Three Legs of Quality of Life

So this is something that I am learning. 


Quality of life means perspective and balance. 


When people go to the extreme and focus all their energies on any one area almost to the exclusivity of the others in their life, it usually means they are going wrong. 


Some people are “party animals”–life is all about their fun, enjoyment, experiences (and even excessive partying, sleeping around, getting drunk and high), and their very immediate gratification. 


Others are all about work–climbing that professional ladder and earning more money, material goods, and more power is the holy grail and also the bane of their existence. 


And yet there are some people that are focused on faith, family, and community–they are mothers and fathers, religious students and clergy, community organizers and organizers of charitable events and giving. 


The problems is that people need multiple facets of their lives–yes, they need playfulness, interests, activities, hobbies, and fun and joyous times; at the same time, they need intellectual curiosity, professional contribution and achievement, and the wherewithal to be responsible and pay the bills; and very importantly, they need  social, spiritual, and emotional fulfillment from family, friends, giving, and faith. 


When a person stands on only one of these legs, like many seem to–they are on wobbly ground and are likely to fall hard and fast.  


Even on two legs, something is missing in their lives–they are standing tall, but not strong and stable. 


On all three legs, a person can be grounded and able to not just stand for themselves, but able to bear weight like on a stool, and they are can play music and sing and smile, knowing that they have a genuine quality of life that few ever really achieve. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Technology Forecast 2018

Here are Andy Blumenthal’s technology forecast and priorities for 2018.


1. Medical Computing – Continue the significant progress and solve the great illnesses of Cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimers, and so many other horrible and debilitating diseases. Along with longevity, we need to alleviate human suffering and create a higher quality of living for all people.


2. Environmental Computing – Develop more and better clean technologies that can eliminate the Great Plastic Garbage Patch and other heart-breaking garbage dumps and environmental disasters around the world–clean up, breakdown, recycle, and create a more sustainable and beautiful planet for everyone to enjoy.


3. Quantum Computing – Achieve the ultimate processing power and speed of quantum computing to enable us to solve the greatest of mankind’s problems including WMD, and cyber security threats as well as the overcome the transportation and colonization challenges to reach, explore, and settle the depths of outer space.

The Need For Speed

Speed

In the gym this morning, I watched Joel Osteen giving his Sunday sermon on the monitor. 


The guy is a genius–always on message, always inspiring hope, always uplifting the masses. 


Today, he spoke about acceleration. 


The idea was that no matter how deeply bad our situation in life (e.g. illness, debt, demoted) and no matter how many months or years it would normally take us to recover or get out of it, G-d can accelerate things so that we are healed, solvent, or promoted tomorrow. 


He didn’t say this, but as I understand it, G-d is above time and space, and so he can move you faster out of your funk then anyone would normally think.


Osteen gave the analogy of a bow an arrow, and the further back you are pulled–the more pressure and tension you are under in life–then the further and faster, G-d can propel you forward. 


To me it’s interesting that when we are enjoying a wonderful moment in life, that we wish time would slow or completely stop, so we could savor the good times that much longer or just “stay in the moment forever.”


And at other times, when we are down and suffering, the days of despair and defeat can drag on and on, and it seems like the hours and days just don’t pass fast enough…it’s almost like torture in that it seem to go on forever. And that is when, we hope and pray for a speedy resolution to whatever ails us–we just want to be free from the problems, the illness, the suffering–and so if only, we could leap forward in time and this “would all be over.” 


If you are happy, life is too short.  But if you are in pain and suffering, every moment can be torture.


So if we are worthy, time can magnify and be an accelerant for prolonging the good times and getting out of the bad times (or G-d forbid, it can work in reverse as well–shortening the good times in life and extending out the bad ones). 


Similarly, long life can be a blessing if we are healthy and able to enjoy a real quality of life or it can be grueling for those in pain and suffering. 


My wife told me about this news item from a couple of days ago, where a guy won the lottery, but shortly after was murdered–his life cut short–in a home invasion (this “lucky” guy never got to enjoy his winnings).


G-d who controls time (and space) has quite a lot of leeway to test us or meet out justice–just speed things up or slow things down and the experience and feelings are magnified accordingly. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to spitfirelas)

Free Behind Bars

Free Behind Bars

Fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal about going to mock prison to get away from the stresses of life.

Ok, so you know your working too hard, when your only escape is to lock yourself up and throw away the key for a few days.

In South Korea, where they work 18% more than on average (2090 hours per year vs. 1765)–their is a great need to get away from it all.

There where life satisfaction rates a 4.3 out of 10, which is 34% lower than the average (of 6.6), putting yourself in prison is a quality of life thing.

A two-night stay in the makeshift prison for extreme relaxation costs $146–and there you can meditate to your hearts delight.

You can also attend “spiritual classes” and participate in “healing plays.”

Normally smartphones wouldn’t be allowed, but people freak out without them, so they get to check them once a day while on the inside.

Being locked behind bars is a punishment in most places, but here its time to think, reflect, and get back to yourself–most of all you don’t have to go to work on those days.

It’s funny, but one of the hardest things is generally for people just to stop and think–really stop and think–it’s much easier to drown ourselves in endless activity and never have to deal with what’s going on inside.

When we stop to let our thoughts catch up, to deal with our anxieties and fears, to confront ourselves and all the mistakes we make, and to let ourselves feel what can be an tidal wave of pent up feelings–that is a freedom that few can bear to make. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Have You Ever Seen A Shark With Cancer?

Have You Ever Seen A Shark With Cancer

For a long time people have learned from the animal kingdom.

We learn how to fly from birds, how to swim from fish, how to fight from lions and tigers, and so on.

But an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal gave this new and expanded meaning to me.

