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How to Take Life Lessons from 2020

By Dr. Molly Casey

Being Grateful in 2021

So often people go into the new year thinking about the goals they are committing to and make a load of resolutions that most often don’t stick. With this past year being so challenging on so many fronts, and a big blanket of uncertainty for many as we head into 2021, I was thinking about how to do things differently.

Instead of providing health resolutions and offering a good riddance to 2020 because of how horrible it was, I came up with the idea of bringing three things forward into the new year from 2020. Even in hard times there is value -- and often, there is more value. Grit, groundedness and gratitude are traits from our most difficult year that I encourage you to bring with you into the new one.

Grit

The truth is 2020 was hard on all of us -- literally everyone in the entire world was affected by the health situation caused by COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Few of us have experienced a health crisis that has affected others across the world too. The entire globe has been on lockdown. When we are tested in this way, if we are going to make it out, we must find within ourselves how to deal with it and do the best we can to move forward. This is where many of us developed grit. Webster’s Dictionary defines grit as courage and resolve: strength of character. Each of us were faced with the health situation and its consequences in different ways. Some had kids home full time, many began working from home, some lost jobs. Others only had to wait in longer lines at stores outside, but all have had to wear masks. These circumstances and events have tested us, and many will admit that, although it wasn’t pretty in many forms, they had no choice but to move forward as required. This takes courage and resolve even if one isn’t aware of it. People got stronger. Even if only in ways that meant they put one foot in front of the other and tried to not yell one more time.

I contend that simply continuing on is increasing one’s courage and resolve and strength of character because the pandemic was a challenge like none we’ve seen before.

Look back at the year when lockdowns began. Examine the moments when you failed miserably, maybe didn’t do so great, did phenomenally well, or rocked things out. Then look at the midpoint of the year, three quarters of the way through, and then into the last quarter. Where did you improve, step up, maintain, grow in your patience or application of it, become more creative in your workouts or manner of getting things done. See where you grew in your level of grit and bring that forward with you into 2021.

Groundedness

Oxford Language Dictionary defines being grounded, or groundedness, as being well balanced and sensible. Pretty much everyone I’ve had interaction with or read about has said that at some point they did not feel well balanced and sensible. Folks were pushed to the max in more ways than one. Quarantined in small spaces with the same people for months on end, hospital stays with no familial and friend support allowed, and the list goes on.

Because these challenges extended over such a long period of time, my experience is that when one reflects on the year -- as suggested above -- there is an opportunity to see how we grew in groundedness. For some, it was that they dropped the extremely rigid expectations of home-schooling with being full time remote-working parents. For others, it means they became more sensible in their expectations and management of their food and exercise routines while all gyms and health facilities were closed down. Look back at the year; although you may see where you went off the rails, you will also see other areas where you grew in groundedness. In that reflection time, if you did not find that you grew in your groundedness, see where you could have and take that groundedness with you into 2021.

Gratitude

Oxford defines gratitude as the quality of being thankful. As hard as things were and despite as much suffering that occurred, I contend that we were clearly shown many areas of life where we could be quite thankful.

For some, this was that they had time and space to educate the kids at home or that they still had a job and some level of home/life balance. For others, they had home gyms and their life wasn’t interrupted that much. Who knows, the answers are different for everyone. I do know that regardless of the circumstances, we can find something to be grateful for. Things can be horrible and hard -- but we can be thankful at the same time. These things can exist simultaneously. If you allow it, the hard becomes a little less hard because we embrace the gratitude. So look back at the year, see where hard was hard and see what you can be grateful for in those situations. Then bring that attitude of gratitude into 2021.

Grit, groundedness, and gratitude. I challenge you to look back at your year and find each of these in situations where you thought they were lacking. Then commit to bringing them into the new year.

We’re all grateful that 2020 is over, but it did have positives if you can identify some of these moments of growth. There is value in bringing these things forward so that 2020 did serve a purpose, so that we didn’t suffer through 2020 in vain. Here’s to the best year yet!

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