For the Birds

Birds of a feather flock together. The saying came to mind when I recently drove by a park where a couple of hundred Canada geese were resting comfortably in the cold. Research shows that it’s not only birds that hang out with their own kind. People do too. It’s a myth that opposites attract; in fact, similar do. Multiple studies and simple observations show this. I even found this when I studied audience reactions to an African film. Even though the film was made in a completely different culture and region, audience members were drawn to the characters and story because of the cultural proximity. One person said, “They’re African like me!” In a time and place lacking locally made films, seeing people like them on a screen was significant. If you give cameras to budding photography students, and they go and shoot people who look like them. Whites photograph whites. Polynesians photograph Polynesians, etc. Ask people with whom they socialize and they will likely tell you about friends from their church, neighborhood, work or kid’s school. They tend to be of the same ethnicity, economic strata and education level. They also tend to be the same religion. We are quite naturally drawn to those who are similar us. But we don’t have to limit ourselves. We are not birds! We have the sophistication to be driven by factors other than instinct! We have free will, live in complex social networks, and have the ability to create new realities. We can actually rise above the narrow limitations of our social groups and actively seek out new ones. But it takes intentionality. I used to work with a very close-knit group. Even though group members were spread around the world, we had a pretty narrow...

Get Control Of Your Money Jan06

Get Control Of Your Money...

  With the New Year comes lots of attention on starting over and getting things in order. Try finding a parking spot at your local gym! And check out the closet organizing systems on sale in January! One area worth evaluating is your financial life. If you’re like me, you need a system to keep track of your income, bills, spending, and budgeting. For the past four years I’ve used a great piece of software called YNAB, short for You Need A Budget. Even though I’m still working on the budgeting aspect, YNAB has certainly helped me keep better records and track my spending. Now YNAB has taken its method and software to a completely new level. Instead of relying on a downloadable software package, YNAB has now become an online tool that connects all of your devices with your banks, credit cards and other financial institutions. Being web-based, it can more easily updated, and improved, and not rely on your precious storage of Dropbox. I can access YNAB on my computer, smart phone or tablet, all perfectly in sync and up-to-date with your banks and each other. Reconciling is not longer a much-dreaded, tedious process, rather a simple matter of assigning imported expenses to your priorities. YNAB‘s founder, Jesse Meecham, says he and other early adopters of the new YNAB are actually reconciling more often because it’s less work, making them keep on top of their financial activity more than ever. I am currently taking advantage of a free 34-day trial, using YNAB to sync with my financial institutions and give me a birds-eye view of all my accounts in one screen. No more logging onto separate bank websites to check on balances; I can even see my current mortgage status! In a...

resolutions #2

In my last article I opined that setting SMART goals is much more systematic and effective than making resolutions.

rezəˈlo͞oSHəns #1...

The dictionary defines a resolution as a firm decision to do or not to do something. It’s a word that is mostly used this time of year. It’s an abused word.

The Power Of Habit

My whole life I drove manual transmission cars. Shifting was almost as natural as breathing. I hardly had to think about pushing the clutch with my left foot and changing the gears with my right hand. It was a habit…that is, until two years ago, when I bought my first automatic. The funny thing is, I still sometimes reach for the shifter and insist on putting on the emergency brake when I park. Though driving an automatic car is easier, I still find myself occasionally resorting to old habits. Habits are like police characters in TV shows. Just like there are good cops and bad cops, there are good habits and bad habits. Some we want to break; others we want to develop. By understanding how habits work and what triggers them, we can make conscious changes and get control of our life! That’s the theory behind, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. I listened to the book over the holidays, which seemed like a timely addition to my toolkit for the new year. The book is a fascinating study into why we do what we do, with real steps on how to change. The book isn’t a pipedream; Duhigg read hundreds of studies on habit formation from social science, neuroscience and psychology, to come up with his theory. What he offers is both insight and practical. His basic premise is that habits involve 3 key steps: cue, routine and reward. Learning to recognize and manage these 3 steps can empower us to make lasting changes. Check out this short video review that reviews the concept. I encourage you to pick up the book (available in hardcover, paperback, Nook, audio CD, Kindle and downloadable...

Enjoying The Holidays...

I could have titled this article, “Surviving The Holidays,” but that had such a negative tone! I also thought of, “Staying Safe Over The Holidays,” but that sounded so pessimistic. How are you planning to enjoy the holidays? Will you enjoy them, or be stressed out? What would it take to actually ENJOY them? I realize this article is mostly for Americans, for where else do people get their panties in such a wad over a season that should be meaningful, sweet and relaxing. This is the time of year we can be vulnerable to potential pitfalls. It is important to enjoy time with friends and family, explore spiritual celebrations, and a get a break from the routine. Here are a few tips to keep in mind: Let it go. People are busy driving, shopping and preparing for Christmas. Some drivers seem to be going especially slow. Others are obnoxious shoppers with whiny children and attitudes. Family members know your buttons and are likely to push them. Let it all go. Don’t take offense. Don’t get frustrated. Let it go. Take a deep breath and relax. Do you really have to have 5 salads for Christmas dinner when 2 will do? What is the worst that might happen if you don’t get everything on your list done? Will you die? Will the world come to a end? Probably not. Watch your back when you’re out shopping. Thieves look for opportunities. Be mindful of your surroundings, keep your keys out and ready, and hug your belongings tight. Never leave a purse or other valuables within sight in your vehicle. NEVER leave your purse, even if you don’t think there is anything of value there. Even a driver’s license or ID card can help someone steal...

The Right Gifts Dec16

The Right Gifts

Gift giving at Christmas has its roots in remembering and commemorating two actions: First is the gift of God’s Son, Jesus, to make right all that had gone wrong in the world. The second is in remembering the gifts the wise men took to the Christ child after traveling far and wide to find him. But manufacturers and merchants have turned this into the most profitable time of the year. You are likely thinking about what gifts to purchase for your friends and family this year. And some of you are tempted to go into considerable debt to do so. How can you celebrate Christmas differently this year? How can you say, “I love you” to those who mean the most in your life without causing harm to them or yourself? Here are a few things you might think consider: 1, Check your motives. Are you really trying to bless others and truly love on them? Or are you trying to impress, outdo, and otherwise spoil? Exercising unhealthy behavior around others is never a good idea, and it likely does more harm than good, even if you don’t intend it. Model sensible behavior that is ripe with good intentions; people will pick up on the love behind the gift, no matter how small. Better to give something small but personalized, rather than something expensive that may go to waste, or even embarrass the recipient. See Dave Ramsey’s article on “4 Competitive Pitfalls To Avoid This Christmas.” 2. Ask yourself if you can afford the gifts you want to purchase. Someone recently wrote nationally-syndicated advice columnist, Amy Dickinson, asking how to handle a mother-in-law who routinely overspends on multiple gifts for her grandchildren, yet who is chronically behind on her mortgage and routinely asks for...

Church

How do you know you’re on a good personal track? What are the markers of your spiritual growth? What do you think it means to be a person of faith? How do you nurture growth in your life? I had breakfast with a friend the other day that expressed concern because I don’t attend church services on a regular basis. Certainly she is not the only one to have voiced such fear. This friend followed up her statement with, “There’s a lot of stuff out there; what if you get off?” I then launched into a 5-minute defense of my spiritual life. We have social litmus tests for all sorts of things. And the common one for your faith is whether or not you go to church. (Interesting how church has become something you go to instead of who you are.) I’m cool with my friend, but our conversation topic makes me crazy! I think people and ideas and consciousness evolve. (I’m so glad we don’t believe in human slavery and are past the Crusades.) So a question is worth asking: To what extent can our understanding of God and faith evolve? I think that just as the universe continues to expand, so can our understanding of ultimate reality. Do you still believe that participating in certain rituals is a good test of your relationship with God, what you believe, and how you live your life? Jesus said people will know you are his disciples if you love one another.* But today, being right has become more important than being loving. And many people outside the church (however you define that growing group of folks), is, unfortunately, dare I say, sometimes nicer and kinder than those inside. Ouch! I’m not here to rag on church...

Personal SWOT Dec07

Personal SWOT

SWOT is an acronym for an assessment often used in teams; it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. But a SWOT analysis is not just a business tool. It can be a use personal exercise to help you land a job! In preparing for a career move, my colleague and friend, MJ, put me through a mock interview. Suddenly all the great communication skills I know and teach went flying out the window; I was a rambling disaster! She assigned me the homework of doing a personal SWOT analysis. Like many people, I am uncomfortable describing or selling myself. But the job interview is a situation when you must do both of these! You only have a few minutes to tell about yourself in ways your cover letter or resume cannot. I found the exercise of doing a SWOT analysis extremely helpful. The first two are internal components: Strengths According to Forbes.com, you must picture yourself as a product in the marketplace. This is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from all the other applicants. I think you have to get past the idea that you’re being arrogant if you detail your strengths. These are some ideas that might get you started. Use personality profiles you’ve taken. I relied on the results of my Strengths Finder results, a book, test and philosophy that identifies 34 top most common talents. (Buy the book, read it, and use the code at the back to take the test online. The results will uncover your top five strengths so you focus on them to build a successful life and career.) Mine include the ability to woo (win others over) and great communication skills. Ask others. Because I’m a college teacher, I asked my students. They said I know how to...

Fear of Failing

I have a saying that people who never fail, never do anything. That’s because failing is inevitable. When I heard a student give a brilliant speech on the topic, I asked him to turn it into an article for you. Here you go. Here is Elijah Petty: We all have places we’re going, and dreams of who and what we want to grow to be, but most of us will fail before we get there – at least at first. The fear of this failure can cripple us by keeping us inside our comfort zone, when usually our dreams lie outside of it. Unfortunately, failure is unavoidable. Nobody gets everything right on the first try, but the way we treat our failures is crucial if we want to succeed in the end. We’re afraid of failure. It’s discouraging, and the higher the stakes are, the worse the letdown is. I speak from experience when I say nothing’s more demoralizing than spending months of hard work to make the most of an upcoming opportunity, and then showing up and doing my best only to find out that my best isn’t good enough. The fear of that demoralizing failure can sometimes stop us from trying – and also stop us from succeeding, because trying is the first step toward any goal. On the other hand, failure is one of the best opportunities to learn. When working on one of his inventions, Thomas Edison said, “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” If you get something right, that’s great, but where do you go from there? It isn’t always obvious how...

Selective Empathy

Every time I think I have a healthy view of others, something reminds me of the darkness of my own heart and my need to adjust my thinking. Just when I think I’ve reached maturity, I get a glimpse of how much my character still needs developing. While I usually write on timeless issues, I must present this topic in light of recent events—terrorist attacks. All humanity is facing the reality of an energized movement committed to world domination. To them, it’s a holy war not only sanctioned, but commanded by God. How members of ISIS can excuse their actions is likely a topic for another day; it does show the propensity of humankind to justify belief systems—no matter how diabolical—and to control. The same predisposition exists in us all. But the topic at hand is how we parse out empathy and compassion willy-nilly. After the Paris bombings, Facebook, the press and the Western world in general were awash in chatter, prayers, moments of silence and monuments lit up in the colors of the French flag. There was a huge outpouring of love and support. But where was any sense of Western compassion when 14-year-old Ali Awad and more than 40 others lost their lives in double suicide attacks in Beirut the day before? It hardly made the American news. A Lebanese doctor wrote in a blog article titled, A World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives, “When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag…There was no global outrage…Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”* Another group dismissed was the Russian tourists. Where was the international outcry when it was...

