3 years, 6 months, 27 days. Eat a live frog in the morning.


But I’ve discovered that the biggest benefit I get from taking cold showers isn’t any of the wonderful things listed above (I’ve noticed many of them, though). The thing that most draws me to the cold water is also the thing that most repels me: It’s really hard to do….

It reminds me a little bit of that Mark Twain saying, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

…. The point is that starting your morning by tackling challenges head-on will help encourage similar behavior throughout the day. And, it turns out, there’s a wealth of research to back up this idea as well. People who do hard things first tend to procrastinate less and get more done, according to Brian Tracy’s book, “Eat That Frog.”

It’s important to note that it’s not just about taking cold showers, it’s also about doing it in the morning. Consider that a one-two punch. According to the Florida State University psychology researcher Roy Baumeister, one of the leading experts on willpower, “The longer people have been awake, the more self-control problems happen.” In other words, if you wait until the evening to take your cold shower, there’s a greater chance you just won’t do it. Not to mention that it nullifies the whole idea of getting your day started on the right foot. So don’t just do it, do it in the morning.

The world is full of hard and scary things. We are at our best when we can tackle them bravely and confidently, not when we are accustomed to shying away.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope you enjoyed your day, Shosh.  I’m sorry that this is the third year I’ve been unable to share it with you.  (And, Jaialai, it’s the fourth for you.  I know.)

Hang in there,  my sons.  This too shall pass.

Meanwhile, I want you boys to work on being the best young men you can be.  Be self-disciplined, and be humanistic.

These are the attributes of happy and successful human beings.  (Intelligence, creativity, vision, etc., are also hallmarks of success; however, being self-disciplined and having heart are things under your complete control, and you already have the other attributes! =))

The world is littered with the gifted who have made nothing of themselves.  Don’t join their ranks.  Be self-disciplined.  Do what you know must be done: even when you don’t feel like it, study, exercise, volunteer, be kind, etc. Do the right thing.

Too many chase after the ever-elusive “happiness”.  Don’t.  Live right and do the right thing, and happiness will come to you.  Chase after it, and it will always be temporary and elusive.

What do I mean?  Shosh, you used to love spicy Korean noodles, remember?  It made you happy to eat it, right?  What happened when you ate too much, or ate it too often?  Jaialai said you once threw up at your mom’s after eating too much of it, and I suspect after a while, that noodle no longer catches your fancy.  Am I right?  Jaialai used to love Jolly Ranchers.  Yet, I’ve seen him save Jolly Ranchers to share with you and Little V.  By not overindulging, I’ll bet he hung on to his love for Jolly Ranchers longer than you and your love for spicy Korean noodles.  Moderation was key.  Self-discipline made that possible.

Man is predisposed to normalcy.  We adapt.  With repetition, what was once amazing (the first time you ate sushi or spicy Korean noodle, the first ride on that cool roller coaster, etc.) loses its luster and becomes normal.  The same is true of negative experiences.  We adjust.  We adapt.  What was so good (or so bad) becomes the new normal and is no longer that great or that bad.

(This is why you should never do drug and always guard yourself against addictive behaviors.  You would jeopardize yourself legally and medically in exchange for a very short-lived euphoria.  One puff of pot may have made you feel good at first, but soon, you’ll adapt and will need two puff of pot or even stronger drugs.  That’s why they call pot the gateway drug.  Stay away from it and other bad elements.  Look at where it got your cousin, Al, on your mom’s side — a felony conviction for sale and distribution because he hung out with the bad crowd.)

Don’t take my word for it.  Studies bear this out.  See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/07/magazine/the-futile-pursuit-of-happiness.html?pagewanted=print.  (As a lawyer, I make it a habit to rarely say anything that cannot be corroborated with documentary or testimonial evidence.  Thus, I want you boys to make it a habit to not overstate or understate things, beyond the evidence; and, to always try to verify the statements of others instead of taking them at face-value.)

The above article discussed the ground-breaking research (by psychologists from Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia, and an economist from Carnegie-Mellon) about the futility of chasing after happiness.  The researchers found that humans are very bad at predicting the intensity and duration of how we would feel about certain things and events.  They called it

 ”impact bias” — ”impact” meaning the errors we make in estimating both the intensity and duration of our emotions and ”bias” our tendency to err. The phrase characterizes how we experience the dimming excitement over not just a BMW but also over any object or event that we presume will make us happy. Would a 20 percent raise or winning the lottery result in a contented life? You may predict it will, but almost surely it won’t turn out that way. And a new plasma television? You may have high hopes, but the impact bias suggests that it will almost certainly be less cool, and in a shorter time, than you imagine. Worse, Gilbert has noted that these mistakes of expectation can lead directly to mistakes in choosing what we think will give us pleasure. He calls this ”miswanting.”

…. Much of the work of Kahneman, Loewenstein, Gilbert and Wilson takes its cue from the concept of adaptation, a term psychologists have used since at least the 1950’s to refer to how we acclimate to changing circumstances. George Loewenstein sums up this human capacity as follows: ”Happiness is a signal that our brains use to motivate us to do certain things. And in the same way that our eye adapts to different levels of illumination, we’re designed to kind of go back to the happiness set point. Our brains are not trying to be happy. Our brains are trying to regulate us.” In this respect, the tendency toward adaptation suggests why the impact bias is so pervasive. As Tim Wilson says: ”We don’t realize how quickly we will adapt to a pleasurable event and make it the backdrop of our lives. When any event occurs to us, we make it ordinary. And through becoming ordinary, we lose our pleasure.”

As the researchers in the article explained, for various psychological reasons, we often want or choose things that do not make us happy in the long run.  So, then, how do we achieve happiness?  Do the right right and be kind.

Self-discipline and humanity will bring you happiness.  Instead of the short-term, temporary happiness found from the acquisition of things, doing the right thing and doing what we are supposed to be doing will bring long-term happiness.  Helping others, completing a task well, studying instead of watching TV or playing video games, etc., will fill you with a sense of accomplishment and joy that none can take away.  You know this to be true.  You’ve experienced it.  Doing what you are supposed to do will give you satisfaction and move you down the road towards success.

Helping others and being kind to others will also help you find deep friendships and create strong social networks that will make you truly happy.  http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/happiness_is_being_socially_connected/ (“The upshot of 50 years of happiness research is that the quantity and quality of a person’s social connections—friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated. People with many friendships are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping.”)

One without the other won’t make you a happy and successful human being.  Let’s take Andy Fastow, for example.  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2004-05-05-cfomag_x.htm.  You may not be familiar with his name, but people of my generation  know him well.  He was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Enron, a major corporation with reportedly $111 billion in revenues in 2000, that ultimately imploded because of its fraudulent financial practices.  Fastow was a disciplined and hard worker.  Before he was indicted and imprisoned for fraud, he was celebrated by CFO magazine for his ingenuity.  Yes, the man was actually on the cover of CFO magazine before he was sent to prison for bringing to financial ruin grandmothers and others, and defrauding them of their hard-earned savings.  Self-discipline and hard work, without humanity, is nothing.

Be self-disciplined and be humanistic.  Make the hard choice to live right, and be the man that you would be proud to be, and I would be proud to have for a son.  Now, go take that cold shower!  http://www.medicaldaily.com/benefits-cold-showers-7-reasons-why-taking-cool-showers-good-your-health-289524.

All my love, always,



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