Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Your Health Care Is Costing You Too Much!


Yep, we Americans are all paying too much for health care. According to Eric Topol in The Patient Will See You Now, the future of medicine is in your hands,  Some hospitals charge up to $1,200 for every $100 of their total costs. And the 100 most expensive hospitals charge 7.7 times their cost. For example, a single tablet of acetaminophen will at $1.50 to your bill, while you can buy a whole bottle of 100 pills will cost you $1.49.

The U.S. is the only country that doesn't control the cost of health care. In Spain a hip replacement is $7,731, while in the U.S. the average price is $40,364! Are you aware that the average uncomplicated pregnancy in the U.S cost $37,341! This is why medical tourism is so popular. People go out of the country to receive reasonable health care.

What other market would consumers have no idea what they are being charged or how much the insurance will pay until after the service? Why are we unable to shop for medical care the same way we shop for an automobile?

Hospitals, doctors, and labs bill uninsured individuals and insureres vastly different amounts for the same service. The charges are not based on costs but on whatever the market will bear. Almost all other developed countries' governments negotiate and regulate pricing. The powerful lobbying groups of all sectors of health care make sure that doesn't happen here. And we, like sheep, allow it to continue.

Research has identified six areas of waste that could bring down the cost of health care. They was five years ago. Little has been changed since. These areas of care are, Inefficiently delivered services, prices that are inflated, excess administrative costs, fraud, missed prevention opportunities, and Unnecessary services - the biggest wedge of the waste pie.

There are many widely used medications that have no research showing their efficacy. Many are widely advertised as better than older medications, even though there is no evidence to support that. Patients expect the newest drug, whether it is better or not. And because it is thought to be better, companies can get away with overcharging for it."More than 1 in 10 Americans takes an antidepressant and for women age forty to sixty, the rates is 1 in4. But studies have shown that more than 2 out of 3 of the patients taking those drugs do not fit the accepted criteria."*

And then there is the failure to use pharmacogenomics to determine what medication best fits the individual needing it. Pharmacogenomics is the use of your genetic markers to trace which meds work for which person. This is an exciting new field of research that is being practically ignored. Only a very few medications have been researched for the genomic or biomarker for predicting responsiveness to common conditions. Using this information could lead to a major turnaround in effective medical care. A recent look at cancer patients has shown this to be a very hopeful field of science. And it could make enormous changes if more common conditions were studies.

And then, of course, is the unchecked use of medical imaging - CT scans, MRI, ultrasounds, mammography. The use of scans in the U.S. dwarfs their use in an;y other country in the world. MRI and CT scans in the U.S. exceed $250 billion. On top of the financial costs, 3 to 5 percent of folks getting scans will get cancer because of the cumulative exposure to ionized radiation. How many of these scans are necessary?

Women have routinely been getting mammograms annually in the U.S. Yet most of these women are not high risk for cancer and are exposing themselves unnecessarily to increasingly high amounts of accumulated ionized radiation. And recent research has shown that frequent mammograms have not been shown to result in a lower rate of breast cancer. Other countries have even eliminated mammograms without evidence of an unexplained lump or other symptom. Yet, as long as our insurance pays for the scan, Americans do it "just in case." We are never told about the amount of radiation we are exposed to and how much we have accumulated over the years, even though there is research to support the fact that radiation causes cancers.

Many of these imaging centers cost millions to build and operate, so the cost to the consumer is high, especially when those costs are inflated when passed on. 

How many of us get annual physicals, even when we have no symptoms or history that would support the need for a physical? Other countries have recommended giving up annual physicals. The annual physical has become an American ritual, with more tests, more scans, more procedures and more operations. Is it any wonder that there is such a battle around health care? Someone is making a lot of money on our perceived need for all this. And most of us are unwilling to let go of that belief, especially our medical professionals who reinforce it. Doctors are still paternalistic gods who know what is best for our bodies, even when we know more about or own bodies than they.

This has been the history of health care in America for centuries. We own our bodies but not information about our bodies. We are convinced that we couldn't possibly understand the complexities of our own health. The future will change all that. In my next blog we'll look at the impact of the information age on our ownership of our healthcare.

*This blog is based on the book The Patient Will See You Now, the future of medicine is in your hands, by Eric Topol.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Future Medical Practice Is Here


Your smartphone is your door to your medical care.* We now have technology that will make going to the doctor less frequent and less expensive and far more convenient. Are you aware that in undeveloped countries doctors are few and far between? And medical tests are often out of the question because of lack of access. Yet technology is changing that.

For years technology has made it possible for doctors to see patients via teleconferencing/Skype. It's been used in the U.S. prisons when it isn't practical to take the prisoners to doctors or hospitals.They can now connect with clinics or nurses via the Smartphone anywhere there is wifi.

But technology has taken it way beyond that. They have developed apps that will test blood sugar and other blood tests, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, etc. And the results can be analyzed almost instantly with results to you and your doctor.

There are even apps that will test your genome type and screen for potential genetic disease. And recently I saw an article that explained an app that can change the genetic structure of a cell in order to cure certain cancers!

There are also algorithms that diagnose illnesses with greater accuracy than humans given the same data about the patient. "With demographic, physiologic, anatomic, biologic and environmental data about a particular individual can be used to define one's medical essence."*

And with the proliferation of wearable wireless sensors, like FitBit and others, physiologic data is collected and relayed like a smartphone. By way of electronic monitors Individuals can transmit information from their body to medical professionals [or medical data centers] to monitor heart rate, pacemaker activity, blood oxygen levels, weight changes, blood pressure, respiratory rate, galvanic skin response, eye pressure, blood glucose, brain waves, intracranial pressure, muscle movements, and many other metrics.

"The microphone of the smartphone can be used to quantify components of lung function and analyze one's voice to gauge mood or make the dignosis or Parkinson's disease or schizophrenia. One's breath can be digitized to measure a large number of compounds, such as nitric oxide or organic chemicals, which could enable smartphones to track lung function or diagnose certain cancers.  Beyond all those wearable and non invasive sensors, nanochips are being developed to be embedded in the bloodstream to monitor the appearance of tumor DNA, immune activation, or genomic signals indicative of a forthcoming heart attack or stroke."  It is used to track the progress of chemotherapy in shrinking/eliminating cancerous growths.

We've all seen technological advances in scans of the anatomy of individuals beyond Xray - MRI, CT, nuclear scanning, and ultrasound - that define one's anatomy without surgery. All these scans however rely on access to expensive hospital and clinic-based equipment. There is now an emerging use of pocket devices that obtain high-resolution ultrasounds or X-rays making assessment of individual's anatomy much easier, faster, and cheaper. A smartphone or some other small device can now perform the physical exam of the eyes, ears, neck vessels, heart, lungs, abdomen and fetus, and share share medical imaging that enables the patient to fully review his/her anatomy on a portable device. All this is already available.

So why are you still waiting weeks or months to see a specialist, waiting hours for your turn to see the doctor, paying outrageous amounts of money, to get vague explanations of what is happening in your body?  That's an easy one to answer.

While the technology is changing at breakneck speed, the medical profession is not. They are highly invested in the status quo. Why would they support advances that minimize their control over diagnosis and treatment? Why would they support development of technology that makes them less relevant? For them to change would mean a whole culture change in the field of medicine. While some places in the world are using these technologies where medical care is inaccessible, we in developed countries are being left behind. Hard to imagine that our medical care is less advanced than that of the more undeveloped parts of the world.

But change will not be held in check for long. As we become more aware of what is happening around the world we, as consumers, will demand better care. One reason the change will reach us is that it will be less expensive. Insurance will push for lower costs, as will we all.

We must take ownership of our medical information, as we have every right to our records and to information about diseases. We are smarter consumers now that we have access to the internet's vast body of information on illness and disease. And we have the power as a group to demand easier access and lower prices.

Together we can make lives better with better medical access in all countries in the world. With wifi access spreading everywhere, so then can medical care. The change is happening. Be part of it!
, by Eric Topol.

*The Patient Will See You Now, the future of medicine is in your hands, by Eric Topol

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Yes, Change Is Happening And You Are Part of It



The medical profession has changed slowly for centuries, and then a very rapid change has nearly left us in the dust. Scientists are finding causes and cures for illnesses that in the past were always fatal, even with treatment. Vaccines and medicines are making some illnesses obsolete.

For hundreds of years illness was thought to be caused by divine, or evil, spirits. The first "doctors" were priests or shamans, who could intercede for the person suffering with an illness. The most important figure in ancient Egyptian medicine was Imhotep, way back in 2600 BC, a high priest.  It wasn't until Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, in ancient Greece that anyone described many diseases as due to natural circumstances rather than a supernatural force. ( The Patient Will See You Now, The future of Medicine is in Your Hands, by Eric Topol)

Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine and his philosophy shapes the medical culture to this day as paternalistic and somewhat secretive. He believed that the patient should not be told what treatment entailed and the science of medicine should be held as above the understanding of the common man. The Hippocratic Oath states that "the precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning of medicine be shared only with those who have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else."

Eons later that same oath and philosophy has led to the culture of medicine that puts the patient in a subordinate role in his or her own healing. Doctors are still often treated like gods and, in turn, they treat patients like children by withholding information and making life and death decisions for the patient without the patient's input.

While the medical profession insists that they must be given respect, all to often the patient is not treated with respect. The patient does not have all the information available to them when they are told they must make decisions about possible treatments, making informed consent a misnomer. The patient is treated like a child when they ask for more information or when they are resistant to the doctor's treatment decisions.

An informed patient who insists on the doctor's respect is all to often labeled a "difficult patient" and shunted off to the side. When a patient is insistent the doctors label them difficult. That label in a patient's record can have longstanding consequences with any medical professional reading those notes.

Now, however, patients more and more often have access to information about illness and medicine that was never before available to the layperson. We can go online and find research results and reports about all sorts of illnesses. We can look up or symptoms and learn possibilities even before we see a doctor. We are more informed than ever before. And we are demanding medical professionals hear us and respect what we know about our own bodies.

And this is changing the culture of medicine. With the proliferation of smart phones we can have access to doctors, research, test results, and be part of the conversation about our health. As this trend grows medical professionals will be forced to change the way they treat patients. We will insist that be become Individual, Active Participants (IAPs) rather than patients. Because we know our bodies better than anyone else can, our input is vital. And with better information we can make better choices, we can have true informed consent.

Just think of that word "consent". What other profession demands its clients give consent to leave a relationship. But to leave a hospital without the doctor's consent is the same as being a defiant revolutionary! The doctor is assumed to have ownership over our lives when we agree to their treatment. When our decisions are made as a result of intimidation are they truly informed consent?

In the new medical culture the doctors will work for us as equal partners. Yes, the professional has more education and training in medicine. We don't dispute that. Yet they don't have the right to decide for us what we want to do about our health, unless we give up that right and go back to the paternalistic philosophy of Hippocrates.

The new generations of doctors will listen to and respect their patients as partners in their healthcare. I feel truly blessed to have a doctor like that now. My doctor knows that I am the expert on my body and what does or doesn't work for me. She listens and agrees to try what I think will work best. I get lab results with the values for each test given, not a rubber stamped "all tests were within the normal range" or a brief "good". When I have questions or concerns I am attended to.

But the changes in medicine are not stopping there. In the future of medicine our professionals will be more accessible than ever before, thanks to technology. More about that in my next post.

*The facts in this post come from the book The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol.




Sunday, August 6, 2017

Changes

Yes, the world  is changing. And the changes come more and more quickly. 

While is can be exciting it can also be stressful. Whether the changes are for our good or not, all change creates stress. So it is little wonder that so many of us are challenged by that stress.


Let's look at the positive sides of change as one way to minimize the negative effects of stress. In the next weeks I want to look at some of the changes and how we might better deal with them.


Get ready, because change will come no matter what we do.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

We Can Do Better


With so much of our energies focused on profit, the United States has fallen short on comparisons with other countries in other areas.
"The USA may still lead the world in GDP and rank highly in such stats as population and human development index, but its lag in other key categories is alarming. You’ve heard about the education gap, but did you know that U.S. students’ math scores are among the lowest in the developed world? Charles M. Blow and the New York Times put together this infographic comparing the U.S. to other countries by 9 key metrics: The U.S. comes in at “worst of the worst” in four categories and “worst” in two more, with zero “best” rankings."
https://www.themarysue.com/us-compared-to-other-countries/
Life is about so much more than money. We can do better. We can work together to create a better quality of life for ALL people in America. We can return to being the hope of the world.

