Matthew Lekushoff |


For many, the last 12 to 18 months have not been great. Depending on your views, a laundry list of recent events may have induced feelings of stress, anxiety, and/or insecurity: Brexit; the U.S. presidential election, its aftermath, and Russia's possible role in it; the war on media, the distrust of facts; and the spate of terrorist attacks around the world.

During times like these, I like to take a look at Our World in Data (OWID), an online publication developed at Oxford University by social historian and economist, Max Roser.

Roser created OWID several years ago to combat the inundation of information ----- and misinformation ----- we receive from the 24-hour news cycle and social media. The site presents empirical research and data, generally through an optimistic lens, to show the world is changing. 

A selection of articles recently written by Roser shows that on average, life has greatly improved for most people across the globe over the last 10, 20, 40, and even 100+ years. The really good news is that it seems as though this trend will continue for the foreseeable future!
That all being said, I by no means think everything is perfect. There are still important, systemic issues and problems that need to be fixed yesterday.

Moreover, things can change quickly. Investing money for more than two decades makes one abundantly aware that just because something has been going well doesn't guarantee it always will. I'm always cognizant of the fact that a Black Swan could come out of left field and change everything. We need to ensure we don't become complacent, and continue to work on improving our own corner of the world to make it a better place. With the speed of technological advancements and our accessibility to them, this will only keep opening up a world of possibilities. 

Our unprecedented access to information is both a blessing and a curse. We can look up most things faster now than we could less than a decade ago and have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, including free online course materials from places like Stanford and MIT. 

However, we also live in a world that sensationalizes news (especially bad news) and we haven't evolved (...yet) to filter out the data in which we're currently drowning. Worry and fear were essential emotions that kept our ancestors alive, but unfortunately this inherited hypersensitivity can sometimes cause our emotions to supersede reason. 

It's always important to take a couple of steps back every once in a while to see the big picture.


"Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes."

-----    Kahil Gibran, The Prophet


The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life  by Michael Puett & Christine Gross: A really nice guide and breakdown of many of the most popular and influential Chinese philosophers.
Tao Te Ching  by Lao Tzu (translation by Jonathan Star): Tao Te Ching is considered to be a classic Chinese philosophical text. Tao or Dao literally means "way", but is often more commonly referred to as "the Way". Its 81 short chapters provide guidance and recommendations on how to best live a happy and virtuous life in synergy with nature and the universe. This translation was the best of what I found, as it was the most straightforward and understandable.
Tim Ferriss Podcast with Alain de Botton :  A great conversation with the eloquent writer and founder of  The School of Life  on how philosophy can change your life. De Botton's approach is to concentrate on the more practical and usable parts of philosophy, as opposed to the abstract side.
The School of Life - Eastern Philosophy :  A series of eight short videos that nicely summarize some of the big thoughts from Eastern philosophy.
The Primary Barrier Stopping you From Everything You Want in Life  by Benjamin Hardy: A nice reminder that often the path to our goals and happiness is full of pain, discomfort, fear, and failure. If it were easy, everyone would have achieved their goals!
Emerging Markets Are Not All Created Equal by Visual Capital :  An insightful infographic showing that the various emerging markets are not all affected by the same type of risks.

Matthew Lekushoff

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