Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Is This a Great Planet or What?

Two posts ago, I wrote a post on this being a great country. After thinking about it for a week or so, I've also decided that we live on a great planet. Despite all the bad things on this earth with wars, famine and disasters of all kind, we do have a pretty hospitable place to have our home. Our options are pretty much zero at this point and will be for some time. 

I watched William Shatner take his trip up to space and listened to his remarks upon his return. He was truly moved by his trip to space. Some of his remarks are noted below. He was in awe but also in grief for the future of our fragile earth.

"I saw more clearly than I have, with all the studying and reading I've done, the writhing, slow death of Earth and we on it," Shatner said.

"It's a little tiny rock with an onion skin air around it. That's how fragile it all is. It's so fragile. We hang by a thread ... we're just dangling."

Shatner was experiencing the "overview effect" that a lot of astronauts experience. The experience causes a cognitive and emotional shift in a person's awareness when they see earth from space. We often hear news of global warming and the effects on the climate and the livability of this planet. I think most of us have grown used to the news and don't think a whole lot about it on a daily basis. But, it does appear that us earthlings are not taking the problem as serious as we need to. As an individual, I believe our thought is "what can one person do" and our next thought is "the government and scientist will figure out a solution". I'm not sure how this whole thing is going to turn out and, if it turns out bad, we don't have a second planet to quickly move to. 

Enough about the bad news. This is a great planet to live on. We have nice breathable air, abundant water and a pretty great place to live. Our options on other planets don't look so great. Mars has an atmosphere 100 time thinner than ours and only has a trace of oxygen. Venus has a surface temperature of 900 degrees. All the other known planets have similar, unlivable atmospheres. When you look at our earth from above you see a very, very thin layer of atmosphere that allows us to live. The current thought is that space begins at about 62 miles above the earth. Think about that, 62 miles! That is an hour's drive, if you could go straight up. When I think of driving down the interstate to a town 62 miles away, it doesn't seem to far. When you factor in the portion of that 62 miles that we can actually breath air, it shrinks to about 20,000 feet above sea level. That is 3.78 miles! We could walk that distance!

So, this great planet of ours is a great place to live, but is very fragile. We can enjoy it's oceans, mountains, canyons, wildlife, and it's water and oxygen, but we must also be good stewards of this earth. Our descendants are depending on us to take care of this place so they too will have a great place to live.

This planet has a great variety of cultures, architecture, food and other great things to enjoy while we live and in retirement we should explore as much of that as possible. I have seen  some wonderful things on this earth including the Rocky Mountains,  Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Park and many other parks. I have stood at the edge of  Niagara Falls. I have seen some beautiful beaches. I have rafted down some whitewater canyons and have gazed upon the mighty Mississippi River. I've been lucky to see a very small portion of this earth and think this is the planet for me. 

Science fiction shows and movies often show humans landing on other planets similar to ours. I can't imagine that will happen any time soon. I would imagine it will be many generations down the road before something like that is even possible.  If you ever make it out of this world to visit one of the other planets, I'm sure you will be eager to get home to this great planet of ours! 

What amazing things have you seen on this earth of ours? Was there somewhere that really took your breath away? The Grand Canyon was one spot that was mind boggling to me. I was simply amazed at the size of the canyon and the beauty of the place.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

It's Time To Get Our Hands Dirty

It's time to get our hands dirty! When you saw the title, some of you were thinking is this about Ukraine? Is this about current U.S. politics? Is this about climate change? In the movies and tv shows, getting your hands dirty usually means you are about to commit an immoral or criminal act.

All I'm saying is, it's Spring and it's time to get our hands dirty in a good way. Yesterday, I got out and enjoyed a few hours of getting my hands dirty while enjoying my metal detecting hobby. It did me some good to get out for some fresh air and sunshine. Now that the weather's getting better, it is time for my wife and I to get out in the yard a little more and get our hands dirty. We need to pull weeds and prepare our planting areas in our flower gardens. We need to put down some new mulch in the flower beds and around shrubs. We need to prune some shrubs and trees and do a general clean up. We need to uncover the water fountain and put in the pumps that I had pulled out for the winter. 

