+

He was just goofing off with friends as a young adult.

BJ Miller was a young adult hanging with his crew. They decided one night to climb onto the top of a parked commuter train — just one of the dumb things people do when they're bored and looking for adventure. When he reached the top, an "electrical current entered through his hand and blew out through his feet." It resulted in him losing the lower parts of his legs, as well as one of his hands.

How a snowball changed his entire perspective


After that, he spent a few months in a hospital burn unit, where he received great care at every turn. He tells the story of how one night it was snowing, and he had no windows. He could hear the nurses discussing their treacherous drives in the bad weather, and he could only imagine the snow from where he was situated. The next day, one of his nurses smuggled in a snowball and brought it to him.

He just held it in his hand, marveling at the sharp cold against his hot skin, watching it melt, and feeling connected to the world around him in a way he hadn't while pent up inside the hospital.

“In that moment, just being any part of this planet in this universe mattered more to me than whether I lived or died. That little snowball packed all the inspiration I needed to both try to live and be okay if I did not." — BJ Miller

Something isn't right if patients are ready to die for the wrong reasons.

Flash forward a couple of decades. BJ is now a physician — due in large part to what he went through. He recounts many patients he's worked with who were ready to go, ready to die, but not because they'd made peace with the circle of life and the impending next step in it.

They were ready to die because they hated how ugly their lives had become as patients.

At a time when a person is struggling with the biggest hurdle of their lives — leaving their lives behind and not existing corporeally anymore — they are often completely cut off from the humanity and experience of life they so desperately are wishing to exercise while they fleetingly still can.

He makes the case that with some real attention to the design of palliative care and hospitals, we can totally transform what the process of dying becomes for people. Instead of a gruesome, clinical, scary process, it can be, by design, a concentrated crescendo of all the things it means to be living, packed into those final months and days.

Think about it: At a time when a person is struggling with the biggest hurdle of their lives — leaving their lives behind and not existing corporeally anymore — they are often completely cut off from the humanity and experience of life they so desperately are wishing to exercise while they fleetingly still can.

Like feeling their dog lying at the foot of their bed with a cold nose against them. The feelings and quick snapshots in time that, strung together, make up a life.

BJ calls this "sensuous aesthetic gratification," putting words to those moments where we're tactilely rewarded just for being alive.

He makes a moving case for why the entire process of dying should be comprised of more moments of pure living.

If you've ever stood witness to a loved one in their final days, you can probably understand how true this is and how important it is to get people to rethink our systems for the dying.

After all, it will be our turn one day. And we'll want the best experience we can possibly have.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the Peoples

True

Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.

Keep ReadingShow less

Chris Hemsworth and daughter.

This article originally appeared on 08.27.18


In addition to being the star of Marvel franchise "Thor," actor Chris Hemsworth is also a father-of-three? And it turns out, he's pretty much the coolest dad ever.

In a clip from a 2015 interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Hemsworth shared an interesting conversation he had with his 4-year-old daughter India.

Keep ReadingShow less
True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

A 92-year-old World War II fighter pilot flies her plane for the first time in 70 years.

"It's the closest thing to having wings of your own and flying that I've known."

Photo pulled from BBC YouTube video

World War II vet flys again.

This article originally appeared on 05.19.15


More than 70 years after the war, a 92-year-old World War II veteran took to the sky once again.

It's been decades since her last flight, but Joy Lofthouse, a 92-year-old Air Transport Auxiliary veteran, was given the chance to board a Spitfire airplane for one more trip.


Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 08.20.21


Sometimes you see something so mind-boggling you have to take a minute to digest what just happened in your brain. Be prepared to take that moment while watching these videos.

Real estate investor and TikTok user Tom Cruz shared two videos explaining the spreadsheets he and his friends use to plan vacations and it's...well...something. Watch the first one:

So "Broke Bobby" makes $125,000 a year. There's that.

How about the fact that his guy has more than zero friends who budget $80,000 for a 3-day getaway? Y'all. I wouldn't know how to spend $80,000 in three days if you paid me to. Especially if we're talking about a trip with friends where we're all splitting the cost. Like what does this even look like? Are they flying in private jets that burn dollar bills as fuel? Are they bathing in hot tubs full of cocaine? I genuinely don't get it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Someone asked strangers online to share life's essential lessons. Here are the 17 best.

There's a bit of advice here for everyone—from financial wisdom to mental health tips.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Failure is a great teacher.

It’s true that life never gets easier, and we only get continuously better at our lives. Childhood’s lessons are simple—this is how you color in the lines, 2 + 2 = 4, brush your teeth twice a day, etc. As we get older, lessons keep coming, and though they might still remain simple in their message, truly understanding them can be difficult. Often we learn the hard way.

The good news is, the “hard way” is indeed a great teacher. Learning the hard way often involves struggle, mistakes and failure. While these feelings are undeniably uncomfortable, being patient and persistent enough to move through them often leaves us not only wiser in having gained the lesson, but more confident, assured and emotionally resilient. If that’s not growth, I don’t know what is.

Keep ReadingShow less