My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Appreciating Each Moment

This week I am continuing to look at music and will again use a song to look at how we can use the songs we enjoy to help in our daily journeys. One helpful resource in looking at the power of music to help and to heal is The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology by John Ortiz. This book looks at how music can relate to a variety of life issues such as depression, self esteem, stress, grief, loss and anger. He presents songs from a wide variety of songs with differing music styles that relate to these various problems people face in life. He offers practical applications and exercises to see how music ca be used therapeutically to improve our lives. His book can help you appreciate the healing power of music.

Time is important and it is a topic that I will come back to, as our journey through this life, is based in the dimension of time. Today I want to look at another song that is one of my favorites, as an example the effect music and lyrics can have for our benefit. The song is Miracle of the Moment, by Steven Curtis Chapman. First look over the lyrics and then watch the You Tube video by clicking on the video link below.

Miracle of the Moment by Steven Curtis Chapman

It's time for letting go; All of our "if onlys"Cause we don't have a time machine
And even if we did; Would we really want to use it.
Would we really want to go change everything.
Cause we are who and where and what we are for now,
And this is the only moment we can do anything about.
So breathe it in and breathe it out; And listen to your heartbeat.
There's a wonder in the here and now, It's right there in front of you.
And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment.

There's only One who knows, What's really out there waiting.
And all the moments yet to be, And all we need to know,
Is He's out there waiting, To Him the future's history.
And He has given us a treasure called right now.
And this is the only moment we can do anything about.
So breathe it in and breathe it out, And listen to your heartbeat.
There's a wonder in the here and now, It's right there in front of you.
And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment.

And if it brings you tears, Then taste them as they fall.
Let them soften your heart.
And if it brings you laughter, Then throw your head back. And let it go,
Let it go, yeah, You gotta let it go.
And listen to your heartbeat.
And breathe it in and breathe it out, And listen to your heartbeat.
There's a wonder in the here and now, It's right there in front of you.
And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment.
And breathe it in and breathe it out, And listen to your heartbeat.
There's a wonder in the here and now (here and now)
It's right there in front of you,
And I don't want you to miss the miracle. Of the moment.

Link to the Miracle of the Moment video:

This song speaks to an important part of Living More Than OK. Making the most of each moment, by appreciating each moment can have a dynamic effect in our lives. We can increase our happiness levels in life if we can appreciate each moment in our time line as a miracle. By buzzing around busily, we miss the wonder of the world around us. That is a key element I see Chapman is getting across to us in his song. Watch the video again and appreciate the wonder of nature in the pictures found in the video created to go along with the music. Truly awesome!

I know too many times I have missed the sunsets, and here in South Texas, we have some beautiful ones. I have passed by the flowers unknowingly of their beauty. I have missed the treasures of relating to the people around me -- to enjoy sharing their joys or helping with their hurts. Why? I am too caught up rushing on a train to nowhere or blindly floating on autopilot routinely doing tasks that have no lasting value. Do you ever find yourself this way? Be active in your present with awareness as our choices in the present have a great impact on our futures. As Chapman writes, “And this is the only moment we can do anything about”.

Make it a point to choose a day this week to go through the day more mindfully aware of the moments around you. At the end of the day take a short time to write down a reflection. Before you write relax a few minutes just breathing slowly in and out. Then write down the treasures and wonders that the God behind the moments brought into your life that day! Appreciate each moment!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Sound of Music Impacts Our Self-talk

Many will agree that Music has a powerful influence on people. As I am discussing impacts on our self-talk, I want to look at the subject of music. At a music concert whether a classical symphony or a rock concert, there is emotion and power that you can feel in the performance. The power of music can also be seen in the positive effectiveness of Music Therapy which has been used with many different people groups effectively.

Music has been an integral part of my life. When my mom moved my brothers and I, when I was in first grade, into her mother’s house there was a old upright piano in the back living room. Grandmother would regularly play old gospel hymns and old time songs from the 30’s and 40’s. My brother who is very musically talented was able to teach himself piano and memorized numerous classical pieces. I always considered myself too awkward to play the piano so I never attempted it. Musically I followed my older brother’s example of playing trumpet in band through high school. Then in High School I started to play the acoustic guitar, singing and playing in church. Through my personal experience I have seen the effect music can have for the good in inspiring fans during high school football games and emotionally moving hearts and minds in spiritual worship settings.

I believe music can be for the good or bad an influence in our mental programming. I will focus on the positive and there are positive songs of abundance in all genres of music. Classical music and jazz can be a positive influence in relaxing the mind and reducing stress. On of my favorite musicians for smooth jazz is Keiko Matsui, ( ). Her music is often playing in my office as it is very soothing and relaxing for when I am working on reports and getting stressed compiling data.

