A practical guide to staying happy in our modern world.

After watching BBC’s Years and Years recently, I’ve been finding it a bit of struggle not to let the current state of our world impact my mental health. In case you haven’t seen it, Years and Years is a drama series that begins in 2019 and propels the characters 15 years forward into an unstable world. The parallels are unmissable. From a new leader finding power in populism to a refugee crisis, it’s stark reminder of what can happen when we become complacent and feel we don’t hold any responsibility for the actions of those in power.

Ultimately, the series ends in hope with the main characters finding a way that they can change the course of history and expose the horrific actions of their government. I’d certainly like to think that this will be the case for the human race too.. and there is a part of me that does believe that good will triumph over bad but I’m also very aware that we do not live in a movie. Real life just isn’t always that fair, or just.

From the austerity cuts in Britain to the concentration type camps for those trying to cross the American border, it is becoming harder and harder to see the good in the world. It’s overwhelming. And as a single human being, I feel pretty helpless and also guilty for my lack of action.

Good things still do happen. The standard of living, on average and as a whole, has increased and is better than ever. In Hong Kong, a billionaire has paid for the tuition of an entire class of students. Breakthroughs in medicine are happening all over the world, increasing the chance of survival for things that were once seen as death sentences and there is heightened awareness around taking care of our planet.

But even so… avoiding the reality that there are still so many suffering while cuts are being made to the most vital of services is almost impossible.

So how do you keep positive amongst so much frightening change?

I’ve done my best to put together a practical guide to staying happy in our modern world. It’s so important that we continue to feel there is hope – otherwise, we fall prey to inaction and competency.

This must not happen.

1. Do What You Can
It might not be much and it probably wont feel like a lot but I can promise that it will help subside the guilt that we can feel when we aren’t sure how to help. It’s also worth remembering that small actions in large numbers can and do make a big impact. It’s also not always about impacting the big issue but changing something big for one person. Get out to protests, volunteer for organisations trying to fill the gaps where cuts have been made or just donate. If we all take a small step like this, the outcome will start to move in the right direction.

2. Study History
“The more things change, the more they stay the same” It’s bit cliche but it’s also true. There have been so many points in history where the world seemed to have lost it’s mind. For one reason or another though, we always seem to have a tipping point. It takes time (much longer than most of us want) but pressure does mount up and slowly humanity takes notice and demands change, even from those that we believe will never want to face the facts. If you think back to the LGBTQ movement… there was a point where the pressure became so much that you could no longer ignore it or look away. It become to personal. It was somebody’s daughter, father, best friend or cousin. At that point, it became too hard to say they didn’t deserve the same equality and over time, it changed for the better.

3. Try to have frank, open and constructive conversations with those that hold opposing views – And remember they are human too
A sure fire way to shut down a line of communication is to walk into a room ready to fight and prove that you are right. It’s tough not to get a bit fired up when talking about such mammoth issues but it’s also not productive. We have all grown up with certain biases, learned or not and we’ve all had events in our lives shape our outlook of the world. This is what need to better understand. Do not focus on the fact they are wrong or different. Focus on what shaped them to come to that conclusion. It is only then that we have any hope in starting to influence or re-educate their opinion.

4. Practice Gratitude
Remembering what we have and becoming consciously grateful for that does wonders for changing your perspective. The world has come a long way. It’s not perfect and never will be but try to shine light on the progress we have made and also the awareness that is growing around the those issues that make us feel without hope. There are entire organisations, groups and people that works so hard each and everyday to change lives for the better. It won’t happen fast and it most likely wont go out with a bang but have faith and be grateful that others are joining the fight.

I hope these help. If you have any you’d like to share, I would love to hear them! Get in touch through social media or email me at lizzy@discovahealth.com