“This ain’t about you.”

Forgiving someone for kidnapping you at gunpoint requires a Gandhi-sized pill of compassion, and most of us do not have this depth of empathy. Last week my family member—let’s call him John—made the worst mistake of his life by second-guessing himself. His mistake serves as a prescient reminder of how quickly the tectonic plates of life can shift under your feet and forever change the landscape of reality as we know it.

Have you ever wondered what drives people?  By understanding human needs we can interpret human behavior.  Depending on which source you turn to, human needs may range from about five needs to more than a dozen needs, or some 89 needs in total.  These are often structured as a hierarchy, but can also be seen as oscillating. Max Neef developed a model that has 9 needs: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity, and freedom. These needs have been found to transcend cultures and history. However, the way in which these needs are met has evolved and changed.  So much of what we do and say is governed by our drive to meet our needs.

On August 5th, John was traveling to Stuart, Florida, to join his family for a summer holiday when he stopped at the first gas station from his exit. A fairly clean-cut and well-spoken man in his thirties approached him with a gas can explaining his car ran out of gas on I-95. Could he please get a ride?

What would you do in such a situation? John told the man he could not help him, as he had been on the road a long time and his family was expecting him. The guy walked away to stand on the corner with his gas can, and that is when the fault lines began to shift.  This is where he made the worst mistake of his life by second guessing himself. I can only assume what went through John’s mind. “Am I being prejudiced? What if I were in his situation? It is just a few minutes out of my way to help a guy down on his luck.” John confessed he felt sorry for the guy and after filling up his car John changed his mind by offering him a ride to his car.

He asked John to get onto I-95 and after a few minutes, a semi-automatic handgun was pulled from a plastic bag and pointed at John’s abdomen.  “Sorry, but this ain’t about you. You do what I say and I’ll let you go and you will see your family again.”

John pleaded that the man take his car, credit cards, and wallet if John could just pull over and get out. The gunman ignored the requests. He asked for John’s name, bank, birthday, and iPhone password. He said they would go to a branch of his bank. John drove as this man went through his iPhone. He followed the man’s directions but knew he would have to choose between fight or flight.

I am reminded of the poem “Design” by Robert Frost as I try to understand what was driving the decisions of each of these individuals and how their paths crossed.  In the poem, the narrator observes that a white spider and a white moth each choose to go to the same white flower for different reasons.  The spider seeks safety and a jump on his prey.  The moth seeks to blend in on the white heal-all.  The poem concludes when the spider makes a meal of the moth. The narrator asks, what had the flower, the moth, and the spider to do with being white? What drove them there in the night, if anything at all? What had brought the good Samaritan and the con man (gunman, and possibly a killer) together, if anything at all?

After twenty-nine minutes with a gun on him, John was instructed to get off on Okeechobee which signaled that this ride was coming to an end. Fortunately, they had a red arrow at Okeechobee Blvd and Parkway/Peters Road.  As they slowed down the gunman looked out the passenger window to check his surroundings. That is when John dived from his moving car, hit the ground, jumped up and started running. His car was still in drive so it collided with the car in front. This motorist never stopped to examine damage to the car likely out of fear upon seeing a man jump from a moving car.

John looked over his shoulder to see the gunman yelling something and now standing at the driver’s side. When he got to a place of relative safety he called the police.  Unfortunately for John, this would only be the start of his trying time.

If the start of this was nearly unbelievable what follows is incredible.  The police suggest that this entire story is made up and would like to know, “what really happened.”

John decided to advocate for himself and in less than 24 hours went back to the scene to search for cameras, look for his car, and look for the individual who did this to him.  To his disbelief, he got a ping from his iPad that was with his stolen car.  John called the police and after an hour of waiting he gives the officers the address from the GPS of his iPad.  The officers reported that the car was not seen and left it at that.  John drove to the GPS location to have his own look.  One street over from the iPad location he found a car that matched his make and model one residence immediately behind the address sent from Apple.  John drove by slowly to verify the license plate when just at that moment his former captor, the person with the con-story who held a gun to his abdomen, walks into the street to get a closer look at John in his mom’s car.

Life presents John a choice. Understandable thoughts cross John’s mind. Shall I run this person over who threatened my life, stole my car, wanted me to empty out my ATM? Besides, he ruined a perfectly good family holiday! Can I meet this person with an equal amount of disregard for human worth as he has shown to me? Will I be able to accept my choice and the gravity of the consequences?

