4 years, 5 months, and 15 days. Be bored. Let your mind wander. It helps you grow.

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The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-21895704

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It’s summer time.  Remember our last summer together when we visited as many waterways as we could?  We caught fish and crawdads at Scotts Mills, remember?  The water was cold, wasn’t it?  But, it was so much fun!  Even Little V waded into the water.

That’s what summers are for … exploration, trials, and growth.  Reduce your screen time, boys.  Remember, spend no more than 2 hours of screen time TOTAL!  That includes television as well as video games, computer, etc.

Why?  It’s simple: your brain needs down time to process information about the world around you, about you, etc.  Years ago, during a psychological experiment, researchers examined the brain activities of people under MRI as they were told to focus on certain stimuli.  However, during the brief period in between the experiments, when there was a lull, the entire brain lit up.  That was unexpected.  What where learning now is that there might be organized into two separate systems: one system (extrinsic) that operates when we’re actively focusing on a task, and an intrinsic or default system that operates when we are at rest.  Scientists now believe it is when our brain is at rest (during down time, when our mind wander) that the brain works on the self, on defining who we are, etc.

Dr Josipovic’s research is part of a larger effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain.

He says the brain appears to be organised into two networks: the extrinsic network and the intrinsic, or default, network.

Image caption Dr Josipovic has scanned the brains of more than 20 experienced meditators during the study

The extrinsic portion of the brain becomes active when individuals are focused on external tasks, like playing sports or pouring a cup of coffee.

The default network churns when people reflect on matters that involve themselves and their emotions.

But the networks are rarely fully active at the same time. And like a seesaw, when one rises, the other one dips down.

This neural set-up allows individuals to concentrate more easily on one task at any given time, without being consumed by distractions like daydreaming.

“What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says.

Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation – that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously.

And Dr Josipovic believes this ability to churn both the internal and external networks in the brain concurrently may lead the monks to experience a harmonious feeling of oneness with their environment.

Self-reflection

Scientists previously believed the self-reflective, default network in the brain was simply one that was active when a person had no task on which to focus their attention.

But researchers have found in the past decade that this section of the brain swells with activity when the subject thinks about the self.

The default network came to light in 2001 when Dr Marcus Raichle, a neurologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in the US state of Missouri, began scanning the brains of individuals who were not given tasks to perform.

The patients quickly became bored, and Dr Raichle noticed a second network, that had previously gone unnoticed, danced with activity. But the researcher was unclear why this activity was occurring.

Other scientists were quick to suggest that Dr Raichle’s subjects could have actually been thinking about themselves.

Soon other neuroscientists, who conducted studies using movies to stimulate the brain, found that when there was a lull of activity in a film, the default network began to flash – signalling that research subjects may have begun to think about themselves out of boredom.

But Dr Raichle says the default network is important for more than just thinking about what one had for dinner last night.

“Researchers have wrestled with this idea of how we know we are who we are. The default mode network says something about how that might have come to be,” he says.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-12661646

Be bored, boys.  Let your mind wander and your imagination roam.  Don’t buy into the false gods and false promises of electronics.  The answers to life’s major questions do not lie there.  They lie out in the world.  Go explore.  Live.  Use your imagination.

All my love, always,

Dad

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4 years, 5 months, and 11 days. Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay focused on your path to success.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I sit here and wonder where you are, what you are doing, whether you are having a good or bad day.  It’s hard.  I wish it weren’t so.  But, in life, we play the cards we are dealt.  Control is only an illusion.  As the saying goes, “Man plans.  God laughs.”

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Plan anyway.  Plan for your future.  Work hard to achieve it.  Success is 95 percent sweat.  You must work hard to prepare yourself and be ready whenever opportunities for success present themselves.

Focus on schooling and on getting into the best colleges you can.  Better colleges create better first opportunities for you.  In other words, you can still be successful if you do not attend a top-ranked college, but your road to success would be made more difficult.  Others are more likely to invest in your future if the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Duke, etc., have already vetted you and found you desirable.  Success breeds success, my sons.

Look at your cousins.  Which ones have a brighter future?  Those who studied hard and have achieved a good college education, or those without?  Your cousins on your mother’s side are roofers, paintbrush makers, fast food workers, etc., while your cousins on my side are engineers, designers, executives, etc.  Success rarely comes by accident.

Aim for success.  Keep your eyes on that prize, and work towards it.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 5 months, and 7 days. Choose good friends: they’ll enrich your life.

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Do you believe that blood is thicker than water? That your family relationships are more important than friends? Well, think again. Research from Michigan State University suggests that friends may make you happier and healthier than your relatives.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/12/does-family-make-you-happier-than-friends

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for the long absence.  It has been busy and I have been exhausted by day’s end.  Know that even when I have neither strength nor mental clarity to write you, my thoughts do not stray far from you.  There is a place in my heart where only you can reside.  It can never be filled by anyone else.

The days may be long and exhausting, but I am at least slightly happier because I have supportive friends.  Don’t ever underestimate the importance of friendship, my sons.  Good friends are the spices that add flavor to your life, the winds that lift you to dizzying heights and the safety lines that catches you should you fall, and the mirrors that truthfully reflect back how you are presenting yourself to the world.  They will be there with you through thick and thin.

But, beware false friends.  They may tell you what you want to hear, but their hearts do not belong to you.  They may be fair weather friends, who will only be there with you during the good times to share a laugh.  That’s fine, but know that is their true aim and purpose.  Don’t be disappointed when they abandon you during difficult times.  These are not true friends, but are more like acquaintances.

I find it best to find and surround myself with good people and true friends who inspire me to be better.  Such are often hard to find, but they are worth their weight in gold.  Treat them with kindness and respect, and care and feeding.  Cultivate those friendship and protect them as you would treasure — for that is what they are.

Good and supportive friends bring you as much health and happiness as you do them.  On the other hand, bad people are never worthy of the label friends.  Stay away from them…even if they happen to be related to you by birth or marriage.  Bad people are never the harbinger of goodness an joy.  On the contrary, they promise the opposite.  For example, a recent headline states:

Guilty Verdict for Young Woman Who Urged Friend to Kill Himself.

This is a misuse of the much coveted label of friendship.  That woman was never a friend.  She was anything but a friend.  Beware of the likes of her.

All my love, always,

Dad