4 years and 6 days. Self care is critical. Make time to interact with nature and enjoy life.

 

Just looking at nature can help your brain work better, study finds

[T]he psychological benefits of green roofs to busy office workers may also be substantial, according to new research. In a study published in the journal Environmental Psychology, the University of Melbourne’s Kate Lee and a group of colleagues found that interrupting a tedious, attention-demanding task with a 40-second “microbreak” — in which one simply looks at a computerized image of a green roof — improved focus as well as subsequent performance on the task….

Other psychological benefits of nature views have also been captured in recent literature. In one study, research subjects who viewed a 12-minute nature documentary before playing a game that involved managing a fishery resource engaged in more sustainable behavior.

The new study appears to break ground by showing an effect — and a benefit — from a much smaller and shorter-lived nature exposure.

In the research, 150 students were asked to perform a cognitively demanding task called the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART). In the task, respondents view a series of individual numbers, between 1 and 9, on a computer screen. Each number flashes by very rapidly — in under a second — and the research subject has to press a particular keyboard key as rapidly as possible — unless, that is, the number is 3.

In that case, subjects have to catch themselves and not respond — which is difficult to do, given the habit built up of repeatedly and rapidly clicking the key.

This goes on for a large number of trials — 225 of them, requiring about five minutes in total to complete — making the task both difficult and also fairly taxing. No wonder, then, that it is regarded as a test of one’s ability to keep focus and attention over a period of time.

In the current study, students had to complete the SART task not once, but twice. However, they received a 40-second “microbreak” in between the two trials. During that break, their computer screens flashed either to a digital image of a city building roof covered in concrete, or one covered with grass and flowers. Then, they completed the remainder of the SART trial.


The green roof view that half of research subjects observed during their “micro-break.” (University of Melbourne)

Afterward, the students exposed to the green roof scene not only reported that it felt more “restorative,” they performed better on the task. In particular, they showed less fluctuation in response time, and made fewer errors of “omission” — failing to tap the keyboard key when they saw a number other than 3.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/05/26/viewing-nature-can-help-your-brain-work-better-study-finds/?utm_term=.e9487faa71fc

 

 

How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative

We are spending more time indoors and online. But recent studies suggest that nature can help our brains and bodies to stay healthy.

Here are some of the ways that science is showing how being in nature affects our brains and bodies.

1. Being in nature decreases stress

It’s clear that hiking—and any physical activity—can reduce stress and anxiety. But, there’s something about being in nature that may augment those impacts.

In one recent experiment conducted in Japan, participants were assigned to walk either in a forest or in an urban center (taking walks of equal length and difficulty) while having their heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure measured. The participants also filled out questionnaires about their moods, stress levels, and other psychological measures.

Results showed that those who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress), and reported better moods and less anxiety, than those who walked in urban settings. The researchers concluded that there’s something about being in nature that had a beneficial effect on stress reduction, above and beyond what exercise alone might have produced.

In another study, researchers in Finland found that urban dwellers who strolled for as little as 20 minutes through an urban park or woodland reported significantly more stress relief than those who strolled in a city center.

The reasons for this effect are unclear; but scientists believe that we evolved to be more relaxed in natural spaces. In a now-classic laboratory experiment by Roger Ulrich of Texas A&M University and colleagues, participants who first viewed a stress-inducing movie, and were then exposed to color/sound videotapes depicting natural scenes, showed much quicker, more complete recovery from stress than those who’d been exposed to videos of urban settings.

These studies and others provide evidence that being in natural spaces— or even just looking out of a window onto a natural scene—somehow soothes us and relieves stress.

2. Nature makes you happier and less brooding

I’ve always found that hiking in nature makes me feel happier, and of course decreased stress may be a big part of the reason why. But, Gregory Bratman, of Stanford University, has found evidence that nature may impact our mood in other ways, too.

In one 2015 study, he and his colleagues randomly assigned 60 participants to a 50-minute walk in either a natural setting (oak woodlands) or an urban setting (along a four-lane road). Before and after the walk, the participants were assessed on their emotional state and on cognitive measures, such as how well they could perform tasks requiring short-term memory. Results showed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.

