Let it go - be someone interesting, new and exciting. Only then can you build the rapport that will generate likability. We'll work on this a LOT in the coming chapters, so don't feel like it's something you should just know off the bat. Finally, the third thing that natural likability needs is honest, truthful compassion and empathy for the person you're meeting. As kids get older, a good test of whether they are ready for a particular device is their ability to understand and use the built-in settings for turning off external triggers. Do they know how to use the Do Not Disturb feature? Do they know how to set their phones to automatically turn off notifications when their schedule demands concentration? Are they able to place their phones out of sight and out of mind during family time or when friends come over? If not, they're not ready, and they need to take a few more "swimming lessons," so to speak. Though parents tend to fixate on the latest technology craze, we often forget about older technologies, which can be just as much of a problem. There's little justification for allowing kids to have a television, laptop, or any other potentially distracting external trigger in their rooms; these screens should be kept in communal areas. The temptation to overuse these devices is too much to expect our kids to manage on their own, particularly in the absence of parental oversight. Kids also need plenty of sleep, and anything that flickers, beeps, or buzzes during the night is a distraction. Anya Kamenetz, author of The Art of Screen Time, writes that making sure kids get enough sleep is "the one issue with the most incontrovertible evidence." Kamenetz strongly advises that "screens and sleep don't mix" and implores parents to keep all digital devices out of kids' rooms at nighttime and to shut down screens at least an hour before bedtime. It's equally important to help our kids remove unwanted external triggers during activities like homework, chores, mealtime, playtime, and hobbies that require sustained attention. Just as you may ask your boss for time to focus at work, parents need to respect kids' scheduled time as well. If they are spending time on homework according to their timeboxed schedules, we must, of course, minimize distraction. But the same rule applies to scheduled time with their friends or playing video games. If they've made their plans in advance and with intent, it's your job to honor that plan and leave them alone. Recall the critical question: "Is this external trigger serving me, or am I serving it?" Sometimes, as parents, we can be a source of distraction.

The dog barking, the doorbell ringing, dad's subsequent command to answer the door, mom's question about the baseball team's game schedule, or a sibling's invitation to play can all interfere with the time scheduled for something else. Though these interruptions seem trivial, any disturbance at the wrong time is a distraction, and we must do our part to help kids use their time as they planned by removing unwanted external triggers. We all know that sugar can make children hyperactive. Just give a child a few candy bars and he'll start running, jumping, yelling, and generally bouncing off the walls. We've all seen it happen. In fact, researchers observed a number of children, paying close attention to whether they were hyperactive or not. They also noted if the children recently ate candy. Their findings are described in table 4. That is, 250 children were hyperactive after eating candy, while 50 were not. For those children who weren't hyperactive, 50 ate candy, while 10 didn't. Given this information, is hyperactivity associated with eating candy? What information is needed to determine if hyperactivity and sugar consumption are related? Many of us would say there's a positive association because the yes-yes cell is the largest. We focus on the 250 children that both ate candy and were hyperactive, and conclude there's a relationship because the number is considerably larger than the others. However, all the cells in the table are needed to determine if the two are related. We have to compare the ratio of hyperactivity to no hyperactivity when children eat sugar (250:50) and when they don't (50:10). There's a 5 to 1 ratio in both cases, so the children were 5 times more likely to be hyperactive whether they ate sugar or not. As a result, there's no association between hyperactivity and sugar consumption. So why do we make the error? We don't attend to the negative cases in the table--the times when sugar consumption or hyperactivity is absent.

