Do the best you can each day, and make the biggest steps you can make to move towards conscious living (I realize this will vary from person to person!).
What Gives Me Hope
Countries like Brazil, accomplishments of individuals with developmental disabilities and aboriginal youth (both subsets of the population I have worked with), and the awesome power and healing properties of the Earth and her non-human beings.
If I were Mayor, I'd make the world a better place by
Place less funding on military and put that funding towards education, health care, and the environment. Stop all corporate bailouts for car and oil companies, and above all banks and instead invest in local cottage "industries" that support true free market capitalism and promote competition instead of mergers. Give subsidies to those businesses (no matter the size) who make significant efforts to not only reduce their environmental footprint but somehow are able to encourage green and sustainable living/lifestyles for other individuals and businesses. Abolish Monsanto, Agra, and other big-Pharma or big-Agro corporations that seek to destroy human and non-human life on the planet.
What/who changed my life and why
Emile Zola, Naomi Wolf, and Murray Bookchin - all because they have wrote and done things that have significantly changed progressive thinking.