LIFE is Short…

Life is short. Why not spend it mired in regret? Why not spend your evenings sitting side by side at the dining-room table with your spouse, trying to determine whether your downstairs neighbours’ ceiling fan is making the floor tremble?

Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence.

Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.

Our existence on this planet is statistically insignificant when compared with the history of the universe. So, take advantage of it! Charge your spouse six pounds and eighty pence on Venmo for “supplemental groceries.”

You get to choose the life you live. And, every minute, you have the opportunity to make a different choice. Every minute, you could say, “Today, I will eat defrosted turnip soup and think about the time I felt left out at my friend’s wedding.”

Our smartphones have become Swiss army knife–like appliances that include a dictionary, calculator, web browser, email, Game Boy, appointment calendar, voice recorder, guitar tuner, weather forecaster, GPS, texter, tweeter, Facebook updater, and flashlight. They’re more powerful and do more things than the most advanced computer at IBM corporate headquarters 30 years ago.

And we use them all the time, part of a 21st-century mania for cramming everything we do into every single spare moment of downtime. We text while we’re walking across the street, catch up on email while standing in a queue – and while having lunch with friends, we surreptitiously check to see what our other friends are doing. At the kitchen counter, cosy and secure in our domicile, we write our shopping lists on smartphones while we are listening to that wonderfully informative podcast on urban beekeeping.

But there’s a fly in the ointment. Although we think we’re doing several things at once, multitasking, this is a powerful and diabolical illusion.

Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, says that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

So we’re not actually keeping a lot of balls in the air like an expert juggler; we’re more like a bad amateur plate spinner, frantically switching from one task to another, ignoring the one that is not right in front of us but worried it will come crashing down any minute. Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.

To make matters worse, lots of multitasking requires decision-making: Do I answer this text message or ignore it?
How do I respond to this? How do I file this email? Do I continue what I’m working on now or take a break?

It turns out that decision-making is also very hard on your neural resources and that little decisions appear to take up as much energy as big ones. One of the first things we lose is impulse control. This rapidly spirals into a depleted state in which, after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important. Why would anyone want to add to their daily weight of information processing by trying to multitask?

In discussing information overload with Fortune 500 leaders, top scientists, writers, students, and small business owners, email comes up again and again as a problem. It’s not a philosophical objection to email itself, it’s the mind-numbing number of emails that come in.

When the 10-year-old son of my neuroscience colleague Jeff Mogil (head of the Pain Genetics lab at McGill University) was asked what his father does for a living, he responded, “He answers emails.” Jeff admitted after some thought that it’s not so far from the truth. Workers in government, the arts, and industry report that the sheer volume of email they receive is overwhelming, taking a huge bite out of their day. We feel obliged to answer our emails, but it seems impossible to do so and get anything else done.

Before email, if you wanted to write to someone, you had to invest some effort in it. You’d sit down with pen and paper, or at a typewriter, and carefully compose a message. There wasn’t anything about the medium that lent itself to dashing off quick notes without giving them much thought, partly because of the ritual involved, and the time it took to write a note, find and address an envelope, add postage, and take the letter to a mailbox.

Because the very act of writing a note or letter to someone took this many steps, and was spread out over time, we didn’t go to the trouble unless we had something important to say. Because of email’s immediacy, most of us give little thought to typing up any little thing that pops in our heads and hitting the send button. And email doesn’t cost anything.

This uncertainty wreaks havoc with our rapid perceptual categorisation system, causes stress, and leads to decision overload. Every email requires a decision! Do I respond to it? If so, now or later? How important is it? What will be the social, economic, or job-related consequences if I don’t answer, or if I don’t answer right now?
‘Because it is limited in characters, texting discourages thoughtful discussion or any level of detail, and its addictive problems are compounded by its hyper-immediacy.’

‘Because it is limited in characters, texting discourages thoughtful discussion or any level of detail, and its addictive problems are compounded by its hyper-immediacy.’

Now of course email is approaching obsolescence as a communicative medium. Most people under the age of 30 think of email as an outdated mode of communication used only by “old people”. In its place they text, and some still post to Facebook. They attach documents, photos, videos, and links to their text messages and Facebook posts the way people over 30 do with email. Many people under 20 now see Facebook as a medium for the older generation.

“It is so plain and so simple. Yet everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Alan Watts, philosopher

What Alan Watts points out above is that we are lucky to enjoy the gift of life but we still keep on rushing around looking for it. We don’t get to realize that life is already in us. We are life: we breathe, feel and we are enough as we are.

People tend to think about life in two different ways.

Some people think they are going to live long enough and have the luxury to postpone things: once, twice or so many times that it tends to become a way of living.

