Researchers project that 50% of the world’s population will be short-sighted by the end of 2050. The result of spending so much time focused on little screens in our hands and on our laps, and not enough time outside. As disturbing as that may sound, it is just the latest example of our growing short-sightedness.
Increasingly, we seem to focus most of our energy thinking about how our actions will affect us in the short term versus how they may affect others over the long haul. Perhaps there is a Darwinian element to this.
We are wired to be on the lookout for threats and opportunities that will impact our immediate ability to eat, stay safe and survive. But shouldn’t we have evolved to better weigh short-term gains versus long-term opportunities — for ourselves, our family, our community and country?
- Business leaders look to maximize quarterly earnings instead of realizing when their workers earn a decent living, it’s good for long-term business.
- Politicians are in perpetual election cycles focusing on who will vote for them next instead of how their vote will affect others down the road.
- And we treat our water, air and our environment like it is an unlimited resource with little consideration for future generations.
Nicholas Kristof recently wrote a provocative piece about how we have evolved to “systematically misjudge risks.”
As we think about climbing the ladder, it is natural to focus on making sure our hands and feet grasp the next rung. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pause to enjoy the view and make sure we haven’t been stepping on anyone else’s fingers or toes along the way.
So many great things are achieved when we look beyond ourselves and see how things are achieved together — whether that’s traveling across the universe or just climbing over a common obstacle.
Imagine how far we could all go if we approached more challenges in our life like this: