My 2020 Vision

A year from today, may we look back and say, “We’ve made the world a kinder place … together.”

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions in the traditional sense. I prefer to think about the year ahead and what I hope will be different at its end, and then set some intentions to help bring about that change. That’s how this blog was born five years ago, and ultimately how the book, A Year of Living Kindly, came into being.

This year, as I ponder the year ahead, I think about our planet, our values, and our interactions with one another. I think about the epidemic of incivility now swirling around us, and the pandemic it will likely become in the contentious months ahead.

I want to “be the change,” as Gandhi counseled. To do that, I’m recognizing that I need to step up my kindness. I need to:

Pay attention: I want to become better at noticing where my kindness is needed and acknowledging the kindnesses all around me. When I am fully present for my life, I am choosing who I want to be and how I can live my values.

Pause: I need to remember to pause before responding to impolite comments, bad behavior, or perceived slights: In that pause, I can withhold judgment, extend the benefit of the doubt, choose to remain silent, or formulate a thoughtful response. The pause offers me the gift of grace.

Listen generously; think critically: I want to listen to understand. I recently encountered the notion of thinking like a scientist, rather than an attorney. When we think like a scientist, we base our beliefs on evidence—seeking valid and comprehensive information to give us a full picture. Most of us think like attorneys: we decide in advance what we believe and then seek the facts to make our case. We often discard or discount information that doesn’t support our position—or we simply refuse to see it. Changing our way of thinking may remove our blinders.

Exercise courage: Kindness isn’t always easy or safe. I need to more readily stretch beyond my comfort zone to offer my kindness where it is needed. That may mean speaking up when others stay silent, or standing up when others stay seated. It may mean having good intentions but executing them clumsily. It may mean putting myself out there. It means taking a risk and being vulnerable. The world needs to us be willing to be vulnerable.

Curiosity: If I can engage my curiosity more consistently, I may be able to see past unkind words or distressing behaviors. Maybe something else is happening in a person’s life that has caused them to behave badly. Maybe there’s more to learn here. Curiosity leads to a desire to understand … which leads to a desire to help … which leads to kindness.

Practice: Very few skills come to us fully developed. They take practice. There are times when, despite my best intentions, I will fall short. Whether it’s pausing, paying attention, or knowing the right words to say at the right moment, I will occasionally fail. Rather than berating myself for failure, I hope I will redouble my efforts and my commitment to practice, knowing that with steady practice, kindness can become both intentional and instinctive—and that’s when magic happens.

As we enter a year in which we will face challenges and choices that both define us and determine our future, I hope we will choose kindness—even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

May we put to use all the we have learned in 2019 to make 2020 a kinder, better year.

27 thoughts on “My 2020 Vision

  1. I’ve been waiting for months to do a similarly themed post with the same title. Ah, well, you beat me to it, Donna. I may still use the title, but I promise my vision list will be different. Happy New Year!

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  2. I love your positive vision for the coming year, Donna, and the sensibility of each step on the path to a kinder tomorrow. The practice of each step is a reward unto itself.

    Just for the rather curmudgeonly fun of it: Did you seen Dave Barry’s Year in Review? He wraps it up with “…in the end, despite our political differences, we’re all Americans, and we care about each other and want the best possible future for everyone. Right?…Nah….But happy new year anyway.”
    Happy New Year, anyway, Donna 🙂 May a great, unstoppable epidemic of kindness spread throughout the world! xox

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    • Yes! I loved Dave Barry’s Year in Review. He manages to encapsulate all the craziness into one big box of crazy. It was a year in which the actual was far more absurd than any fictions. It must be hard to write humor these days, when the daily news is so rife with stories so ludicrous they would never be believed. Hope you and Paul (and Stella) have a fabulous New Year. I’ll look forward to seeing you in it.

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  3. Pingback: Onward from 2019: Learnings and Intentions | Healing Through Connection

  4. Excellent and encouraging post Donna! I particularly like your reminder to “Exercise Courage” and if we did this we could overcome the ‘bystander effect’ in bullying, where people stand by and leave others to do what they know should be done! Hopefully more people will have the courage to exercise their courage!

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    • Thanks, Marie. You’re so right that it takes courage to move from bystanding to speaking out when we see someone being bullied. If just one person is brave enough to do it, usually others will follow. Let’s hope we see an abundance of that kind of courage in the year ahead.

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      • For sure Donna, let’s hope! It starts with just one and as you’ve said maybe we can try a little harder to be that one. We can look for opportunities to step into our courage and make a difference, no matter how small.

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