My wife and I believe the world is inherently good and we want to indoctrinate our children to think the same. Not by ignoring society’s seedy underbelly. But with measurable evidence such as this that overwhelmingly proves the world is getting better and better.
To that end, my wife shared the following quote with our children and I over breakfast recently: “Feed your faith and your fear will starve.” In other words, people who are afraid are usually consumed by doubt.
But in my experience, we can replace that fear and doubt with hope and love by doing the following:
- Converse with strangers that don’t look, talk, or think like you. It’s been said that humans fear what we don’t understand. Although not a cure all, engaging with and confronting what we don’t understand can be fatal to ignorance and prejudice.
- Avoid 24 hour news. I don’t believe mainstream media outlets such as CNN, NBC, and others are “fake news.” On the contrary they’re largely populated by truth seekers, watchdogs, and reputable journalists. I know because I’ve worked alongside many of them. That said, 24 hour news is problematic because it inherently suggests that there is news to be reported 24 hours a day. There is not. So these 24 hour news networks spend the majority of their time talking, festering on bad news, and ultimately succumbing to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. If you watch at all hours of the day, you are welcoming irrational fear into your life. So avoid these networks and only turn to them when legitimate news happens or in actual hard news programs that recap actual events instead of endlessly debating what happened.
- Volunteer. When you work alongside helpers and receivers of help, you quickly start to realize that there are a lot more good people in the world than bad. Doing this is in direct competition to what many talking heads suggest is taking place—evil overtaking the world. It is not. It is still present. But 24 hour news may in fact be over reporting it rather than putting it into perspective.
- Talk with children. If you don’t have children yourself, reach out to nieces, nephews, and others to listen and learn from them. Like the world they live in, children are inherently good and will remind you of that fact. I’ve had the privilege of raising my own and mentoring children in my church and I can honestly testify: the world is in good hands. Generations are getting better, not worse. This up and coming generation is proof of that, just like millennials, gen-xers, baby boomers, and the great generation have been improvements to what their parents and grandparents accomplished.
- Do things that make you feel like a kid. Related to the above, you can’t start thinking like a kid or stay young at heart if you only do boring grown up things like watching the news and complaining. So ride bikes. Feel the wind in your face. Throw objects into the air. Use your body as a vehical rather than a stationary piece of equipment. Welcome the outdoors. Compete. Play games. Use your imagination. Create. Let yourself laugh. Let yourself cry. Allow yourself to freely experience a range of emotions.
- Contribute to society. Many people that suffer from depression or succumb to fear simply have too much time on their hands; too much time to think. We all need involvement and a role to play in society, however small. So if you find yourself more idle than you can or should be, consider contributing in some way. Watching 24 hour news, hurling pithy comments online, or passively taking from the world is not contributing to society. Each of us must give back with employment, volunteering, entrepreneurship, creation, teaching, nurturing, encouragement, fellowshipping, and socializing.
- Finish something that scares you. When we avoid what we fear, we start to think the world (or at least parts of it) are big and scary. This quickly dissolves when we undertake and overcome a challenge, after which we often realize that success isn’t as hard as we think it is. That realization leads to more hope and even more success. The key here is not just to attempt and then give up on something. But to finish it—succeed or fail. Doing that fosters more confidence and hope.
- Express gratitude. Doing so is scientifically proven to make us happier and more hopeful. So think about what you’re thankful for. Better yet, regularly tell other people how they’ve blessed your life and thank them for doing so.
- Travel both physically and mentally. This should include at least nearby travel, and if possible, long distant travel to facilitate item number one. But it also includes mind travel when funds, time, or energy levels are low. Here’s how to do that.
- Trust the universe. This sounds corny and stupid, I admit. But it works. As Einstein once said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe if we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Despite its sometimes war and atrocities and anguish, history has shown that Earth has largely been a friendly environment to humans. Not always—but more often than not it enjoys peace over violence. Trust in that.
This story first published to blakesnow.com in October 2016