Three Short Stories

The short stories below were written to hopefully bring greater awareness to several subjects that affect our lives.

Dolph L. Hatfield, Ph.D.

  1. On confronting death: Have no fear (Total words 492)
  2. If Homo sapiens becomes extinct, are we just another species that evolved and disappeared? (Total words 683)
  3. Health benefits of abdominal (diaphragmatic, deep, belly) breathing (Total words 740)

 

 

On confronting death: Have no fear

Dolph L. Hatfield, Ph.D.

One thing is certain, each and every one of us is going to die. Should we spend our remaining time being fearful about dying or should we put our efforts into living as long as we can?

 

About 25 years ago, I read the quote, “Give no more to death than death itself.” This quote impressed me deeply and caused me to rethink life’s end. Many of my scientific colleagues had devoted so much of their lives to their profession that they were afraid of retiring. They felt that they would have nothing to do, would be at home with little interests and, as a result, would die shortly thereafter. I wondered how I could “give no more to death than death itself” and at the same time not be concerned about dying.

I was fortunate in that I had developed interests outside my profession that included working with the homeless and writing articles not related to science. Soon after retiring, I began devoting more time to these interests and rapidly transitioned from science to spending full time on these new interests and spending more time with my wife (a real joy) and our friends.

I knew the importance of staying fit (I go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week), eating a healthy diet, getting good rest, and importantly staying well-hydrated. Also, I work at trying to live each day to the fullest by enjoying life, being happy and remembering that my yesterdays far outnumber my tomorrows. If I don’t approach every day in this manner, there may never be another opportunity to do so.

The best advice I can give others is not to be fearful of dying or waste any time whatsoever worrying about the inevitable—we’re all going to die and there’s nothing we can do about it. Therefore, have no fear about the inevitable, and above all, don’t worry yourself to death about dying. Rather, put your efforts and concerns into developing new interests or hobbies, meditating, staying healthy by walking a mile or more each day and/or going to the gym three or more times weekly, eating a healthy diet, staying well-hydrated, and enjoying each day to the fullest. This approach to life will most certainly keep you on this side of the grass longer.

As I look back on my life and that of others, there is one other piece of advice that I often pass along. I compare life to a 15-round championship fight—most of us are going to hit that canvas many times and sometimes so hard that we don’t think we’re ever going to get up. The important thing is to get off the canvas before the 10 count and be thankful there is not a three-knockdown rule. The major key is to be standing at the end of the fifteenth round. Life has then been a success.

 

 

If Homo sapiens becomes extinct, are we just another species that evolved and disappeared?

Dolph L. Hatfield, Ph.D.

In the event the human population destroys itself, would it have an impact on the universe?

 

Our planet was formed about 4.5 billion years ago and life emerged about 3.7 billion years ago. As time passed, life became more and more diversified and the species that evolved became more and more complex. Many species have appeared and many have disappeared, but the drive for more sophisticated life forms continues.

Homo sapiens has been on earth a relatively short time compared to virtually all other species. Available evidence suggests that Homo sapiens evolved in East Africa only about 200,000 years ago. In its short existence, Homo sapiens has had a greater impact on changes on earth than any other species, especially in the last 100 or so years.

The human population grew from about 1.6 billion in 1900 to more than six billion in 2000 and is over seven billion in 2019. The overall consensus among knowledgeable scientists and other concerned environmentalists is that the earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. This is largely due to human growth and the resulting impact on the earth’s resources and on other species.

Mass extinction is defined as the loss of a large number of species in a relatively short geological time due to an event like a catastrophic global occurrence that develops too quickly for many species to adapt. Based on fossil records, the first major mass extinction occurred 245 million years ago when about 90% of the planet’s existing marine species were lost. The most devastating mass extinction occurred 65 million years ago when about 75% of the earth’s existing species disappeared, including all species of dinosaurs.

According to a May 5, 2019, United Nations report, one million species of animals and plants are on the verge of extinction. Our species is also at serious risk. The report, compiled by many leading global experts from around the world, paints a devastating outlook for a million species, including Homo sapiens. It also demonstrates a direct connection between the rapid expansion of the human population and the depletion of the world’s resources.

If mankind totally destroys itself, will it make a difference in the universe? Surely much of the hardware that the United States and other nations have sent in outer space will disappear with time leaving very few traces of our existence other than on Earth. As the hundreds of millions of years pass, most of the evidence that Homo sapiens once lived on this plant will likely also become obsolete as other species evolve and change the face of the planet.