Violence can be seen as the language of unmet needs.  Violence is the outcome of a person’s inability to identify truly and deeply what he/she needs along with an inability to communicate those needs, in which case violence in the heart takes over and manifests itself in harm, ill will, hurt and pain towards others.  Nonviolence, on the other hand, is the natural state of compassion.  When we work to listen to our needs and the needs of others through an emphasis on deep listening, we discover the depth of our own compassion.  This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute of every day.

 John chose not to run this man over, although I cannot say for sure it was the path of nonviolence, the path of compassion.  However, John was deeply aware of his own needs, which included being whole and having justice. 

 He chose to drive by him, call the police, and in a barely controlled voice tell them, “I’m the guy that got kidnapped at gunpoint, car jacked, and jumped out of my car in an intersection to escape yesterday. I’ve found my car and the person who did it. I think you better get over here soon.”

The police questioned the suspect who claimed he had never seen that stolen car before. Things would not go quite how John would have liked.  The police would not search the house; therefore a gun was not looked for or found.  The keys were not on the suspect so the car would have to be towed.  Several papers that have personal identification information were no longer in the car and conceivably with the suspect.  The suspect was arrested and charged with grand theft auto, but nothing else and released five hours later.  Also, John was called down to the police station to be questioned because the new narrative was that John was trying to buy crack-cocaine.  The police seemed unmotivated to pursue this case further because of this new ‘revelation.’  John, in absolute disbelief, pointed out that he was an attorney, a member of the Florida Bar, and a marathon runner.  He did a half marathon every day in May and ran 18 miles on the morning of the incident.

He suggested to the detective it was unlikely he ran 18 miles that morning then decided to celebrate with some crack-cocaine before joining his family at the timeshare.

John will have to put this all behind him.  He will have to accept that systems are not perfect, and people turn to violence when they have unmet needs, an inability to communicate their needs, and threaten others instead of making reasonable requests. 

If John cannot find forgiveness for his transgressor, he will be bogged down by anger and resentment.  His health will deteriorate and this experience could begin affecting his loved ones. 

I’m sure that John will indeed forgive and move forward in a manner that is both gentle and magnanimous.

These are my thoughts on ways to forgive transgressors in our lives so that we too can move forward with compassion for people who have unmet needs.

  1. Recall that all any one is ever saying is please and thank you. This person was saying, “Please give me some money.”
  2. People are more likely to meet your “please” if you make a request rather than a demand. John had a negative reaction to the demand of “give me your money” and chose not to fulfill the need.
  3. Train yourself to look past words and actions to see the human need driving the behavior. John may have given this man money if the man said, “Can you please give me $50 to help my child who has asthma and is in desperate need of an inhaler?”
  4. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. We are not perfect so forgive yourself as you learn to hear needs.

In this manner, we will as a human race begin to eliminate the language of blame, judgment, and domination while we absolve our hearts of the want for violence against our fellow man, our neighbors, our coworkers, and our family.

9 Secrets on How to Live Well to 100

Dr. Hinohara was born in 1911 and passed away on July 18, 2017, in Tokyo. He served as the honorary president of St. Luk’s International Hospital and chairman emeritus of St.Luke’s International University.  He treated victims of the firebombing in World War 2, treated victims of a subway poison gas attack in 1995, and introduced wellness physicals into the Japanese national medical system.

Among other accolades, Dr. Hinohara wrote a children’s musical at 88 and a best-selling book when he was 101.

Dr. Hinohara came to understand that he was treating people and not diseases. He insisted on fully understanding the whole of an individual as much as one would the illness.  He came to believe that curing illness would involve the use of visual and liberal arts in addition to standard modern medical treatments.

During his journey of 105 years, Dr. Hinohara crafted a philosophy to help others and himself live longer healthier lives.

  1. Energy comes from feeling good, and not from eating well or sleeping a lot.
  2. Make efforts towards everyday fitness. Take the stairs, carry your own packages, walk to your destination. Even if you have to start by walking to the mail box. We all start somewhere.
  3. Remember that doctors can’t cure everything. Challenge your doctor and ask them if this is the treatment they would advise for their son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, or father.
  4. Music and animals are a powerful medicine.
  5. Never retire, but if you must do so much later than 65.
  6. Stay busy. Dr. Hinohara worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week until his last few months of life.
  7. Keep a schedule well in advance, he was looking forward to visiting the 2020 Olympics when he passed.
  8. Find time to give back. Share your knowledge, expertise, skills, or time.  Dr. Hinohara gave 150 lectures a year even in his old age has given some 4500 lectures throughout his life.
  9. Enjoy yourself.

