Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review: The Fifth Discipline

Grade: C+

This is the third book I have recently chosen not to finish.

Time is precious.  I am not a businessman.  I am not a CEO, or a manager.  This book was not worth the time and not worth the energy needed to learn a new language.

The Fifth Discipline is very dense, very detailed, and it makes up its own terms and then uses them extensively. 

There were many parts I loved, examples that were eye-opening, and stories that were inspiring.  I finished 85% of the book over 11 months of reading and finally gave up. 
The author appears to have spent too much time inventing terms.  He has his own name for each kind of system, and interaction, and leadership style etc...
After about 300 pages I got lost in the new lingo and couldn't even understand what he was trying to say.
Others will say this book is the businessman's bible.  To me, it is now a book to be given away or sold in a garage sale.  As my friend Jim would say "The juice ain't worth the squeeze."

Here are a few parts I liked and want to remember:

"Today's problems come from yesterday's 'solutions'."
"How do we see a business, as a human community or as a machine for making money?"

"If people don't have their own vision, all they can do is 'sign up' for someone else's. The result is compliance, never commitment."


Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review: Tao Te Ching

It always seems odd to write  a "book review" of any sacred text. 

This may not be the "scripture" of my own religion, but I know how I treasure and revere my own sacred text. Thus I hope to treat others with the same respect.

This is a very short book that could be studied for centuries - in fact it has been.  It was written in the 6th century BC by Lao Tsu, a record-keeper at the Zhou dynasty court in China.

There are 81 Chapters (they are more like poems really).  Each is less than one page, the shortest has less than 30 words.  As a line in the fifth chapter points out: More Words Count Less

It's as if Lao Tzu wrote down the most deeply meaningful and simple proverbs of the court.  We could read any single line and ponder on it for weeks.

Some parts remind of therapy:

Move with the present. (14)
Let the mind become still. (16)
People love to be side tracked. (53)
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.  So give as much care to the end as to the beginning. (64)
The truth often sounds paradoxical. (78)

There were many parts that sounded like what I learn in Sunday School every week:

Heaven and earth last forever. (7)
Misfortune comes from having a body. (13)
Become as a little child once more. (28)
Restraint begins with giving up one's own ideas. (59)

There was simple straight forward truth:
No fight, no blame. (8)
He who does not trust enough will not be trusted. (23)
He who brags will not endure. (24)
He who knows he has enough is rich. (33)
Before receiving, there must be giving. (36)
The world is ruled by letting things take their course. (48)
Those who know do not talk, those who talk do not know. (56)

There was sound advice:
Accept being unimportant. (13)
Achieve Results: but not through violence.  Never boast, never be proud. (30)
I have three treasures which I hold and keep: The first is mercy;  the second is economy; the third is daring not to be ahead of others. From mercy comes courage; from economy comes generosity; from humility comes leadership.(67)

There were also multiple references to "The Ten Thousand Things" which I took to mean "everything in the world" but I could be totally wrong there.

This book can be read quickly in an hour or two. It can also be pondered on for lifetimes.
I found it useful. I will keep thinking about the parts I highlighted and the little bits I wrote here.  I think that is part of the measure of a book, and certainly of sacred texts:  Does it stay with you?  Does it change you?

I know it will stay with me, we shall see if it changes me.

I recommend it.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Pogo Stick Saga of 2014

My daughter wanted a pogo-stick for Christmas.  So, as the dutiful father I scoured the Thanksgiving weekend  ads and found one for sale.  We were visiting my in-laws in Pocatello, Idaho and once I found one for sale I cajoled my father-in-law into going shopping with me.
We dutifully drove to the rundown Kmart on the North end of town, found our prize, and moved to the checkout counter.

Would I like to buy a year warranty for $3?
Well, my kids are going to beat this thing to death, and if any part breaks for any reason in the next year they’ll give me a new one.  SOUNDS GREAT!

The pogo stick box was way too long to fit in a single bag so they teller put one bag on the top, another on the bottom, and I slipped the receipt in the bag and walked out with my prize.
WHAM!  Gale force winds slammed against me as I sprinted into the parking lot trying to keep the pogo stick from flying out of my hands.  The bag on top went flying off into the air, then the wind struck the pogo stick and sent it toppling out of the bag on bottom.  I bent down to pick up my daughters Christmas gift and saw the receipt fly out of the bag and skid across the parking lot. 