Shit Happens

Why do people question their faith when shit happens? Why do we get angry with our sources of comfort at the very time we need them–when we suffer?! Why does bad stuff even happen? I have some friends who are struggling with serious health issues right now. We all know folks in similar circumstances, or suffer the same afflictions ourselves. There are certainly times we think we have exhausted our “rope,” with little left to hang on to and life has seemingly left us hanging (out to dry). The very people and sources we look to for answers and comfort often let us down. The preachers and the clichés and the well-meaning friends do not always help. In fact, they often create or magnify the very struggles we encounter. To be honest, they are no help at best and disgustingly annoying at worst. There is a lot of bullshit out there. And when shit happens, the last thing you need are some bullshit explanations or pat answers. I think a lot of the stuff we, and others, struggle with are just really stupid ideas. Here are a few I have identified that perhaps you can identify with. First of all, shit happens. We live in a really messed up world where even good intentions often result in lousy situations. We have a great need for answers. And when we can’t find answers or struggle to make sense of senseless situations, we make up stuff. The human mind is outstandingly creative, and when given time and thought, can come up with all sorts of answers, whether they’re true or not. We buy into myths. That’s right, we believe all kinds of stuff in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. The problem is, these contrived...

Quantum Enganglement

We are all connected in ways we are oblivious to. So I am immensely interested in the cross-section between science, social science (the study of humans) and spirituality. I love subjects of inquiry such as that surrounding quantum entanglement, which attempts to explain the ways that we are, indeed, connected. So I have to share this most recent article by Franciscan, Richard Rohr: Just as different ways of interpreting scripture and various types of truth (e.g., literal vs. mythic) are valuable for different purposes, so scientific theories have different applications while seeming to be paradoxical and irreconcilable. For example, we have the Newtonian theory of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and quantum theory. Physicists know that each of them is true, yet they don’t fit together and each is limited and partial. Newtonian mechanics can’t model or predict the behavior of massive or quickly moving objects. Relativity does this well, but doesn’t apply to very, very small things. Quantum mechanics succeeds on the micro level. But we don’t yet have an adequate theory for understanding very small, very energetic, very massive phenomenon, such as black holes. Scientists are still in search of a unified theory of the universe. Perhaps the term “quantum entanglement” names something that we have long intuited, but science has only recently observed. Here is the principle in layperson’s terms: in the world of quantum physics, it appears that one particle of any entangled pair “knows” what is happening to another paired particle–even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which are separated by sometimes very large distances. Could this be what is happening when we “pray” for somebody? Scientists don’t know how far this phenomenon applies beyond very rare particles, but quantum entanglement...

Nonverbal Communication...

A  guest article by Jennifer Larson “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” Peter Drucker We all have an invitation to honor people in our lives. Our ability to respond to those we cross paths with is endless. It is through our silent and subtle gestures that we offer the most to each other. A simple smile, wink, or nod can promote positive energy and positive change. Nonverbal Communication is defined as behaviors and characteristics that convey meaning without the use of words. It includes how we say things (pitch, volume, etc.) as well as facial expressions, artifacts (like rings, clothes, tattoos, architecture, etc.), gestures, smell, touch, use of silence, personal space and the like. Nonverbal is an important aspect of human connection. It is essential to our relationships and interactions, no matter how brief, with others. One of the most powerful books I’ve read on nonverbal communication is by Geoff Blackwell. Humanity: A Celebration of Friendship, Love, and Laughter, with countless images from all over the globe. It is a book that doesn’t need captions, as the emotion is felt with the turning of each page. This extraordinary book displays gestures of tenderness, intimacy, love, curiosity, surprise, and struggle. The images in this book expose simple and casual gestures, however, the meaning is powerful. The book is an intimate reminder to all of us that communication is more than the words we speak. We have an essential need for nonverbal communication on a daily basis. This includes both the abbreviated interactions as well as the lengthy meetings with people that share our day. It increases opportunity for a productive workplace and reduces conflict in our relationships. When we engage with people nonverbally, we communicate their significance in our lives...

What Size Is God?