These are not hard and fast rules to be obeyed.  He had an often quoted philosophy on rules,”We all remember how as children when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe we can keep that attitude as adults– it is best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.”

 

The Most Popular Course in Harvard History

 

Tal Ben-Shahar, a Ph.D. from Harvard University, taught the most popular course in Harvard history.  Some refer to his course as Happiness 101, but it is actually Psychology 1504, “Positive Psychology.”   

Ben-Shahar says, “People are looking for ideas that will help them to lead better lives.” Depression and anxiety are reaching epidemic proportions across all industrialized countries. Suicide rates surged to a 30 year high last year.  We are checking our emails every moment of the day.  We are constantly tied to our professional and social media networks.  Our work days grow longer, our tasks more complicated, the pace of work is accelerating.  Competition is on the rise for professionals and students alike.  Students especially are having to contend with higher expectations and fewer prospects.  

This is not your father’s psychology class.  Positive Psychology hones in on themes like flow, optimism, resilience, courage, virtues, energy, flourishing, strengths, happiness, curiosity, meaning, subjective well-being, forgiveness, and joy.

Harvard Professor of Psychology George Vaillant explains, that the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, the clinical “bible” of psychiatry and clinical psychology, “has 500,000 lines of text. There are thousands of lines on anxiety and depression, and hundreds of lines on terror, shame, guilt, anger, and fear. But there are only five lines on hope, one line on joy, and not a single line on compassion, forgiveness, or love.”

The mind healers of the past were singularly focused on where humans went wrong, how we responded to pain and pleasure, on flaws and weaknesses, and depraved behavior.  We were in Freud’s view struggling to keep it together under the torment of deep, dark drives.  It was the job of the psychologist to work with pain because it was thought our minds could not face these issues alone.

This is not Tal Ben-Shahar’s message or approach.  Positive Psychology rests on looking at personal strengths, building competencies, seeking pleasure, pursuing happiness, growing your potential, and leveraging creative tension.  Positive Psychology aims to ground concepts from a generation of self-help humanistic psychology with research and reason.

Their lab experiments might seek to define not the conditions that induce depraved behavior, but those that foster generosity, courage, creativity, and laughter. Their departure point for achieving greater happiness is not in addressing humanity’s flaws, but to focus on people’s strengths and virtues.

He also works at bringing research from the ivory tower to a more accessible place where it can be applied by real people.  “Most people do not read the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  In fact, one of my colleagues at Harvard did a study, and he estimated that the average journal article is read by seven people. And that includes the author’s mother.”  

With the hope of reaching more than seven readers here are Tal Ben-Shahar’s 5 Tips for Flourishing and Happiness:

1. Accept painful emotions as part and parcel of being alive.  When we open ourselves up to being human, that is to say invite the entire gamut of human emotion, then we open the door to all the positive emotions, too.

2. Stop texting while you are with your friends.  A very big predictor of well-being is time affluence.  The time we have to sit down and be with our friends.

3. Exercise!  3 times a week of 30-40 minutes of exercise is as powerful as some of the most powerful drugs in dealing with sadness, depression, or anxiety.  

4. Express your gratitude daily–in writing.  People who write down 3 to 5 things for which they feel grateful (big things or little things) are happier, more optimistic, more successful, more likely to achieve their goals, physically healthier (strengthens your immune system), and are more generous and benevolent to others.

5. Simplify.  Do less rather than more.  We try to cram more and more things into less and less time.  We pay a price in the quality of our work, and in the quality of our relationships.

Top Ten Things To Remember This Summer

10. Don’t leave your children in the car, ever.

Thirty-seven children die each year of heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles. It can happen to anyone. TIPS: Have your daycare call you if your child doesn’t arrive. Leave one of your shoes in the back seat.

09. If a child is not old enough to communicate that he/she is hot, or thirsty, then they should not be outside.

Babies are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke. Their bodies still have difficulty regulating temperature. Signs of heat-stroke include; hot but not sweating, hot red dry skin, rapid pulse, restlessness, confusion, dizziness, vomiting, rapid shallow breathing, lethargy. TREATMENT: Move to a cool area immediately (shade or indoors). Remove clothing and wipe you baby with a damp cloth while fanning them. May consider cool bath to bring the temperature down. Go to doctor or emergency room if not improving.

