So here is a new Ted Talk that offers an alternative set of stories from the customary diet of bad news, doom and imminent disaster that we are used to.
The early warning system in our frontal brains, the amygdala, keeps us predisposed towards attending to danger and potential disaster, and we spend much more time and energy worrying and discussing problems than we ever do recognising and enjoying what is good and working well. ( In any group we work with we are far more likely to need to activate Appreciative Inquiry; problem discussions tend to happen freely and spontaneously.) This is what makes us such resourceful and sometimes ruthless survivors.
But this bias for looking for trouble means that we make ourselves a sense of the world that is permanently and increasingly fraught and foreboding, especially in our information saturated world. And, even though we might recognise that every generation throughout our history has believed that we are surely going to hell in a hay cart and willfully incapable of pulling out of the descent towards our own certain destruction, we assume that our time now has got to be vastly worse than any previous time because we are destroying the world faster and better than ever before. Everywhere we look it seems there is evidence to prove this so.
Look in other places and we can see evidence that tells a completely different story of escalating abundance, freedom, health, education and opportunity.
And this is the perspective shift Diamandis is urging us to make, to pull up from our collective anxious fretting and notice the array of contrasting signs that show, not only are we making a better and better world for more and more of us, the exponential upward swing of our advancements are now poised to speed our improvements dramatically.
Because I believe that we will tend to find what we go looking for, and then what we find gets the most of our energy, attention and resources, I am strongly inclined towards Diamandis argument for more optimism. It might not be our whole story but it sounds convincingly like a good part of our story. And a part that just might overtake our gloomier outlook if he is right and more and more of us are starting to put more of our interest, energy and attention into making what he calls ‘A Life of Possibility’.
And if we started to believe in an increasingly abundant future would this bring us greater happiness i wonder?
Might we yet be capable of creating a paradise on earth for us all?
Peter Diamandis: Abundance is our future
Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.