Have a Heart
What does the Number 3,311,280,000 represent?
Is it the number of dollars wasted every four years on political campaign advertising?…no.
Is it the number of miles to the outer reaches of our galaxy?…no.
Is it the number of barrels of oil yet to be pumped out of the earth?…no.
It is the number of beats of a heart that will occur in a healthy person from the day they are born until they die at the age of ninety. It is a finite number produced by a mechanical pump. Each beat of your heart is priceless. It is one cycle that you can never get back. Heartbeats are like time. As each second passes it is gone…and gone forever. The question is how many heart beats have you wasted away and how many days, weeks or years will you die prematurely because of it?
Ok let’s do some math.
You are born and it’s a great day. A normal heart beats around 70 beats per minute. Doing the math: 70 beats per minute times 60 minutes in an hour times 24 hours in a day times 365 days in a year times 90 years equals 3,311,280,000.
Each heart beat pumps about 2-3 ozs. of blood through the body. That translates to 1.5 gallons a minute, 2,160 gallons a day; 788,400 gallons a year and 71 million gallons to age ninety.
Now what other mechanical pump can do nearly as well… none! The fuel pump in your car can do up to about half a gallon a minute (and how long do they last). A revved up fire engine can do 1200 gallons a minute (but it is only for a short duration of time.) There is no pump that is as efficient and long lasting as the human heart. But even our hearts have a finite life span and will eventually wear out.
Let’s examine for a minute how you may be “wasting” heart beats and therefore lowering the number of heart beats you have left and shortening your life span.
There is no doubt that high anxiety or having chronic high levels of stress takes a toll on your heart.
Let’s say you’re coming to work and you have a road rage incident. You get angry, share a single digit wave with the other driver saying ‘you’re #1 with me’ and compete with the other driver for the rest of your commute to work. What was the outcome and how many heartbeats did you waste?
Sometimes our kids can really drive us nuts and you are constantly raising your voice at them. They waste their time watching DVDs instead of doing homework, what part of doing their household chores do they not understand, and you will not leave this house looking like Brittney Spears because you do not have the body for it. There needs to be a lot of behavior modification here on everyone’s part and how many heartbeats have you wasted?
Examples of extreme stressful situations include death of a family member, going through a divorce, and Holidays…yes Holidays. There is no doubt that death of a family member carries with it a great deal of pain, grieving and stress. Some stress can be reduced by discussing and pre-planning with your loved ones what they would like to have happen when they die. Check out and download a copy of Terminal Programming in my archives section. Funerals are never easy but some advanced planning will reduce the stress levels a bit and save a few of those very valuable heartbeats.
It is very rare that a divorce can be a non-stressful event. Issues are often clouded by pride, ego, tenacity, money, children, possessions, and who “wins”. As common as they are, every divorce is unique. In the event you are going through a divorce or have been through one already, we ask you; “what was the outcome and how many heartbeats did you waste?”
Folks are often surprised when we comment that Holidays can be a stressful time. But think about it for a second. At Christmas or Chanukah people often spend hours and days searching for the perfect gift while circling the parking lot in the mall for an hour looking for a parking place. Let’s not forget the family “we-have-to-go” road trip(s) to see both sets of grandparents. This requires the movement of more material than was used in the D-Day landing in Normandy only to be compounded by that fact that there is only one guy working at the toll booth on the interstate on Christmas Day. Are we having fun yet?
And how about Thanksgiving. You or your significant other plans the logistical purchase of food a week in advance, feverously cooks for 24-36 hours before hand, then the food is served at a beautifully set table with a new linen table cloth and new candlesticks, and the only thing Uncle Louie has to say is “What no cranberry sauce!” Whereupon the herd runs the gauntlet at the table, retires to the living room to fall asleep watching football. This is of course immediately followed by the host and hostess collapsing in the corner exhausted.
Make a commitment to yourself that it is OK to say no. It is OK to say no to your mother in law that has lobbied ‘So you’re doing Thanksgiving again this year…right Dearie?”. It is OK to say no when you are invited to the command performance gathering of the family at Christmas. Trust us, been there, done that, got the hat…and the T-shirt. PLUS we saved countless heartbeats that would have been otherwise wasted.
There are volumes of data on how harmful smoking is to the heart and it is not my plan to regurgitate them here. Smoking is a personal choice and you and only you define that rational to smoke. That said, I would be remiss if we did not explore a few questions with you.
Why did you start smoking? A lot of people started smoking as a teenager to ‘fit in with the big kids’ and feel like a grown up. Well, your 47 years old now and I think we can all agree that original goal has been met.
Smoking helps me relax. Scores of people we have spoken to have shared that comment. We suggest however that there are several alternatives to help you relax in lieu of smoking, none of which weaken your heart or cause lung cancer.
Smoking tastes good. Now here we need some help. As previous smokers who quit over 20 years ago, it is our suspicion that the ‘taste’ of cigarettes has not evolved dramatically over that period. The taste we recall is somewhere between licking the inside of the muffler on your car and running your tongue along the chalk tray beneath the blackboard in high school. There are not many things that we are adamant about but trying to convince us that taste is a valid reason to smoke will never fly.
We suggest that smoking is an enormous impact on wasting heart beats and if you don’t die from cardiac failure maybe lung cancer will kill you.
So how do you quit? You quit in your head. You and you alone need to convince yourself that a long life has a greater reward than all the ‘pleasure’ that smoking allegedly gives you. Do you want to see your kids get married? You have worked incredibly hard all you life, would it be great to retire and enjoy life for 20+ years?
It’s your call…you need to make it! Nicotine patches may help, hypnosis may get you started, but the only way you can truly quit smoking is appreciate that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Our goal here is not to promote the Atkin’s Diet, the South Beach Diet, low carbs, no carbs, etc. We simply want to share a concept and thought process with you. It stands to reason that if we had you put on a backpack with 25 pounds of rocks in it and had you walk up five flights of stairs that your heart would be pumping a little harder. Now lose the visual image of the backpack, but ask yourself the question, “I’m carrying 25 or more pounds around than I should?” If you answered yes, than we encourage you to think about how many heartbeats you are wasting every day as you walk around, go shopping, or take care of the kids?
In closing our goal is very simple. We want you to appreciate that the human heart is a mechanical device, a very efficient one, but still a mechanical device none the less. It has just so many heart beats in it. What can you do, starting today, to minimize the number of heart beats you waste (and can never get back!) Apply some common sense, a little behavior modification, some moderate life style changes and you will dramatically increase your longevity and quality of life.
And just why do I think this information is important? It simple…I survived a heart attack.