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Bad weeks don't seem so rough when you apply this perspective to life. Here's how.

Sometimes life seems really short, and other times it seems impossibly long. But this chart helps to emphasize that it’s most certainly finite.

Bad weeks don't seem so rough when you apply this perspective to life. Here's how.

This post was originally published on Wait But Why.

This is what a long human life looks like in years:


And here’s a human life in months:

But today, we’re going to look at a human life in weeks:

Each row of weeks makes up one year. That’s how many weeks it takes to turn a newborn into a 90-year-old. It kind of feels like our lives are made up of a countless number of weeks. But there they are — fully countable — staring you in the face.

Before we discuss things further, let’s look at how a typical American spends their weeks:

Sources: [1][2][3][4][5].

There are some other interesting ways to use the weeks chart, too:

"Current week" as of May 2014.

But how about your weeks?

Sometimes life seems really short, and other times it seems impossibly long. But this chart helps to emphasize that it’s most certainly finite. Those are your weeks, and they’re all you’ve got.

Given that fact, the only appropriate word to describe your weeks is precious. There are trillions upon trillions of weeks in eternity, and those are your tiny handful.

Going with the “precious” theme, let’s imagine that each of your weeks is a small gem, like a 2 mm, .05-carat diamond.

Here’s one:

.05 Carat Diamond

If you multiply the volume of a .05-carat diamond by the number of weeks in 90 years (4,680), it adds up to just under a tablespoon.

Spoonful of Diamonds

Looking at this spoon of diamonds, there’s one very clear question to ask: “Are you making the most of your weeks?”

In thinking about my own weeks and how I tend to use them, I decided that there are two good ways to use a diamond:

1) Enjoying the diamond.

2) Building something to make your future diamonds or the diamonds of others more enjoyable.

In other words, you have this small spoonful of diamonds and you really want to create a life in which they’re making you happy.

And if a diamond is not making you happy, it should only be because you’re using it to make other diamonds go down better — either your own in the future or those of others. In the ideal situation, you’re well-balanced between #1 and #2 and you’re often able to accomplish both simultaneously (like those times when you love your job).

Of course, if a diamond is enjoyable but by enjoying it you’re screwing your future diamonds (an Instant Gratification Monkey specialty), that’s not so good. Likewise, if you’re using diamond after diamond to build something for your future but it’s not making you happy and seems like a long-term thing with no end in sight, that’s not great either.

The worst possible way to use a diamond is by accomplishing neither #1 nor #2 above. Sometimes “neither” happens when you’re in either the wrong career or the wrong relationship, and it’s often a symptom of either a shortage of courage, self-discipline, or creativity. Sometimes “neither” happens because of a debilitating problem.

We’ve all had "Neither Weeks" and they don’t feel good.

When a long string of Neither Weeks happens, you become depressed, frustrated, hopeless, and a bunch of other upsetting adjectives. But it’s inevitable to have Neither Weeks, and sometimes they’re important — it’s often a really bad Neither Week that leads you to a life-changing epiphany.

It can all be summed up like this:

The Contents of Your Week

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less