Since the start of the new decade every time I check social media my feed has been flooded with broken heart and sad face emojis. The new year typically brings in the promise of fresh starts, and opportunity for change and new beginnings. But as the world today is becoming more volatile, and every time we turn on the news another natural disaster has occurred or countries are going to war, our bleak reality begins to sink in. In the current political climate and tense time, we live in where racial tension is at an all-time high, we’re more divided than ever. How do we remain optimistic when our futures seem so uncertain? It’s hard to remain positive when you think about what’s going on in the world but remaining optimistic may be a simple solution to at least some of our problems.
It’s 2020, a whole new decade, and the world seems to be turning back time heading in the wrong direction. Our personal lives are erratic, the political climate is tense, racial tension is at an all-time high, economies are becoming more and more unstable, and the environmental crisis is immense. The world’s leading authorities don’t seem to want to resolve or aid the world’s worst conflicts, and slowly but surely were moving away from a world that has significant global benefits. How do we feel safe and secure with the way the world currently is? There’s no right or wrong answer here, and no single solution. The idea that the lives of generations to come will be worse than our own is gaining ground, and we need change now.
Over the last few decades (maybe even centuries), the world has never changed so fast or so dramatically. As human beings we have the power to completely transform our surroundings and embracing optimism during these tough times may be able to help. Whilst changing our way of thinking won’t get rid of all of our problems overnight, once you realise how many benefits a positive outlook can bring it’s hard to argue with. In recent years a divide between older and younger generations, between different races/ethnicities, and different social classes has become rooted not only in this country but in countries worldwide. The world is becoming divided, and things are becoming progressively worse. During times of hardship, optimists look for the silver lining and for the chance to learn, grow, and to try again. To bring about change, and to cope with uncertainty in the current climate, we need to have a positive view of what our world can look like and believe in the possibility of progress.
For all the millennials out there, the Gen Z’ers, and future generations to come – there’s no choice but to be optimistic about the future. Facts are facts, and optimism does both your mind and your body good. Optimists have greater brain functioning, live happier and healthier lives, and there are even studies to suggest optimists live longer than their negative counterparts. But optimism is easier said than done. A few easy ways to practice optimism are to recognise your negative thoughts and believe that good can still happen, to imagine a positive future however bleak the outlook may currently be, and to practice gratitude and savour all the good things in life. Be a big-picture thinker, not a pessimist.
It’s possible to look on the bright side even when no one else is, and to embrace the unknown. However uncertain life may seem, there is always a way to effect change even when things feel hopeless. We’re all going to have to put a lot of work in to make things better, but progress is possible, and it’s been done before. Rather than dreading the future and living in the past, envision better times and know that it can happen. Nothing is guaranteed in life, and unfortunately happy endings are one of those things. What happens in the future depends on our actions now, and it’s our right to believe in a better world and our privilege to fight for it. When things seem grim and you can’t control what’s happening around you, challenge yourself and change the way you respond to what’s happening. It’s 2020 and things can get better. Dare to be an optimist.
Written by J’Nae Phillips