Are There Unexpected Benefits To What We Are Going Through?

Reading the news can be depressing. People around the world are sick and dying. Supply chains are being interrupted, leading to economic instability. No one, not even the experts, know what will happen next week, let alone a month from now.

And yet, there are bright spots if you look hard enough. Seeing them may require a change of perspective. There might be some data that you hadn’t heard before. Maybe some positive behaviors have risen unexpectedly. Or maybe you just need to hear some good news when you are overwhelmed with the bad.

So, what are the news stories or anecdotes that bring you hope? What are the positives of the current situation? Is there anything that helps you wade through the negative news? Are there unexpected benefits to what we are going through? What may be the long-term positive changes?

Related questions: When is doubt helpful? What are you optimistic about? How can we turn sadness into constructive action? What makes a community?

 

What Does It Mean To Be Healthy?

Being more healthy is a goal that many of us have. We want to lose a few pounds, lower that cholesterol, climb the stairs without getting winded.

But what, exactly, does getting “healthy” mean? Determining how to define the word health is a logical first step.

There are many different ways to be healthy: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially.

Physical health is, perhaps, the most obvious, and the easiest to measure. For instance, you can step on a scale, or count the number of reps or laps, or take your blood pressure. In January, gym memberships surge, as people try and work out regularly. They want to lose the weight they gained over the holidays.

Equally important but less often addressed is mental health. How much introspection do you do? Do you go to therapy, for yourself or with your significant other? Meditation, for example, is becoming more popular, which many people use to become more calm and centered.

Similarly, emotional health is rarely dealt with. Are you more often happy or sad? Do you express your emotions in a healthy way? Our emotional well-being is part of who we are, but we often ignore it.

Finally, there is the issue of how we fit in with others. Our relationships with friends, co-workers, and family members can be positive or negative. Healthy or unhealthy. On a larger scale, how do you fit into society? What is your carbon footprint? Are you a good citizen?

Of course, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list. There are other ways to be healthy. Can you think of some?

In short, what is your definition of health? Do you eat organic food? Run marathons? Host a weekly poker night? Vote in your town elections?

What does it mean to be healthy?

Related questions: Could everyone benefit from therapy? What duty do we have to live properly? What makes you the happiest? Resolutions or no resolutions?

 

How Do You Cheer Yourself Up?

Sometimes the world can be a depressing place. When despair threatens to overcome you, you might need to cheer yourself up.

Whether the problems are global (like climate change) or personal (like a breakup), life can be sad. We won’t be happy all the time, nor do we necessarily want to be.

Despite whatever hardships you may be going through, sometimes is necessary to be in social situations. You may need to put on a smile for the public no matter what you may feel in private.

Also, there are times when you need to be hopeful when you feel despondent. In order to keep motivated despite long odds or a difficult situation, hope can be crucial.

Other times, you may just feel it is necessary to move past whatever troubles you have. You may need to just get on with your life.

In that situation, how do you manage it? Simple denial of your feelings probably isn’t helpful. How can you accept defeat, or loss, or sadness, and learn to be happy once again? How do you cheer yourself up?

Related questions: How can we turn sadness into constructive action? What makes you the happiest? Why do we put up with unhappiness? Is happiness the most important purpose in life? Optimistic or pessimistic?

What Deserves Your Attention?

Our brains are remarkable entities. We can perform some truly amazing mental feats, like learning language, memorization, pattern matching, and reading maps (among others). One of the less heralded skills is that of providing attention.

Every waking moment, your mind is focused on a task (and sometimes more than one if you try to multi-task). How you choose to spend your time is how your attention is allocated.

In our modern world, there is fierce competition for our attention. This serves as an illustration about how valuable it is. Entire industries revolve around how to capture — and keep — your attention.

In The News

For example, let’s consider a cable news program. A typical news show features several different items for you to pay attention to. An interview might be going on, so you might be listening to the content being spoken aloud. There is likely a graphic with the guest’s name and qualifications. This sometimes also updates to a notable quote or excerpt from the interview.

In addition, there may be a news scroll across the bottom of the screen with news headlines, and there may be a “breaking news” blurb specifically designed to draw your eyes. Often included is some sort of steady information, like the current time and temperature, or the state of the stock market. Finally, there is certainly a station identifier, to let you know exactly what channel you are viewing.

Having so much information available serves several purposes. The primary purpose — say, the interview — is presumably the reason to tune in initially. The others are there to provide information that might be helpful to you, but also to keep you from giving your attention to another source.

When you are watching a program like this, your attention is primarily focused on one item. However, there is likely some small percentage of your attention on each element on the screen.

Demands Of Social Media

Have you ever noticed that when using  a social media site like Facebook or Twitter, that you mean to do a quick check, but then find that half an hour or even more has passed without you realizing it? That happens because the layout and design of these sites are carefully crafted to capture and keep your attention. Facebook wants you to keep scrolling and Netflix wants you to keep binging.

With so many different demands on our valuable attention, have you given any thought to how you spend your time? News, family, your smartphone, the local sports team, a book: what deserves our attention?

Related questions: How do you set priorities? Are we too busy? What do you get out of social media? Is our attention fractured?

Does Nature Have Rights?

We all want a prosperous future, and we have rights to help us achieve that. We also want a sustainable planet. Are these two desires incompatible?

Human Rights

The issue of the rights that we have, as human beings, is one of great importance. In the founding documents of the United States, for example. mention is made to the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights lays out various human rights like free speech, freedom of religion, freedom to bear arms, and several others.

Additionally, there are arguments over what other human rights should be. Should health care be a right? Does every person have the right to a job? A home?

Importance of Nature

From an ecological standpoint, we know that nature is very important. The vast array of life fits together in a great pattern. Each species has a niche, or a role, to play in making the world work properly. If you upset that delicate balance, it can have catastrophic impacts on all living things.

We humans are in the process of disturbing that balance. Through growing numbers, humans are crowing out other animals. We are clearing forest in order to grow crops for food or to support animal farming. Many species are endangered, and several have already gone extinct.

Humans and Nature

Tying these two ideas together, do we as humans have a right to have access to nature? Studies show that humans benefit from time in a natural setting. Time away from cities, and artificial noise, calms the nerves and leads to a more positive outlook on life. Should we all have  access to a place we can go to escape urban life? To forget, if only for a little while, the hustle and bustle of modern life?

Moreover, does nature itself have a right to exist? Should there be areas set aside that will not be used for human development? Not used for further cities, or for farming or other human-related activities?

There are several examples of the grandeur of nature that have been set aside as national parks or forests. These include the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, and many others. But beyond these natural wonders, should there be some land that exists to maintain biodiversity, and as a refuge for plants and animals, and the ecosystem in general?

Or is it the case that any parcel of land exists only for humans to use as necessary? If space or natural resources become scarce enough, can any and every place be used? Are the needs of humans more important than the needs of any other species on the planet?

Does nature have rights? Or are rights only reserved for humans?

Related questions: How can we maintain wonder? What is your retreat from the world? How can we appreciate life more? What is keeping us from sustaining the planet?