A Different Look At Life

3550755709_fffc833e1d_oIt’s that week.

The end of one year and the beginning of a new year is the time when many people think about the resolutions (promises to yourself to do something) they made last year. And make new ones for next year.

The practice of looking back at what you have done and looking forward to what you could do is very old.

About 3,500 years ago Moses, one of the earliest leaders of the Israelites (Jewish people), wrote that it was important to think about how short life is and how important it is to live life wisely and well. To live life wisely meant to live life with skill (ability from learning and practice) so that the result is beautiful, like a work of art.

Socrates, a Greek philosopher (thinker; wise man) who lived almost 2,500 years ago, believed that the purpose of life was to grow as persons, to become better as we got older. Shortly before he died, he said that we must always examine (look carefully at) our lives to make sure that we are becoming the best we can be.

Tim Urban is neither Moses nor Socrates. He’s an American blogger (someone who writes a blog on the Internet). But he thinks a lot about life and looks for ways to visualize (make a picture of) our lifetimes (the period of time we are alive) to help us think about them.

I first learned about Urban a couple of years ago when I saw his visualization of The Life of a Typical American. It shows the periods (lengths of time with a beginning and end) of life, like when we go to school, of most Americans and the important events in their lives.

Recently, though, he looked at the end of life and how much time we have left to do different things. Some of his results are fun, some are thought-provoking (make you think). Here are a few of them.

Urban is 34 years old. He says that he eats about one pizza every month. If lives to be 90, he’ll eat almost 700 more pizzas: (90 years – 34 years) x 12 pizzas (1 per month for 12 months) = 672 pizzas.

If you’re 34 years old, there have been 8 U.S. presidential elections during your lifetime. If you live to be 90, you’ll see 14 more: (90 years – 34 years) / 4 (1 election every 4 years) = 14 more elections.

Urban made me think when he wrote about how much time we have left with the important people in our lives – like our parents. If your parents are 60 years old, and you see them 10 days a year, you will spend 300 more days with them if they live until 90, 30 more  years. That’s less than you saw them in one year when you were young and living at home. That’s thought-provoking.

How could you use Urban’s ideas to think about your life? Would it change anything that you do in the new year?

Happy New Year to all of you!

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo by pauarian used under Creative Commons license.

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29 Responses to A Different Look At Life

  1. Dan says:

    Hello Warren.

    According to the JWs The great tribulation, and after that Armageddon is around the corner. Somebody needs to tell Urban to consider that while counting how many pizzas he is going to have. Just kidding.

    First thing this piece made me think of is that episode of Cosmos when
    Carl Sagan showed in one year the entire age of the universe as we know it
    and on that calendar we humans appear like the last minute/seconds at the end of the year. That blew out my mind.

    I don’t know really, I have nothing planned for 2016.
    I am just going to accept whatever life throws at me. I am ready.

    One more thing, this actually inspired me to write a short poem.

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    life sucks
    then you die.

    What do you guys think?
    I doubledare you to better.
    Who’s up to the challenge? 🙂

  2. lili:) says:

    Thank you very much Dear Warren for this timely article to remind us that at this time of year – end of the year, we could use Tim Urban’s ideas to think about our lives.

    I think it’s quite dangerous to think that if your parents are 60 today, they may live to 90 years and so you may be able to see them for another 300 days if you see them 10 days a year. Parents don’t all live to 90 years of age. My mother seemed to be healthy when she reached 65, she passed away when she was 65. I blamed myself for being so ignorant and didn’t realise that she would have gone so suddenly.

    In fact, I’m not sure if I like to use Tim Urban’s ideas to think about my life.

    If I were Tim Urban, I would not spend time on doing math about how many more pizzas I could eat and how many more days I could see the people that’s important in my life. It’s quality rather than quantity that matters.

    I would just eat my favourite food whenever I want, try my best to help my dear family whenever I can, and have no regret even if one day there is no pizza anymore or I can’t help anyone anymore.

    I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my teachers and co-learners a very good new year in 2016.

    Best Regards


  3. emiliano says:

    No, Warren, absolutely no.
    What I am going to do tomorrow? More or less this could be my question if I think in future
    but even that question is out of my mind usually.
    Now I am writing here, just a moment ago I have not any idea of writing in this blog, as was
    writing and looking my own blog. So in fact I don´t know or think what are I going to do
    nex ten or less minutes.

