Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Parental Licensing?

Futility Closet dot com published a short article concerning the idea that perhaps persons should be trained and licensed before they become parents. On the surface, that might seem to be a good idea. But...

Who decides what good parenting is? Bonding and love are so important, especially in the early years, that no training can substitute for that. How well can the state judge one's capacity to bond with and love their child? How well can an institution judge that? In fact, it may very well be that this capacity does not truly reveal itself until one becomes a parent! Love, providing a child a sense of security of love and support from a parent can override any other consideration that might be involved in the training and licensing process.

And if a person is determined to be objectively unqualified to be a parent, what happens then? They're not allowed to marry, not allowed to bear children? Talk about big brother! And based on institutional and governmental track records in managing such things, I do not think it would at all be a good idea to have the state, or some institution deciding who can marry and who cannot, who can bear children and who cannot.

Or forcing abortions on couples who have conceived a child contrary to big brother's edict.

No! to licensing of parents, but yes to supporting families in all possible ways, including education, in order to promote better parenting.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Empathy vs. Anger

I am currently reading a book about anger management. This book makes a point that developing true empathy makes it very difficult to get angry with another. The author is very scientific about how the brain works, how empathy is developed, how anger affects the brain, what parts of the brain have a role in anger, etc. But this one section really makes a strong point: really comprehending what the other person is feeling and thinking and experiencing makes it much more difficult to simultaneously get angry with that person.

We often tend to make judgments without much reflection, without any true empathy, and those judgments can cause us to feel resentment towards the other, leading to anger. But if we hold off on the judgment, and seek instead to sincerely comprehend where the other is coming from, a completely different dynamic can be formed.

One can hardly avoid referring to the biblical admonition, "Judge not lest you be judged," and "Judgment is the Lord's." Only God can truly know a person's heart, and only God can make a true judgment. We humans, even with the best of empathy cannot, and so, while we may judge an action, objectively, to be right or wrong, we cannot safely judge motives. Often, the person him or herself, doesn't fully understand their own motives, how can another do so? So, we should stop judging, work to develop empathy, and things should be better for all involved!

The book is very good for those who want to understand anger in terms of how the brain works, and related techniques to control anger.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Relevance

How much time do I, WE, spend on items that are actually, mostly, or entirely irrelevant to us?

I find that I read articles that are interesting, but that don't actually concern me.

When I/we complain about not having enough time, can I blame some of this on the reading, browsing, perusing I do, reading, listening to items that, while interesting, have no real applicable value to me?

It may be fascinating to read some public figure's thoughts about some issue that concerns him, but if that issue does not, or will not foresee-ably impact me or anyone close to me, should I invest my time reading the article? There are probably dozens or hundreds of other interesting articles I could read that DO impact me, that would be more worth my time. And there are probably things I should DO that would be a better use of my time than most of the interesting articles out there.

I imagine we can't really analyze this too much, because that can suck up precious time as well, but it might be worthwhile to stop and consider when about to click on a link: do I really need to know this? Is there a more worthwhile way to spend my time?

That's one reason for Briefthink, to briefly say what I think about something so I don't waste much of your or my time!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Credit Card Payment is Due

Yesterday I read an article by a woman whose family lost most of their possessions to a house fire last year. What she had to say was that she, and her family, found that they did not want to replace many of their possessions, that they had found a certain freedom in having less, even to the most mundane: perhaps I can live just fine with three towels.

She found herself to have less anxiety about storing possessions, she spent less time doing laundry, she had more time and more freedom in general to be and do what was most important.

And then there's the credit card notification: Your payment will be due in 10 days. Credit card used to buy possessions and services we THINK we need. We trade in a particular anxiety about a need for a new anxiety about paying the bill for those things we're no longer sure we ever needed to begin with.

There is a lot in modern life this this. The time we spend on emails, texts, internet, entertainment. We lived just fine without all this stuff 20-30-40 years ago. We lived entirely without TV and radio and constant piped-in music 150 years ago. Are our lives really any better for all that we have access to now? Are we really better off having instant access to Wikipedia instead of having to go to the library to look up the things we really wanted/needed to know.

I'm not so sure.

In fact, I'm very sure that most of this is more of a burden than a blessing. We just don't realize it most of the time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy New Year

My resolution for the year 2017 is to write more posts on my three blogs.

Happy New Year!

