This year is doing a pretty good job at teaching us that the things we thought were important really aren’t, and the stuff we often overlook or take for granted are absolutely vital. Let’s look at just seven of the unexpected things we learned to value this year.
Unexpected Things We Learned to Value This Year
Have you ever thought about how strange we humans are compared to the rest of the animal kingdom? No other creature places as much value on things as we do, often to the point of our own detriment. Giraffes don’t trample each other in a race to get the latest and greatest gaming system or deeply discounted flat screen TV. Koala bears don’t break into each other’s homes to steal sparkly jewelry. Elephants certainly don’t starve because they lack enough green paper to buy food.
We’re definitely unique when it comes to the things we value, that’s for sure. Yet, that’s all changing pretty quickly as we’re gripped by one of the scariest events of our lifetimes (and even of our parents’ & grandparents’ lifetimes). We’re showing the world that we’re capable of change, capable of learning and growing. It all begins with these unexpected things we learned to value.
1. Nurses, the true heroes in the medical community
We’ve always had a pretty healthy appreciation for doctors and surgeons. After all, they help keep us alive, right? Well, as we’re quickly learning, the nurses are the true heroes of the story. Don’t get me wrong, doctors are amazing, too! However, without nurses, hospitals wouldn’t even be able to run, let alone save lives.
It’s nurses who pay attention to your vital signs and call the doctor when things go south. Nurses who advocate for you when you’re too tired to advocate for yourself. Nurses who work non-stop for 12 hours or more, never resting even when all of their patients are fast asleep. It’s also nurses who sit by a loved one’s side when we can’t be there to do it ourselves. After this, we’ll never look at a nurse again without admiration in our eyes.
2. Experiences instead of things
We often tend to value things instead of experiences, but we’re quickly learning that all the expensive stuff in the world is meaningless when you can’t even use it. Expensive sports cars sit idle in garages while families spend more time taking walks together. Fancy jet skis gather dust in a corner as we learn to appreciate the simple feeling of sand between our toes. Even that fancy status-symbol handbag gets traded in for a practical backpack as we venture out into nature.
We’ve finally realized that we can surround ourselves with all the shiny objects in the world, but they don’t mean a thing compared to time spent with the people we love.
3. The peacefulness of alone time
Does anyone remember what it was like to spend the whole day home alone? Or heck, even just an hour? No? Me neither! Hey, we all love our families to pieces, and we’re definitely loving spending all this time together. Still, I don’t think we’ll ever undervalue those few moments of total alone time that we get once the kids go off to school, but before we start our own busy days.
On the flip side, we’re really learning how to embrace being alone as a family! Rather than always running around in different directions to different activities, we’re spending more and more time just bonding together. We’re eating dinners together, playing games, and talking to our kids more. So, we’ve learned to value both the peace and quiet of true alone time as well as the wonders of alone time with our families. Double win for us!
4. A simple walk in the park or on the beach
When you live minutes from the beach, you kind of start undervaluing it. It’s just always there, ready for a stroll through the sand or a quick dip through the waves. The same goes for those who live near beautiful parks, mountain trails, or other bits of nature. Then, something like this happens, our beaches and parks get closed, and we realize just how much they mean to us.
After this is all said and done, I don’t think we’ll ever undervalue these simple pleasures- or the freedom to enjoy them whenever we want- again.
5. The many people who work tirelessly to keep us fed and clothed
Let’s move on from the simple things we value as a family to the people we’ll never meet but who make such an impact in our lives. We’re learning just how important the unseen worker truly is. Before this, I bet the only time most of us heard the words “supply chain” was in an economics or business class. Now, we realize just how valuable every last part of it is.
From the farmer who grows our food to the truck driver who delivers it, as more and more links break off from the chain, we’re left realizing that without them, we can’t have any of the things we consider essential. A simple chicken dinner, a decent supply of toilet paper, even marshmallows for campfire s’mores all depend on people we never really think about. We’ll (hopefully) never again forget to appreciate them once this is over.
6. The healing power of laughter
You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine! I think we’ve definitely learned to value a good joke, a funny movie, or even a hilarious meme more now than ever before. When you’re faced with worries the size of mountains, a little laughter goes a long way towards relieving stress. Maybe that’s why all of the streaming services are highlighting their comedies instead of dramas.
I think we’re also learning the value of the people who bring us those laughs. I see a lot of memes about how this has proved that actors aren’t necessary. I beg to differ. While they’re definitely not as essential as nurses, farmers, and grocers, they do have value. They offer us a way to escape reality, even if just for an hour or two.
Most important of all, we’ve learned to value life, with all of its ups and downs. As much as we liked to believe we understood the value of life, this year has taught us that we never really understood the depth of our appreciation for it. We’ve learned that we need very little to survive. We’ve also learned just how much we value the lives of others, even total strangers. We do what’s right to keep our neighbors safe and rely on them to do the same for us.
As long as we have each other, we can get through. It’s something we’ve always said but never really tested. Now, we know, we’re capable of sacrifice, of compassion and empathy- all the things that prove just how much we truly value life.
From the big things to the small, from family and friends to strangers we’ll never meet, we’ve definitely learned to value some truly unexpected things this year. Let’s keep the learning going once it’s over and remember just how much we truly have.