From Music to Therapy to Unplugging, Here's How to Keep Negativity at Bay
If you are battling feelings of apathy and hopelessness in the modern world, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. A lot of people feel that way a lot more of the time than I think any of us would like to admit. So check out today’s post where I examine why today’s challenging world makes us feel so hopeless. Why it isn’t necessarily the case that we should feel that way, and different ways that you can cultivate hope in your own life!
There is no doubt that we are all living through challenging times right now. Wages have been stagnant in the U.S. since the early 1970s. While worker productivity increased 61.8% between 1979 and 2020, those same workers' wages only grew 17.5%. One third of the rate of their productivity. The amount of American households that make up the middle class have shrunk from 61% in 1971 to 51% in 2019. In the time that middle income families saw a 42% gain from 1983 to 2001, and lower income households saw an increase of 67% (and remember these numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation) upper class homes saw a median wealth increase of 85%. The wealth gap between America’s richest and poorer families more than doubled from 1989 to 2016. In 1989 the richest 5% of families had 114 times as much wealth as the middle class, by 2016 it was 248 times.
And all of this is before Covid happened. By the time the pandemic ended in 2022 the richest 10% now owned 76% of all the world's wealth. We still aren’t anywhere close to universal healthcare. In fact medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy for American households. We don’t have paid family leave. We don’t have paid leave period.
We also have mass shootings all the time. I mean it’s just kind of constant at this point isn’t it? I mean they don’t even register as national tragedies anymore unless it's at a preschool like Uvalde or a church like in Pittsburgh. And to be entirely honest, I’m not even really sure how many wars we are currently engaged in anymore.
Inflation was recently at the worst it has been since the 1970s and while it’s started to slow down, there hasn’t been any sort of deflation whatsoever. Since just the other day there is now a trillion dollars worth of credit card debt in the United States for the first time ever. And to help drive even more inequality, since the 1970s tuition at “non-profit” universities jumped an alarming 2,580% with no apparent end in sight. So now the country has nearly 2 trillion dollars in student loan debt as well.
We’re burning the Amazon RainForest faster than ever before. The Ice Caps are melting faster than scientists predicted while gas is at $4 a gallon. And we seem to be doing little to nothing about climate change. And Trump blew up the national debt by $7.8 trillion dollars in 4 years (right after Obama added $7.6 trillion dollars over his 8 years) and now after all that when Biden added another couple trillion our national debt topped 32 trillion dollars which is 10 trillion more dollars than our country's entire GDP.
And on top of all of that, since 1999 there has been a 781% increase in people who died from preventable drug overdoses. In no small part due to the trafficking of fentanyl over our borders. And in 2022 more people died by suicide in our country than at any other point in our history. And just as we managed to make it through a “once in a century” pandemic and wages were finally starting to rise, the Fed had to start jacking interest rates up way too fast (they voted 10 consecutive times to raise rates and jumped them 5 whole percentage points in a little over a year) so now cars and homes are more expensive and more unaffordable than ever before.
While at the same time there is an oncoming wave of millions of job losses due to AI and automation that is drastically going to alter the economic realities of our country as soon as 2030. And all of this is happening while the hallowed halls of our democracy are just reveling in their own corruption.
So at the end of it all, yeah, you could say that today's world is challenging.
But don’t lose heart! There are many ways to cultivate hope in today’s challenging world.
Here are some stats that I like to keep handy to remind myself that the news is always showing us the bad news and leaving out the good news. But there is plenty of great news out there. Here are a few facts I always like to remind myself of whenever the modern world starts to bum me out.
These are some of the most important stats I can think of when it comes to feeling hopeful about the world we live in. I’m certain I missed some important ones, but these ones really paint an uplifting picture.
And hey if you still aren’t feeling hopeful, I get it, that’s all a little macrolevel and big picture. So if all of those positive facts that show that the world is in fact getting better don’t help you cultivate hope then I would give something else a try and bring it back to the personal level. It’s important to practice self-care and seek out professional help if it is actually needed.
One great way to put your mind at ease and cultivate hope is by listening to music. Music has been shown to slow our heart rate and breathing rate as well as reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. It also stimulates that part of our brain that releases dopamine which will just all around improve your mood and help you feel more hopeful.
Music also increases our ability to empathetically understand the world and makes us feel more connected with other people. And when you lose hope in the world, you can always find a spark of that hope in the people that you love. Music can even be played or listened to together, which makes it an excellent way to cultivate hope and spend some time with a loved one.
If you really want to feel hopeful then I recommend making a playlist of all the songs that really get you pumped up and feeling positive and then doing a light workout. The combination of music and physical exercise can do an enormous amount to elevate your mood, release dopamine and endorphins, and help you feel hopeful again.
And if that doesn’t work I would put on some uplifting ambient music and do ten or twenty minutes of meditation. Taking care of your physical and mental health can go a long way in helping you cultivate hope.
But if nothing is working and you are feeling hopeless all the time, it’s probably time to seek out professional help. Music therapy in particular can be a great option to help eliminate feelings of apathy and lack of interest in doing things you love!
I hope now that you are at the end of this article that you are feeling a bit more hopeful about the world. I understand how challenging life can be right now. We live in a time when 4 in 10 Americans are unable to afford a $400 emergency expense. So I understand that things can seem so bleak right now. But the night is darkest just before the dawn. And dawn is coming my friends.
But in the meantime getting some positive facts about the world in mind can help mitigate the negative news the media feeds us. And using music and some light exercise can be a really good way to elevate your mood and inspire some hope in your heart!