But it won't be easy and it won't be quick. We have to support initiatives that build people up. We need to get behind improving our educational system by teaching kids how to think, how to reason, how to make good decisions. This isn't something learned by rote memory. I'm not even sure there are tests that can measure that. But we have at least one generation, probably more than one, that lacks these life skills.

Math and science are important. And just as important are creative arts. When people have basic knowledge and their creativity is encouraged they can create solutions to all kinds of problems.

We need to push for wage equality and food security. Families can survive, let alone thrive, on minimum wage and monthly trips to a food pantry. We must see that children are educated and able to work, yes. AND we need to be sure there are jobs for them and their parents to move into.

You are probably thinking that you can't do anything about any of this. But that is where you are wrong. We are the people who hold the keys. We can vote into office progressive people who will support these initiatives in our cities, states, and nation.

We are also the people who can support organizations that push for these improvements. We do that with donations, volunteering, sharing information, and letting those organizations know that we think they are doing important work.

It is easy to feel small and helpless. But when we do, we give up or personal power. We really can't afford to do that.

So let's find an area we support and get busy!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What Is a Right?


Do we still have rights? What is a right, anyway? It isn't a law. Laws are made by governments, supposedly to uphold and protect its citizen's rights.

"A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity," according to Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. Rights are a natural part of our humanity. "Thinkers from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas, from St. Thomas More to Thomas Jefferson, from the Reverend Rd. Martin Luther Kng Jr. to Pope John Paul II to Justice Clarence Thomas"* all argued this to be true. These are the inalienable rights named in our U.S. Constitution.

And the founders of our nation believed that the role of government is to protect and preserve the rights of every individual. And the only way it gets the power to do that is through the consent of the individuals involved. At least that is the way it is supposed to be.

I'm not so sure that is the way things are now. Nor are the people at the top of our government in agreement with that philosophy of our founders. The government has become the micromanager of the people today. And, over time, the citizens have given them way more power than the founders ever wanted the government to have. We have defaulted to being taken care of rather than to be the caretakers of our own lives.

Think about it. The government determines what crops can be grown, what medications can be manufactured, the cost of many goods and services, where resources can be obtained, who can pollute the air, water, soil. There are government controls on so many things that a full list would take pages and pages.

So much of this control was in the name of protecting us. And to a point that is true. Yet the misuse of that power has created harmful situations and inflated prices. Somewhere along the line the country has gotten off track and is in a mess. Is it possible to clean it up? I don't know. Some days I believe it can. Other days I don't.

What do you think? If we all worked together we could make it happen. If we can bridge the divide we could work for a better world, starting in our own country.


*It Is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government is Wrong by Andrew P. Napolitano.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Is This Really a Free Country?


I picked up a challenging book at the library. It is slow going, but it is so thought provoking that I have to read on. The book is It Is Dangerous to Be Right when the Government Is Wrong, The case for personal freedom by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano.

The reason I am reading it is that it explores the government's role in keeping us free, something that is on our minds a lot these days of political turmoil in Washington. The book takes us back to basics on freedom, addressing some hard questions.
  • What is a Constitution, and do we still have one?
  • What are the limits to government power to in a free society?
  • Why does the government attack, rather than defend, our rights?If our rights are inalienable, how can the government take them away? 
  •  Do we really own any private property?
Interesting, to say the least.

Judge Napolitano is a  lecturer on the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, civil liberties in wartime, and human freedom. And he writes about this complex subject with illustrations that help lay people like me better understand it.

I'm not very far into the book, but already I keep asking things like: "who owns my body?" "Who decides what laws we must obey and which we can challenge?" "How are rights different from laws?" "Are we really all created equal?"

I don't know how far into the book I'll get before I'm totally overwhelmed. But I'm giving it a try.

What are you reading this summer? I'd love to know.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Summer Is Half Over!


With summer half over I wonder what comes next. Oh, I know that autumn follow summer. That's not really what I mean. I'm wondering what we plan to do next.

Most of us make plans for summer, places to go, things to do, etc. Some folks take their vacations then because they have kids in school the rest of the year. And most places in the U.S. have better travel weather in summer.

So have you completed your summer travels? How are you doing with your summer "to do" list? Have you made progress on those outdoor tasks you planned to do?

For me summer usually means I get to spend more time with my family. Most of them live at least one state away and they have school-aged children, so summer is a good time to travel for visits. And we have done that. There is still Labor Day weekend to look forward to family visiting.

This year our summer has been very busy with visits to in-laws and celebrations with them. And a visit with my family here. There have been lots of medical visits this summer, nothing terribly serious but it does take up time and energy, to say nothing of costs. Just keeping the yard tamed takes up a lot of time and energy, too! We've had lots and lots of rain this spring and summer and the grass and plants, including weeds, have grown like crazy.

The political madness has been exhausting. And it doesn't seem to let up. I keep hoping there will be some sanity returning to DC so we don't get blasted every day with the latest crisis. We need a break!

What about your summer? How have you spent it so far? What is next for you?

We are making travel plans for autumn. And hoping to have a calmer August than what the previous months have been. Looking forward to attending a powwow, maybe some road trips, and taking on another project in the house.

What's next for you?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hate Groups Are Alive and Well, Thriving Even


The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 917 active hate groups in the U.S. And these groups are growing in membership and in activity.
"Since Election Day, we've tracked more than 1,000 hate incidents and exposed Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT advisers."
They identify hate groups as having beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their unchangeable characteristics.

Hate is fed by fear. And fear is fed by perceived threats. These days, fear seems to be the prime motivator of our government's politics. Wild stories about the dangerous-ness  of certain groups stirs up unrealistic fear in those who have no understanding of the targeted group and their beliefs or practices.

The way to reduce hate and fear is to foster understanding. We need to educate ourselves and our neighbors about the targeted groups. We need to get the real facts that go beyond the slogans or "fake news."

What do you really know about Islam? What are the real statistics about black violence? What is the truth about LGBT people and their lifestyles?

When we know the truth, when we know individuals in those groups we will have less fear and will smother the hate.

Visit a mosque. Dialog with people of different races. Become friends with LGBT people. Invite them to your groups and into your home. Do your part in fighting hate.

For specific details about hate groups in your state, go to www.splcenter.org/hatemap.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How You and I Can Combat Hate


Since "love" and "hate" are both active verbs what we do will either spread love or spread hate. And since we want to combat hate we must act to confront it. We must do somthing in the face of hatred, because if we do nothing it will be interpreted as acceptance of hate.

