Top 10-#3 Try New Things...

We have an English expression that one can be “stuck in a rut”. A rut in the ground is created when repeated activity takes place in the same location. If you walk or drive in the same place every day, you will create ruts or crevices in the ground. Over time, these can become huge. Our brains are no different. When you do things over and over and only occasionally deviate from sameness, your brain actually creates ruts. So the expression, “I’m in a rut,” is very literal. Scientists used to believe that the brain has little ability to change past childhood. But research since the 1960s shows the brain is like plastic; it has the ability to change as a result of new experiences. It can even rewire itself after suffering damage. I saw a documentary about a 95-year-old Japanese man who was still directing a preschool for special needs children. He had learned the Korean language in his 80s and was learning Chinese in his 90s so he could travel to China to share his expertise on children. This man refused to retire into a rocking chair; he continued to live by pushing himself and learning new things. I think he might have a key to staying young. I once took a creative communication class. We were encouraged to alter our daily routines in order to spark creativity: take a different route home or brush your teeth with your other hand. If you’re a follower of this blog, you know I often quote the famous American basketball coach John Wooden. He said, “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” So do something different today. Expose yourself to new ideas and experiences....

Pleasantville

It seemed everything was perfect. Kids were happy, fathers got a fully cooked dinner after a long day at work, the streets were clean, and there was no crime anywhere to be found. It was the idealized American 1950s. It’s all the residents of the small town knew. But life turned messy when two teenagers from the next century invaded their perfect space. You see, the place was a fictionalized town inside a fictionalized movie called Pleasantville released 1998. The film starred Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels and Don Knotts. The film began in the 1990s. Tobey’s character David longed for the simplicity of the 1950s. The victim of his parents’ failed marriage, a stressed-out mother, and an absent father, David escaped his painful reality by watching old re-runs of a 1950s TV show, Pleasantville. And Reece’s character, Jennifer, was obsessed with being popular at school and sleeping with every high school boy she could seduce. Her value was based on being liked by others. One day, while fighting over the television remote, David and Jennifer were magically transported into the 1950s world of Pleasantville, only to find the town residents living in black-and-white, just like the TV show. What they found were isolated, ignorant and shallow residents. While everything seemed wonderful on the surface, the reality was that the townsfolk knew of nothing outside their tiny world, and were ignorant to the beauty of art, the mind-expanding knowledge of books and the intimacy of deep relationships. David and Jennifer could not help being who they were (themselves from the 1990s). As they interacted with Pleasantville’s residents, things began to change. As folks experienced beauty, choice, knowledge and passion, they began to change from 2-dimensional characters in black and white to 3-dimensional characters...

Avoiding Transformation...

This article is part of a series on scapegoating by Franciscian, Richard Rohr. It seems we always find some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. There’s the common way of fight. Fighters are looking for the evildoer, the sinner, the unjust one, the oppressor, the bad person “over there.” He or she “righteously” attacks, hates, or even kills the wrong-doer, while feeling heroic for doing so (see John 16:2). We are all tempted to project our problem on someone or something else rather than dealing with it in ourselves. The zealot—and we’ve all been one at different times—is actually relieved by having someone to hate, because it takes away our inner shame and anxiety and provides a false sense of innocence. As long as the evil is “over there” and we can keep our focus on changing or expelling someone else (as the contaminating element), then we feel at peace. But this is not the peace of Christ, which “the world cannot give” (see John 14:27). Playing the victim is another way to deal with pain indirectly. You blame someone else, and your pain becomes your personal ticket to power because it gives you a false sense of moral superiority and outrage. You don’t have to grow up, let go, forgive, or surrender—you just have to accuse someone else of being worse than you are. And sadly, that becomes your very fragile identity, which always needs more reinforcement. The other common way to avoid the path of transformation is the way of flight or denial. It can take many forms. Those with the instinct to flee will often deny or ignore pain by naively dividing the world up through purity codes and worthiness systems. They keep the problem on the level of...