I secured the pogo stick under one arm and started running after the receipt.  Just as I was about to step on it the wind whisked it out from under my foot.  I started doing a Charlie Chaplin imitation as I slammed my feet over and over again onto the pavement trying to pin down a receipt that kept evading my shoe.  My father in law was doubled over in a full on belly laugh at this point.
I tried at least 12 times to step on the stupid receipt as I chased it all the way across the parking lot until I saw it fly up and over the curb and into the middle of 4 lane traffic. 

The road was VERY busy as it was the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
I watched the receipt flip and float and then land in the gutter on the other side of the street. 
It paused.
Maybe, just maybe I could get to it.  I started to step into traffic and try to sprint across the street when I saw the receipt flip up and over the curb and into the corner of a large stone wall.
It stopped.
The wind was holding it prisoner in the corner.  My prey was trapped!

I ran across the road and just as I stepped over the far curb I panicked as the receipt flipped and flew and blew into the entrance of some large facility.  I looked up and saw that this facility had a large parking lot.  The entrance was foreboding with huge car destroying blockades in the road and a guard house   between the entrance and exit lanes.

The receipt had blown just over one of these metal blockades on the side of the guard house.
The blockade was only about 4 feet high. I could probably hop over really quick and grab the receipt and hop back before the guard ever noticed.
Besides would the guard really care?  This facility couldn’t be THAT worried about security could it?
 I looked at the wall and saw three Big Bold Letters: 


What were the chances? My receipt infiltrated the FBI?  COME ON!!

What’s the penalty for hopping the barricade into an FBI facility?  I didn’t really want to find out. 
I saw the receipt start to flip up in the wind and I took the pogo stick out from under my arm and extended it over the barricade and pinned the receipt against the pavement.
 I couldn’t let it blow away. 
Now I was standing just outside the guardhouse at an FBI building with my arms over their barricade holding a receipt against the ground by means of a pogo stick.

By this time my father in law had come and parked in the entrance and was walking towards me.
Just then the guard looked up from her television and saw one man reaching over the barricade while another walked up behind him.

She ran out of the guard house yelling at us and trying to ascertain the seriousness of the situation.

I must have looked ridiculous as I stood, grasping a pogo stick like my life depended on it over the barricade.  

She questioned my about the receipt, about the pogo stick, and about where I had bought it.


My father-in-law could have been helpful, but instead he just kept laughing and laughing as the guard finally bent down, picked up my windblown and tattered receipt, and handed it to me and let me pull my pogo stick back over the barricade.

My daughter better LOVE this gift.  She has NO IDEA what I went through... 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Review: The Happiness Advantage

Grade: B

Riveting research gets a little stifled by the author’s pride.

Did you know Shawn Achor went to Harvard? 
No really. I’m quite certain of it.  He only mentioned it about 27 times in this book, so it was kind of subtle, but if you read between the lines you too can pick up this hidden gem.
I promise not to mention it again – because it was the only glaring annoyance in this otherwise useful book.

This book could also be called: The Placebo Effect.
It is very very VERY real.  People dismiss the effect of thought on our physical body – and it’s HUGE.

Thought is what leads to hormone release.  Perception of fear releases adrenaline.  Perception of happiness releases Dopamine.  This book discusses Oxytocin and Cortisol and many other hormones and it points out the absolutely real physiological effects of each.

Doing the exact same physical activity, with the thought that you are exercising – leads to more weight loss and increased muscle gain.  HORMONES matter.  THOUGHT matters.
Being “happy” can kill pain better than narcotics. Exercising can cure depression better than antidepressants. 
Being Happy decreases heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other PHYSICAL diseases.
This is not about positive affirmations or “think a happy thought.”  This book is not Peter Pan advice to help us fly away from tragic lives.
This book is science.  Research study after research study proving that our mental outlook on life makes a HUGE difference in our physical health, our finances, our family, our friends, our entire existence.

This book is very worthwhile – because the author doesn’t just say “Get Happy” – He gives you specific tasks and practices to accomplish it.

