It never stops. Another year on the calendar turns, and we receive another jolting reminder of the years passing. It’s not just loved ones that we lose over time – our way of life is also constantly under threat.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While we may miss some aspects of life in a nostalgic way (milk being delivered to your milk box twice a week), there are other aspects that we’re happy to leave behind.
So, what will we soon lose? Here are five things that could well (depending on your age) disappear in your lifetime.
Sweden may be the canary in the coal mine on this one. Half of the country’s retailers believe that Sweden will stop accepting cash by 2025. This has sparked calls for an e-currency and for actions needed to deal with this change (like what to do when electronic systems fail, or the power goes out). Read about it here.
It’s happening in Canada too of course. The thought of paying for a cup of coffee with a credit or debit card 10 years ago was laughable. Now it’s the norm. Bye-bye bank notes.
This is a change we all want – a cure for, or an end to, cancer. And there’s a new hope – the planting of immune cells from strangers into cancer patients to create the ultimate cancer-fighting treatment. Fingers crossed everyone. https://nationalpost.com/health/health-and-wellness/cancer-may-no-longer-be-deadly-in-future-say-british-researchers-announcing-breakthrough
- Car accidents
Okay, self-driving cars won’t eliminate traffic accidents completely – no technology is perfect or immune from outside attack. But just as traffic deaths in Canada have been cut in half since the 1970s due to safety measures such as seat belts and car seats, the move to the “auto-auto” will dramatically improve road safety. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/09/self-driving-cars-could-save-300000-lives-per-decade-in-america/407956/
- Print newspapers
Yes, this is an obvious one – print newspaper subscribers are a dying breed. But what may also be reduced is the relevance and reach of news organizations in general, even those that have moved online. While many news organizations will survive post-print, this fascinating article explains how their influence could dramatically decline, even with a robust online presence. http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/09/what-will-happen-when-newspapers-kill-print-and-go-online-only-most-of-that-print-audience-will-just-disappear/
- Farm-raised meat
2018 saw the world’s first steak grown in a lab. There’s still work to be done on taste, texture and economic models, but real meat grown from cells is a new reality. There’s a good chance that “farm animals raised for slaughter” will seem as horrific to our grandchildren as medieval torture and gladiator death battles seem to us today. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/14/worlds-first-lab-grown-beef-steak-revealed-but-the-taste-needs-work
Thanks for reading!
I don’t know about you, but I was a little disappointed when I discovered that one of the greatest thinkers of our time – Stephen Hawking – dismissed the notion of a life after death.
Hawking died in March 2018, which is when his previously noted thoughts on an afterlife began to resurface. He had lived with the possibility of an early death for nearly 50 years, so would be (in my opinion) highly motivated to believe in an afterlife. And yet, his conclusion was a simple one: no way.
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail … There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
You can read more here.
Then there was hope
Of course, there are other smart science people in the world. And a little searching revealed that there were indeed others who believed there was a life after death.
Here’s a recent example. Researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom examined more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at hospitals in the United Kingdom, the United States and Austria. The results? Nearly 40% of people who survived their resuscitation described some kind of awareness during the time when they were clinically dead. It’s the largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences. It concluded that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down.
And just this year, some well-respected scientists affirmed their theory that quantum mechanics allows consciousness to live on following the body’s eventual demise. The theory is complicated, but the bottom line is that the physical universe we live in is only our “perception.” Once our bodies die, our soul continues in an infinite beyond. It’s worth a quick read.
I can’t say that I understand quantum mechanics, but I’m “all in” on their theory of an infinite soul. Bring it on.
Thanks for reading … Have a great day,
The New York Times had a great article recently on the “life extension” industry, and on the longevity entrepreneurs who are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into anti-aging research.
The author of the article argues that an appreciation of our own lives is based a great deal on our ever-increasing (as we age) awareness of how short life is. And that it’s this awareness and acceptance of our mortality that makes us human and allows us to live life to the fullest. To her, eliminating death would eliminate who we are.
Even without considering the practical problems of eternal life (such as a need for endless pensions and issues of overcrowding), the author makes a convincing argument that immortality may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. You can read the article “Life is Short. That’s the Point” here.
The counter argument
Of course, the longevity entrepreneurs disagree that death – and our awareness and acceptance of it – is what makes us human. Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal and an investor in life extension research, believes just the opposite. In Thiel’s opinion, it’s against human nature NOT to fight death.
While acknowledging that death is natural, he points out that dental cavities and pain during childbirth are natural too, but we have dental treatments and pain medication to deal with these natural events. He believes that death should be transcended in much the same way. You can read more on Thiel’s views in this interview with the Washington Post.
Just a little something to think about over your coffee today … Thanks for reading!
We’re almost 19 years into the new century, so it seems a little late to be talking about the “new” 21st century version of retirement. Or does it?
For those in their 50s or 60s approaching retirement, I don’t think so. If you’re getting close to retirement, you likely have parents who retired in the last century. Pre-internet, pre-smartphone, pre-Amazon delivery on demand. There’s a good chance that at least one parent is still alive, and, like it or not, our “vision” of retirement is shaped by those living it now.
