This article from NY Magazine titled “Wait! But Weren’t His Parents Law Professors? has an extremely poignant paragraph:
“Barbara Fried, too, made a deliberate practice of being emotionally generous and warm with her students. She wanted to guide them toward being whole people, not just cogs in the legal machine. “At the end of the semester, my torts professor literally went, ‘Okay, that’s torts!’ and left the room,” another former student told me. Fried, on the other hand, “gave this beautiful speech that we’ve all talked about for literally years.” She started by telling her students about her own personal reckoning: “sitting in a Chinese restaurant one day, realizing that “the goal of life is not to die with all of your options still on the table.” She closed with a poem, “Sometimes,” by Sheenagh Pugh. It’s about life defeating us often but not all of the time. “Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well,” the first stanza ends. “Sometimes our best intentions do not go / amiss.” Fried received a standing ovation.”
The entire story can be found here: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/11/sbf-parents-stanford-genius-bubble.html
I thought we could all learn from this article. None of us are perfect but that is OK
Our whole society has been gravitating toward an objective that is built less around finding success and more around avoiding failure. The challenge is that when the focus is around not failing, success becomes more difficult to attain.
A good example of this is when a football team is trying to protect a second-half lead by playing overly cautious. The net effect is that the trailing team is empowered, and often ends up winning. Recall the 2017 Super Bowl LI when the New England Patriots overcame a 25-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.
As a university professor, I teach my students that failure is the best predictor of future success. When I was a graduate student, my two lowest grades were in the two subjects in which I have made the most significant career contributions. Coincidence? Hardly. The subjects that presented the greatest challenges were also the ones that required the hardest work and most effort. This eventually gave me skills and insights that yielded the most substantive results.
Young people must be taught that failure is an acceptable outcome, and how to use failure to build toward future success. This means teaching them how to embrace risk in a meaningful way.
It is far riskier to take no risks than to assume an appropriate level of risk commensurate with the rewards that are available. Think of the person who puts their money in a bank account earning a pittance of interest while inflation erodes its buying power. By unknowingly believing they are taking no risk, they are assuming risks that will cost them far more over time.
While young people need courses that teach them life skills to earn a living and manage their finances, teaching them the benefits of risk-taking and how to use failure as stepping-stones for future success should be staples in our education system at every level. The challenge may be finding people with the necessary competencies to instruct on such topics.
Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a professor in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. A data scientist, he applies his expertise in data-driven risk-based decision-making to evaluate and inform public policy.
Being spatial aware has a surprisingly profound effect.
Acts of kindness—we know they’re important not only for others, but for ourselves. They can contribute to a more positive community and help us feel more connected, happier even. But in our incessantly busy and hectic lives, performing good deeds can feel like an unattainable goal. Or perhaps we equate generosity with monetary contribution, which can feel like an impossible task depending on a person’s financial situation.
Perhaps surprisingly, the main reason people don’t offer more acts of kindness is the fear of being misunderstood. That is, at least, according to The Kindness Test—an online questionnaire about being nice to others that more than 60,000 people from 144 countries completed. It does make sense—having your good intentions be viewed as an awkward source of discomfort is not exactly fun for either party.
However, the results of The Kindness Test also indicated those fears were perhaps unfounded. The most common words people used were “happy,” “grateful,” “loved,” “relieved” and “pleased” to describe their feelings after receiving kindness. Less than 1% of people said they felt embarrassed, according to the BBC.
So, maybe with kindness, we need to put our social anxieties away and act without overthinking (to a certain point, of course). Perhaps it’s best to find the simplest actions we can commit to on a daily basis, rather than formulating some grandiose gesture.
Reddit user u/tacoabouttoeat asked the online forum “what’s a small act of kindness that literally anyone can do/practice everyday?” and people gave some brilliantly simple ideas.
Here are eight easy-to-accomplish crowdsourced answers that might bring us one step closer to a more peaceful world:
- Be aware of your surroundings.“Either move with the flow of traffic or get to the side if you have to situate yourself.” – @JoeMorgue
- Use headphones when taking public transport.“If you don’t have them – you can go 20 minutes without making excessive noise while sharing a small space with other people.” – @cynthiayeo
- Give compliments.“If you have a charitable thought about someone, even a stranger, say it out loud to their face. It is free, it is easy, and it might be the best thing that has happened to that person all week. Nothing creepy or overtly sexual or flirty, just kind words. ‘That shirt is really your color! Your haircut is beautiful. I appreciate your help, you were a real lifesaver!’ It doesn’t cost you anything and it means the world to the people you are talking to.” – @Comments_Wyoming
- Hold doors open for people.“Makes a big difference in one’s day.” – @sconnie64
- Don’t act on “road rage.”“After several years of commuting I came to the realization that with a few exceptional days, I always got home at the same time. Regardless of how many people ‘cut me off’ or drove too slowly and whatever. I started to just ‘go with the flow’ and always let people in when needed, always give extra room, and just enjoy my music/podcast. Life changing.” – @CPCOpposesAbortion
- Have patience.“You never know what someone else is going through. Could be a breakup, their dog just died, granny finally made it to heaven, or maybe mom just broke the news that she’s got end stage cervical cancer and has weeks left to live. You never know, so be patient. After all, wouldn’t you want someone to be patient with you?” – @mamalion12
- Thank the people you live with for taking care of things around the house.“It doesn’t have to be over the top, but everyone feels better about doing chores when it is noticed and appreciated. ‘Thanks for folding my laundry’ or ‘thanks for always keeping track of our bills, you’re awesome at managing money!’” – @Mrshaydee
- Leave a place you visit just a little bit nicer than when you found it.“Pick up a piece of litter at the park. Give that mat with a pucker ready to trip someone a little tug to get it to lay flat in the business you’re at. Let an employee know when you spot a leaky dairy product on the shelves so they can deal with it. Return someone else’s grocery cart.” – @BlueberryPiano
What great work this team did on Sat. Sept. 18th. They spent the day in Barnwell, SC navigating the SC Stay Plus online portal with a goal of getting low-income folks help paying for rent and utilities. Many already had been served with a notice of eviction. The computer system was onerous but the people genuinely appreciated the help and were very patient. Now we hope the money gets to them before it is too late.
Thanks Shane, Matt,Christian, Elvira, Suzanne, Nicole, Emily, Megan, Rebecca, Emma, and Madison