08. Stroller + Blanket = Furnace.

Covering your stroller with a blanket can cause poor air circulation, increased temperatures, and difficulty seeing the status of your child. TIPS: Consider carrying a parasol or umbrella to block the sun. Look for strollers that have large canopies and incorporate netted material to allow air to flow.

07. Big ‘No!’ to jumping in muddy puddles. This is not an episode of Peppa Pig.

Stagnant, or standing water, is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, host to all manner of pathogens, bacteria, protozoa, and helminth (parasitic worms), and can often be contaminated with chemical and biological toxins. TIPS: Educate your children about microbial life with a microscope and water samples.

06. Mosquitos are the most dangerous animals in the world.

Mosquitoes carry West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, parasites, and more. In other parts of the world Dengue and Malaria are common. Pregnant women and their sexual partners should avoid areas where Zika is spreading.

Insect repellent is the best way to avoid mosquito bites. DEET was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 and is still effective. The CDC recommends 10%-30% DEET for children older than 2 months of age. The effectiveness is similar but higher DEET lasts longer (10% = 2 hours, 30% = 5 hours). Although, the EPA and CDC endorse DEET as safe scientists have recently suggested the DEET may be linked to seizures and neurological damage in a laboratory environment.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol (PMD), is a natural alternative. Important to note that oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) is a highly refined and intensified product that is far more concentrated than the natural oil from the same plant. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) carries a label that warns, “Do not use on children under the age of 3.”

Finally, Picaridin was created by Bayer in the 1980s as a synthetic compound from a plant extract related to the black pepper family. It was available in Europe since 1998 and in the US since 2005. Picaridin has been found to be as effective as DEET, but due to its relative newness,  we have yet to understand long term health effects on humans.

05. Repellent, showers, and tick checks can stop ticks.

A handful of viruses, parasites, and bacteria are carried by ticks and all of them are on the rise. There were 115 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Florida in 2015 up from 85 in 2014. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass. Walk in the center of trails. Wear hats, use insect repellent (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus), apply permethrin on clothing. Shower after coming indoors and perform a body check including under arms, in and around ears, and especially the hair. Place outerwear directly into the dryer on high for 10-15 minutes to kill any ticks brought into the house on clothes.

04. Playgrounds: Stay Vigilant.

Beware of molten lava slides that have been baking in the summer sun all day. Give slides a hand check before allowing your littles to put their delicate skin down. Consider visiting a playground with more shade, or a splash area, for a special park day.

Each year in the U.S. emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground related injuries. More than 20,000 of these children are treated for traumatic brain injury including concussions. The majority of children are between 5-9 years old. Swings and slides are most dangerous to 0-4 year olds.

03. Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and it will hunt you down.

Lightning kills 47 people in the U.S. each year with hundreds more that are severely injured. There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder you are likely within striking distance and it is time to go indoors. Lightning can travel through the electrical and plumbing of your house, so avoid devices that are plugged into the wall and hold off on showers.

If you cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck, but don’t kid yourself– you are NOT safe outside. Avoid open fields, tops of hills and ridges. Stay away from tall isolated trees, or other tall objects. If you are in a group spread out to avoid the current traveling between members. Avoid water, wet items, and metal objects. Get to a vehicle if possible.

02. Drowning can happen in an instant.

On average 9 people die from drowning every day in the U.S. Drowning is most common for children 5 and under, but is the second leading cause of death for people age 5-24. Don’t go into the water unless you know how to swim. Never swim alone. Learn CPR. Make sure the body of water matches your skill level. Don’t fight currents, stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free. Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard. Don’t dive in unfamiliar areas. Never drink alcohol when swimming. Talk to your teens about alcohol. Alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings.

01. Avoid grizzly bears

“All the books tell you that if the grizzly comes for you, on no account should you run. This is the sort of advice you get from someone who is sitting at a keyboard when he gives it. Take it from me, if you are in an open space with no weapons and a grizzly comes from you, run. You may as well. If nothing else, it will give you something to do with the last seven seconds of your life.” — Bill Bryson

Zn (Zinc) The Paul Giamatti of Supplements

Zinc is the Paul Giamatti of supplements – A star in a supporting role.