    So, that kind of question I have read above of this man doesn´t means anything for me, they
    have not any sense for my way of life.
    I like freedom, just not knowing anything about programs or ruling my life that way. Just
    living the moment and trying to do the right thing every second.

    My wife is now sleeping in our bed, ¿for so long?, I don´t really know as I have to ask for
    a new place for her in a short period of time.
    Till what I could have her at my side? I try not to think even about it because I can´t
    support that idea.
    That is whar really means to me now, not so silly questions about how many pizas or
    similar nonsens.

    Well have a good year dear Warren and sorry for my way of writing now, It could
    be I am fed up with this December month.

    Lili have written my own ideas better than me and of course more politely as she
    always do.

    Have a nice year dear Lily too, my best wishes to you my friend and for you Tania
    dear Tania, today I have been watching your country in the TV. “Madrileños por
    el Mundo” a program of TeleMadrid, thay were. the madrileños, in Romania, Carpatos mountains.

    Beautiful sites, possible I would try to go and see you country. It seems
    really very nice and interesting, different and incredible forests.


  4. peter says:

    Hi Warren ,
    Making resolutions is easy. sticking to it is the part that eludes me.:)

    Typically, I make a laundry list of resolutions
    However just a handful of them make it to new year.
    Out of the handful ,just one or two see the end of the year.
    I live in the moment. I don’t ponder life that much. I try to make the best of the present.
    I m a happy go lucky kind of guy; some might say a happy camper.
    I don’t let small bumps on the road stand between me and my happy moments.
    I m half-full-of-glass kind of person
    Don’t get me wrong!
    I have a lot of regrets but I don’t let them get in the way.
    I try not to think about things that I can’t do anything about them. Things that are out of my control.
    What is done. Is done ,can’t be undone.
    So no senses grinding over it.
    The best you can do is to learn from your slip ups and move on.

    I never fixate of my shortcomings.

    All in all ,I never think that far into future.
    Who is to say what the future holds for us.
    U make tons of plans and life never turns out to be the way u expecting to be
    I think it is best you Play by the ear
    It is nice to set realistic goals and then work your way up to them. U know ,building future and all
    But what is not cool is running now for the sake of some uncertain future
    My idea of future is :
    Cross the bright when u come to it.
    So why bother ponder
    Who cares how many pizzas I m gonna eat till the end of my day as there are tons of possibilities that might happen and mess up my routines
    Always count in probabilities as no one knows what future may hold

    Life is short don’t squander it


  5. Dan says:

    Hey guys

    Urban’s calendar could be useful for those more active people that desperately try to kind of take/have some sort of control or planning over their lives
    And maybe most of them are even able to reach their goals, it is possible I guess.
    I do not see anything wrong about that.

    I don’t know, some of us might be predisposed to think/behave that way.
    For example I remember reading Darwin’s lists of pros and cons about
    getting a wife. I believe you can find that online it’s even funny to read.

    Bye thanks.

  6. peter says:

    As I mentioned ,
    Every year I usually get into Christmas spirit around Christmas Eve . As a result , I starting to experience a score of revelations and epiphonies that lead me to sit down and make a wish list ,rather reduction list as long as my arm. :))
    I make an ironclad pact with myself that this year around I will stick to all of them including healthy diet and excercise which always come on top of the list as my priorities.

    Well , two month passes and I am still keeping track of my diet by eating right and plenty of excercise.

    Then ,all of a sudden ,media out let in all form of shape starting to announce the arrival of the new season of the tv Show u have been waiting a few months to resume watching.
    The opening date is all over the papers ,radio and TV. So, I ,all excited , starting to make a lot of adjustments on my schedule in order to free up the time slot at which the first episod will be aired.in other words , I work said time around my schedule.

    The day arrives and I m all psyched as there are just a few hours left for me to watch my beloved show. As the anticipation building up the thought of ordering in an extra larg extra cheese pizza with three or 4 topping starting to creep into my mind as minutes passing.

    Well. There is just 30 minutes left for show to be on ,and I sure have build up enough crave for the TV food that breaks every ironclad pact. So here I come watching the episode while wolfing down an extra large pizza pie that is meant for 4 people not one.
    Here we come , another resolution is out the window.
    But I still good , I still hit the gym every morning. Well , it is winter time . it is cold. Once I wake up early in the morning to hit the gym before going to work. I look out the window and I see the snow covered street and the frost. That, my friends ,shatters all the willpower inside me. the desire to go back to bed for an extra hour sleep kicks even the most resolut resolution out of my mind.

