By Ella Miller

When people think of 2020, their minds most likely go right to how it was a challenging year... and rightly so! Yet just as every challenge brings us eye-opening insights that we didn't have prior to the experience, here are 10 positive lessons that came out of the negativity of a worldwide pandemic:

1) How to pivot, adapt and be inventive. One thing that never changes is there will always be change. The ability to remain calm and focused, and roll with the punches, enabled many to thrive even when faced with the unknown.

2) There's no place like home. A new appreciation developed for the place where everyone hunkered down and felt safe. In a world that was always on the go — sometime to the point of exhaustion — settling down and taking things slow was a welcomed change of pace for many. It brought us back to the basics.

3) The simple things in life matter most. With everyone social distancing, and an all-new appreciation for the value of safety and health, simple joys were emphasized. Maybe you found yourself watching a glorious sunrise, appreciating a warm cup of morning coffee, hugging a loved one a little tighter, nurturing a garden, taking long walks with the people and pets you adore, finding adventure in exploring new music, or looking to relaxing bubble baths and soothing aromatherapy to clear your worries away. Simple things can feel simply amazing!

4) The importance of connectedness. We realized that being together doesn’t require everyone being in the same place at the same time. Technology ranging from FaceTime to Teams and Zoom proved that we can easily share smiles across the miles.

5) We are nothing without our health. Focusing on the importance of washing hands and containing germs was like a 3rd grade Science (or Health) class lessons all over again. My big takeaway is: life’s fragile and nothing is promised so live, laugh and love with abandon. Consciously staying in-the-moment matters.

6) Happiness comes from within. While every household got shut off from the outside world, we learned that activities such as board games, doing arts and crafts, meditation, cooking or baking, or redecorating our space made us feel good on the inside. Happiness is a choice that nobody and nothing can ever take away from you.

7) Pets lift hearts and spirits in all situations. When spirits our down, pet adoption rates go up. That’s because of the unconditional love and happiness they bring to their owners. According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats). I imagine that number escalated during COVID-19 because people needed comfort more than ever (and of course animals did, too).

8) We're all in this together. People from all walks of life came together with compassion, kindness, understanding and empathy. COVID-19 sparked more acts of kindness and kept the importance of unity top-of-mind. We need more of this!

9) Love from a distance is still love. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Although situations from lockdown to quarantine to travel advisories to stop the spread of COVID-19 separated us from faraway family and friends (with good reason), the affection we feel for loved ones shined stronger than ever.

10) We are more resilient that we ever imagined. Although everyone’s circumstances varied, everyone pushed through difficulties. Whether it was shortages in food and supplies, loss of job and income, the shutdown of schools, restaurants, or a personally-owned business, we all faced hardships. Resilience is not something we're born with — it's built over time based on experiences we face. So the COVID-19 pandemic equipped us with new knowledge around tackling stress and adversity that can serve us well moving forward.


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