So what CAN we do? We can always raise awareness of hate crimes when they occur. When you see something, say something! A cross burned in a yard is a call to action. Pick up the phone. Call friends and colleagues, neighbors, organizations. Bring together a gathering of people. Invite the mayor, newspapers, televisions stations to rally against hate.

Swastikas painted on walls? Tell people about it as an act of hate and rally a group of people to paint over it. 

A noose hanging in a yard or on a building? Alert the authorities and get people out to take it down. But don't stop there. Rally people to tell the people that hate won't be tolerated in your neighborhood or community. Be visible.

Urge the schools to address issues of hatred and violence. Get the kids involved in rallying for peace and equality. They can help remove graffiti, make signs for rallies. 

See hate images or slogans on clothing in the stores? Let the manager and the owners know that they are not tolerated. Campaign to get them to stop selling them.

Support the repair of hate fueled vandalism. Tell your friends and family that it has happened and rally help in showing that your neighborhood and community won't tolerate it. Organize block-watch groups to keep an eye on targets of vandalism, graffiti, etc., and report offenders. Use your camera phones to identify them to the police.

Sign petitions to stop hate crimes, to have severe consequences for those who commit them.

Attend a vigil.

Lead a prayer.

Help make fliers. Distribute fliers. Share your musical talents at a rally.

Give your employees the afternoon off to attend a rally.

Be creative. Take action. Do your part to fight hate.

Get to know someone in a minority group, someone who is different race or religion or sexual orientation from you and your friends. Learn more about them. Invite them to your group or your home. Meet them for coffee.

Attend a mosque or synagogue. Ask your church or group to invite other faiths to teach your group about their faith.

Write letters to the editor that support peace and equality and that encourage the paper to give more coverage of efforts to combat hate. Tell them to raise awareness of hate crimes so that they can be confronted and the victims can be supported.

Let victims know that YOU don't hate them. That there are more people who want to combat hate than there are people who perpetrate hate.

When we know more about it happening we can better intervene. Check out https://www.propublica.org/article/what-we-know-and-dont-know-about-hate-crimes-in-america?utm_source=pardot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter

Be aware. And be an active agent for change.






Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How To Combat Hate


The Southern Poverty Law Center (www.splcenter.org)has a mission: combat hate, teach tolerance, and seek justice. It is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, they work toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

Here are their "Ten Ways To Fight Hate: a community response guide.


  1. ACT - Do something in the face of hatred, apathy will be inerpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public, and - worse- the victims. Community members must take action; if we don't, hate persists.
  2. UNITE - Call a friend or co-worker. Organize allies from churches, schools, clubs, and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police, and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved.
  3. SPUPORT THE VICTIMS - Hate crime victims are especially vulnerable. If you're a victim, report every incident - in detail - and ask for help. If you learn about a hate crime victim in your community, show support. Let victims know you care. Surround them with comfort and protection.
  4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK - An informal campaign improves its effectiveness. Determine if a hate group is involved and research its symbols and agenda. Understand the difference between a hate crime and a bias incident.
  5. CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE - Do not attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for frustration and for people's desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate.
  6. SPEAK UP - Hate must be exposed and denounced. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth. Do not debate hate group members in conflict-driven forums. Instead, speak up in ways that draw attention away from hate, toward unity.
  7. LOBBY LEADERS - Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies in the fight against hate. But some must overcome reluctance - and others, their own biases - before theyre able to take a stand.
  8. LOOK LONG RANGE - Promote tolerance and address bias before another hate crime can occur. Expand your community's comfort zones so you can learn and live together.
  9. TEACH TOLERANCE - Bias is learned early, often at home. Schools can offer lessons in tolerance and acceptance. Host a diversity and inclusion day on campus. Reach out to young people who may be susceptible to hate group propaganda and prejudice.
  10. DIG DEEPER -  Look inside yourself for prejudices and stereotypes. Build your own cultural competency, then keep working to expose discrimination wherever it happens - in housing, employment, education, and more.
So what does that mean for you and me? What can we do to combat hate? Leave comments with ideas that you have.

Check my blog post Sunday for some more suggestions.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What Are YOU Reading?


I saw recently some statistics about how few American actually read a book - either paper or electronic. It really made me sad to see. No wonder so many people are uninformed about so many things. And they don't even read fiction books, any books!

I find it hard to believe because most of my friends read all the time, fiction and/or non-fiction. I don't read as much as I used to, but I still read at least ten or twelve books a year. How about you? What are you reading?

Presently I'm reading Is It Just Me or Is It Nuts Out There? by Whoopie Goldberg. Her writing sounds just like the way she speaks. It is great. I can hear her as I read. Anyway, it would make a good outline for a life skills class for young adults, or for anyone, actually. I'm about a third of the way through and I'm agreeing with her about everything she's saying!

The book was written in 2010 but is as true today. It IS nuts out there, maybe more than it was when she wrote it. Her book makes such sense and her advice is right-on. She gives her ideas of how to live with the nuttiness and how to not contribute to it. She talks about all the things that drive her nuts. And they are pretty much the same things that drive most of us nuts.

She gives lists she calls "A civil persons handy list:" She addresses all kinds of things but here is just one.

How Not to Slow Down a TSA Screening

  • Don't wear a ton of metal jewelry. Who are you trying to impress on the plane?
  • Know what you can't bring through. Go to www.tsa.gov
  • Be clean. These people have to deal with you in close quarters.
  • Arrive early so you are not hassled going in.
  • Don't shove or cut in line.
  • If someone cuts the line on you, let it go.
  • Hassle no one. Even if you are right.
  • Pack so you don't have to dig for your computer.
  • Have your ID ready. And the boarding pass. This is not new stuff.
  • No jokes. No kidding.
  • Take off your earphones. Be present.
  • Get off the cell phone.
  • Try and smile at the TSA folks.
  • And say thank you.
None of these things are hard to do. And doing them will help everyone stay calm and steady. TSA workers deal with all kinds of difficult people. So be nice to them and don't be one of those difficult people. Things will go more smoothly and everyone will be in a better mood.

She goes on to talk about behavior on the plane and all of it makes perfect sense. After all, you are going to be packed into a small space with a lot of other people, most of whom you don't know. And there is nowhere to go to get away from them. So keeping things relaxed and pleasant benefits everyone.