    So two months through the new year , I m back to the old Pete I have always been :Having a soft spot for fattening ,unhealthy Tv food in coach-potato style. :))
    So ,this year around I made just one resolution -that is-be me.
    Stay who I am and if people don’t like it. Well, tough nugget.!!!

    However , hope Eslpod not following in my
    foot steps. Hope Eslpod sticks to the resolution it makes and deliver every year -that is-keep doing the magic.:)

    By the way , with the pace I m taking , all things being equal , I will eat trillion pittzas next year alone.
    You do the math.

    A pittza lover


  7. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    You guys are really good at writing your opinion. I read them all and I feel it is interesting, a great lesson of life.

  8. peter says:

    I m thinking of rewatching Star Wars once more in new year’s day
    I have this weired connection with the movie franchise.
    Interestingly enough, the first movie of the series released before my time.
    I watched Star Wars trilogy years later in my teen years and I got hooked up!!
    So I ended up watching them over and over.
    I m familiar very well with the characters.
    U know ,to me , the best charactor of Star war series is Dart Vader
    U know the trilogy came first then it was followed by A back story of how it all began unfolded in three or four movies.
    But none of them even came close to the trilogy.

    I think the best of the series is still the first star wars movie made by Georg Lucas.
    Non of his successors could measure up.
    I like all the sequels and prequels but George Lucas’s was quite like it. U feel like u r in outer space. I always get goosebumps re-watching the movie.
    The only movie I can’t get enough of.

    I like the latest one on the series.
    I m using “latest” here because the movie finishes with a lot of loose ends to tie, And a cliffhanger which means just one thing: expect the next.
    In my Honest opinion ,the director droped the ball in one or two scenes.
    But ,in all fairness ,he Has pulled it off.the latest star wars movie is nothing short of its predecessors excluding the original Star Wars movie done by George Lucas.

    Well ,he made a pretty penny out of it.
    But the damn movie is a classic. It is one of the kind.

    Good job George
    Don’t accuse me of name dropping please :))

    I m saying all this here knowing u guys don’t gang up on me.:))

    good thing there is a medium out there through which I can speak my mind with no fear of being judge or reprimanded. In case u didn’t catch my drift, I m talking about the one and only Eslpod blog.

    Say this stuff about star wars movies to my friend And u r dead in the water.i mean they will excommunicate you.:))))
    They are all die hard fans of the prequels


  9. Mari Carmen says:

    Hello there

    I really enjoy this blog full of interesting matters and opinions. I also learn a lot of English with new vocabulary. Thank you all, Warren, Lucy, Jeff, Emiliano, Dan, Lily, Tania, Aecio, Peter.

    I would like to say that I feel some ambivalence or love-hate relationship about New Year’s resolutions. On one hand, I find them quite, let me say, puritans with all their “must-do” and I tend to flee of all kind of moralisms, though I behave ethically. On the other hand, I think that resolutions are like a short of “long-term” decision making processes and I feel I’ve got plenty of short-term of them in my everyday life, I mean little short-term decisions, like for example deciding what colour of eye shadow I am going to wear to look as nice as possible at the same time as self-confident enough in case I have to fight in the everyday arena. I confess I sometimes I make up as if I was an Indian that is prepared to fight (but I am also able to smoke the pipe of peace), but let me say that It’s not me, it’s the environment.

    Years before I decided as Pete says to be “me” but it didn’t work: I had to give up because I needed first to know who I was!, that’s why I’ve decided for next year: first, working out on procrastinating a bit just not to being much stressed; and second, allow all kind of emotions, even angriness, without forcing myself to find for them an ultimate and universal reason to justify those emotions. Let’s call it a mindfulness purpose.

    I don’t know if these thoughts make sense but I will give them a try. After all, they don’t seem to be harmful.

    All in all, I am glad to read your comments and I wish you a year full of peace, creativity and productivity. Happy 2016!

  10. peter says:

    Thank you to you Mari for taking time out of your day to read my comments.

    It is very nice of you

    Hope year 2016 will be a watershed for you and your loved ones.

    Hope I will see more of you around the blog in the new year

    I wanna use a line here that Dan coined it for the first time around here.

    “I virtually hug you.”

