Intelligence is the main ingredient in observation. To develop child-like observation skills, try to learn how children use their intelligence.
An essential part of fostering motivation in children is to recognize the areas in which a child’s particular talent falls. The best method to recognize this is in terms of the many kinds of “intelligences.” One’s intelligence provides the basis for motivation. Here are seven primary intelligences defined by Howard Gardner:

1) Language

Linguistic intelligence is the gift of poets and lyricists, writers and orators. A good way to assess language skills in your children is by asking them to create or make up stories like the one you might read to them at night before bed. Try to create an imaginary setting by using game boards, toys, and/or household items. You can then ask your kids to populate the setting with their own imaginary characters. These characters could be their favorite animals, friends, and even teachers or parents. Try to steer their imagination by asking about these characters, motivate them to create deeper stories with excitement, imagination and joy. Start motivating them to continue without an end in mind. Maybe they will finish the story tomorrow night. Don’t press for an end. Children don’t want to end their stories. When they do, try to observe details about their imagination. Pay attention to the sounds they create, figures of speech, or if they just rely on humdrum combinations of words.
Children who are not attracted by these imaginative stories are likely to use their linguistic intelligence to give accurate accounts in words of what they observe. They might turn out to be quite effective reporters; they could work for their local newspaper someday.

2) Math and Logic

Math and Logic intelligence is highly valued in the West and mostly found in scientists and mathematicians. Psychologist believe the best way to enforce and nurture this intelligence is to ask children to examine simple hypotheses. Parents can show kids that if they mix two different colors together, they can produce a third color. Parents can then motivate kids to explore further on their own. Motivated and gifted kids might mix other colors expecting different color combinations.
Some board games are natural fields to test the child’s gift for numbers. The particular board game in which kids learn to win by getting from the head to the tail of the dinosaur, includes strategy, where the child can not only play his own dice, but set yours any way he wants to. If a young child is able to set the dice so that, consistently, you lose and he wins, he is exhibiting both logical and mathematical skills.”

3) Music

Kids who are attracted to the world of sound, try to produce appealing combinations of sound on their own. These are kids who are gifted in musical intelligence and ask repeatedly for the opportunity to play an instrument. The good news is that this talent and motivation is shown early in childhood; a good example is prodigies like Mozart and most professional musicians have testified that they gravitated toward their craft in early childhood. Psychologist suggest motivating musically gifted children to explore with sounds and try to create their own melodies. Education pioneer Maria Montessori originally created simple yet special set of bells for this purpose. She motivated her students to play with the bells to explore sounds and melodies. She then would ask her students what sounds like what. What’s higher, lower, the same or different sound. What could be scary and what could be exciting or joyful. She would then look for kids who are motivated to create some little songs on their own.”

4) Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning is the ability for discovering how things orient in space. This intelligence deals with natural appreciation for visual and spatial relations. Kids gifted with this talent are motivated as sculptors and also talents for covering a wider range; pilots flying airplanes fall into the same category. Kids in their childhood with this natural intelligence show strong motivations to play, build and create with blocks. Kids with this intelligence also show strong imaginations to examine things in and from different sides; they show talents and abilities to disassemble and assemble back electronic and mechanical devices. Parents of such children observe their kids disassembling radios, alarm clocks or some other mechanical devices. Kids tend to analyze electronic or mechanical devices to figure out how they work; they will then take them apart, and are able to put them back together again in a masterful way.
Kids gifted with this particular intelligence show talents to find their way when lost or using maps to their best use. Most of the time kids who show poor abilities in scholastics, excel with this talent and working with mechanical objects. Psychologists believe that Einstein must have had immense spatial skills. It was these skills that allowed him to use a “thought experiment”. He imagined himself riding on a beam of light in this “thought experiment”. He was then able to achieve a crucial insight in his theory of relativity.
It is also known that Leonardo da Vinci was tremendously gifted with powerful spatial intelligence. He was a talented painter; the machines he devised, including tanks and flying machines, mainly witness to a strong spatial sense. Not many people know that Da Vinci also wrote poetry and songs. Not many people, however, sang his songs.

