My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get High On Life With Your Natural High

Living on the Border I hear often the news on the drug cartel wars in Mexico. I believe the number of dead in Mexico is now up to 26,000. I have stated before and still believe so, that the drug users in America and those who want drugs legalized have blood on their hands. Drugs are not essential for life and happiness. They provide a short lived false happiness with long-term destruction for the body and mind. Drugs are not the way to have a More Than OK life which I try to promote. Yet the drug users are fueling the violence in Mexico over drugs.

I have seen too many real life stories of the destruction in personal lives and families due to drug use. Most people can probably recall a friend or family member whose life has been destroyed by drug and alcohol use. I still remember a student talking about his problem with Marijuana to me saying, “they say grass is not addictive but it is.” That is the big myth many try to have society swallow. Marijuana is safe and a good drug they say. The reality is Marijuana is destructive. It stunts mental capabilities and destroys self motivation to improve to have a more than ok life. The student had started smoking grass when he was young and now it was interfering with the education he wanted to obtain.

With the lure of the high feeling, people are seeking in going for drugs, the “just say no to drugs” does not seem to be the best way to stop drugs. For strong critical thinkers who weigh out the pros and cons of things in their life just say no comes across as the clear smart way to go. But positive alternatives need to be brought up for people to do to take the place of the don’t do “just say no” slogan.

That is why I would like to re-mention a website I have mentioned in the past and encourage you to check it out. It is At this website they are trying to show alternative positive and healthy ways to go for a natural high instead of a drug induced high. Their emphasis is to young people to show them non boring ways to enjoy life with out drugs. I like that they bring up the subject of boredom; as in boredom research, life boredom is one reason young people try drugs to give their body a sensation that they think is exciting. The natural high website provides testimonies that young people can relate to in encouraging them to go for passions in their life with activities instead of sitting around stoned on drugs.

Here is a sample of a Natural High video of a young musician, Cassadee Pope, Lead Singer of Hey Monday. Her passion, her natural high, is singing and making music. Check out this video of her thoughts on her passion and being drug free-- I appreciate how she brings out that real fun is being in control of that fun not being zoned out on drugs and not knowing what you are doing. She knows with drugs the quality of her performance and quality of her music would go down. Her comment on fun is important as that is the big lie of the drug crowd of Hollywood and popular rock/pop musicians. They push the lie that the drug life is the party fun life. In reality it is whitewashed pain, depression and death.

I remember seeing classmates high back in high school. They had bloodshot eyes, blank expressions, and often talked nonsense. I always thought observing them how is that fun?? How is that really living?? Especially when you consider the number of tragic young deaths due to alcohol and drugs involved in fatal driving accidents; many who believe the lie wind up dead. Positive examples and stories such as Cassadee’s should be playing in the main stream press so young people know how to really enjoy life and follow their passions. I question why our media does not promote stories like the ones on the natural high website. They instead follow the stories of pop stars who promote drugs and sexuality. If positive values and natural highs were promoted to the youth and followed by adults; if people would rise up against the lies that promote alcohol and drugs help people to really live life to the fullest, we could stop the drug trade in its tracks.

Teachers and Counselors in schools need to promote this website to their students and parents. Of course natural highs are not only for young people. Everyone should be searching out for ways to build natural highs into their lives. The Natural High website provides ideas and the continuing journey of this blog relates to that issue as well. Living more than OK living is about having those natural highs in our lives to truly enjoy life as God would have us live abundantly. Being a bookhead reading is definitely a high time for me as it expands the mind and fiction taps into the creative side of the mind. Music of all types also is a high inducer for me.

The key is to find the natural highs that work to make life more meaningful for you. As mentioned in the past explore new hobbies, prayer, meditation, build new friendships, seek ways to volunteer your time to a cause. These are the things that create flow in your life. These flow times create a sense of timelessness and enjoyment that are better than the drug induced highs. Build up the natural high times in your life and spread the news of going for natural highs. Instead of just saying no to drugs we need to point people to saying yes to natural highs.

Go to the above listed natural high website. Spend some time looking it over. Write down two items that impressed you from the website. Take some time and write down your top 5 natural highs, those things that create a sense of flow and peaceful enjoyment in your life.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sensible Risk Taking Daring to Move

Continuing from last week, when we do not step out in taking risks on new ideas or directions for our life we become stuck where we are. Stuck in dead end jobs, stuck in negative thinking of “I can’t do this or that”. The “stuckness” is often based on fear of what may happen. An illogical notion of only negatives can happen if we step out and try a new direction or way of thinking.

Of course using last week’s risk questions of Dr. Ben Carson, it is right to take time to think of what may go wrong if you take a risk but other options should be looked at as well. The positive side of the risk needs to be considered. Too often new possibilities pass us by as we are stuck to the fear of taking the risk. We lose out of what great things could be ahead for us as we don’t step out into the risk taking zone of trying for that new career, new learning experience, new relationship, or new hobby.

