To say that 2020 has been a challenge would be a full-on understatement. We were hit with a worldwide pandemic that has drastically changed our way of living. As a born optimist, I have to say that, even for me, it’s been hard to see the silver lining some days. Nevertheless, I also experienced 2020 as an opportunity to learn a lot about science, mankind and myself. That is why I share with you the 3 lessons that 2020 has taught me and which I will take with me into the new year.
1. Science matters
It is clear that nations that have sought support in science this past year have consistently scored better than other nations during the pandemic. The scientific research on the effects of social distancing and wearing masks taught us which practices really work to reduce the spread. The voice of science has gradually become indispensable to inform policymakers and the public on how to deal with the pandemic. In times of fake news and the far-reaching influence of social media, we now have an opportunity to rediscover science as a reliable guide to informed decision making. In my opinion, moving forward, scientists should be encouraged to play a greater role in public debates and policymaking. Additionally, the public should also be encouraged to take a greater interest in science and to support their work.
2. Flexibility is key
Remote teaching, improvised home offices, Zoom after work drinks and digital birthday parties... In each and every industry, changes in work procedures have been put into place and for every “normal” activity, we’ve had to create a slightly crazier version for 2020. Behavioural flexibility is critical in allowing us to deal with unpredictable circumstances. And if 2020 has been about anything, it’s been about unpredictable circumstances. Having our routines shaken up taught us that people can and will adapt in turbulent times. We may not love change and we may complain about it, but humans can, and always will be flexible and resilient in the face of change. In 2020 we have seen ambition, creativity and adaptability whether you look at schools, small businesses, or individuals. That is plenty to be hopeful about and optimistic for in the years to come.
3. Appreciate what you have
In 2020, many of our plans were restricted and we were forced to adopt a more primary lifestyle. But going back to the basics eventually was not so bad at all. How many people (re)discovered homemade bread? Countless board games and puzzles were sold, and families were all the better for it. 2020 reminded me that great joy can be found in the simple things and that many of our lives have become more complicated and complex than needed. Whether you’re appreciating a pet’s companionship, extended time with family or the bond you’re building with colleagues through shared tough times, there are plenty of opportunities to be grateful for. Moreover, you can also be especially grateful for our healthcare system and teachers, hairdressers or restaurant workers whose roles we are trying to emulate. 2020 made us realize how much we typically rely on those around us and how meaningful their specialized skills and contributions are.
2020, what a year it has been! Still, it has led many people, including myself, to take a step back and reflect. With these 3 lessons I’m ready to start the new year full of good courage, hope and confidence that change is around the corner. 2021, bring it on!