No, Life Wasn’t Better in the ‘Good Old Days’

Darius Foroux
5 min readAug 31, 2022

Why a balanced perspective on the past and present helps you to understand the future

If I had been born earlier and started my career 15 or 20 years ago — I probably wouldn’t have become a writer. There are many opportunities to succeed today that weren’t available back then.

Back then, being a totally independent writer who earns a good income was mostly impossible. It’s easier to succeed today than in the past. Otherwise, I’d have had to work for magazines and other gatekeepers.

But thanks to today’s technology and the internet, I’m grateful I can do what I do. Me being a minority also doesn’t negatively impact my career as much as it would have 10 or so years ago. (The impact is still significant. But not as bad).

So whenever I hear people talk about how “everything is better in the past,” I could only think: “Maybe for you. But not for everyone.”

For many of us, life has improved because there are more opportunities. And we don’t have to rely on the usual institutions that tend to discriminate.

That doesn’t mean the present is perfect. It’s better, but we still have ways to improve.

Having a balanced perspective on the past and present helps us to see things as they really are. Which helps us succeed in what we do today.

Things are better now

How can we say things are better now? What does “better” even mean? What is progress?

The most reliable way to do that is to find something we can measure. I like how evolutionary psychologist and professor, Steven Pinker, talks about this idea. He’s known for his (overly) optimistic ideas about the present and future.

In his book, Enlightenment Now, Pinker says:

“What is progress? You might think that the question is so subjective and culturally relative as to be forever unanswerable. In fact, it’s one of the easier questions to answer. Most people agree that life is better than death. Health is better than sickness. Sustenance is better than hunger. Abundance is better than poverty. Peace is better than war. Safety is better than danger. Freedom is better than tyranny…

Darius Foroux

I write about personal finance, productivity, habits. My best-selling course, Procrastinate Zero 2, is open for registration NOW: