Spend too much of your thought time in the news, and you may find you lose your faith in the decency and fundamental goodness of others. But the picture presented by most media is skew-whiff, and before you know it, can lead to the distorted impression that human beings are mostly cruel, mean-spirited and selfish. That’s a real loss in perspective.
If you feel like you are losing your faith in humanity, stop focusing on what is wrong with other people, and start paying attention to the kindnesses and acts of charity and love that also prevail.
This post contains a few other suggestions on what to do when you lost faith in humanity. Noticing that you have lost it, and having the intention to address that, is a great start.
Actively seek out positive stories
The most important action you can take to restore your faith in humanity is to take control of where you are spending your attention.
The name for actively seeking out good news is ‘moral elevation’. Moral elevation is that warm feeling you get when you perceive morally courageous acts, such as someone foregoing a lucrative career for a greater cause. Research shows that this boosts positive emotions and inspires us to be better people.
I suggest these sources: Good News Network, Positive News, The Huffington Post Good News, or Daily Good. These sites all focus on positive news stories and gather together tales about the good things that human beings do. Also try Life Vest Inside, Free Hugs Campaign, Newser’s Random Acts of Kindness.
Other things to try:
Here are some things that particularly make me feel in awe of humanity.
Spend time with children
Spending time with my young nephews and nieces helps to remind me of the receptive, trusting state that I was born with. They naturally help you to shed your crusty shell of defensiveness and mistrust.
Do some personal development
I have found that doing group courses, where people are raw and vulnerable, really supports that feeling of connection and helps restore a lost faith in humanity.
Practicing mindfulness (here is a guide) helps you to spot your own unhelpful thinking habits and patterns, such as focusing on a wrong that someone did you, at the expense of all the ways people were generous towards you lately. (Mindfulness also allows us to be fully present in the moment, therefore opening your capacity to be open to potential moral elevation sources.)
Be in the habit of mentally savoring the things that people do for which you are profoundly grateful
Most of us have so much to be grateful for, it’s ridiculous. I’m grateful for my family and friends, but I’m also extremely grateful for acquaintances, like my yoga teacher who gives me a massage at the end of the class, or complete strangers such as the person who lets me across the road.
People are good, which can be easy to forget.
Generally develop the gratitude muscle
Read this guide to how and why to develop a pervasively grateful mindset, which is especially important for pessimists.
Remember that you, and you alone, are responsible for your interpretations
Do your bit to make this world a more caring place
Be the change you wish to see, as Gandhi said. It’s obvious that it is going to make you feel better!
Work on your compassion
Those who are compassionate can more easily look past the surface to see what is underneath another person’s bad behaviour.
Everyone is basically good inside, but throw a few challenging life experiences in our direction, and that basic goodness can become obscured.
Give others the benefit of the doubt and always take the most generous interpretation of their actions possible. It’s not easy, but it’s a practice that will lighten your load significantly.
I really suggest learning about personality types (I recommend the Enneagram), as this will help you to see how others are different from you and improve your empathy.
I also like loving kindness meditation.
Restore your faith in yourself
If you can’t see the good in others, then you are probably on some level struggling to find it in yourself. Why is that?
Figure out what you can do that will fill you with a healthy self-pride again. For me this all comes down to being in integrity with myself.
For more on that idea, read this post on how to like and love yourself.