We learned a lot about what it means to be human in 2020. We learned that we need connection, but also that we can adapt well to unexpected crises. We learned that we can come together for a cause, or be drastically divided by one. We learned that each and every one of us has our own battles to face, and that we all need support and kindness to thrive. It was a tough year, made more so by the fact that, when things are at their most challenging, we often become defensive and self-centred – fleeing the sources of our anxiety and lashing out against them. Perhaps, in 2021, we can learn to be better at handling difficulty, and supporting each other through the crises we’ll inevitably face. Here are few points you can add to your resolutions list in order to be a better human in 2021.
Become a vegetarian
Let’s not forget that our unhealthy and abusive relationship with non-human animals is what landed us in the worst pandemic for a century in the first place. If going cold-(imitation) turkey is too much for you, you can be a part-time vegetarian, or a Monday-Friday vegan. Simply reducing your intake of animal by-products will result in enormous benefits to your health and the environment.
In his Ted talk, journalist Graham Hill explains that “Cutting [meat] five days a week is cutting 70 percent of your meat intake”.
“My footprint’s smaller, I’m lessening pollution, I feel better about the animals, I’m even saving money. Best of all, I’m healthier, I know that I’m going to live longer, and I’ve even lost a little weight.”
This is one of the simplest changes you can make to your lifestyle in order to live more mindfully, and promote a kindness mindset. If you need ideas about what to cook, keep an eye on our Essential Kitchen section, as we’ll keep updating you with some of our favourite plant-based recipes!
Appreciate essential workers
It’s hard to take care of somebody, even if they’re family. Heck, sometimes it even feels like work to take proper care of oneself! Now imagine having to take care of someone you barely know. That’s what healthcare workers, home aides, nannies and their ilk have to do on a daily basis. These workers, who are often paid far less than they deserve for the hard work they do, are often overlooked and under-appreciated, if not taken for granted entirely.
2020 taught us that these essential workers that we’ve been ignoring for too long are the ones who keep the world spinning, and keep our loved ones safe and healthy. Without them, life would be even harder than it was over the last year.
In 2021, make it your mission to ask yourself “who are the people working hard so that I can go out and do all the things that I do every day?”.
Show some extra appreciation for the domestic worker who tackles your messy home so that you have more time to focus on other tasks. Think about all the transit workers and sanitation staff who spend long hours helping to maintain an environment for your comfort and convenience. Respect each and every grocery store clerk and delivery person who helped keep you well-fed during the pandemic. Where possible, support better working and living conditions for them. Let that kindness dictate your actions towards each and every person you encounter in 2021.
Work on your Racial Literacy
This one should really be a resolution for every year, since the issues that underly our racial biases run deep, and are plentiful. Really, improving your racial literacy and doing your part to deconstruct racism is a task that will never be fully complete, as there’s always more to learn.
So often we’re not even aware of our misconceptions and biases, so in order to uncover them, make a point of engaging with people from different backgrounds, who have had different experiences. Learning to understand (a little more at least) and appreciate their cultures, histories and languages will help to chip away at your preconceptions, and expose you to points of view you may not have considered otherwise.
Also use this year to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to engage in meaningful dialogue about the issues that, though longstanding, were so highlighted in 2020. develop the tools you need to become an ally, and advocate, and to ease the suffering of those who have been repeatedly silenced by the racist structures embedded in our societies.
Ask questions, and don’t leap to conclusions or make judgements based on what your cultural upbringing may have taught you. Krishna Mann, writing for Ted recommends, that we “stop consuming media sources that traffic in negative stereotypes and narratives, and if friends, family members or coworkers share distorted accounts without any context, kindly set them straight”.
This should be at the top of your resolutions list if you’re aiming to become a better person in 2021.
Be sensitive and curious
It’s not just racial biases that need tackling in 2021. Make this your year to be thoughtful, considerate, and empathetic to every person you meet who’s different from you.
Ask questions – respectfully, of course – and learn more about lifestyles and orientations that differ from yours. You will without a doubt realise that although our lifestyle’s may look different on the outside, we all seek the same things – compassion, security, appreciation. reserve your judgement until you’ve taken the time to understand and get to know the people you encounter.
Mann writes that “Educating others is work, and we shouldn’t expect people – particularly people in underrepresented groups – to do it for us. But when they are generous enough to do so, we should take their instruction as a gift and build on it”.
Vote with your wallet
It can feel good to buy cheap, mass produced clothing and come out feeling like we’ve gotten a bargain. But anyone who’s spent time making clothing knows that it takes a lot of time and patience. In 2021, make a habit of choosing the products you buy – whether it be to wear, ingest, or consume in other ways – consciously, and with mindfulness.
Buying from a company is akin to investing in that company, and if the company you’re investing in doesn’t align with your personal values, it might be time to reevaluate where you shop.
We may not always be able to control what the government does with our taxes – although we do have a say – but we can take it upon ourselves in this new year to ensure that we don’t give our hard-earned cash to organisations who don’t deserve it. If you buy from big retailers, try to find out more about how they treat their workers, and what their manufacturing processes look lie, before you endorse them by giving them your money. Where possible, aim to support companies who are doing good for the world, and not causing harm.
Let the kindness come full circle in 2021
Finally, remember that while you strive to live a kinder life in 2021 you also extend that kindness to yourself. You’re not always going to be able to achieve everything you want to, and that’s ok. Sometimes you’ll fail, you’ll feel burnt out, or anxious, and that’s fine too. Treat yourself with the same compassion and care that you would anybody else.
As you become a better human in 2021, keep in mind that that kindness breeds more kindness, and starting with yourself could be a baby step you need in order to share that kindness with everybody else.
As we continue to roll into the new year, it’s the perfect time to reset and restart. We can give ourselves the chance to let go of the past, and move forward towards a future that we construct. Here’s to grabbing this brand new opportunity, and every opportunity that comes after it, to be a better human in 2021.