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  • Paul Nouri

2020 Was A Painful Year For Millions of Americans…But Maybe Some Good Came Out Of It

Nearly 10 million more people are unemployed now than before the pandemic began

340,000 people have passed away due to COVID

Millions of families unable to visit their loved ones in hospitals

Much of the U.S. is sharply polarized politically

Vacations cancelled

Weddings cancelled/postponed

Funerals only immediate family

Eating out with friends fugget about it

So what was redeeming about 2020? It forced many people to reflect on their lives, their belief systems, their strengths and weaknesses. Being able to get through a year this stressful is something that we will be able to carry with us for the rest of our lives. To go from having as many freedoms as we do in this country to all of a sudden giving everyone who steps within six feet of us a dirty look is quite the 180.

And despite being completely teched out as a society, a loneliness epidemic has emerged. People are life. Our interactions with people are what make life worth living to a certain extent. But the virus took away our ability to be physically close to people we love. I would speculate, however, that people have come to appreciate each other and their interactions with those around them more during this taxing period.

While it is nice to go to a restaurant and socialize with partners, friends and family, there are advantages to cooking at home more. For one thing, cooking can provide a sense of accomplishment. All days are not “wins” at work, so to be able to come home and put together a good meal is a win we can create ourselves. And maybe along the way, people got more curious and looked up more recipes. Another advantage of eating at home is that it’s healthier. Restaurants, many of whom do not report nutrition information, take liberties with the amount of salt and butter they use because their motivation is to get customers to keep coming back, not for them to sit back in awe of how healthy their prepared meals are. Prior to the pandemic, it was easy to find articles on how more and more people were getting an increasing percentage of their meals dining out. When people dine out in excess, they can lose/lessen their relationship with the food that to a large extent shapes how they feel each day. People being forced to cook more at home has hopefully improved the relationships that people have with their food.

I think millions of Americans have new found appreciation for front line workers. To be sure, appreciation was already there. However, with a workforce made up of approximately 90% white collar jobs, it can be easy to overlook the risk that people who work in the supermarket, on trains, in hospitals, etc. have taken every day in 2020 going to work. Some of us complain if we have to wear a mask for more than a few minutes. There are millions of people who have to wear them 8, 10, 12 hours a day.

In the end, a significant majority of Americans will not be directly affected by death from COVID or even the mourning of a loved one with COVID. But even with that being the case, the anxiety that owned the air in 2020 was undeniable.

My wish for 2021 is that the anxiety turns to hope and a renewed sense of spirit. Each of us finding what makes us feel most authentic. Some people find that through hobbies or spending more time with families, while others might find support groups to be helpful. On our site, we list dozens of support groups for a broad spectrum of people. Emotions Anonymous is an interesting group. It is a twelve step group where people work through their emotional struggles…depression, anxiety, sadness. There are groups for adult survivors of childhood abuse, addiction, grief, single parents and more. Working a program can lead to emotional health and a feeling of stability.

"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

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