As I was pondering over this issue and considered the many times I possibly lost out because I did not take the risk to try something new, a song from the band, Switchfoot came to mind. The song is Dare You To Move. Here are the lyrics of the song. Click on the title to play the video and think over what the song is saying in the context of the topic of Risk Taking:

"Dare You To Move" by Switchfoot

Welcome to the planet, Welcome to existence, Everyone's here
Everyone's here, Everybody's watching you now, Everybody waits for you now
What happens next, What happens next

I dare you to move, I dare you to move, I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move, I dare you to move, Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Welcome to the fallout, Welcome to resistance, The tension is here
Tension is here, Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be


Maybe redemption has stories to tell, Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?, Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?, Salvation is here

I dare you to move, I dare you to move, I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move, I dare you to move, Like today never happened
Today never happened, Today never happened, Today never happened before.

Some of the thoughts that come to my mind are first of all I am glad on a personal growth risk issue not everyone is watching me as I make my decision. On the other hand, some of our decisions we face we need to realize people are watching. What can others learn based on how we respond to risks? I see the word tension in the song lyrics and when deciding on new options and directions there is a tension in our mind and spirit. Too often it is easier to stay comfortably stuck where we are or in our present thinking patterns. Then you don’t have to deal with the tension of -–What will others think of me? Instead of negativity couldn’t it be possible when great things occur for you when you step out into a sensible risk, that people will think good of you?

What I like most of the song is the phrase, “Dare you to move”. We need to dare ourselves to break away from the fear. If we have honestly worked through the Dr. Carson questions I posted past week and see the risk is a positive one; we need to dare ourselves to make the move.

This past weekend my wife and I watched the movie, “You’ve Got Mail”. It is one of her favorite movies. I definitely recommend watching it. Each time we watch it new points of view come out. It is a great story, has a great emphasis on books and reading, great acting, and many other great points to it. But in the movie at one point when the character Kathleen Kelly makes the decision to close her story; she is told, ”you’ve made the brave decision. You’re marching into the unknown!”. How true of sensible risk taking. Even after you have considered your options and know deep down that the risk way is the best way fear is still there. So at that point we need to ‘March Into The Unknown” and have faith in God who holds the unknowns in His hands. This example in the movie has much to speak to those today who are forced career shifters due to job lose and job cutbacks. But the march into the unknown relates well to any sensible risk taking venture and daring ourselves to move.

Write down some of your thoughts about the Dare You To Move lyrics in relation to the topic of taking sensible risks. Do you have an area of your life where you feel stuck? Write down 3 Dares to yourself to Dare you to Move in new ideas and directions for yourself and your future.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Risk Taking for a More Than OK Life

I was listening to a message by a minister the other day and he was exhorting people that God made us to be more proactive than reactive in our living. That we need to step out into the battle of life with more courage. His thoughts made me think of the need for taking risks at times in our lives.

Now me and risk taking do not get along too well. On Holland personality assessments I usually come up as a low Enterpriser as I like to play it safe and stay away from stepping out into the risk taking zone. Some time ago I read the book, Take The Risk by Dr. Ben Carson with Gregg Lewis. In the beginning part of the book he reminds us that every day is filled with risks. That made me feel better. Maybe I am better at risk taking than I thought! Think of just driving in a car. When I see all the crazy antics that occur on the roadways I am amazed there are not more accidents than what there really are. Just getting behind a wheel of a car is a risk. We were at a hotel this weekend that offered free breakfast. As I made the waffle I noticed a sign warning that the waffle grid was hot. Duh! How else does the waffle become hot and crispy! The waffle sign is letting one know of the risk of getting burnt taking out the waffle, (of course so the hotel does not get sued – remember the McDonald’s coffee case!).

Back to the Take the Risk book. Dr. Carson shares stories from his life and the lives of his patients and shows how risks were taken so his patients could have a better life. I have read a couple of reviews on the book on Amazon who felt the myriad of risk stories were overkill to fill up pages. I disagree. He is showing that risk taking occurs in numerous area of our lives and we can follow the same plan in each situation to evaluate whether to take the risk.

Not every risk is the best thing to do. I remember hearing Dr. Krumboltz on the issue of risk taking and creating our own luck. He mentioned if you take the risk of parachute jumping you better be wearing a parachute. We need to think through the risks we take and not be foolish. Many senseless risks and ensuing injuries are caused by people not thinking through what they are doing. Which touches on the topic of critical thinking, I have discussed before. Think before taking the risk.
Dr. Carson presents a series of questions which I believe helps encapsulate good critical thinking before deciding on which way to go with a risk. I definitely suggest you read his book but here are his key questions you can ask yourself when faced with an important risk venture in your life. I recommend taking a piece of 8 ½ x 11 paper and divide it into four quadrants. At the top write what is the risk you are deciding upon? Then write these four questions in each quadrant:

1. What is the worst that could happen if you do the risk?
2. What is the best thing if you do the risk?
3. What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t do the risk?
4. What is the best thing that could happen if you don’t do the risk?

