4 years, 5 months, and 15 days. Be bored. Let your mind wander. It helps you grow.

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The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-21895704

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It’s summer time.  Remember our last summer together when we visited as many waterways as we could?  We caught fish and crawdads at Scotts Mills, remember?  The water was cold, wasn’t it?  But, it was so much fun!  Even Little V waded into the water.

That’s what summers are for … exploration, trials, and growth.  Reduce your screen time, boys.  Remember, spend no more than 2 hours of screen time TOTAL!  That includes television as well as video games, computer, etc.

Why?  It’s simple: your brain needs down time to process information about the world around you, about you, etc.  Years ago, during a psychological experiment, researchers examined the brain activities of people under MRI as they were told to focus on certain stimuli.  However, during the brief period in between the experiments, when there was a lull, the entire brain lit up.  That was unexpected.  What where learning now is that there might be organized into two separate systems: one system (extrinsic) that operates when we’re actively focusing on a task, and an intrinsic or default system that operates when we are at rest.  Scientists now believe it is when our brain is at rest (during down time, when our mind wander) that the brain works on the self, on defining who we are, etc.

Dr Josipovic’s research is part of a larger effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain.

He says the brain appears to be organised into two networks: the extrinsic network and the intrinsic, or default, network.

Image caption Dr Josipovic has scanned the brains of more than 20 experienced meditators during the study

The extrinsic portion of the brain becomes active when individuals are focused on external tasks, like playing sports or pouring a cup of coffee.

The default network churns when people reflect on matters that involve themselves and their emotions.

But the networks are rarely fully active at the same time. And like a seesaw, when one rises, the other one dips down.

This neural set-up allows individuals to concentrate more easily on one task at any given time, without being consumed by distractions like daydreaming.

“What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says.

Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation – that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously.

And Dr Josipovic believes this ability to churn both the internal and external networks in the brain concurrently may lead the monks to experience a harmonious feeling of oneness with their environment.

Self-reflection

Scientists previously believed the self-reflective, default network in the brain was simply one that was active when a person had no task on which to focus their attention.

But researchers have found in the past decade that this section of the brain swells with activity when the subject thinks about the self.

The default network came to light in 2001 when Dr Marcus Raichle, a neurologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in the US state of Missouri, began scanning the brains of individuals who were not given tasks to perform.

The patients quickly became bored, and Dr Raichle noticed a second network, that had previously gone unnoticed, danced with activity. But the researcher was unclear why this activity was occurring.

Other scientists were quick to suggest that Dr Raichle’s subjects could have actually been thinking about themselves.

Soon other neuroscientists, who conducted studies using movies to stimulate the brain, found that when there was a lull of activity in a film, the default network began to flash – signalling that research subjects may have begun to think about themselves out of boredom.

But Dr Raichle says the default network is important for more than just thinking about what one had for dinner last night.

“Researchers have wrestled with this idea of how we know we are who we are. The default mode network says something about how that might have come to be,” he says.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-12661646

Be bored, boys.  Let your mind wander and your imagination roam.  Don’t buy into the false gods and false promises of electronics.  The answers to life’s major questions do not lie there.  They lie out in the world.  Go explore.  Live.  Use your imagination.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 5 months, and 7 days. Choose good friends: they’ll enrich your life.

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Do you believe that blood is thicker than water? That your family relationships are more important than friends? Well, think again. Research from Michigan State University suggests that friends may make you happier and healthier than your relatives.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/12/does-family-make-you-happier-than-friends

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for the long absence.  It has been busy and I have been exhausted by day’s end.  Even though I have neither strength nor mental clarity to write you, my thoughts do not stray far from you.  There is a place in my heart where only you can reside.  It will never be filled by anyone else.

The days may be long and exhausting, but I am at least slightly happier because I have supportive friends.  Don’t ever underestimate the importance of friendship, my sons.  Good friends are the spices that add flavor to your life, the winds that lift you to dizzying heights and the safety lines that catches you should you fall, and the mirrors that truthfully reflect back how you are presenting yourself to the world.  They will be there with you through thick and thin.

