Social media is the primary news source for over 60% of the population. Why? Because it’s fast and it’s easy. This week on BetterWorldians Radio we’re joined by Dr. Pamela Rutledge, a media psychologist. She studies how we use media and how we can use it better.

Dr. Rutledge says using social media as a primary news source does present some real risk. “It is very hard to determine what is the truth and what is fiction,” Dr. Rutledge explains. And, because our brains are hardwired to pay attention to bad news, we start to understand the world as being more dangerous than it really is.

The antidote? Humor.

Those funny cat videos and silly political memes can actually have a real, positive impact on your brain. Dr. Rutledge explains that something that makes you laugh changes your body chemistry and it can change how you interpret the next piece of news you consume by resetting and recharging your brain. “It can do you a world of good,” says Rutledge.

Dr. Rutledge also talked about the positive power of gaming and how parents can become a safe space for their children to bring questions or concerns about technology. She also shares her interesting take on “selfies” and explains why they can be a useful way to explore self-image.

As Dr. Rutledge says, “Technology is a tool and like any tool we can use it well or we can use it poorly.”

Tune in to this episode of BetterWorldians Radio to hear more about how to use technology well (and to hear Greg tell a bonafide “dad joke.” I’ll admit it, I laughed!).

The idea that games can make a positive impact on the world is near and dear to our hearts at BetterWorldians Foundation. As you probably know, BetterWorldians Radio is brought to you by A Better World, an uplifting virtual world game on Facebook, created by the Hansell family. A Better World encourages social good, positive mindsets, and giving to social causes to make a positive difference in the world. So we were particularly excited to talk this week to Susanna Pollack, the President of Games for Change, a non-profit that empowers game creators and social innovators to drive real-world impact through games. Listen to the new episode here.

Did you know that games are played by two out of every three American households and that the average gamer is 40 years old? It really drives home the point the gaming is for everyone, and the good news is, gaming can have some really positive benefits.

According to Susanna, even just your average game can help players learn to master skills, collaborate, and think strategically. Susanna says, “There are a lot of benefits inherent in playing games, period.” Games that are designed for change take it to the next level.

On this episode, Susanna chats with Greg about how games can increase mental wellness, build empathy, and even improve physical health. “The experience of playing a game transports you into your better self,” says Susanna.

One that really jumped out at me is a game created by Hopelab called Re-Mission, a video game that helps young cancer patients with treatment compliance. The game has helped over 135,000 patients adhere to their cancer treatments and gain a greater sense of personal empowerment and control over their disease.

That’s just one of the many examples Susanna shares about how games are making the world a better place. Tune in to learn more.

By Caitlin McKay

Hi, BetterWorldians! This is Caitlin, the Communications Manager and Broadcast Producer at BetterWorldians Foundation. I’ve been working behind the scenes for four years, producing more than 140 inspiring episodes of BetterWorldians Radio, together with Ray, MarySue, and Greg.

I’m excited today to introduce a new feature on Podcaps. With each new episode, I’ll share some show notes, any links or websites mentioned during the show, and any tidbits that jumped out at me. So let’s get started.

We’ve talked about mindfulness quite a bit on BetterWorldians Radio, because we truly believe in its power to change lives and make the world a better place. Each time we discuss mindfulness on the show, it renews my own commitment to be more mindful in my life to help overcome stress and experience more happiness and joy, and I hope it will do the same for you.

We were excited by Dr. Melanie Greenberg’s fresh take on mindfulness with her book The Stress-Proof Brain. We can all stand to lessen the stress in our lives, especially at a time when it feels like every time you turn on the news there is something new to worry about.

According to Dr. Greenberg, stress isn’t always a bad thing. Stress can motivate us to solve problems and take care of business. BUT when stress is unmanaged it can lead to:

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

WOW! That’s pretty scary stuff, but, according to Dr. Greenberg, there’s hope and it’s called “neuroplasticity.” Basically, neuroplasticity is the concept that we can literally rewire our brains to be more stress-proof. The key to that rewiring? Mindfulness.

Dr. Greenberg calls mindfulness both a skill-set and an attitude that can help you become “a compassionate observer of your own experience.”

Tune in to this episode to learn how you can implement mindfulness into your daily routines to create a more stress-proof brain.

After all, as Dr. Greenberg says “mindfulness has such potential to transform our world,” and is key to making the world a better place.

PS. Dr. Greenberg’s book, The Stress-Proof Brain has even more great information than we had time to cover in this episode. You can pick it up here.  And here’s a link to her blog, The Mindful Self Express.

By Gregory Hansell

Let me tell you a “daytime” story.

We all know bedtime stories—they help us fall asleep. They close our eyes. They clear our minds.

But I’m telling a “daytime” story, a story to “wake up to”. It is the story of how a better world is possible.

BetterWorldians Foundation was created to tell this very story. We will tell it over and over again, in as many ways as we can. So kick back the covers, open your eyes...and listen.

The Sky is Falling

How can we believe in a better world?

People today have become convinced that the world is falling apart, that things are in the worst shape ever. People are lost, confused, and don’t know what to do. “A Better World” can sound like a child’s fantasy, or worse a delusional diversion, when chaos abounds. When people are fearful and angry, they pull back rather than reach out. They cocoon rather than open their arms. They hide rather than seek and find.

