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

 

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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

4 years, 8 months, and 16 days. Think critically for yourself, but check your critical weapons at home and with friends.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I miss you!  I drank a Yakult today, and had to stop because it reminded me too much of you.  You used to love that stuff.  I wonder if you still drink it sometimes.

Boys, let’s talk a little today about how to interact with the world.  Much of the time, I urge you to be YOUR best, to think critically, to work hard, to be kind to others, etc.  But, I’m talking about you!  I’m not talking about other people.  As your dad, I have a responsibility to help and guide you to become a productive, successful, and contributing member of society.  That’s my job.

You, on the other hand, have control only over yourself.  You don’t have control over others.  Thus, other than your brother and your family, don’t worry about other people in the sense of helping them become better versions of themselves — unless that is your job, of course.  Let them be.  Worry about improving yourself.

Thus, be critical about your conduct, your achievements, your goals, etc.  However, don’t be critical about the conducts, achievements, goals, etc., of others.  That’s their business.  That’s on them.

If you stick your nose in their affairs, I promise you that the reaction will be harsh.  People won’t like it.  Focus on making you better.

Now, because I am a critical thinker, people have sometimes accused me of wanting to be right.  That is often more an expression of their insecurities than anything else.  But, be mindful of it.  It may be an academic exercise or a cerebral game for you, but others may not see it the same way.  They may vest too much of themselves in a position to be willing to explore its weaknesses.  Let them be.  That’s on them, not you.  Note the weakness for yourself and store that knowledge in your mind’s encyclopedia.  Use it to prune your knowledge tree.  If they choose to let a branch of their knowledge tree rot, that’s their problem.  Don’t make it yours.

In other words, hone your social skills.  Some people will like the intellectual exercise and enjoying the mental duels with you.  Others won’t.  It doesn’t matter if they won’t because they have failed to fashion and sharpen their intellectual tools, they are mentally fatigued, or what have you.  Respect their space and their choices.  That’s ultimately what freedom and America is all about.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., and don’t worry if, by your silence, they think you a fool.  You know you’re not.  Who cares what they think.  Anyway, sometimes it is better to be thought a fool than to prove them right.

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4 years, 8 months, and 15 days. Feed the right wolf.

 

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Acting with intention and awareness is the larger concept – and any of us can do that at any time. In a busy, distracting world where any disturbing event anywhere races towards us in a moment, we can proactively care for ourselves. Maybe set aside an urge to stare at repetitive news coverage, take note of whatever has happened with compassion, and then allow our mind to settle before resolving on a next step forward.

As Grandfather suggests in the folk tale, remain aware and feed the wolf of your choosing. Emphasize what is going well without candy-coating the rest. Take action when you can, while firmly making choices about where to give attention in life – and in your mind. Who knows, if enough of us focus on the healthier wolves more of the time, maybe we can even influence the tone and content of tomorrow’s headlines.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/child-development-central/201507/feed-the-right-wolf.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Every day, the world pulls us in a million different directions.  Social media, friends, school, relatives, etc., are constantly telling us how they want us to be.  Wear this t-shirt or you won’t be popular.  Listen to this music and you may be accepted into the in-crowd.  Lash out at that kid who looked at you funny.

Ignore the noise.  Protect yourself if you’re in danger.  Take time to teach others how to treat you if it is necessary — “IF IT IS NECESSARY” is the operative concept.  But, otherwise, ignore the noise.

Too often, people are too busy dealing with their own insecurities to give much thought about you.  Their interactions with you are often an extension of their inner insecurities more than it is something about you.  Don’t let their problems become yours.  That is just wasted efforts.  You are not responsible for them.

You have control only over yourself.  Pay attention to what you are doing, what you are thinking, etc., and make sure the things you do will lead you down the right path towards your goals and dreams.

How you spend your moments is how you’ll spend your life.  Spend it well.

Feed the right wolf.  Only you can do that: no one can do that for you.

All my love, always,

Dad

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4 years, 8 months, and 3 days. Be wary of social media. It is unhealthy.

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I started the research for a book I am writing on how the external world affects our mental health. I wanted to acknowledge the downsides of social media, but to argue that far from being a force for ill,it offers a safe place where the insanities of life elsewhere can be processed and articulated.

