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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https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/f891f-manners-quote.jpg?w=1516&h=930

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

 

 

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4 years, 9 months, and 23 days. Embrace who you are! You are beautiful inside and out. Ignore idiots who say otherwise.

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27 Asian Leading Men Who Deserve More Airtime

Asian actors don’t often get starring roles in Hollywood, but these guys — American and otherwise — prove they’re leading men too.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mattortile/asian-leading-men-who-deserve-more-airtime?utm_term=.kh76aeev2v#.asewAOO606

 

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13 Asians On Identity And The Struggle Of Loving Their Eyes

“I used to use Scotch tape to make my eyes bigger. Then I said, ‘Hey, this is your face. This is how you look.’”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/asian-american-eyes-photos_us_59f79448e4b0aec1467a3270.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Let’s face it.  There will always be stupid, ignorant, and racist people.  You can find them in every corner of the world.  As with all life forms, there are those who/which are more evolved and higher functioning, then there are the weaker and lower functioning ones.  You see it in dogs, termites, plants, etc.  They simply exist.

But, their existence doesn’t define you.  You are who you are.  You can no more change who you are than a tiger can change its stripes.  Yes, you can make cosmetic changes (e.g., dye the coat of the tiger), but that doesn’t a tiger into something other than a tiger.  Likewise, putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a pig.

https://thinktext.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/lipstick-on-a-pig5.jpg?w=656

Embrace who you are.  You are Vietnamese-Americans, and you come from good stock.  Your great-great-great grandfather was the first Secretary of Treasury for the country.  Your great-great-great uncle was Vietnam’s representative to the French Parliament.  Your great grandfather was a doctor.  Both of your grandfathers were accomplished and learned men.  More than half a dozen of your aunts and uncles on my side of the family hold a doctorate or graduate degree from some of the top programs in the U.S.  Collectively, we have spent tens of thousands of hours saving or improving the lives of orphans, refugees, victims of domestic violence, the homeless, the elderly, the poor, and the disenfranchised.

Like my siblings, I hold a doctorate and matriculated at some of the top schools in the U.S.  Like my father, mother, and siblings, I have spent thousands of hours volunteering to help — and working to improve policies relating to — the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised, and the hard-working members of society.  Federal employment and immigration laws in the U.S., for example, bear my imprints from my years working for and with the U.S. Congress.  In addition, among other things, I have helped those abused by their governments find new lives in countries of asylum, fed the poor, prevented the homeless from freezing to death on cold winter nights, protected victims of domestic abuse, and helped build homes for the disenfranchised.  (My only regret is that I didn’t engage you boys in these activities when I was with you, thinking you were too young.  You are never too young to help others.)

Hold your heads high.  You come from good stock and have nothing to be ashamed of.

Life can throw us curve balls, but the truth eventually prevails.  Recall how I fought the Enron of Healthcare for five years (both from within and without) to stop them from cheating and harming the sick and dying?  They lied, cheated, and stole from the sick and dying, but government regulators ultimately validated everything I said about those scums and more.  The truth will prevail this time as well.

Remember, what people say and do is a reflection of THEM … not you!  Stupid and ignorant people make stupid and ignorant remarks because they are stupid and ignorant.  That’s their problem, not yours.  Why should you make it your problem?  Don’t ever do that.  Remember, you have control only over yourself, and no one else.  Let others own their problems.

Be proud of who you are.  Be you, but be the best you.  Strive to improve yourself every day, and ignore the less evolved and lower functioning.  Why bother with them?  You are not responsible for teaching them.  If they ask for your help, then, by all means, help them if you want.  But, if they insist on being stupid and ignorant, let them.  If they fight for their limitations, let them keep it.

I am always proud of you, my sons.

All my love, always

Dad

4 years, 9 months, and 18 days. Don’t embrace the suck!

https://i2.wp.com/desperatelyseekingsuperwoman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/%E2%80%9CArgue-for-your-limitations-and-you-get-to-keep-them.%E2%80%9D-1.jpg

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If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.

The Internship

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Truer words have rarely been uttered, my sons.  You see it daily — people making excuses for themselves and their bad behaviors.

