How to look at the news and not feel hopeless
In our HQ city of Chicago, this was the most challenging year ever. There was more violence, killings, divisiveness, separation, and conflict. There was an increase in poverty and mental health issues. Nationally and internationally we are disconnected from each other – most people don’t know what to do and are confused. There’s a pandemic going on that’s affecting everyone. Destructive behavior that leads to climate change keeps happening even though all information is there. It’s easy and normal to feel hopeless about the state of the world. How do we stay hopeful, motivated, and inspired when the world looks the opposite? Or as many of us feel, how do we look at the news and not feel hopeless?
Early on in One Solution’s work, we started talking about the importance of unconditional hopefulness, creativity, and action. Not because we always feel hopeful and live in an amazing state of creativity and joy every day. Far from it. We feel it all; pain, despair, overwhelm, anxiety and confusion. But emotions and reactions are not something to withdraw from, they can actually be the fuel for impactful change. I don’t know about you – but for us, it feels both inspiring and necessary to feel our humanity and care about what happens in our lives, with people around us, our communities, our climate, our animals, and our inextricable link with all nature.
But as with any emotion, it is meant to come, and then leave or shift to something else. If not, they tend to take over. Here are a few realizations we’ve made that have kept us pointed toward unconditional hope, creativity, and action.
1. The mind actually gets very creative when it’s restricted and there’s a problem to solve. Think about it – creativity is often born out of finding solutions to problems. We are literally designed to solve problems. No problems, no creativity. It’s the most hopeful fact about being human – It is within us to overcome and solve anything. And we can create in the face of anything – and we consistently do. The most amazing creations, inventions, and insights can come in the middle of what seems to be an impossible scenario.
2. Maybe being hopeful is not about feeling hope. Maybe it’s about taking a stance, to commit to a lens to look through. Did you know your mind can do that? That sometimes your mind can work as a thermostat instead of a thermometer? In other words – Hopefulness can be something that comes from inside, not from whether or not something is happening outside. Instead of the world making us hopeless we can make the world hopeful. Because Hopefulness is only needed when there isn’t any hope. What use is hopefulness when the future looks bright?
3. The Mind can create one feeling and act on a different one. That means that you can create positive action when your mind is negative. That was mind blowing to us when we first realized it. We thought that if we felt bad, that meant we had to DO what the feeling said. But regardless of what is happening and regardless of how we feel – we can act differently. Emotions are not telling us what we can or cannot do – they are simply telling us what is running through our minds.
4. You don’t have to listen to everything your mind notices. Sounds obvious right? But sometimes we forget even though we have access to 1000 pieces of information and 1000 random thoughts – we can make 95% of them irrelevant. You can pick what speaks strongest to you, and ignore the rest.
5. We are one insight away from changing the world. This has been the most inspiring fact for us. Innovation is one thought away. There are dormant leaders in the world right now that can wake up any minute. Anyone reading this can have a new thought that changes how we look at everything. We can walk down the road, trip on our feet, and realize the secrets to the universe. It’s all right here, and it can all happen at any time.
Eirik Grunde Olsen and Mara Gleason Olsen