by Douglas L. Anderson, Psy.D.
Hindsight is 2020.
We will need to invest some energy in discovering the lessons of the past year so that we can put them into practice in 2021. I do hope that just as 2020 is the year we will always remember as the year COVID 19 paid us a deadly visit, so 2021 could be the year COVID 19 is banished. Vaccinations are happening across the country and world, and hope is emerging in the face of some of the darkest days of this pandemic. Vaccines. Hope. Good news!
But we aren’t out of the woods just yet. We still need to take this virus very seriously, and we are going to need each other as we navigate what we hope will be the final months of threat from this invisible and insidious enemy. How do we want to do that? What do we want the beginning of 2021 to look like as communities and as a country?
Mine is a psychological angle, so lets think about what we want to happen in 2021 as it relates to our mental health. I want us to experience less anxiety and less depression. I want us to become stronger couples who can thrive relationally even when we are struggling because of the pesky challenges of life. I want us to learn to love better.
I want us to experience and enjoy the ambiance of difference. Let's embrace the pleasure of knowing people who do not look like us, who do not think like us, who do not worship like us. A doctoral student I mentor talks about the “threat of difference.” Suppose we turn that threat into curiosity. Suppose we reach out in friendship to those who are not like us. Maybe, just maybe, we will discover that there is much more that unites us than divides us. I believe that is true throughout the world, across our nation, in our communities, and within our own families.
If we can grasp hope, love each other better, and appreciate difference, then we will see our mental health improve, and we will see our relationships get stronger. We will build resilience as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation, and we will be more like a healthy body with each part viewed as equally important and equally needed to keep it as healthy as possible.
There was a prophet who lived a long time ago who encouraged us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. I hope our reflections on 2020 produce those values in each of us as we enter 2021.