045: Jesus was a Middle Eastern Refugee & other uncomfortable truths Jul19

045: Jesus was a Middle Eastern Refugee & other uncomfortable truths...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/45-Jesus_was_a_Middle_Eastern_Refugee_other_uncomfortable_truths.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 45:21 — 41.5MB)In a time when Islam and refugees are in the news every day, it’s helpful to get another perspective from someone on the inside. Vicki Witte works with refugees, helping them learn English and adjust to life in the U.S. She is a wonderful example of the power of volunteerism and how even small efforts can make huge differences in the lives of our new neighbors. She describes the history of migration in biblical times and the new opportunities we have to welcome the strangers in our towns. Be sure to visit Vicki’s blog by clicking here. Click here to make a donation in support of the...

044: Independence Jul04

044: Independence

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/44-Independence_Dependence.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 37:25 — 34.3MB)As The United States of America celebrates its birthday, Jack Woloshun & Dr. Deb thought it a good time to discuss various types of dependence and independence we have in relationships. Related articles: Independence (companion article) Crap Do You Need A Life Coach? Mentioned by Jack: Book by Dr. Caroline Leaf: Think and Eat Yourself Smart: A Neuroscientific Approach to a Sharper Mind and Healthier...

Independence

As The United States celebrates its Independence Day, I thought it fitting to consider various forms of dependency. Dependence is defined as the state of needing something or someone else. Like it or not, we are dependent on each other for all kinds of things. We need acceptance, love and affection from others because we are social beings. A newborn child left alone without touch will die. We are dependent on each other to follow socially accepted behavior like stopping at red lights and contributing to common things like roads and schools. In relationships, we are dependent on each other to be there to share the workload, make a meaningful contribution and live up to our commitments. Healthy dependence is a really, really positive thing. Independence is freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. When the 13 American colonies were no longer satisfied with British rule (and taxation without representation), they sought a divorce. It’s not unlike the recent decision by Britain to pull out of the European Union to preserve its sovereignty. It’s not unlike states in human development. Two that come to mind are the terrible twos. I think the twos are called terrible because children seek independence from their parents and other caretakers because they are coming into their own. They are clumsy and awkward, but they are determined to get around! Unfortunately, they don’t yet recognize the limits of social and character boundaries, so tend to severely test those around them. The other significant stage of finding independence IS, of course, during the teenage years. Children are transitioning to adulthood with changing bodies, increased responsibilities and fewer apron strings. Yet their raging hormones and lack of fully developed prefrontal cortexes (decision-making that fully grasps consequences)...

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...

001: Getting Beyond The Zombie Life Aug13

001: Getting Beyond The Zombie Life...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/GCOYL-001.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 14:13 — 13.0MB)In this premier episode, we bring a conversation between Dr. Deb and lifecoach Jeannette Slater. We all get stuck and start living life on auto-pilot. In a sense, we start acting like zombie. This dialogue is a call to wake up from the zombie life, try new things, and breathe new life into your...

Change

It’s a word that excites some of us, and scares some of us. Whether you like it or not, change happens; it’s an inevitable part of life. As we begin a new year, many are reconsidering how to make some changes. Stores are full of vitamins and exercise equipment, playing on the fact that a lot of people know they need to take better care of themselves. Shops are also full of plastic bins to help us get organized, books to help us grow, and clothes to help us look better. But we all know that true change happens from the inside out. Even though we get tied up with the mundane and stressful details of life, like running the kids around, taking care of the home, working, etc., there is something deep down that wants to make a difference. How does change happen? I will be writing soon about changing our personal habits. In an attempt to get some of the focus off of ourselves—which is always a good thing—I want to share the lyrics for one of the most profound pop songs I’ve ever heard. Man in the Mirror (written by Glen Ballard and Seidah Garrett) was a huge hit by Michael Jackson. How do we change the world? It starts by changing ourselves. “I’m Gonna Make A Change, For Once In My Life It’s Gonna Feel Real Good, Gonna Make A Difference Gonna Make It Right . . .   “As I, Turn Up The Collar On My Favorite Winter Coat This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind I See The Kids In The Street, With Not Enough To Eat Who Am I, To Be Blind? Pretending Not To See Their Needs A Summer’s Disregard, A Broken Bottle Top And A One Man’s...