4 years, 11 months, and 8 days. Rudeness is contagious. Avoid rude people; they will infect you with their rudeness.

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Workplace rudeness is contagious, study says

Rudeness in the workplace isn’t just unpleasant: It’s also contagious.

Encountering rude behavior at work makes people more likely to perceive in later interactions, a University of Florida study shows. That perception makes them more likely to be impolite in return, spreading rudeness like a virus.

“When you experience rudeness, it makes rudeness more noticeable,” said lead author Trevor Foulk, a doctoral student in management at UF’s Warrington College of Business Administration. “You’ll see more rudeness even if it’s not there.”

The findings, published June 29 in the Journal of Applied Psychology, provide the first evidence that everyday impoliteness spreads in the workplace.

“Part of the problem is that we are generally tolerant of these behaviors, but they’re actually really harmful,” Foulk said. “Rudeness has an incredibly powerful negative effect on the workplace.”

The study tracked 90 graduate students practicing negotiation with classmates. Those who rated their initial negotiation partner as rude were more likely to be rated as rude by a subsequent partner, showing that they passed along the first partner’s rudeness. The effect continued even when a week elapsed between the first and second negotiations.

Rudeness directed at others can also prime our brains to detect discourtesy. Foulk and his co-authors, fellow doctoral student Andrew Woolum and UF management professor Amir Erez, tested how quickly 47 undergraduate students could identify which words in a list were real and which were nonsense words. Before the exercise began, participants observed one of two staged interactions between an apologetic late-arriving participant and the study leader. When the leader was rude to the latecomer, the participants identified rude words on the list as real words significantly faster than participants who had observed the neutral interaction.

The impact of secondhand rudeness didn’t stop there, however: Just like those who experience rudeness firsthand, people who witness it were more likely to be rude to others. When study participants watched a video of a rude workplace interaction, then answered a fictitious customer email that was neutral in tone, they were more likely to be hostile in their responses than those who viewed a polite interaction before responding.

“That tells us that rudeness will flavor the way you interpret ambiguous cues,” Foulk said.

Foulk hopes the study will encourage employers to take incivility more seriously.

“You might go your whole career and not experience abuse or aggression in the workplace, but rudeness also has a negative effect on performance,” he said. “It isn’t something you can just turn your back on. It matters.”

https://phys.org/news/2015-07-workplace-rudeness-contagious.html

 

Rudeness At Work: On the Rise, And Coming With A Big Cost

Just because you’ve developed a thick skin for rude, discourteous behavior, doesn’t mean workplace incivility is not hurting you–and your family. A new Baylor University study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that workplace rudeness can follow you home, causing you to unleash “incivil” behavior on your loved ones.

That’s disconcerting news for the 43% of Americans who have experienced incivility at work, according to the report, Civility in America, 2011. To be clear, incivility is different from aggressive bullying, which usually carries the intent to harm someone. With incivility, the intent is ambiguous, and it’s less intense and characterized by demeaning remarks, showing little interest in a worker’s opinion, acting rudely or with poor manners, among other uncivilized behaviors.

The Baylor study found that those who experienced workplace incivility had lower levels of marital satisfaction and greater family/work conflict, particularly for the partner. It also found that stress from incivility was contagious to family members.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/rudeness-at-work-on-the-rise-and-coming-with-a-big-cost/

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Christmas is a difficult time for us, and I’m sure for you guys.  Your absence is felt more strongly during the holidays.  We miss you and love you boys so much!  Do try to enjoy the warmth and joy of Christmas.  It’s such a special season.  It has always been for us, and will be again some day.

For now try to get into the Christmas spirit and be kind to loved ones and others.  Like rudeness, kindness is also contagious.  Be kind.

Kindness is Contagious, New Study Finds

Imerman Angels, a cancer support organization based in Chicago, has “floods of volunteers,” according to John May, chairman of its board of directors and a long-time volunteer himself.

“You can’t help but just get excited to get involved,” he said.

These do-gooders are not alone: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 63 million people volunteered in 2009, 1.6 million more than the year before. But the question of motive remains: Why is being nice so popular these days?

New research may unlock the mystery: Kindness is contagious, according to a study done by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Cambridge and University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom.

When we see someone else help another person it gives us a good feeling, which in turn causes us to go out and do something altruistic ourselves, the study found, which was the first of its kind to systematically document this tendency in human nature.

“When you feel this sense of moral ‘elevation’ not only do you say you want to be a better person and help others,” said Simone Schnall, of Cambridge, the lead researcher. “But you actually do when the opportunity presents itself.”

