Positive thinking

My own life

This insightful Op-ed by Oliver Sacks gives the reader a glimpse into his struggle with cancer. Faced with his own mortality, he ruminates on how to live his life to its fullest, most productive best. He employs the philosophy of David Hume, regarding detachment from the present, and chooses instead to deepen his connections with the landscape, with the people around him and with himself. He claims, instead, to detach himself from negative aspects of the world around him, paying little attention to sensationalist news or the inevitability of climate change. Rather, he prefers to put his limited time to experiencing life in its entirety.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Oliver Sacks:

A month ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out: A few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent. I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted. ...read more

The power of hope is real

Nicholas Kristof writes about the power of hope for the poor, in this article. Evidence shows that aid can overcome disease, boost literacy and save lives. Poverty causes stress and depression and lack of hope, and stress and depression and lack of hope, in turn, cause poverty. Researchers are now studying whether exposure to religion might have a similar effect, improving economic outcomes. A large-scale experiment shows, with rigorous evidence, what works to lift people out of the most extreme poverty. And it’s exhilarating that one of the lessons may be so simple and human: the power of hope.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Nicholas Kristof:

An awkward truth for bleeding hearts like myself is that there has never been much rigorous evidence that outside aid can sustainably lift people out of poverty. Sure, evidence is overwhelming that aid can overcome disease, boost literacy and save lives. But raising incomes is trickier — and the evidence in that arena has been squishier. Now that’s changing. A vast randomized trial — the gold standard of evidence — involving 21,000 people in six countries suggests that a particular aid package called the graduation program (because it aims to graduate people from poverty) gives very poor families a significant boost that continues after the program ends. Indeed, it’s an investment. ...read more