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

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All my love, always,

Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunter S. Thompson

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

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

All my love, always,

Dad

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

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

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

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

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

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

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

Tips for Getting a Butterfly to Land on You

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 7 months, and 16 days. If you pay attention, you can learn something from everyone you meet. Pay attention.

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https://www.purposefairy.com/78349/33-life-lessons-to-learn-from-eleanor-roosevelt/

http://www.timelessteacherstuff.com/readerstheater/MeFirst.pdf

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Believe in yourself, and learn to turn your attention outward.  Shosh, remember that book we read years ago about Pinkerton, the little pig who constantly cried, “Me first!”?  He finally learned his lesson after he had to care for Sand Witch.  (Remember, he thought the question was “who would care for a sandwich, not sand witch.)

It seems there are too many Pinkertons these days.  Everyone is about “Me first!”  See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/us/politics/louise-linton-mnuchin-instagram.html

Don’t be like them.  The world has more than enough selfish pricks.  If anything, we need more humility and kindness these days.

Be kind to others.  You never know what battles they are fighting.  But, it’s not just about them.  If you pay attention, they come bearing lessons from their lives from which you could learn.

Notice how everyone who meets Mr. Ted loves him?  Why do you think that is?  I suspect it has something to do with how he treats each individual he meets, and takes the time to talk to them.  His efforts don’t take away from the fact that he is among the top in his field, but they do make the world a happier place for that moment for those whose lives he touched.  Be like Mr. Ted.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., Eleanor Roosevelt is an amazing person.  If you have time, you should read about her.  In fact, try to read biographies and memoirs of the great ones.  They have much to teach us about life and how to live life fully and graciously.

 

4 years, 7 months, and 14 days. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

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ancient-wisdom-1

Here are the 4 rituals from Stoicism that will make you loved:

  • Not me: Stop talking about yourself. Let me talk about me and I’ll enjoy your company more. (Wow, this is more fun already.)
  • Practice “insult pacifism”: This is the worst blog post I’ve ever written? Trust me, I’ve written far worse.
  • Listen to the angel on your shoulder: Grandma is watching, potty-mouth.
  • Treat everyone as family: Treat people as your brothers and sisters and they’ll likely reciprocate.

http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2017/07/make-you-loved/

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Shosh, do you remember your first heartbreak by a friend?  Up until that point, everyone you’d met had loved you.  You were beautiful, and smart, and funny, and kind.  What’s not to like.  Then came along Quentin (I think that’s his name).  He was your best friend in preschool.  You guys hung out every day, and played well together.  One day, he simply stopped playing with you.

You were crushed.  You kept asking why, but no answer was forthcoming.  You guys didn’t get into an argument.  We had no interactions with his parents.  None of us knew what happened.  He simply stopped being your friend and played with other kids.

You somehow took this break as an indication that there was something wrong with you, asking what it was that you did.  But, life isn’t about you.  His action was his to own, not yours.

This is a hard lesson to learn.  Too often in life, people cede control to others when they shouldn’t.  Why should you own someone else’s misery, bad attitude, poor upbringing, boorish behavior, etc.?  Don’t.  Their bad choices are theirs to own, not yours.

Be good to yourselves and be good to others, but don’t take yourself or life too seriously.  Laugh more.  Learn to laugh at yourself.  If you do, then how could anyone ever get under your skin?  If they tried to insult you, you’d simply laugh and say, “Oh, if you only knew the other 1,000 things I do wrong or stupidly!”  What are they going to say then?

As I told Ms. L from the moment we decided to make a family together, if we put you kids first, and she put me next and I put her next, how could we go wrong?  We would always be looking out for the other’s interests.  Happiness lies that way, my sons.  Seek to make yourselves happy, and you will  burden yourself with efforts to fill a bottomless pit.  We are black holes that can never be fulfilled.  We are psychologically wired to always adapt and to seek out the new and different.  Nothing will ever be good enough.  Today’s Rolex is tomorrow’s discard.  You can do better.  Live for other and, amazingly, you will find yourself happy.  (By the way, this is not to say lose yourself in others or let others walk all over you.  Don’t.  Find someone worthy of yourselves.)

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 7 months, and 8 days. Adopt the habits of the successful, not the unsuccessful.