Getting out in the yard will feel good after all the cold and dreary days of winter. Just the sense of accomplishment, by getting a few of these things done, will feel good. Studies have shown that getting outside is good for us. Healthline.com reports 8 benefits of getting outside. They include: 1. Better breathing 2. Improved sleep 3. Reduced depression symptoms 4. More motivation to exercise 5. Mental restoration 6. Boosted immune function 7. Protection from short-sightedness 8. Improved emotional well-being. And then you have all the benefits of a nicer looking yard with fresh mulch, new flowers and trimmed shrubs!

I always feel better after being outside. I enjoy a nice day outside while getting things done. For retirees, we also can take our time when outside and really enjoy it. During my career, my outside time was limited to evenings and weekends. During those years, I had to squeeze in all the outside chores into the limited time that was available. In retirement, I can be outside at 9am on a Tuesday and enjoy my outside time any day or time that suits my busy retirement schedule.

Spring is also a great time to get your hands dirty on the inside of your house. Most people feel like doing a little Spring cleaning at the beginning of the warmer season. It is time to dust off things around the house, move plants back outdoors, clean some dirty windows, etc. Even though you are indoors, you will still feel better once you sit back and see the improvements.

Are you ready for Spring and the opportunity to get your hands dirty in a good way? Do you have a list of outdoor projects you are ready to jump on? Have you found that getting outside in retirement seems to be more relaxing and laid back than it did during your working years? What things do you accomplish, inside or outside your home, this time of year to get your hands dirty?

Get dirty, get happy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Is This a Great Country or What?

I read quite often about how happy people are those who are grateful. The key is to be thankful for what you have rather than be upset about what you don't have. It is often hard to stay in a thankful attitude and I'm trying to get better at it everyday. I recently saw a suggestion of starting a photo album on your phone for thankfulness and adding one photo a day of something your are thankful for. Then, you are asked to scroll through those photos on a regular basis to remind yourself of the great things in your life. I started this three days ago and I have two days of photos of my grandkids and today I added a photo of my Evel Knievel coffee mug full of coffee. 

This morning I saw an article on my news feed on my phone about things U.S. citizens miss when they stay overseas for any amount of time. These were things we all take for granted here in this great country and have to be reminded of every once in awhile. One thing was the abundance of choices in our grocery stores. The article stated that often in other countries your choices are severely limited to what it available. Grocery stores in our country, most always, have every kind of fruit and vegetable available year round. Other countries may only have available fruits and vegetables in stock when they are in season in the area. One thing people missed was the comfort food that is available in the U.S. such as hamburgers and fries that might not be available in some countries. Fast food was another thing people missed. Fast food available in other countries is not always the same as in the U.S. even if it is the same franchise. One person missed refried beans and couldn't get them at a Taco Bell in a foreign country. 

A few weeks ago I saw a similar news article about what non U.S. citizens were amazed about in our country. They were amazed at the huge amount of choices in our grocery store. One person was shocked that there was a whole aisle of cereal choices. They were amazed at how much wide open spaces there are in the U.S., such as the open country in the western section of our country. They are amazed at the diversity of our landscape. They are amazed that this country has fabulous beaches, mountains, deserts and all types of terrain and climates. They were amazed at the variety of dining options in this country. They were amazed at the huge servings of food in the restaurants and loved our version of some foreign dishes. The American version of Chinese food was one hit with foreign travelers. Apparently, General Tso chicken is not a normal Chinese dish in China. Foreigners are also amazed at how patriotic Americans are and how friendly they can be to visitors. They are amazed at the size of our homes. And, they are amazed at the work ethic of Americans. 