People are focused on the macro side of nutrition by looking at fats, carbs and proteins that this mineral is easy to overlook. We are quite good at incorporating entire food groups and doing our best to avoid others. Reading nutritional labels to review serving size, calories, fats, sugars, is also a popular health focus. But we aren’t quite so vigilant about vitamins and minerals. As a matter of fact, the FDA notes almost 50% of the US population has a nutritional deficiency. Just like Mary, there is something about zinc. You may look more at closely at this mineral after reading this.

THE ESSENTIAL TRACE MINERAL

There are 24 essential vitamins and minerals, 12 of each. Essential means our body cannot make these so they must be consumed. Intake is absolutely crucial to healthy physiologic functioning. You may become chronically sick and at the least do not feel well, if you are deficient.

Zinc is found in our muscles, bones, kidneys, pancreas, retina, teeth, hair, skin, liver, blood cells, prostate, and testes. You begin to imagine what can go wrong if adequate amounts of zinc are not available to us in our diet.

SOURCES

Zinc is better absorbed from animal than from plant sources. Many plant-based foods contain phytic acid. This substance binds to minerals like iron and zinc and inhibits the body’s ability to absorb them. Vegetarians and vegans are more likely to have zinc deficiencies.

THE TASTE TEST

A quick taste test at home can reveal if you are zinc deficient. Pour about 2 tablespoons of water-based zinc solution into a cup and drink the solution. If it tastes like water then you are deficient. If it tastes metallic or bitter than you likely have adequate zinc stores. You can purchase this zinc solution at most health food stores and we carry it here at our office.

BENEFITS OF ZINC

COMMON COLD

Zinc kicks the common cold’s butt. The duration and severity of symptoms may be reduced by up to 40%.

IMMUNE SYSTEM & TISSUE REPAIR

Even mild to moderate zinc deficiency can impair our immune defenses, affecting macrophage and neutrophil functions. These two types of white blood cells help engulf and digest cellular debris, foreign substances, infectious bacteria, and cancer cells. Studies in the elderly show a 66% decrease in infections when supplemented with zinc.

WOUND HEALING

Zinc plays a crucial role in skin integrity and structure. Studies show that patients experiencing chronic wounds or ulcers had deficient zinc metabolism and lower serum zinc levels.

LEARNING AND MEMORY

Studies reveal that zinc plays a crucial role in regulating neuron communication, affecting how we learn and memory formation.

ADHD

Zinc deficient children and adolescents have positive behavioral and cognitive outcomes following zinc supplementation. Also, zinc facilitates the effectiveness of ADHD drugs allowing for lower dosing to achieve beneficial results.

DIARRHEA

Zinc helps control diarrhea and prevent future bouts of the condition.

AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION

Zinc and antioxidants delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) possibly by preventing cellular damage in the retina.

HORMONES & FERTILITY

Zinc plays a part in regulating vital fertility hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

THYROID HORMONES

Most people with hypothyroidism are zinc deficient. Zinc is required to produce thyroid hormone and any inadequacy can lead to hypothyroidism. Zinc increases Free T3, lowers RT3, lowers TSH.

MENSTRUAL CYCLES

Zinc treatment prevents dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramping) and helps regulate ovulation.

ACNE

Zinc blocks excess androgens (testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) and helps kills bacteria by improving white cell function. Pores open and acne is decreased.

REDUCES INFLAMMATION & OXIDATIVE STRESS

Zinc is a powerful antioxidant. Deficiency of zinc leads to a buildup of free radicals thus exposing DNA to damage and age-related diseases. Zinc supplementation decreases oxidative stress biomarkers and decreases inflammatory cytokines.

SIGNS OF ZINC DEFICIENCY

 

 

BEST FOOD SOURCES

Oysters

Beef

Crab

Lobster

Pork

Chicken

Fish

RECOMMENDATIONS

Age and sex help determine your dietary needs, but other considerations should be made. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have higher requirements. Athletes may be eliminating zinc in their sweat and will require replacement. Consult your physician before supplementing.

Zinc is widely available as a nutritional supplement.

GENERAL RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCE
0-6 Months 2 mg/day
7-12 Months 3 mg/day
1-3 Years 3   mg/day
4-8 Years 5 mg/day
9-13 Years 8 mg/day
Males 14 and over 11 mg/day
Females 14 to 18 9 mg/day
Females 19 and over 8 mg/day

 

 

Conclusion

Zinc may start with the last letter of the alphabet but this important essential mineral supports the entire alphabet soup of vitamins and minerals that come before ‘z.’  Think of it as the Zeus of your health!