My favorite chapter was “Principle #6:  The 20 Second Rule”
It talks all about "activation energy."
It takes very little energy to keep a signal running along a nerve.  But it takes a burst of energy to start the flow.  You have to provide enough “activation energy” to start it.  Kind of like getting  a car rolling on a flat road.  You have to put in a ton of energy to push the car from a dead stop but once it’s going it doesn’t take much to keep it going.
It is the same way with habits.  Habits are very hard to start.  Forming them can be a nightmare.
The answer – DECREASE the activation energy.  Make it as simple as possible to do the habit each day.
What ever you want to do: put it in your natural path.  Take away all need for decision making. Make it harder NOT to do the new thing.

If you want to exercise first thing in the morning – sleep in your gym clothes.
If you want to learn to play the guitar – keep the guitar in the middle of the room where you will almost run into it every time you walk through your house.
The same is true for habits you want to STOP.  Make it much much HARDER to do the thing you want to stop.
If you check your e-mail WAY too often and you want to stop – delete your shortcut, and don’t let the computer remember your password.
Make it require time, energy, and a whole lot of work to do the WRONG thing.

This chapter is genius.  The entire book is good.

I recommend it.

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Common sense is not common action." - p. 146

"Coercing employees into awkward icebreakers or forced bonding activities, like making everyone at a meeting share something about their private lives, only breeds disconnection and mistrust. Better that these moments happen organically - which they will if the environment is right. The best leaders give their employees the space and time to let moments of social connection develop on their own" - p. 193

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Industrial Cleaner being inserted in your food!

Saleratus (Chemical formula NaHCO3) is finding its way into more and more products you use on a daily basis.

Saleratus is a powerful cleaner used to in Silver Polish, Tile Scrub, Drain Cleaner and more.  It is an odorless white powder which is very hard to detect.

It is such a powerful absorbent that it can eliminate noxious odors, masking spoiled foods. 

It is likely in your cupboard and refrigerator right now, preventing you from smelling which foods have gone bad. 

Saleratus is dangerous for many reasons.  

It is well known for its explosive properties and is commonly used by amateur bomb makers who can’t get a hold of regulated combustibles.
Saleratus is discovered through fracking, mining, and other corrosive means.  It can also be made in a lab by combining ammonia with sodium chloride and carbon dioxide.  

Due to its abundance it is now a cheap additive used in your food.

Most commonly it is being found in breads, cakes, muffins and even your morning pancakes.

There are even reports of its use in toothpaste!

Find out more at this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saleratus 

First get educated, then join in the fight to ban Saleratus from our food!

(it is currently being marketed under many names so as to not be easily identified.  It may also be listed as: sodium hydrogencarbonate, nahcolite, sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Give the Doc a Lollipop

What if you could make your doctor faster at finding your diagnosis and treating you?

I mean it. 

What if you could do something that would make it more likely for your doctor to diagnose you correctly, and get you on your way with the correct treatment sooner?

You can. 

Give the Doc a lollipop.

Seriously - Give your doctor a compliment, a tiny piece of candy, something to make the doc happy in the moment he/she sees you.

That's what researchers did and the results were impressive.  They gave doctors a patient summary to read over and diagnose.  They handed one group of doctors a wrapped piece of candy before the test, not to be eaten right then, just to save for later whenever the doc wanted to eat it.

The other group got nothing - just the case summary.

The doctors who were given a piece of candy knew the right diagnosis twice as fast as the "no candy" group.  The "candy docs" were also less likely to get stuck thinking it was one diagnosis and be unwilling to consider other options.  They didn't feel anchored by their first assumption.  The candy docs were more willing to keep options open and search for the right diagnosis, rather than just try to prove their first instinct correct.  And they found the right answer TWICE as fast!

This little study re-affirms what we already know.  People do better work when they are happy.  So instead of focusing on the deficits and problems and faults of your doctors, your kids school teachers, your mechanic, your grocery store checker, etc...  Make them happy and they'll do better work.

Better for you and better for them.

Give the doc a lollipop, it's as simple as that.

(study quoted in The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, page 47)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review: Walden

Inspiring and Deceiving

Reviewing this book is complicated.  If I had written the review yesterday it would have been mostly negative.  I would have compared it to Atlas Shrugged: a few good facts that are oversimplified and mis-applied to everything, surrounded by hundreds of pages of boring monotony.

