Saturday 20 March is the International Day of Happiness.
After the challenges of 2020, we could all use something to make us feel a little more cheerful. Yet, despite doom and gloom dominating the headlines, there are reasons to be optimistic about this year and the future. Here are just five reasons to smile.
1. The vaccine programme is rolling out
It might not seem like it now in a third national lockdown, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting nearer.
Almost a year since the first lockdown began, the situation has changed hugely. Several vaccines have been developed and a programme to vaccinate the most vulnerable is being rolled out across the UK. To do this in just a year is a massive achievement and demonstrates what can be done when various organisations and people work together. Over the coming months, more people will be vaccinated, offering us a chance of normality.
It’s expected that most of the adult population, some 21 million people, will have received the vaccine by autumn. Hopefully, it means we can celebrate the 2021 festive period in a very different way to last year when strict social distancing rules were in place. We all hope that soon we will be able to visit family, enjoy days out, and catch up with friends.
2. Covid-19 has brought communities together
While Covid-19 has meant spending time apart physically. It has brought communities together in other ways. Amongst the negative headlines, there have been positive ones too.
From neighbours taking time out of their day to check on each other to networks of people ensuring that the vulnerable receive shopping delivered to their home, it’s served as a reminder that we are part of a wider community, something that’s easy to forget when we’re going about our day-to-day lives.
The pandemic also put a spotlight on those raising money for charity and the creativity of coming up with challenges and events. Of course, when it comes to fundraising, the hero of 2020 was the late Captain Tom Moore who raised a staggering £32 million when celebrating his 100th birthday by doing laps of his garden.
3. We appreciate our green spaces more
There has been a growing focus on the natural world as topics like climate change and biodiversity rise up the agenda. However, the events of 2020 have meant many of us appreciate the environment far more on a personal level too.
With lockdown limiting social contact and how often we could go out, heading outdoors for fresh air and exercise became part of daily routines for millions of people. It means you may have explored your local area far more than you have before. Green spaces close to our homes have become a valuable part of our lives and are appreciated far more. It’s a move that could boost overall wellbeing and support the wider environment.
4. Health and wellbeing are becoming priorities
Covid-19 has been a stark reminder of the importance of health and taking care of ourselves. While the pandemic has led to a tragic loss of life, it can hopefully mean that improvements are made and health is a priority. During the first months of lockdown, families stood on doorsteps to clap for the NHS and the hard work of the staff during the pandemic. With a renewed gratitude for the NHS and all that it does, health could improve across generations.
It’s not just our physical health that’s set to benefit either. Last year led to more open discussions about mental health and overall wellbeing. It’s a step that could remove the stigma of mental health problems, encourage people to share, and lead to better care.
5. There are signs of an economic recovery
Much like the end of lockdown, a recovered economy can seem a long way off. But there are signs there that provide some hope. While things do remain uncertain, predictions suggest that the recovery will come. During a speech in November 2020, chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted that GDP would grow 5.5% in 2021 and 6.6% in 2022, when it will reach pre-pandemic levels. It’s a long road to recovery, but we are on the right track.
The volatility and uncertainty of 2020 aren’t completely behind us. Remember that your financial plan was built with short-term volatility in mind and with your goals driving decisions. Historically, markets do recover.
We’d love to hear your reasons for being optimistic too.