If you’re in desperate need of some good news about the state of the world, then these 100 reasons why the world has become a better place will make you feel better instantly.
If you’re following the news, you are no doubt under the impression that life on planet Earth is dangerous. There are war and trouble brewing everywhere. Horrible diseases are threatening our health. Endangered species will soon have vanished. And the general health of our beloved globe is on a slippery slope downhill.
A counterweight to bad news
But what the media presents is less than half of the full picture. It’s actually a pretty warped view. All you need to do is change your focus and you’ll find plenty of good news as a counterweight.
The very nature of any counterweight demands that it focuses on the opposite. When reading through the following list, you’ll no doubt find room for plenty of “yeah, but…”. Some of the accomplishments on this list are solutions to problems that we didn’t have a century ago.
But you can also read them in a spirit of awe about the incredible things humans are able to achieve – especially if they work together on finding solutions to man-made problems. That alone has the power to change your perspective on the challenges humanity faces today. We’ve accomplished so much, there’s no reason to think we won’t also be capable of finding solutions to whatever lies ahead.
If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend my article on the most important self-care tip your for mental health. It’s where I show you how reducing your exposure to regular news can have a massive impact on depression, anxiety, and your overall health. Instead, I suggest you seek out the positive news that get mostly overlooked.
100 reasons for good news
So without any further ado, I present to you my 100 reasons why the world has become a better place already, looking at just the last century:
Home & Comfort
- We have running hot water.
- Pictures are no longer a rare luxury – we can take them anytime, anywhere with phones and cameras, including videos.
- We usually have central heating, leaving fireplaces as a nice-to-have option, not the only way to get warm.
- We get to enjoy flushing toilets in a comfortable bathroom rather than having to go to an outhouse and use grown-up potties at night.
- Fridges and freezers greatly extend the shelf life of many foods and prevent countless cases of food poisoning every day.
- We have easy access to soft toilet paper.
- Packaged food is clearly labelled so we know what we’re getting.
- Air conditioners make our lives easier and more pleasant.
- We get to enjoy hot showers in tiled bathrooms rather than having to take a bath once a week in a drafty room.
- We enjoy stability in our food supply, largely independent of natural disasters, regional crops or wars.
- Dishwashers are standard home equipment today.
- We live in insulated houses if that’s necessary because of climate.
- We are able to shop from the comfort of our couches.
- With LED’s, we have an inexpensive, flexible, energy-efficient way of lighting our rooms with tons of variety and colour available.
- Washing machines save us hours of back-breaking scrubbing on washing boards every week.
- Women are no longer forced to marry or join a religious order to be taken care of – they are free to follow their dreams and live a self-sufficient life, with or without starting a family.
- We have human rights.
- In two-thirds of developing nations, there are just as many girls in primary school as there are boys.
- Scientists have developed a variety of rice grains that are enriched with vitamins and minerals to help fight malnourishment among poor people.
- The global literacy rate went from 20% around 1900 up to more than 85% now.
- The number of teenage pregnancies in Western countries went down.
- The percentage of malnourished people got reduced from 18.6% in 1991 down to 10.8% in 2015.
- Laws are now protecting children against domestic violence instead of encouraging it.
- Global military spending is at an all-time low.
- The number of homicides in the US is back down to the rate from before the crime wave, starting in the 1960s.
- The average life expectancy went up since 1934 – from 34 to 71 years, largely due to the fact that most children now survive their first five years of life.
- The small Asian country of Georgia proves that police corruption can be fought effectively.
- Since 1990, more than 2.6 billion people have received access to an improved source of drinking water.
- Wheat crops have doubled over the past 50 years.
- More children than ever before in history are able to go to school.
- The number of wars between countries went down so massively since 1990 that it is almost non-existent by now.
- With the exception of Vatican City (where there aren’t many to begin with), women are able to vote in every country of the world.
- Since 1960, the global child mortality rate of under 5-year-olds went from 18.2% down to 4.2%.
- The global rate of mortality for mothers was cut in half over the past twenty years alone.
- Over the past 35 years, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty went from 53% down to 17%.
- Thanks to widespread vaccination, parents no longer need to live in fear of losing their children to polio.
- Child labor has been cut in half over the past 15 years.
- Cars are no longer reserved for the rich but accessible to many.
- We get to move on clean, smooth, well-constructed roads and sidewalks rather than bumping across cobbled stone streets and wading through mud ankle deep.
- Cycling is safer now that there are helmets and reflective gear widely available.
- Air travel is no longer a luxury only accessible for the richest of the rich.
- Kids are traveling more safely thanks to car seats.
- We are able to travel the world for considerably less money, much more safely and much more quickly than ever before.
- Cars no longer leave a trail of thick, grey, smokey clouds, thus improving the quality of our air.
- We can pay for parking with apps and thus are able to conveniently extend while still out and about.
- We have cars running on electricity.