But the deeper into the research I went, the harder it was to sustain this argument. Besides the Daily Mail screeching about the dangers, other people – scientists, psychologists, tech insiders and internet users themselves – were highlighting ways in which social media use was damaging health.

Even the internet activist and former Google employee Wael Ghonim – one of the initiators of the Arab spring and one-time poster boy for internet-inspired revolution – who once saw social media as a social cure – now saw it as a negative force. In his eyes it went from being a place for crowdsourcing and sharing, during the initial wave of demonstrations against the Egyptian regime, to a fractious battleground full of “echo chambers” and “hate speech”: “The same tool that united us to topple dictators eventually tore us apart.” Ghonim saw social media polarising people into angry opposing camps – army supporters and Islamists – leaving centrists such as himself stuck in the middle, powerless.

The evidence is growing that social media can be a health risk, particularly for young people who now have all the normal pressures of youth (fitting in, looking good, being popular) being exploited by the multibillion-dollar companies that own the platforms they spend much of their lives on.

Kurt Vonnegut said: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful who we pretend to be.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/06/social-media-good-evidence-platforms-insecurities-health (emphasis added).

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I have always taught you to be your own man and to think for yourselves.  Unfortunately, America is becoming a country of sheep.  Everyone is busy keeping up with the Jones.  Everyone copies the latest fads being religiously followed by everyone else.  Each is afraid to be different from the others for fear of ridicule.

How ironic.  In a country where individualism is touted as the ideal, peer pressure, marketing, and social forces run counter to that ideal, and those who are different are ostracized and rejected.

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But, remember, “a tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.”  Ignore the small-minded. They are insecure and feel good about themselves only by putting others down.  They are nothing.  Give them pity, and no more.  They are not worth your time.

Instead, focus on what you love and on pursuing your dreams.  You will never have to work a day in your life if you do what you love.  I have been blessed in that sense.  I have enjoyed my work and, for the most part, the people with whom I work.  I wish the same for you.

Jonas Salk said, “I have had dreams and I have had nightmares.  I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.”  Dare to chase your dreams, my boys.  The world is full of timid people who live forgetful lives.  Be not like them.  Be like Hunter Thompson.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

Hunter S. Thompson

Get off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other junk.  Those “friends” and “followers” aren’t really your friends.  They won’t recognize you from Adam if you should ever bump into them on the streets.  They neither know your nor care about you and will never lose sleep over your everyday struggles.  Let them be.  Leave them to their virtual worlds.

Live life.  Go outside.  Meet people.  Make friends.  Give a hand to someone in need.  Live!  You’ll be glad you did.  Your life will mean something and will be worth retelling.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 8 months, and 2 days. You know that you shouldn’t be watching pornography and over-sexed TV shows at this age, so don’t.

[A] 2005 study by the London School of Economics found that more affluent children are more likely to have their own computers, and tend to navigate further and more skillfully around the internet. They also spend more time on the web, have better online skills — and are well-versed at evading parental monitoring.

The study of 1,297 children also found that while 57 per cent of the over-nines had seen porn online, only 16 per cent of parents knew. One can only imagine how much higher the number is today, six years later.

In fact, it’s become so widespread that it’s changing our children’s view of what sex is — and what is most worrying is that we don’t even realise it’s happening….

Straight consensual intercourse is almost non-existent because it is considered boring.

Instead, the first glimpse of sex your child is ever likely to see may well be sickening images where women are degraded in the most disturbing ways.

Because we rarely talk about porn with our children, they don’t know it’s fiction and naturally assume it’s what grown-ups actually do.

The sex our daughters hear so much about — and feel so much pressure to take part in — is shown as a brutal sport that men do to women. There’s no kissing, no expressions of love or moments of tenderness.

For children, who are born with an inbuilt sense of right and wrong, these images can be deeply disorientating.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1380257/Is-YOUR-child-watching-porn-The-effects-graphic-sex-images-young-minds.html#ixzz4sQvzg2KQ

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Children as young as 8 and 9 are coming across sexually explicit material on the Internet and in other media. Although research is just beginning to assess the potential damage, there is reason to believe that early exposure to sexual content may have the following undesirable effects:

Early Sex. Research has long established that teens who watch movies or listen to music that glamorizes drinking, drug use or violence tend to engage in those behaviors themselves. A 2012 study shows that movies influence teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors as well. The study, published in Psychological Science, found that the more teens were exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they started having sex and the likelier they were to have casual, unprotected sex.