Today I have quite a different view.  This book is a glimpse, a pause, an alternative perspective that is useful and applicable.

Let me explain.

The problem was in my initial assumptions.  I've heard of Walden and Thoreau many times in my life.  I thought it was about a poor author who decided to stop fighting economic hardship and instead go live on the side of a little pond in the woods by himself so he could sit and think and contemplate and write down his thoughts in a journal.  Then he eventually published what he learned while living in solitude in a little shack by a pond.

Then I found out that Henry David Thoreau studied at Harvard, and he could live by the pond for free because his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson owned the land.  Thoreau didn't live in solitude, but walked in to town on most summer days and visited friends, neighbors, local farmers, and also had regular visitors to his little self-built cabin.  He used tools that he found, like an axe and a boat, and the rest he bought used.

His book is NOT telling people to go live off the land by themselves.  He isn't recommending solitude or that society would work if everyone only lived with what they need.

His book is about an experiment. 

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.. and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived...I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."
"I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there.  Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one."

Thoreau never said that living off the land by himself was the best way to live.  He said he wished to reduce life to it's most simple form and see what he could learn.  After he had learned it - he moved on to a new form of life.

That is where I see the value:  The lessons he taught are to be applied to the life we wish to live.  We aren't supposed to abandon society and ambition and family and all comforts to live the most simple life possible - but we ARE supposed to see the superfluous parts of our lives.  See where we have excess, where we are indebting ourselves, and what we can do without so we can simply enjoy life.

This book is not a page turner.  The first 10 pages were great, and the next 20 really were monotonous.  It was worth it nonetheless.  This book is worth reading, because it made me think and increased my understanding.  What more could I want from a book?

The quote which made me think the most was this:
“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”  

That made me realize that med-school didn't cost 4 years, or $200,000.  Medical school will have cost me at least 15 years of life when I pay off the last debt.  It will cost most doctors 30 years of life. 
Not that we don't live while in medical school and internship and residency and fellowship and practice - but we don't live free.  We are still bound by medical school and it's debt and it cost me 15 years. 

Was it worth it?

My favorite quotes:
“As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.”

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”  

"The number of those who own a shelter is a very small fraction of the whole.  The rest pay an annual tax."

“Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.”

“Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.”  

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”

“My greatest skill in life has been to want but little”  
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
"The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is."
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

"I do not speak to the well-employed... but mainly to the mass of men who are discontented, and idly complaining of the hardness of their lot or of the times, when they might improve them."

"While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings."

“As for the Pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.”

"Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only.  Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: Unbroken


There is no other way to describe this book.

I remember WWII History in High School.  I learned all about Hitler and D-day and the battle throughout Europe and the concentration camps and Hitler's death and the victory and then the dividing up of Germany among the Allies, and Russia and the subsequent Berlin wall etc...

Then I learned about the Band of Brothers of Easy Company and more and more about the European side of the war.

What happened in the Pacific?
I knew that we were bombed at Pearl Harbor, then Japan tried to take over all the islands in the pacific, many battles were fought, then we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the war was over.

Seriously - that's what I knew about the battle in the Pacific.  I heard names like Iwo Jima, and Midway, but I had no idea what happened there.

Now - I'm astonished at my own ignorance.

I never knew how indoctrinated the Japanese were by their leaders.  They were convinced that it was better to die than surrender.  Any American who surrendered would really prefer death. 

While less than 0.01% of Japanese POWs captures by the USA died, 37% of American POWs died in Japanese camps.  The Japanese completely ignored the laws regarding the treatment of POWs.

It is sadly understandable now why the POW's in Japan were starved - the Japanese citizens themselves didn't have food either.  All their resources went to the war,  ALL.  All young men were enlisted.  All food taken for the war.
The Japanese were determined to die fighting, down to the very last child.

As I read I came to believe that the most humane thing the American's ever did in the war, was use the most horrific weapon ever created. 

Dropping the Atomic bomb saved hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives.

This book tells the amazing story of perseverance of Louis Zamperini, but what I learned was the history I had never heard. 

