How did the world become a place where we fear others, sue them, keep our children away from them, while we know little, if anything, about who they are and what they think? Let’s have a look at the impact of statistics on our beliefs and find out how we can choose to brighten up our world again.

My childhood memories, and those of many of the people I know, include being outside and playing with other kids, having warm, familiar people around us and generally having faith in other humans. As a child, strangers were interesting to me and I knew that the adults in my life, even if they were hard on me, would help me in case of trouble.

When we were kids, we rode our bikes or walked everywhere. Most of the time, our parents had no idea where we were, but they knew we were OK. If they needed us, it would take them only a few questions to find our whereabouts or get a message to us.

For the most part, life was free, both for the kids and for the parents, and people were kind.

Nowadays, people are unapproachable to most kids. Parents teach them never to go anywhere with them, never to eat anything they offer and generally to spend their time in the safety of their home, school or place of care.

Parents take extreme measures to supervise their children’s location and company, equip them with mobile communication devices and spend a lot of money keeping them occupied and “out of harm’s way”.

For the most part, life is now stressful, both for the kids and for the parents, and people are scary.

“How did this change come about?” you ask. Good question! It’s probably because of statistics.

You see, statistics tells us that one out of every X people get hurt by somebody every day. Most people take this to mean “I might get hurt by one of every X people that I meet. If I meet less people, I will get hurt less”. So they go out less, invite fewer people to their home and generally stay away from others.

This over-simplifying of statistics is both incorrect and counter-productive.

It is incorrect because statistics are complicated and group together results from different locations, times, age groups, genders, public moods (peace vs. war) and various other things. Most of the time, we cannot really tell what happened specifically.

But the reality is that for each of us, life happens 100% of the time. When something happens to us, it happens, and when it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. That is not statistical. That is deterministic. Either things happen or they don’t. In reality, some people get hurt, perhaps even more than once, and some do not. Not even once. Just because something happens one in X times on average does not mean I’m going to get hurt at that ratio.

It is counter-productive because we think of crime as an uncontrollable phenomenon, which randomly happens to people. The statistics don’t say what type of behaviour led to the person getting hurt, so we relinquish control of our life to a random world, instead of doing the best we can with what we have.

But in reality, we have control of our actions and feelings. There is a beautiful quote, called “The Serenity Prayer”, which sums it up nicely:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference

Let’s look at the statement that there is a one in ten chance something bad will happen. Would you agree that, at the same time, this also means there is a nine in ten chance that everything will be OK? We can choose to be scared of the one or happy about the nine, right?

Yet our choice extends well beyond how we interpret chance, because sometimes we do get hurt. What then?

Take most crimes, other than those who render the victim dead or permanently disabled – assault, rape, robbery, kidnapping. The duration of the actual crime, horrible as it may be, only ranges from a few minutes to a few days, but the emotional effects can last a lifetime, sometimes as long as 70 years!

What makes the crime consume the entire person’s remaining days, is the MEANING they assign to the crime.

These people label themselves as victims and give up feeling loved, happy, safe and confident for years and years, thus compounding the effects of the crime that victimised them, and they do that on their own. Once the crime is over, there is nobody else sitting in their head and tormenting them. They torment themselves.

What’s more, some of the people related to crime victims have had nothing done to them directly, but they choose to regard themselves as victims and stop feeling good for years. You probably know such people yourself, who have been devastated by a crime committed on somebody else.

Consider this: at each point in time, we cannot be certain that anything bad will happen to us anymore. We choose to believe that it might and live a life of isolation and fear. We could choose to live a free and happy life instead, sharing our joy with all the people we meet, and this belief will be closer to reality for the vast majority of people.

At every moment of our life, our past is over. It is unchangeable.

Our power is in the moment and our rewards are in the future

There are many stories of people who have chosen to live a full life, be that after a crime, illness, accident or disability. As hard as it may be, they put the past behind them and live every minute for a happy Now and a joyful, fulfilling Tomorrow.

The universal law of attraction: In life, you get what you focus on

If you believe that people are bad, you actually bring bad people into your life. You perceive people as bad, then behave towards them as if they are bad, which then causes them to behave even worse, thereby reinforcing your initial belief that they were bad in the first place.

If you believe that people are kind and good, you will bring kind and good people into your life. You will smile at them more, so they will smile back more. You will help them more, so they will help you more. You will trust them more, so they will trust you more. This may not happen all the time, but it will happen most of the time and, for you, it will be the way of the world.

In November 2006, I went with my family and friends to the Queen Street Mall to offer FREE HUGS. For a few minutes before I held up my sign for the first time, I felt the jitters. I feared resentment from the crowd, police apprehension and ridicule.

What I got instead was incredible love from men, women and children who wanted to hug someone. Being surrounded by scary people is hard. It wears us down. These people were hungry for acceptance and trust and relished the opportunity to get them. They thanked us, told us stories and even grabbed some signs and hugged others for a while.

Since that day, I see kind-hearted people wherever I go. I see smiles. I see friends. You can choose to see them too!

Author's Bio: 

© Ronit Baras, Be Happy in LIFE - life coaching.

Ronit Baras is a life coach, educator, author, journalist, justice of peace and public speaker living in Brisbane, Australia, specializing in relationships and families and an expert on motivation for kids.