One of the biggest problems in embracing a more positive view of the world is what is known in psychology as negativity bias. Human beings — indeed all living things — are wired by evolution to be on guard against danger.  Relaxing and enjoying life is not exactly part of the evolutionary program. It is the anxious and vigilant among us that are more likely to notice the rustling in the bushes that may be a saber tooth tiger, even when it is statistically much more likely to be a rabbit. Of course on the off-chance that it is a tiger, the vigilant take action to fight, flee or hide, and are more likely to live to see another day and have more babies to pass their nervous, negative genes on to.

This phenomena is generalized to color our view of the world at large, creating what the researcher George Gerbner called the mean world syndrome, a sense that life is more dangerous that it actually is. We hear it all the time, a general consensus in the media and everyday conversation that we are living in a uniquely dangerous or debased age. Compared to what?  Yes, it is still a dangerous world. But by almost any measure more people are living better lives that at any time in history.

Here are a couple articles I’ve run into recently that fly in the face of our negative consensus reality:

Cancer death rates drop 20 percent in two decades

Most Americans believe crime in U.S Is worsening