Hans Rosling, a doctor and professor of global health, reveals some astounding facts in his new book. He has been working for more than 30 years in the field of international development. In Factfulness， he asks that we begin to look at our world realistically instead of from an idealistic perspective.
Based on his personal experiences and those of his family, he shows how our emotions often lead us to blind ourselves to facts or even how the media and our politicians create a distorted view of the world.
His findings are based on data from various sources, such as academic articles, United Nations reports, international organizations and even surveys.
Factfulness shows that you cannot trust your mind when it comes to understanding the reality around you. You must accept that things may be different than what you think they are. This way you will be more prepared for the future.
This book is Hans Rosling’s last one before passing away in 2017. It was published in April 2018 by TED Books.
Hans Rosling, born 1948, was a doctor and professor of global health at Karolinska Institute in Sweden until his death in 2017. He founded the Gapminder Foundation and chaired it until his death. It is a non-political foundation that aims to improve understanding of global development using visualization on the internet.
Factfulness, therefore, is not a book about being “realistic” in the negative sense of the word. It is not a manual on how to face facts. Rather it is a book about what we can do in order to be more effective at dealing with facts – better citizens and leaders, and therefore better human beings.
Here are 10 lessons I learnt from Factfulnes:
1. Embrace a fact-based worldview
According to Hans Rosling, the world is constantly changing, and we easily lose sight of this. This leads to prejudices and preconceived ideas.
“The real problem is not whether the glass is half full or half empty. The problem is that you spend so much time worrying about the shape of the glass instead of focusing on how to get more water in it, worrying about whether something is fair instead of focusing on whether more needs to be done.”
How you can use this lesson: Stop worrying about what other people think of you. Be more concerned with finding ways to improve your own life and your own world.
Focus on the process, not on outcomes. Like a scientist, strive to follow your curiosity and ask questions, rather than fearing failure or embarrassment.
If it is not broken, don’t fix it. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to change everything that we find unsatisfactory in society just for the sake of change itself.
2. Be aware of your cognitive biases
One of the most important things in life is to be aware of what’s going on. A lot of our decisions and actions are based on our unconscious cognitive biases, which makes us naturally inclined to ignore the truth and be wrong. The best advice that Hans Rosling gives for this is: “Never believe anything until it has been verified by two other sources”.
How you can use this lesson: Pay attention to what is really happening in your life and take care of yourself.
Before you decide to change something in your life, think about what could happen next. The consequences can be anything from a positive change that you hope for, to an unknown evil that comes along with the new situation. Be aware of the risks and don’t be afraid to leave things as they are.
3. Take a global perspective
It is easy to focus on your own problems and think about how they relate to the whole world. It is much harder to do the opposite—take an interest in other people’s problems and understand how they affect you.
How you can use this lesson: Talk to others about their concerns and honestly listen to what they have to say. Get to know people from different parts of the world and try to learn from them and raise awareness for their struggles.
In most cases, we act in a way that is not in our best interest. This can be a result of our own actions or because they are dictated by others.
We are often not aware of these things and we therefore don’t see any other options than the ones that other people set out for us. When you are aware of this situation, you can always take control of your life in a more decisive way.
4. Don’t just look at the facts
According to Hans Rosling, learning more facts is not enough. You also have to use all the knowledge that you acquire to think about them and make up your mind.
How you can use this lesson: As previously mentioned, it is important to learn about the world. When you are faced with a decision, ask yourself why others do what they do. Think of other factors which are not so obvious and try to understand them.
This will help you to better understand why things happen the way they do. Don’t just take things for granted. Be cautious about your environment and keep an eye on what’s going on around you.
5. Question authority
When we listen to opinions that we don’t agree with ourselves we tend to think that it doesn’t matter. But when someone speaks about something that we know or believe in then we become disrespectful and critical of what they say.
How you can use this lesson: Question the way people think in your everyday life. Don’t immediately agree with what they say. Practice this with politics, science, the media and even everyday decisions.
People are just people—not better or worse than you. Look at yourself critically and don’t let yourself be fooled by lies or false facts that are often spread without forcing people to question them because it is “the truth”.
6. We are surrounded by beauty
Like in most of the books written by Hans Rosling, facts are often beautiful and interesting to look at. At the same time, he uses the metaphor of an orchestra for this particular book to affect the reader’s way of thinking.
