Perfect health diet

For the last month I’ve been trying the Perfect Health Diet and I’m pleased. My weight has remained low where it had dropped when I was sick. My strength is mostly back to where it was before I fell ill. It feels like my energy level is improved and my attention span is perhaps better than it was.

At first the name of the diet seemed pretentious but I get that it’s a play on how the authors, a husband and wife team, both have PhDs. Their book is clearly written and presents a convincing case for the benefits of their diet plan. I came to it via the Paleo book by Rob Wolf, which also makes a good case but puts me off with its sophomoric writing.

DFW is dead — long live DFW

David Foster Wallace is dead, reportedly a suicide. Damn. His writing is some of the most powerful stuff I’ve ever read, very frustrating and yet giving and instilling a difference perspective on things.

Here’s a quote from a commencement address that he gave. It’s not really representative of what I’ve read from him, but gives some insight into what mattered to him and what, ultimately, may have done him in.

As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

from David Foster Wallace – Commencement speech at Kenyon University

Focus on effort, not talent

A recent article in Scientific American Mind, The Secret to Raising Smart Kids, discusses research suggesting that it is better to praise kids for their effort than to praise them for being smart. Here are some quotes:

Hint: Don’t tell your kids that they are [smart]. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life

teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life.

the most persistent students do not ruminate about their own failure much at all but instead think of mistakes as problems to be solved.

How do we transmit a growth mind-set to our children? One way is by telling stories about achievements that result from hard work.

students praised for their effort did not lose confidence when faced with the harder questions, and their performance improved markedly on the easier problems that followed.

parents and teachers can help children by providing explicit instruction regarding the mind as a learning machine.

Teaching children such information is not just a ploy to get them to study. People do differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and Cézanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute much more to school achievement than IQ does.

Such lessons apply to almost every human endeavor. For instance, many young athletes value talent more than hard work and have consequently become unteachable. Similarly, many people accomplish little in their jobs without constant praise and encouragement to maintain their motivation. If we foster a growth mind-set in our homes and schools, however, we will give our children the tools to succeed in their pursuits and to become responsible employees and citizens.

Confidence

As the plane begins its descent to LaGuardia, Trudeau remembers something interesting, something from his teens, when he had a summer job working at Time magazine.

“As I was walking out the building one day on my lunch break, two-thirds of a block away this spectacularly beautiful young woman in a very short miniskirt was walking toward me . . .”

Not sure where this is going, but I’m taking notes as fast as I can.

“She was in her early twenties. I was 16 and looked all of 12. You could feel it in the air, her coming at you. Her presence was destabilizing the street for a one-block radius. Guys were gawking, cars were slowing. This woman was a menace. She was walking in a confident way, with a swing to her hips. I was geeky and shy, too shy to make eye contact. I wouldn’t even have known what to DO with eye contact. My discomfort must have been obvious because, as she passes me, she leans over, her breath is warm, and she softly . . . growls in my ear.”

Wow.

“I thought to myself: I’ve just been handed the most extraordinary gift. She showed such wisdom, with such a generous use of power. She just changed the life of a young boy. I thought , Anything is possible.”

Doonesbury’s War