And those living it now made retirement decisions based on life in the 20th century. We may consciously want a different type of retirement, but subconsciously we can be influenced by our parent’s retirement path, whether we know it or not.
So, how could your retirement decisions be different than those of your parents? Here are a few things to consider.
- Shrinking distances: Many retirees want to be in close proximity to their children and grandchildren – and that has influenced many in choosing a home location, even within the same city. But the emergence of advancements like self-driving cars (coming soon), discount airlines, and video calls has made it easier to connect. You may have a much broader radius for home location than you think.
- Enhanced services: In today’s Amazon era, just about anything can be delivered to our doorstep. In Ontario, even the government-controlled liquor store can deliver to your home. This not only decreases your need to be living near certain retail locations, it could allow you to stay in your own home much longer than previous generations. Virtual health care (via text or video conference) has also emerged as a service that brings health care to you rather than the other way around.
- Longevity: Life expectancy gains have slowed a bit recently (as noted by the Canadian Investment Review) but lifespans continue to increase and medical advancements will continue to improve health as we age. For you, it means planning for a longer, healthier life (think 90s, not 80s). This fact can influence many factors, from ability to pursue a second career, to the asset allocation for your retirement savings, to your ability to gift money to family members during your lifetime.
The 21st century has been with us for while – and there are more options out there than you may have realized for your retirement. Make sure your plans reflect it.
Thanks for reading!
A recent Globe and Mail article on vacation time caught my eye. In it, Elizabeth Renzetti notes an ADP Canada study that found that:
- only one in three employees take all their allotted vacation time each year
- 28% take less than half of their allotted time; and
- nearly one-third of people admit to working during their holidays.
Renzetti points to a number of possible reasons for this – from affordability, to holding multiple jobs, to the fear that our employer will realize we’re dispensable if we’re gone and work life carries on. It’s complicated, but for whatever reason it seems that we North American workers aren’t as good as our European counterparts (who have much more generous vacation laws) at taking time off. As a result, the notion of work/life balance tilts strongly in favour of work.
Stop stressing – return to your roots
I think the work/life balance needs a new metaphor – and that’s the work/life tapestry. As a farming society 200 years ago, there was no separation of work life and personal life. You lived and worked on the farm and almost all of your life was based there. The change began in the industrial revolution, when factory work created a clear separation between a work life and a home life.
What technology is doing is bringing us closer to our agrarian roots. The separation is blurring, and for many of us, is once again non-existent. We can fight it – and try to recapture that separation – or we can accept it and support it. Personally, I think the smart answer is to accept and support it, because this is a change that I think is as inevitable as the change brought about by the industrial revolution.
Yes, employers can play a key role in supporting this tapestry, by providing employees with the flexibility and support they may need to address other issues that are happening in their life. But employees have a role too in accepting that our personal lives will sometimes creep into our work, and vice versa. Rather than stress about the fact that you need to take a morning on your Tuscan vacation to join a telephone conference, embrace the fact that technology now enables us to phone a client in the morning and bike the hills of Italy in the afternoon.
Perhaps we’d all take a little more time off we worried a little less about crossing work/life boundaries and embraced a tapestry approach.
Thanks for reading,
With the improvement in phone cameras, photographs are a bigger part of our lives than ever, at least in terms of volume. And while digital photos don’t take up any actual space, they can clutter the lives of our loved ones when we leave a mess of hard drives and memory sticks behind, with thousands of photos to sort through.
When we think about arranging our affairs, the author of this blog makes a very compelling argument for including photographs as part of the arrangement process, and organizing family photos so they provide comfort, not nuisance. The article also contains some great advice on how to leave a photo legacy.
Here’s a thought: with photographs now so ubiquitous, it may be possible to actually “do with pictures” what we used to “do with words” in terms of providing a memoir for those we leave behind. The process of reviewing digital photos, scanning older prints, culling and organizing, and then producing a visual timeline of your life, can not only produce a wonderful gift for your family, it can be an important opportunity for reflection for you as well.
While arranging your photo collection may not be top of your priority list during your work life, it might be something you move up the priority ladder when you retire and have the time to devote to the task.
In the meantime, if a parent or older family relative dies and you’re the one sorting through the photos left behind, this article has some valuable tips on how to make the process both practical and meaningful.
Thank you for reading,
We all know exercise is good for you. However, a survey of recent studies compiled by Business Insider shows that it is really, really good for you.
The article confirms that the best sort of exercise is aerobic exercise, or “cardio”. Exercises that increase the heart rate have been shown to be the most beneficial for body and mind.
The article refers to various studies showing the diverse ways in which cardio can be beneficial. These include:
- lower the risk of dementia;
- protection of your immune system from age-related decline;
- increased muscle tone;
- improved heart and lung health;
- the reversal of some heart damage associated with aging;
- improved mood and reduced stress;
- change the microbial makeup of your gut, reducing inflammation;
- the lowering of bad cholesterol levels;
- prevention or management of diabetes;
- improved look and feel of your skin;
- reduction of the symptoms of depression
- increased brain connectivity, thereby reducing the likeliness of cognitive impairment;
- reduction of the adverse mental impact of chemotherapy; and
- an increase in the size of brain areas linked to memory.
The article contains links to the studies supporting the conclusions.
Now get out there and move!