Fantastic Friday: Peace

One of my favorite positive websites to browse is humanprogress.org. The site is ripe with examples of the strides we’ve made as humans over generations. The site is highly “clickable,” allowing you to find data and statistics for things like falling rates of disease or the success of markets from historic times onward.

I was reading an article on the site recently, “Things Are Getting Better, So Why Are We All So Gloomy?” The article offers several explanations for humanity’s tendency to dwell on the negative. For one, our brains are programmed to over-react to threats (for our own survival). But social media and the 24-hour news cycle also push our exposure to negative things, not to mention the fact that negative things, like deaths and plane crashes, happen quickly; positive things, like cures for diseases happen so slowly that we tend not to notice.

The article reminded me why I started my “Fantastic Friday” feature, and it reminded me that I have been remiss in posting every Friday.

So this week, I wanted to share a small positive in my life. With the recent heatwave, I decided to cut my long hair. I last did this about three years ago:

File photo: a trip to Luray Caverns 3 years ago.

File photo: a trip to Luray Caverns 3 summers ago.

I wasn’t sure how short I wanted to cut, but because I had the potential to cut nearly a foot of hair, I thought about donating it. There are several organizations out there, such as Wigs for Kids, that collect hair donations to make wigs for children–and others–with cancer. As I sat at my computer researching the numerous charitable organizations that collect hair donations, I realized how lucky we are in the U.S., an appropriate observation for the week of Independence Day.

Sure, our nation is not perfect, but in juxtaposition with news stories about, say, Venezuela and their struggles in keeping the country fed and hydrated, I felt lucky researching something as peaceful as hair donation and required donation lengths.

After my research, I settled on a minimum of 8 inches and headed to the salon. Despite the crowded salon, I was able to “check in” online to reserve my spot in line, and I barely had to wait. As I (briefly) waited, I noticed people entering and exiting the nearby coffee shop, ice cream parlor, sandwich store, and supermarket. All were peaceful, even if busy or rushed. All seemed to leave the store with whatever they came for.

Before long, I got the chance to peacefully trade my money for a long-overdue haircut. My stylist was helpful in making suggestions about which organizations to donate to. I ended up donating about 10 inches, and my head feels lighter already.

Chopped hair, don't care!

Chopped hair, don’t care!

The small amount of time I spent contemplating the donation made me reflect on how relatively peaceful our lives are–as well as other positives I’ve read lately. On social media, someone was collecting hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles to replenish supplies at a local shelter. Another was using his very popular corgi’s Facebook account to fundraise for a foster dog parent who had saved the life of an abandoned corgi. Another was offering free baby gear to anyone in need, donating rather than selling it, with the mere desire that someone else bring new life and enjoyment to it.

It’s easy to get bogged down in minor problems, but sometimes taking a moment to think about the big picture is all it takes to ease the weight of the world. It seems the media is always trying to fuel our worries and anger by showing us the worst in people and by making us take sides. But looking at individuals and their individual actions, it’s easier to see the good in humanity.

There is so much peace in our lives. Sometimes it takes only a moment to be still and find it.

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