Why the new year will be even happier

We keep getting healthier
The healthy food trends of 2013 will continue in 2014. People take responsibility for their own health. We prepare our own meals, with local products such as vegetables from our own garden. We check the origins of our food and are critical about meat. Fish consumption will increase and more people are having meals without animal products at all. Milk is often replaced by soy-, rice- or almond milk.
There is progress in medical science as well. Recent breakthroughs in research on cancer, malaria, obesity and Alzheimers gives hope that these diseases can be treated better in the future. Furthermore, our life expectancy has jumped. Global life expectancy was 47 in the early 1950s, but had risen to 70—a 50 percent jump—by 2011. Also, between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of children who died before their fifth birthday dropped by almost half.
“There is not a single country in the world where infant or child mortality today is not lower than it was in 1950,” writes Angus Deaton, a Princeton economist who works on global health issues.
Poverty, war and violence decrease
Global poverty has been decreasing for years. Even though the overall population is much bigger, 721 million fewer people lived in extreme poverty in 2010 than in 1981. Also, fewer people die in war; the worldwide rate of death from interstate and civil war combined has declined from almost 300 people per every 100,000 during World War II, to almost 30 during the Korean War, to the low teens during the era of the Vietnam War, to single digits in the 1970s and 1980s. Now it is less than 1 per 100,000. Additionally, fewer people die as a result of violent crimes. In 2001, 557,000 people were murdered—almost three times as many as were killed in war that year. In 2008, that number was 289,000, and the homicide rate has been declining in 75 percent of nations since then.
Life is becoming more sustainable
A crisis is not something to be thrilled about. But we’ve grumbled enough about that. The crisis showed us a lot of positives as well: optimists see opportunities in setbacks. People get motivated to live a sustainable life. The upcoming sharing economy is one example; young people place less importance on possessions and embrace sharing and borrowing. They just want to have temporary access to products and services. In the last ten years, the percent of young car owners in Amsterdam decreased from 24 to 16 percent. Food sharing is popular as well: more food is being shared or sold to neighbors, instead of thrown away.
The new year, 2014, holds incredible promise. Take advantage of it.
Photo: bayasaa/Flickr

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