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7 daily habits of rich people that you should copy

Habit #1: Exercise

In his research, Corley found that rich people exercised an average of 30 minutes, four days a week. So whether it’s a high-intensity CrossFit workout or a walk with my wife, I dedicate an hour a day to fitness. While I used to squeeze in workouts whenever I could spare the time, I now make it happen no matter what….

Habit #2: Build relationships

Relationships are the currency of the wealthy, Corley says. I keep a running list of positive influencers in my life and regularly connect with them. I call to say hello and listen to what’s going on in their lives….

Habit #3: Visualize your goals

Daymond John from “Shark Tank” has shared that he looks at his list of seven goals—each with an expiration date and action plan—when he wakes up and before bed. I wanted to attack my goals with the same intensity….

Habit #4: Read. A lot

According to author and speaker Grant Cardone, the most successful CEOs read an average of 60 books a year, whereas the average American worker reads just one—and earns 319 times less. After setting my own goal of consuming two books a month, I followed Corley’s other tips to make time: I stopped watching TV and listen to audiobooks in the car….

Habit #5: Practice affirmations

Self-concept is a huge influence on your quality of life. The more you like yourself, the higher your self-esteem and well-being. Once I learned this, I made up daily affirmations related to the most important areas of my life, from faith and family to business….

Habit #6: Volunteer

In his study, Corley found that 72% of the wealthy volunteer for at least five hours a week, compared with just 12% of the poor. Of course, there are many reasons to volunteer, but he says the rich use the opportunity to expand their network of like-minded people….

Habit #7: Confide in a mentor who’s been in your shoes

Even the most successful people on earth value mentors who’ve walked in their shoes and made it to the other side. Mark Zuckerberg credits Steve Jobs as his mentor, and Bill Gates has talked about how Warren Buffett mentored him through challenges at Microsoft.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-daily-habits-of-rich-people-that-you-should-copy-2017-08-09?link=sfmw_tw

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai, now compare that list with the list of the habits of unsuccessful people.

7 Habits of Poor People that You Should Avoid.

1. Buying small stuff. Have you tried going to a “bargain”? And when you go home, you realized you have bought some small stuffs that when you add them it cost you about more or less P500? Or did you try to go to Divisoria and spent almost P1000 for little things that you don’t really need? These are some of the bad habits of poor people, buying small stuffs that they don’t actually need.

2. Depending on one job only. One source of income is fine but it cannot give you an abundant life. It will just drive you around to the poor road and never get out of it. That’s why I don’t believe in the famous saying, “live within your means, I say instead, “increase your means”. Living only in one income will just allow you to survive life but cannot give you wealth. That’s how poor people work. They depend on one income only for the rest of their life.

3. Spending money for a “good luck”. I used to live in a community where everyone was poor, including my family. It’s only now that I recall that people there have common spending habit, they include “jueteng, gambling and lotto” in their budget. They believe in good luck to have money without realizing that doing these hurt their budget and worst making them poor as always.

4. Neglecting to save and invest. These two things are actually not included in the vocabulary of poor people. Even though they have full time job, it’s not their habit to save nor to invest. This is probably the reason, why they keep borrowing money when there is an emergency or occasion. That’s why in their next salary, they run short and borrow again, repeating the cycle.

5. They love to “rest” rather than think, plan and do more. Poor people always rest. They always long to lie down after meal, watch “teleserye” and sit down for a long period of time instead of thinking or planning about their work, plans etc. Poor people failed to recognize the power of thinking. Idowi Koyenikan once said, “never underestimate the power of thought; it is the greatest path to discovery”. It’s probably one of the reasons, why they don’t discovery new ways to improve their living. They are lack in “thinking time”.

6. They maintain poor friends. Jim Rohn says, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend time with”. So if you are poor, chances are, you surround yourself with poor or nearly poor people. That’s the habit of poor people, they fail to meet new friends intentionally. Friends who are rich and successful. That’s probably the reason, why they remain poor, because they don’t hear anything new, they see new opportunity and worst, and they adopt poor mentality.