Ignoring negative information is very common in our decision making, but when we do, we're likely to form erroneous beliefs. While this data was made up to demonstrate a point, research has shown that there is, in fact, no association between sugar consumption and hyperactivity. As another example, consider that many people believe that if a couple with fertility problems adopts a baby, they are more likely to conceive than a problem couple that doesn't adopt. The thinking is that their stress is alleviated, which makes it easier to conceive later on. However, clinical studies show it's not true. Why do we believe it? Our attention is drawn to the couples that conceive after adopting, and not to all those couples who adopt and don't conceive, or who conceive without adopting.17 To see if a relationship exists, we have to consider all the information--the positives and the negatives. Medical professionals are not immune to this decision error. One study had nurses review 100 cases where hypothetical patient records indicated that a symptom and a disease was either present, or not present, in a patient.18 Like the data in table 4, there was no association between the symptom and the disease, but 86 percent of the nurses thought a relationship existed. Erroneous connections are made for all types of beliefs. Politicians like us to believe that welfare has to be eliminated because it breeds fraud. As support, they point to the number of fraud cases involving people on welfare. But do people on welfare commit more fraud than people not on welfare? We would need to know before we accept their argument.19 In a similar vein, many people believe that God answers prayers because they remember the times they prayed and the event prayed for occurred. But how many times did someone pray and the event didn't occur? We typically ignore those cases. And so, when deciding if two things are related, we should think about table 4 and realize that we need to focus on more information than we normally do. Once you sit, do not change the position again until the end of the time you determined at the beginning. Suppose you change your original position because it is uncomfortable, and assume another position. What happens after a while is that the new position becomes uncomfortable.

Then you want another and after a while it, too, becomes uncomfortable. So you may go on shifting, moving, changing one position to another the whole time you are on your meditation cushion, and you may not gain a deep and meaningful level of concentration. Therefore, you must make every effort not to change your original position. We will discuss how to deal with pain in chapter 10. To avoid changing your position, determine at the beginning of meditation how long you are going to meditate. If you have never meditated before, sit motionlessly for not longer than twenty minutes. As you repeat your practice, you can increase your sitting time. The length of sitting depends on how much time you have for sitting meditation practice and how long you can sit without excruciating pain. We should not have a time schedule to attain the goal, for our attainment depends on how we progress in our practice based on our understanding and development of our spiritual faculties. We must work diligently and mindfully toward the goal without setting any particular time schedule to reach it. When we are ready, we get there. All we have to do is to prepare ourselves for that attainment. After sitting motionlessly, close your eyes. Our mind is analogous to a cup of muddy water. The longer you keep a cup of muddy water still, the more the mud settles down and the water will be seen clearly. Similarly, if you keep quiet without moving your body, focusing your entire undivided attention on the subject of your meditation, your mind settles down and begins to experience the bliss of meditation. To prepare for this attainment, we should keep our mind in the present moment. The present moment is changing so fast that a casual observer does not seem to notice its existence at all. Every moment is a moment of events and no moment passes by without an event. We cannot notice a moment without noticing events taking place in that moment.

Therefore, the moment we try to pay bare attention to is the present moment. Our mind goes through a series of events like a series of pictures passing through a projector. Some of these pictures are coming from our past experiences and others are our imaginations of things that we plan to do in the future. The mind can never be focused without a mental object. Therefore we must give our mind an object that is readily available every present moment. One such object is our breath. The mind does not have to make a great effort to find the breath. Every moment the breath is flowing in and out through our nostrils. As our practice of insight meditation is taking place every waking moment, our mind finds it very easy to focus itself on the breath, for it is more conspicuous and constant than any other object. We've already mentioned that, by definition, most technology use is solitary. Now let's consider the fact that it's also stationary. Simple observation will confirm this. A person playing video games will remain in virtually the same position for hours. Someone surfing online will sit hunched over a keyboard, sometimes barely looking up for long periods of time. Health risks associated with such a sedentary lifestyle are well documented: high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, obesity, reduced immune system function--and depression and anxiety. One study titled "The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed" noted that "depressed patients are less fit and have diminished physical work capacity on the order of 80% to 90% of age-predicted norms, which in turn may contribute to other physical health problems."[7] Putting two and two together, it's easy to see how overuse of technology--inevitably stationary and physically stagnant--will stand in the way of lasting healing from depression. The adverse reaction I described earlier among my clients after they've surrendered their devices is a clear sign of something called FOMO--Fear of Missing Out. When you engage with sources of information like social media or news feeds that are updated instantly and constantly, there is no opportunity to look away, even for an instant, without running the risk of getting left behind. Even more captivating is the desire to receive positive feedback to items you've posted yourself. Every new "like" triggers a real-time boost of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the brain's pleasure and reward centers.