Researchers performed two experiments in which they showed viewers either a nature documentary, a funny TV clip or an uplifting segment from the Oprah Winfrey Show, and then asked them to voluntarily help with another task. In both cases, participants that watched Oprah and subsequently experienced the elevated feeling were more likely to help.

“Elevation,” a term coined by Thomas Jefferson, is different from regular happiness, a specific emotion that we experience only when we see someone else engaged in virtuous acts, Schnall said.

And though previous studies have documented this emotional response before, little research had been done to see if people actually acted on their feelings of being inspired, she said.

“Human nature is essentially good,” she said. “And this study proves that seeing good things actually makes us better.”

https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/kindness-contagious-new-study-finds

Do you remember what Father Dave used to say?  Before you speak, ask yourself: (1) is it kind? (2) is it helpful? (3) is it necessary?  If it doesn’t pass all three of those tests, keep it to yourself.

Sometimes, you will be challenged to be kind when encountering rudeness — which appears to be more pervasive these days.  If that should happen, think of Emily Post’s advice.

Five Ways to Combat Rudeness

Handling other people’s rudeness is tricky. You can’t control someone else’s behavior. So focus on maintaining your own standard of good behavior instead. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Perhaps the offender is having a bad day.
  2. Size up your annoyances. Is it worth it to make a fuss over something small, or is it a waste of your emotional time?
  3. Set a good example. Rudeness begets rudeness. If you speak sharply to the bank teller, don’t be surprised if you get the same treatment in return.
  4. Count to ten. When someone’s behavior makes you angry, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, “Is it really worth blowing my stack over this?”
  5. Laugh it off. If you can’t come up with a friendly joke, just chuckle and change the subject.

http://emilypost.com/advice/five-ways-to-combat-rudeness/

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My goal for my life is significantly less ambitious than Gandhi’s.  I simply want to leave my little corner of the world a little nicer than how I found it.  That’s it.

In my younger days, I had grandiose goals — to change the world, to teach kids how to be altruistic, to create good laws and good policies that would elevate society, to fight great injustices against the weak by the powerful and greedy, to help the homeless, to protect the abused, etc.  These days, I just my sons, a clean sidewalk, a patch of grass that is litter-free, etc.

Whatever your goals, try to reach it through kindness rather than rudeness, meanness, and pettiness.  For example, years ago, I thought about applying to law school at Georgetown University.  However, I was disabused of that idea by my roommates, who attended GU Law.  We all agreed it is a great law school, but it was also a mean one.  Students there were  known to hide reference books that were necessary for class assignments, steal notes, and sabotage other students.  No doubt GU Law students are smart people and able to gain admission to a top-tier program.  However, their conducts also revealed that they were insecure.  They saw the world as a zero sum game, and believed they could only advance by pulling others down.  That’s a pitiful way of looking at the world.

Not every one sees the world that way.  In graduate program for public policy at Duke University, for example, during the first week of school, we were given the manual for SPSSx (a computer language used for, among other things, multi-variable programing and data analysis) and an assignment.  None of us were computer programmers.  None of us had experience programming.  Some of the girls cried in computer lab.  Others steamed with frustration.  Then, someone decided to bring music, and others brought beer.  Then, as a group, we helped teach other SPSSx.

Avoid those who tear you down to lift themselves up: work with those who believe it in working together to improve the lot of everyone.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

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4 years, 10 months, and 17 days. Behave well, pursue your passions and ignore the ankle-biters.

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Someone who cannot rise to your level, and who can only bite your ankles instead of being able to really bite your head off.

Folks of lower altitude.

My boss is an ankle biter and he’s doing well as such
by Scotty Breauxman January 20, 2008

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware the ankle-biters.  They’re ubiquitous.  There is no escaping them.

In fact, insecurity can even reduce family members to being ankle-biters at times.  For example, because I matriculated at significantly more famous and reputable graduate school than he, my brother — your uncle — once had the temerity to suggest that just because I got in does not mean I could obtain an advance degree from said school.  Of course, I completed my doctorate and went on to achieve and earn more than he professionally.

Ankle biters are like zombies.  They never die, and they keep coming.

The best you can do is to protect yourselves against their ankle bites, and ignore them as you pursue bigger and better.  Eventually, as you rise, your world will be populated by fewer and fewer of them, and you could better enjoy the fruits of your labor.  (This assumes, of course, that you choose your social circles with care and not frequent haunts where ankle biters roam.)

