Thank U [2020], Next

This year, I read The Art of Happiness by the 14th Dalai Lama (and Howard C. Cutler). To very much summarise the book, HH the Dalai Lama says the goal to achieving happiness is to really desire and achieve contentment. As I understood it, this does not mean living in a constant state of pleasure or joy toward every daily act or person we meet, nor does it mean being unbothered by life’s blows, never feeling anger or sadness. Rather, contentment is to want and feel grateful for what you already possess – appreciate what is in front of you – and focus on the present rather than yesterday’s troubles or tomorrow’s worries.

Gratitude is central to this. In a year of great difficulty and loss for so many, it may feel strange, even counter-intuitive to be thankful, but the more grateful we are for what we do have – and the more we express it – the easier and happier our lives become. I feel as though this is a good time of year to count all the things we might have overlooked, forgotten or taken for granted. This is not to forget our struggles or ignore the wide spectrum of emotions felt this year, but to help us achieve contentment through practicing gratitude. I encourage you to take a moment and write a thank you note to yourself for surviving. In no particular order, here’s mine:

Dear Rebekah,

Thank U, for:

  • Nurturing your close relationships; romantic, family and friends
  • Making the career move you wanted and securing a job
  • Re-organising your bedroom storage and kitchen cupboards
  • Meditating
  • Raising £557 for Jo’s Trust and using your platform to raise awareness for #EndChildFoodPoverty
  • Creating
  • Following COVID-19 rules and restrictions even when they were confusing or painful
  • Investing in therapy to help manage your anxiety and overcome personal trauma
  • Educating yourself on your privilege, whether explicit or implicit, and making a commitment to allyship and anti-racism
  • Showering
  • Reaching out to people online and creating new friendships and networks
  • Writing posts and leading talks on mental health at work
  • Buying a new houseplant
  • Listening to more playlists than ever before and discovering new artists
  • Trying new recipes and signing up to reduce food waste
  • Feeling all the emotions

You survived 2020.


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