I am one of those people who always try to see things from the best perspective possible. My sister has told me all of our lives that I see the world through rose-colored glasses.
It’s a response to a traumatic childhood that has helped me to thrive all these years. 2020 was a test on those rose-colored glasses for sure. I know that it has been an incredibly painful year for many people, and we have felt the pain in different ways.
Despite, or maybe it’s because of, all the agony the last year brought with it, there have been moments where humanity really shined.
These 20 inspiring moments were each accompanied by actual people doing amazing things. I sobbed while compiling these together for everyone who has really struggled this year, but I couldn’t help feel proud of my fellow humans.
We are a species that can survive so much, and we have this phenomenal power to inspire others when we are facing some of the hardest things imaginable. We can create change and our actions shape our future and our destiny.
Hopefully, these 20 most inspiring moments of 2020 will be the moments we carry with us into 2021.
#20 Record-breaking voter turnout
Regardless of whoever you supported in this election, the results spoke to how many people got involved in our democratic process to have their voices heard.
Just how many voices does it take to become the election in US history with the most votes cast? Well, according to James M. Lindsay 159,633,396 mailed in their votes, or showed up to vote early, or braved hours-long lines at polling places.
Campaigns that educated and encouraged people to vote led to many people I know, voting for the first time. Some were young, like my sister in her early 20s, and others were friends of mine in their 40s who have had enough.
It was especially inspiring because these first-time voters were also women. Now, don’t stop now. Vote in your local elections, and maybe even get involved in the process next time.
#19 Holiday moments are still magical
It was hard to find inspirational moments around the holidays with the restrictions necessary to keep us all safe. One woman, an author from Boston, Jessica Kantrowitz, drew a picture of herself at a table.
The table and space around it were empty, except for her stick figure and her rosemary lemon turkey. She asked people to respond and tell her what they ‘brought’ and then she drew them in, sharing the picture virtually.
One of the news stations was reading letters to Santa a few weeks ago. They all referenced COVID in a sad and childish, yet profound way. Some must have wondered if Santa was quarantined or sick. This question prompted Dr. Fauci to say that Santa is immune from COVID, to reassure kids around the country that he would still come.
#18 NASCAR earned the respect of many people that weren’t fans of the sport before
I’ve never watched a NASCAR race in my life. The closest thing to NASCAR I witnessed was Jeff Dunham’s skit with Bubba J!
However, amid the Black Lives Matter movement, NASCAR released a statement that said, “The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
This brought them backlash from their most devoted fan base, but the organization held firm.
#17 It’s been an exceptional year for pets
Back in March when I was furloughed from my job, my husband was working from home, and the kids were not going to in-person school, two members of our household could not have been happier.
Our two dogs suddenly had all this access to all the humans, and no one went anywhere! If you have a dog, then you know how they think you are leaving forever every time you go away.
We ventured out as a family for a daily walk at lunchtime and took them with us. The tons of memes and videos of people with their pets proved my cheerful dogs were not the only ones!
Pet adoptions are also on the rise in 2020 as more people prioritized their lives and sought companionship. Having the love of a pet in hard times is one of the best medicines for a weary soul.
#16 It reminded us that politics doesn’t have to be as divisive as what we have grown used to
The two candidates for Governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, and Chris Peterson, put together a joint ad, proving that people on opposite sides can still behave like decent human beings.
There was no fighting and name-calling. In the middle of a volatile election, it was a much-needed lesson for everyone to be reminded of.
#15 Full circle moments
I’m sure there were many moments that felt like life has come full circle for a lot of us this year. At the end of 2019, I started pursuing my passion for writing again.
By the time they furloughed me, I had been contemplating quitting my full-time job to pursue my dream of being a professional writer after 20 years of business and management. I felt like I had taken a long path around only to end up right where I was supposed to.
This unbelievable full circle moment experienced by former Police Officer Terrell Potter and a woman he had arrested eight years prior, Jocelynn James, reinforced my belief that the universe works in mysterious ways.
Jocelynn is a recovering addict that cleaned up her life after that arrest. She was also a donor match for the man that arrested her and desperately needed a kidney. What a powerful reminder of how things work out sometimes.
#14 The Supreme Court protected the LGBTQ+ community from job discrimination
While this was a law in many states, there was no federal level of protection for people who were fired from their jobs for being gay, or transgender.
Can you imagine being fired because of who you love? Yeah, I can’t either, so I’m relieved they got this right! I’m sad it took so long, but I’m hopeful for the future.
#13 The technology we take for granted kept us all connected
We walk around with computers that fit into our pockets and even though I am old enough to have dial-up for years; I take this for granted.
Yet this year programs like Zoom kept us working. It also enabled us to play games, like these mysteries from Whodunnit, with faraway family members.
FaceTime kept us connected in the moments we needed a little one-on-one time with the people we loved who couldn’t come to visit.