Many will read this book and enjoy seeing Zamperini prepare to break the 4 minute mile.  He was running 4:42 per mile in high school and was running under 4:10 in college.  That boy could run!

Some readers will be amazed to learn of the tragic loss of life in training accidents:

Almost 15,000 American soldiers died stateside in aircraft accidents.

I think most everyone will agree with what the POW's learned:

"Louis and Phil learned a dark truth known to the doomed in Hitler's death camps, the slaves of the American South, and a hundred other generations of betrayed people. Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen."

Dignity.  We can be deprived of many things in life, but to lose our dignity is to lose our very soul.

This book was excellent.  I recommend it.

A Cure for Ebola!


Oregano Oil

doTerra and Young Living say so on their websites - it must be true.

Their other oils can cure cancer, repair brain injury, reverse autism, heal endometriosis, thwart Grave’s Disease, stop Alzheimer’s, reduce tumor size, and treat ADHD.

Bell's Palsy, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn's disease are no match for doTerra. With these simple oils I can replace my 9 years of medical training and thousands of years of medical research.

If we can get these oils on a Saturn V Rocket we may be able to patch the hole in the ozone layer and stop global warming. Load it into an F-22 and carpet the middle east with essential oils and we can finally have peace in the region.


The FDA said it's all a lie?  They have sent warning letters to each company?

These companies have no proof and are making unfounded illegal claims?

Hmmmmmm - the FDA's part of the Government. Sounds like a conspiracy to keep us slaves to Big Pharma and their so called "antivirals."

Conspiracy I tell you. CONSPIRACY!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Who Lies More: Big Pharma or Big Natura?

There is big trouble with the laws concerning Natural Supplements:

Everyone knows there is no research required to show they work - but the scary part is that you don't even have to prove they're safe.

You have no idea if what is in them is good, bad, safe, dangerous, passed to a baby in-utero through the placenta, secreted in breast milk, cleared through the kidneys or the liver.  You don't know if it thins the blood, reacts with medications, or anything else.

The part that drives me insane is what every single one says when it comes to safety: "Ask your physician"

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?!?!  There is NO data.  I can search pubmed and google scholar and cochrane and every other database - and find nothing.

Don't get me wrong - there are GREAT natural medicines out there.  I posted about seven that help mental illness at this link a few years ago.

The problem is that until a supplement causes enough deaths, it never gets researched.  Or if it is researched, the results don't have to be reported. 

Ephedra was a great natural supplement... till it killed people.  Then the FDA found out Metabolife had been doing research and already had reports of over 15,000 ephedra-related adverse events, ranging from insomnia to death.  Yes.  A Supplement Company was hiding research, letting people die so they could make more money.

But I thought Big Pharma was the bad guy?

There are plenty of demons in the pharmaceutical industry.  There are plenty of demons in EVERY industry. 
But at least Big Pharma has to work really really hard to hide it because of all the oversight laws.  "Big Natura" doesn't have to work hard at all - because no one is looking.   The FDA can't look into them - Congress made sure of that.

So you have to ask yourself:

Who should you fear more - Big Pharma or Big Natura?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review: The Buddha and the Borderline

"my recovery from borderline personality disorder through dialectical behavior therapy, Buddhism, & online dating "
*Any book that has the subtitle like that has got to be interesting.

This book is quite impressive. It’s the best education I’ve received on what Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is, and how therapy treats it.

I have read the books by the doctors and grad students who came up with therapy for this disorder.  It's called DBT – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.  I have worked for two years in a DBT adolescent treatment center.  I have collaborated with DBT therapists and seen our Borderline patients together.  I have attended lectures and read manuals and worked hard to understand this disorder and its treatment.

This memoir was better than all that.

Most people trying to overcome something won’t write a memoir until they’ve “succeeded.”  Once they’ve “recovered” or “beaten their problem” then they’ll tell the world about it.

If that held true then people with Borderline Personality Disorder would never write a memoir.  They can get better; they can have a great life, family, job, and be fully functional and happy people.

But they’re a little like an addict in that the “addiction” never goes away – it’s just managed, understood, accepted, and then together with it they build a life worth living.

