“ Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
Yes. If you haven’t read this article, it’s not one to be missed.
Uncomfortable in Our Skin, Eva Wiseman’s intelligent report on the pressures distorting the way we think and feel:
Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson (who has succeeded in pulling a number of L’Oréal ad campaigns for being unrealistic) is one of a growing group of people whose campaigning indicates that [body image is] something worth worrying about. Last year I attended every session of her government inquiry into body image, the results of which were published in a report this month. She cited research showing how current “airbrushing” culture leads to huge self-esteem problems – half of all 16- to 21-year-old women would consider cosmetic surgery and in the past 15 years eating disorders have doubled. Young people, she said, don’t perform actively in class when they’re not feeling confident about their appearance.
It is research backed up by a new documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation, about the under-representation of women in positions of power – women who are high “self objectifiers” have low political power. They’re less likely to run in politics, and less likely to vote: if value lies in their imperfect bodies, they feel disempowered. The long-term effects, the piling on of pressures one by one, like a dangerous Jenga tower, means women’s – and increasingly men’s, 69% of whom “often” wish they looked like someone else – lives are being damaged, not by the way they look but by the way they feel about the way they look. It’s complicated.
“ People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.
“ To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
This looks great and it’s one of the most important health issues in our country. Glad to see there is more attention being given to why our cities and economy were designed to make health so hard.
A provocative new 4-hour series soon to air on public television, Designing Healthy Communities, examines the impact of our built environment on key public health indices, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer and depression. The series documents the connection between bad community design and burgeoning health consequences, and discusses the remedies available to fix what has become an urgent crisis.
Weekend in the internet-free zone was good. Always is.
Do you ever take an Internet-free weekend? What does it look like? For me it likely involves spending several days with friends on a farm in north Texas, or camping alone in the woods of a national forest. Either way, it doesn’t happen enough.
“ If we have goals and dreams and we want to do our best, and if we love people and we don’t want to hurt them or lose them, we should feel pain when things go wrong. The point isn’t to live without any regrets, the point is to not hate ourselves for having them… We need to learn to love the flawed, imperfect things that we create, and to forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly — it reminds us that we know we can do better.
The Life Reports, a project by David Brooks at the Times, wherein he asks people over 70 to submit essays about their own lives and what they’ve done poorly or well. It’s really wonderful reading. Here’s a snippet:
Measure people by their growth rate, not by their talents. The best essays were by people who made steady progress each decade. Regina Titus grew up shy and sheltered on Long Island. She took demeaning clerical jobs, working with people who treated her poorly. Her first husband died after six months of marriage and her second committed suicide.
But she just kept growing. At 56, studying nights and weekends, she obtained a college degree, cum laude, from Marymount Manhattan College. She moved to Wilmington, Del., works as a docent, studies opera, hikes, volunteers and does a thousand other things. She acknowledges, “I did not have the joy of holding my baby in my arms. I did not have a long and happy marriage.” But hers is a story of relentless self-expansion.
Photo by me.
The richer — that is, the more varied and complete — the individual’s emotional life, the less is he driven to projection, and the more will he incline to identification. His outlet and satisfaction comes in identifying himself with the emotions of the other. On the other hand, the narrower and more restricted the individual’s emotional life, the more intense will be his fewer emotions, the less will he be inclined to, and capable of, identification — the lack of which he has to compensate for by projection. Projection thus proves to be a compensatory mechanism that adjusts for an inner lack. Identification, on the other hand, is an expression of abundance, of the desire for union, for alliance, for sharing.-Otto Frank, “Love, Guilt and the Denial of Feelings” (1927)
The MSF clinic in northern Burkina Faso has treated more than 40,000 malnourished children in the last three years. In the Starved for Attention Film “A Mother’s Devotion,” photojournalist Jessica Dimmock tenderly captures the heartbreaking emotional strains experienced by a young, hard working mother, Natasha, simply trying to feed her children. Alone at 24, she scavenges firewood to sell in the market. Her meager earnings force an impossible choice: between buying food or medicine for her three children.
Photo: Burkina Faso 2009 © Jessica Dimmock/VII
From an interview with Diana Lobel, author of The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience:
Philosophers such as Aristotle had a much richer conception of fulfillment than our word happiness suggests. The Greek term eudaimonia connotes the best way of life, or human flourishing. Aristotle was a biologist. He thought of human beings as living organisms that can wither if our being is not properly nourished or live well and thus blossom and flourish. Just as health is an objective state of the body when it is thriving, so flourishing is an objective state of the human person — the psycho-physical organism — when we are fulfilling our unique potential.(Thanks, Josh.)
For Aristotle, happiness or flourishing is not a feeling or a state but an activity of living. It is the way of living that expresses all we are meant to be. Pleasure or joy is the subjective dimension of this experience. When we live well, we feel pleasure or joy.
Healthy, happy living is about eating well; being active; having close relationships; enjoying sex; taking pride in what you do for a living; optimizing your environment; and moderating sabotage.
That’s about the closest definition of health I can write.
“ Health is not a commodity. Risk factors are not disease. Aging is not an illness. To fix a problem is easy, to sit with another suffering is hard. Doing all we can is not the same as doing what we should. Quality is more than metrics. Patients cannot see outside their pain, we cannot see in, relationship is the only bridge between. Time is precious; we spend it on what we value. The most common condition we treat is unhappiness. And the greatest obstacle to treating a patient’s unhappiness is our own. Nothing is more patient-centered than the process of change. Doctors expect too much from data and not enough from conversation. Community is a locus of healing, not the hospital or the clinic. The foundation of medicine is friendship, conversation and hope.
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