Paediatrician Asks His Patients What They Enjoy in Life

Alastair McAlpine, a paediatrician treating terminal palliative care patients, asked the children what they enjoyed in life and what gave it meaning. He summarized their responses in this Twitter thread.

— None wished they’d spent more time watching TV or on social media.

— None enjoyed fighting with others.

— Many spoke lovingly about their pets.

— Many talked about their parents, usually worrying for their well-being after they’d passed.

— Everyone loved ice cream.

— Everyone loved books and/or being told stories. If you’re a parent, read or tell stories to your kids! They will love it.

— Lots loved swimming and the beach.

Almost each person valued kindness from others above all other traits.

— Almost each person mentioned loving to laugh.

— They loved toys and superheroes.

— Last: the most important thing was time with their family.

I’ll leave it to Alastair to wrap it up:


Take home message: Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.

These are the things these kids wished they could’ve done more. The rest is details.

Oh… and eat ice-cream. /End

Learnings from TIME Magazine’s Optimist Issue

Bill Gates was a guest editor for TIME Magazine recently. He centered the issue around optimism and got many people he admires to contribute columns on various topics. A number of great quotes stuck with me, either from the writer or a person they were citing. I’ve listed them below:

— Henry James: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

— Malala Yousafzai: “I think it’s pointless to be hopeless. If you are hopeless, you waste your present and your future.”

— Bill Gates: (paraphrasing) A lot of the value in parenting is the willingness to make time.

— John Lewis, on Martin Luther King Jr.: “I never in my years around him saw him down. Never saw him hostile or mean to a single person.” Lewis again: “Don’t get down. You cannot get down.”

— John Mueller: (paraphrasing) People take remarkable economic improvement in stride and then deftly find new concerns to get upset about.

— Summary of Steven Pinker’s column on the disconnect between pessimism and optimism: People tend to see their own lives and local communities positively but think the rest of the people in the country are miserable and the world is falling apart. The news creates this perception. They play on our tendency to grasp for images and stories rather than stats. We also are a species evolved to focus on what can go wrong rather than what can go right. Nostalgia for our past makes the present seem less great because time heals most of the troublesome events from prior years. Memory is a feeling more than the details. And our memories become distorted over time, which makes it easier to think the old days were better.

— Summary of Bono’s column on how men need to help women in the push for gender equality: His daughters remind him there is nowhere in the world where women have the same opportunity as men. The number of girls not in school (130 million) is larger than the total population of Germany or Japan. Give a girl one year of extra schooling and her average wage as an adult increases by 12%. His wife’s advice to him: “Don’t look down on me, but don’t look up to me either. Look across to me.”

Fantastic Productivity Tip from Almost a Century Ago

This was a great story retold by Sean Iddings at Intelligent Fanatics.

In 1919, a consultant named Ivy Lee approached Charles Schwab, the leader of Bethlehem Steel, and told him he could significantly improve the company’s sales and efficiency. All Lee requested was 15 minutes with each member of Schwab’s executive team. Lee did not ask for upfront payment. He said that months later, after Schwab assessed the impact of Lee’s advice, he could pay Lee what he thought was reasonable.

In each meeting, Lee got the executive to promise to take this approach to their work for the following three months:

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive each morning, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished and scratch it off when it’s finished.
  4. Just work your way right down the list. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

After the three month period ended, Schwab was impressed enough to send Lee a check for $35,000. That would be about $500,000 in today’s dollars.

Industry Consolidation Could Be Holding Back Wage Growth

This article at Slate brings up an interesting hypothesis for restrained growth in wages in recent years. When companies merge, the regulatory bodies focus on the impact the merger would have on prices consumers pay for its products. However, equal focus should be placed on the impact a more consolidated market will have on employers’ power to negotiate lower increases in employee wages.

This can have an pronounced impact in smaller local/regional areas where there may be limited choice among employers for a person in a given trade.

Ellen Pompeo on Asking for What She Deserves

Ellen Pompeo is going to make $20 million per season going forward as the star of ABC’s hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy. In this Hollywood Reporter cover story, she explains why it took so long for her to ask for what she deserves. Some may think she’s being too blunt, but I found her candor necessary given the continued state of unequal pay between men and women.

Specific points that stuck out to me:

— Shonda Rhimes’s advice to Pompeo: “Decide what you think you’re worth and then ask for what you think you’re worth. Nobody’s just going to give it to you.”

— Pompeo is now 48 years old and has been playing this character on Grey’s Anatomy for 14 seasons. She is just now comfortable asking for what she deserves, something she believes only came with age.

— Pompeo: actors always want to do what they’re currently not doing. She believes the executives have a choice: you can hold actors down and attempt to control them, but if you do that, it kills their spirit and causes resentment. When she has been a director on set, she gives the scripts to actors as soon as possible and invites them to casting sessions to they feel part of the process.

Understanding the Screwy Ways We Think About Money

Eric Barker wrote a terrific summary of Dan Ariely’s new book Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter. There are many great anecdotes. A few that stuck out to me were:

Ignore “on sale” signs as well as making price comparisons on a relative basis. It doesn’t matter if an item is a ‘bargain’ if you have no use for it in the first place. Additionally, value each component of a purchase on its own. This is where add-ons to an already large purchase get downplayed because we are spending so much.

— If you want to spend less, pay for things with cash. Paying with cash actually has a similar neurological effect as physical pain.

Instead of considering if the price of something is fair, ask yourself how much you personally value that thing.

Put in place an automatic trigger to re-route some of your income into a savings or 401(k) account when you receive a paycheck. One study showed a group that did this increased their savings by 81% that year.

Don’t let the merchant set the anchor that you compare to the “sale” price (e.g. this sweater used to be $150, but now it’s only $59!). Before shopping for something, go in with a mindset of what you expect to pay and use that as your comparison instead.

Hospitals Often Ill-Prepared to Treat Dementia Patients

The piece below from the Boston Globe sheds light on how the natural environment of a hospital is not conducive to treating dementia patients. Massachusetts is one of the first states attempting to create a set of guidelines that hospitals can follow to better welcome these patients and their families.

The article is not too long and worth a read if you have interest.

Boston Globe