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Friday, January 22, 2010

Emotions, facial expressions and happiness!

One of the top 100 most influential people of 2009 is a man named Paul Ekman. The reason he is so influential is partly due to his work together with John Cleese on the documentary “The Human Face” put out by the BBC.

Our faces are amazing!  The reason that Ekman influenced the world is that until he did his studies, people thought our facial expressions were based on the culture we come from. Paul Ekman showed this was not the case and identified emotions like anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise as being universal understood and used and not based on cultural learning.

We are wired to understand these emotions in the faces of others and are wired to produce them ourselves! Ekman went on to point out that we have micro expressions that unconsciously tell others when we are lying but that only about one in 300 people can understand these without training.

Our face is unique, a wonderful contribution to the world that links us to others in a way which is intimate and revealing at the same time. Each crease, line, or fold talks to others about our lives bothe past and present.

When you get old, what type of face would you like to have? What you do and feel really influences that! I’m not talking of the creams and face care products we use as they simply delay the inevitable. I am talking about our attitude to life!

You see, if we smile often and have a positive outlook, as the years pass by our face will take on the folds of laughter and joy. We will become a pleasure to look at and due to our practice over time, a pleasure to be with!

If however we have an angry outlook on life, distrusting of others, we will have a face folded into frowns with creased at the corners of our mouths indicating our distaste of life (and those around us). This practice over the years will make others avoid us, and we will probably have an embittered and lonely end to our lives.

Which of these faces do you plan to settle into your older years with?

Then, the scientists have found out something else, they have found out by practicing establishing emotions on our faces, we take on those emotions!

In other words if you carefully reproduce specific emotions of anger, or fear, even when you are happy, within a short time you will change your mood and start to experience the emotions you have mimic’d. If you do the same with joy, you can lift your spirit and start to feel better! The psychologists tell us that to a certain extent we take our emotions from our facial expressions and body language.

Doesn’t this give strength to the words of the sacred writings
 

      “Young man, be happy while you are still young.      
       Let your heart be joyful while you are still strong. 
  
      Do what your heart tells you to do. 
     
      Go after what your eyes look at. 
  
      But I want you to know 
     
      that God will judge you for everything you do.

      So drive worry out of your heart.”[1]

 

Wise words! Let's be happy and let our faces reflect that. Let’s give our worries to God to take care of so they don’t etch themselves into our faces. Let’s be transparent with others, because if they are trained, they can read your lies right there on your face!

 

Similarly, when you have God in your heart, your face starts to change and show it! In some strange way it gets more peaceful and pleasant for others to experience. If we get a deep experience with God our faces seem to glow with an underlying energy. The sacred writings talk of a guy Moses who got close to seeing God’s face and the effect was that his own face became so brilliant that he had to cover it with a veil to protect those looking at him.

 

A but weird, but what we are learning seems to point out that in a lesser way our faces radiate a spiritual quality into the environment. We need to allow God to work on this important part of us. It will change our lives.

 

As Paul says

 

“Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.”[2]

 

We will be able to read everything properly one day. Let’s start by getting our hearts and attitudes right now! Then as time moves to an end, we will be a pleasure to be with and will get to know others and God with more and more clarity.

 
Keep smiling and have a good day!


[1] Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 NIRV

[2] 1 Corinthians 13:12

Fri, January 22, 2010 | link          Comments

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How to avoid screwing up a relationship? Contempt!!!!
Two days ago I described how “Crisicism” can damage relationships. Today I will address contempt. This is a complete lack of respect accompanied often by a feeling of disgust.

Malcolm Gladwell
[1] in his new #1 bestseller blink describes how marriages can be predicted to fail or succeed based on a couple having a fifteen minute discussion on a selected subject while being monitored to carefully review their facial expressions. He describes how a guy by the name of Gottman who specializes in this says these would be defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt.

Let’s look at contempt.

Well it is an attitide that is "Yeuch!" "Selfish!" "Nasty!" and "Ignorant!" Sin at its worst! It degrades others in our eyes and pumps us up with pride. We would do better to run from this as fast and far as we can, but often the allure of being "someone" drags us into this stinking mess!

How are we able to deal with this in a relationship? How can we even consider that this attribute is part of a relationship?

Malcom quotes Gottman as saying this is the single most negative attribute a person can apply in a relationship. This means that if we have even the tiniest touch of this feeling in us while we are within a relationship that we are considering, then we would do well to not get into that relationship!

How does contempt align to a Christian approach to others in our world?

