If you read my article Hope in the Time of Doomsaying, you may think, “an optimistic mindset is all well and good, but how can I take action to promote hope in the world?” I’m glad you asked!
Yes, taking on an optimistic mindset (which is under the bigger umbrella of the growth mindset) is just the beginning. You’ve taken a big step away from negative self-fulfilling prophecy. When you take on life with a solutions-based approach, your beliefs, decisions, and behaviors will conspire to make positive life events more likely.
This is not a guarantee that everything will go your way, but you’re on the way to developing the mental resilience to encounter inevitable challenges with a “can-do” attitude. This shift isn’t an overnight change, however. Just like working out at the gym, cultivating a new mindset takes continued practice and effort.
Alright, now it’s time to take action as a prophet of hope to counter the doomsayers. Here are some suggestions:
The Human Respect Foundation
You can be a prophet of hope if you take the world as it comes, and default to the heroic principle of respecting the humanity of those you encounter. Yes, sometimes this means honoring the humanity in others even when they don’t return the favor.
Now, this doesn’t mean being a doormat or a punching bag. I’m not suggesting if someone physically attacks you or mentally abuses you that you need to sit back and take it. It’s a fallacy that giving compassion means being meek and complaint to the abuses of others. When abused, defend yourself.
Nietzsche wrote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” I’m not saying you should see other people as monsters. However, human behaviors can be monstrous. So, don’t emulate the behavior you wish for others to change. This is part of what it means to “be the change you want to see in the world.”
To take it a step further, you must live the change, do more than speak pretty words, and set an example for others. Yes, actions can be much more convincing than words, especially in an age where we are inundated by a global flood of written and spoken words.
There is no guarantee that someone will respect you back, but you honor yourself and the other person by taking initiative in a positive direction. It takes time to change ourselves and others. Our monkey minds always seek to protect us from aggressors with the knee-jerk reaction of physical and verbal violence.
But if we want to be leaders in the world and stack the deck in favor of cooperation and community, someone must step out of the cultural rut of ideological warfare dividing our country. Someone must choose to no longer play the destructive game.
Play Big, Even If You’re Small
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. How often do we feel insignificant? How often do you think “I’m not a celebrity or a politician, what can I do to change the world?”
You don’t have to be “big” to make a difference. We need to step away from the fixed mindset that tells us we need to be famous or have tens of thousands of Twitter followers to change the world. No matter your aspirations, if you want to make the proverbial dent in the universe, you have to stop thinking about the size of that dent.
When it comes to changing the world, you can—and probably should—start small. Work on improving your own part of the world. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Become a Big Brother. Tutor kids to help them improve their grades. Start a men’s group in your community. If you eventually gain more influence (which usually comes from getting out in the world and interacting with people), then you can consider stretching beyond your neck of the woods and helping more people.
In an age in which we can all-too-easily spread our thoughts worldwide, there is a glut of opinion and judgement but not enough action to make things better. If actions do speak louder than words, there has been some serious inflation, because we are pumping out exponentially more words than actions.
Everyone has an opinion. Not everyone takes action. Part of being a heroic man is taking the journey out among your fellow human beings. Get moving, guys!