- Thanks to services like Skype or WhatsApp, kids can say night-night to their mommies or daddies even if they have to travel for work.
- Most of us carry small computers in our pockets, that are able to guide our way, no matter how lost we are.
- We are able to get in touch with loved ones all over the world, almost instantly.
- We enjoy smoke-free public areas.
- The economy is bouncing back faster after a crisis.
- Laws for the protection of animals are in place and enforced.
- We receive letters in a matter of days instead of having to wait for weeks or months.
- We enjoy the freedom to move and live wherever we want.
- There is some form of social security where there didn’t use to be any social security at all.
- Members of the LGBT+ community are allowed to marry in a number of countries.
Health & Hygiene
- We have doctors within reach who are able to help far more than anyone could imagine a century ago.
- Menstrual cups offer a clean, reusable solution for women, particularly in developing nations with no access to pads or tampons.
- Underground sewage systems have greatly improved the odours we are exposed to on a daily basis and thus reduced the spread of diseases.
- We have access to reliable contraception.
- An artificial pancreas improves the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes.
- More than 6 million deaths from malaria have been prevented, most of which would have been children under the age of five.
- There is reason to believe that reprogrammed T-cells could help cure leukaemia.
- Scientists are developing a pacemaker for the brain to prevent epileptic seizures.
- Scientists also discovered a completely new group of antibiotics to help fight the increasing resistance of pathogens.
- Scientists are in the process of developing a new treatment for hepatitis C with a shorter and less expensive treatment period and a 95% chance of healing.
- Vaccines have saved millions of lives since they were first developed.
- There are new developments in the area of gene therapy to treat blood cancer.
- Since 2001, the number of new HIV infections went down by 33%.
- The number of abortions went down.
- We have access to advanced medical care.
- Scientists are in the process of developing a surgery-free treatment for blindness-causing cataract.
- Antibiotics save millions of lives every year.
- In 2000, roughly half a million people died from the effects of a measles infection – ten years later, this number was reduced by about 70%.
- Keyhole surgery allows doing formerly life-threatening procedures quickly and safely with minimal risks.
- There are bionic limbs, that can be controlled by intention alone, not just by thought (which is awesome by itself).
- Smallpox was declared eradicated in the 1980’s.
Education & Recreation
- We are able to learn on the go or while doing chores, thanks to audiobooks.
- The average time for education doubled from 8 years to 16 years.
- In order to enjoy music, we no longer depend on the dominating taste in our culture but get to listen to whatever we enjoy, wherever we are and whenever we want.
- Entertainment through music is no longer reserved for just the privileged classes of society.
- We enjoy the freedom to choose our profession regardless of our family’s status or vocation.
- The internet provides unheard of access to knowledge and learning for everyone, everywhere.
Earth & Nature
- The hole in the ozone layer is closing again, after 30 years of implementing measures to achieve that.
- Brasil is planting 73 million trees to rebuild the first 30.000 acres of destroyed rainforest.
- Over the past decade, more than 14 billion USD have been spent globally on protecting the biodiversity of plants and animals – and it’s already showing results.
- Recycling allows the repeated use of many valuable materials.
- Solar power is the fastest growing alternative energy source.
- The way things are going so far, there’s a chance that the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement will be achieved sooner than planned.
- The burning of coal and the resulting emission of CO² are slowly going down.
- Numbers of panda bears are rising.
- The numbers of endangered tigers are rising again.
- Cattle plague has been eradicated.
- Numbers of honey bees are on the rise again.
- India planted 66 million trees in the span of 12 hours.
- Our air is much cleaner since less coal is used for heating homes.
- Wind power capacity increased 80 times over the past 20 years.
- Scientists discovered methane-absorbing microorganisms in Antarctica, which could help improve the health of our atmosphere.
- The numbers of snow leopards are rising, so they are no longer considered an endangered species.
- Dying forests, a hot and dramatic topic in the 80’s, came to a halt and trees are doing fine.
Good news for stress relief
I know that not everything on this list applies to every single person on this planet yet and that many of those 100 reasons for good news also highlight that there’s still a lot of work to be done. But by taking a step back and looking at how vastly the lives of billions of people have improved in the course of just one century, I find stress relief, comfort, happiness, joy, and gratitude. It’s my answer to the question of how to feel better and more optimistic quickly.
I’m pretty sure our modern lives come awesomely close to the medieval land of Cockaigne, the imaginary place of plenty. So I hope reading through this list will help you feel better instantly and encourage you to keep your eyes peeled for the positive news of this world.
Maybe it can become part of your self-care routine to check what good news networks have to say rather than exposing yourself to regular news outlets. Start following them and see how this will affect your quality of life. I believe you’ll never look back.
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Note: This article is meant to be a safe space for readers to breathe a sigh of relief and dive head first into positivity. For this reason, I will of course read but not approve negative comments. There is plenty of room for discussion and debate in the vastness of the interwebs. This article is not it.