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Dr. Grauer's Column - Keynote Address To The Grauer Middle School Graduating Class

Keynote Address To The Grauer Middle School Graduating Class
June 11, 2021

Good morning to our visitors and families, and good morning to our 8th grade students on your last day in middle school. Thinking about sharing days with this group through your middle school years really brings a smile to my face, and it also makes me feel more optimistic about the future.

Dr. Grauer delivering the Keynote Address at The Grauer School's graduation ceremony - June 11, 2021

The faculty has asked me to provide a keynote address to you, our middle school graduates, on this great occasion and, wanting to provide you with great wisdom for coming of age, I consulted one of my spiritual guides: “The Surfer’s Code”. There I found this pledge from Shaun Tomson, which I ask you each to make today, the key to wisdom and success:  “I will pass along my stoke.”

In simply deciding to do this, you lift up your own joy, and you also give it to someone else. Lest you think I take my wisdom just from surfers, I can cite another great role model I have used often in determining best behavior:  the Labrador Retriever.

Labs are not only born floppy-eared and silly, they spend their whole lives like that. Scientists even have a name for this: neoteny. Neoteny is the retention of juvenile characteristics throughout our lives. We retain the child in ourselves to show positive energy, high spirit, nonjudgement, playfulness… and to almost guarantee that we are loved.

The Grauer School's Middle School graduates in the Class of 2025 - June 11, 2021

Sure, you are coming of age, but here is a little secret:  being overly mature and grown-up is way overrated. According to the great professor Stuart Brown from Stanford, humans are designed by nature to be playful their whole lives. This is central to our wellbeing. Don’t let mean or exhausted people, or any people, take this away from you. Scientists claim that the people who play their whole lives have the least mental decline as they get old, and they live long lives, too. (Brown)

The pandemic is ending. Vaccinations will make you eligible for almost any environment. Sure, you’ve been removed from social interactions and lots of outdoor environments. But that’s done. Let’s get out there again.

You can take all the vitamins and meds in the world, I do not believe any of them has a greater impact on your health than smiling when you rise and laughing every day. This not only has the greatest benefit on you, it is probably the best thing you can do for your friends and family. And it is easy to say that laughing every day is worth more than all the money in the world because what is all the money in the world worth if you are glum, apathetic, sad, and down? Get unstuck! You can do this!

8th Grade graduate Blu I. '25 receiving their diploma from Dr. Stuart Grauer - June 11, 2021

And while I am on the subject, if you like emotions like apathy, sadness, etc., there is no need to play or hang out outdoors: just keep checking your social media and stay online—this is almost guaranteed to steal your joy, according to the Yale Emotional Intelligence project.

You do not need any social media to pass along your stoke and joy in real life. Be like a puppy when someone left the gate open. Get outside! Let’s see that grin. C’mon, you can do this!

Here are some summer assignments for you: Watch your favorite comedies, I recommend at least 10 episodes of my favorite, Seinfeld—have a Seinfeld party. (I know, I just said get outside, but this is known as the “Seinfeld exemption,” applicable only to your favorite comedy.). Read novels or short stories. Love your hobbies.

And one more thing: Take a happy pill every morning by hanging the biggest poster you can get of a puppy or a chimp on your wall so it is the first thing you see every day. I honestly believe this could raise your IQ by 10 points and increase your friendships. If you do not know what poster to get, come to my office—I have made a collection! I will give one to you.

8th Grade graduate Milan B. '25 receiving his diploma from Dr. Stuart Grauer - June 11, 2021

According to the neuroscientists, joy, laughter and good cheer cause your brain to release norepinephrine and dopamine. These are called neurotransmitters. And do you know what those neurotransmitters do in addition to making you feel great and be more attractive? They make you more alert and mentally energetic. So, feeling joyful and playful all summer will even make you do better on your tests next school year.

Your purpose in life is to achieve joy, bliss, transcendence and connection—there are no higher or healthier human purposes and according to leading research journals. [4, page 278]  There are no better ways to look after your physical and mental health.

Congratulations to this group of students who have embraced our core values. Have a playful summer. Albert Einstein had an IQ of around 170 and claimed that play is the highest form of research. So when you are outside this summer goofing around or making art or reading, and your mom or dad says come in and get some work done, just tell them:  “Mom, Dad, I’m busy doing research!”

References: 

[1] Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

[2] Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive, Marc Brackett, Ph.D.

[3] Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown, M.D.

[4] The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, Lisa Miller, Ph.D.

[5] The Surfer’s Code: 12 Simple Lessons for Riding Through Life, Shaun Tomson (World Champion Surfer)

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Dr. Grauer delivering the Keynote Address at The Grauer School's graduation ceremony - June 11, 2021

The Grauer School's Middle School graduates in the Class of 2025 - June 11, 2021

8th Grade graduate Blu I. '25 receiving their diploma from Dr. Stuart Grauer - June 11, 2021

8th Grade graduate Milan B. '25 receiving his diploma from Dr. Stuart Grauer - June 11, 2021

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