Saturday, December 26, 2020

2020 Taught Us Resilience - Finding the Good in a Tragic Year

There is no question that 2020 has been one of the most unusual and challenging years in our lifetime.  While most Baby Boomers are old enough to have suffered through a variety of setbacks, difficulties, family deaths, medical problems, and other issues during their lifetimes, we have not been immune to the added burden of living through the unexpected 2020 pandemic and the resulting financial stress.

Millions of people lost jobs in 2020. Some lost their businesses. Others lost family members, either to Covid-19 or another illness. To make matters worse, 2020 was also politically very divisive, with hotly contested national and local elections. People were stressed, lonely, worried about money, and concerned about our nation.

So, bearing in mind all the difficulties we have experienced as a nation, how can we end the year by putting a positive spin on things?

Most of us survived! First, of course, is the fact that those of you who are reading this have survived one of the bleakest periods of time we have experienced in our lifetimes. You may feel beaten and scarred.  You may be worn out, sad over the loss of loved ones, and in financial pain. However, we all have reason to hope that the worse is behind us or will soon be behind us as the vaccine begins to roll out for more people. When we feel ready, we will be able to move forward, start to rebuild our lives, and pray for a brighter future.

We have learned to be grateful for the things we have - Over and over, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I heard people giving thanks for the simple things in life ... food, a roof over our heads, and people we care about, whether we have been able to see them in person or not.  I also heard people say they were grateful for the problems they did not have.  So many have suffered so much, nearly all of us can acknowledge that there are people we know who have had it much worse than we have.

We have learned to appreciate our friends and family - While staying at home for months at a time, many of us really looked forward to phone calls, letters, emails, greeting cards and Zoom meetings with friends, family, book clubs and other groups.  Outdoor picnics, family dinners and religious services became the few times we saw anyone in person, other than the people we live with.  Taking a walk and chatting, while wearing a face mask and standing six feet from our neighbors became the new norm, and we adjusted to it well.

We have been able to laugh at the absurdities of 2020 - As stressful as 2020 has been, many of us found humor in some of its more absurd memories. How many of us hoarded toilet paper, cut our own hair, gave up wearing makeup, and had fun shopping for the craziest face mask? My husband bought one that made him look like he was sticking his tongue out at other people. All our grandchildren chose fun face masks ranging from puppy noses to skeleton faces. We read 2020 jokes and memes almost daily, and we were able to laugh through the pain.  What a gift! 

If you have been slow to find a way to see things in a more positive way, you might it helpful to read the Dan Harris book "10% Happier:  How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works -- a True Story."  (Ad) It could help you find ways to be happier, too. 

Covid-19 gave us the perfect excuse to get out of unwanted social engagements - On the other had, we all have those obligatory social commitments we dread, and Covid-19 gave us the perfect excuse to not attend.  For one year, we were able to avoid those awkward visits with relatives, unwanted house guests, and required social events.

Vaccines are on the way - While we may be able to see some positive things from 2020, the truth is that most of us are happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Vaccines are on the way.  A few people have already received their first vaccine shot. While it will take months before the doses have been distributed and the majority of people have been vaccinated, it is a relief to know that there is reason to hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight.

Finally, 2020 is over!  For those of us who were able to get through the year, most of us can look forward to a better life in 2021. While it is unlikely that any of us will soon forget the events of 2020, and the impact the year had on our life, at least we can put this year behind us ... and that is a relief!

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