The real question is, what size is YOUR God? We don’t know much. We try to find truth and figure things out, but we’re all just searching, often guessing. But this I know, if your God fits in a small box, your image of God is likely due for a makeover. When I was a child, we learned there are nine planets, with Pluto being the smallest. Today scientists argue on whether Pluto is even a planet at all, and in 2014, announced the discovery of 715 new planets outside of earth’s solar system. They think there are likely billions of stars, and our sun is one of the smaller ones. NASA estimates the Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years across. As space probes travel further and further from earth, we are finding not only more and more galaxies, but clusters of galaxies! Perhaps one of the coolest discoveries is that not only is there more to find, but the universe itself continues to expand. Notice the image with this article. It’s actually named, “Celestial Maternity Ward N81!” It’s all rather mind-blowing! How cool is that? The universe we thought was quantifiable and static, or even dying, continues to grow. Growth and expansion are a mark of the universe. Should they not also mark of our lives and understanding of God and reality? If the universe is as big or bigger than we thought, how big God must be! If the creation is this magnificent and expanding, how much greater the creator! Yet a great irony is the extent to which we have made God so small. We make God fit into small buildings and tiny communion cups. We’ve created a myriad of boxes and forced God inside. We think how boring religion is, so...

Your Plastic Brain

With the airing of a new television series on the brain, I decided to repost my previous article on the plasticity of the brain. The Brain With Dr. David Engleman is a fascinating series airing on PBS in the U.S. that helps explain who we are and why we do what we do. This neuroscientist shows how brain research continues to give us answers, and also to show that our brains are constantly changing depending on how we live and how much we expose ourselves to new ideas and experiences. He shows how you really can affect your aging process. The series airs on Wednesday evenings in my locale; check your local listing to see if and when you can catch the series. Meanwhile, check out the trailer. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I think that assumes it’s been while since the dog has learned anything. Researchers have known for awhile that the brain is very plastic. It is always changing. It is always responding to stimuli. The latest research was just released in the May 10th issue of the journal, Science. Researchers put 40 genetically identical mice in an elaborate maze with many toys and lots of places to explore. They put other mice in a less complex environment with less to do. After three months, scientists found that the mice who were exposed to more stimulation generated more brain neurons. In addition, some of the mice explored more than others. These most adventurous mice generated even more neurons than those who lost interest. The more the mice explored, the more brain cells were produced in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for short and long-term memory and navigation. This shows once again, how important it is to be adventurous,...

038: The Art of Breathing pt 2 Oct19

038: The Art of Breathing pt 2...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/38-The_Art_of_Breathing_pt_2.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 32:59 — 30.2MB)This is part 2 of an interview with Dr. Frank Seaman about techniques you can implement to improve your energy and health. He talks about using tape on your mouth while exercising and sleeping, being aware of how you swallow and where you place your tongue–simple steps you can take to keep yourself oxygenated, reduce oral problems and even deal with sleep disorders. “Our beliefs are a kind of rigidity, not to challenge our own way of thinking. I think in modern Western society, there seems to be a powerful cultural conditioning that is based on science. But in some instances, the basic premises and parameters set up by Western science can limit your ability to deal with certain realities. When you encounter phenomena that you cannot account for, then there’s a tension created; it’s almost a feeling of agony.” – The Dalai Lama “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert...

Life’s Teachers...

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller How willing are you to learn from others? Here is a lovely guest article by Jennifer Larson. Our interview rooms were side by side down the last aisle in the Kansas City Department of Children & Family Service Center. I was a new caseworker and Kimberly was a ten year seasoned worker. Our duties included interviewing clients face to face for state and federal assistance programs. Kim had a remarkable way of reaching out to clients in their time of need. I leaned on her knowledge and expertise when I needed another set of eyes during moments of uncertainty. At the time, I had no idea her mentoring would reach far beyond the workplace. I think we gain valuable insight and courage from the people with whom we cross paths. They help us face adversity and change when we need it the most and when we least expect it. The term “teacher” should not be reserved for academia; teachers are, in every sense of the word, our family, friends, partners, coaches, coworkers, and, sometimes, even strangers. Who are the teachers in your life? How magnificent would it be if you could gather all of the mentors from your life into one room – all of the outstanding souls who have inspired your passions, your talents, and your dreams? Think about all the unforgettable people who help guide you towards the things you’re the most passionate about. Competitive coaches, determined teachers, relentless parents, and unfiltered partners. Though often unforeseen, many of these people have a hand in helping you navigate your way through life. They influence and assist both your personal and your professional growth. Our friendships and our romantic...