The idea behind this is that we are surrounded by beauty: nature, society, our body and even mathematics and music. It is important to notice these things so that we can enjoy them more. At the same time, it is also important to recognize the beauty of chaos because it helps us to live in a more accepting world.
How you can use this lesson: Look at all the beauty around you. Be curious about what’s going on in your surroundings. It’s interesting and fascinating.
A beautiful world helps us to live in a more accepting world. In this way, you will be able to see the good things in your life. And when you do that, you’ll start to feel happy and benefit for yourself.
7. Live a life without regrets
Regrets are something that we all experience on some level of our lives – but only if we think about them consciously. It is a good life lesson to actually think about what you regret and not compare your regrets to someone else’s.
How you can use this lesson: Think back on the things that you have regretted in the past. What is one thing that you wish you would have done differently? Try to change it by making a decision to do so next time.
It is important to keep the present in mind and focus on what we are doing now. And when you do that there is nothing that you can do to change the time.
8. Embrace change, but not all at once
Hans Rosling advises us to make changes step by step and not in one giant leap. It takes time to adjust and get used to the new situation that we have created. Once we’ve done so, it will be much easier for us to continue everything in the same way as before.
How you can use this lesson: When you are changing something in your life, focus on it step by step and use the rest of your life as a reference point. This helps you to get used to change and makes it easier for you to continue as before.
9. Be curious and avoid hate
Hans Rosling advises us to be curious and not to hate people who are different from us. He believes that it is important that we take a step back from our own comfort zones in order to see beyond the superficial things surrounding us.
How you can use this lesson: As previously mentioned, it’s important to learn about the world. If you have a problem with someone else, try to let go of your anger in a healthy way.
The best way to do this is to see the other person’s point of view and try to understand why they do what they do. You don’t have to subscribe to everything that they say, but try not to hate people just because you don’t like their ideas.
10. Don’t be a slave to numbers
The number one lesson in this book is that we should avoid being slaves of numbers. Numbers are only a tool that we can use to evaluate our world. But this number is often not the most important thing – it is what we can learn from the numbers that count.
How you can use this lesson: Be aware of numbers but don’t let them decide about your life. Focus on the facts and what they mean for you and your own life. This will help you to make decisions in a more thoughtful way and avoid being a slave to numbers as well as other people’s opinions.
11. We are all better than we think
Hans Rosling encourages us to let go of our fears. And, most importantly, he encourages us to do so in our own personal way: whether that means doing something that makes us feel good or doing something that will make the world a better place. It is important to face your fears and do what you want to do regardless.
How you can use this lesson: Let go of your own fears. Do what you want to do and know that you will always be better than you think.
We live our lives in a way that makes us happy as well as making the world a better place. And if we look at it like that, we are all divine and special in our own way – just the way we are.
12. What is a miracle?
Hans Rosling’s magical appeal in this book is that he believes that nothing is impossible. If we believe that anything is possible, then it will become so. And there are many things happening all the time that we don’t know about because they are not documented. Our job as human beings is to document and share them with the rest of the world.
How you can use this lesson: Try to explore the world and see what it has in store for you – it could make you happy, it could make you sad and most importantly, there is nothing impossible.
We have the power to change the world around us in a positive way. It is up to us to do so. And if we are not afraid of what is happening, then it will happen and will be better than we ever imagined.
What we really need to remember is that the world is changing around us very fast and it is important to have a positive view of everything. This will help us to make other people happy and live a better life for ourselves. It will also help us to value what we have, what we are and who we are surrounded by.
And that is the review of Factfulness. It is one of the best books that I have read in my entire life. I have been really inspired by Hans Rosling’s approach to living a better life, which is one of the things that we must keep in mind. We need to live our lives based on facts because not everything should be measured and calculated. We should embrace everything around us and be curious about what makes us happy and what makes us sad.
Factfulness is a book that is changing the way people view their world. It is an excellent book that I can only recommend to everybody. It will change your outlook on life and approach to everyday situations. If you want to live a better life, read Hans Rosling’s amazing text – it will inspire you to do so.
I hope this review will be useful for you. Thank you for reading it and feel free to leave your comments below. I would love to learn what was your most inspiring lesson from reading Factfulness by Hans Rosling.