Pessimistic? I’m Grateful

November 3, 2016
min. read

Terrorism, war, crime, inflation, recession. Social media and the 24-hour news cycle of perverse pessimism and incessant fear mongering makes many feel we are living in terrible times. That our country, and the world, is somehow worse than it was 25 or even 50 or more years ago.

Ironically, in this era of rampant negativity, despite what we hear, we’re witnessing the greatest improvement in global living standards ever.

Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labor and infant mortality are falling faster than any time in human history.

Life expectancy at birth has increased more than twice as much in the last century as the last 200,000 years.

The risk that an individual will be exposed to war or die in a natural disaster is smaller than anytime in history. A child born today is more likely to reach retirement age than her ancestors were to live to their fifth birthday.

The death toll from famines declined to just 2% of what it was 100 years ago even though the population is 4x larger today. From 1961 to 2009, farmland increased by only 12% while farm production increased by 300%.

I bring this up not for debate, but rather perspective during a time where the focus is all about the negative.

There’s plenty of things we can savor from the past in today’s world, simple things that make life worthwhile.

There are choices we can make every day to make our lives simpler, easier and more enjoyable.

Ultimately, it’s why the Gleason Group exists: to help you make better financial life decisions and focus on what matters most without worrying about money.

Our Challenge to You

Take a moment to pause and reflect on your own life and that of your kids compared to your parents. Take a look at the things that weren’t around or available when you were a child, not to mention when your parents were growing up.

Then send us at least one example of something you are grateful for, an example of how you are living better today than you were just 10 or more years ago or how your kids are living compared to your parents.

Life is short.

Positivity and happiness are contagious….spread it.

Looking Back

When I was born (1974), half of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today it’s one in 10, and the trend is still improving. In the last 25 years alone, the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) estimates that about 2 billion (with a B) people have been freed from a likely state of hunger and 285,000 people have gained access to clean water every day.

The exponential progress of technology during my lifetime is nothing short of amazing. We carry around more computing power today on our iPhone than NASA had when it launched the first space shuttle.

The result of all these life-saving technologies has been the quickest extension of life spans the world has ever seen. In almost every age group, fewer now get cancer. In fact, cancer deaths have dropped by 22% over the last two decades. I could go on, but enough with the stats.

Here’s an example from personal experience:

At age 10, my son Carter began experiencing serious symptoms of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which was debilitating to his quality of life.

He was unable to sleep at night and just not able to be a happy kid due to his OCD. Seeing your child in dire stress and being unable to help is one of the worst feelings imaginable and a stress I would not wish on anyone.

As a family, we made our number one priority to understand OCD and do everything we could to get him the help he needed. We utilized several medical professionals who provided us treatment and guidance based on an abundance of research.

I’m happy to say that these efforts and medical guidance have changed the quality of his life dramatically. He’s been able to sleep at night and enjoy his life.

Time has flown by, but he's still doing great. He’s in college and as much as I can tell, a happy, well-adjusted, young man. I know we’ve got a long way to go in parenting (it never ends with our kids at any age), but I’m happy he’s had a foundation of happiness over the last several years that 25 years ago – whether due to medical research, progress, general access or awareness – may not have been possible.

There are many things for which I’m grateful: my family, friends and the opportunity to do meaningful work I love with people I care greatly about.

It’s truly an honor each and every day to help you enrich your life, help fulfill your dreams and reduce your worries about money.