Archive for the ‘Disciplines’ Category

Happiness and Joy Come From Right Living

March 21, 2019

Gretchen Rubin has written several New York Times bestsellers, which have sold millions of copies, including The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She also hosts the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. She is out with a new book Outer Order, Inner Calm — a playbook that helps readers discover ways to make more room for happiness in their lives.

Marie Kondo also talks about organizing your outer surroundings. She asks, “Does this bring you joy?”

I agree with simplicity and order. It is calming. But are we bordering on a national obsession?

Ancient literature amazes me that 3,000 years ago, or even further back in time, humans were already thinking of these things. But often with deeper meeting.

I searched the proverbs. Wisdom says that happiness and joy follow from living the right life. “Those who seek justice will find joy”. Often you read, happiness comes to those who practice the words of Wisdom.

We Are In This Together

March 20, 2019

While in mediation I was given a vision of the oneness of all humans. We are all in this together.

People who have either read Wealth of Nations rapidly or just for parts (like many do with the Bible) miss the point Adam Smith makes early on–that the goal of everyone pursuing economic interest is for the benefit of all people.

“What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee,” said Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. He wrote like this constantly. “The universe made rational creatures for the sake of each other, with an eye toward mutual benefit based on true value and never for harm.”

The apostle Paul writing to both the Corinthians and the Romans compared us as parts of one body. We each do our part, not trying to be what we are not, and all benefit.

Do we have a single leader anywhere in the world who understands this? Seemingly we would have to search like Diogenes with his lamp for someone who understands.

“Every man for himself” fails; we’re all in this together.

Responsibility Begins With Yourself

March 18, 2019

We exist in an age of great disconnect between word and deed.

Some people say they are compassionate, for example, yet their actions belie their words. Recently I heard earnest people say they were compassionate of homosexual people, yet in their actions they proclaimed the opposite. Same with racial or ethnic differences, or proclamations of peace and justice.

Some people spout off all manner of unkind words, but friends or supporters tell people to watch their actions rather than listen to words.

But words matter.

Responsibility. Either stance reveals irresponsibility.

We cannot preach to others about responsibility and responsible behavior.

Responsibility must be a decision and habit made within yourself.

Thinking About Thinking

March 15, 2019

Drawing is a form of thinking.

I wrote that in my notebook a few weeks ago. I had been reading something or listening to someone.

Recently a young person texted me using complete sentences (3), noun/verb agreement, punctuation, every word spelled correctly. And it made sense.

I don’t see that in 50% of the correspondence sent from people with college degrees and responsible jobs.

We become sloppy and careless in thinking things through. We forget we are trying to communicate. Clear thinking helps communicate.

When I am interviewing someone who has thought out what they are explaining to me, I make notes in a mind map. By drawing the relationship of thoughts, I can see the meaning more clearly. Then when I write an essay drawn from the conversation, I can explain better.

Even when studying spiritual texts, it is helpful to draw a mind map or even an outline. A couple of years ago I was preparing to teach on the letter to the Romans. I drew a mind map. The logic of Paul’s thinking stood out clearly.

Maybe if we thought more and posted less…

Minimize Digital Intrusions—A Spiritual Practice

March 14, 2019

The couple walks to the coffee house daily. They enter and go to the counter to order their lattes. They go to a table, sit, and pull out their smart phones. Soon each is in their own world poking at the device with their forefingers staring in concentration.

Last year, 21 million Americans decided to leave Facebook. The company has weathered many crises of bad publicity by making empty promises never kept. But losing users? That hits the bottom line. More and more people are finally realizing how greatly they have been manipulated by the engineers who build these social media apps to entice additional minutes/hours on the app.

If Cal Newport were to wave a magic wand, he’d make it disappear entirely. The author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World has released Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.

How often do you pick up your phone? The latest iOS update will tell you. And how many minutes you spend on the various types of apps.

Tip: everyone underestimates how much time they spend on the phone. Not talking–looking.

Perhaps a hiatus from social media would be a great boost to your mental health. Perhaps some of that time in the morning could be spent in other spiritual practices. Or talking to those around you.

I feel conflicted about this. In my marketing roles, I’ve set up two organizations on Facebook for their marketing purposes. And, it seems to work as far as engagement and bringing in some sales.

But I’d rather we spent time reading, walking, engaging and not checking out the latest memes going around or who is dating whom or whatever it is that you do. Check out the book. It’s good.

