Letter No 106 - Stop wanting a better tomorrow

Dear friend,

Every night do you go to sleep hoping for a better tomorrow?

Every birthday do you wish for a better year ahead?

Do you pray for better times ahead?

Do you? I do.

But I want to stop.

There is no such thing as a better tomorrow.

You'll say I'm being pessimistic. So much has improved in the world. And you are 100% right. In spite of all our longing for 'the good old times', the world is a much much better place than it was a 100 years. Take a few moments to skim through these facts and charts and allow yourself to feel civilisational pride for all that we have achieved.

Global poverty: In 1820, the extreme poverty rate was 90%. By 2015, it had fallen to 10%. This means that over 1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in the past 200 years. Crazy, right?

Education: In 1820, the global literacy rate was 12%. By 2020, it had increased to 86%. This means that over 90% of the world's population can now read and write. Madness, no?

Life expectancy: In 1820, the average life expectancy was 29 years. By 2020, it had increased to 73 years. This means that people are living more than twice as long as they were 200 years ago. Unbelievable!

I can go on and on.

Access to clean water: In 1820, less than 1% of the world's population had access to clean water. By 2020, that number had increased to 71%. This means that over 6 billion people now have access to clean water.

Access to electricity: In 1820, only a handful of people in the world had access to electricity. By 2020, that number had increased to 89%. This means that over 7 billion people now have access to electricity.

The number of people living in democracies has increased by 10 times in the past 200 years. In 1820, only 1% of the world's population lived in democracies. By 2020, that number had increased to 54%.

The number of women in the workforce has tripled in the past 50 years. In 1970, only 35% of women worldwide were in the labor force. By 2020, that number had increased to 49%. This increase in female participation in the workforce has helped to boost economic growth and reduce poverty around the world.

The number of people using renewable energy has increased by 10 times in the past 20 years. In 2000, only 2% of the world's energy consumption came from renewable sources. By 2020, that number had increased to 20%. This is a positive development for the environment, as renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power do not produce greenhouse gases.

It's worth a read. Makes you feel good.


Yet, did you feel a nagging feeling of cynicism as you read these facts? Did you have some inner voice tell you 'yea yea, this is all fine, but...'

But what about global peace? What about wars? What about terrorism? What about the disparity between the rich and the poor? What about the climate?

Yes, you are right again. There is a lot that still needs to get better. And we must work hard and smart towards these goals. We must fight hard for sustainability, for equity in education, for rights of minority groups and for many many other ways to make the world even better.

But I want to highlight the adjective 'even'. Lets stop hoping for a better world. Lets start praying for (and working towards) an EVEN better world. We live in a world that is already much better than the world gone by, in so many ways. Hoping for a better tomorrow negates all the world and love and blood and sweat gone to make the world a better place than a 100 years ago, or even a year ago.

Hence, I want to stop praying for a better tomorrow. Rather, I want to pray for an even better tomorrow.


The metro in our city Pune has recently been launched. My wife Aarti and took our kids by metro as we went to visit a friend. What a feeling of joy and pride it was. I've grown up in this city. I've cycled through remote streets, been lost driving through inner city roads, taken rickshaws and even hitched rides on scooters and motor bikes. I've traveled abroad and felt 'why don't we have such good infrastructure back home in India'. I've seen the times when India was considered the poorest of the poorest and a 3rd world country. And then when we rode in the metro, a wave of national pride came over me. I almost had tears. Actually I did have a few tears.

Things are getting better. And as things get better, we have more tools to work towards problems that haven't been solved yet. And it will always be so. Things will keep getting better, and we will keep solving new problems and making things even better.

In all this circle of life, I believe in one thing - all we have is NOW.

As a youngster I remember a few times when I felt lost and defeated. I felt this way in times when I felt ashamed of myself for having done something stupid, or when I had been lazy about some work I need to do and suffered failure, or when a friendship or personal connection was broken. I felt very bad. There was pain. And then there was anger. And then there was 'wishing'. I wish had not done this, or said this, or gone there, and all that. And then there is 'next time I'm going to....'. And the the pain and the angst continues.

But I also remember saying this really powerful statement to myself - 'I must be happy and accept what is now, else no matter what tomorrow brings it wont make me happy'.

Think about it. Happiness or peacefulness is an inner state. It's through the world inside that I experience what is happening in the world outside. My inner world must not depend on what is happening outside. If my inner world is a mess, no tomorrow can be better. When my inner world is at peace, then today is nice, and tomorrow will also be nice. I don't really need a 'nicer'. And with that peace I have all the energy I need to solve the problems in the world that I wish to solve.

Lets make our inner world nice. And pray for an EVEN better tomorrow.

And since we are on the topic of 'now', one book I'd like to recommend that everyone read is - The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. Here's the link in case you want to buy it now.



So what helps you make your inner world nice? Can you list down a few things that work for you. Choose things that are completely in your control and not dependant on the outside - not dependant on what happens or what someone else does. I used to be able to do this. Lately, I feel I've lost it. My inner world has been wildly fluctuating in response to what people are saying or doing. I wish to make my inner world beautiful and peaceful once again. And I'm realising how 'not easy' it is.

So I writing to ask you what works for you. The things that worked for me, seem to not be working right now. Well they do work, but I'm not able to get myself to do them. So maybe I can try some things that you suggest. Maybe some of them will work. Actually, not maybe, I'm sure some of them will work. So, if you read this later, shoot me back a reply with your suggestions!

In fratitude,