Ugly Duckling

We have all felt like ugly ducklings, misfits, fish out of water, ugly stepchildren; use the analogy that works for you. We’ve all known rejection, the struggle to fit in, the desire for unconditional love. These are the themes in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Ugly Duckling. Take a moment to watch the classic 1939 Disney animated version, or read the original story. All our stories are similar yet different. Despite being born into a loving home, I grew up thinking of myself as an ugly duckling. A handful of life events were devastating. My first grade teacher actually told me I was stupid. Kids made fun of my looks in middle school. I even had a boyfriend who begged me to let him see me without makeup, then laughed hysterically when I did. These are not the kind of events that make us into healthy, happy, well adjusted individuals with appropriate levels of self-esteem. You have your own stories, your own memories, your own pain. In the story of the ugly duckling, we find a creature that was born happy and healthy. The pain he endured was the result of rejection, not fitting in, and being misplaced. He was not a duck at all, but rather a graceful and beautiful swan that was hatched in the wrong place. We all have to work through our crap. We have to do the hard work of the soul to regain our true selves and find out place. We have to come to a place where the past no longer defines us. I will never forget the day that I realized I was not stupid or ugly. It was a lightbulb moment when my world changed. It was also a milestone in a season of tremensous personal...

Effective Presentations Oct07

Effective Presentations...

Perhaps you have sat through ill-crafted presentations with PowerPoints that just about killed you! Well don’t do the same to others! If you are one who has to give speeches, sermons, teachings or presentations to clients, followers, co-workers or others, learn how to produce effective visual presentations (otherwise known as PowerPoint).  Here is a 33-minute video I produced to help my student successfully craft visuals to accompany their in-class presentations. The principles are universal and can easily be applied to business, ministry or other...

037: The Art of Breathing pt 1 Oct05

037: The Art of Breathing pt 1...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/37-The_Art_of_Breathing_with_Dr._Frank_Seaman.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 39:50 — 36.5MB)Guest Dr. Frank Seaman shares his pioneering work into the importance of breathing on dental and overall health. He deals with problems like sleep disorders, snoring, dry mouth, and overall breakdown of the mouth. Whether you’re a runner, suffer from sleep disorders or are just concerned with better health, this is a must-hear 2-part podcast for you. You can read about Dr. Seaman’s interview as he was about to do the Pikes Pek Ascent with tape on his mouth. Read about his dental practice in Colorado Springs here. Dr. Seaman recommends 3M Nexcare tape for sensitive skin.  ...

God & Your Brain...

I found this short but most interesting video about what you think of God and how it shows up in your brain when you pray. If you don’t know about Science Mike, you might want to find out! He’s a Christian turned atheist turned follower of Jesus, who uses his story to help people know God in an age of incredible scientific insight. I find him wonderfully out of the box and refreshing. Find his blog here: http://mikemchargue.com. You may also want to check out his never-boring podcast, “Ask Science Mike.” I subscribed through Apple’s podcasts...

Map Your Progress

Looking for a life hack to help you reach a goal? Check this out. I love sharing resources as well as ideas with you. This time I have a GREAT one! Map Your Progress is a new initiative to help you accomplish your goals by coloring your progress. You may remember the old thermometer posters that were sometimes used to show the amount of money raised for a project. This is like that, but much more personal and much more creative. It all started when Californian Amy Jones got a clear message from her accountant that it was time to clean up her financial mess. She had carried debt on credit cards for much too long, and it was time to pay them off. (Funny how easy it is to put charges on a credit card and so hard to get it off!) As a tool to help her stay focused and encouraged, Amy decided to turn her knack for doodling (in boring meetings and conference calls) into something practical to help her abolish her debt. Using an unused canvas that was laying around, she drew swirls to represent specific increments ($100). Then each time she paid that much towards debt, she would color in the appropriate number of swirls. Brilliant! After a few months, the drawing actually built up Amy’s confidence. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, she actually believed she could eliminate her debt. And she did it, more than $26,000 worth! Wow. I used a similar technique in the past to mark off chapters of the bible I read in a year. But this is way more fun than little boxes. This is creative! And it’s something you can keep in front of you all the time. What is your goal? To save for...