Well Christians are told not even to have contempt for “Satan” the evil one who promotes selfish, ignorant and nasty things. The evil personality of Satan and his homies oozes contempt! He layers it under sickly sweet desires and false love. He hates us as humans completely because we are made in God’s image and so he wants to see us hurting. He will lead us to pleasures that will take us down. Examples would be sexual perversions, drugs, excessive alcohol usage, manipulating others, etc.

Then despite this we find that God says we are not even to have contempt towards this most contemptuous of created beings. You see, contempt results in us being conceited. This then allows us to fall right into this evil ones grasp!

The bible warns new christians who want to help out with these words “He(they) must not be a recent convert, or he(they) may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. “[2]

The bible even warns that “He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.” [3]

Christians need to avoid contempt more than the H1N1 virus or disease! Contempt is shown everyday in actions and can be seen by those watching us in the way we deal with the poor.

How do you deal with poor people? Are you better because you dress better, smell better, are cleaner?

Spiritually our sacred writings say you are not! Socially it says you cannot consider yourself better than others if you are a Christian! So, you may not have contempt!

Even doing something wrong is shown to be a danger leading to contempt. The good writings say “When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes disgrace”[4] So by doing things we know are not approved for Christian living we are showing contempt towards God’s creation and God. When we do wrong things we are being contemptuous to God. We are screwing up our relationship with the one who loves us dearly and who made the universe we live in. Is that wise? 

From a different perspective when looking at marriage or at our love relationships any contempt is a disaster waiting to happen. It's like playing football in a minefield! You are going to loose no matter how good a team you put into the game!

If you have any contempt for a loved one before you get married, don’t do it! It is extremely likely you will end up in a divorce court or worse!

So how do we operate without contempt?

Firstly by letting God know we really don’t want this poison in our lives. By allowing the true love and forgiveness of God to full our hearts and minds pushing this useless attitude out. Instead of contempt towards those who are socially more disadvantaged  let's look for ways to improve their chances of getting out of the terrible situations they have got into. We all make mistakes and perhaps theirs are due to the evil one’s enticements and their life decisions. They have wonderful value as people. lets discover it and give it back to our world!

Let’s live today victoriously in love of others! That way we can make contempt history in our lives and improve our world!



[1] Gladwell, Malcom, blink, New York, Back Bay books, 2007

[2] 1Tim3:6 NIV

[3] Proverbs 17:5 NIV

[4] Proverbs 18:3

Thu, January 21, 2010 | link          Comments

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Church re-branding? Why? Is it a dirty word? let's discuss this!

Today I want to pause in my discussion of “How not to screw up a relationship” and address a different topic. That topic of “church vision and re-branding”!

 

Why?

 

Yesterday I went to one church denominational vision meeting where they propounded how there is a need to change their name and come up with a different brand of church. This is a weird discussion!

 

Christ is independent of our brands and men’s playing with words! He is the supreme God of the universe! If people aren’t coming into the church’s it’s because they are no longer relevant. Are they kidding themselves that by changing a name they will get a new lease of life?

 

Nonsense! That only adds insult to injury. Are they so misinformed as to not understand that we as young people can see through the marketing hype to the core values?

 What is wrong is that the church is not understanding that Jesus is the “the way and the truth and the life.”[1]  

What do I mean? Well notice that part about Jesus being the “truth”. I will explain soon.

Then there is another part of the sacred writings that is perhaps not fully comprehended “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”[2]

 

I suggest the church has forgotten what truth is! Many denominations(i.e. flavors of churchs) cannot face the facts of life and refuse to honestly look at the bible in light of current knowledge. Somehow they have placed themselves in the role of protector of the “biblical truth” and in so doing have usurped God’s role. [Maybe they just don't have the skills to do it in which case my answer is "retool"]

Needless to say church members aren’t God and so have failed miserably at it. Instead of accepting facts and truths of lives, they propound have researched "faith" statements, probably many based on a 16th centuary translation of the remnants of God's original writings. My comment is get modern, get up to date, get relevant!

 

Please church members, understand that we make stupid, ignorant and nasty mistakes (sin) like the rest of  humanity! Acknowledge that! Start to face facts instead of ignoring or devaluing them. Do this even even if the facts are unpleasant to us initially. Acknowledge truth that becomes firmly established. God's truth is true, and if it isn't then I will be first to admit it. So far I haven't found God's word to be false in my studies that cover psychology, astronomy, cosmology, archeology, history, geology and I could go on!

 

One of the key facts I think we need to understand is that we don’t need to fear science!

God is “truth” and so if we honestly accept both God’s word and science and work feverishly to understand how the two align (instead of trying feverishly to make out that Christian’s that are scientists  must be paid lip service) THEN WE WILL START TO BE BLESSED.