With vocal music the lyrics can be a positive influence. For example a song I often use at the beginning of a new semester with students is Tracy Chapman’s New Beginning. Listen to this video of Tracy Chapman’s New Beginning video and reflect over her words:

New Beginning by Tracy Chapman
The whole world's broke and it ain't worth fixing It's time to start all over, make a new beginningThere's too much pain, too much suffering Let's resolve to start all over make a new beginningNow don't get me wrong - I love life and living But when you wake up and look around
at everything that's going down -All wrongYou see we need to change it now, this world with too few happy endingsWe can resolve to start all over make a new beginningStart all over Start all over Start all over Start all over
The world is broken into fragments and pieces That once were joined together in a unified wholeBut now too many stand alone - There's too much separation We can resolve to come together in the new beginning
Start all over Start all over Start all over Start all over
We can break the cycle - We can break the chain We can start all over - In the new beginningWe can learn, we can teach We can share -- the myths the dream the prayerThe notion that we can do better Change our lives and paths Create a new world
Start all over Start all over Start all over Start all over
The whole world's broke and it ain't worth fixing It's time to start all over, make a new beginningThere's too much fighting, too little understanding It's time to stop and start all overMake a new beginning
Start all over Start all overStart all over Start all over
We need to make new symbols Make new signsMake a new language With these we'll define the worldAnd start all over Start all over Start all over Start all over ...

From a student standpoint I try to encourage the students to choose some new beginnings for their habits as they begin life at the University. Also Tracy Chapman’s lyrics fit well with the faulty beliefs some people cling to as noted by Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Ever hear people say ,”My world’s too broken, it’s no use trying anything new.” “ No one understands the pain or struggle I am in.” “Everything that happens to me is always wrong.” Those are some faulty self-talk statements the song speaks to. The encouragement is that we can break the cycles of our faulty programming. We can start over again. I like how she says “We can make new symbols, …Make a new language , with these we’ll define the world…” We need to encourage ourselves and others to make new symbols and new language statements for our success and living more than OK.

Think through the music you listen to, what are your favorite songs? Are you choosing music that builds you up. Google the lyrics of your favorite songs and see what the lyricist is saying and how it applies to your life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reading Impacts Your Self-talk Programming

Previously I brought up the issue of our self-talk. For the next few postings I want to look at a few factors that shape the programming of our self-talk. Being a Bookhead I want to look at reading first of all. Books, whether fiction or non-fiction, are expressions of ideas, concepts, facts, and stories. These ideas can have a positive impact on our mental attitude in our inner programming. Working with students I have seen the power of stories in getting ideas across to them.

Building a habit of reading is important in keeping the mind active and growing. Your reading can be a positive influence on your mental attitude. Beginning with reading topics of interest, helps in understanding and gaining new insights in your areas you enjoy. No matter how good we think we are in a certain area there is always room for improvement. When I do classroom assessments that have a rating scale 1-10 I remind students never give themselves a 10 as there is always room to grow during our journey in this life.

Reading about new topics may open new ideas to your life or challenge your viewpoints. By challenging our thinking we can think through and confirm on a deeper level what we believe and why we believe it. Read material from opposing points of view as that helps understand where others are coming from in their emotions and logic, (or lack of logic), on particular areas. Looking at life as a Christian, I have read Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Eric Maisel’s works promoting atheism. Reading their works has actually helps bolster my faith. Their arguments did not win me over and in certain cases their hatred for those who believe in a religious Worldview turned me off.

Magazines and newspapers are reading materials that offer news reporting and information on a wide variety of topics on a smaller scale than books. Reading these are a great way to keep informed on what is going on in the world. As with books if you have a personal area of interest, like flowers, traveling, cars, or cooking find a magazine related to your interest. If magazine subscriptions are too costly an idea is to put in your weekly schedule a time period to visit your local library and relax and read in their magazine room.

Once a student in my Student Success class mentioned to me that he did not like reading books but he researched a lot of his interests about computer networking and news information on the internet. He asked me if that was ok. We live in a computer and internet world. He had a deep passion for computers and I knew he devoured information off the internet. I mentioned to him and the class that there is a lot of bad on the internet but also a lot of good, (like my blog!). In thinking of our reading as part of our mental self-talk programming be questioning of any source be it paper or cyber based. Glean out the positives that will help you improve where you are going in your life journey.

I know electronic books are becoming more popular but I believe I will always be a hard copy book person. To me there is nothing like sitting at my desk turning the actual pages of a book as I read. Likewise, searching for books at a library or bookstore, being able to pull the book off a shelf and leaf through it, is much more satisfying than viewing a virtual image on a computer screen where you can only look at the two pages the publisher allows you to look at.

In thinking through how books and authors affect us, I appreciated a book in my library, More Than Words: Contemporary Writers on the Works That Shaped Them, by James Calvin Schaap. The editor compiled essays from 21 writers on the favorite authors that impacted their lives. The book helped me to think over the books that have shaped my life during periods of doubt and periods of growth in my thinking. I also in preparing this post looked through the internet searching for lists of influential books. I came across a number of interesting lists and websites. One website that may be of interest to fellow Bookheads, is Good Reads, Goodreads is a social network of reading lovers sharing what they are reading and forming book groups. I am not a member but I fully believe in their mission: Goodreads' mission is to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.

I will close off with my list of ten favorite influential books in my personal life, (outside of the Bible which is a regular source of reading in my life):

1. Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis

2. The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, M.D.

3. What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancey,

4. Who Are You Really And What Do You Really Want? Shad Helmstetter Ph. D.

5. Choice Theory, William Glasser

6. Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor Frankl

7. What Color is Your Parachute? Richard Bolles

8. The Success Journey, John Maxwell (now titled Your Roadmap For Success)

9. Write is a Verb!, Bill O’Hanlon

10. Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life, Richard W. Paul and Linda Elder

Think over the books you have read. Which are books that have been influential in your life? Have they positively helped in your positive mental programming? Take time to write down a list of your top five or top ten favorite books.