5) Movement and Body Kinesthetic Intelligence

Psychologist believe kids who are motivated to use their body, or parts of their body such as hand or feet, to create, design, or solve a problem are gifted with such intelligence. Kids who enjoy and are motivated to create new routines for cheerleading are blessed with such intelligence. Basketball great Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and dancer Martha Graham possess such genius to its fullest.
Gifted and motivated kids with this intelligence use their bodies in most innovative ways. They might grow to become most successful athletes, dancers, and actors.

6) Interpersonal Intelligence

Most people associate intelligence with the knowledge of the world, numbers, ideas, and mechanical things. However, it is sad that not many people accept the knowledge of understanding other people, how to lead or follow or care for other people, or interpersonal skills of a person as intelligence. The talent and motivation to grasp what motivates people and how to work effectively with people is crucial for surviving and thriving in any human environment.
Psychologists believe that traditional tests of intelligence wrongly ignore this knowledge and talent. They reason that the academics who designed these tests were mainly solitary thinkers. However, if intelligence tests were created by politicians or businesspeople, we would see more of these tests. Kids gifted with this intelligence show talents for influencing others to behave in a certain way, their own desirable way, to lead effectively, and to get along well with peers and adults. Children with this intelligence, on their daily activities are motivated in deciding what a group of kids will do next or how to settle disputes effectively. They show peace making abilities between rivals and groups to bring them together to make the day a good day.

Kids with interpersonal intelligence possess tremendous gifts and inspiration for understanding other kids, ability to empathize with another child who had fallen and hurt, or failed a test. They have a good feeling and a knack for knowing what motivates other kids, what they are feeling, and how to get along with each other.

Later adults with such motivation and gifts can spark vast social movements. Some good examples are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Chinese students in Tiananmen Square, and the late leader of India, Gandhi, whose gift of nonviolent and passive resistance drove the British out of India.

7) Interapersonal Intelligence

Kids with gift of interpersonal intelligence grow to become adaptive and most aware of self-knowledge and their strengths and weaknesses. Parents should encourage their gifted children with such talents to be more introspective, to keep diaries or journals. A good example of genius kids with such a gift who grow to introduce revolutionary ideas was Sigmund Freud. Freud psychoanalyzed himself first. He was paying special attention to his own dreams and their meaning. Freud used a combination of his patients’ free associations and his own self-analysis to learn truths about the inner life of people in general. He then discovered the importance of early healthy relationships with parents for healthy relations later in life. Freud designed a path to a greater self-knowledge and a stronger intrapersonal sense; a path to knowing yourself very, very well, and using that self-knowledge productively.
A deep understanding of main intelligences allows parents to recognize their kids natural areas of motivation. Being able to identify these motivations, parents can help kids foster them and slowly build a sense of competence, which can then develop into an expertise, self esteem, and a happy life. Intelligent parents expose their kids to a wide range of experiences so that kids’ natural bent can emerge, no matter in which area it might lie.
Some parents realize that it might not be enough for kids to investigate an interest just on their own. Parents should also think of providing their kids with correct training. Some parents wonder what they can do when their kids show passion for something about which the parent knows absolutely nothing? A talented child as a painter, for instance, can pick up much more of his/her art from someone who is well versed in painting.


When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college—that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, You mean they forget? HOWARD IKOMOTO
Picasso at twenty could paint as well as anyone in the world; Einstein at twenty could do physics as well as anyone in the world. While each of them had reached the limits of their domain, they shared what seems to have been a childlike freshness in their approach to their work. They both seemed to be always puzzled in the same nature and about the same sort of things children puzzle about.
Einstein asked what it would be like to travel in a beam of light. Very few adults ask that kind of question, but kids do.
Picasso asked, What can we do if we take an object and break it down and fragment it into many different parts? Freud asked basic childish questions about his dreams. Martha Graham danced in the most formal yet elemental ways. They always seemed to know what was like to be a child. A free explorer yet always puzzled about how it works. Motivation first takes root in childhood.
When adults reflect on those times they have been most motivated and expressive, they often describe it as a “letting-go” or “white moments” experience. A condition in which many athletes feel the same. It is also at that point of letting go and white moment that people are most creative. Meditating, stretching, playing an instrument, dancing, breathing deeply are also known as sources of motivation and creativity.

Why child like observations?

