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 Are You Doing To Make The World A Better Place?

It’s not a stretch to say that each one of wants to live in a better world. We want to see an improvement to our current circumstance.

Perhaps that means better for you personally, with a better job or a better house. Maybe you want better for your family and loved ones. Or maybe you hope for a better world for humanity in general, with longer life spans and better overall health.

However, things don’t get better unless someone drives that improvement. You can hope that you are the beneficiary of the work of someone else, but to see change, positive change, in your life you have to work at it.

Maybe that means that you need to ask your boss for a raise. Or perhaps you attend a march for a cause you believe in. You might attend a city council meeting, or donate money to a charity.

There are lots of ways to affect change, but first you need to know what improvement you want to see. Then you must take some action if you really want things to get better. Be the change you want to see in the world.

So what do you do? What actions do you take, what conversations are you a part of, what organizations do you join? What do you do to make the world a better place?

Related questions: How can we turn ideas into actions? What are our responsibilities to others? How do you define success? What are you optimistic about? Is it a cruel world?

Optimistic Or Pessimistic?

If you have to choose one or the other, is ‘optimistic’ or ‘pessimistic’ the better choice? You get to set the criteria.

Welcome to a new feature at Intellectual Roundtable: Throwdown Thursdays! Each Thursday we’ll list a classic pair, and ask you to choose between them. If you want to provide the reasoning for your choice, all the better!

This week, we give you the choice of optimistic or pessimistic. You can decide what that means. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Are you an optimistic or a pessimistic person?
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
  • Does being optimistic or pessimistic prepare you better for life?
  • Do you prefer that your friends and/or partner are optimistic or pessimistic?

Or come up with an interpretation of your own!

How Can We Appreciate Life More?

After last week’s question addressed death, this week we want to ask about the reverse: how to get the most out of our lives. A key part of being happy is to appreciate the pleasures and the joys of life.

In one respect, this should be easy, since there is so much of which to be appreciative. We live in a golden age, with greater knowledge about ourselves, about the universe, and about the world than we have ever had, as well as having increased ease of access to that information. In addition, we can travel just about anywhere in the world we might want to go, and food and goods from anywhere in the world can be delivered to our doorstep.

While money is important to be able to access these and other benefits of our society and income inequality continues to increase, it’s also true that more people across the world have been lifted out of poverty than at any time in human history.

On the other hand, it’s hard to appreciate what we have when we see all that we don’t. It is human nature to be constantly trying to improve our circumstance in the world, and that means identifying life’s deficiencies and striving to overcome them.

On top of that, it seems like we are surrounded with negativity. The ever-increasingly interconnected world means problems from other places take on greater significance at home. If news coverage is always focused on the problems of the country or the world, from natural disasters to war and political unrest, it can be very difficult to be optimistic about your life.

And yet, it is important for our own mental health, as individuals as well as collectively as a society, that we appreciate what we have. How can we do that, without losing sight of those less fortunate? How can we appreciate what we have without feeling guilty when there are people who don’t have what we have? How can we overcome the negative environment that surrounds us?

How can we appreciate life more? How can we focus on what we have and not on what we don’t?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life?What is the purpose of money?How can we maintain wonder?What does it mean to be thankful?What was the best time in your life?