DEVIN HOUS­TON Take a break to re­flect on the good

The Weekly Vista - - Opinion - Devin Hous­ton is the pres­i­dent/CEO of Hous­ton En­zymes. Send com­ments or ques­tions to devin.hous­[email protected] Opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

In the midst of angst and dooms­day events, we should take a minute and re­flect on some of the good things that have hap­pened in our life­time. Our per­spec­tives could use a lit­tle ad­just­ment from time to time.

Re­mem­ber the book “Si­lent Spring” by Rachel Car­son? Pub­lished in 1962, the book de­tailed the hor­rific ef­fects of the in­sec­ti­cide DDT on wildlife and, pos­si­bly, hu­man life. I read the book as a 9-year-old and re­mem­ber be­ing sad­dened by the num­ber of robins and ea­gles killed by the chem­i­cal. Car­son’s writ­ings greatly shaped my think­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment and hu­mans’ ef­fects on the planet.

DDT was banned in 1972 and now bald ea­gles and other wildlife pop­u­la­tions have re­bounded. Reg­u­la­tions on ni­tro­gen emis­sions and par­tic­u­late pol­lu­tion have im­proved air qual­ity in large United States cities such that chil­dren’s lung de­vel­op­ment im­proved. In the 1970s, 88 per­cent of Amer­i­can chil­dren had el­e­vated lev­els of lead in their blood. Once the lead was re­moved from gaso­line, that num­ber has dropped to less than 1 per­cent. The im­pact of lead poi­son­ing was made real to many in Flint, Mich., when lead showed up in the wa­ter sup­ply. Think how much more suf­fer­ing would have hap­pened had leg­is­la­tion not passed to re­move lead from fu­els. What more could be ac­com­plished by putting the health of our chil­dren ahead of pol­i­tics and cor­po­rate earn­ings?

Carol Bur­nett was hon­ored at this year’s Golden Globes award cer­e­mony by ac­cept­ing an award named af­ter her. The 85-year-old co­me­dian was just as witty and hu­mor­ous in her ac­cep­tance speech as she was in her younger years. She starred in a va­ri­ety show that ran for 11 years from the ’60s into the ’70s and fea­tured celebri­ties, singers and pos­i­tive hu­mor. Some 30 mil­lion view­ers tuned in ev­ery week to watch, as did my fam­ily. She cor­rectly noted that such shows could not be done to­day as the cost would be pro­hib­i­tive. But you can still see much of her show on video and on­line streaming. Good com­edy never goes stale!

Since 1820, the num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing un­der a democ­racy grew from 1 per­cent to more than 50 per­cent. In the same time pe­riod, the lit­er­acy rate in­creased from 10 per­cent to 85 per­cent. So many take the abil­ity to read for granted. Now, we start our chil­dren read­ing at age 3 or younger. The abil­ity to read in­creases the qual­ity of life and is a ma­jor in­di­ca­tor of suc­cess and hap­pi­ness in later life.

To­day’s per­va­sive 24hour news cy­cle can keep us in a con­stant state of de­pres­sion if we aren’t care­ful. The things that make you happy are usu­ally within your reach. For me, it’s a walk in the woods or to the river, hold­ing my lit­tle grand­daugh­ter and mak­ing her laugh, or just en­joy­ing a quiet evening at home.

Find your happy place and visit of­ten.

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