It does indeed seem like a real possibility that we may become a lost species. However, unlike any other current or former species, we have the ability to rectify the direction we’re heading. If we don’t act quickly, it seems inevitable that our species will disappear along with the million already predicted to become extinct. Hopefully, our leaders and others who can make a difference will recognize how very serious this problem is and put enormous resources and efforts into making this a habitable planet for us and all other living species.

There are two philosophical questions regarding the purported inevitable disappearance of mankind that may yield pause for thought:

  • Will Homo sapiens be just another species that came and went on earth like so many others?
  • If nature has a will, would it have let Homo sapiens evolve?

The answer to the first question is most certainly a simple, “yes.” However, it can be argued that such a response is far too concise without further consideration. For example, Homo sapiens will leave more evidence of its presence on Earth than mainly fossil records. This will be of no consequence unless millions of years from now another intellectually superior species evolves on planet Earth or aliens arrive from elsewhere in the universe to examine and identify such artifacts and their importance. And the answer to the second question is…..

 

 

Health benefits of abdominal (diaphragmatic, deep, belly) breathing

Dolph L. Hatfield, Ph.D.

Since all mammals use a form of breathing called abdominal, belly, deep or diaphragmatic, there must be enormous health benefits derived from using it? What are they?

 

When mammals, including human infants, are in a calm state, they use a type of breathing called abdominal, belly, deep, or diaphragmatic. Since each of these names denotes the same type of breathing, it will be called abdominal breathing throughout the remainder of this article.

The mode of breathing habits of babies begins to change somewhere around the time they begin walking erect from abdominal to the usual manner of human breathing called chest breathing. However, since all mammals use abdominal breathing, it must have monumental health benefits. Once I learned how to breathe abdominally, I began to acquire its many benefits.

Learning abdominal breathing is easy, but it takes practice to master it properly. It is carried out simply by expanding the abdomen while keeping the chest relaxed. To do abdominal breathing efficiently, there are numerous steps that should be followed.

Although abdominal breathing can be practiced standing, sitting or lying on one’s back, I mostly have used the prone position. Initially, I practiced abdominal breathing laying on my back and placing my right hand on my stomach and left hand on my chest. After several weeks of learning how to do abdominal breathing properly, I then started placing my arms along each side of my torso and the hands on my upper thighs.

In the process of breathing, I take a slow, full breath through my nose raising my stomach and only minimally raising my chest. I count slowly to three and then begin releasing the air from my abdominal region through my mouth. When the air is fully released, I slowly count to six and then repeat the process.

The number of breaths I take in and release, and the length of time that I practice abdominal breathing depends on why I am doing this form of breathing. If I’m preparing to meditate and want to relax, I repeat the process 15 times and then begin meditating. If I want to hyperventilate in order to exercise intensively (e.g., run sprints), I abdominal breathe for at least five minutes prior to exercising. Everyone is different in how abdominal breathing affects them and one has to be careful when hyperventilating, not to overdo it and become dizzy. Each individual may want to hyperventilate for shorter or even longer periods of time and can learn what is best by carefully practicing different times of hyperventilating prior to exercising.

I also use abdominal breathing in the gym while exercising. Furthermore, it is an excellent technique for relieving nausea or stomach pain, reducing pain from a headache, and is outstanding for relieving stress. I have used it to lower my blood pressure and reduce arrhythmia, two health issues I have that occasionally manifest themselves.

I learned to relieve nausea by abdominal breathing when I went skydiving attached to an instructor. When the instructor opened the parachute following our jump from the airplane, he began taking very sharp, repeated turns to align us for landing in a precise area. As a result, I became nauseous. I intuitively began to abdominal breathe, and the nausea began subsiding immediately.

My wife, Mary, has had serious motion sickness on commercial air flights due to turbulence since she began flying at a very young age. While we were preparing to land on a recent flight, the plane experienced severe turbulence, and Mary became nauseated and on the verge of vomiting. I told her to start abdominal breathing. The nausea began to subside instantly. Mary no longer experiences nausea from turbulence while flying due to the benefits of abdominal breathing.

I’ve used abdominal breathing to lower my blood pressure, slow my heartbeat, and reduce stress. It can also diminish the risk of other stress-related disorders such as sleeplessness, depression, digestive problems and heart disease.

I am not an expert on abdominal breathing, but the numerous benefits I’ve experienced from using it leads me to strongly urge you to consider it. You will find many in-depth, first-rate articles about abdominal breathing on the internet.

All mammals use abdominal breathing, and babies instinctively use it from birth and for much of their first year. These observations strongly suggest that we should be using abdominal breathing as often as we can.