In troubled times, when uncertainty reigns supreme, despair or exhaustion sets in, or we simply feel overwhelmed with all the world throws at us, it helps to look for a signal, like the beam from a lighthouse that helps to guide sailors from the dark of night into safe harbor.
It is upon us to open our hearts and minds in order to find that signal. There is no absolute formula of how to find it, or how it finds you.
It can be something simple, like discovering that planting a hope garden has a soothing effect on your mind; re-discovering a passion for reading a good book; reaching out to a friend or stranger and receiving some advice; or something more ambitious, like learning a new skill via an online class; or making some grand plans for when the pandemic is under control.
Now, more than ever, it helps to lift your mood and spirit to focus on the positive rather than dwell on the destructive and negative. Anger has never cured anything, but sharing the news of good deeds and thoughts of hope will.
In my personal quest I came across the new book of historian and New York Times bestseller Rutger Bregman, titled: “Humankind: A Hopeful History.”
The basic premise is that history, literature, Hollywood, the news media and some scientists and philosophers instilled a belief in many of us that humans left alone (unchecked) are basically bad. But Bregman went to great lengths to prove that this is a false narrative. Full stop.
I rarely recommend a book to our readers, but I have no hesitation to say that this is an important piece of work well worth your time.
If you already believe that humans are profoundly good, you will find proof and reassertion. If you have given up on humankind and believe that it is only because of law and order that things are not getting out of hand, you will gain some new insights that will change your perspective.
When I say that Bregman goes to great lengths to prove his case, I mean just that. This is not a novel, not utopia, not philosophy, but a well researched re-casting of history by using a different lens and by questioning common beliefs.
He finds scientific proof that so many of the commonly held negative views are unfounded.
What emerges is a new kaleidoscope that paints human nature in a different, more positive light.
In the words of author Susan Cain: “Humankind changes the conversation and lights the path to a brighter future.”
I always preferred to have hope, because without hope, life is unbearable. Now there is a book that illustrates why having hope is well founded.
This type of thinking is also what is needed most now, in the short term, to abate the pandemic and in the long-term to create sustainable living conditions for humans.
On a closing note, I want to leave you with this: The one trait that separates humans from other living creatures and makes us successful is our innate ability to learn from each other and to collaborate. It’s time to apply this quality in spades now so that we can build a more hopeful future together.
MARC FREY: media entrepreneur
[PHOTO OF MARC BY MIKE RITTERBECK]