When We Overreach

March 13, 2019

“My son is coming down to your area to attend college. He’s an excellent soccer referee. He once was an assistant on a pro game. I’m a director in the referee program in my state. Assign him to some good games.”

I wind up communicating with parents more than kids at times as I work with the soccer referee program in my area. I expect to work directly with the person I’m trusting to go out and officiate a game. But mommy and daddy still want to make sure the path is paved for their kid.

The above communication, slightly embellished, happened with the parent of a college student. He communicated with me. Game assignments went through his emails, not his son’s. His 18-year-old college student son could not be trusted on his own to find and contact the assignor and request games. And I’m supposed to trust him to work a game?

The son? He could have been OK, but he lacked maturity. Fizzled out after a couple of years.

Wonder why.

So, I am not shocked by this major university admissions scandal where prominent parents are supposedly buying university admission for their underachieving (but precious, I’m sure) children.

If true, they stole opportunity from deserving students.

What do these kids learn?

Go help someone grow up.

Will I Go To Hell

March 12, 2019

“If I continue to live like this, will I go to hell?”

OK all of you judgmental personality types–you’ve already said “yes”, right?

But…

I think the question is somewhat wrong. Really it should be “Am I already living in hell?”

When Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven was here, he meant, well, here. Now. Not a geography, but within us.

We can live starting today in one of two ways.

One is driven by our fears, insecurities, desires, emotions.

The other is living in the spirit.

Some Christians worry way too much about someday.

Someday is today.

Whom Do You Trust

March 11, 2019

“Can I trust you?” the new church member asked her pastor.

Was this guy going to feed her false teachings to simply enhance his own status?

“No,” he replied.

Shocking!

But, he then laid out a Bible study plan and a spiritual practice of study so that she could truly be a disciple (learner) on her own, but guided.

That is so wise. Jesus didn’t tell us to make puppets in our own image. He told us to make disciples–of his.

When you simply pass along memes on social media without thinking, whose disciple are you? Did you think through issues before reading that stuff? Or, are you a puppet of someone else whose aim is to simply get you all fired up? And by the way, spending more time on that social media platform so that that company can extract even more attention and data from you?

My preferred practice of helping someone who has a problem with their computer is to have them put their hands on the mouse and do their own clicking. The muscle memory and experience sets them free.

Similarly, teaching someone how to study and how to meditate and how to think sets them free rather than creating a puppet that simply reflects the teacher.

Day for Women

March 8, 2019

I’m going on hearsay, but I’m told this is International Women’s Day. I knew it was coming, because PR people have been calling for a couple of weeks offering interviews with women engineers (my other blog focuses on technology).

So last week, I interviewed a woman with an MIT PhD who is Chief Technology Officer for a semiconductor company. This week, I interviewed a woman who is a high level cybersecurity leader with a major technology company.

Yet, I am distressed.

We’ve had more than 50 years of “women’s liberation” (showing my age), yet, society still has this problem.

A leading evangelical preacher disappears from the public stage due to his abusive relationship with women close to him. Heck, even the Southern Baptists, that bastion of moral rectitude, are wrestling with the sudden publicity of abuse of women by male clergy.

We can look to many sources for inspiration, but Jesus is a good place to start. A careful reading of his life reveals that he had women disciples. That was extraordinary. Revolutionary. He consistently treated women as, well, human.

It blows my mind that we haven’t learned the lesson some 2,000 years later. Even among men who claim to be following him.

Maybe we can someday have a day that just celebrates humans…all humans.

Remaining Calm

March 7, 2019

“I use an app to help calm me. I bought a lifetime subscription for $70.”

Her friend remarks, “Well, paying once for a lifetime certainly removes the stress of monthly payments.”

They had just asked why I missed an interview with one of the top four officers of a multi-billion dollar corporation to learn how he was using technology to transform the company and perhaps the industry. It was a big opportunity.

There was just one thing–no one contacted me about the meeting.

I could have reacted in anger. Or with any one of several emotions.

But, things happen. Someone dropped a ball. Or the technology of emails or messaging failed. People who don’t know me misspell my last name by dropping the “n”. What good comes from screaming and blaming?

It took me years to go from quick temper to calm. It isn’t easy. I didn’t have an app.

But as I described to one of my colleagues also at this conference, meditation physically changes your brain. It causes changes in outlook.

It does not work immediately. It takes practice and discipline.

Indeed, it is truly one of the spiritual disciplines–whether you “believe” in the same God as me or follow some other path.