Next go question by question and brainstorm ideas in the quadrant that relates a way to view the risk you are facing a decision on. As in brainstorming, just come up with ideas-- they can even be zany. This is not the time to make judgments. Write down the possible consequences you may face.

After you have your brainstorming done; now put your critical thinking cap on and rate the ideas in each of the quadrants as to how important they are to your life. Be even creative by writing a little story down of what you think your life would be like in each of the four quadrants. This may help visual the better route to take. Do I take the risk or take the risk of not taking the risk, as even that is a risk. The key is you can have more peace about the risk situation if you have worked it through as to what is best for you.

Of course, if you are a person of faith then a necessary element is praying over this whole risk taking exercise as well. That will give you extra assurance that He is guiding your thoughts as you reflect over the options.
To risk or not to risk? That is the question. I believe these four questions from Dr. Carson can be a positive help in our being more proactive in living a more than ok life with the big risks that come our way.

Think over a risk that you are facing possibly a job change, a move, a plan to go on for further education. Take a sheet of paper and work that risk situation through the four questions and see what you come up with? Write down what you felt about the activity.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Important Reasons for Reading

Recently I picked up a copy of U.S. News & World Report 2011 Edition of Best Colleges. I like to have an updated copy in the office for students at the university I work at who are thinking of transferring elsewhere. Inside the edition I read “A Crash Course in College Preparedness” by Carol Frey. The article mentioned that many students coming to Universities are not prepared with adequate math and reading skills. She mentions a survey of college professors and employers that showed a major concern that many students are unable to read and comprehend difficult materials. Students don’t understand that reading will continue once they go into the workforce.

Young people and those of us not so young need to keep reading to build up our mental comprehension skills. One way to build up strong critical thinking skills of active thinking is through reading through books not just short columns on the internet. The discipline of reading is one of the biggest work tasks on the University campus. Recently I was doing a campus outreach and I asked a young student how her classes were going. She said there was too much reading in her History class..I hear so many complaints about reading from students and it goes back to that they did not have to read in High School. They just had to study a test cheat sheet the teacher created for them and the focus is the test not comprehending the big ideas in their textbooks.

This article spoke about the lack of students understanding the basics of reading, writing and math made me reflect back to the book I discussed last week, The Dumbest Generation. They dn’t have to be if the discipline of reading would be emphasized and reading would be seen as something positive and enjoyable. One person in the article recommended students should read 40 books in a year to help prepare for college level reading. That would mean much less time on Facebook and Youtube.
IT was mentioned as well students should check out must read lists to prepare as well. Here a sampling of some websites that go over important lists of books to help students prepare for college and they are good for those of us who are looking to stretch our minds as well. This list is from the young adult library services association listing books by area of study. This website shows 100 of the top classic books over time that well read people should read. This is a list of 101 recommended books from the College Board organization to help prepare a student’s mind and reading skills for college.

Many of the books on the lists are the Classics of literature. These books are considered classics as they have lasted the test of time. A book I have mentioned before, More Than Words looks at some of the classic authors such as Ray Bradbury, J. R. R. Tolkien, Has Christian Anderson and others through the eyes of Christian authors of today, Calvin Miller, Luci Shaw, Phillip Yancy, and Luci Shaw. These modern authors show how reading the classics shaped their lives and their own writing.

In the book I especially liked Calvin Miller’s Essay on Ray Bradbury. He shared four ways reading was important to him. Most importantly to Miller reading allows him to Celebrate Art. He is a writer and an artist so reading is a help in expanding his creativity and his artistic level. Reading helps improve the imagination as the picture is not spoon-fed like in our modern video age. This is possibly why creativity is very lacking in the young who are locked into tv watching. With reading of fiction the pictures in the mind are challenged to grow and expand.

He mentions his second reason for reading is to Broaden the Understanding. That is probably number one for me. Increasing my critical thinking and broadening my thoughts on issues and knowledge is very important to me. Reading is like exercise for the brain. The exercise adage of “use it or lose it” is true with reading. If we are not actively building our thought life and mental powers through reading we will lose out by having less effective thinking powers.
His third reason for reading is to Escape the Heaviness of the Moment. Escapist literature of the Fantasy of C. S. Lewis comes to mind. There is so much pressure and tension in life. A good book can lighten the day while still building up the thought processes. We should not escape all the time from life but reading fiction can be a helpful stress releaser in letting the mind go in imagining the story the author is telling.

Miller’s fourth reason to read is to Believe in a Better World – Goodness and Hope. Self improvement books help us to improve our lot in life and gain a better focus on our purpose on life. Through reading we improve our spiritual and mental life providing ideas on improving our lives to live more than OK to live the flourishing lives we were created to live.

Young people need to be encouraged to find their reasons for reading. Also the best way to start reading is to read things each person enjoys. But be open to new things as well. A student noticed I do not have many fiction books in my office library. That is one area of reading I need to add to my reading as over the years I have read mostly non-fiction. I believe if I read more fiction that will improve my creative side.

What is your most important reasons for reading? What kind of impact on your life have you felt from the last book you read?