And most of the book really is about just getting along, being civil to everyone. She doesn't pull any punches, though. If you are in a situation that is harmful or terribly unpleasant she lets you know how to resolve it. And she tells you that you must deal with it if you want it to change.

I like Whoopie. Always have. And this book makes me like her even more.

I'd like to know what you are reading and who you might recommend it to. We need to encourage folks to read more. How else will be learn how to be a positive influence in the world, in our lives, in our relationships. 

READ! Then tell me what you've read and if you think I might like to read it!




Wednesday, July 5, 2017

As We Celebrate America's Independence



We need to really look at our interdependence. We live in a time when nations are more interdependent in order to thrive. 

Interdependence is the mutual reliance between two or more groups. In relationships, interdependence is the degree to which members of the group are mutually dependent on the others. This concept differs from a dependent relationship, where some members are dependent and some are not.
Interdependence - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interdependence
It would be difficult for us to live the way we do without relying on other countries for trade, for aid, for protection, etc. Our technology has made it possible for us to share knowledge and information with other countries almost instantly. 

Many of the products we use daily come from other parts of the world. Many of our foods come from other countries. Where would Americans be without coffee?!?

We rely on our allies to help us defend our borders and our freedoms. Our farmers and manufacturers rely on other countries to buy their products.  We get some raw materials from other countries, as well.

 Think of things you use on a regular basis that are imported from or were invented in other countries.

I think we really need to celebrate our interdependence!

So maybe every day can be Interdependence Day!






Sunday, July 2, 2017

How We Came to this Holiday


This holiday isn't about hot dogs and fireworks. It is not about a long weekend or even family picnics. It is about those things to celebrate the Declaration of Independence.

Watch the video to see how it was done.

And celebrate with a safe and patriotic holiday.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Can You Imagine?


Can you imagine what it would be like if you were a refugee?


This has been on my mind a lot lately as we raise awareness of the plight of refugees here and around the world.

What if your city, your home, and all around you were caught up in a war that destroyed everything you owned and took away your freedom. What if there were fighters who wanted to kill you and your family. What if you were a woman or girl and they kidnap you and rape you? What if . . . 

What would you do?


And what if you were "rescued" and sent to America where you didn't speak the language or didn't know anyone there?

What if . . .

And here we are, safe and sound. What can we do to help refugees here and around the world. IRC helps refugees around the world. And the Community Refugee and Immigration Service helps people in Columbus. (http://www.crisohio.org/)

Will you help?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Help Save the Words!

One way to help save our language and culture is to be a good reader. I found this very interesting and right on the topic:

Check it out.

So, are you a reader? What is the most recent book you've read? Did you enjoy it? Tell me about it. I might want to read it too!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Have We Got to Lose?



Clarity is slipping away with the loss of our language, our lack of care for the words we use. By limiting one's vocabulary we lose the subtle differences in similar-meaning words. Slippage in subject verb agreement, misplaced apostrophes, all of these reduce the clarity of our language.

Text messaging has eroded concern for spelling and punctuation, training millions of users to trade precision for speed. It always amazes me how many people don't differentiate "there", "their", and "they're."  I find myself using BTW for "by the way," as well as other kinds of shorthand for words.

This slippage of language also reduces the range of allusion. Those who have not read widely won't understand many allusions, such as "Luddite" and "sacrificial lamb." How many know the meaning of the phrase "in the catbird seat"?

Fewer and fewer Americans take Latin or Greek and are therefore unaware of the etymological layers of meaning that enrich words we use - like the relationship of "fabulous" and "fable." Yet "fabulous" is used almost as commonly in our speech as commas! (And, of course, there are those who don't use commas or use them incorrectly.)

Even questionable useage becomes common, like war language to describe healing, sports, and work. Little wonder that the idea of war has less emotional impact than it deserves.

Sarcasm, mild insults and ironic banter replace story or sustained conversation. It is easier to be sarcastic than to express what we think and feel. We don't bother to explore what is really meant by it.

Jargon divides us into us-and-them, destroying conversation with those "others" who aren't part of "us", the experts jargon separates us, that keeps us from understanding. This is true of all manner of specialties.
"We need the instruction and precise understanding that scholars and experts can provide. We need, a a public hoping to be an informed citizenry, to hold them accountable by demanding from our publicly funded institutions information and instruction that is both precise and accessible. The best of our astrophysicists, neuroscientists, and social theorists can rise to the challenge. 'Accessible' is not the same as 'dumbed-down.'"*
Silence in modern life is rare. Much of it is drowned out by words, song, written words, mindlessly used like disposable products used to buffer the discomfort of thought or the "strenuous spirituality" of silence. Imagine moments when there are no sounds that are not part of nature - no sound of traffic, of electronics, of clocks, or machines of any kind. What do you do in the silence?

In all of this wasting away of our language, where are those who love words? These ar those who can be good stewards of our language. Cherish it for its "beauty, precision, power to enhance understanding, power to name, power to heal." Do you have a favorite turn of phrase or quote that just the sound of it brings you joy?

 Listen for meaning and clarity in the words of others. Strive to be more precise in your own choice of words. Use words as instruments of love. Value language as a national treasure.

Don't litter!

*Quotes and most thoughts are from Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn McEntyre.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Are You at a Loss for Words?



I seldom am, as you can probably guess. But our current culture is at risk of losing words. And words are a valuable resource. When a culture looses its language it looses its identity, its history, its wisdom.

Did you know that there are more than a million words in the English language? How many different words do you use in a day, in a week - writing or speaking? The average educated person in america uses only about 200 a week! [ Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn McEntyre.]

(Yes, that's what I'm reading now. My summer reading is usually more non-fiction than fiction. And in the winter/dark months I read more fiction. So a little light reading for summer doesn't work for me.:-) This post is based on what I've read so far. Probably the next post will provide more insight into this topic.

Let's look at some facts about English speaking Americans:

  • 50% of the unemployed are functionally illiterate;
  • an average kindergartner has spent more house in front of T.V. (5,000 hours) than it takes to earn a BA degree! Researchers found a direct causal relationship between early T.V. watching and impaired literacy.
  • 27% of army enlistees can't read training manuals written at the 7th grade level.
  • other studies of 21-25 year olds shoed that 80% couldn't read a bus schedule, 73% couldn't understand a newspaper story, 63% couldn't follow written map directions, and 23% couldn't find the gross pay-to-date on a paycheck stub.
  • 44% of all American Adults do not read a single book in the course of a year.
So, what can we do to maintain a usable and reliable language - to be good stewards of words? Above all, we have to acknowledge the value of language. It needs to be a constant focus at all age groups.

Then we have to: 1) deepen and sharpen our reading skills; 2) cultivate habits of speaking and listening that foster precision and clarity; and 3) practice poesis - to be makers and doers of the word. For these purposes we need regularly to exercise the tongue and the ear: to indulge in word play, to delight in metaphor, to practice specificity and accuracy, to listen critically and refuse cliches and sound bites that substitute for authentic analysis. 
While we who voluntarily and regularly read books, newspapers, and Bibles are a privileged group, we need to use that privilege for the sake of the whole. One way we can make the world better is to participate in preserving and enlarging our English language.

So today, pay attention to the words you speak or write and try for more precise and clear terms. In these times, especially, the English language in America can use some rigorous clarity.

Yes, as I read this book (Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn McEntyre) I'll be sharing more thoughts from it in the next post.

Stay tuned!







Wednesday, June 14, 2017

That Attitude of Gratitude Works Wonders!



Recently I read a post about gratitude and how it is good for your health. I thought I'd share it. Take a look:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain?utm_source=Greater+Good+Science+Center&utm_campaign=f938b9b3df-GG_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_06_06&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5ae73e326e-f938b9b3df-51961579

I find gratitude to be very helpful, especially with my anxieties. I just spend some time listing things I am grateful for and feel calmer. It is often how I fall asleep at night.

It is amazing how long the list gets sometimes.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer! What do you remember?


Lady bugs, catching lightning bugs, playing in the backyard sprinkler, the sound of roller skates on the sidewalk, playing outside until dark, the smell of rain on dusty pavement, jump rope, hopscotch drawn with a rock on cement, hide and seek, mother-may-I, tag, bicycles, afternoon storms, sandbox, screen door slamming and Mom telling us to not slam it.

Those are some of my childhood summer memories. I grew up in the city. My mom didn't start working away from home until I was nine years old, so summers also meant Kool-aid and cookies as a snack in the afternoon. She didn't have a car, so we seldom got to go swimming. When we did, it was a big deal for us because we had to take the city bus. I didn't know how to swim, but I loved playing in the water.

Once my big brother decided to teach me to swim. So he pushed me into the water! Neither I nor my mother was amused. Needless to say, I didn't learn to swim until I was in my thirties.

Summer has always been my favorite season. As a child I don't remember suffering with the heat as much as we do now. When it was really hot we played in the sandbox that was under a trellis of grape vines. The sand was cool and we were in the shade. Or we played on our big front porch.

The porch went across the front of the house. It had wide wooden banisters. And half of the porch was shielded from the sun by a  rose trellis. My girlfriends and I spent many hours there playing house with our dolls. And sometimes my big brother and I would play cards. We played war and the games would sometimes go on for days. Between times we each took our cards and hid them in our room so we couldn't cheat. I wasn't smart enough to realize that my brother could figure out how to stack his deck to win more cards the next time we played.

The garage was a cool place to play. It had a cement floor and no sun got in. We could climb around in the "loft" of lumber my dad kept for projects. And one time he brought home a ski-ball machine and fixed it so we didn't have to put coins in to play. I loved that.

Summer has lots of happy memories for me. Little wonder it is my favorite season. What are some of your summer memories? Would you share them?


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What Do You Never Have Enough Of?

Money? Love? Clothes? Shoes? Friends? Energy? Sleep? Time?

There is a commercial on T.V. about the value of time and that we must fill it with what matters. Time is a resource that is non-renewable. When it is gone there is no replacing it. So all of that got me to thinking about time, and about what matters.




So if you want to fill it with what matters, what matters to you? And, are you spending time on what matters to you?

When I was working as a counselor/educator some of the exercises we put our clients through were value clarification exercises. We seldom really look at our values as often as we need to. Every choice we make either moves us toward what we value or away from it. 


Let's just look at the things we began this post with: Money, Love, Clothes, Shoes, Friends, Energy, Sleep,Time.

Money can buy clothes and shoes. Maybe enough money could offer you "friendship" of people attracted to your money. However, these aren't real friends. 

And while having enough money might make it possible for you to have the opportunity to sleep more, money alone won't help you go to sleep and sleep restfully. And energy? Wish it could! 

So when we spend our time on all those things, what will we have? Money won't buy love. 

What IS important to you? And what DO you fill your time with? 

Are you working long hours away from home and loved ones? What if you only worked enough hours to have your basic needs met. Then what would you do with your time?

Is feeling useful, doing kindness, or serving the good of others important to you? Are you spending any time on that?

I'm guilty of wasting LOTS of time, even though I know that at my age my allotted time is limited. I rationalize it by thinking I've been busy all my life and now I'm retired. Some tell me that if I'm doing something I enjoy I'm not really wasting my retirement time. 

And then another part of me tells me that there are other things that matter to me that I COULD be doing. That's when I work on this blog, or take surveys, or share information about causes I believe in, or keep in touch with family, or volunteer.

Funny, when I was working full time I didn't think about wasting time. There never seemed to be enough of it to waste! I loved my work and believed it was worthwhile. 

So where are you in this whole Time and Values thing? What do you think about how you are using your time?


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Where Your Money Comes From

Ever given much thought to where your money comes from? Check it out.

Interesting.


Better not to try it at home!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Are You a Bacon Lover?

Ever wonder exactly how bacon is made? It is an American favorite.

Check this out:


Still love bacon?

But do you know how to cook it correctly? Here you go:



Now THAT can make the world better for you today! :-)


A Video Game to Cope with Grief


My reaction when I saw this title was  kind of a jolt. What? Grief as a game? Surely not. But listen to her talk about creating this game and see for yourself.


What do you think?

Comments?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Help Who? What? Where? When? Why?



And you thought doing good, being a helping person, was simple, right? But these days I don't think so. There are so many people, causes, places that need help. And with the information age we see and hear of suffering everywhere. So how do you choose?

We can't do everything, can't fix the world, abolish all suffering. Obviously. So, that might make you think there is no point in helping anyone, especially strangers and people we'll never see or meet.
But for many of us, we have that urge to help beyond our own circle of friends and family.

We are given so many opportunities to help relieve the suffering in the wold that it can be overwhelming. Let's consider the "who".