Light Bulbs

“Imagine yourself sitting in a dimly lit room, reading a book with wires connected to your brain, and every time you understood a new concept or made connections between the book and your personal life, light bulbs literally lit up.” So wrote one of my students after reading a particular textbook chapter in my interpersonal communication class. I thought, what a great analogy that perfectly illustrates my topic! How long has it been since you’ve had a light bulb go on in your head? How long has it been since you had a new thought, asked a question, or ventured into a novel experience? I think we are always growing. That can mean many things: Growing up Growing mature Growing fat Growing old Growing younger Growing stale Growing cobwebs You get my drift. So even if you’re not growing as a person, you are growing somewhere, even if it’s towards decay, rigidity and death. I think a central law of the universe is that growing is good. That is if it’g going towards better. Every time you have an “ah-ha” moment, something in your mind and soul lights up. You discover something you didn’t know before, see something from a new angle, or generally get transformed. Imagine sitting in a dimly lit room, when suddenly, your personhood lights up. Everything in you says YES! Different analogies have been used to describe this experience throughout the ages. Jesus used the language of “born again” to describe a transition from what was to what can be. Though the term has been bastardized in recent years, the concept behind it is very real; it’s about opening one’s mind and heart to new things. Its about getting unstuck and embracing growth. It’s like being born again! Some people...

036: Get Control Of Your Emotions Sep20

036: Get Control Of Your Emotions...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/36-Terry.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 39:50 — 36.5MB)Security expert Terry Blevins shares techniques for controlling your emotions in volatile situations and stressed relationships. Recommended Resources: Humble: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein Article on Emotional Intelligence Article on the Johari Window Two articles on Listening part 1 and Listening part 2...

Self-concept

Who do you think you are? Who are you (really)? How do you think others see you? Your self-concept is likely a combination of all of these. It is, in essence, your identity. If you ask a Westerner (someone from North America, Europe or other whites in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) who they are, they will likely to tell you what they do for a living and what they like to do in their spare time. That is great, but fairly shallow. This of course if very different than non-Westerners (the rest of the world’s population) whose identity is much more tied to their group (ethnicity, tribe, region, etc.) yet sometimes lacking the specifics of an individual. Your self-concept is something that changes over your lifetime, or it should be if you are growing as a person. So your self-concept is obviously fluid. Who you think you are is a subjective view of yourself, including strengths, weaknesses, personality, abilities, talents, character and so on. And it may actually (unfortunately, too) be tied to who you used to be. It is also a subjective view of who you think others think you are. So if you think about it, your self-concept has nothing to do with who you really are. It’s the perception of who you are. We could break it down like this: Who you are Who you think you are Who others think you are Who you think others think you are Good grief! According to academics, your self-concept is influenced by personality, culture, biology, gender roles, and of course what we’ve already mentioned, self-reflected appraisal, and social comparison. It completely makes sense. I tell my students all the time that they have to figure out who they are and what...

What Would You Do? Sep14

What Would You Do?

Would you kiss butt to get a promotion? Enjoy a guest post by Terry W. Blevins: When in high school, my son told me that his personal ethics prevented him from getting a job because he would be required to blindly follow someone else’s ethical rules and not his own in exchange for money. I laughed at the time. But if I analyze that statement, it causes me to think. Would you compromise your personal standards in exchange for success? I’m not only talking about doing something dishonest, illegal or immoral, but also about those personal preferences that each one of us have regarding what we will do or won’t do in order to increase our chances of career success. Have you ever heard anyone say “I don’t care if they fire me, I’m not going to kiss anyone’s butt?” Of course the definition of “kissing butt” (aka: “kissing up to”, “kissing ass” also known as “being obsequious”) will mean many different things to each of you. In my experience, “kissing butt” means lying or exaggerating about something to impress your boss in order to gain their favor. (I think this is the generally accepted definition.) From thefreedictionary.com: kiss someone’s ass– Sl. to fawn over someone; to flatter and curry favor with someone ob·se·qui·ous (ŏb-sē′kwē-əs, əb-) adj. Full of or exhibiting servile compliance; fawning I think most of us would agree that “kissing butt” is something that is demeaning, and not something we are likely to do. But consider this scenario: Your boss asks what you thought of his presentation, and although you thought it was really bad, you know that you can’t be honest with him or her because they will be upset with you. If you sugarcoat your response in order to...

Honey

The old saying is that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I think that is not only true for flies, but for us too. Father Richard Rohr’s devotion on Sunday, September 6, 2015 was somewhat on this topic. See the excerpt below: “Rather than making dogmatic statements about how to get to heaven, Jesus modeled and taught how to live on earth in a loving way, and he said that this was indeed heaven! But Christians have all too often pushed heaven into the future. We’ve made Jesus’ death and resurrection into a reward/punishment system for the next world, which creates tremendously self-absorbed and self-preoccupied people. It doesn’t transform anyone into compassionate, loving individuals. Instead it leads to a kind of morbid self-analysis in which people feel guilty, inferior, and inadequate or superior and self-righteous. “This dualistic approach has corrupted the true meaning of the Gospel. I would go so far as to say that by sending Christians on a path of well disguised but delayed self-interest, we prostituted the entire spiritual journey from the very start. You cannot easily get to love when you begin with threats and appeals to fear. The driving energy is completely wrong. Rather, you come to love by attraction. Change must begin with positive energy or the final result is never positive.” To this I say YES! That is why I’m so glad to find a path to God that is marked by love and acceptance instead of fear and manipulation. But oh how may people have experienced the latter instead of the former. The irony is that LOVE drives the universe. God is not far away; the loving Divine is closer than our breath. God is sweeter than honey; and He/She is always...

035: Finishing Well Sep06

035: Finishing Well

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/35-Finishing_Well_-_9_5_15.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 46:43 — 42.8MB)A powerful story of love, end of life issues, dealing with aging parents, doing the right thing, taking risks, perspectives, letting go and finishing well. Jack and Stacia Woloshun talk about walking through the final year with Sally Woloshun, Jack’s mom (and guest on Get Control podcast #24: Timeless Wisdom). It may not be for everyone, but is especially for those who may be walking by someone with a diminishing...

Believing and Doing

Are we meant to BELIEVE or to DO? Have you thought about it? Which is more important, what you believe or what you do? Can you have one without the other? This question goes back a long way and has roots in both philosophy and theology. It helpful to introduce two terms that link the spiritual nature of being and doing. Orthodoxy is doctrinal correctness; it’s about theory, belief and conviction. It’s about believing the right stuff. Orthopraxy, on the other hand, is about doing or right practice. So is it important that we seek truth and try to believe good stuff? Or is it important that we work out our beliefs and values in acts of service? We might ask, what is a glove without a hand? (One might respond, not very useful at all.) I was brought up in the Lutheran church, a denomination that was founded on the radical (at the time) convictions of 16th century reformer, Martin Luther. Despite Luther’s belief that even doing simple tasks like housework are as important as the work of monks and nuns, he was overwhelmed with revelation of and the urgent need for an understanding grace. (We might define grace as the undeserved acceptance, love and assistance of the Divine.) In a historical period where salvation was all about “earning” one’s redemption, Luther’s voice was counter-cultural. He latched onto the Apostle Paul’s writing that “We are saved by grace” (Ephesians 2:8). We might pause to ask ourselves if it is enough to just believe the right stuff. Perhaps like me, you have encountered people who seemed to believe the right stuff, yet their behavior was deplorable. In the name of religion, they seemed to be doing “the work of the Lord,” yet didn’t have...

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