If it happens to you, just walk away.  Don’t bother to argue with them.  Let them keep their flaws and their limitations.  They’ll never change and become better if they keep making excuses for themselves.  Walk away.  There are better people out there to befriend.

Don’t embrace the suck… not in you, not in anyone else.  If it sucks, why would you want to keep it or be around it?  If it’s not working, let it go.

Remember my note the other day about kaizen — continuous incremental improvement?  Embrace that!  Just work on being better today than you were yesterday.  If you pigged out on ice cream yesterday and felt sick from over eating, take one bite fewer today.  That’s not hard, right?  If you didn’t exercise at all yesterday, do one push up today.  Just one.  Tomorrow, try two.  You aren’t too busy for one push up, are you?

https://happsters.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/snapshot-1915-529-pm.jpeg?w=942&h=947

https://i2.wp.com/www.thequotepedia.com/images/68/time-is-the-coin-of-your-life-you-spend-it-do-not-allow-others-to-spend-it-for-you.jpg

Don’t embrace the suck, my sons.  Spend your time wisely.  Be the person you want to be, and can be.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 9 months, and 14 days. Know your limitations.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Life demands much of us, doesn’t it?  We are constantly bombarded by demands from all sides: “Do your homework,” says the teacher; “You need more sleep as teenagers!” says your pediatrician; “You gotta try this new game,” says the “Cool” kids; “Facebook is so yesterday — do Instagram,” says a friend; “Get off social media,” says the dad; etc.

How do you manage?  Who should you listen to?  Who can you trust?

That, my sons, is a challenge you’ll face for the rest of your life.  There will always be talking heads telling you what to do, what to buy, what to wear, what to say, what to eat, etc.

But, always remember, you are in charge of you — and no one else.  That means you are not in charge of anyone else, and that no one else is in charge of you!

As we say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”  You choose what you do and what you don’t do.  Take responsibility for your choices.  Don’t blame anyone else.  Losers spend often spend their entire lives blaming others for their mistakes.  Don’t be like them.

So, how do you make the right choices in life?  Well, life offers few certainty, so (1) you must make the (2) best decision (3) based on (4) the best information (5) you have at the time.

As you can see, there are a number of elements to this decision-making process. Let’s go through them one by one.

First and foremost, YOU must decided.  Don’t let others decide for you.  If you do, then the fault resides with YOU because YOU abdicated your personal responsibility — you chose to let someone else decide your fate.

Second, you must make the best decision possible.  Sometimes, flipping a coin may be the best choice when you are faced with two equally attractive or unattractive options and indecision is hurting you.  Choose and move on.  The moment of absolute certain will never (or rarely) arrive.  But, use this method extremely sparingly.

Think critically about your choices:

  • What data do you have?
  • What data don’t you have?
  • What data can be obtained and at what cost (in terms of time and expenses)?
  • What data are simply unavailable?
  • What is it that you don’t know about that could or would affect your decision-making process?

Think critically, methodically, and deliberately.  Shosh, when you were 3 or 4 years old, my staff were so impressed when you answered their questions in an organized and orderly fashion.  For example, you’d say, “Well, there are three reasons why I like X.  First, ….”  Keep doing that.

When you make your decision, make sure it is BASED on sound reasons.  Don’t make knee-jerk reactions.  Don’t make rash decisions because someone else is yanking your chains — emotionally, physically, or otherwise.

Stop. Think.  Assess.  Decide.

Make sure your analysis is based on the BEST information available.  Use reliable and reputable sources to obtain your data.  Don’t rely on hearsay, fly-by-night bloggers, charlatans, talking heads, etc.  Again, there is no guarantee that even the most reputable of sources won’t make mistakes, but life is a game of chance and all you can do it maximize your chances of getting the  right information on which to base your decisions.

Lastly, never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Perfection is rarely achieved and rarely possible.  Go with the best you have at the time.  Now, since time is obviously an important factor, make sure you give yourselves sufficient time to conduct your research, make your analyses, and decide.  Don’t wait until the last minute, then flip a coin because you have no data on which to make your decision and, as a result, all the options appear the same to you.

Obviously, this is an involved process and you cannot engage in such a process for every decision in life.  For less critical decisions, rely on less demanding processes.  Where possible, use reputable and trustworthy substitutes for parts of your data-collection and analyses.  For example, if I want to buy a new laptop, I read reviews by PC Magazine, ZDNet, Gizmodo, etc.  They have built a reputation as experts; thus, it would not be unreasonable to rely on their expert opinions as part of my analysis.

Now, this is where it can become tricky.  Not all “experts” are the “experts” they claim to be.  Below is a good example.

Revenge of the Lizard Brain

[B]ack in the ‘60s, ..: Paul MacLean [proffered the now] infamous “Triune Brain” theory, whose basic idea is that every human brain contains three independent competing minds – the reptile, the early mammal, and the modern primate….

Problem is, MacLean’s pet hypothesis doesn’t hold up under scrutiny….

How is it, then, that modern authors as educated as Seth Godin and Rick Hanson (among others) are writing entire essays that present “the lizard brain” as well-documented scientific fact? How does Godin keep a straight face onstage [giving a TED talk] as he tells us that “the lizard is a physical part of your brain” and that “the reason we call wild animals ‘wild’ is because they have lizard brains”?

It’s because the idea makes a weird kind of intuitive sense. We’re bundles of instincts and inhibitions and desires that don’t fit neatly together. It’d be comforting, in a way, if we could pin those conflicts on little lizard brains – just name those ancient demons and drive ‘em out, like we did in simpler times.

Whether we like it or not, though, the lizard is simply us. Every habit and hangup, every dread and desire in our minds is dependent on neural pathways that were once laid down by our personal experiences. Like every other organism on earth, we carry the history of a long, successful lineage in our genetic and biological makeup. The question of what to do with those resources, though, isn’t predetermined by the past. It’s up to you.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/revenge-of-the-lizard-brain/

See, also, https://www.ted.com/speakers/seth_godin; http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/01/quieting-the-lizard-brain.html; and, http://www.eruptingmind.com/beating-the-reptilian-brain/.

How do we know?  By trial and error.  By the use of your best judgement.  By staying current regarding new research findings.  By doing the best you can with the limited amount of time and resources you have available.

But, also, remember your own limitations, biases, etc.  For example,

Study: Teens’ View of Fairness Shifts as Brain Develops

When it comes to the concept of fairness, teenagers’ ability to consider the intentions of others appears to be linked to structural changes in the brain, according to a study led by Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Luke Chang.

The research found that cortical thinning of specific areas of the brain from youth into young adulthood corresponded to the transition from an emphasis on equality in all transitions to a more complex consideration of the intentions of others in exchanges. This developmental change in the social brain continued through late adolescence, the researchers said.

“We were surprised that this shift in preference for considering others’ intentions occurred so late in development,” Chang says. “This finding has potential implications regarding how much autonomy this age group should be given when making important social and ethical decisions, such as purchasing weapons, going to war, and serving on juries.”

https://news.dartmouth.edu/news/2017/09/study-teens-view-fairness-shifts-brain-develops

You are in your teens.  Your brain continues to develop and change.  Certain limitations result from this process.  Acknowledge it.  Incorporate it into your analysis.  For example, it may necessitate you seeking additional counsel of a trusted source to counteract a known weakness.  There is no shame in that.

At the end of the day, own your decisions and learn from your mistakes.  Don’t let hard choices hold you back from doing what you must to achieve your dreams, to do the right thing, etc.

Winners do.  Losers whine and blame others.

Live well, and be happy, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., below is a poem I like which touches on this issue of limited time to make our moves in life.

Andrew Marvell. 1621–1678
357. To His Coy Mistress
HAD we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side          5
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.   10
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,   15
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.   20
  But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,   25
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:   30
The grave ‘s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
  Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires   35
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.   40
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun   45
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

4 year, 9 months, and 3 days. Be bold.

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https://i2.wp.com/www.randomnotesofgratitude.com/system/images/BAhbB1sHOgZmSSI5MjAxMy8xMi8wOS8yM18yMl8yNl85MzNfQWxhbl9BbGRhX1F1b3RlX01vZGlmaWVkLmpwZwY6BkVUWwg6BnA6CnRodW1iSSINNDUweDQ1MD4GOwZG/Alan%20Alda%20Quote%20Modified.jpg

A few years ago, at Easter dinner with my in-laws, I noticed my husband’s grandmother dipping pieces of yellow cake into her glass of soda. She’s a woman of nearly 90 with a preternatural grip for hugs and pinching cheeks but, in this, she was gentle: letting each bite soak into her orange Crush, allowing it to achieve full saturation before popping it in her mouth.