In another study, boys who were exposed to sexually explicit media were three times more likely to engage in oral sex and intercourse two years after exposure than non-exposed boys. Young girls exposed to sexual content in the media were twice as likely to engage in oral sex and one and a half times more likely to have intercourse. Research also shows that teens who listened to music with degrading sexual references were more likely to have sex than those who had less exposure.

Why are teens more likely to have sex after being exposed to sexual content in the media? Just as we read specific books and show educational movies to our children in hopes that they learn lessons from the characters, the media provides a type of sex education to young people. Media messages normalize early sexual experimentation and portray sex as casual, unprotected and consequence-free, encouraging sexual activity long before children are emotionally, socially or intellectually ready.

High-Risk Sex. The earlier a child is exposed to sexual content and begins having sex, the likelier they are to engage in high-risk sex. Research shows that children who have sex by age 13 are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, engage in frequent intercourse, have unprotected sex and use drugs or alcohol before sex. In a study by researcher Dr. Jennings Bryant, more than 66 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls reported wanting to try some of the sexual behaviors they saw in the media (and by high school, many had done so), which increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Sex, Love and Relationship Addictions. Not every child who is exposed to sexual content will struggle with a mental health disorder, but research shows that early exposure to pornography is a risk factor for sex addictions and other intimacy disorders. In one study of 932 sex addicts, 90 percent of men and 77 percent of women reported that pornography was a factor in their addiction. With the widespread availability of explicit material on the Internet, these problems are becoming more prevalent and are surfacing at younger ages.

Sexual Violence. According to some studies, early exposure (by age 14) to pornography and other explicit material may increase the risk of a child becoming a victim of sexual violence or acting out sexually against another child. For some people, habitual use of pornography may prompt a desire for more violent or deviant material, including depictions of rape, torture or humiliation. If people seek to act out what they see, they may be more likely to commit sexual assault, rape or child molestation.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/real-healing/201208/overexposed-and-under-prepared-the-effects-early-exposure-sexual-content

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Ok, let’s take this issue head on and deal with it.  Not being there and knowing how your mom is hands-off when it comes to your upbringing, I can only assume that you’ve seen porn on the internet and elsewhere.  (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if B, your older but low-minded cousin who used to steal your toys, has even purposefully introduced to you porn.)

You know that X-rated and R-rated movies are restricted to people of certain age (18 and 16, respectively).  Thus, you know that it’s wrong to secretly look for and look at pornographic images and videos when adults are not around.  If you know it’s wrong, don’t do it.  It’s that simple.  Have self control.

The reason porn is restrict to older individuals is because young kids are not mentally prepared to process the images they see.  Porn is like fast food.  It’s stimulates the senses, but is mostly unhealthy and bad for you.

For example, these days, most porn include anal sex as if it’s normal.  It is not.  In fact, the sphincter muscle — which prevents poop from dripping out of you when you are not pooping — can get over-stretched by anal sex and, over time, stop being able to clinch to stop poop from falling out whenever.  Yes, if this happens, the person will end up having to wear diaper to not shit her pants.

Full-thickness rectal prolapse.

If you love or even care about the girl, would you want this to happen to her?  Think about it.

And this is the least of the problems.  For example, the anus and intestine are not meant for sex; thus, they could tear during sex.  Yes, you could have cuts inside your butt.  Worse, the wall of the cavity inside your anus could come out and protrude outside of the anus.  Yes, in essence, the inside of your butt could come out.  Pleasant, eh?  Worst yet, there have been cases where the thin muscle that separates the vagina from the intestine gets torn.  Yes, in those cases, poop comes out of the vagina when the person goes to the bathroom.  It’s not a pleasant image, is it?  Now imagine all the germs and bacteria from one’s feces infecting the womb where babies come from. No, it’s not good.  Would you want the possibility of that happening to someone you love or care about?

Rectal prolapse

For now, I know you’re curious, but I ask that you refrain from watching porn and engaging in premarital sex.  One day, when you are old enough, you will find love that is amazing.  In that loving relationship, the sex will also be amazing because it would be about the expression of love for someone you care deeply about.  It’s worth the wait, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 8 months, and 1 day. Human desires are bottomless pits and trying to fill them is an unending task. Don’t indulge in such inexhaustible pursuits.