 

People who say science and religion cannot be reconciled are crazy and don't know the christian religion. There are peices we can't reconcile yet, but as more knowledge is gained, the bible becomes more and more real and alive! We need to do what it suggests! God wrote it! If we start to forget our buildings and pontificating, and instead teach, assist and uplift others in love, then we will have an ability to improve our communities. the church will be relevant independent of the "name" or "brand"!

 

For example. . .Why is the church not fully behind the green movement? Most of younger people are! They know we have to look after God’s earth! That is a godly command we need to follow whether we believe in global warming or not!

 

Let’s be relevant! Let’s start a TRUTH revolution within the church! Also, let’s use technology to it’ fullest! We are not living in the 16th centuary. I hate to say this but Luther is dead! The worlds problems he was addressing have gone! We have new ones to deal with! The catholic church needs to understand this just as much as protestants! We are all kidding ourselves and need to get real!

 

Do you know some people think I am wasting my life by writing this blog?

I sincerely hope not! I do hope that I help you and others! Maybe you don't agree with everything I write, thats okay, but at least it is written in truth and gets us thinking doesn't it?

Let’s all try to do something to make our communities and neighbours’ life better. It doesn’t have to have a church tag attached. Brands are not important, God is!

Image isn’t where the difference is, actually making a difference is!

 

Perhaps I can ask some of you to add some comments to my guest book on my site giving me some feedback! I really want to be able to represent your view when I talk to others and try and improve our lives and that of our church. Let me know if I am missing the boat! How about some feedback 

(PS: the guest book is in the column on the right part way down. it allows you to write odd comments).

 

Hey! No matter what have a great day! Be blessed! Bless someone else today!



[1] John 14:6 NIV

[2] Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Wed, January 20, 2010 | link          Comments

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to avoid screwing up a relationship? Criticism!!!
Yesterday I described how Stonewalling can damage relationships.

Malcolm Gladwell
[1] in his new #1 bestseller blink describes how marriages can be predicted to fail or succeed based on a couple having a fifteen minute discussion on a selected subject while being monitored to carefully review their facial expressions. He describes how a guy by the name of Gottman who specializes in this says these would be defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt.


We are looking at these in turn. Today I will address criticism! This is disapproval that we express as negative comments or thoughts that tend to be judgmental.

Criticism is something that is negative in relationships. Criticism is different from making our views known, because it is something that is directed at the other person. Normally we have some need to change them.  

Why is criticism so often considered negative? Is it because it can lower a persons self esteem?

We have all been shocked by a criticism attack at some time or another where we personally are being degraded or thought less of. This is not the Christian way of communicating. We are told to talk from the perspective of love! In other words, when we are to reveal some difficult information to a person there are some steps we have to go through. Firstly we are to pray about what we need to do, (Not what the other person must change!). We need to search ourselves to determine that what we are reacting to is not something we just prefer because we are culturally or socially different to the other person. Then we need to pray until God gives us a love for the other person. Then, and only then, should we be willing to speak to them!

When we do communicate, let's talk about the subject and avoid attacking aspects of the persons personality. God will deal with them directly on personality issues and by showing them our example when we are around them. Focus on the issue, not the person, and then it will have minimal ability to hurt the persons self-esteem!

If you have a relationship with them, they are important! If you haven’t, they are important to God, and maybe we still need to discover that importance. God gave us all talents, but differently. That’s what makes this world the interesting place it is!

When we rub against each other it's not the activity that causes the problem, but the thinking that we are better than them. We aren’t! God loves us all!

I think we need to extend that love to others and curb incorrect criticism.
What do you think?



[1] Gladwell, Malcom, blink, New York, Back Bay books, 2007

Tue, January 19, 2010 | link          Comments

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to avoid screwing up a relationship? Stonewalling!!

Previously I described how Malcolm Gladwell[1] in his new #1 bestseller blink describes how marriages can be predicted to fail or succeed based on a couple having a fifteen minute discussion on a selected subject while being monitored to carefully review their facial expressions. He describes how a guy by the name of Gottman who specializes in this says these would be defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt.

Let's look at these in turn. Today I will address stonewalling. This is when somebody delays, or fails to respond especially by refusing to answer questions or cooperate in a constructive way.

If we do this in relationships we are asking for them to break down. Relationships are built on communication and positive responses. How can we ever think that by doing this that we will somehow overcome the problem and be successful? We all get hurt at some time or other by another. The first thing we need to ask ourselves is whether the relationship is one where the person doing the hurting is doing it because they want to have nothing to do with us. If that's the case and we never want to have anything to do with them, then stonewalling is a technique that will break it up.

If however this is someone we want to get along with, want to love or do, and want to at any point in the future have alongside us, then we need to get rid of the stonewalling approach. It's a relationship breaker with great power!

Even tiny amounts of stonewalling work in like poison into a relationship.

If we appreciate others, we will be willing to answer them honestly even when it hurts. If they do hurt us, we need to tell them that they are doing so in a loving manner and ask them if this was their intent. When they answer, if the answer is half appropriate, we should accept it and move on with constructive comments to repair and build back our friendship.

In a broken love situation, remember stonewalling looses a potential friend as well as a lover. Friendship is what give joy and happiness.

Let's not stonewall those we love! If we are to love others, that means we need to be open and honest with them. That's my plan today! What about you? 




[1] Gladwell, Malcom, blink, New York, Back Bay books, 2007

Mon, January 18, 2010 | link          Comments

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happiness, Contentment and Gluttony

There are 7 deadly sins: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, sloth, lust, gluttony

Over previous blogs they have all been addressed on one way or another except the last that is the subject of this blog.

So what is gluttony? It is often explained as eating and drinking so much as to cause waste. According to Wikipedia (which may or may not be accurate) a
guy by the name of Thomas Aquinas pointed out there are different types of Gluttony. They are:
  • eating too soon.
  • eating too expensively.
  • eating too much.
  • eating too eagerly (burningly).
  • eating too daintily (keenly).
  • eating wildly (boringly).

What do you think of these? How can these damage others around us? How can they damage ourselves?

Are you aware of how lack of food impacts peoples lives? Checking on the internet, I found a site discussing this and have extracted a few points for you to look at. (the reference to the site is provided if you want to read more).

  • In the Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called "absolute poverty"
  • Every year 15 million children die of hunger
  • Throughout the 1990's more than 100 million children will die from illness and starvation.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving
  • One in twelve people worldwide is malnourished, including 160 million children under the age of 5.
  • Nearly one in four people, 1.3 billion - a majority of humanity - live on less than $1 per day, while the world's 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world's people. UNICEF
  • 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day.
  • In 1994 the Urban Institute in Washington DC estimated that one out of 6 elderly people in the U.S. has an inadequate diet.
  • One out of every eight children under the age of twelve in the U.S. goes to bed hungry every night.
  • Malnutrition is implicated in more than half of all child deaths worldwide - a proportion unmatched by any infectious disease since the Black Death
  • About 183 million children weigh less than they should for their age
  • Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger”

Excerpts from: http://library.thinkquest.org/C002291/high/present/stats.htm extracted on Jan 15,2010

 

the bible gives us advice. . .

“When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat  if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. Do not wear yourself out to get rich;  have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” – Proverbs 23:1-5

 

Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost.  "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.” Proverbs 24:6-8

What can we do to make sure we don't add to this problem?

Where did mankind's eating problem start? Try reading Genesis 2. Eve wnted what she could not have and more than she should have eaten. This story explains how mankind started to view things that were not good for them as attractive to have and eat. This is not a new problem is it?

People considered Jesus to be a glutton. See Luke 7:34 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners""Was he really? What do you think?

Read the parable of the Rich fool Luke 12:13-21 and you will see that Jesus believed that focusing too much on making sure we have more than enough, is not a good thing if it moves us away from God and from being right towards others.

We have a responsibility to look after what God provides! We have bodies that God gave to us! No matter what shape, form, capability or strength we have, our bodies should be used the way God intended. To over feed our bodies is not looking after them. To underfeed them is not looking after them. We need to be sensible! Consider them this way. My body is on loan and the owner will want to know why I treated it the way I did. How can we truthfully explain away the gluttony and other mistreatments that we do to ourselves?

Will you feed a small child food until it chokes and finally throws up? So why do we do this to ourselves sometimes?
 
Many of us live in absolute luxury in North America. How about we just tone it down a bit, and take that money and put it somewhere where it can help others. Operation Hunger, the Christian Children's Fund, send some to Haiti to help with the latest disaster. Every little bit helps!

How much do we have to give up to save $5. If everyone in North America did this and then sent the money to Haiti, it would probably solve most of that country's problem. (See my blogblog Love, hate, Haiti? at www.KenXBriggs.com to see how much that can help).


Let's eat and drink responsibly! Lets be careful not to jump and starting eating too soon when eating with others. Lets not waste money on exotic expnseive foods when simpler foods would do just fine. Lets eat more slowly and limit ourselves to what our body needs rather than what our mind wants. Let's not waste food by taking too much and eating small amounts. Let's eat what we take but take only what we need. Let's not stuff our mouths so much others are disgusted. Let's respect food and pay the right amount of interest to it but not too much.

That way we respect ourselves, others and God's will in our life!

Sun, January 17, 2010 | link          Comments


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