Happy Life?


Want to know the secrets of a happy life? Who doesn’t? Surveys show that most young adults believe that obtaining wealth and fame are keys to a happy life. Oh to be young and naïve again.

The evidence suggests otherwise a long-running study out of Harvard suggests that one of the most important predictors of whether you age well and live a long and happy life is not the amount of money you amass or notoriety you receive. A much more important barometer of long term health and well-being is the strength of your relationships with family, friends and spouses.

Through the years, the study has produced many notable findings. It showed, for example, that to age well physically, the single most important thing you could do was to avoid smoking. It discovered that aging liberals had longer and more active sex lives than conservatives. It found that alcohol was the primary cause of divorce among men in the study, and that alcohol abuse often preceded depression (rather than the other way around).

As the researchers looked at the factors throughout the years that strongly influenced health and well-being, they found that relationships with friends, and especially spouses, were a major one. The people in the strongest relationships were protected against chronic disease, mental illness and memory decline – even if those relationships had many ups and downs.

You can watch the TED talk or read the full article here:

The New World Maps


The Washington Post recently ran an interesting interview with the author of a new global/future trends book that is probably worth your attention if you follow long-term geo-political-economic-environmental trends (especially the six maps of US, North America, and the World highlighted from the book).

The author of the new book Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, argues that the arc of global history is undeniably bending toward integration. Instead of the boundaries that separate sovereign nations, the lines that we should put on our maps are the high-speed railways, broadband cables and shipping routes that connect us, he says. And instead of focusing on nation-states, he suggests we should focus on the dozens of mega-cities that house most of the world’s people and economic growth.

This is interesting food for thought in any case and comports with our earlier postings on the Director of National Intelligence’s Global Trends 2030.
Read the entire article here – and enjoy these thought-provoking maps:


Still in Turmoil

Out of the Ashes

What many feared for the Mideast has finally happened. We predicted this turn of events in our first book of the rebooted Tom Clancy: Op-Center series, the book, shown here, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes. Not many understand what is at the root of the enmity between nations in the Gulf. We wrote the first book of the series in 2012 and had Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the greater Mideast in our sights.
When Dick Couch and I were offered the opportunity to “re-boot” the Tom Clancy Op-Center series we wanted to pick the spot where we knew there would be churn when the book was published – and for some time afterwards. The Middle East was our consensus choice. As we put it in Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

The Muslim East and the Christian West have been at war for over a millennium. They are at war today, and that is not likely to change in the near future. As Samuel Huffington would put it, the cultures will continue to clash. In the past, the war has been invasive, as during the time of the Crusades. The Muslims have also been the invaders as the Moors moved north and west into Europe. Regional empires rose and fell through the Middle Ages, and while the Renaissance brought some improvements into the Western world, plagues and corrupt monarchies did more to the detriment of both East and West than they were able to do to each other.

In time, as a century of war engulfed Europe and as those same nations embarked on aggressive colonialism, the East-West struggle was pushed into the background. But it was not extinguished. The rise of nationalism and weapons technology in the nineteenth century gave rise to the modern-day great powers in the West. Yet the East seemed locked in antiquity and internal struggle. The twentieth century and the thirst for oil were to change all that.

The seeds of modern East-West conflict were sown in the nations created by the West as Western nations took it on themselves to draw national boundaries in the Middle East after the First World War. After the Second World War, Pan-Arab nationalism, the establishment of the state of Israel, the Suez crisis, the Lebanese civil war, and the Iranian revolution all kept tensions high between East and West. Then came 9/11. While it was still a Muslim-Christian, East-West issue, the primacy of oil and oil reserves remained a catalyst that never let tensions get too far below the surface.

The events of September 11, 2001, and the invasions that were to follow, redefined and codified this long-running conflict. It was now a global fight, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Yemen to North Africa and into Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and beyond. It was global, nasty, and ongoing. Nine-eleven was pivotal and defining. For the first time in a long time, the East struck at the West, and it was a telling blow.

