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.  Even though 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 will 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.  They are not the harbinger of joy and good health, but of their opposites.  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

4 years, 3 months, and 16 days. Be nice.

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In one study, Dr. Prinstein examined the two types of popularity in 235 adolescents, scoring the least liked, the most liked and the highest in status based on student surveys. “We found that the least well-liked teens had become more aggressive over time toward their classmates. But so had those who were high in status. It was a nice demonstration that while likability can lead to healthy adjustment, high status has just the opposite effect on us.”

Dr. Prinstein has also found that the qualities that made the neighbors want you on a play date — sharing, kindness, openness — carry over to later years and make you better able to relate and connect with others.

In analyzing his and other research, Dr. Prinstein came to another conclusion: Not only does likability correlate to positive life outcomes, but it is also responsible, he said, for those outcomes, too. “Being liked creates opportunities for learning and for new kinds of life experiences that help somebody gain an advantage,” he told me.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/education/edlife/be-nice-you-wont-finish-last.html?_r=0

My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be nice, my sons.  It costs you little, but the impact on others may be great.  Everyone has his or her own cross to bear.  Why worsen the burden when it could be lightened with kind words?

Our forebears say, “Twirl your tongues seven times before you speak.”  That is sound advice.

Don’t worry about being the most popular.  Studies show kids who peaked in popularity in primary and secondary schools tend to be stuck at those stages and do worse later in life.  Be nice.  Learn to work with others.

Help others.  You’ll find that it will make you happier.  This is why I have often volunteered when I have time.  My one regret is that I didn’t involve you in my volunteerism while I had the opportunity.

All my love, always,

Dad