One thing I have learned over the course of the year 2016 is this: How I feel about anything is largely determined by my attitude. Happiness does not come from external circumstances: not from gifts, or money, or a particular job or activity or recreation, but from the mindset from which I approach any of these things. A great job can be ruined by a negative attitude, and a crummy job can be made great by gratitude and positivity and a generous spirit.

Happy people bring happiness to others. It is always true. A positive, happy, generous person will makes others around him or her also happy. This kind of positivity, this generosity of spirit is the best thing we can do for others, for ourselves, for health of mind and body.

It's not always easy, but it is possible, so we just have to go for it. Take the risk. Be positive. Be generous. Give happiness.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What the World Needs Now...

I have come across a few disturbing articles on the internet in my time. There is a lot that sucks in the world. I worry especially about our children, and the influences they will or may be exposed to. That's just background for the following insight.

It occurred to me that what the world needs is more people to be really good, exceptionally good.

And so, what the world needs from ME is to be exceptionally good.

But we often misunderstand what good means. A lot of "good people" are "shocked," "outraged," "offended," by what they see in the world, on the internet, in the behaviors of others. I don't think that is what the world needs. I don't recall anything about Jesus being shocked or outraged, except that one time when he was angry about the money changers and merchants in the temple area. More often, he was saddened. I remember the rich young man who didn't answer Jesus' call because he had many possessions, and how Jesus looked on him with love.

Any way, not to go on too long about it, I think what the world needs from me, from Christians, from all moral people, is exceptional goodness without the "moral outrage," but with mercy, compassion. It is a sad world, and the "bad people" who are making it a sad world are the saddest people of all. And they need from us, the example of goodness, and the balm of mercy and compassion.

Maybe we Christians can find a "right" and sometimes even a "duty" to "fight back" on some level, but I think the obligation to fight back is relatively rare, certainly not as common as we have come to see on the internet, all the outrage, and taking offense, and arguing and name-calling, even amongst Christians.

And of course, this applies firstly and mostly to those closest to me. To set an example of goodness, and to be merciful toward others who fall short of goodness. Being "good" doesn't give me a right to get offended or angry with someone else's bad behavior. But it probably gives me a duty to be more compassionate and merciful.

I'm going to try to start the new year with a resolution to strive to be both exceptionally good, good in everything, not making allowances for myself, and my questionable behavior, while also making allowances for others, praying for their weakness and struggles, forgiving them readily when they hurt or offend me in some way, showing them patience and kindness and gentleness as much as possible, avoiding any taking offense, outrage, arguing, anger, harshness, that sort of thing where I might claim to care about "the right thing," when in reality, I'm making it all about me, even if it's just my frustration in not being heard, etc.

So, there you have it, the world, my small world, and the big world, with all the concentric circles in between those two extremes, needs ME to be exceptionally good, and exceptionally merciful.

The song is right: What the World Needs Now... is love, being as good as possible, and as merciful as possible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stress

I listen frequently to podcasts about health, and the one thing I have noticed they all seem to have in common is the belief that stress is probably the greatest force in the decline of western health, and the increase in obesity.

They all recommend meditation, mindfulness, meditation, etc, as means to combat stress.

One doctor in a podcast I listened to today said, basically: "We don't want to heal just to take away a health issue, but so that the patient can go on to live his life as his best self. We are more than our bodies."

I don't know this doctor's faith, but he also emphasized that the greatest stress disturbance in our lives is loss and grief, especially the anticipation of the end of our own lives. He says that fear is behind much of our grief in losing a loved one: "This is going to happen to me someday."

He said we need to come to terms with, accept the reality, that all of us are going to die. He seemed to imply that we should live with the understanding that this life is not all there is. And, interestingly, he said that we should live in such as way as to make our ultimate death not the fearful, terrible thing that it often is in our minds. We should live in such a way that our death is seen as a doorway to hope fulfilled.

We have to avoid regretting the past because it is done and gone. We can't change it. We have to avoid fearing the future. It hasn't happened yet. It may not happen at all, but it most likely will happen in the way that we fear if we let fear guide us. We have to live the present moment, it is all that we have. It is our only real guarantee because it IS, now. So, since the present moment IS our life, NOW, we ought to live it, and each one that we receive, in the best way possible, doing the good that the moment brings, being grateful (that's another really important element in good health) for the moment and for all that it brings with it.

And IF there IS an afterlife (as I believe there is) by living each moment mindfully and gratefully, with kindness, mercy, and real love, we are giving ourselves the best preparation for an actually happy death.

Then we have nothing to fear. And we reduce our stress. We can be happier, healthier, and more hopeful.

Simple, ain't it.