It’s a wonderful world: Why are we scared?
How often do you hear people talking about the troubles in the world or referring to ways it’s all going to hell in a handbasket?
If we turn on the nightly news we’re more than likely to hear horror stories about death and destruction; hate and horror; misery and murderous machinations.
And sadly, these things do happen. There’s no doubt there are bad people doing bad things; there’s no doubt there are troubles in the world; and here at home.
But there’s also no doubt that many wonderful things happen, each and every day; good people do good things all the time but unfortunately we don’t hear as much about them.
I’m not in any way suggesting we live in a “perfect” world but what I do want to invite you to think about today is that we may well be living in a wonderful world; a world far more marvelous and inspiring than many of us realise.
If, for example, you head on over to a fabulous website called Our World in Data you might be surprised to learn that on pretty much every measure, the world is a better place now than it has been in previous years and decades.
There are significantly fewer deaths by war; more and more people living in democracy; income inequality has been reduced; poverty is declining faster than at any other time in history; life expectancy has massively increased; health inequality has massively decreased; and child mortality is markedly down. And that’s just to list a few of the many surprising findings listed on this credible website.
So why do we feel so afraid and upset when we should be feeling satisfied and optimistic?
Well, I think there are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, our media agencies tend to focus more on what’s going wrong; on the negatives of life. I don’t blame them for this, it’s just the way it is. But we need to recognise it for what it is and understand that although those things do happen, they’re massively over-represented online and on TV. So although there is “bad” in the world, there’s not as much bad as we’re often led to believe (if you haven’t already done so, go and look at that website to which I referred earlier in this article).
Another question I’m often confronted with, and one that I must admit I even ask myself at times, goes something like – can or should we feel good when there’s still bad in the world? My response is, it’s OK and admirable to empathise with people who’re suffering and to experience negative emotions when hearing about tragic events but allowing negative news to bring us down doesn’t really achieve anything. In contrast, focusing on solutions and creating hope and optimism by doing what we can is more likely to benefit everyone involved, including ourselves.
Finally, if we’re going to be realistic about the world as it is then let’s realistically consider good news just as much as we consume bad news. If the major media outlets won’t provide this for us, then we need to seek it out for ourselves. And thankfully, the internet makes this a lot easier to do than would have been possible in the past. One of the best websites, for example, is quite simply called The Good News Network and it fills its pages with inspirational content to lighten the heart and motivate the spirit.
Why is this important?
Because we know that happy people focus more on what they have and less on what they don’t have; they focus more on what’s going well and less on what’s not going so well. And as a result, in addition to feeling happier they’re also more altruistic, more generous, more collaborative, friendly and better citizens.
So focusing more on the good in the world will ultimately make for more good in the world!
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