My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Monday, November 25, 2013

What is Thanksgiving About? Thankfulness, Relationships, or Shopping?

I recently heard on the news that a number of retailers were opening on Thanksgiving Day this year. It saddened me as I thought “can’t people take one day out of the year and enjoy family friends, relax and be thankful instead of bowing down to the almighty dollar?” I thought it bad enough over the years as right after Halloween Christmas displays go up to start making money out of Christmas as if that is the meaning of Christmas! This year there were Christmas items, one aisle over from the Halloween decorations. Now the marketers for retailers are saying no to Thanksgiving and trying to turn it into another shopping day!

Thankfully there are some retailers that are keeping their doors closed so there employees can have a united day off to be with family and friends. Some of them are: Nordstrom, Dillard's, Home Depot, Costco, BJs, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Ross stores. They are showing a priority of allowing their employees to enjoy a day of relaxing and building relationships with the important people in their lives. What are the names of those stores that are opening? I don’t want to waste my breath on them.
This should make us think in our hearts and minds of what is Thanksgiving all about? For years Thanksgiving has been one day that most everyone could take a day off to gather with family and/or friends to enjoy a day together. As you know with my belief system there is a strong spiritual element to the day for me. Not that I believe that a person has to be spiritually minded to be thankful. Gratefulness research shows that an attitude of gratitude can be found in all people and all belief systems.

This year I would like to share some thoughts from Dr. Robert A, Emmons. He is a professor at the University of California at Davis. His research in positive psychology has been focused in on thankfulness and gratitude. I had been wanting to read his book Thanks: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier and finally this past Summer had the opportunity to read it.

One section of the book I want you to reflect on is his discussion of how spiritual thankfulness often comes out of suffering trials, and loss in the life of followers of God. He uses the pilgrims as an example. “We need look no further for exemplars of grateful living in the midst of trials than the lives of the Pilgrims. More than half of those courageous souls who crossed the Atlantic died after one year in their new home. All but three families had dug graves in the rocky soil of New England to bury a husband, wife, or child. But they knew about ancient Israel’s harvest festival: how Israel, at the end of a successful harvest, thanked God for the bounty of creation – also for delivering them from their captivity, giving them freedom as a people. And so they did the same. They understood their God to be a God who is to be thanked and praised when times are good and when times are tough. Their gratitude was not a selective , positive thinking fa├žade, but rather a deep and steadfast trust that goodness dwells even in the face of uncertainty. Their thanksgiving was grounded in the actuality that true gratitude is a force that arises from the realities of the world, which all too often include heartbreak, sometimes overpowering heartbreak.” (Emmons. pages 116-117). It is easy to be thankful in the good times but what about the hard times? Learning gratitude during difficulties, aides in a better overall attitude rather than a bitter attitude. We live more abundantly when we live with thankfulness in all areas of our lives. That is one thing we can learn from the pilgrims as we go into our Thanksgiving Day experience.

What will happen on Thanksgiving with the stores that are opening? I would hope that people across the land will keep the priority of family, friends, thankfulness, and I cannot forget those who will be watching football; with the result, that those stores will remain empty of shoppers until the traditional midnight madness sale time. Yet knowing the Pavlovian nature of the words,”store open” to the American public, I am not holding my breath. It will be sad to watch hordes fillings the stores on Thanksgiving.

Reflection: On Thanksgiving enjoy your time with family and friends. Be thankful. If someone says to you “Let’s go shopping. I heard this store is open on Thanksgiving!” Kindly remind the person what Thanksgiving is all about.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Myth of Nonbelief – You Gotta Serve Somebody

This week a thought came to my mind over an article on The Blaze I read recently. The link to it is listed below the reflection. It was about a student at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon. Eric Fromm is the student body president of the school and came out recently stating he is an atheist. I have no problem with that as he can be whatever he wants to believe. What concerned me was some of the descriptors in the article.

The descriptor that troubled me is seen first in Eric’s statement “For those of you who didn’t already know about my nonbelief, this news may be a bit shocking, but I was an atheist long before I came to NCU.” He speaks about his “nonbelief”. Then later in the article comes the statement, “Fromm took aim at some of the Christians on campus who have treated him differently since they found out he’s a non-believer.” When I read statements like that in news articles I always think to myself -- what is it with this “nonbelief” or non-believer status. Probably the only person who could be called a non-believer may be an occasional honest agnostic who doubts everything therefore they would be non-believer in the true sense. Someone like this young man who states he is an atheist is a believer. He has a belief system. An atheist has a strong faith belief that God does not exist. This is a belief as they have no proof so they have to go on blind faith that God does not exist.

Matter of fact even in the article it states: “Fromm went on to explain that he was baptized a Lutheran and raised a Methodist, but that, over time, he began to develop the belief that “God wasn’t real’”. He states he developed a belief that God was not real. It did not say he had solid scientific proof that God is not real. No one can say that, because belief in no God has to be taken by faith. Just as belief in God has to be taken by faith is also true.

I wish reporters would think through and use the right terminology. Atheists who stress their so called “nonbelief” try to promote that they are more rational that Christians and those in other religious faiths. Instead they are simply being disingenuous as it takes a strong faith to believe that there is no God with no proof. Christians are also to blame for the misuse of terms as I have read many Christian articles that speak about non-believers. I usually cringe saying to myself “No, they are believers. They are just believing differently.”