Of course, there are real problems out there. We have many challenges to overcome and many systemic issues to address, both here in the United States and also across the world. But running around with our hair on fire, screaming “The Sky is Falling!”, and acting like things are worse than ever is not helping things at all.

This is not the truth of our world and it is not the answer to our problems. All is not lost.

But it can be lost, if we do not pick up the mantle of those before us and continue to strive for the good. Because the truth of today’s world is that things have actually never been better.

The World Has Never Been Better

Yep, I really just said it. You know who agrees? Bill Gates.

On his gatesnotes blog on September 18th, Gates writes:

“These days, a lot of people look at the headlines and think: The world is falling apart. I have a different view. I think the world is far from falling apart. In fact, it has never been better—more peaceful, prosperous, safe, or just.”

I know it’s hard to believe this—to even imagine it—with all the dangers, inequalities, and divisiveness that abound. But we are as starving people standing before a banquet in disbelief. Such a table of plenty is so astonishing that we can’t even see it, we refuse to believe it is even there. And so we continue to starve, hoard food, and fight each other out of fear of scarcity. We are creating our problems by ignoring the solutions before us. This “cure” of negativity and fear is killing us, because we’ve identified the wrong disease.

Believe it or not, a veritable Mt. Everest of Data is out there to prove Mr. Gates correct. First, the Gates Foundation itself leads world in both initiatives to improve the world and reporting that shows their work and that of many others is making a substantial difference. In their 2017 data report, the Gates Foundation clearly shows that remarkable progress has been made...but that momentum and lives can be lost if humanity turns back now from its lofty goals. Gates himself also wrote the foreword to Charles Kenny’s Getting Better, which “dispels the gloom and doom with a wealth of convincing data on the remarkable, underappreciated progress that almost all developing countries have achieved over the past several decade” (ix). But perhaps most convincing and exciting is the new 800-page Springer handbook, The Pursuit of Human Well-Being: The Untold Global History. This groundbreaking research, funded by Halloran Philanthropies, shows compelling proof of substantial progress in every corner of the world. Things are getting better and better, folks. You might as well get used to it.

So what gives? If there is all this evidence for things getting better, why do things seem to be getting worse? Because, for most human beings, data doesn’t cut it.

The World Is Not Enough

It looks like James Bond was right: “The world is not enough.” An actual entire-world’s-worth of data isn’t enough to convince people to reject a mistaken belief. Christopher Graves, founding president at the Ogilvy Behavioral Science Center, shared some fascinating data of his own in a recent talk at the Games For Change festival in New York City.

Graves showed that people simply cannot, by facts, be convinced to overturn their convictions.  Astonishingly, even well-researched, black-and-white data only serve to aggravate a listener when what is presented disagrees with their worldview. Data is not enough and can even be counterproductive in persuading folks to a better point of view that clashes with their preconceptions.

Nevertheless, there is hope in story. Graves presented additional research showing that stories have the ability to persuade where data does not. Narrative has an immersive power to reach people at a fundamental emotional level where they can be convinced to change their minds. Such is the power of story that it calls upon core aspects of our psychology to pick us up and carry us along with the narrative flow.

A compelling story thus has the power to change minds and thereby actually change the world.

What’s The Story, Morning Glory?

A morning glory is a flower which opens with the first morning sun. What daytime story do we want to wake up to? What story will help wake us from this dark night to the daylight all around us?

What is the right story to welcome a new glorious day of global cooperation and progress? What is the convincing narrative that compels people in the United States and around the world to believe again in each other and in what is possible when we work together in common cause and for the greater good?

In the aforementioned blog post, Gates writes: “Armed with an understanding of how many challenges humanity has overcome so far, you’re inspired to do whatever you can to help solve today’s problems and prevent tomorrow’s.”

As we see it, today’s challenge is creating and launching a powerful narrative engine that can transform fears, doubt, and cynicism into enthusiastic belief and participation in making the world better together. The right story therefore must include the context for the negativity and doubts that real folks have, but supersede those concerns with a higher narrative that directs them toward a positive, constructive way of thinking and living.

Put differently, we need a compelling meta-narrative—a story of stories—that allows people to rethink challenges as opportunities and allows them to reconceive their fears as growing pains for a better world. People may become fearful from warnings, but they can only truly put their faith and trust in a sweeping narrative of optimism, progress, and possibility.

Welcome to BetterWorldians Blog

Telling this inspiring daytime “story of stories” is our work here at BetterWorldians Foundation. We do this through our BetterWorldians Radio podcast, interviewing “The People and Ideas Changing The World.” This includes founders of impact organizations, titans of industry, academic experts, spiritual leaders, bestselling authors, and many others.

We also tell the story through our #PeaceBegins social media memes, such as our Color Your World With Kindness video. And coming soon, we’ll be sharing our vision with workplaces, looking to share our story with businesses in showing how this message makes for happier, healthier, and more profitable organization.

The BetterWorldians Approach is to Educate, Inspire, & Motivate people with Positive Thinking, Positive Values, and Positive Actions. Here on BetterWorldians Blog, we’ll update you on all of this, but more importantly we will be building on the story itself: sharing research, gathering data, looking at new trends and new ideas, and putting together the pieces of how we can all make it a better world.