“Ew, Nonna!” someone chuckled in protest. But it was her table and home, and she’d apparently been doing this for years, so no one said much more about it.

Some seasons later, maybe a Thanksgiving, my other nonna-in-law did something similar with her dinner roll, tearing it into strips and letting the red wine from her glass climb up into the bread before eating it. This time, I resolved that I would ask why. But first — wanting my question to come across as the genuine curiosity it was, rather than an accusation of bad table manners — I decided to try it myself.

Those first few dips completely changed the way I eat at family meals. Part of what won me over was the pleasure of the thing itself: Wine-soaked bread is sharp, puckery and delicious, a double hit of fermented tang. But more important, I soon came to realize, was the role it can play in pacing out a marathon meal.

.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be bold.  Don’t be timid.  There is no rehearsal in life.  This is it.  You get one chance to make the most of each moment because you can never have that moment back.  Try new things and new ways of doing things.  If you fail, fail spectacularly, then try again.

Don’t fear failure.  How else would you learn what works?

https://i0.wp.com/quotespictures.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/i-have-not-failedive-just-found-10000-ways-that-wont-work-inspirational-quote.jpg

Don’t worry about what other people think or say?  They have their own crosses to bear and who knows how well they carry on with their own burdens?  They have their own lives to live.  Let them worry their insecurities and failures.  You just focus on what you have control over:  yourself.

Do your best.  The hell with the rest.

https://i0.wp.com/www.baselinemag.com/imagesvr_ce/845/2012_bsl_FailuresBehindSuccess_01.jpg

https://i0.wp.com/baysidejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/celebrating-failure.jpg

What is the commonality of those listed above?  They tried and failed, but never gave up.  Be persistent.  Be bold.  Be you.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

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

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https://i.pinimg.com/236x/a8/63/81/a86381da9b7fbbd4cd1779acd0597ee5.jpg

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, 9 months, and 1 day. Make it your goal to be better today than you were yesterday.

 

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

So it is with life.  Take it one step at a time.  Nothing changes overnight … not even you (even cosmetic surgery takes days).

Have you noticed how difficult it is to keep your New Year’s resolution about studying better, playing video games less, etc.?  That’s because most of us have these grandiose plans (like “I’ll lose 35 pound this year” or “I’m going to get straight A’s this quarter”) and find it very hard to follow through.

That’s because we’re creatures of habit.  We gain weight or hold our weight steady because of our eating habits.  Our grades in school are a reflection of our study habits.  We cannot expect a different result if we keep doing the same thing — by force of habit.

Unfortunately, habits don’t change overnight.  People say, it takes 21 days to form a habit, but that’s a misinterpretation of the originating study.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonselk/2013/04/15/habit-formation-the-21-day-myth/#6160c47debc4.

Most people believe that habits are formed by completing a task for 21 days in a row. Twenty-one days of task completion, then voila, a habit is formed. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. The 21-day myth began as a misinterpretation of Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s work on self-image. Maltz did not find that 21 days of task completion forms a habit. People wanted it to be true so much so, however, that the idea began to grow in popularity.

Tom Bartow, who successfully started advanced training for Edward Jones and has since become a highly sought after business coach, developed the following model of what habit formation really looks like:

 The 3 phases of habit formation:

Phase 1: THE HONEYMOON

This phase of habit formation is characterized by the feeling of “this is easy.” As all married people will tell you, at some point even the greatest honeymoon must end. The honeymoon phase is usually the result of something inspiring. For example, a person attends a highly motivational conference, and for the first few days after the conference the individual is making positive changes in his or her life.