Remember our days at the OG and on the Hill?  Most of our neighbors were nice, weren’t they?  We had no trouble with them.  That’s because I chose those neighborhoods with care.  Most of our neighbors on the Hill were retirees, consultants, and educators.  We had one neighbor behind and down the hill from us who repaid our kindness of giving him the key to our house when power was out so that he could use the gas oven and heater as necessary to care for his family by having his dog shit in our yard.  His actions bespoke his upbringing, did they not?

As we say, “Didn’t your parents teach you manners, or were you raised in a barn?”  Apparently, he was raised in a barn.  You weren’t.  Act accordingly.

http://www.businessinsider.com/manners-to-teach-kids-2017-8/#standing-when-youre-introduced-to-someone-5

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As Jesus reduced the Ten Commandments to two — (1) love God with all your heart and soul, and (2) love your neighbors as yourself — Emily Post reduced the book of manners down its essence:  be mindful of the feelings of others around you, and act to not offend.  If you do that, it doesn’t really matter if you were using the wrong fork.

I leave you with the biography of Kilian Hennessy, heir to that famous  and delicious brand of cognac.  Despite being born into wealth and fame, he didn’t just sit on his butt, but worked hard to pursue his passion for “angels’ share” and to develop his own perfumerie.  Be like him.  Don’t be like the countless progenies whose only legacy is that they burnt through all that was left for them and built nothing of their own.  .

Biography

Heir to a long line of cognac-makers who were pioneers in luxury, Kilian decided to take up the torch of family tradition. Creating a new luxury brand was definitely a challenge worthy of his predecessors.

His childhood haunts included the family cellars in Cognac. Before graduating from CELSA, he wrote a thesis on the semantics of scent, in search of a ‘language’ common to gods and mortals. Remembering the «angels’ share» as part of his heritage, he was led into the world of perfumery. The «angels’ share» is what the House of Hennessy calls the percentage that – inexplicably – evaporates from cognac cellars, like an offering to the gods.
Many of Kilian’s fragrances today carry this childhood memory as they are reminiscent of the sugar in the alcohol and the wood of the cognac barrels.

After graduating, he then went on to train with the greatest noses in perfumery and worked for the most prestigious perfume houses such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani.

In 2007, Kilian launched his own namesake brand with the ambition of reflecting not only his distinct personality, but also to achieve a perfect alliance between elegance and uncompromising luxury. His “eco-luxe” philosophy that each bottle can be refilled and kept for a lifetime catapulted the brand to the top of the fragrance market and into a niche of its very own.

In 2017 and ten years since its launch, the world of Kilian includes more than 35 scents, spanning across different fragrance collections including: “L’Oeuvre Noire”, “Arabian Nights”, “Asian Tales”, “In the Garden of Good & Evil” and “Addictive State of Mind“.

Kilian continues to create unexpected products that embody ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury with a collection of wearable scented jewelry and decorative objects for the home.

As the Kilian brand evolves and matures, the one aspect which remains consistent is that each and every product created embodies ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury.

https://www.bykilian.com/us/biography.php

Live right, pursue your passions, and ignore the ankle biters.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 10 days. Looking out for #1 … isn’t necessarily a good thing. Learn to be grateful for others make you happier and healthier.

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Why gratitude is good for youth

Although gratitude, as a social emotion, has long been considered a powerful ingredient of health and well-being for both individuals and societies, for a long time no systematic attempt had ever been made to deeply explore its development in youth.

However, initial research demonstrated that, when compared with their less grateful (and more materialistic) peers, grateful youth are happier and more satisfied with their lives, friends, family, neighborhood, and selves. They also report more hope, greater engagement with their hobbies, higher GPAs—and less envy and depression….

How gratitude builds relationships

In describing the design of his curriculum, Bono writes, “Gratitude interventions…should let students appreciate the different benefits and benefactors in their lives for themselves. Let’s go beyond lists and dry journals. When people ‘get’ us and help us through tough times, gratitude grows.”

As students learn gratitude, they are also learning about the concepts of intention and benefit: how others deliberately take actions that make our lives better, inspiring us to feel grateful. As Bono and gratitude researcher Jeffrey Froh explain:

  • Acts of kindness that inspire gratitude are usually done on purpose, with intention. Someone has noticed us, thought about what we need, and chosen to do something to meet that need. Reflecting on the intentions behind these acts deepens our sense of gratitude.
  • Each act of kindness has a cost to the person who performs it. The cost may include time, effort, or something that was given up, as well as any financial cost. When we understand those costs, we gain a deeper appreciation of the person who acted in a caring way.
  • Others’ acts of kindness benefit us personally in ways that may be material, emotional, or social. Noticing and acknowledging the ways we benefit from others’ actions enhances our gratitude.

https://shoshandjaialai.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

On days when I’m heart-heavy, like today, I turn to music and Greater Good Magazine to help lift me out of my funk.  Self-care is important.  Do what it take to survive and fight another day.

This may seem at at odds with the title of this post, but it is not.  It is complementary.  If you are down in the dumps, you are no good to anyone — including yourself.  Take care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health first.

But, in the course of that effort, you will find that being grateful and helping others go a very long way in making you happier and healthier, and lifting your spirits.  It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

And, don’t forget to listen to good and meaningful music.

Five Ways Music Can Make You a Better Person

Can listening to music change your behavior for the better?

People in the United States spend an average of 32 hours listening to music each week, an increase of five and a half hours over last year. That’s a lot of time—more than ever before. Has this influenced your behavior or the behavior of those around you?

Some people certainly think it can have a negative impact—remember Tipper Gore’s crusade against swear words and “the indecent liberties some entertainers take with [our] children”? However, studies have also explored possible relationships between music and positive social behaviors.

In particular, research suggests that three aspects of music—its emotional resonance, its lyrical content, and its unique way of synchronizing groups of people—may have the power to invoke good deeds. Here’s a list of the research-tested ways music can have a positive impact on you and your world.

1. Listening to uplifting music may make you happier—and possibly more generous

We’ve all felt strong emotions listening to music. Sad songs may bring us to tears, while joyful music can make us feel euphoric. While melancholy music can move us in fascinating ways, there is power in that second category, too. Indeed, one way music may make us better people is by making us happier—and therefore more likely to give of ourselves.

In a study by Adrian North, Mark Tarrant, and David Hargreaves, over 600 users of a university gym listened to either uplifting, top-20 singles or annoying avant-garde computer music while they worked out. They were later asked either to sign a petition in support of a charity (an easy task) or to distribute leaflets for the charity (a more demanding task).

While almost all participants from both groups signed the petition, significantly more of the participants from the up-tempo music group agreed to help distribute leaflets, suggesting that some music may make you more willing to expend energy and time to help others.

Other research shows that there is a feedback loop between happiness and generosity—feeling happier makes people more likely to give and vice versa. So, while more studies are needed to confirm the relationship, the results from the gym study suggest not only that music may be a good way to make people feel happier but also that this increased happiness may make people more generous.

2. Songs with “prosocial” lyrics may make you more helpful and empathic

Happy lyrics from upbeat songs may not have as much of an impact on people’s behavior as “prosocial” lyrics advocating kindness and helpfulness—think Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.” While sometimes these lyrics may seem sappy or saccharine, they also may have the ability to change the way we think and act—at least in the short term.

For example, one study by Tobias Greitemeyer found that people who had listened to music with prosocial lyrics (such as “peace on earth to everyone that you meet”) were significantly more likely to think prosocial thoughts compared to those who had listened to songs with neutral lyrics. If a person was presented with the cue “g_____e,” they were more likely to suggest a positive word such as “give” over a neutral word like “guide” if they had listened to a song with prosocial lyrics. The impact went beyond word associations: The people who heard prosocial lyrics were also more likely to donate money they earned from participating in the experiment.

In another study by Greitemeyer, people who had listened to music with prosocial lyrics picked up more pencils for an experimenter who pretended to spill them accidentally, were more likely to agree to do further unpaid experiments and spent more time doing them, and gave more money away in an economic game when compared with people who had listened to music with neutral lyrics. Further analysis found that this effect was due to increased interpersonal empathy in the people who had listened to the prosocial lyrics.

When you tell someone to heal the world through song lyrics, it appears as if they’re actually more likely to try.

While both of these studies were limited in that they looked only at the short-term effect of listening to songs with positive lyrics, Greitemeyer suggests that repeated exposure to prosocial media might prove to have profound effects.

“Repeated encounters with prosocial media may yield long-term changes in personality through the development and construction of knowledge structures,” writes Greitemeyer. In other words, “when people may repeatedly listen to prosocial songs, the positive effects on prosocial behavior might be even more pronounced.”

3. Listening to prosocial songs may change how you spend your money

In one experiment, almost 800 French restaurant customers ate lunch or dinner while listening to music with prosocial lyrics or music with neutral lyrics—or music not selected for its lyrical content. Restaurant patrons who had listened to the prosocial music were significantly more likely to leave a tip—and their tips were bigger than the others’.

However, a more recent study by Nicolas Ruth found that guests who visited a German café while listening to music with prosocial lyrics tipped the same amount as those who listened to songs with neutral lyrics. That said, Ruth observed a different positive behavior: Guests who listened to the prosocial lyrics were significantly more likely to buy organic fair trade coffee.