As I was thinking this through the old Bob Dylan song “Gotta Serve Somebody” came to my mind. Take a look at the lyrics and think what he is saying in relation to what I have been speaking about.

Gotta Serve Somebody by Bob Dylan ( click on the title to hear the video of

Dylan and his band )


You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Might be a rock'n' roll addict prancing on the stage
Might have money and drugs at your commands, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a state trooper, you might be an young turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody's landlord you might even own banks.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may call me Terry, you may call me Jimmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say.

You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Like Dylan says we all gotta serve somebody. The Buddhist serves the principles of the Buddah, the atheist serves the principles of atheism, and the Christian follows the life of faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone’s serving is based on their belief system. I am glad to see from what I have read most on the NCU campus students and administrators are trying to be understanding of the young atheist’s faith journey. Also from the article and other related articles I have read the student is showing his true colors by crying like a victim about those he perceives as being against him because he is an atheist. Yet if you do read the various related articles and student comments the truth is even those who are coming out against him, are not concerned about his atheism. It is more about his deception and hypocrisy of not being honest about his worldview while running for student body president. If you critically think about it, those students have a good point. Believe what you believe but be honest and open about it.

In the world where we live we need to understand there are many various world views based on a variety of beliefs. There would be less strife if we could learn to respect each other’s beliefs. The ancients seemed to have a better command at having open dialogue than we do today. The Apostle Paul in the times of the Romans could speak and debate openly for example in Acts 17, to the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers in the Areopagus in Athens. He was not told to shut up. The other philosophers listened to him. Some thought he was mad or crazy and others believed while others simply said they would think over his statements. Why can’t we have that open dialogue today?

Reflection: Do you have a firm understanding of your worldview and why you believe what you believe? Are you open to agree to disagree with those of differing worldviews?


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/11/08/christian-colleges-student-body-president-issues-shocking-admission-in-campus-op-ed/

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is There Cathartic Value To Writing And Reading?

I should actually be writing about the question- is it wise to be blogging while working on a PhD in General Psychology? It has been over a week since I have written on my blog do to my classes and work. As well as one important item! My book I have been writing based on this blog is out. All you have to do is go to Barnes and Noble or Amazon’s website and search for “Living More Than OK” to find it and hopefully buy it.
Back to the question at hand, since I went off topic. A weekend ago my wife and I went to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas. The event is wonderful for me, as it is a celebration of books and reading. This of course is a passion of mine and a passion I would like to see more of in our society. Some of my favorite booths were the organizations that are working on helping with literacy and encouraging reading in the schools.

During a panel discussion with a few new upcoming authors; that is when the question of the title hit me. One author was promoting a fiction book he had written. The other two were focusing in on new memoirs they had written about their family experiences. There was a short Q & A time at the end with just a few questions. One young questioner caught my attention as she wanted their thoughts on whether writing is a form of healing or has cathartic value. She posed it in a demeaning manner in that you could tell she felt writing books did not have a healing side to it.

The three authors were about the same age as the questioner. I was surprised to hear all three back away from writing as means of healing emotionally. Any idea of writing as healing came across apologetically. Especially since two of the books were memoirs about difficult family situations I don’t see how their writing could not have had an element of personal healing to it. Now it could be because they were all English Fine Arts majors and/or they wanted to be agreeable with the young questioner in their age group. Maybe they picked up her sentiment on the issue. Granted writing alone should not replace the healing in counseling therapy. Yet in in mental health counseling the success of the power of story in Narrative therapy and journaling as a tool in helping overcome emotional problems is solid in the research.

When I made it home, I pulled off from my bookshelf, my copy of Writing As A Way Of Healing by Louise De Salva, Ph.D. Here is one of many examples in her book, “In Virginia Woolf’s memoir, ‘A Sketch of the Past’, there is an unequivocal statement about how her need to write came about from the pain she’d experienced in childhood. By writing her autobiographical novel, To the Lighthouse, Woolf says she ‘rubbed out’ the impact of her father’s violence by writing about it…which formerly had obsessed her. Woolf believed by writing ‘I did for myself what psychoanalysts do for their patients. I expressed some very long and deeply felt emotion. And in expressing it I explained it and then laid it to rest.’” This is a perfect example of writing being used in a cathartic way for personal healing. Louise’s book is a thorough reminder that writing can be a help to personal healing.

In the same manner that writing that book helped Virginia Woolf in her personal struggles, I am certain there were people who read that book who were helped in a healing manner by reading it. Reading novels and life stories of people’s struggles can help the reader think and feel through issues in their lives to bring healing. Personally I know I have been helped more by reading books than any personal counseling I have had when going through life difficulties. Dr. De Salvo is not saying that writing is the only form of healing but that is can be depending on the writer and their purpose. I as a licensed professional counselor know the importance of one on one counseling but I also understand the usefulness of writing and reading as having cathartic value for the individual. I feel better already!

Reflection: Has there been a book that has helped you during difficult times? Do you journal or keep a diary? Do you find the experience beneficial?