After reading these two articles, I am reminded of what a great country we live in. I take all of the above for granted most days and should be more aware and more thankful for this environment I grew up in and currently live in. When I get the itch to travel, I think I would love to go on another cruise, a trip to Europe, see the pyramids, etc. When I think about this great country, I realize there is so much here that I have yet to explore. I've seen a lot of the U.S., but I still need to check out the sites in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. I need to visit St. Augustine, FL, which I just recently learned may be the oldest city in the country. I need to visit the Florida Keys. I need to visit the northeastern states during the fall for leaf peeping. I need to explore Michigan and it's lakes. There is enough travel to keep me busy for a few years without ever leaving this great country.

Sure, this country has it's faults and opportunities for improvement. But overall, we live in the greatest country on the planet and need to be thankful for it. I'm thankful for those things listed above. I'm also thankful of the freedom we have in this country. I'm thankful we are not under attack by military forces and that we have a strong military to deter such aggression. I'm thankful that any one born here today can become President some day, or a teacher, a doctor or anything else they choose to become. 

Do you take our country or the country you live in for granted sometimes? What are you thankful for in this country? If you have lived overseas, what did you miss about the U.S. while you were gone? 

On the topic of being thankful, what do you do to remind yourself to be thankful? A Journal? A photo album? Morning reflection with your coffee?

Thursday, March 9, 2023


Eudaimonia is a Greek world literally translating to the state or condition of 'good spirit', and which is commonly translated as 'happiness' or 'welfare'. This sounds exactly what each of us seek in retirement. 

In my post on Podcasts I mentioned that I had downloaded a podcast called Philosophy Bites. Today, I listened to my first episode and was introduced to Aristotle's view on eudaimonia. It was very interesting and I learned a new word. It was pronounced like you-dime-onia. I have never heard of the word, so I definitely broadened my knowledge today! And I'm learning from a philosopher who was on this earth from 384-322 BC. 

Aristotle believed that eudaimonia was the rational activity of pursuing what is worthwhile in life. He believed happiness came from how well we live our life and not in the pursuit of material wealth, power and honor. He did add that reaching eudaimonia only occurs after your basic needs or met. He believed that if you didn't have the basic needs of sufficient food, water, shelter, etc., that you would not be able to focus on and seek eudaimonia. 

When researching eudaimonia, I found 5 Tips on How to Achieve Eudaimonia. They are: 1. Know your life goals 2. Focus your skills and activities to achieve those goals 3. Developing your best potential 4. Get engaged in these activities 5. Express yourself. Even though this advice is thousands of years old, it still makes sense. Eudaimonia implies a state of a positive and divine state of being. Aristotle goes on to say that eudaimonia requires the attainment of excellence in reason. He believed that eudaimonia required good character and rational activity. Both of which are very subjective things. 

Ancient philosophers often discussed eudaimonia and how to obtain it. It appears the search and the definition of happiness has been a topic for thousands of years. In my opinion, I believe the philosophers take on is to try to better yourself in mind, body and spirit and have a great attitude towards life. Each of us will have to self assess our own character and activity to see if it reaches the level we are happy with or if we need to improve ourselves a little bit more. Self improvement is a never ending journey, but can make us a better person along the way.

Another philosopher, Epicurus, equated the good life with a  life of pleasure and freedom from pain and distress. This sounds like a great goal in retirement. Enjoying life's pleasures while not having the stress of working life. Most of the philosophers also add in good virtue as a key to the good life and to attaining eudaimonia. Good virtue is a keystone in their overall philosophy in this area. They held that good moral values while seeking life's pleasures was a major key to happiness.

Have you ever heard of eudaimonia? Have you delved into the teachings of the ancient philosophers? It is fascinating to read some of their thoughts on happiness. I'm sure there are many other important teachings that I should look into. Maybe by broadening my knowledge on this one word, I have taken one step closer to ultimate eudaimonia!

“He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.” – Aristotle