Reflecting On 2020



In another post I briefly look back year 2020 and began to turning page to year 2021 with some of my wish lists that I wish I could stack upon on my current habits next year. Changing habits (good or bad) are always a tough call for me, which often works only in a baby steps with a laser focus on making gradual progress. It usually takes a while to sense, even a small bit of progress.

Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic contributor and a professor of the practice of public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, a professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School writes in a recent article that the key to successful habit or lifestyle change resolutions is ‘positive motivation‘.

Let me suggest two direct happiness resolutions for 2021: forgiveness and gratitude.

Arthur Brooks in The Atlantic

After reading a tweeter thread from one of my admired web developers, Sarah Drasner, I wrote a post in last November ‘to experiment writing occasional gratitude entry post’. The Atlantic contributor Brooks writes, one can create their own version of gratitude experiment and sharing his own.

Take 15 minutes on New Year’s Day and write down five things you are grateful for. Each evening before retiring, study your list for five minutes. Each week, update the list by adding two items. I personally do this, and I can tell you that the list gets easier and easier to build. Since I do my best thinking while walking, I ponder my list in a 20-minute walk alone after dinner in the cool of the evening. The other night it was 30 degrees and sleeting here in Boston, but I couldn’t bear to miss my gratitude walk. That is an example of a resolution passing the cost-benefit test.

My best thinking comes either in my early morning treadmill walk or walking outside in our neighborhood blocks. Following Prof Brooks’ call and my own pledge to start writing gratitude journal, here is my first entry on this series.

We Owe Our Gratitude

The year 2020 was one of the most difficult as well as unique pandemic year and there are many that deserve our heartfelt gratitude.

  • First responders: In a scary pandemic year, the first responders who tirelessly worked and attended patients long-hours and weekends deserve our deepest gratitude for saving lives.
  • Heath experts and healthcare professionals: They worked tirelessly to educate the citizen about the pandemics & its safety measures, and deciphered myths, facts and misinformation about the coronavirus.
  • Vaccine developers: Scientists all over the world worked tirelessly to research and develop vaccine candidates again coronavirus and brought vaccines from their lab to the person’s arm in a record amount of time.
  • Cyber Security Professionals: When most work office work shifted to remote with online supports, cybersecurity experts and tech professions worked to work securely from home.
  • Free Technological Services: Free technological services like Zoom, Slack, messenger apps kept people together and help businesses conduct their businesses.
  • News reporters and media: Reporters and media outlets worked around the clock to inform and educate public about politics, pandemic, judicial system and justices, confederate monuments and other matters of public interest.
  • Essential services workers: Even when there was travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders was imposed by the state, essential service workers continued their services and provided foods, beverages, and house-hold items risking their own lives.
  • Police and security personal: Security personnel worked around-the-clock to keep our streets, neighborhood, borders, waters, and sky safe & secured and keeping our enemies at bay to make us safe.

On personal level, I owe my gratitude to the followings:

  • Family, food & health: During the pandemic-forced stay-at-home order and other restrictions, we all got more family time, had enough healthy food and household supplies to keep us fit and healthy.
  • Open-source-contributors: As a self-learner, I study and learn from open sources hubs like GitHub. Without the contributions of the contributors it would be impossible to make much progress in learning.
  • Friends and neighbors: When got stocked at home with pandemic-restricted mobility and other restrictions, we appreciate family and neighbor for keeping us together, motivated and performing normal daily activities.
  • Artists & singers: During the isolation, sports, singers and other artists kept us entertained with their arts, performance and songs.

In Closing

In closing, let’s heed to the call of Prof Brooks and make forgiveness and gratitude as our 2021 resolution and be hopeful, as he suggests, that would bring happiness to us all!

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