Learnings from TIME Magazine’s Optimist Issue

Bill Gates was a guest editor for TIME Magazine recently. He centered the issue around optimism and got many people he admires to contribute columns on various topics. A number of great quotes stuck with me, either from the writer or a person they were citing. I’ve listed them below:

— Henry James: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

— Malala Yousafzai: “I think it’s pointless to be hopeless. If you are hopeless, you waste your present and your future.”

— Bill Gates: (paraphrasing) A lot of the value in parenting is the willingness to make time.

— John Lewis, on Martin Luther King Jr.: “I never in my years around him saw him down. Never saw him hostile or mean to a single person.” Lewis again: “Don’t get down. You cannot get down.”

— John Mueller: (paraphrasing) People take remarkable economic improvement in stride and then deftly find new concerns to get upset about.

— Summary of Steven Pinker’s column on the disconnect between pessimism and optimism: People tend to see their own lives and local communities positively but think the rest of the people in the country are miserable and the world is falling apart. The news creates this perception. They play on our tendency to grasp for images and stories rather than stats. We also are a species evolved to focus on what can go wrong rather than what can go right. Nostalgia for our past makes the present seem less great because time heals most of the troublesome events from prior years. Memory is a feeling more than the details. And our memories become distorted over time, which makes it easier to think the old days were better.

— Summary of Bono’s column on how men need to help women in the push for gender equality: His daughters remind him there is nowhere in the world where women have the same opportunity as men. The number of girls not in school (130 million) is larger than the total population of Germany or Japan. Give a girl one year of extra schooling and her average wage as an adult increases by 12%. His wife’s advice to him: “Don’t look down on me, but don’t look up to me either. Look across to me.”