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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 24-hour 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.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 01/09/2019

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