Discoveries


Just came across this short piece and wanted to both affirm it from my personal life experience and share it by way of inspiration to you:

Growing Older, Getting Happier

Older people tend to be happier than younger people, and their happiness increases with age, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports.

Researchers contacted 1,546 people ages 21 to 99 via random telephone calls and found that older age was, not surprisingly, tied to declines in physical and cognitive function. But it was also associated with higher levels of overall satisfaction, happiness and well-being, and lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress. The older the person, the study found, the better his or her mental health tended to be.

The researchers used well-validated scales to assess mental health, although the study relied on self-reports and was a snapshot in time that did not follow an individual through a lifetime. Other studies have found similar results linking advancing age and higher levels of happiness.

The reasons for the effect remain unclear, but the senior author, Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, had some suggestions.

“Brain studies show that the amygdala in older people responds less to stressful or negative images than in a younger person,” he said. “We become wise. Peer pressure loses its sting. Better decision-making, more control of emotions, doing things that are not just for yourself, knowing oneself better, being more studious and yet more decisive.

“This is good news for young people, too,” he added. “You have something to look forward to.”
life in shadows

So, what sayest YOU?

A version of this article appears in print on 08/30/2016, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Growing Older, and Happier.

When I look back on my personal values, one that has remained constant over these past 7 decades has been always learning something new. Much of that comes in the form of reading or listening to audio books, with two or three books in progress at any given time. Even in looking back over a career that I can honestly say I loved every day of it, whether it was short order cook (teen years at Danford’s in Metuchen, NJ), selling jewelry at Metuchen Jeweler’s, giving customer service at the local tropical pet store or car hopping at Stewart’book librarys Root Beer stand in nearby Ford’s NJ (great lessons when you work on tips – good service means rewards with each car you waited on; work hard and you make more – lessons every young person needs to learn to succeed in later years), or teaching high school mathematics (at St. Peter’s high school in New Brunswick NJ where I attended and later taught at as a peer with my former teachers – loved those kids and working days!).  I even was the high school tennis coach, an assignment that drove me to the library to learn how to play and score tennis since I had no background in the sport until then.

Geometry teacher (1968) JFK High School, Iselin, NJ

Geometry teacher (1968) JFK High School, Iselin, NJ

Later in corporate America working at Sperry, Univac, Unisys – the names changed over my forty years, as did the company – but always moving into a different challenging role every 3 years – constantly learning new things, usually by sitting down with individual team members and watching them do a job, then asking if I can try my had at it – great bonding and fun way to learn. Whether it was teaching (yes, never strayed far from that stand up in front of a classroom even in this environment) or presenting product to a customer/prospect, I was learning and growing.

It was during those years that I came to recognize how important a value that was to giving me satisfaction in my life. It was never hard work even when it required working beyond 24 hours in a day, and sometimes it did!

Now in retirement that still plays a major role in living a fulfilled life each day. Whether its hosting a support group meeting for organ transplant patients learning from a kidney recipient turned kidney transplant surgeon last Thursday evening, Saturday attending a day long leadership summit listening to a presenter from the UK sharing what organ donation is like in their world, attending a bible study on Sunday followed by a learning workshop on how to lead a church council, each expands my world of interest just as it has for these many years.

And so it goes, bones may ache, health conditions may challenge, but the mind remains alive and hungry. That’s why, after reading a Washington Post editorial about the political climate just before now, I found myself distracted in watching a YouTube video on how they make bubble gum! (which I then posted on Twitter, another social media resource I’m trying to learn how to use effectively – learning, learning, learning!) – and then was moved to share here in my long neglected blog, this story of today and learnings.

So what are your values that make your own daily life worth living? Not sure? Take some quiet time to ask and answer that question, then focus more of your life in that direction to get more enjoyment out of life today and everyday.

So now I’m off to more reading and a to-do list that is too long for a life in retirement that is supposed to be one of quiet and resting. My lesson for you today: don’t believe it – life is to be lived and the more you learn the more interesting each day can be.

15M views and counting, and I just discovered it – hope it gets you thinking too:

another beautiful and inspiring sharing from my dear friend, Bob Perks:
(see his work at http://www.bobperks.com)

“Remember…You are loved!”
by Bob Perks

They would get together for coffee a few times a week.

