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Perspective: Trust In The Goodness Of Others


As we get ready for a new academic year, we may be arriving in face-to-face settings as changed individuals. We’re starting the year with diminished energy reserves compared to prior years and less tolerance for the petty annoyances that pop up to thwart our days. The world is not as happy as it once was according to new data. Happiness levels have fallen and life expectancies have taken a dip, as well.

One of the major changes to our lives is the level of trust we place in others. Trust is a key factor in our happiness and when we’re able to trust that the world and its people are good, our happiness can be more positively affected than it is by some elements of income, employment, and health. So it makes sense that when so many of these were compromised in some way by the pandemic that our trust in the kindness and care of others would matter so much. Unfortunately, we’re learning just how selfish – or simply oblivious -- some can be to the wellbeing of others.

We’ve all heard someone say, “It didn’t have to be this way,” about the pandemic and few of us could have imagined just how bad things would get before they hopefully get better. Many of us have lost faith in institutions that we once counted on to protect our wellbeing. Relationships have suffered as common sense was usurped by political divisiveness. Trust is a treasured commodity and it’s something that we should all strive to earn from others.

I hope that as we gear up for a new academic year, from Pre-K to PhD programs, that we’re able to be the kind of person that others can trust.

I’m Suzanne Degges-White and that’s my perspective.

Chair and Professor - NIU counseling and higher education