According to Dr. Langer:
Just as mindlessness is the rigid reliance on old categories, mindfulness means the continual creation of new ones. Categorizing and recategorizing, labeling and relabeling as one masters the world are processes natural to children. They are an adaptive and inevitable part of surviving in the world. Freud recognized the importance of creation and mastery in childhood:
Should we not look for the first traces of imaginative activity as early as in childhood? The child’s best-loved and most intense occupation is with his play or games. Might we not say that every child at play behaves like a creative writer, in that he creates a world of his own, or rather, re-arranges the things of his world in a new way which pleases him?
According to the Japanese, big business has a lot to learn from kindergarten children. In some Japanese firms, the thinkers and innovators are specifically encouraged to be process-oriented—the results can come later. Bell Labs, with its focus on research, was said to be free from a drive toward products, at least until the breakup of AT&T.
A mindful state also implies openness to new information. Like category making, the receiving of new information is a basic function of living creatures. In fact, lack of new information can be harmful. Research on sensory deprivation shows that, if confined to an unstimulating environment for a long time, such as a submarine or a specially designed, stimulus-free chamber, we suffer a variety of psychological problems. Also if exposed to patterns of stimulation that are perceived as repeated and unvarying, the sensory system often shuts down, since it is not “receiving” anything new.
Openness, not only to new information, but to different points of view is also an important feature of mindfulness. For years, social psychologists have written about the differences between the perspective of an actor and that of an observer. For instance, we are likely to blame circumstances for our own negative behavior: “The subway always makes me late.” If the very same behavior is engaged in by someone else, however, we tend to blame that individual: “He is chronically behind schedule.”
Once we become mindfully aware of views other than our own, we start to realize that there are as many different views as there are different observers. Such awareness is potentially liberating.

Most believe myth that aging brings unhappiness

Last Updated: 2006-06-15 11:41:03 -0400 (Reuters Health)
By Anne Harding
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People believe happiness declines with age, new research shows, even though numerous studies have demonstrated that we actually get happier as we get older.
“Our stereotypes about aging being an unhappy time of life are not correct… you have a lot of good times left in front of you,” lead author Dr. Heather Pond Lacey, University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, told Reuters Health. “We’re probably better off expecting good things out of our futures.”
Lacey and her colleagues surveyed a group of 273 subjects, who were an average of 31 years old, and 269 subjects, who were an average of 68 years old. Questions were asked about their current, past and expected future level of happiness, and about how happy they thought the average 30-year-old and the average 70-year-old were.
Both groups estimated that the average person would be less happy as he or she aged, but the self-reports confirmed that the older people were actually happier than the younger individuals, the researchers report in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
But younger people predicted no decline in their own personal happiness with time. Past research has shown, Lacey noted, that people tend to see themselves as “above average.” “We often make judgments about ourselves that are more positive than the judgments we make about other people,” she explained.
Among the older people who thought they had been happier in their earlier life, their estimates of past happiness were higher than current happiness self-reports for the younger group. The older group also thought that they were going to be less happy as they aged.
There are a number of theories about why people may get happier as they get older, Lacey noted. For one, people may focus less on achievement and more on personal relationships and enjoying life, and also get better at managing their own moods.
“People are remarkable in their ability to adapt to circumstances, both good and bad, but they are perhaps equally remarkable in their inability to recognize their own adaptation,” Lacey and her team conclude.
SOURCE: Journal of Happiness Studies, June 2006.
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How to be happy

