In no particular order, here are 10 trends that are making our world a better place to live. Yes, there are negative trends out there, too. But, for the New Year, let’s accentuate the positive.1
1. The Decline of Smoking
This trend has been ongoing for some time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.1 percent of adults smoked cigarettes in 2015. That was down 1.7 percent from 2014 and almost 10 percent since 1997. Smoking is now at an all-time low and that includes a decline in secondhand smoke. Today, most restaurants are completely non-smoking. According to CDC, a person who has quit smoking costs about $1,000 per year less to care for. Risks like heart and lung disease go down immediately and keep going down with time.
2. Postponement of Retirement Age
The most obvious benefit of postponing retirement is the extension of the earning/saving years. Postponing Social Security increases the size of the benefit, as well. But that’s not the best news. There is a growing body of evidence that continuing to work is good for your health and happiness. It increases socialization and longevity. It also gives employers the benefit of knowledge acquired over a lifetime by older workers and productive work habits developed over many years.
3. Resurgence of Cities
There’s no doubt that cities in general and Pittsburgh in particular are staging a comeback. Carnegie Mellon University and its spinoffs have become leaders in the technological boom experienced in 21stst Century Pittsburgh. Beginning with the introduction of organ transplantation, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has become a world-wide phenomenon. The revitalization of neighborhoods like Lawrenceville was both unexpected and, frankly, amazing. Celebrations like Light Up Night, the Pittsburgh Regatta, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and others make the city a great recreation destination. The city’s iconic cultural institutions are alive and well. It’s a lot of fun to live in a city with first class sports teams, excellent restaurants, several new hotels. I hear that even millennials want to live here—a reversal of the prior days when collapsing industry led to a severe population drain.
4. E Commerce and Tech Boom
Today, we can order almost anything on line. There is more selection and price competition than ever. From the looks of things, this trend is only getting started.
It wasn’t very long ago that nobody had a smart phone. Now it seems that we all take for granted that we check email, take phone calls and read the news on the phone in our pocket. It is not an understatement to observe that we are connected to most of the people in the world 24 hours a day. Amazing.
6. Storytelling and Imagination
Books followed by films, beginning in the mid-Twentieth Century have enriched our culture with tales of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, the Lord of the Rings and many others. The psychological impact of this cultural wave is enormous. Collectively, these stories have given us a completely new perspective on the world and the universe. This new mythology has broken through our traditional beliefs regarding the limits of the universe, knowledge and reality. Whether we like it or not, these stories and the characters in them have become an integral part of our culture.
7. Growing Intolerance of Conduct that Used to Be Ignored or Downplayed
Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is no longer brushed off as a minor transgression. In recent decades, legislators, judges and juries have treated these matters more seriously. However, the biggest trend has been the growing intolerance for the exploitation of women by men who use their power as employers or the gateway to career success to take sexual liberties. Our perspective has changed dramatically in this arena and the effects of this change are being felt everywhere.
8. Medical Advances
This is a no-brainer, but belongs on the list. Be glad that medical conditions that were untreatable the past are now be conquered. Be glad that we can make a plan to live a long and healthy life.
9. Casual Dress
The black pin stripe suit as office attire is fading into the past, as are heels and skirts. Is it going to be forever in blue jeans? Seems so. My grandfather wore a starched collar to the office. It’s hard to imagine how we can get any more comfortable.
10. Smart and Green
This is the era of the smart house and the green building. Solar panels are starting to pop up on the roof, even in cloudy Pittsburgh. I am told that we’ll replace the front door key with a clicker very soon and run the household utilities from our smart phones. Maybe you already do those things and more.
Be glad you live in an age of wealth, health and comfort. It won’t last forever, so savor it.