Two old friends who lost contact with each other for
years until one day their paths crossed.

It was like attending a family reunion for the first time.
They had other things to do that day, but this moment was
much too important to pass up.

So, they sat for almost four hours over coffee and memories.

They continued meeting and reminiscing regularly.

“He’s like a brother from another mother,” they would say
in unison if asked about their friendship.

Times changed and they often spoke about “the way it used to be.”

You know, “The good old days.”

The good old days are different for each of us.  What one
might remember fondly another wants to forget.

Remembering how things used to be changes through the years.
We develop “selective memory.”

A study back in 2011 stated “Selective memory really exists
and we can train our mind to forget moments completely.

The study found that repressing these memories for long enough
can lead to us erasing them completely.” (Lund University, Sweden)

I know this first hand, because my son remembers things differently
than I do.  I am often stunned by the things he remembers and I
cannot recall.

So it was for these two friends.  There were issues between them
that just never were resolved.  Often such things are referred to
as “The Elephant in the room.”

Elephant? What elephant?  Pretend it’s not there.

The fact was that one ended up marrying the other’s girlfriend.
It was the reason for having not seen each other for decades.

These past years buried that fact six feet under as both of them
were now widowers.  There was no need to talk about it.

That is until one day when they seemed to breach the subject just
before leaving.

“I want to talk to about something we haven’t talked about yet.”

“Can it wait until next time?”

“Sure.  I’ll see you on Saturday.”

They always hugged goodbye.  But today they did not.

Both went on about their day nervously thinking about what and
how they would talk about the obvious.

Early Saturday morning one friend noticed a text message on
his phone.

It had been sent the night before.

It simply said, “Remember…You are Loved.”

He smiled and replied, “You are loved, too.”

He headed for his car and the local restaurant where they always
met.  As he walked in, he noticed a younger woman sitting in their
regular booth.  He approached the waitress and jokingly asked why
she let someone else sit there.

“He’s going to be upset,” he said.

“I think you better join her,” she said in a whisper.

Confused and concerned he walked up to the table and said hello.

“I’m Janet, my father told me you’d be here.”

He slowly sank into the chair as his eyes scanned what appeared
to be a very familiar face.

With a deep sigh he said, “You look just like your mother.”

And so the conversation began.  They talked about the stuff of
life they set aside because friendship in old age was much
more important than lost love.

“He asked me to send the text to you just before he passed.  It
was what he wanted to talk to you about today,” she said.

“He loved you.  Guys don’t talk about stuff like that, but my
father loved you and regretted all the years wasted between two
good friends.”

He held the phone in his hand and showed her the message.

“I’m not too good with these things.  Could you set his words
as a daily reminder for me?  I don’t ever want to forget.”

And so, everyday for the rest of his life at 9:00 a.m. he
receives this message:

“Remember…You are loved.”

I have set my own phone to remind myself everyday.  Some days
I desperately need to be reminded.  Some days I need to remind
others.

So, my friend…”Remember…You are Loved.”

“Ibelieve in YOU!”

J

Bob Perks

Transplant books library

Transplant books library

Despite my desire to maintain this blog, I find many weeks and often months go by before I interrupt what seem to be higher priorities to express myself here. While today is no exception, I’m interrupting a long to do list to add some thoughts anyway.

One of my many pleasures in life, and my life is filled with many pleasures, is reading books. At any one point in time I find myself engaged in anywhere from 2 to 5 books on a great variety of topics and often in different media. For example, I’ve just finished reading “The End of Your Life Book Club” on my new Kindle Fire tablet type reading device, a very different way of reading a book that lent itself to a propped up screen in front of my lunch time at the kitchen table. I have a choice of listening to it being read to me, a neat feature of this device, which unlike an audio-book has a computerized non-emotional but variable speed controlled text to voice capability, or an easy touch of the screen to flip between pages as I eat and read the same time. In the car I always have an audio-book on CDs available to fill in the brief five minutes or a longer trip of an hour or more with interesting and often educational material.