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[The problem is we are getting t]oo much dopamine and not enough serotonin, the neurotransmitters of the brain’s “pleasure” and “happiness” pathways… Despite what the telly and social media say, pleasure and happiness are not the same thing. Dopamine is the “reward” neurotransmitter that tells our brains: “This feels good, I want more.” Yet too much dopamine leads to addiction. Serotonin is the “contentment” neurotransmitter that tells our brains: “This feels good. I have enough. I don’t want or need any more.” Yet too little serotonin leads to depression. Ideally, both should be in optimal supply. But dopamine drives down serotonin. And chronic stress drives down both.

Too many of our “simple pleasures” have morphed into something else – a 6.5-oz soda became a 30z Big Gulp drink; an afternoon with friends gave way to 1,000 friendings on Facebook. Each of these momentary pleasures is just that – momentary. But chronic dopamine from your favourite “fix” reduces serotonin and happiness.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/09/pursuit-of-pleasure-modern-day-addiction

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware of the elusive and destructive “pursuit of happiness.”  Don’t buy into the lie.  Happiness is like a butterfly.  No matter how fast you run and how hard you work, it will continue to elude your grasp so long as you chase it.  However, if you bathe, wear bright clothes, find a peaceful spot in the garden, and sit still, you’ll find that butterflies may come to you.

Happiness is like that.  When you are too busy chasing after the things that make you happy, you get caught up in the chase and fail to slow down to enjoy the moments that make up life, those moments in which happiness is hidden and waiting to be discovered.  For example, happiness is being with you, watching you play, hearing you tell your stories and your discoveries, seeing the brightness in your eyes.  The activities in which we are engaged in those moments are unimportant.  If I over-emphasize those activities and put too much import in making sure they are perfect (as we are apt to do), I would have overlooked those moments of happiness from simply being in your presence.

Tips for Getting a Butterfly to Land on You

If you’re lucky, a butterfly might land on you while you are in the exhibit. Though there’s no guarantee this will work but, you can do a few things to increase your chances. The best rule of thumb is to act like a flower:

  • Wear brightly colored clothes. I have a bright yellow and orange tie-dyed shirt that always seems to lure butterflies to me.
  • Smell sweet. If you’re wearing a skin lotion or perfume that smells a bit like flowers, that attract a hungry butterfly.
  • Stay still. Flowers don’t move, so you won’t fool a butterfly if you’re walking around. Find a bench and stay put for a while.

https://www.thoughtco.com/prepare-for-a-visit-butterfly-house-1968200

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgDy-WQnC5M

But, worse, in truth, the “pursuit of happiness” in modern time has turned into nothing but the unrelenting pursuit of pleasure.  We stuff ourselves with Doritos, sodas, and other junk food because food scientists at Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, and elsewhere found the exact chemical formula to ensure those chips, drinks, etc. stimulate our taste buds and ensure we cannot stop at eating just one chip, one sip, etc.  See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html.  Gaming companies spend billions of dollars and countless hours scouring psychological studies and techniques to ensure their games produce the optimum mix of reward and chance to ensure that players would spend hours hooked to the game.  Social media giants are no less devious.

As stated in the Guardian article above, dopamine is the reward neurotransmitter that tells our brain Doritos taste good and you should have another.  Unfortunately, that way lies food addiction and obesity.

On the other hand, serotonin is the contentment neurotransmitter that tells us we’ve had our fill of the good stuff and should stop.  While serotonin cannot be found in chips, sodas, and video games, it can be yours with a massage, meditation, outdoors activities in the bright sunlight, exercise, or a healthy diet.  See, e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/; and, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201111/boosting-your-serotonin-activity.  (Yeah, there’s science behind that as well … the good science, not the science that feeds the greed.)

My sons, don’t feed the black hole that is man’s unquenchable desires.  If you chase after pleasure, you will find it a relentless and endless pursuit.  Our brain is hardwired to adapt, so a new watch or a new game will quickly lose its luster as you adjust to having it and reset your sight on something different. See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/07/magazine/the-futile-pursuit-of-happiness.html.

Still yourself.  Enjoy the moment and the people around you.  Help those less fortunate.  Work with others to build a better community for yourselves.  I promise that you will find the effort extremely rewarding, and happiness will ensues.

All my love, always,

Dad