Researchers are now looking at animals to learn how to ward off some of the worst diseases known to man.

For example, apparently Sharks do not get cancer, but more than that even when scientists spent 10 years trying to induce cancer in sharks, they couldn’t!

Shark have compounds that actually kill tumors–WOW!–If we could learn how to mimic that in humans, imagine the death and suffering that could be prevented, and the extension and perhaps quality of life that could be gained.

Similarly, grizzly bears, which can weigh 1,000 pounds, and can eat 58,000 calories a day, put on 100 pounds or more in the weeks right before they hibernate for the winter, yet bears don’t suffer from routine ailments of obesity, such as diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.

Not that any of us want to be 1,000 pounds, but imagine if heavy people did not get all sorts of diseases from clogged arteries and the like.

While heart disease and cancer each accounts for 1 out of every 4 deaths in the U.S. and are the top two leading causes of death–how amazing would it be if we could not only “talk to the animals, walk with the animals…” but also fight disease like the animals? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Living Longer, But With Worse Quality Of Life

Living Longer, But With Worse Quality Of Life

Watching my parents age over the years has been hard–and very painful.

They are good people–they’ve worked hard all their lives (nothing was just given to them), they are devoted to serving G-d, and they are loved by their family, friends, and community.

They have lived a good life and we are grateful for every day.

Yet as they are getting older, the body like anything physical, starts to get sick and break down.

Both my parents have serious illnesses, and in the last two years my mom has become almost totally disabled and is moving from a rehab center to a nursing home this coming week.

I read this week in the Wall Street Journal, what I’ve been watching with my own eyes…we are living “longer, but not healthier lives.”

Over the last 2 decades, life expectancy has risen 3 years to 78 years, but unfortunately only 68 of those, on average, are in good health–meaning that people suffer for about ten years with various disabilities.

What is amazing is that people are being pressed to retire later in life with an increase in age to receive full social security benefits to 67 by 2022–giving the average person a healthy retirement to enjoy of just 1 year!

With the average working household having less the $3,000 in retirement savings, things are not looking too good for Americans to retire young and enjoy their healthy years either.

Additionally, despite longer living, in the last 2 decades, the U.S. fell from 20th place to 27th place in 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for life expectancy and quality of life.

The leading causes of death remain heart disease, cancer, and stroke. And disabilities are being driven by back, muscle, nerve, and joint disorders.

Seeing with my own parents, the deteriorating quality of life and true suffering as they age, I am left questioning the real wisdom of keeping people alive, when the quality of life has so deteriorated as to leave them in pain and misery.

While no one wants to lose their loved ones–the emptiness is devastating–at the same time, watching them endlessly and needlessly suffer is worse.

I see my mom clutching her wheelchair, always in various states of discomfort and pain, and less and less able to help herself, in almost any way–it is tragic.

So I ask myself is it also unnecessary and wrong?

I call it forcing people alive. We keep people going not only with extraordinary measures, but also with day-to-day medicines and care that keeps their hearts pumping, their lungs breathing, and their brains somewhat aware.

The patients are alive, but are in a sense dying a long and painful death, rather than a quick and painless one.

I love my parents and mom who is suffering so much now, and I don’t want to lose her, by does really caring for her mean, at some point, letting her go.

I tell my dad, “I just want mom to have peace”–no more suffering!

For the average person, 68 years of health is too short, but 10 years of disability and suffering may be too long.

We use advances in technology and medical breakthroughs to keep people alive. But what is the cost in pain and disability, and even in cold hard dollar terms for a nation being gobbled up by deficits, longevity, and miserable disease and disability?

People are living longer but at a significant painful price!

Is this real compassion and empathy or a senseless fight with the Angel of Death?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to wwwupertal)

The Five Phases Of Medicine

The Five Phases Of Medicine

In many respects, medicine has come a really long way, and yet in other ways it seems like it still has so far to go.

For example, while antibiotics are used to routinely treat many bacterial infections, there are few antiviral treatments currently available–and we are left with the proverbial, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

Similarly, heart attacks, strokes, cancers and so many other ailments still take their victims and leave the bereaving family asking why?

In thinking about medicine, there are five major historical phases:

1. Do nothing: Get hurt or ill, and you’re as good as dead. You shudder at the words “There is nothing we can do for you.” Average lifespan for folks, 30s. If you’re lucky (or wealthy), you may make it into your 40s or even reach 50.

2. Cut it: Diseased or damaged limb or body part, chop it off or cut it out surgically. I still remember when the people in my grandparents generation called doctors, butchers.

3. Replace it: When something is kaput, you replace it–using regenerative medicine, such as stem cell therapy (e.g. for bone marrow transplants or even for growing new tissue for teeth) and bio printers (like a 3-D printer) to make new ones.

4. Heat it: Envision a future with self-healing microbes (based on nanotechnology) in the blood and tissues that detect when a body part is dangerously ill and deploys repair drones to fix them. There is no need to cut it off or replace it, you just fix it. And perhaps with DNA “profiling”(don’t like that word), we’ll be able to tell what a person is predisposed to and provide proactive treatments.

5. Eliminate it: Ok, this is way out there, but could there come a time, when with technology (and of course, G-d’s guiding hand) that we can eradicate most disease. Yes, hard to imagine, and with diseases that adapt and morph into other strains, it would be hard to do–but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

I still am shocked in the 21st century with all the medical advances and technology that we have that the doctors still say for everything from routine colds, to viruses, sores, growths, and more–“Oh, there’s nothing we can do for that.”

Yet, there is what to look forward to for future generations in terms of better medicine and perhaps with longer and better quality of life.

My grandfather used to say, “No one gets old without suffering”–let’s hope and pray for less and less suffering with future medical technology advances. 😉

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)