How to Restore Your Faith in Humanity


We are all born receptive to love, kindness and hope. As we grow up, we encounter the less hopeful, more challenging aspects of being human, including noticing world issues such as poverty and discrimination, and discovering that the things humans do at times can be hateful, calculating and unkind. Although this can turn us cynical or leave us feeling helpless, human beings are just as capable of the most incredible, amazing and wonderful kindness and love. If you’re feeling a little jaded about where humanity is headed, here are some active ways to restore your faith.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:
Seeing the Good in the World

Spend time with children. If you don’t have children in your life regularly, you’re missing out on the wonders of seeing the world through new, inquisitive and creative eyes. Children are less prone to willful blindness or inability to see injustices and problems. Just by being around children more, and really listening to them and paying attention to what they do, you can start to uncurl from your crusty shell of cynicism and let yourself become more childlike, playful and creative.
Children can cut through the layers of obfuscation which adults use to excuse stupid decisions, procrastination and inaction. Children also don’t mind displaying a sense of awe about the world around them, constantly delighting in new discoveries and in making amazing new connections – between ideas, people and the wider world.
Recognize in your time spent with children that we are born as blank slates, not for causing harm or trouble to others. Having a fixed view of human beings as cruel, mean-spirited and selfishly adhering only to what’s best for each person is both unhelpful and generally untrue.

Ask people to tell you about the happiest moments in their lives. How often do you ask people to recall the happy memories and what makes them happy now? People love talking about what they care about, what motivates them and what makes them happy and yet it’s not always an obvious topic for general conversation.
It’s really important to provide the space for people to open up about their happy moments – it helps them to articulate in front of an audience what matters most to them (and may thereby inspire them even further) and it will help you to see the lighter, brighter and happier side of the people in your life.

Focus on the good news stories, the stories of great kindness and virtuous actions. There is a plethora of positive, inspiring and uplifting stories about the good that people do each day. Yet, much of this positive news gets buried under the sensational, negative coverage that news media seems to prefer. All the same, it is possible to actively choose to increase your exposure to positive news. For example, you can subscribe to news feeds online that only focus on positive stories. And you can selectively follow social media network friends and fans who deliberately choose to share good news rather than bad and who are regularly sharing inspiring things.
Check out such sites as the Good News Network[1] , Happy News[2] , The Huffington Post Good News[3] , or Daily Good.[4] These sorts of sites focus on positive news stories and gather together many kind, caring and warm tales about the good things that human beings do.

Check out your favorite charities online and actually read what their staff and volunteers are doing. Whether it’s the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, the local zoo trying to conserve animals or a faith-based charity, informing yourself about their activities will remind you that people are actively involved in helping others, conserving the environment, restoring the land, caring for animal welfare and lobbying government to make changes that will improve lives and livelihoods.
Browse your local bookstore or library shelves for amazing stories about people in the business world who are transforming society at the same time as running a business. Such businesses are changing the way we “do business” and see the world, including in such areas as sharing of information, making games that educate as well as bring enjoyment, selling fair trade or fairly sourced products, producing eco-friendly items and financial projects that help people to borrow for or invest in small projects that benefit many people in local communities. Social entrepreneurs focus heavily on ensuring that their business makes a positive difference in the world.

Part 2
Part 2 of 3:
Finding Gratitude

Spend time helping people less fortunate than you. A reality check can come in the form of looking at people who are experiencing things 10 times or 100 times worse than you are and yet manage to meet each day with passion and positivity, believing that being alive is its own reward. You can help them, but they can just as much help you.
Rather than simply reading about such people, get involved through volunteering so that you can see face-to-face the hardships experienced by others. For example, you might consider volunteering at a hospice, a hospital for children with terminal diseases or in a disaster relief community where people have lost homes and livelihoods.
However bad things may seem for you, seeing the pluck and determination of those undergoing severe hardships can help you to realize that human beings really are amazing, resilient and deeply profound. It can also help you to balance your own woes and keep them in perspective.

Think about the things that people do for which you are profoundly grateful. If you begin looking for reasons to be grateful, there is a big chance that you’ll find them in other people’s actions every single day. For example, the driver who kindly lets you into the lane instead of speeding up, the shopper who waves you in front of their place in the queue because you have less items, the fellow applicant who helps you fill out a form you find really challenging or the stranger who notices your tears in public and gently asks you what’s wrong. People are good; it’s just easy to forget.
Then there are the occasions of incredible heroism, like when someone cuts you from a car wreck, dives in and rescues your drowning child or runs into your burning house and pulls out your pets. Whether the actions are small or grand, notice what others do and celebrate the milk of human kindness. Untold kindnesses happen every day that could be termed “people just doing their job” or truly be seen for the caring and connecting behaviors that they are.

Read public gratitude journals available online. Reading about how other people find gratitude in everyday things can inspire you to feel more hopeful generally and to see that many, many people genuinely care for the beauty and awe of this world and its beings.
These are just a few common examples. Type “gratitude journals” or “good news stories” into Google to be bombarded with the wonderful things happening across our planet on the daily.

