It's difficult to know how to make a rabbit happy. It's easier to know how to make organisms afraid.
That's why we started with fear. Now, the big push is to study happiness, but what we mean is reward systems, there, as well - the processes that predict good outcomes.
Do political attack ads work? Of course they do - that's why we do them. Everyone knows the value of fear as a motivational tool.
But what of hope? Hope is airy-fairy, thug-hugging nonsense. You can't rely on hope, right?
That's only true so long as you don't understand it. With the emergence of fields like positive psychology and the exploration of social-emotional intelligence and self-regulation programs, we're going to find the emotional paradigm shifting.
As always, though, politics will be the last to catch up. It's hard to be progressive when you're focused on competitive wins, alas; it's a neurochemical thing.
Have faith, though - the changes we hope for are already happening; we need only learn how to look in the right places.
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