My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Positive Impacting Music To Live More Than OK

I was doing research on aggression for a class in my PhD program a week ago and my focus was to see the relation between music and aggression. I chose that because I believe music is a powerful force. It is one activity many people of all ages enjoy. Occasionally I will run into someone who hates music but most people either love music or at least enjoy it. When it comes to music should we be careful to what we listen to? I believe there are positives and negatives in most facets of life and to live the best life possible we should feed our mind with that which is the most positive. Today I want to share some of my thoughts on the importance of positive music as well as some of the information from various research.

I first began to think of just instrumental music and its effect experientially on people. A study out of Germany (Krahe & Bieneck. 2012) looked at how music affects the mood of listeners. They used two groups of listeners one listening to hardcore techno music and the other group listened to calm relaxing classical music. Those who listened to the heavy techno music did have higher levels of feelings of aggression and tension after listening. Those who listened to the calmer music had less tension and lower aggression levels. So this showed how even just the style of music may have an effect on emotional responses to those hearing the music. So, just the music alone has a physical effect on the listener. This does not mean listening to heavier beat music will turn someone violent as there are other factors. Actually when I am busy on organizing material or driving I prefer faster tempo music to keep my mind focused. Yet when needing to rest I prefer classical or smooth jazz.

One concern I have is the high levels of alcohol and drug abuse in our culture. A relevant study on music and substance abuse looked at various music styles and substance abuse among the listeners (Chen, Miller, Grube, & Waiters, 2006) . They found a high level of lyrical content about drugs, alcohol and violence in rap and heavy rock music songs. An interesting point that stood out to me is that with rap music many of the artists promote malt liquor and it just so happens in the study the highest use of malt liquor was among listeners of rap music. I am concerned about this as I am a big believer in the work of the organization Natural High. They seek to encourage school age students to think of natural ways to be high instead of using drugs and alcohol. Their website is There are too many lives destroyed due to drugs and alcohol and there are so many positive ways to enjoy life instead of the phony myths that promote drugs as a good thing.

There was also a study of the negative effects of rap with College males using rap music (Barongan and Hall 1995). They used two groups one listening to positive rap that looked at social justice issues. The other group listened to sexual aggressive rap that spoke of women in a negative light. The participants were then to view video clips to share with a female confidant of the study. Those who listened to the positive rap leaned towards showing a video clip that was neutral to the female confidant participant. Those who listened to the sexual violent rap were more inclined to show the female participant in the study a video that was sexually demeaning. These researchers felt that the results backed up other studies in the literature that sexually violent rap does lead to a tendency towards negative views and aggression towards women. I have many college students in my classes, who list rap and hip hop as their favorite music style. This is disconcerting when I hear what they are filling their minds with lyrically. It reminds me of the old computer programming phrase, “Garbage In, Garbage Out!”. I tried a search for positive rap artists and none of the famous artists show up. That is because most of their rap songs are garbage promoting a demeaning view of women or promoting violence. . It would be nice to reach a point in the world, when all the women and men with critical thinking skills would walk out of a rap concert when the rappers start one of their derogatory misogynous songs, leaving the rappers standing in an empty concert hall all by themselves.

I am not encouraging censorship as I believe in the constitutional right of free speech. What I encourage people to do is think about what they listen to and support musicians that promote positive music to impact our living the best life possible. Here are some of my favorite musicians that I find as being very positive:

Phil Keaggy -- An amazing guitarist and singer/songwriter

Keiko Matsui -- My favorite smooth jazz pianist

Tom Braxton -- Fantastic Saxophonist!

Switchfoot -- A band introduced to me by a former TSTC student. They write songs that make one think about life and the afterlife.

Matthew West -- A very inspiring singer/songwriter/storyteller

Lecrae -- A rapper who is trying to make a difference with rap music.

Reflection – Who are musicians and music styles that you like and find very positive? Check out a couple of the websites I list above and try out some new music.

Barongon, C. & Hall, G.C. N. ( 1995). The influence of misogynous rap music on sexual aggression against women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19. 195-207

Chen, M., Miller, B.A., Grube, J.W. & Waiters, E.D. Music, substance abuse, and aggression. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, May, 2006

Krahe, B. & Bieneck, S. ( 2012). The effect of music-induced mood on aggressive affect, cognition and behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42. 271-290.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lowering Poverty One Library At A Time

A few weeks ago I went into my local library to see their new books in circulation. I came across the book, Creating Room To Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy. It is by John Wood, who left a lucrative job with Microsoft years ago to follow his passion. A passion many would think crazy since he was making great money at Microsoft. His dream and passion was to build school libraries around the world in Third World nations. His aim was to promote reading and education.

Since I love reading I thought a story of someone encouraging literacy and reading around the globe would be a great read. I was not disappointed. Through the book I saw how one person who had personally been enriched in his life through reading saw the power of reading. His underlying goal with starting Room To Read was to have children everywhere in the world to have access to books in their own language. His resulting hope was to increase education in poor areas which would result in lowering poverty rates. Literacy would unleash in children to dream big dreams for their futures.

One emphasis that came across through the book was the emphasis to help especially young girls in countries where they are short changed in the educational process. Some of the countries mentioned in the book where libraries and also schools were built are: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Zambia, and many more. Part of the dream that developed too was when John realized that teaching these young children in English was helpful, but the children also wanted books in their own language. What they found was that many of the countries did not have children books in the various languages. So a whole new publishing arm of his dream came to pass to create new books in the various languages for the children. This opened up opportunities for authors in the various countries as well. It was like seeing Dr. Jim Bright’s Chaos Theory of Careers in action.

Each chapter of the book is an exciting journey to see the excitement of children around the globe being able to read books. Schools gaining libraries with actual books in them when before there were just empty shelves. Whole villages would come out and celebrate the new libraries that they had a part in building. As part of the library development was built into the program, by having local ownership by either sweat equity involved in the building process, or paying a portion of the building process. It is an excitement that needs to keep pace in our country as well if we want to keep dreams, creativity, and mental growth alive in our young people. Here is the US the emphasis on a steady diet of videos is turning our young people into passive non-thinking zombies. So book reading needs to be an important part of education here in the US as well.

I was glad John Wood shared that the passion for his endeavor to build libraries around the globe came out of his personal upbringing. He shares how his parents brought him up to appreciate education. He also gained an early love for reading that stayed with him over the years from his mother. He shares in the book a quote from his grandmother that shows that the importance of reading went back several generations, “If you have a good book in your hands, you will never be lonely.” (page 29). Obviously his early love for reading was the impetus behind a dream that has helped build thousands of school libraries in poor communities around the world.

John Wood could have stayed in the comfort and prosperity of his job at Microsoft. Instead he took the risk to leave it behind for a passionate dream of creating hope and dreams in the lives of young children around the world. His dream is a positive change agent in improving young lives through the importance of reading and books in the lives of children. Only time will tell how this affects each of the children’s futures.

Click here – John Wood Room To Read-- to listen to a short Youtube video by John Wood about his organization.

Reflection – Why is reading important to you? How can you help promote reading in our country and around the world? Here is the website for Room to read. Check it out and see the great work they are doing around the world: