2020: A Year of Visual Clarity

Posted by Kip Jones, Boys Town Press Author and School Counselor on Dec 7th 2020

For over 150 years, the phrase “20/20 vision” has been used to reference visual clarity or acuity. That’s from where the commonly used phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20” comes. And here we are winding down the year 2020, when so much is up in the air, it’s hard to look at this past year and think of anything as particularly clear. But if we look hard enough, we can see that 2020 has provided us with the opportunity to look clearly upon our own lives and self-reflect on things for which we should be thankful.

Anyone looking for peace during this anxiety-filled year should probably ask themselves one simple question: Why are you grateful? If you’re not sure, consider, are you thankful for your health? What about the health of your loved ones? Are you thankful for other things we often take for granted, such as a shelter over your head, food on the table? For some, knowing you have people in your life who you care about or who care about you is something to consciously appreciate. What could be more priceless during the year of Covid-19? So why don’t we just go ahead and raise our “gratitude game” so that we feel happier during these unsettled times? My momma always used to tell me, “It’s impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time.” I had no idea how right she was!

So why does gratitude elude us? For most of us, it’s human nature to ruminate on things that are broken instead of looking at all the positive things we have working for us. Embracing gratitude probably sounds impossible when you’re worried about your monthly bills, the possibility of losing your job, or the uncertain health of you or your loved ones. But human life is always going to be uncertain no matter what the year is or in which chapter of life we are living. Through this year of pandemic and unpredictable future lies a realization: All we have is now. Minute by minute, I’m recognizing that gratitude is a choice — and a challenging one in a world in which fear, anxiety, and frustration are constantly looming and contributing to concerns about our mental health. For me, I try to remember one of the poetic verses in the book of Psalm (118:24) which suggests, “This is the day that the Lord has made.” Why not try to “rejoice and be glad in it?” Even if you’re not a religious or spiritual person, the message from this Psalm is still a good one: Choose joy! Choosing joy over anxiety and fear whenever possible doesn’t just seem sensible — it’s healthy. Being grateful has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and to boost immunity. Why would you not want that, especially during these uncertain times?

Living life’s ups and downs is like bobbing in gigantic waves in the ocean. When fear and uncertainty pull you beneath the surface, you must force your head above water until another wave engulfs you, lifting you up and then pulling you back under, so often that one wonders, when is this going to end? That’s when you have to remember all that you are grateful for in the ups and downs of life. If you keep riding the waves, it eventually takes you to the shore. And that is where you can always plant your feet on the solid ground of gratitude.