    Sorry Dan that I m stealing your line ,mate

    I must say I find it very cheerful, and I m using it profusely.

    very clever ,Dan:)))



  11. Dan says:

    Hello everyone.

    As the 2015 winner of best blog user, I feel the pressure to work harder
    next year in order to keep the trophy.
    I know..sometimes I write stupid things, sorry about that, but that’s part of the game, you know. And after all I am not alone in doing that.
    I feel like 2016 is going to be hard..I can feel Peter’s breath on my neck.

    To give you an analogy, I kind of see this blog like we are all on a train.
    Somebody gets out, sometimes, someone new gets in and we chat.
    Thank you guys for this 2015 ride.

    For those wondering how to become the champion. It’s easy!
    Nobody is claiming to be the winner, I did it first so that makes me the winner! I literally grabbed the trophy.
    I deserve it just for this last gem of wisdom.

    Thanks bye.

  12. Tania says:


    HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of our dear ESLPodcast teachers!

  13. Tania says:


    HAPPY NEW YEAR to all ESLPodcast team!

  14. Tania says:


    HAPPY NEW YEAR to all Learn English Magazine team!

  15. Tania says:


    HAPPY NEW YEAR to Adriano and Pao!

  16. Tania says:


    HAPPY NEW YEAR to our dear Jeff!

    Today it is New Year’ s Eve and I have nothing planned to do, just a short visit to my neighbours saying HAPPY NEW YEAR.
    We’ll drink a glass of champagne.

    Even and in this day I think with love about the ESLPodcast and all my blog friends.
    I am a lucky woman having such a lot of good blog friends, wonderful English teachers and a good Learn English Magazine for reading.
    And all free of charge with no strings attached. And all these, thanks to Jeff and his marvelious team.

    Thank you, Jeff.

    All the best for you,


  17. Tania says:


    HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of our dear blog friends!

    Best wishes,


  18. Tania says:


    A special wish to Emiliano, our dear blog friend. HAPPY NEW YEAR , dear Emiliano and dear Cuca!

    Dear Emiliano thank you for your smart idea writing in all languages so many wishes.
    I was curious to see if my language was there.
    Thank you. A nice present for me and I think for all those that read our blog.

    Best wishes and much health,


  19. peter says:

    Hey Dan
    U r funny 🙂
    I forfeit already :)))
    I m not breathing down ur neck mate 🙂

    U know,
    The award of the best line in 2015 goes ,hands down ,to you Dan for ” I virtually hug you Lucy ” :))))

    Indeed the best line in 2015.


  20. lili:) says:

    Thank you Dear Emiliano, Tania, Aecio, Dan, Peter and Mari Carmen for coming along to make voluntary contributions to this blog page, for the last time in 2015.

    When I was writing my comment above 50 hours ago, I was hoping to be the first one to appear in the comments. Too bad I was too slow.

    Now I’m not sure if I’ll become the last person appearing in this comment section in 2015. I’ll wait and see. Might be everyone is busy drinking Champagne with neighbours or ringing in the new year that I’ll quietly become the first comment appearing in 2015 counting from the end.

    I hope that we all will eat more pizzas (or any other yummy food) and see more of our love ones in the new year 2016!

    But more importantly, I hope to see more peace, hope and joy in the world in the new year 2016 and in every year from now on.

    See you all next year!

    lili:) 🙂

  21. peter says:

    Well ,Lili
    I must say
    I m happy Emiliano came first as He is the most senior among us. I m not talking about age.i m talking about as one the first people who joined Eslpod.
    I belive he joined Eslpod before every each one of us.
    I remember like 7/8 years ago ,when I was not still an active participant and just lurking around Eslpod realm, Emiliano’s comments were always there in the blog.


  22. Dan says:

    Hey Lili.

    Goon hay fat choy.

    To tell you the truth I did not drink anything and at 11 was under the covers.
    This morning was up early tossing cookies and peanuts at the crows.


  23. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Today is January 1st, 2016. New year, time to think about everything you have made in 2015. Did you make good things? Did you make bad things? Whatever you have made in 2015. stop for a while and plan new things for the year that is beginning. It is too late for regrets, useless to try to go back and fix wrong things. For now on try to do good things especially to those you have in high regard, to your family, to your friends. Don’t try to stop the time because it is unstopable, instead use the time to make people happy. Don’t forget the children because they are the future. Treat the elderly wirh love because they already have lived and only they know what they have gone through. It is time to look up to heaven and ask God better days. No fights, no wars, no cry, no pains. Come and stay here for 2016. Happy New Year for every one.