Others believe that life is short and they don’t have the time to fit everything they like in it anyway. So, why care?

If the first category gave you a flick of recognition, you must have experienced that feeling which urges you to postpone things or situations. And the odds say that you might still experience it. You might think that you will do something in the future, you will make that trip you always wanted, you will quit your job to pursue your dream as a writer, you will be the person you always wanted to. You will be happy.

You seem to place all your desires and dreams in the future and expect that things will change someday but not now. By thinking that the next moment contains what this one lacks, your future lies on uncertainty.

Time passes without realizing, without you having enjoyed the ‘now and today’.

And there comes a day when, with snowy white hair and wrinkles on your face, you say “I wish I had tried dancing” or “I could have pursued my dream of becoming a teacher”. “Why didn’t I do it? I had all the time in the world.”

I’ll tell you why. Because you forget your mortality. You forget that you are here for a specific amount of time and that, someday, your life will come to an end.

I haven’t got any white hair yet, neither any wrinkles on my face and I don’t know how it feels when you come to that point in your life when you realize you wasted your time by doing things you didn’t really want to or by not doing things you wanted to. But I assure you that I don’t want to find out.

If you tend to think that your life is short and you can’t possibly fit everything in it, allow me to tell you that you’re wrong. Life is not short, we make it short.

Lisa Whelen

I lost a very good friend recently, Lisa Whelen, an amazing lady, so positive about life with a sixth sense of caring and love for everyone.

I was fortunate to know Lisa, we collaborated on my chapter for The Realization Foundation, Scars to Stars Volume 3.
I also wrote about Lisa’s book (‘Jo March’ being her pen-name) ‘Love is… simple’

Her career started in music working with The Petshop Boys and Oasis, before branching out into film. She was an excellent actress, and scriptwriter before coming an author.

After a near-fatal accident, Lisa was left immobilized, even considering suicide – yet, she defied doctors who said she would never walk again.

She was fortunate to meet Hratch Ogali, claiming to have saved a girl who hadn’t walked for twelve years. He told her: “I’m going to get you back on your feet and you will walk again, there is no doubt.” Miraculously, Hratch saved her life and Lisa was able to walk again.

Lisa being Lisa, she wanted to give back to the world and created a television programme, a film called Mind Over Science to help others who are in the situation she was in.

She worked all over the world with Hratch and his son Seto, helping others in energy healing and wellbeing.

She unfortunately died of Cancer at age 53, such a loss of a incredible person on 18th January 2024

I know Lisa will be out of the severe pain that she has endured, it’s sad to think that such a wonderful person has died, she gave 200% commitment to everyone, a very special person.

Life is short. She will always be in my prayers.

In the words of Dr Colin Murray-Parkes: “The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.”

In a world where the amount of stress one heaps on oneself can be seen as a badge of honour, we need to recognise the ways of reducing the potential negative impact of exhaustion and mindfulness is a great place to start. It allows us to take a step back and refresh our perspective on the world, to decide on a better response to the challenges we face, and to really focus. Neuroscientists have proven that no matter how good we are, our brains are simply not capable of operating effectively on more than one complex task at a time.

The fact that we are all intrinsically connected is not some fluffy principle someone made up, it is something which you can experience right now in your daily life. But the way we usually live our lives in this heavily technological environment our awareness and individual senses are hovering right below the signs so to speak. So, we rarely, if ever, see it.

We live in a post-truth world. The problem is in the technological world of information and importantly the way we humans communicate via online and collaboration tools and apps, do we communicate the truth?

It takes courage to be the person you really are. There really is no magic pill or solution to make this happen, especially in a world that constantly sends you messages about who you should be. All of this talk takes you away from being true to yourself. It leads you to live the life you think others want you to have.

This way of living takes you away from authenticity and truth. You ignore your desires and retort to what’s not even a best second on what you truly want to do or the person you really want to be.

This single realisation can change the way we live our entire life’s. From the way you treat others, to what you devote your time to, to the products you consume, and the causes you support.

Having understanding and interests, we can join together in a common purpose. This idea is similar to the way different components of the human body fit together to form a whole healthy body. Each part depends on the others as long as they are not diseased, for the whole to function properly.

The million-dollar question is do we want to be One, Whole and live in Truth… If not, our lives can be very short. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you enjoy every bit of it.

Annie Dillard:

“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

Our life is made by moments and moments fill our days. Let’s make the most out of them, as the famous Oscar Wilde once said “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring.” And makes life’s journey all the more worthwhile. To experience love is to have lived.

Finally, Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, said on the meaning of life:

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life, but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

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