Understand the world? Holy cow, I don't know if it is possible to understand our complex, crazy world. That's looking at the bigger picture. I generally feel like I have to turn away from it to maintain my sanity. Just the stuff going on in the U.S. alone is overwhelming. Turning away from the world at-large is very useful to remind me of what I can actually control--not much.
Consider, however, bringing "the world" down to my personal life and my quite limited sphere of influence. My spiritual practice is one means to turn away regularly. Swimming, golfing and yoga are other ways. I appreciate the 12-Step wisdom that each of us is neither above or below our fellow human beings on the ladder of self-worth. The Universe does not revolve around me. Turning away from the world gives me the opportunity to let go of the myriad things beyond my control. That frees me to focus on what is mine to do, and with that proper focus, I can make much better sense of my world.
Right now, I'd love to turn away from my world by lazing on a warm beach...