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Things are not as bad as we think. Or are they? 

“Nobody knows enough to be pessimistic”, according to Daniel Goleman, who writes and lectures on emotional intelligence.  Hmmm….. That statement caught my attention and halted the swirl of chaotic chatter whirling around in my head. That’s an interesting way to look at it. Nobody knows enough to be pessimistic. That statement can’t be refuted by even the most cynical among us. He further explains that “We just don’t know what’s going to happen. Something good could happen.” Fair enough, I say. We can not predict with absolute certainty that bad things will happen.

That means that we can be hopeful. We can have faith that the future will be better. Goleman believes that future generations can find new ways of doing things that are compatible with nature. Let’s hope he’s right. After all, we don’t know enough to know he’s not right. Ha. Ha. I think I’m starting to get it.

And here’s another tweetable moment Goleman brings up…. “At any given time, the denominator of kindness will be vastly greater than the numerator of cruelty.” That’s true too! It’s just all too easy for us to forget about all the good things that happen with the constant barrage of bad news we’re bombarded with on every device we own.

In fact, our limbic system or primitive part of our brain that keeps us alert to dangers, hears the headline news….. train wreck here….. hurricane there…… more death and destruction everywhere…. and starts to see things disproportionately. The brain was designed to see danger as a survival mechanism – things that scare us are things that we would theoretically need to be prepared for – to fight or flee from. The thing is that we don’t need to be prepared for a hurricane in the Caribbean if we live somewhere other than the Caribbean. Yet, the limbic system is still alerted to the potential danger and sends our body and brains the messages and means to deal with the threats on the news. But in reality, we don’t need all that extra cortisol cursing through our veins.

“It’s helpful to remember that the news is a  narrow slice in a carefully curated and selected piece of reality. What scares us fascinates us. The world is going out of control, but in reality your personal life is well under control.” Goleman also advises to “take what you need to from the news, let the rest go and move on.”

Now, don’t take that as an excuse to sit back and do nothing. We’re not off the hook quite that easily. If we look at the state of the world and fail to see what is going on, then we are in a state of denial. The things that have gone wrong in the world are not to be ignored. We have to look at the issues, but not dwell on them. But we do have to look at them in order to see beyond them to what is possible.

Each of us can find a way to act now to improve the future. Do something – even if you may not benefit from it in the foreseeable future. We need to do it for the planet and the children that will inherit the Earth. As the late poet, Maya Angelou said, you must “plant the trees, for whose shade you may never see.”

Tell us in the comments below one thing that you will do today to improve the future of the planet.