My favorite thing about the number a trillion is something I read in a book called Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, a professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Paulos noted the frequency that the numbers ‘million’, ‘billion’ and ‘trillion’ are used in common language almost interchangeably, but the difference between them is quite vast. So, to give some context: a million seconds is 11 days; a billion seconds is 31 years; & if we go back in time, a trillion seconds was 31,688 years ago, or the time when the Neanderthals stomped around the plains of Europe.

That being said, if we spent one dollar a second, it would take us 31,688 years to spend a trillion dollars. So it is not so comforting that the US debt is now close to 17 trillion dollars, and growing by the second.

But wait! There is hope, according to Forbes magazine, and it might just be yoga…

“In terms of economic cost alone, Cecelia Rouse at Princeton estimates that one high school dropout “costs” about $260,000 in lost earnings over his or her lifetime. Given the fact that at least a million kids drop out of school every year, the annual cost of school failure alone is estimated at $260 billion. As Bose points out, “Over ten years, the cost is upwards of 3 *trillion* dollars. And this is just for dropping out alone.”

If you continue the trajectory a little further, he says, based on the relatively common course that can include juvenile hall and prison, the numbers grow. “The school-to-prison pipeline is incredibly costly,” says Bose. It can cost upwards of $250,000 per year to keep an inmate in prison, if you factor in all the direct and indirect costs that tend to come with it, like loss in productivity, damage to the family, the escalated health and mental health costs. “Folks have been looking at career criminals – and estimates over their lifetimes are between $4-7 million. If you apply this to all those who land in jail over and over again, the numbers become stratospheric.”

And this is where the capacity to cope becomes highly relevant. Methods that train the brain attend differently, self-regulate, and respond to stressors are one part. “If you look to neuroscience,” says Bose, “it tells us that stress, among other things, disrupts brain functioning, especially in the prefrontal cortex. And the same neuroscience is also saying there’s also class of practices that mitigate all of this: Mindfulness.” ” read more…

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