Of course there’s always the hard-copy books in a pile next to my desk, varying from short Simple Truth inspirational books to many others submitted for review on transplant related stories and topics. Then I can always read a downloaded e-book on my desktop screen in front of me, or another longer-term books sitting in the bathroom for that quiet time reading. Sometimes those adventure books become so engaging that instead of becoming a long-term reading project once fully engaged the book can’t be put down and all of a sudden I loose a day or more of my life totally engrossed in the excitement of a story, a true measure of the quality of the book.

What started out as the simple enjoyment of reading has grown over the years into a hobby that serves a much larger audience of authors and transplant families/recipients as I read and write book reviews of transplant related subjects which now number close to 100 books that are in both the library pictured above now housed at the Gift of Life Donor Programs Transplant Family House in Philadelphia as well as an online database available through the TRIO website for worldwide use. (see that 150+ book listing database at http://trioweb.org/communications/bookreviewshome.shtml)

What’s so neat about this hobby is that not only do I get free books that are sometimes not even yet published to read and review, but I also get to interact with the authors of these books who are also interesting and so passionate about the subject that they’ve written, often a personal inspirational story of life challenge overcome. Not only is this resource useful to the online visitor but it also serves as a resource when I find myself coaching a patient or family through their own transplant experience, able to recommend a book specific to their situation.

The End of Life Book Club cover

Maybe, and I do mean “maybe”, I could use the reading of each of these books as a topic for discussion on this blog since each lends itself to such different insights and feelings that might be of interest to my readers here. That’s just an idea, not a promise yet, as I stop here to get back to my more urgent “have to get done today” list of things to do. So stay tuned to see if that can develop.

Meanwhile I do recommend to your reading, especially if, as with my own beloved mother, you are an advocate for reading in your own life, the book just completed over lunch today as mentioned above, The End of Your Life Book Club, an account of a son and his mother as he supports her final months of life battling pancreatic cancer. As both share a love of reading, they use the discussion of shared books read to deepen their relationship in this final stage of life, leaving a legacy of this fascinating book that talks about life fully lived and death faced with courage and acceptance.

Other books recently read and recommended in recent weeks:

  • 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time (audio book) – absolutely fascinating science reading
  • Shift Your Fate: Life-Changing Wisdom for Proactive Kidney Patients – inspirational advocacy for living donor kidney transplantation vs. dialysis
  • Proof of Heaven – a noted scientist comes to believe in the existence of heaven after his own life changing NDE (“near death experience”)
  • Adam’s Journey – true life family search for a miracle cure of rare Mitochondrial Disease for their 4 year old son
  • A Transplant for Katy – a reporter’s behind the scenes  insight into modern day transplant program
  • Steve Jobs – his autobiography – what a great personal story of today’s modern computer development
  • Listening Is An Act of Love – audio book collection of personal love stories
  • And Thereby Hangs a Tale – audio book collection of folk stories
  • The Back Door Man – mystery fiction that couldn’t be put down once engaged, so be careful!
  • Death By Black Hole – deep science audio book about the cosmos and where the universe comes from (or at least current thinking on that mystery)
  • Just a Guy – autobiography of comedian Bill Engvall
  • The Next 100 Years – forecasting life and world happenings for the century ahead – very interesting theories with strong justification to the thinking

I know what your thinking, “No wonder Jim doesn’t get time to blog…” but I do get many things done beyond that reading, trust me…

PS: And to add still more fun to this experience, I’m dictating the text of this blog using my PC’s Dragon Naturally Speaking application to transfer my voice to this page without fingers touching the keyboard.  That just makes it easier to focus on the thoughts vs. my slow and challenged typing skills.

A close friend sent along this beautiful musical and inspirational link today with the message: “be sure to have a box of tissues handy.”  I ignored that advice and just clicked through to find this amazing story and performance.  I hope you can enjoy it too, with tissues at the ready, and reflect on whatever you feel you have to complain about in your own life which may seen a lot less a handicap in retrospect.  I know I had to let some things go after listening to this rendition of “Imagine” (song originally by John Lennon)

Sit back, turn up the speakers, and feel the emotions that make life so rich for each and every one of us (if we but let them…)

If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.  She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help.   Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her.  They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles.  She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them. 

Whale intelligence? We know so little . . .

Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.  The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same. May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you.

And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.  I pass this on to you, my friends, in the same spirit.

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