What A Year: 2018 Edition

Most beneficial change I made in 2018

Curating the content I consume. My morning ritual at work had long been to log into my computer and begin consuming the news by scrolling through headlines and seeing which ones grabbed my eye. By the end of 2016 I was pretty convinced that life held no long term value because we were at the brink of nuclear war, environmental collapse, and a complete collapse of the world economy. These were not, nor are they now, unreasonable fears.

I would read about the world’s nuclear powers testing each others boundaries and resolve. Russia was flying bombers off the coast of California and North Korea was developing and testing nuclear weaponry. Far less provocative actions sparked the world wars.

The environment is being abused. We have an administration aggressively rolling back protections and increasing and incentivizing the industries that are having the largest impact on the environment. Oil spills are so common that some of the most catastrophic do not make headlines anymore. Even news agencies realize that they are just too common and they do not grab attention anymore (which is a catastrophe in and of itself).

The world economy is overextended at every possible angle approaching a debt crisis that will potentially rewrite the international story in a way that no war ever has before.

So we are all gonna die in a nuclear war sparked by financial collapse and resource scarcity right???

Maybe.

In the meantime however,

One thing I do know is that I am not in the game to any degree that justifies the amount of stress I was experiencing by looking at the world through those lenses. I am aware that things are changing quickly, and that the world is an intense and scary place with incompetent people occupying the most powerful positions. So until I get my exploratory committee together to see how best I can have a positive impact on the world I see no value in drowning in doom and gloom.

A cursory study of history shows a few important realizations. First off, the world has always been big and scary. Imagine being the person who discovered the giraffe? Out for a walk and what is that noise? Oh a 20 ft. tall camel that eats the tree tops, why would that be freaky to walk up on? More importantly the more that we look back at history the more we see that very little has changed, and more importantly very little has regressed. People may be at each others throats politically but there has not been a dual, lynching, or highly attended public execution in the developed world for the better part of 70 years. So the first major change I made in the content I consumed was to look to history and see what kind of trends emerge. Accompanied with books like Factfulness and Enlightenment Now and it becomes much easier to wrap my mind around the fact that the world is trending the right direction.

Next I began consuming futurist and scientific content. This has had by far the most profound impact on my psyche. Sites like futurism.com and su.org are are treasure troves of fascinating stories of progress and discovery. Science fiction is reaching a point where the supernatural must be invoked to make it fascinating because reality is overtaking it. Old movies like The Running Man show things like online travel booking, autonomous taxis, and hand help GPS. These technologies were considered to be so far away that they would coincide with colonization of mars!!! More importantly the technology to implant or remove memories is being developed and tested as I write this. Regardless of your level of interest in science and technology the takeaway is that there is a miraculous amount of amazing things happening in the world and it is a simple life hack to concentrate your focus there. Forces of good are doing incredible things. Consume stories of people doing amazing things. Of people having massive impact or simply being very very kind, patient, and compassionate.

It has been an entire year where I dedicate less than 15 minutes per day to current events and the results have been comforting. The world did not get consumed in nuclear war. The environment is being taken seriously by those intelligent enough to take a stand. The Paris Accord was the first agreement that I am aware of that the entire world signed on to. Every singe country!! (for a while). That is a good sign. The world looks different to me now, and I see it in many ways. The decisions that I make and the level of reaction that I have to bad news are more optimistic. My efforts have less resistance because they are not weighed down with a gloomy outlook on life. Gone are the days where the gatekeepers of information control the tone. We are in the driver seat and we get to chose what we see and consume. Please choose wisely.

 

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