7. They don’t read. Try to visit the home of rich and poor people, the rich man’s house has library and the poor man’s house has no library or even small collection of books. Since they failed to read, they miss the opportunity to learn new things, to read success stories that they can emulate and to learn tips on how to have financial freedom.

http://changeforlifesuccess.com/7-habits-poor-people-avoid/

Now, let’s be clear: I’m not saying eschew the impoverished and those down on their luck.  Monetary wealth may be a temporary state for those rich in thought, spirit, and friends.  They will find a way to be successful … they may not end up with a lot of financial wealth, but their lives will be rich and meaningful.

On the other hand, I am saying avoid the whiners, the nay-sayers, and those who forever blame others for their own lack of success.  Avoid these like the plague.  They will only drag you down.  Theirs is but a life of misery.  Everyday is but another opportunity for them to affirm how others are cheating them of their future, how others have it good and have the smile of fortune while misfortune dogs them, etc.  They fail to acknowledge how their negativity and misery chase away opportunities and the smile of fortune.

  1. Read voraciously
  2. Exercise daily
  3. Believe in yourselves
  4. Help others
  5. Make friends
  6. Follow your dreams
  7. Do your best always
  8. Ask for help when you need it
  9. Be grateful for your health, your intellect, your friends, your family, the opportunities you’ve been given, and the opportunities you will be able to cultivate

Be well, my sons.  Be happy.  Be successful in life

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

4 years, 7 months, and 3 days. People matter, not things.

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Kindness-health-benefits-RAK-Foundation-release.jpg

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-massacre-at-least-30-children-die-in-indian-hospital-after-oxygen-cut-off/2017/08/12/5f51cf70-fcc8-4fd3-8a71-94fcba37094f_story.html?utm_term=.74075c1cde17

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/12/543096666/white-supremacist-protest-in-virginia-leaves-one-dead

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_surprising_insights_about_success_and_happiness

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

There are difficult days, then there are DIFFICULT days.  Today is the latter.  The sadness is palpable.

But, as the enlightened Buddha has said, “Life is full of suffering, and the cause of suffering is selfishness.”  Open your eyes and see the world for what it is.  On one hand, you have 30 children die in a hospital in India because the hospital failed to pay for the oxygen needed to keep its patients alive.  On the other, you have a man drive his car into a crowd of protesters who hold views different from his own.

What is more important — the life of sick children or the death of those whose beliefs are different from your own?  A mere child can see the value of the former and senselessness of the latter.  Yet, adults often allow foolish thoughts to cloud their better judgement.

Don’t fall into this trap.  Remember always that people come first — not things, not ideas, not money.

(Let me be clear: even the grandest idea finds beauty only in its expression.  If a beautiful idea brings about ugly results, then the idea must not have been beautiful to begin with — its beauty was but an illusion.  Religion may be a beautiful idea, but countless number of people have been killed, maimed, and tortured in the name of religion.  The concept may not be flawed, but the expression of that concept certainly can be.)

As Americans, it is believed we have an inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.  That is a fool’s errand.  Happiness is not thing that we can catch.  It is more like a butterfly that will alight upon us when we are in the right frame of mind.

How do we achieve this “right” state of mind?  By being real, and by channeling your energies toward helping others.  (I use the term “help” here loosely to mean any act of kindness which would bring positivity to the lives of those around you.)

As one of my favorite sites states,

Kim Cameron, a University of Michigan professor and pioneer in the field of positive organizational psychology, tried a new kind of mapping: He plotted employees by their “relational energy.” Relational energy is how much your interactions with others motivate, invigorate, and energize them (rather than draining or exhausting them, something we’ve all experienced).

The result? The relational energy network predicted performance four times better than networks based on influence or information. In other words, having a positive and energizing impact on others seems much more important to how much you achieve at work than getting people to do what you want or hoarding secrets. And when a leader is more positively energizing, her employees perform better, are more satisfied and engaged with their jobs, and have higher well-being at home….

Are you searching for meaning in your life?

Most of us don’t have to look too far, argued University of Missouri professor Laura King. In a passionate and thought-provoking talk, she cited research showing that little things can increase our sense of meaning: seeing images of trees that represent the passing of the seasons; being reminded of morning-related words (pancakes, bacon, sunrise) in the morning; or having more routine in our lives….

“People don’t need to know how to make their lives meaningful. They need to know that they already are,” King said. And when we believe in the meaningfulness of our lives, we unlock the benefits of more positive feelings and better relationships.

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_surprising_insights_about_success_and_happiness

Be kind to yourselves and to others, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad