10 Lessons Learned From Studying History

  • Cooperation does more to improve the quality of human life than isolation or self-sufficiency. This is why the standard of living has risen substantially for most people in the world and why we have fewer wars (yes, we really do have fewer wars).
  • Doomsayers and utopian dreamers always turn out to be wrong. Stay balanced, don’t get swept away by fear or ideology.
  • Violence never creates lasting peace. Violence begets more violence.
  • Autocracy tends not to be sufficient leadership and its suppression, and sometimes oppression, often lead to rebellion and destruction. Empower those you lead (including your children).
  • People tend to overestimate their own abilities and underestimate the abilities of others. Destroy your ideas of self-supremacy.
  • If other people scoff and laugh and call you a fool and say it can’t been done, then you are probably on the right path.
  • The future will likely be one of economic and social progress, as this has been the trend (though there have been many setbacks and there will be more). Don’t let negative or nostalgic stories from the past cause you to believe that the human story is one of degeneration. The truth is that for most of the global population things have been getting better, not worse, in almost every way.
  • History is riddled with stories of people (especially those in positions of power) who refused to listen to others, resulting in disastrous consequences for themselves and others. Think for yourself, but also learn from others.
  • Many of the things you think you know will likely one day be proven wrong or misguided. Be humble, keep learning.
  • Other people will often do what you don’t expect them to. People are resilient and hardworking. Don’t underestimate anyone. Human beings are survivalists, we know how to adapt, innovate, and find meaning. You have these qualities, and you are not the only one.