Sunday, November 27, 2011

5 things not to regret

It is surprising that many things we take for granted eventually become the final regrets, as read in the article by Bronnie,


Five simple things, just five, and painfully enough


1) the courage to live the life true to oneself, not the one expected by others
2) less time on work
3) the courage to express true feeling
4) stay in touch with friends
5) be happier


Recommend to read
http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html


REGRETS OF THE DYING

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.


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People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.


2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.


3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.


4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.


5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.


Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

paradox effects in academia

As I argued with Jukka last month during PhD seminar, things can go really nasty if we take many things for granted.

Don't know what I am talking about? Please read on.

http://blog.regehr.org/archives/632

by John Regehr

Perverse Incentives in Academia

A perverse incentive is one that has unintended consequences. The world is full of these and the Wikipedia article has some great examples. Academia seems particularly prone to perverse incentives.
Incentive Intended Effect Actual Effect
Researchers rewarded for increased number of publications. Improve research productivity. Avalanche of crappy, incremental papers.
Researchers rewarded for increased number of citations. Researchers do work that is relevant and influential. H-index obsession; list of references no longer included in page limit at many conferences.
Researchers rewarded for increased grant funding. Ensure that research programs are funded, promote growth, generate overhead $$. Time wasted writing proposals, inefficient use of public $$.
Maximum of two proposals submitted to an NSF program. Discourage over-submission. You’d have to be crazy to not meet your quota these days.
Teachers rewarded for increased student evaluation scores. Improved accountability; ensure customer satisfaction. Easy courses, inflated grades.
Teachers rewarded for increased student test scores. Improve teacher effectiveness. Teaching to the tests; emphasis on short-term learning.
Departments rewarded for increasing US News ranking. Stronger departments. Resources squandered trying to influence rankings.
Departments rewarded for increasing numbers of BS, MS, and PhD degrees granted. Promote efficiency; stop students from being trapped in over-long degree programs; impress the state legislature. Class sizes increase; entrance requirements watered down; graduation requirements watered down.
Departments rewarded for increasing student credit/contact hours (SCH). The university’s teaching mission is fulfilled. SCH-maximization games are played: classes are duplicated, turf wars occur over service courses.
Strong academics, it should go without saying, are highly self-motivated — this makes the academic system somewhat resistant to perverse incentive problems. Even so, it’s not realistic to expect everyone to take the high road all the time, particularly since our salaries and jobs are on the line.

What is going on? Fundamentally, the purpose of a university, while being pretty obvious, is tough to quantify. Of course this does not deter administrators, who go ahead and come up with lots of metrics that seem to be — but are not — useful proxies for the proper goals of a university. Then, these metrics are used to determine raises, promotions, and such. The results are depressing but predictable. And of course it’s not fair to simply blame the administrators — at faculty hiring time a thick CV is a lot more reassuring than a thin one.