In his paper, Ruth suggests a couple of possibilities for why this experiment failed to see an increase in tipping: Maybe it’s because tipping is viewed differently in Germany, or perhaps the prosocial impulse led people to choose to support fair trade coffee farmers and the environment, when given the option.

4. Song lyrics may change your attitude towards people different from you

Indeed, listening to these songs may make us less aggressive, more accepting of differences, and even—yes, for real—more likely to respect women.

A study by Ruth and colleagues, for example, found that participants who had listened to Bruno Mars’s “Count on Me”—a song with prosocial lyrics—had fewer aggressive thoughts (but not fewer aggressive feelings) compared to those who listened to Mars’s “The Lazy Song,” which is more neutral.

Another study by Greitemeyer found that German participants who listened to neutral lyrics were significantly more likely to help a student with a German-sounding name pass out pamphlets for a project than a student with a Turkish-sounding name, whereas participants who had listened to pro-integration lyrics were equally likely to help both.

In a similar vein, another study by Greitemeyer and colleagues found that participants who had listened to songs with pro-equality lyrics—such as “Respect” by Aretha Franklin—showed evidence of more positive attitudes and behavior toward women compared to those who had listened to neutral lyrics.

It is important to note that these studies have limitations. Most used small numbers of college students as their participants, tested only a few songs, and looked only at short-term effects. Thus, it’s unclear whether these results are due to priming, which might affect short-term decisions without influencing how people see the world in general. Even so, it is possible that listening to more prosocial songs could lead to long-term changes in attitudes and behavior for the better.

5. Making and moving to music may boost cooperation and connection

It’s not just listening to music that can change our behavior for the better—moving to music helps, too. But it’s not the movement of dancing itself that inspires kindness and helpfulness (although it might contribute). Instead, it’s the way music helps to synchronize us with other people.

There are several studies that suggest dancing to music with others (as well as jointly making or listening to music) can boost prosocial behavior. In one study by Sebastian Kirschner and Michael Tomasello, four-year-old children behaved more cooperatively and prosocially after making music together compared to children who were engaged in another activity with similar levels of social and linguistic interaction.

Another study by Laura Cirelli, Stephanie Wan, and Laurel Trainor found that even younger children—14-month-olds—were significantly more likely to help an experimenter after bouncing synchronously with her to the Beatles song “Twist and Shout” than after bouncing asynchronously (an effect achieved by the experimenter listening to a sped-up track on headphones).

This increased cooperation isn’t limited to children. Studies have found that adults who did synchronous singing cooperated more in an economic game, and that people who participated in synchronized drumming were more likely than others to pick up pencils for an experimenter who had dropped them.

A recent study by Jan Stupacher and colleagues suggests that just viewing synchronized movements can influence how we see others. In this study, adult participants watched videos of two people figures walking side by side and imagined that they were one of the people. When music accompanied the videos, participants were more inclined to see the two figures as close and they liked the other one better, compared to when a metronome or silence accompanied the video. Why? Perhaps the music made them happier (as in the gym experiment), suggest the researchers—or maybe music plays a unique role in social bonding.

Interestingly, messing with the synchrony between the music and the figures changed people’s impressions. In some versions of the experiment, the two figures moved out of sync with one another. When the other figure was moving out of phase with the music, but the figure the participant was pretending to be was moving in phase, participants rated the other figure as less likeable compared to the opposite situation (other-figure in phase and self-figure out of phase). Could this mean that moving to the beat could help you find a new friend at a party? Further research is needed.

So, music can do plenty of good, it seems—but can it really “Heal the World?” It’s hard to say, given that research into the prosocial impacts of music is still in its infancy. But this smattering of studies suggests that there are ways music may indeed help.

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_music_can_make_you_a_better_person#

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 5 days. Learn to be a team player. Life is not all about you.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

History is replete with tales of those too smart for their own good.  Too often, people use their natural talents to elevate themselves at the expense of others, of their teams, of their communities, of their countries.  (Sadly, this is true also of those without talents, but who think they possess such attributes.)  The results are predictable.  Calamity ensues.  The news is replete with such stories, and books and movies have made much of such.  Yet, the lesson is frequently forgotten.

The most important lesson in life, my sons, is to be a part of something good and greater than yourselves.  The enigma is that service for others will bring you greater joy and happiness than the dogged and selfish pursuit of your own happiness.  As discussed earlier, we are wired to be bottomless pits.  We are built to adapt; thus, what joy a new acquisition gives you will soon fade and the need for another, newer acquisition will start you on the endless chase.

