If Life is So Much Better, Why is the News so Bad?
When today’s children reach adulthood, they will lead far better lives than their parents. For example, the large gains in our standard-of-living, for all intents and purposes, will continue to grow. Repetitive and tasked-based work will primarily be a thing of the past. Based on conservative projections, today’s average income of $59,000 will have increased by $20,000 (and that is adjusted for inflation).
If this information seems a bit far-reaching, its source is none other than Warren Buffet.
So why do many parents believe their children will have less opportunities?
Why is it that while the medical profession talks about a real cure for cancer for the very first time and IQ rates grow in our children, we fixate more on world-ending pollution, global warming and other dire news?
For 28 years, I have lived with the discrepancy of a workplace becoming more difficult with time while others leapfrog over the change and use it for their betterment. For some, this has equated to exciting reinventions of their careers. Others find ways to make their current journey more progressive and compelling. The common thread for all of them is when we give people the means to change their lives, they do it. Are there challenges? Of course. In fact, we map out the obstacles and potholes that happen with all of us behaviorally and emotionally as we change our own lives. So, from my perspective, there is nothing unusual about so many of us being frightened about our capacity to change as quickly as the world around us. Without the awareness and the learnable skills of personal change, many use cynicism, contempt, aimlessness, resignation, and frenzy to justify their circumstances and even sabotage their progress.
Like Mr. Buffet, I am excited and enthused with our future. That future is available to all of us, especially the active learners who find new and better ways to work, live, love, grow and contribute. Just like cynicism and contempt, optimism is a practice. Do not confuse optimism with hope. Optimism is the belief that our action will lead to better good. Hope is the idea that someone or some circumstance will rescue us and make it better. Hope implies helplessness and usually displaces action. What alarms me so much about today’s culture isn’t just the unrest, it is that so many of our brothers and sisters are seeking comfort rather than taking action. When we hourish that negative outlook with negative news, we are paralyzed. War, murder, personal peril, corruption, the culture of outrage, economic disaster, nuclear warheads that can reach the West coast, sexual assault, mass shootings and more have sometimes left me wide-eyed and depressed. But, when it is time to take the dogs out into that dangerous and terrible world, birds are chirping, neighbors are waving, wind is blowing through the palm trees, the ocean is gently hitting the beach and our dachshunds want to run in the sand. If I pay much more attention to that life, the probability grows that things will turn out for the better.
Where does this leave us in finding our place in the new, wild, and exciting future of work?
Our children need to hear that they have the brightest of futures. Our underemployed workers need to hear that work that is more fulfilling, engaging, creative, empathetic and interesting is already here. We really ought to be shielding ourselves from the negative and ill-informed news of our political leaders. For example, one recently stated that coal miners ought to be pursuing jobs in the trucking industry. If you haven’t been following the news, artificial intelligence and robotics are about to change that category of work. We cannot afford to listen to individuals blaming the 1%, the Democrats, the Republicans, and each other for our circumstances. Blame and outrage are becoming a dangerous new trance that is detouring us from reinventing our lives.
Perhaps the single most important mantra to adopt is the fact that what we pay attention to, we become. Therefore, it is far more nourishing to our psyche to by paying attention to the light. I’m not suggesting the kind of light in which our dead relatives are beckoning us forward but the kind of practical enlightenment that comes with active learning.
This fact is related to another valuable mantra which is we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If we want to become the best part of the here and now as well as the future, we cannot afford to surround ourselves with people who are cynical and contemptuous. The black magic of imposing negativity on others can be fueled by the fact that in America, we can believe anything that we want. This is the essence of democracy but that freedom raises our need to practice critical thinking. For example, someone in my Facebook circle just published a post about a “scientific” study that proves the sun isn’t causing skin cancer, it is sunscreen! She claimed that personal care products are purposely being designed to kill all of us. But, instead of slathering myself with olive oil and walking out to the beach, I simply unfriended her.
In America, we can believe that robots are taking away our work. We can also believe technology is giving us the freedom to do more interesting stuff. Which choice is going to raise the probability of someone taking right action and responsibility for their well-being?
Today’s accelerating change will bring us cures for disease, free and available education, the ability to connect with mind-blowingly good mentors, to customize our growth through selective learning and to work where and when we want. Of course, there is disruption! Technology is turning everyone into a journalist and messenger. Right now, we are witnessing this upheaval with egregious individual and organizational behavior being pushed into the light. We are rapidly headed towards a new culture where the only way to have sustainable success will be through living and running organizations with nothing to hide.
The last time we witnessed such tectonic shifts was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. There were riots, most workers were given pink slips, the educational system transformed, many people changed and many others simply became irrelevant in the workplace. If that event never happened, over 80% of our workers would be spending their entire day growing and harvesting food. The industrial revolution also freed people to come in from the bitter cold and the scorching heat of the fields. It gave us access to better nutrition, and the means to develop a standard of living that led to lifestyles that are better and more abundant than the richest people of that time.
Now, we are witnessing that world being washed away and an affirmative rather than cynical outlook will, in many cases, spell the difference between finding exciting and relevant roles in this new society or not. In other words, many of us are being offered the opportunity to make history or to fade into history.
If this resonates, what can we do to shift our thinking from a naturally negative to naturally positive outlook?
- Limit one’s consumption of negative programming to less than a half hour per week or no more than a half hour per day. If something terrible happens, someone will tell you.
- If you are surrounded by people who naturally practice outrage, cynicism, contempt, aimlessness, and resignation, look for brilliant and loving people.
- Focus on learning something new and important every single day.
- If you do the Law of Attraction, embrace the form that takes the negative things that are happening in your life and counters that with right action rather than right thinking. Michael Losier’s Law of Attraction provides terrific guidance.
- Praise at least two people a day who deserve it. If you can’t think of any, find new people that are worthy of praise.
- When you are praised for anything or given a gift, do not respond, “Oh, you shouldn’t have.” Thank them graciously.
- Go be of service. Even if you have real issues with your self-worth, through giving, you will look in the mirror one day and love the person who is looking back.
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