It seems that often, when I read news articles or scenarios or forecasts about the future - they are negative. Not to mention that Hollywood loves making doom and gloom and destruction and Apocalypse movies about the future.
And as a futurist in professional training, if you look at the data, it tells a pretty bleak story. (Just google Limits to Growth and Vital Signs.) Across the board. We humans are screwing shit up. Bad. For our future. (Because as a geologist once told me, The earth always wins in the end.) But I don't see much benefit in focusing on the negativity. I don't believe in fear tactics as a motivating force. Let me tell you a story that explains why I focus on positive futures.
About a decade ago, I decided to get a motorcycle. I lived in the Bay Area, did tons of commuting and was tired of the parking challenge. A motorcycle got the benefit of using the carpool lanes, lane splitting and rock star parking. But the most important benefit was a technique I learned hugging the curves on Lucas Valley Road in Marin County.
As I wobbled my first-time bambi motorcycle legs through those curves, the fear of driving off the road was unbelievable. Moist spots challenged traction. Wet leaves could equal a wipe out.
Safely speeding to Tomales Bakery my fear was replaced by adrenaline. While chomping on the last of the cinnamon sticks and coffee, I asked my motofriends about driving off the road, and they shared a technique I've used ever since. "Look where you want to go." "If you're coming through a curve too hot, if you look at the gravel at the edge of the road, guess where you'll more likely end up? If you shift your gaze to the center line (if there happens to be one on the patchy mountain road you're screaming down) you may just keep your self on the pavement, tires grazing the gravel."
I learned this indeed was true, on Mt Hamilton road. The curve sharpened and I was going too fast. There was a sheer drop and I thought, this is it - my crash - but refusing to give up, I locked my eyes on the center line, painting a lazerbeam of focus, relaxing the throttle and leaned. I felt the slight shift of my back tire as it traced the edge of the pavement, teasing the gravel. My heart raced as I prepared to enter the next curve - albeit much slower.
This works when you're driving as well. Or when you're executing on lifestyle changes. Or business strategy. It's certainly not guaranteed to keep you on the road, if you're already in it too hot, but it increases your chance of staying on the pavement. And you're not limited to use this technique when you're already in over your head - although it can be a life-saver.
So what does this have to do with my focus on positive futures?
The negative futures are easy. It takes little to no energy to formulate a story about all the bad stuff that could happen. Being negative about this kind of thing really doesn't change it. Or stop it from happening. Telling people how bad it is to do blahdeblah thing doesn't stop someone from doing it. Doom and gloom is merely paralyzing.
It's a rare individual who acknowledges the challenges (seen by others as the negative), but does not react from the negative perspective. It takes ENERGY to think positively. It takes balls to acknowledge unintended consequences staring you in the face. Hard Problems. WICKED PROBLEMS.
However, these wicked problems do have solutions. But they can only be found when you release the grip that negativity has on your attention. When you "human-up," take responsibility for driving a little too hot, and shift your vision to the place you want to be. That positive future.
I don't know if the human species can survive what we've challenged ourselves with - and frankly, I don't give a damn about our survival. It means nothing in the scheme of the universe. (And yet, everything.) These are the cards we have dealt to ourselves.
However, it's a lot more interesting, to play some small tiny role, to attempt thankless efforts to shift the thinking that pulls us out of this tailspin of human devolution. To keep us focused on the place we want to be. We can be. There is no greater challenge for humanity. And THAT is why I am a positive futurist.