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We are so influenced and consumed by the outside ‘noise’ that in March, as a personal challenge, I gave up Facebook for ‘Lent’. While I’m not particularly religious, 40 days seemed a good guide to give up a leisure activity that often robbed my productivity.

What have I been doing since March 6th? Listening to audiobooks and learning all kinds of ancient knowledge from YouTube. My estimate is that I’m well over 250 hours into this new self-enriching way to spend leisure time. 

A friend recommended a book that Bill Gates gave to ‘every graduate’ last year in the US. I don’t know how many books that is, but it seemed a very high indicator of how much he valued this book. Therefore, I felt it is one that I too needed to consume! #FOMO

So I have a question for you: 

In the last twenty years, the number of people who live in extreme poverty around the world has:

A.  Remained the same
B.  Almost doubled
C.  Decreased by almost half 

The answer is C. Was that your answer? If it wasn’t C, don’t feel bad because according to Swedish scientist Hans Rosling, we typically score lower than chimpanzees! Pardon? Yes, most of us see the world much worse than it actually is. The chimps guess while we think we know. That is a scary concept.  

Okay, here is another question. Over the last 20 years, the number of people who have died in climatic disasters (floods, earthquakes, etc.) has:

A.  Remained the same
B.  Almost doubled
C.  Decreased by almost half 

You know where this is going now. Well actually, it is a bit of a trick answer as it is even less than half.

According to UN data, eighty (80%) percent of people around the globe:

  • Have electricity
  • Have access to basic medicine to vaccinate their children

The current child mortality rate (death before 5 years old) in Africa has decreased dramatically to now be at the 1952 rates in Europe. There is also tremendous optimism to lower this number much more over a shorter period of time. And did you know that ninety (90%) percent of girls around the world go to primary school?

Before I read Hans Rosling’s book, Factfullness, I realized my view of the world was incomplete. The progress of our human journey is making larger leaps and bounds than we are led to believe. Not to say there isn’t still tremendous work to do. However, it seems only right to recognize the progress we have made. Current society’s impatience reduces ideas, issues and progress to 144 characters and 30-second sound bites. The challenge is making that same society understand that it has taken centuries to make this incremental progress!

Hope you are able to give yourself the gift of time this summer and unplug to reconnect to YOU!

Timely yours, 

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