Netflix kept us entertained and buzzing with shows like the Tiger King, giving us a connection.
#12 People looked out for those struggling financially
I’ve seen so many ‘pay it forward moments,’ and other moments of generosity. When some NBA players paid the wages of the arena workers who were out of work because of canceled games, it gave me hope that we are not all greedy and selfish.
#11 Entertainers tried to keep out spirits up
Glen Phillips, lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket, has been playing music on his Facebook page. He and many other musicians have been giving us virtual concert material for months. Thank you! Former Reading Rainbow host, LeVar Burton, read stories live while we were mostly all quarantined.
#10 Countries sprang to action to help one another
When Italy was being especially hard hit by the pandemic, organizers from the Chinese Red Cross brought them around 30 tons of equipment.
When the Italian hospitals were overrun, Albania and Cuba sent a group of doctors and nurses. Many other countries, including the US, sent equipment or personnel as well.
#9 The need for PPE
At the beginning of this pandemic, when PPE was running low, we witnessed American resiliency at its finest. Distilleries began making hand sanitizer.
Companies pitched in, including David’s Bridal, who made thousands of cloth masks. Employees at Braskem America literally locked themselves in their facility and produced materials for PPE.
The moment that resonated with me was when a retired Kansas farmer whose wife had been sick, sent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a spare N95 mask and a heartfelt letter.
#8 People everywhere fought for racial equality with Black Lives Matter
Police brutality and systemic racial bias reached a boiling point when George Floyd was murdered. Anti-racist books, like White Fragility and How to be an Antiracist, topped the bestseller lists. Protests broke out all around the world.
Real reform has happened, but we have a lot more work to do. The most inspirational moment for me was when my then 16-year-old child went to the protest here in Billings, MT without me.
#7 Tributes paid to front-line hospital workers
Here in Billings, we howled out our windows or from our porches as part of the HOWL program for our health care workers. It was incredible to hear what sounded like a massive pack of wolves that could be heard around the city.
This idea really started in Italy, with Italians clanging pots and pans. New Yorkers hung out their windows and sang New York, New York, in solidarity.
#6 Videos of people recovered from COVID and leaving the hospital
Videos began surfacing of people who had been sick and hospitalized with COVID getting released while the doctors and nurses who took care of them cheered.
One especially moving moment was when a World War II veteran went home two days before his 104th birthday.
#5 Mom’s remind everyone about the power of love
One moment that made me tear up was when I read about a mom who opened up a bakery, Special Kneads Bakery, so her disabled son would have a job when he graduated high school.
We could all use a little more love like that in our lives, both giving it and getting it. The Black Lives Matter movement saw another type of motherly swell.
The wall of moms began in Portland when a group of predominantly suburban white women linked arms and held the line during protests. This group of women (usually the same group that is referred to as ‘Karens’) demonstrated that a mother’s love is not blinded by race.
#4 People were at their best
During a Black Lives Matter protest, a former white police officer was getting beaten up when he waded into a Black Lives Matter protest. Patrick Hutchinson, a black protestor, saw him and picked him up and carried him to safety.
Mailmen around the country showed kindness in extraordinary ways. A little three-year-old girl old who was quarantined would look for the mailmen out the window daily.
When he showed up, the pair would dance and giggle with one another through the window. ‘Mailmen Kyle’ delivered groceries and other essentials to people who needed help along his route.
Teachers leaped into action and adapted to assist their students. My son won an award, and the principal, teacher, and guidance counselor drove to our house to hand-deliver it (masked and staying 6 ft away). People have an incredible capacity for good.
#3 People have displayed incredible acts of bravery
People are also capable of acts of bravery that often go overlooked. 2020 began with firefighters fighting wildfires that ravaged Australia. Many of these were volunteer firefighters who lost their lives during the blaze.
One incredibly inspiring moment was captured in a picture of NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons pinning a medal on the chest of the 19-month-old son of fallen firefighter Geoffrey Keaton.
Other workers like retail employees and food workers bravely showed up despite panicked and angry customers and the risk of illness.
#2 The ‘Frontline Salute’
Frontline Salute was created to honor all frontline and essential workers including medical professionals, retail associates, truck drivers, and teachers. There are many variations of the salute itself: lines of people applauding, flyover ‘salutes,’ and even fireworks.
These humans put their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, on the line to take care of us and ours. They have worked tirelessly and deserve this and so much more.
#1 The youth of the world proves there is still hope
The youth of this world has given me so much hope for the future of our world. A 7-year-old boy felt the sadness of his teenager babysitter when her prom got canceled. So he threw her one.
Another kind-hearted 5th-grader collected food and messages for 100,000 people during Thanksgiving. My teenager and her friends protested and showed incredible strength and sense with all the loss they faced when COVID began. If they can do it, then so can we.
What moments inspired you during this tough year? Share anything that helped you make it through in the comment section below! Stay inspired and let’s hope the new year brings us all some joy.