As we look toward a brighter 2021 and our mastery of the virus that has made us change so much, we should also embrace the lessons of 2020 as a source of growth and opportunity for our own wellbeing.

At Magenta we put wellbeing at the heart of everything we do – for clients and for our team. We know things have been grim, but hopefully some of the following lessons and quotations will resonate with you and make you feel better about what lies ahead.

When we go through hard times, we are able to stretch and develop. When we grow from trauma—and the pandemic is an example—it results in three primary benefits:

  • We deepen connections – learning who is most supportive of us and to whom we are most committed.
  • We clarify our priorities – developing our understanding of what really matters to us – and what doesn’t.
  • We validate our own capabilities – understanding how much we can endure and how resilient we are in the face of difficulty.

Likewise, when we cope, we have three choices:

  • We can adapt  making changes to ourselves to deal with circumstances. Eg: learning maths to home-school children.
  • We can shape the conditions themselves. Eg: Organising a charitable group to help your neighbours.
  • We can change a situation. Eg: Moving to a new job or ended a poor relationship.

All of this points to the future—how we cope, how we learn and how we choose are harbingers for where we’ll go from here. Great quotations from literature and philosophy help tell the story:

Lesson: Live For Today

“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time.  My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.” ―Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

While it can be tempting and motivational to look ahead, the pandemic teaches us focusing on the present and being grateful for each moment contributes to our positive outlook and the difference we make for ourselves and others.

Lesson: Build Resilience

“All great beginnings start in the dark, when the moon greets you to a new day at midnight.” ―Shannon L. Alder

The pandemic has been tough, but growth happens as a result of challenge, and the greatest innovations come from the most limiting barriers. If you don’t face hardship, you can continue to do things as you always have. But when nothing is the same and you face significant constraints, you must find new and creative ways to make things happen. This is one of the benefits of going through the pandemic.

Lesson: Be Empathetic

“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” –William Gibson in The Economist

Our connections with other people are primary to our happiness and fulfilment as well as our physical and mental health. Through the pandemic, we’ve had to make choices for the benefit of our community and the health of the people around us. Empathy and a concern for others are important mindsets to take forward.

Lesson: Be Grateful

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” –Marcel Proust

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” –Robert Brault

Hard times give us the opportunity to expand our appreciation of those who help, support and contribute in large and small ways. In addition, the pandemic caused many of our lives to become smaller. Instead of going out, we’ve done everything from shopping and exercise to eating and working at home. This reduced radius can have the positive effect of focusing us on the little things—the vital few things and the need for gratitude.

Lesson: Stay Hopeful

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.” ―John Guare, Landscape of the Body

While focusing on the present is healthy, a good dose of hope for the future can also keep us going. It’s a balance. Getting stuck in the past or the present can be limiting but being exclusively focused on what’s coming next can undermine actions we can take today. Focus on today but stay hopeful for tomorrow.

Lesson: Reflect On Lessons Learned

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ―Søren Kierk

Perhaps the pandemic has caused us to slow down and be more mindful. Reducing all kinds of activities has provided the opportunity to get off the hamster wheel and be more focused. This more deliberate pace can be the opportunity for greater reflection and an intentional look at our priorities, aspirations and activities.

Lesson: Take Action

“The future depends on what you do today.” ―Unknown

“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.” ―Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” ―Unknown

Uncertainty and volatility can result in the desire to pause or pull back, but you’ll be well-served to avoid pandemic paralysis and keep moving forward. Raise your hand for the next project at work, start a volunteer group within your community or learn a new skill. When you keep moving forward, you’ll continue to learn and grow—and invest in the happiness of your future self.

Lesson: Embrace The Future

“The future is uncertain, but that can be a good thing.” ―Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places

“And the open road rolled out in front of us.” –Alexandra Bracken, In the Afterlight

The coronavirustime has been awful and we’re eager for it to end. But the future is full of possibility. It is ours to create and we can make a significant positive contribution to our future and the future of others if we learn, grow and act on all the lessons from a tough 2020.

Very best wishes from all the Team at Magenta.