“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” – Fred Rogers
While 2020 has felt like a long, strange “fever dream”, to quote one of our staff members, there were lots of positive solutions to be found. Whether it was advances in medicine, community outreach during the pandemic, or advice on how to care for your houseplants, The Optimist Daily had plenty to share and lots of excited readers.
We could write our entire ‘Best of 2020’ Optimist View on houseplant articles alone (that’s how much readers enjoyed learning about their green leafy friends), but there is so much more to cherish and appreciate from this year. Have a look at what you read the most this year and please relax and enjoy your holiday break – we know we will!
Restore Your Faith in Humanity
To start, we will highlight our top human interest stories for the year – some of the most positive stories of accomplishment and compassion from a year in which society took a pause.
In January, we reported on a 17-year-old NASA intern who discovered a new planet – on his third day on the job. Wolf Cukier was tasked with another project when he noticed a planet 6.9 times bigger than Earth orbiting around two stars.
On the other side of the world, Kamal Singh, the son of a Delhi rickshaw driver, realized a four year long dream and became one of the first Indian students to be admitted into the famous English National Ballet school. After a long road of struggling to pay dance class fees, a 2 ½ hour commute to dance school, and the Covid-19 pandemic, Singh boarded a flight to London to chase his dream.
There were also many positive stories surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and global lockdown. The official Little Free Libraries program, which started in 2009, saw many San Francisco residents filling the small stations with food, soap, and much sought after rolls of toilet paper. The little libraries are a perfect solution for giving out goods, while social distancing, to neighbors in need.
And on a larger community scale, a GoFundMe campaign set up to raise money to support the hard hit Navajo Nation received several donations inspired by the Great Famine in Ireland when, in 1847, the Native American tribe Choctaw Nation provided $170 (equivalent to $5,000 today) of relief aid to Irish people.
While humans took to the indoors and activity came to a halt, nature made a bit of a comeback and we saw many animals thrive in ways they hadn’t in years.
The ocean in particular saw a resurgence of life and activity, with turtles, whales, and sharks reemerging and recovering in amazing ways. Seeing these creatures grow in numbers or resurface after many years of not being seen gives us hope that our global society can ultimately help our environment thrive again.
On land, grizzly bear “399” emerged after another winter in Grand Teton park and remains one of the oldest grizzlies outside of a zoo. Aged 24, she has also continued having cubs to a venerable age, becoming a poster child for the recovery of bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
Environmental solutions were some of our most read and most adored stories this year. We have been happy to share articles about innovative new ways to preserve our planet and help undo some past damage.
Solar-powered barges were a huge hit this year. A nonprofit called The Ocean Cleanup has done so much to take on plastic pollution around the globe, including placing large water vessels in different rivers to help scoop out waste that floats downstream. The Ocean Cleanup is well aware that 80 percent of plastic waste that ends up in the sea floats down just 1,000 rivers worldwide and that’s why the nonprofit has an ambitious target of stationing one trash-collecting barge in waterways around the world.
If you’re wondering what you can do as an individual to make an impact on the environment, consider planting a clover lawn; they grow easily, and they don’t need as much water as grass, they don’t need fertilizer or herbicide, and when they reach a certain height they stop growing, so you don’t have to cut them. Clovers also make the soil healthier.
Another option is switching to an electric powered vehicle (EV). One concern with these modes of transportation is that they don’t rank well in longevity – about 200,000 miles is the most an EV can drive. But if a flurry of recent reports is to be believed, EVs may soon surge ahead in this long-distance competition — not by mere thousands of miles, but by 800,000. “Million-mile” EV batteries are imminent.
And if you need some hope that progress can be made, look to the world’s largest trash dump – which is now a green oasis on Staten Island. Over the course of 20 years, the parks and sanitation departments worked together with Field Operations to restore tidal wetlands, generate forests, and grow scrublands and wide-open fields of grasses.
Health & Wellness
When it came to health in 2020, studies were key. Whether it was drinking caffeine to lower your diabetes risk or using psilocybin as an alternative treatment for major depressive disorder, there are many interesting and innovative ways to incorporate healthy habits into your life going into the new year.
Some simpler and more established ideas to boost your health include lowering your blood pressure naturally through diet and de-stressing, and drinking lemon water in the morning to hydrate, boost immunity, and reduce bloating.
2020 was the year to recenter yourself, come back to your roots, and move forward with healthier and happier habits.
Stay Busy, Stay Happy
We couldn’t write a ‘Best of 2020’ article without talking about houseplants. We wrote many articles about how to keep your leafy plant friends happy, but the two most popular told us why we should take our new houseplants out of their plastic pots…ASAP…and how coffee grounds can perk up your plants! If we have learned anything from our houseplant advice, it’s that the tiniest of suggestions can make all the difference in the world in your plant’s mood. With more of us staying home this year than ever before, adding some greenery to the house can make all the difference in the world.
If plants aren’t your style, maybe some simple lifestyle hacks will help you boost your mood and be happier in tough times. Small adjustments in your daily life can help put you in a better mood throughout the day and make 2021 a bit easier to get through.
And finally, as we head back indoors (either for a cold winter, another lockdown, or both), try this easy method for making your own baking yeast at home. Whether you generally bake more around the holidays or are trying a new hobby, this can be a nifty trick to take your next homemade loaf to a new level.
We can’t express enough how grateful we are for all of our readers and your support through the strangest year ever. We look forward to 2021 and another year of positive solutions to share with the world. Thank you so much and happy holidays!