In another study, he and his colleagues extended these findings by zeroing in on how walking in nature affects rumination—which has been associated with the onset of depression and anxiety—while also using fMRI technology to look at brain activity. Participants who took a 90-minute walk in either a natural setting or an urban setting had their brains scanned before and after their walks and were surveyed on self-reported rumination levels (as well as other psychological markers). The researchers controlled for many potential factors that might influence rumination or brain activity—for example, physical exertion levels as measured by heart rates and pulmonary functions.

Even so, participants who walked in a natural setting versus an urban setting reported decreased rumination after the walk, and they showed increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain whose deactivation is affiliated with depression and anxiety—a finding that suggests nature may have important impacts on mood.

Bratman believes results like these need to reach city planners and others whose policies impact our natural spaces. “Ecosystem services are being incorporated into decision making at all levels of public policy, land use planning, and urban design, and it’s very important to be sure to incorporate empirical findings from psychology into these decisions,” he says.

3. Nature relieves attention fatigue and increases creativity.

Today, we live with ubiquitous technology designed to constantly pull for our attention. But many scientists believe our brains were not made for this kind of information bombardment, and that it can lead to mental fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout, requiring “attention restoration” to get back to a normal, healthy state.

Strayer is one of those researchers. He believes that being in nature restores depleted attention circuits, which can then help us be more open to creativity and problem-solving.

“When you use your cell phone to talk, text, shoot photos, or whatever else you can do with your cell phone, you’re tapping the prefrontal cortex and causing reductions in cognitive resources,” he says.

In a 2012 study, he and his colleagues showed that hikers on a four-day backpacking trip could solve significantly more puzzles requiring creativity when compared to a control group of people waiting to take the same hike—in fact, 47 percent more. Although other factors may account for his results—for example, the exercise or the camaraderie of being out together—prior studies have suggested that nature itself may play an important role. One in Psychological Science found that the impact of nature on attention restoration is what accounted for improved scores on cognitive tests for the study participants.

This phenomenon may be due to differences in brain activation when viewing natural scenes versus more built-up scenes—even for those who normally live in an urban environment. In a recent study conducted by Peter Aspinall at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and colleagues, participants who had their brains monitored continuously using mobile electroencephalogram (EEG) while they walked through an urban green space had brain EEG readings indicating lower frustration, engagement, and arousal, and higher meditation levels while in the green area, and higher engagement levels when moving out of the green area. This lower engagement and arousal may be what allows for attention restoration, encouraging a more open, meditative mindset.

It’s this kind of brain activity—sometimes referred to as “the brain default network”—that is tied to creative thinking, says Strayer. He is currently repeating his earlier 2012 study with a new group of hikers and recording their EEG activity and salivary cortisol levels before, during, and after a three-day hike. Early analyses of EEG readings support the theory that hiking in nature seems to rest people’s attention networks and to engage their default networks.

Strayer and colleagues are also specifically looking at the effects of technology by monitoring people’s EEG readings while they walk in an arboretum, either while talking on their cell phone or not. So far, they’ve found that participants with cell phones appear to have EEG readings consistent with attention overload, and can recall only half as many details of the arboretum they just passed through, compared to those who were not on a cell phone.

Though Strayer’s findings are preliminary, they are consistent with other people’s findings on the importance of nature to attention restoration and creativity.

“If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do most of the day—and then you set that aside and go on a walk, without all of the gadgets, you’ve let the prefrontal cortex recover,” says Strayer. “And that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.”

4. Nature may help you to be kind and generous

Whenever I go to places like Yosemite or the Big Sur Coast of California, I seem to return to my home life ready to be more kind and generous to those around me—just ask my husband and kids! Now some new studies may shed light on why that is.

In a series of experiments published in 2014, Juyoung Lee, GGSC director Dacher Keltner, and other researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, studied the potential impact of nature on the willingness to be generous, trusting, and helpful toward others, while considering what factors might influence that relationship.

As part of their study, the researchers exposed participants to more or less subjectively beautiful nature scenes (whose beauty levels were rated independently) and then observed how participants behaved playing two economics games—the Dictator Game and the Trust Game—that measure generosity and trust, respectively. After being exposed to the more beautiful nature scenes, participants acted more generously and more trusting in the games than those who saw less beautiful scenes, and the effects appeared to be due to corresponding increases in positive emotion.

