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Wanted: Optimists August 21, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness.

C’mon, get happy!

Stop focusing on the 24/7 doom & gloom news feed and savor something fun:

There’s one problem with the pessimist’s perspective: it’s wrong.

That negative dystopian soup is an illusion, the result of an unfortunate collision between a 24/7 news cycle and the brain’s tendency to hone in on any possible danger and ignore everything else.

Overall, things on planet Earth are pretty good — or at least, in many ways, they’ve never been better. No country in the world has a lower life expectancy now than the countries with the highest life expectancies in 1800. More people around the world believe in gender equality than ever before, and more value religious freedom. Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labor and infant mortality are all on the decline.

Humanity has made enormous progress by almost every measure, but that progress has become the water in which we swim, and like fish, we take the water for granted. We focus on the beasts that are still out there in the deep rather than on those we have tamed because that’s what we’re designed to do.

As neuropsychologist Rick Hanson described in his 2013 book Hardwired for Happiness, our brains naturally put greater emphasis on the negative. “Just a handful of painful experiences of futility can rapidly become a sense of helplessness,” he writes, while “most good news has little or no effect on lasting memory systems in the brain.”

In other words, it’s natural to let the bad news overwhelm us. Fortunately, with practice, we can help our brains to give the good stuff equal weight. Dr. Hanson’s advice: when you hear a great story, achieve something in your own life or just find yourself in a beautiful place with those you love, deliberately rest your mind on that experience and stay with it.

Sink into that feeling, he writes, “as it sinks into you.” Describe what you’re doing to your kids, and encourage then to dwell on their joys and pleasures as well.

To read more:  How to Raise Optimistic Kids in Pessimistic Times (Times)

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Jane Fritz - August 21, 2018

It does feel these days as though what at least some of us thought was the world becoming more focused on compassion for others (and each other) has taken a very sad turn for the worse, but I like the spirit of your message!

nrhatch - August 21, 2018

It’s easy to get caught up in the negatives because we are hard-wired to look for dangers lurking in the bushes. But, when we focus on the positives, it pays dividends in a BIG way!

Aah . . . that’s better!

2. Tippy Gnu - August 21, 2018

It’s a relief to know that longevity has increased, though now I worry about lingering chronic illnesses. Just the same, it’s good that there’s much more religious freedom in our world. Except now bullshit has many more opportunities to be spread around. But at least poverty is on the decline. Which is helpful, due to the rising cost of living.

I’m gonna go watch the cartoon channel now, because Winnie the Pooh is on. I just love that character, Eeyore.

nrhatch - August 21, 2018

Hee Haw! Hee Haw!
Watch your tail, Eeyore! 😀

3. rivergirl1211 - August 21, 2018

At times it’s hard not to be drawn down into despair, so much hatred and sadness (not to mention stupidity!) in the world. But for every awful thing, there are two good ones. I have to believe that…. or I’d drink myself into oblivion!

nrhatch - August 21, 2018

I’m with you all the way . . .

And on my less optimistic days, I say ~> “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for tomorrow the sky is falling for sure!”

Either way, it’s a Win! 😀

rivergirl1211 - August 21, 2018


4. Jill Weatherholt - August 21, 2018

I loved Hanson’s book! Turning off the news greatly improves my happiness. Now I’m going to have the Partridge Family in my head all evening! 🙂

nrhatch - August 21, 2018

This article echoed the conversation I had with a neighbor the other day ~> the news is designed to keep us on “high alert” and in a constant state of fear.

Turning our back on the news can give us a big mood boost.

5. L. Marie - August 21, 2018

I need to read that book!

nrhatch - August 21, 2018

Reading books with “happiness hints” is usually a good use of time.

6. Debra - August 21, 2018

These are wonderful facts, Nancy. I do think it’s fascinating how negativity can stick like glue, and happy, joyful thoughts need to be practiced. It is true that the 24/7 news cycle makes it more difficult to tune out “the sky is falling,” but we CAN take control of our thoughts. I’d also like to read Hanson’s book! Thanks for the direction. 🙂

nrhatch - August 21, 2018

Yes! We CAN . . .
Here’s to choosing the direction of our gaze!

7. Behind the Story - August 22, 2018

Another good book about things getting better: The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052REUW0/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1His thesis: The world is becoming less violent. He makes a convincing case, although some scientists disagree with some of his methods and conclusions. Either way, our lives are filled with many wonderful things for which we can be grateful.

On the West Coast, though, we’re down in the dumps. This is supposed to be our most beautiful season, but we’re living inside a dirty grey cloud. The smoke from forest fires is so thick that we’re advised to stay inside or wear a mask. It’s expected that this will happen every year from now on. Sorry for the complaint, but this week it’s hard to ignore.

nrhatch - August 22, 2018

We’ve been chased inside too ~> by red tide instead of smoky forest fire skies. 😦

But at least I’m not a fish trying to swim through the toxic bloom.

8. colonialist - August 22, 2018

We’re all gonna die . . .
But maybe not today!
And that’s the reason why
We’re yelling out, ‘Hooray!’

nrhatch - August 22, 2018

Here’s the thing ~ I do declare . . .
Your rhyming scheme is beyond compare!
It gave me a giggle and a grin
I’d say that makes it a win-win!

Hope you’re having a fantastic day
With lots of good things coming your way
And, now, before I go, I really must say
Have a Magical Terrific Awesome Fun-Filled Day!

9. Rainee - August 22, 2018

Great to read your positive comments Nancy. We need reminding some times and you did it so well 🙂

nrhatch - August 22, 2018

It’s good to take the time to S~M~I~L~E about something. Anything would do for a start! 😀

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