Viewing posts from October, 2017

How to Be Optimistic When All the News Is Bad

Every day the news lists terrible events. Mass shootings, government destabilization, tensions rising.

It paints this picture that the world is getting more and more troubling and that we are headed towards a future that is worse than the past.

Here's my theory. The world is not getting worse. We are simply hearing about the problems in the world more loudly and frequently than ever before.

More victims of violence and injustice have a voice today than they ever have had in the past.

These voices are what we are hearing.

50 years ago we didn't hear the voices of sexual assault victims.

50 years ago we didn't hear the voices of people in villages exploited by large industrial companies.

50 years ago we simply didn't hear all the pain going on in the world. Now we do.

Hearing all the pain in the world has fast-tracked our ability to address it.

The evidence of global improvement is palpable in every meaningful measure of the quality of life globally.

Child deaths before the age of 5 are the lowest they have ever been.

More people in the world are living under a democratic government than ever before.

The smallest fraction of people ever currently live below the poverty line.

Our World in Data breaks a lot of these very important measures of global quality of life down quantitatively.

I really love this article on Our World in Data which argues for optimism in a rapidly improving world.

What we are feeling in the world today is not a breakdown. It's very rapid improvement.

Be optimistic! I am.

Book: The Time Keeper

How often do you look at a clock?

Weekdays for me it can't be less than once every 5 minutes. The granularity with which I schedule things during the week is usually in 30-minute blocks although sometimes as narrow as 15-minute blocks. On weekends I try not to schedule anything with a precision greater than half a day. Meaning I could make a morning and afternoon plan, but won't schedule anything at a specific time. Though I will still look at a clock about every hour just to feel grounded.

Every once and a while I pick up a book that I just can not put down before finishing, this happened with The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. Through a fictional story, he explores the world before timekeeping and the first people who start counting the days, hours and seconds.

Reading the book has made me really aware of how powerful a role timekeeping plays in modern life. I've been wondering what it would be like to not look at a clock for something like an entire week. Normally I'll follow a clock to know what I'm supposed to be doing now and what I'll be doing next. It would be a really interesting experiment to instead work on things at my internal pace. Changing activities when I feel like I've spent enough time on whatever I'm currently doing. I certainly think this would reduce anxiety. Although it would make it very difficult to work effectively with others who expect things to happen at a specific time. I'm considering blocking a day on my calendar every week to simply follow my internal clock.

Why We Take Pictures

Life is not all instagram moments.
It's becoming more difficult to ignore the picture perfect lives friends seem to live through their instagram feeds.
It's 4am and I'm in the airport heading home from California. I spent the last few days as a tourist on the Pacific coast.
It seemed like everywhere we went people's first priority was taking pictures. Moving on from a spot once they got a good shot.
Focused on capturing the moment more than living it.
Photos are great because they help us remember a moment. They are not the moment.
Instagram glamorizes the visually pleasing moments. But these easy moments aren't what makes life full.
The best parts of life aren't easy. You've heard this. And it's worth remembering in the age of instant gratification.
Many of my best memories and most fulfilling expirences were gruelingly difficult.
There is this natural desire to remove difficulty from our lives one piece at a time.
But lean in to the difficult. Embrace the challenge.
Listen to that part of your brain that knows the right thing to do, not just the easiest thing to do.
The right thing will be hard.
Having a difficult conversation with a loved one, fighting for what you feel like you deserve.
This stuff is what makes you grow. What makes life full.
Looking like you have a great life is not having a great life.
All we get is now. We never experience tomorrow or yesterday.
So focus less on capturing and more on living.
Yes I got many photos of the beach this weekend. But I also tried to take some of myself and friend smiling in a random moment.
The pictures of the beach will remind me of my vanity.
And the pictures of us smiling will remind me of joy.