Thanks, 2020 …

No, really!

You probably expect this to be a sarcastic piece about how unfortunate 2020 was. And you might be right — it’s hard to look at this year as a lesson in silver linings or a glass-half-full experience. Still, there is something about this crappy year that is giving me a “gratitude attitude.”

Maybe it’s because, as humans, we are fueled by finding motivation and purpose and positivity. Maybe it is because I have seen people, communities and companies really come together and rise above the muck. Don’t get me wrong, 2020 has had its epically awful moments — and one punctuated with loss for me, personally — but maybe it’s all about our perspective. Sometimes we are fast-forwarding through life that we forget to press “pause” and see how far we have come.

Pause, reflect and feel inspired.

Recently, I saw two different articles that made me pause and gave me life.

Did you read about how these Norwegian designers used design to help treat an opioid overdose? According to this article, their drug is housed in a green ergonomically shaped plastic case. It’s wrapped with a rubber band to prevent accidental opening, almost like an emergency pin, reminding the user of what they’re about to do: Save a life. It looks more like an earbud case than a drug-delivery device. That was on purpose. The case makes it easy to spot in the bottom of a bag, comfortable to hold and difficult to discharge accidentally. Fantastic. Inspiring. Designed to save lives. More of that, please.

Or did you read this one about Kathrin Jansen, the science mastermind behind the potential Pfizer vaccine? Ninety-five percent efficacy in clinical trials? It might be too early to declare it as a light at the end of the tunnel, but man, it’s a sorely needed flashlight in a dark cave right now.

Scratch that curiosity itch.

These people aren’t just geniuses, they are curious. They are the people who just can’t help but scratch at their intellectual itches. The curiosity is both conscious and subconscious — all-consuming, all the time. They are constantly curious. They say “what if” and “I wonder,” and sometimes it results in ideas that improve lives or even save them. Let’s celebrate that. Let’s copy it. Let’s take it to heart and make it our own. Let’s learn to notice and be thankful for all that’s good and cling to the hope of others who are achieving new things and inspiring us all over again.

Not all successes are epic. All must be celebrated.

Big progress can come in giant leaps or many small steps. On a much more local level, I was reflecting this week on a particular team at work and how much they had accomplished in six months: just a few people at the heart of the team, but volumes of work, ideas and results. How often do you actually pause to celebrate the hard work, say “thank you” or even a “damn, you’re good?” Admittedly, I consider myself pretty good about it, but even I don’t do it enough. It doesn’t have to be a huge invention or product launch. It can be a new idea, a risk taken or just a finely executed plan ahead of schedule or under budget. Revel in all of it.

A challenge for us all.

So let’s all commit to pause more. Let’s commit to noticing goodness, be it our own personal wins or the collective hope of the entire planet. Then let’s commit to saying “thank you” more. Let’s say it in words, in writing and in actions.

Even this year.

Maybe especially this year. Let my hope give you hope. Thank you, 2020, for making us stronger even when we are at our weakest. Thank you, 2020, for making us more connected when we are so very distanced. Thank you, 2020, for helping us appreciate the little things we had in the past that maybe weren’t so little and we hope to have again someday. Thank you, 2020, for being the very unwelcome guest who might have made us change the locks but also look at life very differently.

About the Author

Allison Madell’s career has specialized in food communications, with a focus on food commodities and producer marketing programs. She has created strategic integrated marketing campaigns for high-profile commodity accounts, including The Incredible, Edible Egg; the National Pork Board; The Mushroom Council; and Got Milk?  ​

At Bader Rutter, Allison led the teams that developed breakthrough content for Corteva Corporate Communications, including the “millennial moms” blog, Plate-wise and the popular podcast: The Growing Debate. Bringing narratives to life through dimensionalized and differentiated content is what makes her happiest.​

After work, you’ll most likely find her on her spin bike or cooking for friends and family.​