusiasm at work and our sweet moments of idleness. There’s time for great deeds and there’s time for Netflix and chill. So being friendly, open and compassionate to ourselves can help us become more open and compassionate to others and in the end, to get through this challenging times.
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