But, the critical terms here are “good and greater than yourselves”.  Beware of false promises and outright lies.  (I do not intend to imply mal-intent here; sometimes, people do not intend to be bad but become blinded to the truth because of their tunnel visions.)

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(Yes, Jim Jones claimed to be God and Buddha on occasions, yet he forced his followers to kill their children and themselves.  False prophets are many.  Beware of them.)

Use your head.  Think, always.  Assess the validity of what is presented to you.  What are the motives of the speaker?  What does he/she have to gain?  Is the information reliable and supported by data, studies, logic, etc.?  What is being omitted?  What are the counterarguments?

Always think.  Explore and find out for yourselves what you believe in, what projects you can invest yourselves in, and how you can help the less fortunate and make your community a better place.

My one regret with you boys is to not have involved you guys in my volunteer work.  I thought you were too young.  I was wrong.  It would have done you good, and exposed you to the harsh realities of the lives of many others.

My hope is you will find good people and good projects to engage with.  The joy that comes from team work and helping others cannot be overstated.  I want that for you.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 9 months, and 24 days. Helping others is good for you. Make time to volunteer and help others.

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Why Doing Good Is Good for the Do-Gooder

From Hurricane Harvey flooding Houston to Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripping through the Caribbean to wildfires burning Northern California, cities and charities have been flooded with donations and volunteers. The outpouring of support is critical for helping affected communities to recover. But acts of generosity benefit the do-gooder, too.

“Research suggests that these community social connections are as important for resilience to disaster is as physical material like disaster kits or medical supplies,” explained Ichiro Kawachi, a professor of social epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Voluntarism is good for the health of people who receive social support, but also good for the health of people who offer their help.”

The day after Cristina Topham evacuated her home as a result of the fires in Sonoma, Calif., she and her boyfriend immediately looked for ways to donate and help.

“I just felt like I had to do something. I love my town and my community, and the reach of the destruction was astonishing from the very beginning,” she said.

 

Why is the first instinct for many to volunteer and donate after a natural disaster? One reason is that as humans we’ve evolved to survive in groups, not alone. Rallying together makes us feel less alone in the experience, explained the sociologist Christine Carter, a fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

“When our survival is threatened, we are going to reach out and strengthen our connections with people around us. We show generosity. We show compassion. We show gratitude. These are all emotions that function to connect us with each other,” Dr. Carter said.

Scientific evidence supports the idea that acts of generosity can be beneficial when we volunteer and give back regularly — and not just after a natural disaster. Volunteering is linked to health benefits like lower blood pressure and decreased mortality rates.

Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been studying the effects of positive emotions, such as compassion and kindness, on the brain since the 1990s. He said the brain behaves differently during an act of generosity than it does during a hedonistic activity.

“When we do things for ourselves, those experiences of positive emotions are more fleeting. They are dependent on external circumstances,” he said. “When we engage in acts of generosity, those experiences of positive emotion may be more enduring and outlast the specific episode in which we are engaged.”

Helping others also gives us a sense of purpose. Dr. Linda Fried co-founded Experience Corps, a program that engages retirees as literacy tutors, after she discovered a strong association between a sense of purpose and well-being throughout life. Older adults who volunteered to help children with reading and writing tended to experience less memory loss and maintain greater physical mobility, one study suggested.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

These days, it seems like every day brings bad news.  Terrorism in New York City.  Hurricanes in the Atlantic.  Shootings.  It’s enough to make you want to pull the covers over your head and not get out of bed.

If you need to take a mental health day, do it.  There were times during my practice — after working 12-13 hour days for 6-7 days per week for weeks on end — when I simply had to take the day off and head into the mountains to blow steam, recharge, and put life into perspective.  There, on the mountain top, I would be reminded, in the greater scheme of things,  that the “crises” I deal with at work are insignificant.

The other valuable thing that gives me perspective is volunteerism.  As mentioned yesterday, volunteerism was a mainstay in my life for a long time.  When younger, I tutored kids, interpreted for schools and churches, helped carry groceries for our elderly neighbors, etc.  As I got older, my involvement became more substantial.  For example, I researched and wrote policies to help the homeless and prevent them from freezing to death on cold winter nights, represented asylum seekers with court filings and appearances to help them gain refugee status, helped victims of domestic violence get protection from their abusers.  I also continued to help feed the poor, build houses for the disenfranchised, etc.

Your grandmother, on my side of the family, taught us at a young age that (1) you are never too young to help others, and (2) it does you good to help others.  My greatest take-aways from my childhood were to choose friends with care, and to help others whenever I could.  Even today, at 90 years old, your grandmother is still volunteering and helping those less fortunate than her.  She is making a huge difference in the lives of those she helps.