In another part of the study, the researchers asked people to fill out a survey about their emotions while sitting at a table where more or less beautiful plants were placed. Afterwards, the participants were told that the experiment was over and they could leave, but that if they wanted to they could volunteer to make paper cranes for a relief effort program in Japan. The number of cranes they made (or didn’t make) was used as a measure of their “prosociality” or willingness to help.

Results showed that the presence of more beautiful plants significantly increased the number of cranes made by participants, and that this increase was, again, mediated by positive emotion elicited by natural beauty. The researchers concluded that experiencing the beauty of nature increases positive emotion—perhaps by inspiring awe, a feeling akin to wonder, with the sense of being part of something bigger than oneself—which then leads to prosocial behaviors.

Support for this theory comes from an experiment conducted by Paul Piff of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues, in which participants staring up a grove of very tall trees for as little as one minute experienced measurable increases in awe, and demonstrated more helpful behavior and approached moral dilemmas more ethically, than participants who spent the same amount of time looking up at a high building.

5. Nature makes you “feel more alive”

With all of these benefits to being out in nature, it’s probably no surprise that something about nature makes us feel more alive and vital. Being outdoors gives us energy, makes us happier, helps us to relieve the everyday stresses of our overscheduled lives, opens the door to creativity, and helps us to be kind to others.

No one knows if there is an ideal amount of nature exposure, though Strayer says that longtime backpackers suggest a minimum of three days to really unplug from our everyday lives. Nor can anyone say for sure how nature compares to other forms of stress relief or attention restoration, such as sleep or meditation. Both Strayer and Bratman say we need a lot more careful research to tease out these effects before we come to any definitive conclusions.

Still, the research does suggest there’s something about nature that keeps us psychologically healthy, and that’s good to know…especially since nature is a resource that’s free and that many of us can access by just walking outside our door. Results like these should encourage us as a society to consider more carefully how we preserve our wilderness spaces and our urban parks.

And while the research may not be conclusive, Strayer is optimistic that science will eventually catch up to what people like me have intuited all along—that there’s something about nature that renews us, allowing us to feel better, to think better, and to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others.

“You can’t have centuries of people writing about this and not have something going on,” says Strayer. “If you are constantly on a device or in front of a screen, you’re missing out on something that’s pretty spectacular: the real world.”

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Go outside.  Get some fresh air.  Wander among the grass and trees.  I cannot emphasize enough how important being connected to nature is to your mental and physical health.

Do you remember how we used to go to the park or on a walk everyday when you were with me?  Do you recall all the trips we made to the beach, even if it were just for the day?  Why do you suppose we did all that?  Did you enjoy our walks and outings?  Why do you suppose that is?  Do you recall all the games we played and made up?   Remember the draw in the sand game, where we each tried to outdo the other with our sand art creatures and story lines?  Nature is stimulating in many ways, right?

Life is hard enough as it is, my sons.  Don’t make it harder than it has to be?  Exercise self-care: do the things that lifts your spirits and improves your physical and mental health.

Yes, I know you enjoy video games.  Fine.  Play video games.  But, limit your screen time!  You know the sedentary lifestyle (where you spend a lot of time indoors and in front of electronic screens) is bad for you.  For example, Johns Hopkins Medical Center found:

What health risks are linked to physical inactivity?

Lack of physical activity has clearly been shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other conditions:

  • Less active and less fit people have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Physical activity can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Studies show that physically active people are less likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who are inactive. This is even after researchers accounted for smoking, alcohol use, and diet.
  • Lack of physical activity can add to feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Physical inactivity may increase the risk of certain cancers.
  • Physically active overweight or obese people significantly reduced their risk for disease with regular physical activity.
  • Older adults who are physically active can reduce their risk for falls and improve their ability to do daily activities.

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/risks_of_physical_inactivity_85,P00218

After a short time on video games, turn them off.  Exercise self-control.  Go outside.

Be well, my sons.  Be happy.  Do what you need to make yourself happy.  No one can do that for you, but you.  Miserable people are miserable because they make themselves miserable.  They look for others to cheer them up, but those interactions can only momentary episodes of respite from their misery because they are ultimately miserable within their own skin.

