OVERSTATING PROBLEMS

#OverstatingProblems #optimists #pessimists #poverty
“Can’t overstating problem energize us in terms of solving them?”
So asked Philip Galanes, during lunch with Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of 10 books.
Galanes wrote about his conversation with the two for The New York Times. The article was also published in the Feb. 11, 2018, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“There’s a paradox in letting yourself be very, very upset about what remains to be done (for the common good),” Gates said. “There are still parts of the world that are still like 40 years ago. But to read (Pinker’s) book and think it says, ‘don’t worry, be happy’ (borrowing from a Bobby McFerrin title), is to misread it. Because seeing the world through the eyes of that poor kid ideally wants to make you give some money, even though there are many fewer such kids than 50 years ago,” Gates said.
“Extreme global poverty has been reduced from 90 percent 200 years ago to 10 percent today. That’s great! Or you can say: more than 700 million people in the world live in extreme poverty today. They’re the same fact, and you have to be able to describe them to yourself in both ways,” Pinker says.
This snippet of a long conversation illustrates that there is more than one way to look at the world.
Some of the information we hear would lead us to believe that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and perhaps we need to straighten it out. Or, others would have us believe that past efforts to solve problems have had a great effect, and that, though the problems are not completely solved, the situation is much better than it was years ago.
It’s perhaps the classic difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The old adage talks about viewing a glass of water as either half empty or half full. But it is more than that.
It starts with how you feel about yourself each time you wake up in the morning, or later in the day if you work at night. Is every day you do so a good day? Or, is it just another day?
Do you long for weekends, and dread the weekdays? Do you feel as if you are on a treadmill during the week, and finally get a break from it on weekends (or whatever your regular days off might be)?
Experts say you can change how you think. You can take stock of what’s good in your life, and be thankful, rather than think of what’s not so good and be resentful, or sad, or feel doomed.
You can think about what you really want in life, or you can presume you’ll never get what you really want, and settle for something OK, or tolerable.
You can see retirement as a goal to allow you to do what you want, or you can do what you want sooner, rather than later. Or, worse yet, you can see yourself as working at a job you hate until you die.
So, are you thankful, or dreadful (meaning full of dread, as opposed to an awful person)? Give yourself a break. Always – and you can pull this off – look at yourself as blessed and grateful.
If you need a vehicle to help you turn your life around, there are several such vehicles out there for those willing to look for them. To check out one of the best, message me.
Meanwhile, if you are on that treadmill of dread, stay on it only as long as you need to. Start looking for things that will help get you off it.
Your thoughts have the power to improve your life. Be an optimist, for there are very few, if any, successful pessimists. Take stock of the good in your life and build on it. It could start you on a path that will allow you to achieve your dreams sooner rather than later.
Peter

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