By SARAH STACEY, You magazine 15:16pm 22nd February 2006
Recently, the World Health Organisation claimed that 80 per cent of illness could be prevented if people ate better, exercised more and stopped smoking. But experts are now suggesting that another crucial aim should be happiness, or wellbeing as it’s also called. Happy people tend to have a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol, the damaging stress hormone. And on average, they live seven years longer than unhappy ones, according to Nic Marks, Head of Well-being Research at The New Economics Foundation. Feeling stressed, anxious and depressed, however, are contributing factors in virtually all illness.
The truly heartwarming news is that each of us can, quite simply, bring pleasure into our lives, whatever our situation. Having a capacity to enjoy life doesn’t negate the fact that it’s often tough and painful; but you will have a more positive attitude and a better way of coping with difficulties.
Social scientists say money, possessions, power or fame don’t actually make us happy – although sufficient funds can obviously ease one’s life. When I asked my colleagues at YOU what pressed their joy buttons, not one said buying an expensive new handbag. Simple pleasures involving loving and feeling loved – and often nature – scored the most mentions: “walking with my dog and my boyfriend; seeing my mum’s smile when I come home; seeing my daughter dance; finding out my best friend is pregnant”.
Crisp clean sheets also scored highly, as did listening to music, Banofi pie and cupcakes – and the right bus turning up on time…
Last autumn, a team of experts came together to create the Happiness Manifesto, which was trialled in the Making Slough Happy series on BBC TV. Here are their top tips:
• Take an hour to talk with your partner or closest friend each week.
• Exercise for 30 minutes at least three times a week.
• Plant something (eg a pot of herbs) and keep it alive.
• Cut your TV viewing by half.
• Every day: have a good laugh; give yourself a daily treat and really enjoy it; do someone a good turn; smile at a stranger.
• Count your blessings: think about at least five things you’re grateful for at the end of every day.
To have a copy of You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson (Hodder Mobius, £8.99) delivered to your door post free, or How To Be Happy by Liz Hoggard (BBC Books, £14.99) for just £11.99, plus p&p, contact the YOU bookshop, tel 0870 162 5006,

Adult brain cells rediscover their inner child

Hopkins study shows adult-born nerves experience brief period of child-like learning

You may not be able to relive your youth, but part of your brain can. Johns Hopkins researchers have found that newly made nerves in an adult brain’s learning center experience a one-month period when they are just as active as the nerves in a developing child. The study, appearing this week in Neuron, suggests that new adult nerves have a deeper role than simply replacing dead ones.
Song and his colleagues tracked the chemical signals received by newly made nerve cells in the adult mouse hippocampus, a brain structure dedicated to learning and memory, by injecting virus particles to light up nerve progenitor cells. Any freshly made nerves glowed green and become permanently marked for later identification.
“In essence, we stamped a birth date on new adult nerve cells,” says Hongjun Song, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Cell Engineering. “The brief heightened activity we saw may help explain how adults continue to adapt to new experiences even though adult brains are more hardwired than children’s brains,” he adds. The slow and gradual addition of new nerve cells may be like a fine-tuning system, allowing adults to incorporate fresh information without altering our basic brain circuitry.
When they looked at brains from these mice, the researchers noticed that hippocampal nerves that were between 1 and 2 months old could dramatically increase or decrease the amount of signaling chemicals they receive from neighboring nerves. This ability of nerves to modulate their chemical inputs, known as synaptic plasticity, is especially high in developing brains but tends to become less intense in adults.
While the exact contribution adult-born neurons make to overall learning and memory remains mysterious, Song notes that these results are promising for any future nerve stem cell therapy. “If we can implant or stimulate these adult stem cells in damaged areas, it’s possible we can do more than fill in lost nerve connections,” he says. “We might be able to rejuvenate an aging brain.”
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Whitehall Foundation, Sloan Scholar, Klingenstein Fellowship Award, McKnight Scholar Award, Rett Syndrome Research Foundation and American Heart Association.
Authors on the paper are Chih-hao Yang and Kuei-sen Hsu of National Cheng Kung University and Shaoyo Ge, Guo-li Ming and Song of Johns Hopkins.
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How to Improve It? Ask Those Who Use It

