As the year is coming to a close, it's easy to focus on all of the things we've lost instead of the many things we've gained.
2020 was a year of losses. Each and every one of us lost something, in one way or another.
In 2020, we experienced the loss of hopes and dreams, the loss of plans and excitement for the future. We experienced a loss of faith.
In 2020, we suffered the loss of money, of businesses, of jobs and places to live. We suffered a loss of stability.
In 2020, perhaps the hardest loss millions of people all over the world have had to suffer was the painful loss of a loved one.
Amidst all of these hardships and battles, for many, 2020 was also a year of perspective. A year of change. Because when times are rough, it changes our outlook on many things.
In the search of purpose and comfort, we try everything to hold on to something that might make it all better. And while few things can effectively do that, it's still important to try. It's important to keep going and to find some light in the darkness, even if it seems nearly impossible in the moment.
Regardless of what you've lost this year, there's always something you've gained—even if it's just that: perspective.
So as a way to focus on the positive, and to reflect on the past year before starting a new one, it's worth asking yourself this question:
What has 2020 given you?
I’d like to challenge you to find some of the good things this year has brought you. It doesn't have to be a monumental thing—you may not feel like you've received or experienced any good things at all this year.
But that's exactly what this mindfulness exercise is about. No matter how big or small, what are five things this year has given you that you wouldn’t have otherwise had or experienced? What are five things you can be thankful for during one of the most difficult years?
It could be a special person, a moment of happiness, a meaningful gift. Whatever gave you a glimmer of hope and light this year. Something that made you smile on a sad day.
Here are some (but certainly not all) of mine:
Precious Family Time
While sadly, some people were separated from their families for most of the year, many others found themselves living back at home due to a loss of their job, a place to live, or simply to take care of a vulnerable family member.
I was one of the lucky ones who spent all year back at home. I'm especially thankful for that because I normally would have been overseas, far away from my family. Before the pandemic, I was used to living abroad, traveling frequently for work. I hadn't spent a full year living in my childhood home for a while.
Yes, the pandemic put a hold on my career plans. I didn't get that new job in the big city. Instead, the pandemic gave me the chance to spend a lot of precious time with my loved ones. I was there for my beloved grandmother's 90th birthday (who also lives in our household, so I was extra thankful to have her around safely). I was there for Christmas, even if it was spent in a small, intimate circle. I had many laughs, many cries, many discussions and long talks with my parents and sister. This homebound life might not have been what I had planned, but I'm so thankful for the extra time it gave me with my family. I know we created many special memories together that I'll hold dear for the rest of my life.
Gratitude is the one thing you can find in all of my five points. It needs little explaining: I'm extra thankful for so, so many things this year. Most notably, I'm thankful for my family, our health, the fact that we have a roof over our heads and food on our plates. A gratitude for work. For life and love in general. It's a gratitude that's always been there, but never quite as present as it was this year.
Generally A New Appreciation for the Little Things in Life
Besides all of the above-mentioned big blessings in life, I now have an even stronger appreciation for the little things. A heartfelt note from a faraway friend. A good book, and the sudden extra time to read it. More cuddles with my pets while working from home. A new motivation to pick up my guitar and revisit old hobbies. Going through several strict lockdowns wasn't fun, but it made me appreciate the simple things even more.
When a difficult situation is tough to navigate, sometimes it helps to talk to people who are going through the same thing as you. Sometimes, even just knowing you're not alone can make the burden feel less heavy.
Well, a global pandemic (and all of the struggles that come with it), means that everyone has been affected in one way or another, and most likely understands how you feel. Sharing your struggles with a likeminded person can be liberating, and has the power to forge a deep connection. By going through a hard time together, we grow stronger, and feel connected to each other on a new level.
In the same way that I've lost some friendships this year, I've noticed how other relationships have grown stronger—even from a distance.
Mindfulness and Perspective
The very thing that is making me ponder what I've gained in 2020. All of these things I was only able to appreciate that much more thanks to my newfound mindfulness. Living in the moment can be easier said than done when the days pass us by. It's a skill we can learn and practice until it becomes a conscious part of our life.
I've learned to hug my loved ones a little longer, to tell them I love them, to savor every moment we get together. They're moments other people would give anything to experience once again. Realizing that makes life and its beautiful moments more meaningful, and less fleeting.
If you feel up for it, take a moment to appreciate the things you’ve received this year, even if it's difficult to focus on. I guarantee you’ll see things in a new light, and you might enjoy a minute of distraction from the things you've lost or feel you missed out on this year.
So, what are some of the good things that have happened to you this year? Leave your five things (or fewer) in the comments below, I’d love to hear what 2020 has given you! #nbholidaycheer