Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Praise of Slowness

Or : Chillin' With Sammy Sloth

In my September 6th Launch Day post, I wrote of a need to find time for stillness to do a quality of life assessment of the life quality that we have in our lives and to think about what kind of quality that we desire. If you've already done this, you probably find that in some way or another, your life needs to
slow down a bit to avoid distractions, decrease stress and allow you to focus on your QOL goals.

There are many nice resources out there to assist with the slowing down process. I like the book of the same title as this post: "In Praise Of Slowness," by Carl Honore, a Canadian journalist based in London. He has a unique perspective due to his having lived in both North America and Europe.

Chapters in his book cover slowness in working, eating, leisure, sex, raising children and more!

Some of his sad facts about our Culture of Speed:

  • "There is the human cost of turbo-capitalism. These days, we exist to serve the economy, rather than the other way around."
  • "It is no coincidence that the fastest nations are also the fattest. Up to a third of Americans and a fifth of Britons are now clinically obese. Even Japan is piling on the pounds. In 2002, a national nutritional survey found that a third of Japanese men over thirty were overweight." It seems we don't have time to eat right!
  • "By some estimates, the average American now puts in 350 hours more in the job per year than his European counterpart. In 1997, the US supplanted Japan as the industrialized country with the longest working hours."
  • "Inevitably, a life of hurry can become superficial. When we rush, we skim the surface, and fail to make real connections with the world and other people. All the things that bind us together and make life worth living --- community, family, friendship --- thrive on the one thing we never have enough of : time."

The good news is that help is already here in the form of some creative and fun groups that are working to take a slow is beautiful focus! The Japanese have started a Sloth Club which advocates less hurried, more environmentally friendly living. They are helping deceleration become hip in Japan. In Bra, Italy, a man named Carlo Petrini has started a group that has gone international as the antidote to fast food culture: Slow Food. He is sharing the notion that what we eat should be cultivated, cooked and consumed at a relaxed pace. And, believe it or not, with a sleep deprived world---adult napping is making a comeback(one of my favorite parts of being a parent!). We have a World Napping Organization and the Portuguese Association of Friends of the Siesta helping a mid-workday snooze become respectable. In the US, Yarde Metals has six factories where workers are encouraged to doze during breaks with special "nap rooms." I hope that these kind of things spread like wildfire with a little publicity and encouragement!!

Some links to great organizations to help with slowing down different aspects of life:






Please let us all know of other good ones that you find!!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Life as a Daring Adventure


The humanist Helen Keller was blind from a childhood illness at 18 months of age, was heroically nurtured out of her introverted prison and became an inspiration to the world in the early 20th century. Even with this terrible start to life, she felt that "life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing." What an adventure it must have been for her to be raised as an animal and have someone in her life not accept this for her and encourage her to take on this challenge called life to live it to the fullest! (See the movie "The Miracle Worker").

For myself, I NEED a challenge. Though I have never had a challenge even close to Ms. Keller's, there have been many life challenges for me, both wanted and unwanted. Going into medicine was a challenge for me as it was a total career change for me after a undergrad study of Politics/Pre-Law. There were also about 3% males in nursing in the 80's and HIV/AIDS was a new and frightening disease when I confronted it in the ICU's of the SF Bay Area. With the help of friends and colleagues I worked through these challenges one by one. Nursing HAS been a daring adventure in so many ways!

People have different concepts of what an adventure is. Some adventurous thrill seekers need skydiving or scuba diving where for others, a vacation out of state is enough of a thrill/challenge. I think that life's daring adventure MUST have a regular chance for us to challenge ourselves to grow mentally, physically and spiritually. As Bob Dylan so famously sang: "He not busy being born is busy dying." Surely we are all on our way to life's FINAL adventure and if we don't take this life as an exciting, challenging experience then we aren't really living fully. I think this is the essence of what Helen Keller tried to pass along from her experience. 

So quality of life is in putting ourselves into situations where we can squeeze life's zest out of what we treasure most!! Take the time to look around you and think about what inspires you and challenges you to lead an extra-ordinary life. Work hard to include these things in your life. For me, I was driven to travel, to volunteer(at home and abroad), and to have a career that inspired me (ICU and ER medicine).  I encourage you to define your Daring Adventure as soon as possible and write it out and share it with loved ones and post it where you can see it daily. Get friends and family together to discuss the topic and help each other to define what a life well lived is. Your life and sanity may well depend on it!

Monday, September 16, 2013

We want to help one another!


The Merck Family Fund did a nationwide survey at the end of the last century regarding quality of life. They found that the three things that people said would add more quality to there lives were:

1) More time with friends and family
2) Less stress
3) More time to contribute to community

Yesterday I read a quote that was written in the 1930's but is entirely relevant today. Poetic. Eloquent. And something we must all think about to guide us to life's NEXT step. We seem to have lost our way to having what we need regarding 1,2. and 3 above. The Merck study actually had people create a term for what they felt was going on in the USA and it was:"out of whack." What is going on in America today is out of whack. Obviously, we need to get BACK in whack!! (Whatever THAT is).

The following poetic message from Charlie Chaplin from the Great Dictator gives a positive insight to we human BEINGS and it seems that as early as the 1930's people of the world had lost their way:

"We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost."

Consider what QOL is for you and your family. Consider what leads to "kindness and gentleness" to those around us. What can we use our creativity and insight for to make the change to a sustainable and cooperative future that spans this magnificent globe!!? We'll talk about it here @ QOL News.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Quality of Life News - LAUNCH DAY

On Launch Day for Quality of Life News, I want to welcome all those who are looking for enhanced life quality!! On this site I want to explore the many ways that people around the world have found to slow down, reduce stress, spend more time with loved ones and be involved in their communities, find more joy and anything else that gives our lives more zest. 

So, lets get started....
First things first. Before we go rushing off too seek and capture the best that life has to offer, I believe some stillness is in order. If you don't already have some activity that helps you plug into your inner intuitive wisdom, it's time to find something. That should be your first exploration at ground level for enhanced QOL. 

"Stillness and tranquility set things in order in the universe"

                                                                        Tao Te Ching

I meditate regularly and run on the beach or mountain bike the woods as a way to drop stress and bring about an inner calm and 

help myself with reflection on what is most important in this highly distracting life around me. So it isn't always sitting still
that brings about some stillness in life. A nice brisk walk in a park
or an invigorating swim does the trick for some of my friends.

The key is giving yourself some time on a rest break or at the end of an activity to check out what author Barbara De Angelis speaks of so eloquently: "When you choose to be solitary and silent, you witness the thoughts, reactions and emotions that have been interfering with your ability to make clear decisions, or discover the answers to problems, or get to know what your true feelings are."

So, create some Sacred Time that happens at least several times a week--- 1/2 hour minimum. Don't let it be crowded out of your schedule!! It's sacred. Get to where you actually feel "centered." The Japanese call it the "hara," and it's the actual geographic center of the human body. Just below the navel. Get out of your head, concentrate on breathing slow and deep and attend to your "gut." 

In the future, I'll relay a story of how blocked MY gut was until I did some therapeutic Musical Guided Imagery. You'll find that when your gut, head and heart are all in alignment, you've found the Yellow Brick Road to QOL. For whatever reason, many of us have tuned out one or all of these parts of ourselves.

Happy trails to YOU......