The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

Number 135

This issue:

Meta Optimism


Appreciate that optimism is on at least two levels. Include the recent Human Security Center data in your meta optimism.


Look a newspaper or the TV news and it is easy to conclude that the world is becoming more violent and chaotic. A study by the Human Security Center at the University of British Columbia reported in October, 2005 that the opposite is the case. Since the end of the Cold War,:

  • the number of wars has been declining
  • the average number of deaths per conflict has declined from 37,000 in 1950 to 600 in 2002
  • the number of conflicts declined by 40% and is at the lowest number since 1976
  • the number of democracies in the world has been increasing

Why the favorable trend? The researchers speculate that

  • democracies are far less likely to go to war
  • there is a strengthening sense of an international community
  • interventions and world opinion are constraining many despots
  • the Nuremberg trials and cases against Milosevic and Taylor have had an impact
  • the UN and the world has learned lessons from failed interventions and are now more skilled at interventions

To their reasons I would add that:

  • the world is becoming economically interdependent
  • the Internet and cell phones are making information more difficult to suppress
  • China, with one-fourth of the world's population, is volving from a world threat to a more democratic, less isolated country.

I am not trying to make any Republican or Democratic political statement or suggest complacency. I am suggesting that as the Beatles song says, "I've got to admit it's getting better. It's getting better all the time."

Most people think of optimism in terms of things that immediately impact them, e.g., Will today be a good day? Will my career improve? I would like to suggest that we also have a meta level of optimism--a perspective on whether the world is a friendly place and whether the world is getting better or worse. It is comforting to learn that there is solid data supporting a meta optimistic view that the world is getting better--that mankind is succeeding in making the world a better place.


The most fundamental question about the world is, "Is the world a friendly place?"

~Albert Einstein

War makes ratting good history; but Peace is poor reading.

~Thomas Hardy

The war that will end war will not be fought with guns.

~(source unknown)


Q: What's the most costly war America has been in?

A: The "Civil" War.

I love war and responsibility and excitement. Peace is going to be hell on me.

~General George Patton


Congratulations to Dr. Albert Hofmann on his 100th birthday. Still vital at 100, Dr. Hofmann is the inventor of the "problem child" drug LSD. A symposium is being held in his honor. Details are at

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