Don’t be like them.  Find joy in every thing you do.  We did that often remember?  We had fun even doing the dishes, setting the table, or cleaning up after dinner, remember?  Why?  We enjoyed ourselves and each other’s company?  Life doesn’t have to be that hard.

Exercise self-care and make yourself feel better.  Do this everyday!

All my love, always,

Dad

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

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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 the great injustices inflicted upon the weak by the powerful and greedy, to help the homeless, to protect the abused, etc.  These days, I just want my sons, a clean sidewalk, a patch of grass that is litter-free, hope for the future, 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 roommates who attended GU Law.  We agreed GU has 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 classmates’ notes, and sabotage other students.  No doubt GU Law students are smart people — they gained admission to a top-tier program.  However, their conducts also revealed their insecurities.  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.

Thankfully, not every one sees the world that way.  In graduate school for a social program at Duke University, for example, during the first week of school, we were given an assignment and the manual for SPSSx — a statistical analysis program used for, among other things, multi-variable programing and data analysis.  None of us were computer programmers.  None of us had programming experience.  The manual was gibberish to us — we might as well be learning Chinese.  In the Computer Lab, some of the girls cried out of frustration.  Others stewed.  (Remember, all of us were used to success and smart enough to gain admission to that top-ranked graduate program at Duke University!)  After a while, someone brought music. Others brought beer.  Slowly, as a group, we worked together to decipher that manual and teach each other SPSSx.

Success doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.  If you help nurture others and surround yourselves with bright and capable people, think how much more you could accomplish as a group versus on your own.  Each of us bring different strengths to the table.  Why not utilize the different skill sets for the good of the group?  Insecure people tear down others.  Secure people understands the value of working together with others and that other’s gifts do not necessarily diminish their own.

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

 

 

 

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 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 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.

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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 22 days. Have a fun and safe Halloween! Stay away from drugs and druggies.

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These Photos Show How Heroin, Cocaine and Oxycodone Change Your Appearance Over Time

http://time.com/35726/these-photos-show-how-heroin-cocaine-and-oxycodone-change-your-appearance-over-time/

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Do you boys remember our Halloweens together at the OG house?  Remember the decor — spider webs, huge spider, tombstones, ghost mirror?  Do you remember going trick-or-treating with our friends and neighbors, then having a party afterwards?  Those are good times, weren’t they?

I want you boys to have fun and enjoy life, but stay away from drugs, thugs, and all bad elements.  Growing up, my mother always said, “You get stained by being around ink, but enlightened when basking in the light.”

That adage has always guided my choice of friends.  I religiously stayed away from bad elements.  Nothing good can come of being around them.  Your cousin, A, learned that the hard way.  He is now a convicted felon because the police found lots of drugs in the car he was in, and they accused all the occupants of being drug dealers.  We don’t know if your cousin on your mother’s side was involved in selling drugs, but he should have known those “friends” were bad news and stayed away.  Now, he must carry the badge of “felon” for the rest of his life.  He must disclose that on job applications, school applications, etc.

Find good people to befriend — people who challenge you to be better.  We are influenced by those around us, so why not be near positive influences instead of negative influences?  In graduate school and law school, my friends often encouraged me to extend myself and stretch my horizons simply by being themselves.  I tried out for musicals and plays, volunteered more and with different types of organizations, etc., because my friends inspired me.

You get stained by being around ink, but enlightened when basking in the light.  (“Gần mực thì đen, gần đèn thì sáng.”)

People are known by the company they keep.

It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you work with turkeys.

Aesop’s Fable:  The Ass and His Purchaser

A man wished to purchase an Ass (a Donkey), and decided to give the animal a test before buying him. He took the Ass home and put him in the field with his other Asses.

The new Ass strayed from the others to join the one that was the laziest and the biggest eater of them all.

Seeing this, the man led him back to his owner. When the owner asked how he could have tested the Ass in such a short time, the man answered, “I didn’t even need to see how he worked. I knew he would be just like the one he chose to be his friend.”

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Keep good company, my sons.

All  my love, always

Dad