Kiera Van Gelder understands BPD better than most anyone.  She has it herself, she has read more books about it, attended therapy and groups and has taken more notes than most anyone you’ll find – she’s a borderline.  She wants to fix things.  She wants to figure it out – and fix it.  She gets hyper focused and memorizes every word of the diagnostic criteria, as well as all the coping skills and terms used in therapy.

In this book, she is able to use all the DBT terms and skills like a therapist or researcher, while also showing what it means and how she lives as a person with BPD

For example: After writing one chapter entitled "Leaving the Dysregulation Zone" she entitled her next chapter "No Blow Jobs on the First Date." 

(FYI - this book is not meant to be fun, light reading - it's about the most emotionally unstable and self-destructive people you'll meet, so if you're going to read it, be prepared.)

She shows how functional she can look – speaking at a conference in front of hundreds of people, and then how she also spends the next two hours in the bathroom curled up in a ball crying.

She details how she destroys relationships, her fear of men and her desperate need for them at the same time.  She shows the “dialectic” of Borderline perfectly.  She wants things that are contradictory – all the time.   She doesn’t want to need other people, but she can’t live without them.  She wants physical intimacy, but knows she’ll go too fast and it will lead to anger and hate and self-loathing.  She knows she needs real, stable, relationships with people who know the real her – and yet she has five completely different on-line dating profiles.

She shows how (with the help of others and a lot of work) she got to the point when she is no longer cutting or attempting suicide even though she still feels as emotionally raw as when she was doing those things.
She shows that the disorder is cyclic.  It just keeps coming back – but she can ride the wave, accept the emotional rollercoaster without quitting her job or cutting herself or destroying her life. 
She can attain a life she enjoys; which includes her parents, her coworkers, Buddhism, therapy, friends, and even relationships with men.

To those struggling with borderline personality disorder themselves or those trying to help them and understand them – I recommend it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happiness is not found in the present moment, or in the journey, or in succeeding.

1. “The secret to having it all, is believing you already do.”  Be happy now, because it is all you have.  You cannot change the past, you cannot control the future. You can only experience what is happening now, so enjoy it.  Be in the present moment.  Sadness comes from reliving our past shame and guilt, and from fearing the future.  Happiness is now. 

2. “Find Joy in the journey.”  Work toward your goals.  Work to make life better.  Strive, progress, move.  Have a goal in mind of how healthy you want to be, how much money you want to make, what job you want, where you want to live, etc, and go for it.  But don’t wait till you have those things to be happy – enjoy the journey.  Enjoy getting in shape.  Enjoy your daily exercise.  Enjoy working hard and learning and going to school, and slowly and surely working toward your goals.  If you reach them, great, but the joy is in the journey, not in the arrival.

3. It isn’t about starting a project – but finishing it.  If you never finish school, never get the job, never get married and have the family, never buy the car, never finish the project – then what do you have? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”
Happiness is in finishing.  Achieving.  Earning the prize, winning the game, getting the trophy.  Happiness is never quitting. It is getting the life you want - having the stable job with good insurance and paid vacation.  Happiness is getting it done.

Those who win, achieve, and succeed will often mock those finding joy in the journey because “they’re only doing that to console themselves for not getting what they really wanted.  2nd place has to find an excuse to be happy.”

Those enjoying the journey say that the ones focused on winning are shallow and self-centered.  They can’t appreciate teamwork unless it results in a Championship ring.  Joy is found in the doing.  Joy is found in moving the right direction, no matter if you get there or not.

Those who enjoy the present moment would say the others are enjoying the present moment, just not very often.   They enjoy it when they’re winning, and hate the present moment when they’re losing.  Those enjoying the journey will only be happy when they are moving forward, but can’t handle stillness, they’ll call it stagnation.  They may handle failure better than the “winners” but they are set up to be unhappy because they still seek it externally, not from within.

I think the answer is not #1 or #2 or #3. 
Happiness is not “or,” it’s “and.”

Life is not about one thing OR the other.  It is about accepting the seeming contradiction of AND.  Enjoy life right now, no matter what is happening, AND enjoy improving, getting better, becoming something more, AND enjoy succeeding and reaching goals and achieving.
Once you see that these 3 are not mutually exclusive but meant to all be used in concert, in a synergistic relationship - then you can be happy now, AND enjoy working toward your goals, AND enjoy reaching them.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Our Current Terrorist Attack Vulnerability Is From... Saline.

