What a year 2020 has been! I mean, I usually get to this point in the year and begin to look back on all the things that have happened and have a similar sort of thought – after all a year is a long time and lots can, and usually does, happen – but this year, well, this year has been epic. From the fairly standard beginning through to full lockdown, all the adults and kids ‘working from home’ where possible, no school for months on end, and even for those children who still went to school, it wasn’t school as they knew it.
Shops ran out of basic commodities, we were unable to hug our friends even if we did see them, the whole world moved to online conversations, and by the middle of the summer we were all wearing face masks as well as washing our hands like mad things. It has been BONKERS and I haven’t even touched on the disaster that has been the UK government response to the pandemic crisis. From exam results to university placements; stay at home messages that were ignored by powerful people; and the merciless grind towards Brexit despite the likelihood of huge problems in the supply and demand lines of trade.
Anger - what do we do with it?
But angry though I am at the incompetency and sheer, unabashed cronyism of those who hold the power in the UK, and I am angry, more than I think I have ever been before, I want to channel that anger into something more positive: resistance.
Acts of resistance hold more power the more we use them, and, it seems, the smaller these acts are the greater the power of resistance, especially when they have an accumulative effect. So what can we do that’s an act of resistance?
I’ve been banging on about this for a long time now but I think this year it has been even more important to acknowledge gratitude on a daily basis. It’s an act of resistance for many reasons, including that there are many voices in the media and on social media that are cantankerous and always shouting about how awful everything is, especially this year. And true though that maybe, there has also been a lot to be thankful for. I’ve put some of mine at the end of this post, maybe you can think of a few yourself?
The more we are thankful for the things we have, the less likely we are to try to find happiness in accumulating more stuff and this is an act of resistance against the consumerist society we find ourselves in. The more we are thankful for the changes we have begun to see in ecological awareness in this past year, the more likely we are to want to fight to keep those changes going and that will be of paramount importance to us as a species, as well as being an act of resistance against the corporate world of big industry.
Being intentionally grateful rewires the brain, creating new pathways, and in doing so resists our own negativity bias. It is literally changing our whole outlook, creating a new way of thinking and feeling about the life we live and our surroundings. Being intentionally thankful in an authentic way, not dismissing the difficulties we are facing but choosing joy and gratitude despite these, is proven to make individuals feel happier, to not fall sick so often and to prolong life. Now, who wouldn’t want a bit of that to end 2020 with?
My Gratitude List for 2020
A warm home
Warm sunshine during the summer months
Family to spend time with – in fact I’m immensely grateful that my two boys aged 14 & 11 are still friends, despite having spent more time together than they ever would have been required to previously!
Friendships that have kept me going during difficult times
Technology that enables continued connection to others
Starting new things
Making new friends
My neighbour’s children who shout my name every time they pass our front door – they are such a delight
Working from home – I’m hugely grateful that both myself and my husband are able to work from home and lower the risk of contact with the virus.
Being referred to the pain clinic – after more than a decade of chronic pain I am now on the books with my local pain clinic and even after just one conversation with one of the team I felt enormously grateful that someone understood what life can be like with chronic pain.
The NHS – at least 5 members of my family have had treatment for one thing or another on the NHS this year – and so I’m grateful that I live in a country where we do not pay for medical care at the point at which we need it, that emergency surgery can and still does happen and that there are so many people who do not think twice about dropping everything to care for people they do not know.
There’s more I know, I’ll continue adding to this list in the next few days. What about for you? What have you been grateful for in 2020?