 Phase 2: THE FIGHT THRU

Inspiration fades and reality sets in. A person finds himself struggling with the positive habit completion and old habits seem to be right around the corner. The key to moving to the third phase of habit formation is to win 2 or 3 “fight thru’s.” This is critical. To win the fight thru, use the following techniques:

  1. RECOGNIZE: Recognition is essential for winning the fight thru. When you have entered the fight through, simply say to yourself, “I have entered the fight thru, and I need to win a few to move past this.” Winning each fight thru will make it easier to win the next. Conversely, when you choose to lose a fight thru, you make it easier to lose the next one.
  2. ASK 2 QUESTIONS: “How will I feel if I do this?” and “How will I feel if I don’t do this?” Bring EMOTION into the equation. Let yourself feel the positive in winning the fight thru and the negative in losing.
  3. LIFE PROJECTION: If the above 2 techniques haven’t moved you to action, then imagine in great detail how your life will be in 5 years if you do not begin making changes. Be totally honest with yourself, and allow yourself to feel what life will be like if the changes are not made.

Phase 3: SECOND NATURE

Entering second nature is often described by feelings of “getting in the groove.” Once in second nature, the following are 3 common interruptions that will send a person back to the fight thru:

  1. THE DISCOURAGEMENT MONSTER: An individual allows negative results discourage him or her into thinking, “This isn’t working, and there is nothing I can do.”
  2. DISRUPTIONS: An individual experiences significant change to his or her current pattern (e.g., vacations, holidays, illness, weekends).
  3. SEDUCTION OF SUCCESS: An individual begins to focus on positive results and begins to think, “I’m the special one. I have finally figured out how to have great results with not so great process.”

If a person experiences an interruption that sends him or her back to the fight thru, winning 2 or 3 fight thru’s will bring him or her back to second nature.

Most people want positive habits to be as easy as brushing their teeth. HELLO…LET’S BE ADULTS HERE…being great isn’t easy. In fact greatness requires sacrifice. It requires doing things that others won’t or can’t do. GREAT HABITS ARE FORMED DAILY. Truth be told, good habits require consistent commitment. Highly successful people have learned to develop good habits. Make the commitment to make it past the fight thru, no matter how many times you go back to it, to reach new levels of success.

I like that: “greatness requires sacrifice.  It requires doing things that others won’t or can’t do.  GREAT HABITS ARE FORMED DAILY.

There is a concept out there that might help.  It’s contained in the title of this blog.  It’s called the Kaizen method.  In essence, it’s the power of continuous incremental improvement.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  You’re more likely to follow through if your goals are simple and achievable.  For example, if you want a stronger core, have it a goal to hold a plank position for 30 seconds.  Do it tomorrow when you first get out of bed.  It’s only 30 seconds.  Then, increase that pose by 30 additional seconds everyday.  It’s only 30 seconds more.

Likewise, if you want better grades, for example, start by spending 5 minutes everyday (1) thinking about the (a) main points of your readings, (b) what the teacher wanted you to get out of that reading, (c) what the key points of the reading was, and (2) making good  notes.  Being able (1) to extract the (a) important points from your readings and (b) how those points relate to the overall goal of the class or the body of knowledge you’re trying to learn and being able (2) to retrieve that information are more important how much time you spend reading or how fast you read.

Make it a habit to spend more time THINKING about what you read instead of the mindless process of reading and highlighting without real comprehension of what the material says and how it relates to other things you’ve studied.  Every subsequent day, make it a goal to increase the amount of thinking time by 5 minutes.  You’ll find that, over time, you’ll understand more about what you read, and that you remember more about what you read.  I guarantee that there have been times when you have highlighted a significant portion of a page only to discover that you remember nothing about the highlighted portion: you had to reread it.  That is inefficient.

Learning requires engagement.  Think.  Use your head.  Ask yourself what the point of each paragraph was about.  What was the topic and what was the author trying to convey about that topic in that paragraph?  How did that paragraph relate to the preceding paragraph?  How did that paragraph relate to the author’s thesis statement or overall argument?

Use the Cornell method to take notes.  It will help guide you.  I promise that if you keep working to improve a little bit everyday, you’ll look back one day and be amazed at how far you had progressed.

Be better today than you were yesterday with respect to that one thing you’re trying to change.  What do you have to lose?  It’s only 30 seconds or 5 minutes.  But, if you follow through, the results will be amazing!

All my love, always,

Dad