What if just a few bombs, big enough to blow up a building, could kill millions of people?  (Not skyscrapers or metropolitan areas)

What if it could cause panic throughout the entire nation, in every un-bombed city across the continent?

What if the fear of infection kept everyone from leaving their homes?

Not fear of some new outbreak, not fear of Small Box or Ebola or Bird Flu or something like that.
What if terrorists didn't need to do that much work?  No stealing of highly secured research vials of small pox or weaponized ebola.

None of that.

What if they could cause widespread panic, harm, and death with infections we already get every day?

It's easy - and we're making it easier every year.

What if a terrorist blew up a pharmaceutical plant?  A medical supply factory?

I could give an example like Ancef, an antibiotic used in basically every single surgery in the country to prevent infection.  I could speak about cefazolin or drugs for all kinds of infection. 

If those medications weren't available,  what would we do?

But why make up a scenario about a drug when the reality is already here?

Let's talk about saline.
0.9% Sodium Chloride is used in pretty much every IV bag in every hospital and every clinic, everywhere.

You want to clean wounds, mix medications or treat dehydration? You need medical grade saline.

What if there were no medical saline?

Now you might say - well that's just silly.  Saline is salt and water.  Anybody can make that.  We can never run out of saline.

Guess what?  There is currently a national shortage of saline. 


Because of FDA regulations and monopolies and buyouts - there are only 5 companies that make medical saline.  Two companies had recalls on it this year.

Lack of saline could cripple our medical system.

Now think of the essential antibiotics that are only made by one company, or only in one plant.

What if terrorists didn't need an atomic bomb, or a hijacked 747, or a weaponized disease? 
What if they just needed to build a few small bombs and place them at pharmaceutical factories?

The real threat isn't a new disease, it's not being able to treat the ones we already have.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression, Suicide, and Robin Williams

I am a psychiatrist.  For many years now, most every time I get a phone call from work, it is because someone has threatened or attempted to commit suicide.

I have talked with thousands of people who have considered it, hundreds who have attempted it, and sadly, a few who have completed it.

I loved watching the actor Robin Williams. I loved him as the Genie, Mrs. Doubtfire, and as Mr. Keating in his movie about suicide - Dead Poet's Society.

But I know nothing more of Robin Williams than anyone else who saw his movies.  He was never my patient, my friend, or even an acquaintance, so I can't really say anything about him, his depression, or his suicide.

I can't say like some "you're free" and I can't say like others "you're selfish."

I can't say it was a disease, and I can't say it was a decision.

I don't know. 

What I can say is: suicide is not usually selfish, or really a decision at all, it's simply the next step.  When depression gets so immensely overwhelming, suicide is, in the mind, perfectly logical.
Why hurt anymore, why ache, why suffer?  Why not just let it all go?

Of course when the depression abates, and memory and reason return, people can list thousands of reasons they are glad they are alive.  But when the night is darkest, none of those things seem to matter.

We, as a society, do carry some of the blame for suicide.  We have at times made it acceptable, laudable, and we have praised and glorified those who died.  We feel we need to make the person a saint, a victim, and not give them any responsibility for the suicide.

I get it, why make things worse?  Why say anything bad about someone who suffered so tremendously that they killed themselves?

Because once they are gone, then the conversations and media coverage aren't for them, they are for us.  What is left behind is for those watching.

I assume at this time that Robin Williams family and friends are suffering. I assume many others with depression are seeing all this attention, and wondering if they would get this much attention if they killed themselves.  Or would they simply be forgotten?

Many depressed people just saw the Motion Picture Association tell Robin Williams: "You're Free"
It is a beautiful thought, but does it mean all other depressed people can be free too?

I assume tragedies like this make some people more suicidal, and others less.  Some see what happened, how terrible and tragic and final and irreversible it was, and it wakes them up. It gives them a moment of clarity. Others see it as an example, freedom from pain.

What do I think?

I think this should wake ALL of us up.  This is not a time for blame and shame.  It is a time for compassion.  We should take this moment to weep for Williams and his family.  More importantly we should take this moment to talk to our loved ones - to have the difficult conversations we've always been meaning to have with those we care most about.