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Reasons for Optimism in a Stressful, Uncertain Time

reasons for optimismLet me just say, this isn’t going to be a hearts-and-flowers sugarcoated sort of a blog. The fact is, we’re living in deeply troubled times. Every day it seems like we’re hearing about a new terrorist attack somewhere in the world and another shooting in our own country; the Republican presidential nominee tells us we’re unsafe and only he can fix it but meanwhile, the Democrats are getting hacked left and right.

Yep, these are troubling times. And I’m not one for false uplift. But I am a believer in searching for optimism and locating your sources of hope as a way to combat mental health symptoms. So here are some true reasons for optimism.The number one reason for optimism? Look around at the people you actually know. The vast majority are loving and caring. They share your feelings of horror and fear about the direction of the world. They want better for themselves and their families.

That leads into the second reason for optimism: communities. The way communities come together in the wake of terrible events is a beautiful thing. It speaks to human resilience, compassion, and love.

As a therapist grounded in attachment theory–which has a lot of science behind it and tells us that emotional bonds and connection are what make us stronger–those kinds of connections are incredibly powerful. Empathy is the way forward.

There’s obviously a lot of hate out there. But another source of hope is the movements that have sprung up to counter that. Bernie Sanders’ movement is based in compassion and he was successful in getting many of his progressive ideas adopted into the Democratic platform. As Sarah Silverman reminded us at the DNC convention, that’s what democracy is about.

And Black Lives Matter is still going strong. It’s the civil rights movement of our time, and think how much the civil rights movement accomplished. The United States history is a story of progressively becoming more inclusive, of greater empowerment for the disenfranchised.

Think of the strides made by the LGBTQ community. Think of the tremendous outcry and backlash at North Carolina’s legislation. Think of gay marriage being a reality, of love without boundaries.

And then there’s that whole first-woman-nominee-for-president thing. Whether you like her politics or her personality, you’ve gotta admit, it’s pretty huge for equality. That particular glass ceiling has officially been kicked in.

This is not a political blog; it’s a mental health blog. And the reason I cite all of this is because the darkness that we feel outside of us can invade our insides. So we have to combat that by looking for the light.

We can also combat it by looking to ourselves. What actions are we taking to make our corner of the world–our communities–better? Maybe you’re already in a helping profession like teaching. If so, recognize that you are doing your part, every day. And if you’re a stay-home parent, you’re doing your part, every day. And if you’re mindful of kindness and compassionate and those who are less fortunate and you reflect that through your behavior, you’re doing your part, every day. And if you want to be part of a larger social movement, you’re doing your part, every day. You’re combating the darkness. You’re bringing us all in to the light. And look around. You’re definitely not alone.

 She’s also a novelist. Please visit her author page for details.


Reasons for Optimism in a Stressful, Uncertain Time

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2016). Reasons for Optimism in a Stressful, Uncertain Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Jul 2016
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