Look for Hope to Boost Mental Health

It’s not been an easy week. From the brutal images of a senseless war in Ukraine, sky-high inflation data and deep market plunges, to the IPCC report that stated boldly that we are not moving fast enough to head off the devastating effects of climate change, we are in uncharted waters. It would be very easy and understandable to lose hope. But maintaining hope, especially in difficult times, is key to mental health and wellbeing. So I’ve started to pay a little more attention when something catches my eye and makes me smile. When something makes me think – wow, the future will be amazing. I want to share a few that I found this week in hope that they help you too.

Renewable Energy is Cheaper… and Not Nearly As Evil

The first was a meme that said “increased cost of wind this year? $0.00”. While I know that’s not technically true, the case for alternative energy is even more obvious when fossil fuel prices are soaring. Auto dealers report interest in electric vehicles has jumped 10X. But it’s not driven by the IPCC report. First, it’s the basic laws of economics — high gas prices influence demand for more fuel efficiency. But longer term, we’ve all just gotten a front row seat for what Putin, financed by fossil fuel funds, will do. It’s horrific. One of the best ways for us to stop him is to take away his oil-fueled piggy bank, and bonus, we help save ourselves longer term in the process. As my friend Suzanne Shelton lays out in a great article, “Let’s use this stark, clear moment in time to rally the world to teach him a lesson by cutting back on our energy consumption.”

Beverage Printers are Coming

The second was a little announcement introducing Cana, “a molecular beverage printer for every home”. Seriously? The Star Trek replicator is here? Dave Friedberg, an early Google exec turned successful entrepreneur, has spent three years and tens of millions of dollars perfecting a machine that can make wine, that evidently tastes just like good wine, at home out of molecules. It can also make beer, coffee, tea, hard seltzers and juice. Why does this matter? Bottled beverages are mostly water — and shipping water all over is really expensive and takes a lot of fuel. Bottles, especially plastic, also don’t get recycled consistently. Growing the fruit, hops, tea leaves and coffee beans takes land, water, and often chemicals. While I have mixed feelings about the impact of this innovation on farming economies, I am blown away by the magnitude of carbon emissions savings from eliminating growing, centralized manufacturing, packaging and shipping for bottled beverages.

The Resilience of the Human Spirit

From a bomb shelter in Kyiv this week came a video of Amelia, a 7 year old girl, who told her mothers friend that she wanted to be a singer on a big stage. The friend said, “why don’t you start now?” Amelia, in her sparkly star sweater and braids, turns to a full audience of other shelter inhabitants and sings, very well I might add, “Let It Go” in Ukrainian. Since posting, the video has been viewed millions of times and Idina Menzel herself tweeted about it. This story struck me for so many reasons. First, we live in such a tightly interconnected world now. Seven year old girls in every country love, and can sing, songs from Frozen. They can tap into audiences of millions, even from a bomb shelter. Second, kids find ways to thrive in the worst of circumstances. We could learn from them. Lastly, Amelia and her brother are now safe in Poland with their grandparents. But their parents stayed behind to cook for the forces defending Kyiv. Which is just one of millions of examples of everyday Ukrainians sacrificing their own safety to defend freedom and democracy. I hope they inspire courage for what needs defending here in the US.

Companies are Being Bold

Last but not least, we’ve seen companies stepping up in significant ways. We featured several this week at a webinar focused on employee driven humanitarian responses. Brands are also leaving Russia in droves. My hope is that all these departures, and the communications that inevitably surround them, somehow break through the wall of disinformation and help everyday Russians understand what’s really happening in Ukraine. Then we may see examples of even more every day Russians courageously stand up to Putin, which might be the only thing that gets him to stop.

One can hope.

Quote of the Week:  “A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you something.”

Bill Bernbach

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