Surveys taken just after 9/11 showed that some 15 percent of the world’s over 1.5 billion Muslims supported the attack. It was about time we struck back against those arrogant infidels, they said. A significant percentage felt no sympathy for the Americans killed in the attack. Nearly all applauded the daring and audacity of the attackers. And many Arab youth wanted to be like those who had so boldly struck at the West.

But as the world’s foremost authority on the region, Bernard Lewis, put it, the outcome of the struggle in the Middle East is still far from clear. For this reason, we chose the Greater Levant as the epicenter of our story of Op-Center’s reemergence. As we suggest – this churn will last a long time. Out of the Ashes is tomorrow’s headlines, today!

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes (available in trade paperback, mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here: http://georgegaldorisi.com/blog/books-blog

Drop Everything!


One thing is as certain as death and taxes – each year we seem to get better at multi-tasking – or at least we think we do. We so many distractions it’s a skill we must master – or is it?

Wait! Multitasking, that bulwark of anemic résumés everywhere, has come under fire in recent years. And it should, it’s making us all crazy. Some high points from a recent NYT article.

A 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds — which is to say, less than the amount of time it would take you to toggle from this article to your email and back again — were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.

As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online, one researcher said, can happen upward of 400 times a day, according to a 2016 University of California Irvine study. “That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day,” she said. “You’ve used them all up.”

But you can fight back. Read the full article here

Nest Egg – Now What?


Whether you’re thinking about saving for a nest egg, working on saving for a nest egg, or have finally accumulated that proverbial nest egg, it’s not too early to ask yourself – now what? Whether you’re a baby-boomer or much younger, now is the time to ask yourself – what will I do with that nest egg if and when I have it?

After a career of working, scrimping and saving, many retirees are well prepared financially to stop earning a living. But how do you find meaning, identity and purpose in the remaining years of your life?

Mitch Anthony, author of “The New Retirementality” (Wiley, 2008), says your self-evaluation should start with the question, “What am I wired for?” which involves taking an “inventory of who you are.”

Mr. Anthony’s principles are geared around one’s aptitudes and having active pursuits that involve the mind, body and spirit.

Translating that into concrete actions can be challenging. Retired professionals may be able to continue to do what they were doing, but now as part-timers or consultants. Others may be able to apply their analytic, management or organizational skills in low-stress, time-flexible settings. Still others may want to strike out in entirely new directions.

“It’s never an easy answer,” Mr. Anthony says of self-discernment in retirement. “You need to take stock of things that resound with you — that stir you up.”

Read more here

America’s New Map


At the international level, America’s diplomatic, intelligence and military agencies study trends in the international environment that will shape our world in the decades ahead. But at the national level, there are mega-trends that will shape America at least through mid-century. One need only look at a map – a new map of the United States to see that socially and economically, America is reorganizing itself around regional infrastructure lines and metropolitan clusters that ignore state and even national borders.

Advanced economies in Western Europe and Asia are reorienting themselves around robust urban clusters of advanced industry. America is already headed toward a metropolis-first arrangement. The states aren’t about to go away, but economically and socially, the country is drifting toward looser metropolitan and regional formations, anchored by the great cities and urban archipelagos that already lead global economic circuits.

The Northeastern megalopolis, stretching from Boston to Washington, contains more than 50 million people and represents 20 percent of America’s gross domestic product. Greater Los Angeles accounts for more than 10 percent of G.D.P. These city-states matter far more than most American states — and connectivity to these urban clusters determines Americans’ long-term economic viability far more than which state they reside in.

This reshuffling has profound economic consequences. America is increasingly divided not between red states and blue states, but between connected hubs and disconnected backwaters. You can see where this is all going – just look at a map.


Read the full article here


Kick the Bucket List


Ready to head out and check things off the bucket list you’ve been building for the decades of your working life? Not so fast!

For some, retirement is seen as a time to go globe-trotting or embark on life-changing adventures. But that may not always lead to lasting happiness.