  24. Marcos says:

    Hi everyone

    Happy 2016

    Peace and health.

    From Brazil

  25. peter says:


    It the spirit of the new year ,I wanna share sth new with u guys.

    Instead of going through all the usual greetings and stuff , I wanna share with u some fun new year-related traditions.
    There is something in Canada we call ” Polar Bear swim”
    It is a daring icy-frosty tradition holding every year in the new year day as a way of celebration a fresh beginning. U know fresh ,cold water and all.
    Every year in different cities ,in Canada, people take the plunge.

    It is an organized event done in a designated body of water and a assigned time.
    Every year , a relatively large group of people gather in the place and plunge in the freezing water in a subfreezing temperature, all in swim suites.
    It is daring , I m telling you
    I once brave the element to try it but I couldn’t go through with it.
    I just went as far as taking my sweater off and put it right back on. I started a new tradition that day : I took off just my sweater and put it right back on and sprinted for the closest star bucks. I flopped in a chair by the fireplace in the Starbucks ,all the while murmuring to myself ” never ever again.”

    A large group of people in different city brave the elements and plunge the cold water
    The tradition took root around 1920 or sth.
    And it has been on since then.
    It is more commonly known as ” polar bear club”
    Vancouver club is the largest. In 2014 alone ,2500 people entered the club.

    Typically ,the festivity is scheduled around early afternoon. Well , it is a very well-spirited cheerful event. People mingling ,schmoozing , hanging for a bit then at a certain allocated time they do the plunge.
    The talk is in Vancouver the rite of passage , as some people call it , starts around 2:00 PM this year.

    In Toronto usually u see big crowd braving out the cold water every year.

    Well, I chose a hot mug of coffee over the freezing water , but at least ,it wasn’t for lack of trying.


  26. peter says:

    U know Dan,

    Strand as maybe Crow watching and crow feeding consider a touristy thingy for me as there are no crows in Toronto not even one.

    You see pigeons and seagulls all over the place but not a single crow.

    I can’t remember even what they sound like.

    So if u once see me packing to visit Italy , it is just for the crows:)))))


  27. lili:) says:

    2016 has finally arrived, it truly is unstoppable (Aecio: “Don’t try to stop the time because it is unstoppable, instead use the time to make people happy.”)

    I totally agree with Aecio that time is unstoppable, but I’m not too sure that I should use the time to make people happy. I only want to do the right thing. Fine if that makes people happy, but that’s not my intention.

    As an example, I put a note in the cup held out by a young man that I spotted on my way to the train station last week, he saw the note and he said “Oh, Merry Christmas to you!”, I nodded my head to thank him for his good wishes.

    I told myself that now I understand why instead of using the paper note to pay for the bus fare, I changed my mind, emptied my coin purse thinking it’s lighter to carry a paper note, and then after getting off the bus, I decided that this young man needed the note that’s in my pocket, and so I dropped it into the cup.

    I wasn’t trying to make him happy. I was just trying to do what I thought I should do.

    Getting old sees “Happiness” very differently. It’s very hard for a young heart to understand an old heart. I think the majority of learners in this website are very young and so I think I should stop here and don’t spoil a young heart.

    Best Wishes


  28. peter says:

    Hey lili,
    I think it is the other way around
    Most Eslpod blog followers ,I belive , are in 30s and above


  29. emiliano says:

    Thank you so much Tania for you good nice wishes that I am sure you feel them deeply in your
    It seems it is going to be a hard year for me and Cuca, may be it could be necessary to make
    some changes in our life.
    But who knows?
    I will do my best to follow together as long as possible, that´s my only desire and will for this
    new year.

    Don´t be sad or worry, that´s life, and I try to take it as it is and not as I would want to be,
    taken life this way it could be even an easy way and we could accept things with some humor.

    A good year for you dear Tania.

    My dear Lili, have a nice good year too doing which ever thing you think it is the right
    deep insie your heart and mind.

    For all the other, the young one and the old one who follows this blog and also
    the teachers and the ESL staff, Happy New Year full of work and peace.

    Little by little my presence should be less, that´s life also
    it could be my mind is out of this blog that has been like home.


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