When I find myself depressed over present conditions, I can, within one hour, banish worry and turn myself into a shouting optimist. Here is how I do it:
I enter my library, close my eyes, and walk to certain shelves containing only books on history. With my eyes still shut, I reach for a book, not knowing whether I am picking up Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico or Suetonius’ Lives of the Twelve Caesars.
With my eyes still closed, I open the book at random. I then open my eyes and read for an hour; and the more I read, the more sharply I realize that the world has always been in the throes of agony, that civilization has always been tottering on the brink. The pages of history fairly shriek with tragic tales of war, famine, poverty, pestilence, and man’s inhumanity to man.
After reading history for an hour, I realize that as bad as conditions are now, they are infinitely better than they used to be. This enables me to see and face my present troubles in their proper perspective as well as to realize that the world as a whole is constantly growing better.