Find the good amidst the gloom

‘The battle to feed humanity is already lost.’ That’s the cheerful assessment of a book called The Population Bomb, which was published in the 60s. It concludes we in the western world will have starved to death by the early 80s.

Now a UN report published this month underlines 2018’s ‘increased number of intense hurricanes [and] the heat waves and wildfires in the northern hemisphere’ were the cause of severe climate change. Add that to our usual shopping list of catastrophes – depleting oil reserves, rising sea levels, overpopulation, Trump, Brexit – and it seems the overarching narrative of human evolution is one of limited space and finite resources.

Every generation someone is telling us we’re all screwed.

This constantly updating roster of Doomsday deadlines makes it very difficult for me to remain optimistic about the future.

I graduate in four months. I want to be able to land on my feet with a job as soon as I toss my mortarboard in the air.

So it’s pretty disheartening for people to say that by the time I get myself hired and find somewhere to live, we’ll be fighting over the last pack of cornflakes and horseshoes will have replaced British sterling as the new hard currency of the Brexit apocalypse. In an attempt to insulate myself from such societal trauma, I subscribe to the idea we should be positive about our futures.

There are plenty of delights which reinforce this fact: carrot cake, hot water bottles, woolly socks, books, bicycles, weekend sleep-ins, love, hugs, dogs and Kylie Minogue.

It helps to find the good amidst the gloom. Identify those small pieces of goodness making you happy, and make them immediately accessible. Set the home screen of your phone as a photo that will always make you smile. Listen to music, all the time. Eat cake. Find the good and keep happiness close to hand.

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Liam Heitmann-Rice

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January 2022
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