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Newsletter Vol. # 49 That's how I see it!

Hello and welcome to this week's newsletter.

What you will find in this week's newsletter:
Home Remedies
Change Is About Options
Kids Get a D For Physical Activity
Our Vitamins Helpful Or Harmful?
... That's when the fight started
a convocation speech not to be missed on Regrets



AMAZING, SIMPLE HOME REMEDIES:

1. AVOID CUTTING YOURSELF WHEN SLICING VEGETABLES BY GETTING SOMEONE ELSE TO HOLD THE VEGETABLES WHILE YOU CHOP.

2. AVOID ARGUMENTS WITH THE FEMALES ABOUT LIFTING THE TOILET SEAT BY USING THE SINK.

3. FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE SUFFERERS ~ SIMPLY CUT YOURSELF AND BLEED FOR A FEW MINUTES, THUS REDUCING THE PRESSURE ON YOUR VEINS.  REMEMBER TO USE A TIMER.

4. A MOUSE TRAP PLACED ON TOP OF YOUR ALARM CLOCK WILL PREVENT YOU FROM ROLLING OVER AND GOING BACK TO SLEEP AFTER YOU HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON.

5. IF YOU HAVE A BAD COUGH, TAKE A LARGE DOSE OF LAXATIVES. THEN YOU'LL BE AFRAID TO COUGH.

6. YOU NEED ONLY TWO TOOLS IN LIFE - WD-40 AND DUCT TAPE.  IF IT DOESN'T MOVE AND SHOULD, USE THE WD-40.  IF IT SHOULDN'T MOVE AND DOES, USE THE DUCT TAPE. 

7. IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.

THOUGHT for the day:
SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES - NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN THEY'RE PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS.


Change is About Options

I believe that we need:

- To learn to not take ourselves so seriously.
- To learn to love who we are, instead of finding
  the qualities of other so appealing. Abandon those
  thoughts that if I were only taller, smaller, lighter,
  heavier, smarter, funnier, then I would be okay.
- To start giving ourselves strokes for what we
  actually do and who we are, and make that enough!
-- To learn to laugh at ourselves.

We cannot eradicate our past. We cannot ignore that we held, and still hold, habits and beliefs that we acquired early in our lives, which have led to the behaviors that define who we are today. We need to accept ourselves, particularly if we want other people to accept us. We need to accept that we have some "crazy parts" that need changing and not be so defensive about those changes. We need to realize that we need more support than criticism if we are to bring about the desired changes.

When we recognize and take ownership of our "crazy parts", then we become open to other possibilities. The energy that we so needlessly wasted on denying or controlling ourselves so that others won't find out about our "unacceptable parts", or so that they won't discover "who we really are", is then redirected and invested in those enriching projects of change that enable us to live life more fully.

Acknowledging that change is possible-not easy, but possible-is recognizing that we have more options than we thought. We now need to find the courage to explore what these options are and choose what is best for us in the present!
             
                Work at changing your crazy parts that are not useful or appropriate,

                           but don't make them the focus of who you are!                                       Dan


Kids Get a D For Physical Activity

Lauren La Rose in a recent Free Press article stated, Canadian kids assigned a D-minus for overall physical activity.

70 per cent of three- to four-year olds met early years guidelines of at least 180 minutes of daily physical activity at any level of intensity.

Older children fared much worse. Only 7% of 5 to 11-year-olds, 5% of 12 to 17-year-olds met the recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily. Walking quickly, skating and biking are examples of moderate activities, while running basketball and soccer are considered vigorous activities.

An interesting concept that was explored in previous newsletters, dealing with children and free play in their communities, came up again in the La Rose article, the "Protection Paradox. Overprotective parents may be stifling kids ability to be more active and resilient by keeping them indoors. We need to recognize the difference between danger and risk. And we need to value long-term health and fun as much as we value safety.

What do you think? danrosin@drcounselling.com


Vitamins-Helpful or Harmful?

I am just a little disturbed by Christopher Lobos's article, "No Magic Pills." Not because I think he is totally wrong in his assessment of the use of vitamin and mineral pills, but because he is challenging one of my sacred cows, that being the use of vitamins.

More than half the Canadian population regularly uses vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy, according to Health Canada. Yet most are likely not aware that high doses of many common vitamins can increase the risk of cancer or death.

Vitamins have become synonymous with health, but there's this false idea that, if a little bit is good, a lot has to be better, says Dr. Tim Byers, associate dean at the Colorado School of Public health. We now have direct evidence that a lot is not better. In fact, a lot worse and can create health problems.

Most people who take vitamins don't have any medical problems. In fact, most of them are completely healthy and take vitamins not to treat sickness, but to prevent it.

The question here is, can vitamins actually prevent disease? According to Dr. Byers there is no evidence to show that beta-carotene (vitamin A) prevents cancer. In 2009, the Physicians Health Study 11 found that vitamin C and vitamin E had no protective effect against cancer either. Recent studies showed no positive effects of taking vitamin C, D and E on cancer prevention.

There is, however, a concern that taking high doses of vitamins can increase the risk of cancer. High doses of beta-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer in both male and female smokers. Another trial that studied 35,000 men in Canada and the US found a link between high doses of vitamin E and prostate cancer in men.

After so many trials and so many studies, I think we can be very confident that these compounds are not having much benefit and likely doing harm, says Dr.Eliseo Guallar of Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Guallar is referring to super high doses of vitamin consumption-way beyond what the body actually requires.

In 2013, articles in the Annals of International Medicine show that daily multiple vitamins did not lower people's risk of developing heart disease or Alzheimer's.

The reason in my mind for people/me to take vitamins and minerals is because they/I do not eat well enough. I do believe there would be no need for supplements if we/I ate more veggies and fresh fruit, and if we took our time and planned balance meals.


I rear-ended a car this morning...the start of a REALLY bad day!
The driver got out of the other car, and he was a DWARF!!
He looked up at me and said 'I am NOT Happy!'
So I said, 'Well, which one ARE you then?'
That's when the fight started.


Regrets!

With so many graduations going on at this time of the year, I thought you might enjoy George Saunders and his convocation speech at a major university in 2013. His theme is about what he regrets the most in his life. He's really worth reading!

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).

And I intend to respect that tradition.

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time "dances," so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: "Looking back, what do you regret?"  And they'll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they'll tell you even if you haven't asked.  Sometimes, even when you've specifically requested they not tell you, they'll tell you.

So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like "knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?"  (And don't even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don't regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked?  And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months?  Not so much.  Do I regret the occasional humiliation?  Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl?  No.  I don't even regret that.

But here's something I do regret:

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class.  In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be "ELLEN."  ELLEN was small, and shy.  She wore these blue cat's-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore.  When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighbourhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased ("Your hair taste good?" - that sort of thing).  I could see this hurt her.  I still remember the way she'd look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear.  After awhile she'd drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth.  At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: "How was your day, sweetie?" and she'd say, "Oh, fine."  And her mother would say, "Making any friends?" and she'd go, "Sure, lots."

Sometimes I'd see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it. And then - they moved.  That was it.  No tragedy, no big final hazing. One day she was there, next day she wasn't. End of story.

Now, why do I regret that?  Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it?  Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her.  I never said an unkind word to her.  In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her. But still.  It bothers me. So here's something I know to be true, although it's a little corny, and I don't quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.  Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded...sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Whom, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth. Those who were kindest to you, I bet. It's a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I'd say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

Now, the million-dollar question:  What's our problem?  Why aren't we kinder? Here's what I think: Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian.  These are: (1) we're central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we're separate from the universe (there's US and then, out there, all that other junk - dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we're permanent (death is real, o.k, sure - for you, but not for me). Now, we don't really believe these things - intellectually we know better - but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what's actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.

So, the second million-dollar question:  How might we DO this?  How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc? Well, yes, good question. Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left. So let me just say this.  There are ways.  You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter.  Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation's good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition - recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us. Because kindness, it turns out, is hard - it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include...well, everything. One thing in our favour:  some of this "becoming kinder" happens naturally, with age.  It might be a simple matter of attrition:  as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish - how illogical, really.  We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality.  We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defence, and help us, and we learn that we're not separate, and don't want to be.  We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now).  Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving.  I think this is true.  The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was "mostly Love, now."

And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.   So, if you have kids that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment.  You really won't care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit.  That's one reason your parents are so proud and happy today.  One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.
Congratulations, by the way.

When young, we're anxious - understandably - to find out if we've got what it takes.  Can we succeed?  Can we build a viable life for ourselves?  But you - in particular you, of this generation - may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition.  You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can.... And this is actually O.K.  If we're going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously - as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.

Still, accomplishment is unreliable.  "Succeeding," whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there's the very real danger that "succeeding" will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up.  Speed it along.  Start right now.  There's confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness.  But there's also a cure.  So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf - seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life. Do all the other things, the ambitious things - travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) - but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality - your soul, if you will - is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare's, bright as Gandhi's, bright as Mother Teresa's.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, and share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you're 100, and I'm 134, and we're both so kind and loving we're nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been.  I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.
Congratulations, Class of 2013.

I wish you great happiness, all the luck in the world, and a beautiful summer.


I too want to wish you a great summer. I will be shutting down the newsletter for a month or two in favour of more outdoor time but will pick it up again in the fall. I will be continuing what I fondly call the "Midweek", a series of concepts taken from two of the books I have written. So, have a great summer, lots of sunshine, backyard barbecues, and family.

 

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