How Shifts in Societal Norms are Improving Human Gratitude

Our world is safer, healthier, and richer than ever before.

This is a fact-based statement. If you’re an ardent supporter of and watch the corporate-controlled mainstream media, you’re likely to believe the world is in rough shape. Parts of it certainly are. I encourage you to visit Public Radio International’s website to read the article or listen to the interview.

PRI’s website provides meaningful data about positive changes bettering society. According to the Human Security Project, more than 596,000 people lost their lives during war globally in 1947. In 2006, battle deaths were roughly 17,000. According to Hubermann & Minns, humans worked approximately 70 hours per week in 1870. In 2000, that number averaged just shy of 40. The World Bank and Bourguignon and Morrisson found that in 1820 roughly 85% of the world’s population lived in poverty. As of 2000, that number was barely over 20%. Polity IV conducted research to identify what percent of the world is ruled by democracies. In 1799, nearly 0% were democracies. In 2009, roughly 89% of the world’s people were governed by democratic structures. In a short period of time, we’ve come a long way. I provide this data to suggest the human race is headed down the appropriate path to eventually positively serve all 7.7 billion people who inhabit earth.

I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio, but I’m aware we still have a ways to go in stopping war, offering equality to all, and giving more people economic mobility. Instead of listening to that negativity day after day, I’m simply a bigger fan of listening to podcasts, watching TED Talks, and engaging in meaningful conversation about what action we can take today to drive the positive societal change we seek.

As a result of the beneficial changes referenced above, we’re also seeing social norms change at an increasing pace. As an example, for quite some time men were required to wear suits and women needed to wear pant suits or dresses to work. Now, people wear jeans, t-shirts and sneakers to work five days per week. With the rise of ride share services such as Lyft, most parents feel comfortable placing their 15-year-old daughter in the car with a complete male stranger. That rarely, if ever, happened 20 years ago.

When I travel, I prefer to stay at AirBnBs so I can directly help a struggling student, mother of three or hard-working family with extra cash. Hotels and resorts are still viable options, but they feel indirect to me. I can’t talk to a hotel employee the same way I can talk to and help a hard-working father while standing in his backyard. Perhaps, you use Facebook’s Messenger app? If so, you have consented to allowing Facebook to record audio of you and to take pictures and videos with the camera at any time without your confirmation. Did you ever imagine you’d live in a world where everything (and I mean everything) you do could be recorded, stored and replayed 50 years from now? I’m sure you can name others… increasing focus on nonprofits, entrepreneurship is cool now, we document our lives on social media, etc. Social norms are radically different.

You may disagree, but what I see happening is a return to small town values. The content of your character and the gratitude you feel are what attracts opportunity to you. Because society is safer, healthier and richer, changes in social norms are offering people the chance to be the most authentic versions of themselves. It’s also offering them more opportunities to help others achieve their dreams. The collective consciousness is slowly building. People can wear what they want, talk more with strangers, and add more value to others’ lives. Human character and behavior is improving daily as we’re far more transparent, more grateful and kinder.

Technology hasn’t driven a wedge between diverse peoples, it’s bringing the people who may not normally cross paths together in cars, in homes, and on social media at a scale humanity has never seen.

Instead of blindly listening to the mainstream media, I encourage you to think conceptually about possibility and to feel gratitude to be alive at this point in history. The opportunities in front of you are limitless. People are coming together, deepening relationships and placing the content of their characters into the world for all to see.

Character, how you treat those who can do nothing for you, is power. I feel a deep sense of gratitude we’re now afforded the opportunity to impact the world in whatever way we see fit.