Some early mornings, as I drive down my dirt road, I’m greeted by horses as they run to the fence. They buck and snort, released from the confines of the barn, enjoying their freedom. Almost giddy, they gallop wildly out to the open fields that are green with possibility.
I feel it, too — a tangible, buoyant optimism that says it’s time to celebrate. July in Minnesota is summer at its sweetest, and this year it’s even more special as the world returns to some semblance of normal.
It’s a time for fresh air, fresh food, and fresh perspectives. Little things we once took for granted — hugs, handshakes, getting together for a barbecue — now somehow feel sacred. We understand how important these things are to our well-being.
It’s a time to mark milestones, including Experience Life’s 20-year anniversary. I’m so proud of the intelligent, beautiful ways it has grown.
It’s a time to enjoy our accomplishments, personal and professional, and let it all sink into our cells, our bones. We pause, grateful for the lessons of the past, yet knowing we must prepare to gallop toward whatever lies ahead.
I myself have a renewed commitment to the importance of education. As the Healthy Way of Life company, Life Time aims to educate individuals so they’re empowered to take charge of their own well-being — through movement, good nutrition, sleep, stress management, relationships with themselves and others, and more.
But this is just the start. It’s also about caring for our communities and our planet, the latter of which is facing an extreme crisis. I’m alarmed we’re not addressing this with more urgency.
I believe we can take it on, though, with a collective focus on education, aligning in one global effort around all the factors that influence the environmental health of this planet we call home.
For instance, I recently learned more about the technologies that are being developed to genetically engineer more-productive plants and crops in anticipation of the global population growing to 10 billion by the year 2050. That number and the modified growing methods that experts say will be critical to feed that many people are worrisome.
We’re already putting strain on land resources for agricultural purposes (more than half of the world’s habitable land is used for it right now). At the same time, we’re diminishing natural habitats and endangering many forms of life that rely on them to survive.
If the population grows by another 2 billion people over the next 30 years, the remaining land we have is likely to be claimed for mass-production agricultural purposes. How long will our planet be able to sustain these practices — and all of us?
Regenerative farming and soil restoration are solutions, but they will take years, if not decades, to adopt and adequately implement. These shifts simply won’t happen fast enough to accommodate the burgeoning population and its drastically increasing footprint.
Yet there are reasons to be optimistic — and they’re centered on education. Plenty of research shows a correlation between education and lower birth rates (and thus, slower population growth). When we ensure everyone, everywhere, has access to learning and is equally empowered with knowledge, new doors are opened.
Education is a proven resource for helping each other step away from scarcity and toward possibility; it makes both personal and economic growth something everyone can achieve and is a tool for reaching our full potential.
Knowing this, we can align around clear objectives and deadlines that focus on quickly increasing access to education, which can influence the rate of population growth. This will require allocating as many resources as possible to building schools and supporting teachers in places in the world where population is rising the fastest.
It’s imperative we start now. As the calendar flips from July to August, and our thoughts turn toward school, it’s time to direct our attention to creating educational opportunities for all.
Because education leads to change, change leads to opportunity, and opportunity leads to healthier, happier lives for everyone. By informing ourselves — first on the extreme urgency of these issues at hand and then on the importance of devoting our philanthropic efforts there — we can truly make a positive difference for the good of our own health and that of our planet, too.
I could say this means the world to me, but the honest truth is that it means the future of the world to all of us. By educating ourselves, and as many people around the globe as possible, we can move forward with confidence that this vibrant, beautiful, one-of-a-kind place will exist for generations to come. And that is something we can all celebrate.