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Existential Dread


First, a quick note: There's not much new perspective on current events I can offer. Markets are still locked in a volatile pattern and will probably continue that way for the foreseeable future. We're watching the data closely.

Today, I have a big-picture question for you if you're interested.

While absorbing the recent news, we can be forgiven for thinking that the world is going off the rails.

There's a global pandemic, worrying inflation, atrocities in Ukraine, and "unprecedented" developments everywhere.

A fear arises that it's all getting worse, somehow.

If we feel that way, we're not alone. A lot of people feel that way.1

So, let's ask the big question: Is the world getting worse? Or is it actually getting better?

Honestly, I'm not sure that question can really be answered.


I imagine that you've heard the statistics of how far the world has come in terms of measurable progress (it's pretty amazing).

But, though it might be nice to know that global poverty is down or that the rate of people killing people is historically low, that's not really helpful when you're getting gouged at the pump, your kid is home sick, and you're seeing images of ruined lives on the news.

For the first time in human history, we can instantly communicate with folks thousands of miles away and see what they're doing.

We have access to real-time news from everywhere in the world, and because of how the news is constructed, it's nearly always the bad stuff that gets our attention.

Most of us spend hours each day consuming media of one kind or another.2

The question we ask each other has changed from "how are things in your neck of the woods" to "have you heard about {crisis of the moment}?"

We're human. We live our lives one day at a time inside a fairly small bubble. And that bubble is easily influenced by daily hassles, media filters, and our own outlook on the world.

So, what do we do? How do we combat the existential dread and pessimism?

I think this is a serious and important question, by the way.

We need to know how to put things into perspective, for ourselves, for the children and young people who look to us for guidance, and for our loved ones who might need a boost.

A few ideas:

Invest time in relationships with the people we love.

Be selective in the news and media we consume.

Follow our faith if we have one.

Look for beautiful moments and treat them with awe (like that little girl at the fair in the photo above).

Make art, make music, and build something beautiful.

Volunteer, donate, and be the change we want to see.

What do you think? Any advice for keeping it positive?

I'll close by asking you: How are you doing?

What's going on in your neck of the woods?


J. Michael Wood

P.S. Why is a practice of positivity so important? Well, it keeps us from making fear-based decisions, for one. I also think it helps us make our little corner of the world better. Johns Hopkins University thinks it might be a big deal for our health.3