S2E4 31 December 2020

Gratitude

In this virtuous mini-season, we're exploring how we can grow together in an environment that drives us apart. This week: The virtue of gratitude.

As we're getting ready to wrap up the year,
we're also wrapping up this mini-season. The Virtues of a Pandemic explores four ways in which we can calm our anxieties, and remind us that we might be isolating, but we're never alone. If you missed the start of this season, now's the perfect time to go back and catch up from Virtue #1 - Shared Truth.

Content note: This episodes acknowledges good and bad events that happened this year, if that's triggering to you, maybe skip this episode.

And now, on with the show.


We'll end this mini season the way we started it, by looking back.

Find yourself a comfortable seat and if it feels good, allow your eyes to close. Take a deep breath in, and a long breath out. Notice if you could be a bit more comfortable. Allow the shoulders to drop and the jaw to soften.

Take another deep breath in, open your mouth and let it all sigh out.

Now, let's go on our journey. We'll start back in January 2020 and mentally walk through the year.

January Harry and Meghan leave the Royal family. Wuhan goes into lockdown. Picture yourself last January. What were your intentions for the year ahead? Who is with you?

February Australia still battles with wildfires. Harvey Weinstein is sentenced to prison. Picture yourself in February. Where are you? Who is with you?

March Lockdowns start all over the world. Toilet paper sells out everywhere. We clapped and sang from our balconies. Picture yourself in March. Where are you? Who is with you? Physically, or over the internet.

April Sweden goes 100% coal-free. Many of us discover home workouts on Zoom. Picture yourself in April. Where are you? Who is with you?

May George Floyd is murdered by US police. Malawi has historic re-run of a rigged election. Picture yourself in May. Where are you? Who is with you? Who are you missing?

June The Black Lives Matter movement spreads across the world. New Zealand is Covid-free for most of the month. Picture yourself in June. Where are you? Who is with you?

July China takes closer control of Hong Kong. Staycation - we explore our neighborhoods and countries as tourists. Picture yourself in July. Where are you? Who is with you?

August Huge Wildfires sweep across California. Protests in Belarus following a corrupted election. Picture yourself in August. Where are you? Who is with you? Who are you missing?

September US Supreme Justice and trailblazer for gender-equality, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dies at the age of 87. Picture yourself in September. Where are you? Who is with you?

October 14-year-old Anika Chebrolu discovers a molecule that could lead to a cure for the coronavirus. Taiwan hits 200 days without Covid. Picture yourself in October. Where are you? Who is with you?

November Victor Glover becomes the first Black astronaut to stay at the ISS. Bolivia and the US both elect a new President from the political left. Picture yourself in November. Where are you? Who is with you?

December The first Covid vaccines start to roll out. Xmas is a bit different this year. Picture yourself in December. Where are you? Who is with you? Who are you missing?

Take a moment to notice all the people, the faces and voices that came up as you walked through the year. In your own way, give thanks to the folks who went though 2020 with you. Maybe give them a little smile.

Then slowly take a last deep breath in, feel it expand your belly and chest. Allow the exhale to soften your body.

And whenever you're ready, flicker your eyes open.


2020 was a challenge in many ways. Many of us experienced our first Xmas over video calls this year. Hugs and kisses were missed.

Now, we're looking back over the past months and setting intentions for the new year. The saying "New year, new you" seems even more prevalent now that we have such a hard year behind us.

There are two perspectives we can take as we reflect on the past year and set intentions for the next one.

There's the perspective of scarcity, entitlement and greed coupled with this idea that we're not good enough and we need to better ourselves.

If we read the news, we learn that billionaires made record profits this year, corrupt politicians abused the state of emergency to grow their power and wealth, and systemic injustices are to be found all over the place. The pandemic is possibly the biggest global experiment in crowd control, economic down-regulation and reduction in personal freedoms.

But we're also bending the lockdown rules for our own benefit, while we shame others who do the same.

And every time we order a cheap, short-lived item on Amazon, we most probably exploited the people who made it, and gave more money to the richest person on earth.

It can be overwhelming to focus on what we would like to see in the world and see the huge gap between our ideal and the current reality. Especially when we're locked inside with minimal social interaction.

A dream of a better world can quickly turn into this overwhelming existential threat.

Which leads us to the alternative perspective to look at the world. One of gratitude and restraint.

As we discovered last week, we all achieved so much this year. But it might be less tangible, less stuff and entertainment, more personal growth.

We connected, learned, tried new things. This year we became painfully aware how fragile our society is and how together we can change things. From systemic inequality to our environment - sitting at home isolating gave us time to reconnect with these issues and move on together.

Without the distractions of crowded places, travel and parties, we had the opportunity to make deep connections. Maybe you spent a lot of time with yourself. But chances are that you also reached out to more people, more often.

It's in these moments where we realize that the rush of a like might last a second, the excitement of that new gadget a day or maybe a week. But an honest conversation, a shared meal or that new side project you started - these moments nourish us for the long term.

That connection we're longing for, that feeling of being valued - it's all there. But it's not something we can order, it's something we share. And it usually starts with you offering something. Giving something away. A simple text message, a phone call, an invitation.

So when we think about the world, how can we get more aware of that balance of greed vs gratefulness, entitlement vs restraint?

So to wrap up 2020 I invite you to come on a journey with me.

First, write down the names of any people that came up during the intro meditation. Who was there with you this year? Physically, or digitally.

Then, take out your phone, open your photos app and scroll back to January 1st 2020. Scroll back through your own memories. Day by day. Month by month. And take note of the people and moments you're grateful for.

In your notebook write down the names of people who were there with you in those moments. Physically or maybe over the internet. Take your time. Maybe you scroll through your messages too.

At the end read through your list of moments and people you're grateful for in 2020.

That's it. If you want to go deeper, look back over your gratitude list and see if you can find themes that keep repeating. What made you the happiest? What's most important to you? Is there an intention you can take into the new year?


This was the last episode of our mini season, The Virtues of a Pandemic. If you missed the previous episodes, now is a great time to go back and listen to all four episodes of the season, or even dive deeper into the feed. A quick pause is taking another pause and we'll be back with a new season next year.

Thank you so much for listening, and thank you to everyone who made this show possible. You all made my year!

I'm Jonas Haefele and this was a Quick Pause.


Words and Concept by Jonas Haefele.

A Quick Pause is a production by slow.works

Additional music by enrique27naveda from Pixabay