I think of myself as an optimistic cynic. I'm sceptical of individual motivations but overall I'm optimistic for the future of our species. This semi contradictory view mostly stems from my belief in positive trends over time.

I like to think of human progress and individual happiness as a simple graph. Where the x-axis & y-axis represent whatever metrics we use to define "progress".

Human progress has consistently moved upwards and to the right. Despite setbacks like wars, diseases, and general human stupidity, we've managed to exponentially grow from where we started. Looking back at our species just 20 years ago we can see remarkable progress. The further back you go the more visible it is.

That's because despite the peaks and valleys the progress of our species takes, it keeps trending upwards. We stumble, but we keep going.

The same can be applied to our personal lives. We're not always progressing how we'd like to. There are setbacks and plateaus when we'd rather continued growth. But life just isn't that simple. Focusing on the short term changes in our "progress" makes it easy to feel like you're failing. It's important in those moments to look at the long term trends of our lives. Are you better now than you were 5 years ago? If the answer's yes then you'll be fine. Progress will return soon enough.