It all started two years ago at Corner Perk, a small, locally owned coffee shop, when a customer paid her bill and left $100 extra, saying she wanted to pay for everyone who ordered after her. The staff fulfilled her request, and the woman has returned to leave other large donations every few months. Now, more customers have been leaving money to pay for others’ food. Some people don’t even buy anything when they come in; they just stop to donate and head right back out.
With the support of the Pepsico Foundation, we have reached more than 250,000 people with loans that allow them to pay connection fees for house taps and to construct toilets. This was done at an average philanthropic cost of $24/person, which, in turn, leveraged more than three times that amount in the form of commercial capital to complete the finance package for each household.
“The Optimism of Uncertainty” by Howard Zinn
We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world . . . An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide by Joshua S. Goldstein
Read the newspapers, and you’ll think that war is worse than ever. But as the book “Winning the War on War” shows, the reality is just the opposite. We are in the midst of a decline in armed conflict that is extraordinary in human history. Global peacekeeping efforts are working; large-scale looting, sexual assault, and genocidal atrocities are being stopped. 2010 had one of the lowest death rates from war.
Authentic Happiness is the homepage of Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of positive psychology, a branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.
The brains of happy people are tuned to notice and enjoy the positives in life that may pass others by. Their happy dispositions and set them up for a ‘cycle of positivity.’ The positive outlook on life was not a reflection of naivety or ignorance of the world’s threats and dangers, but an enhanced response to positive events and the opportunities around them.
Halfway through the ten-year Millennium Village Project in rural Africa, the results are exciting: agriculture production is up significantly, free basic health care is in place, malaria is coming under control, many more children are in school, and farmers are organizing cooperatives to diversify their crops and raise incomes.