But, beware false friends.  They may tell you what you want to hear, but their hearts do not belong to you.  They may be fair weather friends, who will only be there with you during the good times to share a laugh.  That’s fine, but know that is their true aim and purpose.  Don’t be disappointed when they abandon you during difficult times.  These are not true friends, but are more like acquaintances.

I find it best to find and surround myself with good people and true friends who inspire me to be better.  Such are often hard to find, but they are worth their weight in gold.  Treat them with kindness and respect, and care and feeding.  Cultivate those friendship and protect them as you would treasure — for that is what they are.

Good and supportive friends bring you as much health and happiness as you do them.  On the other hand, bad people are never worthy of the label friends.  Stay away from them.  They are not the harbinger of joy and good health, but of their opposites.  For example, a recent headline states:

Guilty Verdict for Young Woman Who Urged Friend to Kill Himself.

This is a misuse of the much coveted label of friendship.  That woman was never a friend.  She was anything but a friend.  Beware of the likes of her.

All my love, always,

Dad

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

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

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

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

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

My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

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

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

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

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

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Embrace your heritage and your bicultural background.

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It has long been known that there are many advantages to being bicultural such as having a greater number of social networks, being aware of cultural differences, taking part in the life of two or more cultures, being an intermediary between cultures, and so on. Recent research shows that biculturals are also characterized by greater creativity and professional success.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual/201304/advantages-being-bicultural

 

One advantage of being bicultural may be the ability to take the “best” of both cultures. A 2003 study showed that pregnant Mexican-American women who were more “selectively bicultural” – adopting specific health-related beliefs and practices from both cultures – were less stressed overall.

If that’s not enough, here’s one more benefit of being bicultural: creativity. Research published in 2012 found that people who identified with both their “home” and their “host” cultures scored higher on several measures of creativity compared with those who were were either assimilated to or separated from their host culture.

https://blog.allpsych.com/the-benefits-of-biculturalism/

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It always make me sad when I see people deny who they are.  I cannot help but think they must carry such shame of themselves that it forces them to deny their own heritage.  Your bi-racial cousins, for example, appear to have deleted from their social media almost all traces of their dad’s side of the family.  Unfortunately, one but has to look at them and know they are bi-racial.

Don’t be like that.  Embrace who you are.  You come from good stock and are  well-raised.  Our culture is thousands of years old, and your forebears had held high posts within the country.  We now have also gained a measure of success in America.

You are the product of all that history and culture.  You now have the benefit of picking the best from each culture and being better than each.  Further, as the above graphics demonstrate, being bilingual gives you concrete benefits that give you advantages today and in the days ahead.

Embrace your special gifts.  Don’t ever deny who you are.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years and 3 months. Challenge yourselves and grow.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope you are well today.  Recently, a neighborhood kid encountered some personal challenges, and his parents responded by clearing his plates of all challenging matters and telling him it is not necessary for him to challenge himself regarding anything.  That struck me as a less than ideal strategy.

Today, another neighborhood kid shared with me his excitement at achieving something I’d shown him how to do earlier.  This struck me as being the natural order of things.  See, e.g., https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience/201202/summer-camps-make-kids-resilient.

Kids need challenges in order to learn and grow.  Denying them challenges is to deny them opportunities to grow.

Life is but a series of challenges.  If you love your children, prepare them for life.  Don’t hobble them by removing the challenges and making their lives easy.