Keep a list of people who inspire you. Make a bookmark on your usual browser and start stockpiling people who inspire you through their actions. Check back regularly for updates they’re making as they progress in their endeavors. And add people who are no longer with us too – past endeavors are just as valuable for they enabled human society to be as advanced as it is today.
Mahatma Gandhi summed it up well when he implored that: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” While cruel and nasty things do happen each day, so do many acts of kindness and joy.

Part 3
Part 3 of 3:
Making the World Better

Encourage faith in your fellow humans through your actions. Try seeing the world in a more trusting, less demanding way. Implement Gandhi’s famous line to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” When you model the kind of change you want to see spread, you spark virtuous ripples that, even if they don’t obviously benefit you personally move forth to benefit others, thereby continuously improving the community of which you are a part. Ultimately, faith in humanity isn’t predicated on what you get back – it’s about knowing that you’re making life a little better, a little easier and a little more livable for everyone you connect with.
Trust more in others. For example, you may take a person at his or her word that he will pay you for a used item he or she has purchased off you. You might loan a neighbor or friend your tools or DVD series without specifying a return date, having faith that the things will return when they need to. Perhaps you have worried in the past as to where your charity donation ends up, or you’re concerned that the homeless person will run off and buy beer rather than a place to rest his or her head for the night, causing you to not donate anything at all. Instead of imposing your will, just give. Have faith that that donation will do what it needs to do.
Sometimes people will do the wrong thing by you, but on the whole, it’s much more likely that you’ll be surprised by how people repay your faith in them positively, returning trust with trust – and gratitude. Implementing this extent of faith in others can be very scary at first, especially if you’ve been very attached to things/money but when you’ve reached this stage, you will have traveled far in restoring your faith in humanity.

Practice random acts of kindness. Try topping off your neighboring driver’s parking meter when you see it’s nearly empty, shouting a stranger an extra coffee while standing in line or wiping down the public shower at the pool after you’ve used it instead of leaving it all muddy. For more ideas, see How to Practice Random Acts of Kindness.
Pay it forward. Instead of asking that your good deed be repaid in any way, ask that the return favor be “paid forward” to someone else in need. For example, perhaps you can afford to help a student attend a course that he or she would otherwise be unable to afford. In turn, ask that student to do likewise in the future for another student he or she comes across unable to afford a course.

Be compassionate. While the inner goodness of every single human being you come across may not be evident all of the time, it is compassion that allows you to dig underneath the surface of the woes, injuries and ills of your fellow human beings. By looking deeper, you’ll often discover what motivates or compels unkind, ruthless or thoughtless behavior. It is in the seeking to understand better why people behave as they do that you can empathize with them and learn tolerance. It is in forgiving people for their lesser self behavior that you learn to stop hurting and give them the gift of freedom to heal themselves from pain and fear and to become the best they can be.
Find as many ways as possible to collaborate and cooperate with your fellow humans. Reduce conflict and competition by encouraging and facilitating collaborative ways to get things done – at work, at home, in your school or college, in the local park, wherever you may be.
Make room for others, even though you don’t know them. When the traffic is thick or the queue is long, let others in. They are human too, they feel as you do, and what a delightful shock to learn that someone else cares about them. Your thoughtfulness will reverberate as many of those you let in will feel the need to let someone else in some other time. And on it goes.

Tell stories of human goodness to other people you know, in order to inspire them to see the good in humanity too. Once you’ve cottoned on to finding positive stories about humanity, share your experience with others to help inspire their positive actions and thoughts. If you have your own blog or you update a social network stream with stories, share more stories that are positive and uplifting. What can you do right now, today, to pass on the stories that show people’s goodwill, their acts of heroism and human virtues?
Celebrate those awe-inspiring moments when people do something incredible, such as forgoing a race win to help an injured fellow athlete, rescuing a pet caught in a burning home, shaking hands with an enemy during a détente in hostilities, etc. By celebrating and sharing the stories, images and creative works that spring up around heroic and altruistic acts of human care and love, you become a part of spreading the power and worthiness of decent, kind and caring actions.

Restore your faith in yourself. Remember that you too form part of humanity. Your preferred world won’t come about by distancing yourself from your fellow humans or by constantly deploring them.If you feel that most of humanity is doomed or facile, perhaps the problem lies within. Henry Miller once said, “The man who is forever disturbed about the condition of humanity either has no problems of his own or has refused to face them.” If you’ve had a hard life, stop being hard on yourself. Learn to forgive yourself and believe in yourself more. Step out of your comfort zone to learn new things and to push yourself to do things that you’re worried you might fail at. Be bold––the world deserves your talents.
If you prefer despair over hope or complaining over action, then you will find negativity wherever you look. On the other hand, you can choose to have faith in humanity, in many of the ways described above. Moreover, you can choose to be kind as a form of taking a stand against the injustices, violence, wastage and hunger in the world.
You may feel powerless in the face of what seems terrible at times but you are not. Kindness is quiet, unobtrusive empowerment of every individual; by being kind, you affirm the kind of world you want to be a part of it.

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