Grandma’s actions and lesson for us has support in the wisdom of the ancients.  Per Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,

[T]he sages of the Himalayas guided their lives by a simple rule: he who serves the most, reaps the most, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  This is the way to inner peace and outer fulfillment.”

Science also bears out the wisdom of her lesson.  As stated in article above, doing good is actually good for do-gooder.  Among other things, it contributes to more enduring positive emotions and a sense of well-being, gives our lives purpose, connects us to our fellow human beings, lowers blood pressure, reduces memory loss and  increases mobility as we get older, and decreases mortality rates.

Generally, volunteering is  good for you over the course of your life, and  specifically and in the shorter run, it helps you get into good colleges.  Top colleges care about more than your grades and SAT score.  They want to invest in the future of those who are not only takers, but also givers.  Kids who spend all their time studying and being tutored put themselves in the receiving end of others’ efforts.  There is nothing special about that.

Colleges, employers, and good people want to be associated with those who help others and who give back to the community, not just take and benefit from the community in which they find themselves.  Asian families tend to over-focus on the importance of grades and under-focus on the importance of personal growth.  That’s their failing.  I don’t care how smart you are or how studious you are: as an employer, I would never hire you or invite you to join my team if you could not collaborate with others, communicate with others, help others, or translate what you learned into actionable items.

That said, remember, volunteering is not about padding your resume — although that is a short term benefit.  Helping others is a way of life.  I promise that if you help others, you will get as much, if not more, out of the experience than the person you are helping.

Be good.  Be you.  Be the best you possible.  Help others when possible.  Be a humanist.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 9 months, and 2 days. Don’t be a snowflake. Be resilient.

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In its annual survey of students, the American College Health Association found a significant increase — to 62 percent in 2016 from 50 percent in 2011 — of undergraduates reporting “overwhelming anxiety” in the previous year. Surveys that look at symptoms related to anxiety are also telling. In 1985, the Higher Education Research Institute at U.C.L.A. began asking incoming college freshmen if they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year. In 1985, 18 percent said they did. By 2010, that number had increased to 29 percent. Last year, it surged to 41 percent.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/magazine/why-are-more-american-teenagers-than-ever-suffering-from-severe-anxiety.html?action=click&contentCollection=Europe&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

 

When Mr. Hanks was 5, living in Redding, Calif., his parents separated. His mother, a waitress, kept the youngest of the four children while Tom went with the other two to live with his father. He was playing with his siblings one night when he was told he had to go with his father. He was a cook who married twice more and Tom had lots of stepsiblings and lived with a lot of upheaval. “By the age of 10, I’d lived in 10 houses.”

“By and large, they were all positive people and we were all just kind of in this odd potluck circumstance,” he said, adding that he still vividly recalls the confusion of being that little boy. “I could probably count on one hand the number of times I was in a room alone with my mom, or in a car alone. That is not exactly what happened to me, but there were times when either my mom or my dad — the same thing was true for both — in which being alone with them, I realized, was like, ‘This is a special time.’ For other people, it’s not a special time. It’s just part and parcel to the day.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/style/tom-hanks-uncommon-type-harvey-weinstein-donald-trump.html?action=click&contentCollection=Magazine&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be like Tom Hanks.  He’s had his share of rough times in life, but he remains strong, good, and talented. He doesn’t adopt a “Woe is me!” attitude.

Everyone in life has his or her own cross to carry.  It is no use to cry about it all the time.  Deal with it and move on.

Victimhood is becoming an art, and it is making us weak.  Yes, mourn when bad things happen.  Take time to recover and heal.  Then, get back on the horse and move on!

Don’t wallow in the misery, the misfortune, the bad.  Without the negative, how could you fully appreciate the beauty of kindness, of goodness, of fortune?  Take the bad with the good.  Learn from each.  Keep what you must.  Then, move on with the business of growing as a person and living as a person.

According to the article above, 18% of incoming college freshmen felt overwhelmed in 1985 versus 62% today.  Has college gotten harder?  No.  Has the challenges of living on your own for the first time gotten harder?  No.  Yet, why are more incoming freshmen overwhelmed?  Maybe they lack the survival skills and fortitude of earlier generations for whom life was more challenging, and for whom less was given.  These days, we have too many helicopter parents whose life’s mission is to not let their child fail.  (Of course, I’m oversimplifying.  The factors are many, and too much to go into here.)  They intervene at the most inopportune times, when children are presented with opportunities to test themselves, learn, and grow.  Without challenging ourselves, how will we ever know what we are capable of? how good we are?