Who 
Personally, I find my heart pulled in some directions more strongly than in others. (And following your heart is a good way to choose.) I listen to my heart and hope I make the best choices. I look for people who are oppressed and are often ignored or marginalized. I send needed items to people  on the Rose But Indian Reservation. And I do what I can to support refugees in our country, especially locally.

Where
Some people think it is better to help people they can meet rather than those far away. But what moral difference does it make if the starving child is in front of us or far away? So the "where" is a matter of personal preference. I like to consider what resources are available where they are so I can evaluate how much difference my help might make.

On the reservation, money is very tight. There are no good jobs and the elderly, especially, live in deep poverty. So the help I give there provides items they badly need.

In our country, large communities especially, there are agencies that help refugees. These agencies need volunteers. While the agencies have some funding, what is really needed are people who will help their clients get resettled. I'm hoping to become a volunteer at the Community Refugee and Immigration Services center here in Columbus. I can do things like assisting with their English classes, driving them to appointments, mentoring, and making them feel welcome in what is often an unfriendly environment.

What
So the "what" of you helping can be anything from making money donations to volunteering, or simply sharing information about the need and encouraging others to help. Your help might be "rescue" - helping a person out of a dire situation, someone right in front of you. You might help a homeless person get to a shelter, for instance. Or you might stop to help someone with a disabled car. "Rescue" is usually unplanned, spontaneous acts.

Another kind of helping can be categorized as "charity." Charity is more likely to be helping an unseen person or someone who is at a physical or emotional distance between you. You donate or raise money for a cause you believe in. You may join with others to support a cause. For instance, some of us met regularly to make little dresses for Africa. And sometimes I ask friends and family to help me make or buy hats and mittens for the children and elderly on the Indian Reservation.

And, of course, there is always the need for financial support for various causes. So donating or fund raising is another kind of charity work.

When
"When" is an interesting factor to consider. Most of us tend to relegate our helping to our spare time, a convenient time. "Rescue", of course, by nature  is spontaneous and often inconvenient. Sometimes we drive past the disabled car because we are in a hurry to get somewhere. We don't want to be inconvenienced.

Finding a time to be a helper takes some consideration. Since we probably don't aspire to the lable of "do-gooder", we need to balance our helping of others with our responsibilities to family, job, friends, and self-care. Yet we need to find a space in our very busy lives because helping is important to our well-being.

Why
That brings us to the "why" of helping. Why do we help others? Why do we contribute to charities, volunteer for unpaid work that benefits others? Why do we do acts of kindness? I'll bet you could get dozens of answers from dozens of different people.

  • When you give, you are likely to get back. Perhaps you won't get back the same thing you have given. But when people see you as generous they are likely to be generous to you.
  • When you help others you help yourself. You increase your self-respect and  personal satisfaction. It feels good.
  • Compassion is a human passion. We are born as caring creatures. Often that is not encouraged as we grow up and we can become uncaring. But most of us have some compassion, many have great compassion. It is because we are caring creatures.
  • Some feel it is our duty to help others. Some rules about helping and caring have been taught to us and we help out of a sense of duty. This is probably the least joyful reason for helping, however.
  • Psychologists tell us that there are neurological reasons: Altruism activates reward centers in the brain. Neurobiologists have found that when engaged in an altruistic act, the pleasure centers of the brain become active.
  • Helping those in need helps us feel less upset by observing others in distress.
  • The need reminds you of someone or something in your past and helping them helps resolve old feelings from that past situation. Perhaps you have been needy and know how that feels, so you do what you can to help the other person relieve their suffering.
  • Helping satisfies personal values or humanitarian concerns. For some people this can have a spiritual component.
  • Volunteering can help you gain a better understanding of other people, cultures or places.It satisfies your curiosity and desire to learn.
  • Volunteering can be a way to challenge yourself, meet new people and make new friends, or learn new skills that further your career.
And I'm sure there are other motivations. Some might have purely selfish reasons. For instance, someone might volunteer to work on a project with someone who could influence their future in some way. Or they might volunteer solely to have something to put on their resume!

But whatever the reasons, we are all helpers in some way. Why do you help?


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Do-Gooder": A Pejorative Word?



When someone is labeled a "do-gooder" it is with a somewhat disdainful tone. Why is that? They are people who are doing good works, helping people, making the world a better place, right? So why the disdain?

I'm currently reading Strangers Drowing, Grappling with Imposible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help by Larissa MacFarquhar. I brought it home from the library because I suffer from that urge, an urge I'm all too often unable to do anything about because of my health or wealth [lack of both]. In it they explore attitudes about do-gooders.

They describe do-gooders as people who are compelled to help others, strangers, people they may never meet. They do this while sacrificing their well-being, their families, their own comfort and happiness. In fact, the authors say that do-gooders can be identified because they are never happy. They are too caught up in the suffering of others and their need to help.

Well, that IS a bit extreme. I guess I don't know anyone like that personally. I know a lot of people who do good things. But they don't give up everything in order to serve others. I know that there are religious folk who do that for spiritual reasons. But they usually feel fulfilled and joyful in their work. The authors exclude them from the term because they are not addicted to good works. Addiction does not bring fulfillment and joy!

"[God] didn't want you to be miserable - He wanted you to do good. . . it is better to be happy, because you did better work."  pg. 16
God wants us to be happy and God wants us to do good works. If you get no joy, no happiness from your good works you need to take a hard look at what you are doing and why you are doing it.

What good works are you doing? Share an experience that brought you joy in your good works.




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Got 20 Minutes? Get Happy!



You can get happy in only 20 minutes if you watch his video and do what it suggests. 
Want to try?

Watch.


What do you think?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I'm Sorry. Be Happy.


One thing that keeps us from being truly happy is that there are people or experiences that have hurt us and we've not been able to forgive.

How can forgiveness of others help us to be truly happy? Check out this video to start on the road to forgiving. Do it for yourself.




Let it go. Be happy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What Would You Give for Your Well-Being?


What have you lost by giving? Money? Goods? Experiences? Your savings? Your time? Other resources? Are you suffering a deficit because of your generosity? 

So why is generosity a good thing? Why give if we lose? Doesn't seem very practical, does it?
Yet we give. And most of us want to be generous. It is a positive characteristic, to be a giver.

Generosity is a paradox. While it is true that we "lose" that which we give, in return for giving we receive! The Paradox of Generosity, Giving we receive, grasping we lose by Christian Smith & Hilary Davidson is written from their academic study of generosity. The book is quite readable, will all the technical research stuff in the back of the book. And it has interesting insights.

To measure well-being they looked at happiness, bodily health, purpose in living, avoidance of depression, and interest in personal growth. People without these are not flourishing. Their study looked at practices of generosity, not single generous acts, repeated behaviors that involve recurrent intention and attention. So, basically, a generous person is happier, healthier, lives purposefully, avoids depression, and ins interested in their personal growth.

Sounds like what we'd all like to be. The authors demonstrate in their research that generosity and well-being correlate significantly between the two. They present empirical evidence that American's generous practices are strongly associated with grater well-being of the generous givers.

What about a causal relationship? Which causes which? The arrow points in both directions. Greater well-being often facilitates generosity. And at the same time, generosity also enhances the well-being of the giver. 

America has been call "the most generous nation." But what is the truth of the matter? The authors report that the truth is that the results are mixed. Many Americans are quite generous in various ways and they are more likely to enjoy the benefits of generous practices. While on the other hand many other Americans live fairly ungenerous lives. They are less likely to voluntarily give money to valued organization and causes. They don't volunteer their time and labor to others. They don't extend themselves much in relationships with family, friends, and neighbors. And these less generous people are less likely to have the benefits of generous practices.

So, what do Smith &Davidson mean by "generosity"? For the purpose of their research they mean "the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly."  It is conceived as a learned character trait involving both attitudes and actions. It requires both a disposition to give liberally and active practice of giving liberally. You have to want to be generous and to act generous, to actually give to others in some way.

It isn't just giving anything from you abundance but giving those things that are beneficial to others. A generous heart will share what they have that would benefit another. It is important that we consider how our "gift" benefits the other. How often do we donate our no longer needed clothing without considering how it will benefit another? We do it more to get rid of stuff than to really consider the needs of others beyond our left-overs. 

There are many ways to be generous. We can give our time to work without pay [volunteering]; we can give money to the causes we believe in; we can express generosity to family, neighbors, friends; we can give blood, become an organ donor, loan possessions, include estate giving in our wills. Sometimes giving time to just listen when someone needs a sympathetic ear can be a very generous act. Random acts of kindness are generous practices.

"Giving we receive, grasping we lose." Learn more about the benefits of generosity in The Paradox of Generosity by Christian Smith & Hilary Davidson. And increase your own well-being while you give to benefit others.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Another Formula for Happiness


  • Do you know your purpose?
  • Is there a way to live your life that will create more happiness in the world, not only for you but for others as well?


  • Maybe that is the purpose for which we all exist. 
  • What will you do today, tomorrow, the next day, to create more happiness?
  • Share your ideas here!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Living in the Modern World


We've been exploring the ideas about an 18th century economist named Adam Smith through the perspective of Russ Roberts' book How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, an unexpected guide to human nature and happiness. Even though Adam Smith was an economist he had philosophical thoughts about human happiness that weren't about money. And his ideas are just as appropriate today, if not more so, than they were in the 1700's. His philosophical thoughts are in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Smith proposed that we are happy when we are loved and when we are "good", or lovable. And when we want to make the world a better place, we do that by simply being better people.
"If you want to make the world a better place, work on being trustworthy, and honor those who are trustworthy. Be a good friend and surround yourself with worthy friends. Don't gossip. Resist the joke that might hurt someone's feelings, even when it is clever. And try not to laugh when your friend tells you that clever joke at someone else's expense. Being good is not just good for you and those around you, but because it helps others to be good as well. Set a good example, and by your loneliness you will not only be loved, but you may influence the world." Russ Roberts, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life.
Roberts reinforces my belief that every action we take affects those around us and through them ripples outward influencing other way beyond us. When we approve of someone's behavior, be it good or bad, we are encouraging other people to that behavior. So if we want the world to be better we need to encourage that which is good, that positively affects others. That is part of our personal power to create change at an organic level.

This seems terribly important today when there is so much harmful behavior in the spotlight, in the news, on social media. We can influence that in two ways - expressing disapproval and/or refusing to giving a lot of energy to enhancing it. Negative attention is still attention. And some people seek any attention they can get.

Yet it is hard to determine how much disapproving attention is enough and how much is feeding the "attention-getters". Isn't it more effective to invest our energy in influencing those with the power to make changes? What reward or punishment is effective in each case? Sometimes eliminating positive rewards, financial for instance, is more powerful than voicing disapproval alone. Boycotts can be powerful, especially when combined with demonstrations.

Obviously, group actions are more powerful than the actions of only one of us. But that certainly doesn't excuse individuals doing nothing. If you really want to make the world a better place, BE THE CHANGE.

When we identify a problem we need to determine if "the problem" is a symptom of a greater problem. We can waste a great deal of energy and resources to change the symptom that doesn't get dealt with. Take the War on Drugs, for instance. What is the root of drug use? Is it just the availability of drugs? No, the addict is attempting to escape something, trying to escape some kind of pain. It is similar to the problem of terrorism. Who becomes radicalized to become a terrorist? Is it the person who understands his personal power and has the resources to pursue a better life? Or is it the young person who sees no future that is better than what they are living in. They fall for the rhetoric of someone promising them greatness, comfort, freedom.


Dealing with the causes is a big and often overwhelming task. All too quickly we give up making those changes and try to overcome the persons we define as "the problem." It wouldn't be easy to change "the problem" into a challenge that together with others we could influence in a positive way. However, pushing someone to change doesn't work. Often it is better to leave some things alone rather than try to steer them. See? It isn't easy. And yet it is important.

Smith reminded us that politics isn't where life happen, even though it affects our lives in all kinds of ways, good and bad. But we have so much more to do outside that world of politics. Roberts advises:
"Do you want to make the world a better place? Talk to your kids. Go on a date with your spouse without checking your e-mail. Read more Adam Smith and Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse and less of the Daily Kos and the Drudge Report. Smile at someone you don't know or even like. Be nice to your parents, because you can never repay what they did for you. None of this necessarily shows up in some measure of gross domestic product. These actions don't help pay the bills. They aren't usually on our to-do list. so we don't get the satisfaction of checking them off. A week can go by and nothing will happen if we don't do them. But I think they are the stuff of the good life."
 What it boils down to is that all the little things we do affect others. Think of positive behaviors you have  done, ones you can do in the future. What if everyone behaved that way? Pay it forward. Make the world better.

Next post we'll look at happiness from another perspective. Come back to see.