“Per aspera ad astra, Papa,’ I whispered. Through hardship to the stars.”
― Ruta Sepetys

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
― Seneca

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
― Helen Keller

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
― Paulo Coelho

“If we are not allowed to deal with small problems, we will be destroyed by slightly larger ones. When we come to understand this, we live our lives not avoiding problems, but welcoming them as challenges that will strengthen us so that we can be victorious in the future.”
― Jim Stovall

Embrace challenge, my sons.  Be persistent.  Live fully.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

3 years, 10 months, and 21 days. Kent M. Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, I am sharing wise words from Dr. Keith about how to give your life meaning.  Life is about finding what works for you, being your personal best, and making the world a better place.  Don’t worry about others. The small-minded detractors and nay-sayers will always be there.  Ignore them.  The people who matter, the high-minded humanists, will notice, even if they say nothing.  But, that too doesn’t matter.  Live well, and you’ll know you did right: that should be enough.

Beauty comes from within.  Feed your soul with goodness.

Without further ado, I give you Dr. Keith:

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

 

Over the past forty-five years, Dr. Keith has published articles for newspapers, magazines, and professional journals; poetry; conference papers; and ten books.

Dr. Keith’s first book was a student leadership manual, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council, published by Harvard Student Agencies in 1968, when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard. This is the book for which he wrote the Paradoxical Commandments. A revised edition was published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in 1972. Approximately 30,000 copies of the two editions of the booklet were sold or distributed throughout the United States between 1968 and the mid-seventies.

In 1969, Dr. Keith wrote another student leadership booklet, The Silent Majority: The Problem of Apathy and the Student Council, which was used in workshops and then published by NASSP in 1972. This book urged students to reach out to their fellow students and link up with their interests and needs, so that the student council can fulfill its noblest purpose: people helping people. New editions of The Silent Revolution and The Silent Majority were published by Terrace Press in 2003 and 2004.

In 1997, Dr. Keith learned that Mother Teresa had put a copy of the Paradoxical Commandments up on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta. This inspired him to write his national bestselling book, Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments, which was published in 2002. The book is an introduction to the Paradoxical Commandments, including some of the events in Dr. Keith’s early life that shaped the creation of the commandments in the sixties. The book has been translated and published in 17 different languages. His narration of Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments won a national “Audie” award from the Audio Publishers Association as the best audiobook of 2003 in the personal development/motivational category.

Dr. Keith continued to explore the Paradoxical Commandments in three subsequent books. Do It Anyway: The Handbook for Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness in a Crazy World was published in 2003, Jesus Did It Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments for Christians was published in 2005, and Have Faith Anyway: The Vision of Habakkuk for Our Times was published in 2008.

In 2003, Dr. Keith created “The Universal Moral Code” while writing about morality and ethics. The code is featured in his book Morality and Morale: A Business Tale, published in 2012. Dr. Keith believes that living a moral life is energizing and meaningful, as well as being the key to long-term personal and organizational success.

For the past twenty-five years, Dr. Keith has been a passionate advocate for servant leadership. His publications on the topic include The Case for Servant Leadership (2008/revised in 2012); Servant Leadership in the Boardroom: Fulfilling the Public Trust (2011); Questions and Answers about Servant Leadership (2012); The Ethical Advantage of Servant Leadership: Guiding Principles for Organizational Success (2013); and The Christian Leader at Work: Serving by Leading (2015).

3 years, 10 months, and 12 days. Character matters … always.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It has been a difficult few weeks.  The direction to which our country is headed is less than ideal.  The events leading to the recent election and those that follow are symptomatic of the division and divisiveness of the U.S. today.

The most unfortunate casualty of all this has been character.  Good moral character has been lost amidst the noise and nastiness that is American politics.  Public service is worst off today for the absence of good people like Tom J. Campbell, who served in the U.S. Congress for several terms before returning to private life as Professor of Law at Stanford University, Dean of Hass School of Business at U.C. Berkeley, and Dean of the Chapman University School of Law.  http://www.chapman.edu/our-faculty/thomas-j-campbell.

Character matters, my sons.  It always matters to people who matter.

In the short-run, people may be distracted by physical beauty, flashy attire, grandiose visions, and other superficial items; however, in the medium- and long-run, core values and character return to the forefront.  Fools who rush in will pay the price later.

Strive to be of strong moral character always.

Love,

Dad