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

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/896e2-beingbilingualbetterforchildren.jpg?w=533&h=526

https://i1.wp.com/www.bhlingual.com/wp-content/uploads/How-the-brain-benefits-from-being-bilingual.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/dana.org/uploadedImages/Images/Content_Images/Cerebrum-bilingual-Fig1-L.jpg

 

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.

https://i1.wp.com/thechurning.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Growing.jpg

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, 9 months, and 8 days. “Self-Reliance”

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, we will hear from Mr. Emerson on the most important of topics:  self-reliance.  Trust yourself.  Believe in yourself.  Heed your counsel.

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in private heart is true for all men, — that is genius….  A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.  Yet, he dismisses without notice his thoughts, because it is his.  In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty….

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion….  The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.  Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none.  This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony.  The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.  We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represent….  A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into this work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace….

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.  Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.  Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being.  And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.

What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, in the face and behavior of children, babes, and even brutes!….  Their mind being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered, and when we look in their faces, we are disconcerted.  Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it….

A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome.  He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict.  You must court him: he does not court you.  But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness.  As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account….

Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members….  The virtue in most request is conformity.  Self-reliance is its aversion.  It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.  Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right.  I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways….  [T]ruth is handsomer than the affection of love.

Virtues are, in the popular estimate, rather the exception than the rule.  There is the man and his virtues.  Men do what is called a good action, as some piece of courage or charity, much as they would pay a fine in expiation of daily non-appearance on parade.  Their works are done as an apology or extenuation of their living in the world, as invalids and the insane pay a high board.  Their virtues are penances.  I do not wish to expiate, but to live.  My life is for itself and not for a spectacle.  I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady….  I cannot consent to pay for a privilege where I have intrinsic right.  Few and mean as my gifts may be, I actually am, and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony.

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.  This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness.  It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.  It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force.  It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character.  If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead Bible-society, vote with a great party either for the government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers, — under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are.  And, of course, so much force is withdrawn from your proper life.  But do your work, and I shall know you.  Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.  A man must consider what a blindman’s buff is this game of conformity.  If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument….  Well, most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinions.  This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars.  Their every truth is not quite true….  Meanwhile, nature is not slow to equip us in the prison-uniform of the party to which we adhere….

For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure….  [B]ut the sour faces of he multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs….

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of other have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them….

Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then?  It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring the past for judgement into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day….

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines….  Speak what you think now in harsh words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts every thing you said to-day.  — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.” — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?  Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.  To be great is to be misunderstood.

[N]o man can violate his nature….   We pass for what we are.  Character teaches above our wills. Men imagine that they communicate their virtues or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtues or vice emit a breath every moment….

For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem….  Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions.  Your conformity explains nothing….  Greatness appeals to the future.  If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now.  Be it how it will, do right now.  Always scorn appearances, and you always may.  The force of character is cumulative.  All the foregone days of virtue work their wealth into this.  What makes the majesty of the heroes of the senate and the field, so fills the imagination?  The consciousness of a train of great days and victories behind….  Honor is venerable to us because it is no ephemeris.  it is always ancient virtue.  We worship to-day because it is not of to-day.  We love it and pay it homage, because it is not a trap for our love and homage, but is self-dependent, self-derived, and therefore of an old immaculate pedigree, even if shown in a young person….

Let us affront and reprimand the smooth mediocrity and squalid contentment of the times, and hurl in the face of custom, and trade, and office, the fact which is the upshot of all history, that there is a great responsible Thinker and Actor working wherever a man works; that a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the centre of things….  Every true man is a cause, a country, and an age….

Let a man know his worth, and keep things under his feet.  Let him not peep or steal, or skulk up and down with the air of a charity boy, a bastard, or an interloper, in the world which exists for him….  The picture waits for my verdict: it is not to command me, but I am to settle its claims to praise….

Insist on yourself; never imitate.  Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession.  That which each can do best, none by his Maker can teach him.  No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it.  Where is the master who could have taught Shakspeare?…  Shakspeare will never be made by the study of Shakspeare.  Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.

https://math.dartmouth.edu/~doyle/docs/self/self.pdf

 

Be you.  You are unique.  Your life’s experience is unique.  Your story is unique.  Be you.  But, be the best you.

All my love, always,

Dad