Published: March 25, 2007
DR. NATHANIEL SIMS, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, has figured out a few ways to help save patients’ lives.
In doing so, he also represents a significant untapped vein of innovation for companies.
Dr. Sims has picked up more than 10 patents for medical devices over his career. He ginned up a way to more easily shuttle around the dozen or more monitors and drug-delivery devices attached to any cardiac patient after surgery, with a device known around the hospital as the “Nat Rack.”
His best innovation to date, he says, involved modifying a drug infusion pump routinely used in hospitals to dispense the proper doses of medicine.
Dr. Sims, an accomplished pilot, noticed in the mid-1980s that he could obtain navigation information from regularly updated databases. He wondered why doctors couldn’t use a device preprogrammed with the necessary data to figure out dosages themselves. From 1987 to 1992, he and a small team built an electronic device that worked with an existing pump to provide patients with the correct does of the proper drug. Alaris Medical Systems was the first established medical supply firm to use the technology.
David L. Schlotterbeck, the chief executive of Alaris, bet the company on the device. It was a good wager. The smart pump now brings in $700 million in sales — more than Alaris’s overall revenue of $534 million in 2003, the year before the company was sold to Cardinal Health.
What Dr. Sims did is called user-driven innovation by Eric von Hippel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. Mr. von Hippel is the leading advocate of the value of letting users of products modify them or improve them, because they may come up with changes that manufacturers never considered. He thinks that this could help companies develop products more quickly and inexpensively than with their internal design teams.
“It could drive manufacturers out of the design space,” Mr. von Hippel says.
It is a difficult idea for research and development departments to accept, but one of his studies found that 82 percent of new capabilities for scientific instruments like electron microscopes were developed by users.
Citizen product design is still unsung, but it has already become a force in software, especially gaming software. “Counter-Strike,” a player-created “mod” (for modification to the original game) of “Half-Life,” became as popular as the original game. Apache, the popular open-source Web server software, or the Firefox Internet browser, with its thousands of add-ons and plug-ins, also depend on users to develop innovations. Large companies like I.B.M. are increasingly turning to open-source techniques in their own software development.
It may also drive economic growth, Mr. von Hippel says. While Dr. Sims has no interest in starting a company, many people like him will do exactly that. Burton Snowboards, for instance, grew out of modifications that Jake Burton Carpenter made to a product called the Snurfer. He added a binding for the feet so that Snurfer riders no longer had to guide it by a rope on its nose.
SawStop makes a table saw that automatically stops within five milliseconds when it comes into contact with a user’s finger or thumb. The blade leaves the user with a small nick or cut, but the digit remains intact. It was invented by Stephen Gass, a patent lawyer who liked woodworking and thought that making a table saw safer was an interesting challenge.
One problem with the user-innovation model is that it can run into intellectual property rights protections. But the potential for creating new companies has led the government of Denmark to establish user-driven innovation as a policy. It found that Danish companies tended not to push for technological innovation, so user innovation may be the way to help them compete more effectively in a global economy.
Denmark may be the perfect testing ground for citizen product design, says Christopher Lettl, who six months ago left his native Germany to become professor of user-driven innovation at the University of Aarhus School of Business in Denmark. He thinks that Danish culture’s focus on the concept of “janteloven,” which holds that no person is better than another, may make companies more open to ideas from their users. The Danish company Lego is famous for tapping customers to help develop its Mindstorms NXT robotics kit.
Skeptics argue that Denmark is both small — population, 5.4 million — and a backwater of innovation, and thus has little to lose in trying something new. They might also point out that even in Denmark, Mr. von Hippel’s ideas are up against more conventional forms of user-aided design, such as sending anthropologists to study how people use products in their daily lives. Companies then translate their research into new designs.
Even some of Mr. von Hippel’s acolytes remain cautious. “A lot of this is still in the category of, ‘You could imagine this working out really well,’ ” says Saul T. Griffith, who as an M.I.T. engineering student was part of a group of kite-surfers who developed products for their sport that have since become commercialized. Mr. von Hippel wrote about Mr. Griffith in his 2005 book, “Democratizing Innovation.”
Still, Mr. Griffith can cite a long tradition of user design. One of his favorite examples comes from the title article in Tom Wolfe’s 1965 book, “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” which chronicled car customizers whose innovations — tailfins, double headlights, low-slung bodies — were later adopted by Detroit. Mr. Griffith says that even now, millions of people modify their cars, far more people than the world’s automakers could ever employ in research and development.
There is currently no effective way for companies to harness the ideas of those millions. But the Web — itself created by Tim Berners-Lee, an Internet user looking to do something new — seems to offer an excellent potential idea-gatherer. Mr. Griffith’s industrial design firm, Squid Labs, last year spun off a do-it-yourself community site on the Web called the Instructables, which features items as diverse as the Minty Boost iPod power source, dachshund wheelchairs and guns made entirely of K’nex toys, along with detailed instructions on how to build them. The Instructables intends to offer software to companies that want to build communities of citizen product developers.
Mr. von Hippel, who has spent 30 years waiting for his ideas to take hold, says that as user communities like the Instructables spread, they will dominate innovation. He calls them “the dark matter of innovation.”
User-driven innovation may still be in its infancy, but it is clear that companies should keep an eye open to whether something is rosy in the state of Denmark.
Michael Fitzgerald is a Boston-area writer on business, technology and culture. E-mail: