Depressed about the state of the planet? Push through it.
June 2019—We all have a lot to learn from Greta Thunberg, the in-your-face young climate activist who just made the cover of Time Magazine. Her despair drove her to find her life’s work.
Just nine months ago, Thunberg had no such audiences. She was a lone figure sitting outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, carrying a sign emblazoned with Skolstrejk for Klimatet (School Strike for Climate). She was there for a reason that felt primal and personal. While Thunberg was studying climate change in school at the age of 11, she reacted in a surprisingly intense way: she suffered an episode of severe depression. After a time it lifted, only to resurface last spring.
“I felt everything was meaningless and there was no point going to school if there was no future,” Thunberg says. But this time, rather than suffer the pain, she decided to push back at its cause, channeling her sadness into action. “I promised myself I was going to do everything I could do to make a difference,” she says.
I remember hearing Elon Musk answer questions about why he is pursuing Tesla, SpaceX and his other projects. His answer was something like,, “Because when I think of the future, I don’t want to be sad.”
So if you’re feeling anxious about the future because of climate change and the other challenges we face, recognize it as a normal phase, what you have to get through—sort of like the angst of adolescence—to discover your place in the world. The advice for the Planet Blues is the same as the Blues. Get moving. Find something you can do. It’s true that you, by yourself, don’t have the power to fix this. But as more and more of the billions of humanity get moving, challenging the society we have and working together to build a better future, together we can.