Giving everyone a gold star for showing up is doing a disservice to our children.  It fails to reward each individual child’s effort.  Empty praises help no one.

He goes on to admonish against today’s culture of excessive parental praise, which he argues does more for lifting the self-esteem of the parents than for cultivating a healthy one in their children:

Admiring our children may temporarily lift our self-esteem by signaling to those around us what fantastic parents we are and what terrific kids we have — but it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self. In trying so hard to be different from our parents, we’re actually doing much the same thing — doling out empty praise the way an earlier generation doled out thoughtless criticism. If we do it to avoid thinking about our child and her world, and about what our child feels, then praise, just like criticism, is ultimately expressing our indifference.

To explore what the healthier substitute for praise might be, he recounts observing an eighty-year-old remedial reading teacher named Charlotte Stiglitz, the mother of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who told Grosz of her teaching methodology:

I don’t praise a small child for doing what they ought to be able to do,’ she told me. ‘I praise them when they do something really difficult — like sharing a toy or showing patience. I also think it is important to say “thank you”. When I’m slow in getting a snack for a child, or slow to help them and they have been patient, I thank them. But I wouldn’t praise a child who is playing or reading.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/05/23/stephen-grosz-examined-life/

Be present.  Do your best — neither I, nor anyone else, can expect no more than that.  Keep trying.  Keep moving forward.  Keep learning.  Keep growing.

Be thankful for what you have, and the many blessings in your lives.  However, that does not mean you can rest there and stay where you are.  Life continues to flow around you.  If you don’t move forward with it, then you will be left far behind your friends and cohorts.  And, I’m not talking about things and acquisitions.  I’m talking about life, maturity, and the unique experiences that only living will afford you.  You do not want to be a man of 90, but stunted in emotion, intelligence, and life’s experience.  It would be unbecoming.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 8 months, and 19 days. Follow YOUR dreams, not others’

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Richard Cory

Edwin Arlington Robinson, 18691935

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

My dearest Shosh ad Jaialai:

4 years, 8 months, and 19 days is an eternity.  I miss you greatly and hope you are well.

Today, let’s talk about living your dreams.  Dare to dream, and to follow your dreams.  Don’t worry about the opinions of others.  They have their lives to live, and you have yours.

This is not always easy.  For example, when I was younger, I wanted to become a medical doctor.  In college, I majored in the hard sciences and worked as a lab assistant, but I also volunteered to assist a professor with his social science research because I thought it interesting.  Over time, I realized that my love lies in social science, not in medicine — but, to this day, I remain interested and curious about matters related to medicine, and my professional duties ultimately took me back to that industry.

Eventually, I changed my major to one of the social sciences.  At first, family members protested and warned me of the difficulties of finding jobs as a social science major.  Clearly, medicine offered a clearer career path.  What they said concerned me, of course, but they presented no new information, yet I knew I would not be happy if I must spend my entire life working as a physician.  Thus, their warnings fell on deaf ears.  I pursued my dreams; won sizable scholarships that enabled me to attend top programs in the U.S.; got a doctorate in my field of interest; and, carved out a successful, interesting, and, generally, rewarding career.

Do what you love, my sons, and you never have to “work” a day in your life.  Follow your interests and dreams.

Also, don’t buy the hype about this or that person having it all.  You never know the burdens carried by others.  Hell is visited upon each of us in our own unique ways.  None can escape it.  We all have our insecurities, fears, doubts, and weaknesses.  As noted in “Richard Rory”, never believe that just because someone has the looks, the mannerism, and the trappings of wealth and royalty, his life is without difficulties.  He, too, has his own demons to fight. (As reminded by the recent anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, her marriage to Prince Charles brought her more misery than it was worth: thus, she eventually divorced him.  Even marrying the future king of England has its costs.)  MIND YOU, SUICIDE IS THE COWARD’S WAY OUT AND THAT IS NOT WHAT I’M ADVOCATING HERE.

I recall a radio talk show years ago, where a prominent and wealthy lawyer was a guest.  An individual called in to the show and said she wished she made as much money as he.  He responded, “You can have my money, but you will also have to take all my responsibilities along with it.”

I believe the Buddha is right when he said, “Life is suffering.”   But, you can overcome it by changing the way you think and how you approach life.

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We’re not Buddhist, but do you not see that I share many of the same philosophies espoused by the Buddha?  At his core, he is but a humanist, isn’t he?  Isn’t Jesus also a humanist?  Aren’t all the great ones in history and folklore humanists also?

Live right.  You will find that living right helps relieve the burdens of life.

Be well, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad