The news rarely shows messages of hope, but in 2010, it did so by accident. 33 Chilean miners were buried underground in a mining accident. Camera crews and journalists flocked show the tragedy.
Imagine how the miners felt. One day they headed to work, thinking of their families and friends, thinking of home. Then: a rumble. A shake. A collapse.
All hope of a normal life was quickly buried underneath a pile of rubble. These men couldn’t see the sun. Food was scarce. Rescue seemed a foolish dream.
Despite the despair, the men quickly organized themselves and elected leaders. Supplies were counted and rationed. Someone thought to use electric lights to simulate day and night. They started each day with a prayer. After two weeks, the food situation was so grim each man was only allowed one bite every three days.
Without hope, these men never make it to the 18th day, when a drill pierced a hole in the rocks above them. They certainly never make it to the 52nd day, when the first of all 33 miners emerged alive.
Hope is not a child’s plaything. Hope is iron will. It’s grit.
The psychology of hope is irrefutable. Hopeful people live longer, manage anxiety better and simply get more done day to day. Hope is the voice that tells you “there is a reason to live today.”
Some years, it is more difficult to be hopeful. 2020 is one of those years. Luckily, though, hope is a choice.
Here are 5 reasons to be hopeful today.
The human body is a virus-killing machine
One particular virus has gotten a lot of attention this year. But you are surrounded by trillions of viruses on you and around you all the time. Despite this, you stay well most days because your body is incredible at fighting illnesses.
My favorite element in this system of defense is called the “natural killer cells.” (NK cells). What a great name. Your body is literally designed to “naturally kill” infections and viruses when it works correctly.
It’s easy to feel helpless. You aren’t. 16 million people have recovered from this virus. The question to ask is: What are those 16 million doing right?
Consider the implications behind the term “immune system.” Immunity means nobody can touch you. How can you help your immune system? Eat vegetables. Go for a walk. Breathe. Laugh. There are many options.
Does this mean you should French kiss strangers in the street? Of course not. Be smart about staying healthy. But remember that part of “being smart” involves giving your beautiful body what it needs to wage war.
This bag of bones you’re living in is an ally, not an enemy.
2021 is not an election year
Democracy is a wonderful burden.
Your cognitive load is probably never more taxed than it is during election years. Candidates want your attention. They have infinite media channels and infinite money to get it. Whole buildings full of people are hard at work because they want you to understand why their guy is amazing and why the other guy is a sack of cat crap.
You’d have a hard time going a single hour without exposure to election-related content. Again — not a bad thing. The price of this governing system is the weight of information. A society must be informed to make a decision.
It’s hard to find information with bias, though. Doing so is further effort.
No matter the result of this election, the world will likely be calmer when it’s over.
Earth Overshoot Day Came Late
When you overshoot something, it means you went past the limits available.
Turning up the hot water up in your shower too far is an example of an overshoot. You wanted a warm shower, but you went too far. Earth overshoot is exactly what it sounds like: we wanted to use the planet’s resources to the good of humanity, but we went too far.
The good news is, it took us longer to go too far. The bad news is that this happened mostly because we stopped going places, and because somewhere around 840,000 people have died.
“Lock everyone inside” and “kill off one million people per year” are not sustainable solutions.
2020 showed us that we can, in fact, keep earth healthier.
The trick is doing it on purpose.
Some people refuse to learn about or act on climate control. That makes no sense. You live on Earth. If there were a crack in the roof of your home, wouldn’t you try and fix it?
Race conversations are better
The last documented lynching of a black man in the United States happened in 1981. The victim was 19. It’s sad to remember we aren’t that far removed from a generation of who believed those of color have no soul.
Racial bias is an error of human thinking. We feel safe around people who look and speak and act like us. We feel scared of people who look different.
Racism is largely a curse of ignorance. The cure is many difficult conversations. Lots of those conversations are now taking place.
Don’t ignore them. Engage and grow.
The cofounder of Kickstarter wrote the most important book of the century
In order to build a new world you first need to remove all some assumptions about how the world “should” function. Yancey Strickler has done exactly that in his book This Could Be our Future.
For the past 50 years or so, corporations have asked only one question to guide decisions: “What will make us the most money?”
If you feel there is something wrong with the way business is done, but don’t know how to explain it, read this book.
Hope has a flaw, of course. Without action, it is pointless.
If the Chilean miners had hope, but refused to consider rationing food, the drills would have revealed 33 dead men.
This world has difficult decisions to make. These issues will not be solved by hope alone, but with logic and reason and conversation. They will be solved with science. Yes, there will be arguments along the way. No worthwhile change happens without a fight.
But without hope, there is no reason to fight in the first place. Without hope, we cave to the weight of mental illness. We cede our power to those already in control. We surrender.
Do not lose hope because life is hard right now. Have hope because life is hard. Stubbornly cling to hope when all seems lost.
The next generation is counting on it.
This article first appeared on Medium.