You'll see it when you believe it: The power of optimism in determining the future. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
I have a confession to make. I occasionally slip into a place where I talk a lot about the doom and gloom of the years ahead of us. My intention was to make sure you paid attention to the very real existential threats to our existence as a species, thanks to climate change, dramatic income inequality, profoundly systemic racism and mysogyny, rising authoritarian regimes and automation unemployment. Problem is, without showing a new and more empowered way forward, I was creating more fear and hopelessness --- the exact opposite of creating action, courage, vision and possibilities --- the things I advocate for as a Futurist. Several recent studies confirm my intuitive thought.
Scaring people literally makes them feel more scared, more unsafe and politically extreme --- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2017/11/22/at-yale-we-conducted-an-experiment-to-turn-conservatives-into-liberals-the-results-say-a-lot-about-our-political-divisions/?utm_term=.0a5183d8780a
Doom and gloom media (including social media) tends to lean negative and pessimistic, which leads people to take extreme social and political positions. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/donald-trump-and-the-psychology-of-doom-and-gloom/
Negativity and pessimism tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies --- https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-stop-pessimistic-self-fulfilling-prophecies-from-shaping-your-life/
Pessimism is killing us --- https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/20/is-pessimism-bad-for-you
I'm not writing this to say we shouldn't tell people the truth about the real threats that can destroy whole societies and a world. On the contrary --- tell people everything, not just one side....but all sides. Tell the whole story. Tell them about what positive possibilities can come if they re-imagine the future beyond the dystopian tropes of our movies, tv shows and pop culture. We used to call that hope.
There are three quotes I use in guiding my decisions toward actionable hope instead of immobilizing fear......
“There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.” — Malcolm X
“What the world really needs is more love and less paper work” -- Pearl Bailey
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change things, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." --- Buckminster Fuller
To truly serve ourselves, our community and the world, we must lean into solutions, opportunities and new thinking like we've never done before. I am, because I know the future depends on it.
Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org