I briefly caught some of the Republican Presidential Debate recently and it didn’t take long for my faith in humanity to begin disintegrating. The rhetoric, the backwards logic, the blatant celebration of misinformation. It was enough to cause permanent damage to anyone’s day. And, of course, the news is no help. You merely have to turn on the evening news for a minute or two and you’ll be inundated with information that’s intended to frighten us. The fact is, if we’re not careful, we could risk letting things like this ruin our sense of optimism and carry us down into a pit of negativity, agony and despair.
Fact: Fearful people are easily manipulated.
Whether it’s trying to get you to vote a certain way, keep watching a particular TV channel, buy a product or keep giving money to your church or another charity, when we’re told that things are inherently bad, dangerous or catastrophic, we tend to pay closer attention and, disturbingly, invest greater trust in those who are telling us how horrible everything is. Negativity is a much more powerful and persuasive emotion than positivity.
What if I told you that global poverty had fallen to its lowest rate on record? Well, it’s true. In fact, it was just revealed that the amount of people living in poverty around the world decreased by 200 million since 2012.
Or how about the fact that violent crime has dropped in the United States to its lowest rate since 1978? You can read about it here.
Diseases that would kill millions of men, women and children a 100 years ago are easily prevented today with a simple innoculation. That’s pretty fantastic.
These are just a few examples of something to be thankful for. Does it mean that everything is great and there’s nothing out there to worry about or be concerned over? Absolutely not. 9 percent of the globe is still in extreme poverty and crime still happens, maybe in our own neighborhoods. But things are getting better and that’s one thing they’ll never tell you when they want to keep you afraid.
I consider myself an optimistic person and it’s not only because of these facts cited above. In fact, it has nothing to do with it. I’m optimistic because I realize I have a finite amount of emotional and spiritual energy to expend. Why on earth would I devote that energy, that precious personal resource, to fostering despair?
What good would come of it?
Think: negativity is very insular. When we become negative, fearful, etc, we seek isolation. We want distance and protection from whatever it is that is out to get us. We are rendered incompetent to affect any positive change on the world. Conversely, when we’re optimistic and positive, we are far more likely to be open, accepting and embracing. A kind of trust comes from dropping our suspicions about others’ motives.
Being optimistic will not make all of the bad stuff go away. And there’s certainly a lot of bad stuff still out there. But how much should we allow it to fundamentally alter our own sense of happiness? That’s the question.
If the world will get better, it’ll be because we believe it can. And because we abide in love and hope!