For many seniors, the bucket list has become the ultimate celebration of aging. Healthier, heartier and richer than generations of retirees before them, they’re spending their golden years chasing once-in-a-lifetime adventures—sky diving from 13,000 feet, hiking the Great Wall of China, swimming with sharks or skiing the Andes.

For them, it’s the chance to do things they put off for years while working and caring for family, and to make the most of the moments they have remaining. What’s not to love about a life of dream vacations and big thrills? Unfortunately, quite a bit.

But in time, many finally see a bucket list as an antidote devoid of any enduring communion with family or friends. It doesn’t give us any roles as a guide or mentor that had been so satisfying earlier in life. We can feel like spectators to the lives and locales of others, collecting hundreds of photos that were destined to sit unseen in the myriad flash drives we bring home.

It may be time to kick the bucket list to the curb.

Read more here:


Head’s Up – Let’s Talk


Yes, it’s all there in the palms of our hands – our smart phones. With e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and everything else right there, why even look up? There may be more reasons than you think, and Sherry Turkle outlines some of the benefits of just popping our heads up and talking to the person we happen to be with.

Across generations, technology is implicated in this assault on empathy. We’ve gotten used to being connected all the time, but we have found ways around conversation — at least from conversation that is open-ended and spontaneous, in which we play with ideas and allow ourselves to be fully present and vulnerable. But it is in this type of conversation — where we learn to make eye contact, to become aware of another person’s posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another — that empathy and intimacy flourish. In these conversations, we learn who we are.

Yes, we all have busy lives. What brings us more joy? The person or the machine with the clever apps we’re holding in our hands?

There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence and often prolonged physical presence with loved ones. And there’s no real substitute for a high degree of attentiveness that we bring to an occasion we spend with loved ones, friends, and even work associates.

Read Sherry Turkle’s article here:

Insulating Our Minds


Few things are as relentless as what you are holding in your hand – your smart phone, smart pad, or whatever other device you are wedded to.


Text messages, pop-ups, robo-calls – there is no shortage of claims on our attention. Is it any wonder we struggle to reclaim our inner lives?


In The World Beyond Your Head, the writer starts with a straightforward premise: “We are afflicted by a cultural crisis of attention—imperiling not only our mental health but also our ability to function as responsible citizens in a democracy. It’s hard to open a newspaper or magazine these days without reading a complaint about our fractured mental lives, diminished attention spans, and a widespread sense of distraction. More ominously, our interior mental lives are laid bare as a resource to be harvested by others.”

Today, the book’s author insists, “human flourishing” can best be achieved by mastering not abstract information but the ability to work with one’s hands—real work requiring mental agility and physical dexterity that pulls “us out of ourselves” under the guidance of mentors, parents and other authoritative figures. Reminiscent of “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” The book excels in its vivid depiction of a handful of gifted individuals immersed in their trades, from hockey players to glass blowers.

Read more of this review here:


Your Time?


Yes, we all have busy lives. What brings us more joy? Is it the well-planned out – but limited “quality time” we purposefully decide to spend with others, or is the random moments of pure joy that evolve just from being with others?

There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence and often prolonged physical presence with loved ones. And there’s no real substitute for a high degree of attentiveness that we bring to an occasion we spend with loved ones, friends, and even work associates.

As Frank Bruni suggests in an article that spoke to me:

We delude ourselves when we say otherwise, when we invoke and venerate “quality time,” a shopworn phrase with a debatable promise: that we can plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, engineer intimacy in an appointed hour.

With a more expansive stretch, there’s a better chance that I’ll be around at the precise, random moment when one of my nephews drops his guard and solicits my advice about something private. Or when one of my nieces will need someone other than her parents to tell her that she’s smart and beautiful.

We can try. We can cordon off one meal each day or two afternoons each week and weed them of distractions. We can choose a setting that encourages relaxation and uplift. We can fill it with totems and frippery — a balloon for a child, sparkling wine for a spouse — that signal celebration and create a sense of the sacred.

Maybe we can excise the “quality time” phrase from our vocabulary and substitute “unlimited time” with those close to us. Could anything be better?

Read the entire article here