Climate change. Peak Oil. Nuclear disasters. Political dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction. Murder and war…

From watching the news, you would think we were all going to die by tomorrow at the latest — possibly before the clock ticks away the rest of this very hour.

I used to be fully immersed in this kind of gloom-and-doomerism.  During that time in my life, a few things happened:

  • My finances went to hell, and I racked up over $100k in debt from a failed business (along with other debts from personal spending).
  • My relationships with friends, family, and colleagues degenerated — in some cases quite seriously.
  • My living environment went downhill substantially as junk I thought I might need “in case the world ends” piled up around me.
  • My work nearly stalled out, because why push anything forward when the world is about to end?

Fortunately, I’m well beyond that phase now, and I’m happy to report that each one of those things has seen a dramatic turnaround.  The debt is largely paid off, my living situation is far better, my relationships are healthier, and work is progressing with FUN at a phenomenal pace.

It is now only an occasional interaction with someone that reminds me about where I used to be just a few short years ago, totally immersed in doomerism.

Yesterday was just such a day.

I had a conversation with someone who wanted to improve her life but still had two feet firmly planted in the doomer camp, not to be uprooted by even my best efforts. She was sure the world was going to hell because of climate change. It was so clear to her. We were all going to end in floods, fire, and brimstone, and only cockroaches will survive to eat the plastic scraps off of our discarded electronics and mutate into giant monsters. OK, she wasn’t THAT gloomer-istic, but she was negative enough to remind me of those old days when I was in that mode. It was a cynical, depressing mode to be in.

As your thinking goes, so goes your life. If you focus on all the things that can go wrong, are going wrong, and will certainly go wrong, guess where your own life goes?  You guessed it: it goes wrong. That person’s life will not improve until she gets “de-doomerized.”

So how much doomerism and fear are you practicing in your own life? Where is that taking you? It’s a question worth asking.

Don’t worry, climate change IS happening. Absolutely.

I do not deny that climate change is happening. Climate change is always happening. It is the natural order of things. Ice ages come and go. Continents move. Sea currents change. Gasses accumulate then get absorbed. Solar output waxes and wanes.

While the theoretical debate rages on about what the human involvement in this change was, that debate is irrelevant, because…

Change is inevitable in everything in our world.

I don’t know how we as a species got to this point where change freaks us out so much. Change is the order of the day in life. Your body is changing constantly. Politics are changing constantly. Even rocks change constantly as the atoms whir and spin, bonds break and regroup.

Amidst all of this change that is always happening, each one of us gets to make a daily choice. That choice is simple: What part of the change do you focus on?

If you focus on all the bad aspects of change, such as  the myriad ways in which our species is quite likely to die off, you will only amplify that stuff in your own life.  And understand that you cannot improve your health, your well-being, your impact, or your wealth while you’re focused on this stuff. It will cause exactly the same kind of downward spiral that I found myself in from 2007-2010.

On the flipside, you can focus on the positive aspects of change. Take the fossil fuels and global climate change example. Has the overuse of fossil fuels motivated some positive developments? Hell yeah. I drive a Chevy Volt electric car, and it is way more fun to drive than any fossil-fuel-powered beast. It has instant torque, it is zippy, it is tight, it is totally quiet. There’s nothing like pulling up to a stop light, having some driver look over at me with the clear intent to zoom ahead of me, and when the light turns green, quickly and silently disabusing them of their silly notion that electric cars are slow. It is FUN! Would such a car have been built if people weren’t trying to move beyond fossil fuels? Quite unlikely.

There are two sides to every change: the positive side and the negative side.

Change is like a coin, and our work as humans is to decide which side we want to focus on. I can tell you that once you start focusing on the positive, exciting side of the coin, life becomes a wonderful, expansive, fun-filled place of growth, adventure, and excitement.

So I ask you to ask yourself: which side of that coin ARE you focused on? Is that focus serving you? If you don’t like your answers to those questions, remember that change is simple. Just change your focus. Look at the good that’s coming out of changes, and focus on contributing to that good part! Your life will expand in great, positive ways you probably couldn’t have imagined.

Dr. Morgan Giddings