Join The Blanket Dropping Club

Linus drops the blanket in A Charlie Brown Christmas after he repeats the words,  “And the angel said unto them, Fear not” from Luke’s gospel chapter 2 vs 10a.

Why did Linus drop the blanket?

He was emphasizing a great truth to you and to me, FEAR NOT!

I invite you to join the blanket dropping club.

Why?

Because the blanket isn’t necessary anymore. 

Are you

Afraid,

Lonely, 

Scared,

Anxious,

Human?

Drop the blanket, it isn’t necessary anymore.

 

 

 

Root Deep Living

I LOVE “likes”!

I was glaring at my screen eyes wide open scanning for the red notification that I have received a new “like”. I saw the beautiful red number that indicated that yet another human or computer somewhere out in the universe saw my work as worthy enough to attribute the click of the “like” button. See what I just did there? I prescribed significance and meaning to getting “likes” on my social network. Know what happened in my brain when I saw this red notification? My brain lit up like a Christmas tree in the rewards center. A shot of dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure), pulsated through my system causing my brain to smile BIG.

I just explained the anatomy of addiction!

At the very core of my functioning, I was rewarding myself by searching for “likes”. And just think, I haven’t even watched the popular Netflix documentary about this very thing. I am admitting my vulnerability to being addicted to the “like” button. How about you? Do you find yourself surfing searching for the newest response to your post? Are you hungry for the next comment on your selfie or blog post or video? We are people who are searching for the next HIT of dopamine whether it comes in tiny doses the size of an M&M or in huge doses such as personal praise or rewards. We are becoming mice in B.F. Skinner’s test labs where he created the theory of Behaviorism, this theory is rooted in the belief that we have NO FREE WILL and are only a product of rewards either positive or negative. Are we ok with being reduced to a series of rewards that influence our next actions? Are YOU ok with this?

What is my counselor’s take on all of this?

I believe that earlier and earlier we are introducing electronic devices to children where their reward center of the brain lights up much more frequently than it is designed to. With our young brains lighting up so frequently it begins to develop shallow root systems. The trees grow tall but the roots grow shallow. What does this mean? It means that as soon as something hard comes into the life of the young person they fall over because their brain can’t handle the stress.

What about you and me?

Our roots are getting more shallow as well. When the root system in our adult brains gets shallow, the smallest stress can topple us over like a live oak in wet weather with a gust of wind. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the year 2020 when Coronvirus hit our nation and world. One of the biggest results of Covid has been a massive toppling over of our trees. The absolute highest intellectual minds in science and medicine have been toppled over which has trickled down to the general public. Guess what our response was? BUY MORE TOILET PAPER!!!!!! Seems to me we have toppled our trees.

So what and now what?

We have a problem. More than ever we need to take the time to be aware of what we are doing to our brains and begin to make the choices (you have free will) to choose to deepen our roots.

Here are some root deepening exercises we can all begin to practice to deepen the roots of our brain.

  1. Put your device down and take a 15-minute walk. Notice the beauty around you, the rustling of the wind through the trees, the sound of the birds as they sing. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
  2. Put your device down and choose to be very interested in someone else. Dale Carnegie is famous for teaching us How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of the key point’s Carnegie made is to be very interested in other people. Get them talking. It’s amazing how much more people will like you if you become very interested in them.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine God. The leading Neuropsychologists and scientists have found that when people are hooked up to brain imaging machines where we can see the activity of the brain in real-time, it shows that our brains light up like a Christmas tree when we simply think of God. I don’t know what your faith lies in, but may I invite you to imagine the God of the Bible?
  4. Smile often. Smiling releases happy chemicals through your body. Go ahead and try it! Try frowning, it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.
  5. Live with your palms up. It has been said it is impossible to be angry with someone if your palms are up. Try to be angry with your palms open facing upward. Now ball up your fists. See the difference?

In conclusion:

We have the opportunity to be deeply rooted as we lead the next generation towards their future. Unlike Skinner, I believe we have absolute choices, God doesn’t make us mice rather we are complex intricate humans made in the likeness of a creator God who loves us and designed us for JOY! If you will take these ideas and put them into practice you will produce fruit that will impact the next generations to come.

Let’s go deepen our roots!

How’s your swing?

“If you think you are going to hit a home run with every pitch you are mistaken.”

I was discouraged this morning, the writing tank was empty yet there were plenty of ideas. I had time to write yet the process was not producing fruit. Some of my frustration could be found in the quote above namely that at times I am my own worst enemy when seeking to accomplish something. Ideas are like pitches and I keep swinging for a home run. As I type this my mindset is to simply make contact with the ball and see where it goes. There is much more freedom in the realistic expectation.

I wonder how many of us are hung up with unrealistic expectations in our lives?

I think back to one of my favorite movies, Christmas Vacation, where Clark Griswald suffers from unrealistic expectations at Christmas time. He got so wound up with his expectations that he kicked over into a mode where he grabbed a chainsaw and began thrashing away at his problems…..a CHAINSAW! I’m ashamed to admit that I am a chainsaw wielder at times as well. Man, I can get so wound up that I go to a thrashing mode and anything that gets in my way gets hacked and whacked with my chainsaw.

The next time you feel the crazed manic mood come over you, check your expectations about what is going on.

Are you striking out because you are swinging for a home run? Are your expectations in line with a daily life lived with curveballs, knucklers, and fast pitches? Do yourself a favor, read the pitch, and adjust your swing accordingly. What does this look like practically? For me, I simply identified that the pitch coming my way came in the form of ideas to write about. I expected to write the next best blog that would go viral and change the world! My swing didn’t match the pitch because the pitch coming at me were base hit balls. My job is to swing and make contact. This blog entry is the result of slowing down my swing to match the pitch.

How’s your swing?

Don’t worry about it!

I had a nickname when I was younger. I was called “worrywart” because I worried about everything. I worried about EVERYTHING little or big, weather or sports, sickness and health, future and past. The thing I worried most about was my own life and what was going on inside of me. I had a real uncertainty about my past, present, and future. As I am now older I believe that being adopted has something to do with this, the uncertainty of everything. What got me the MOST worried was when I upset someone and they were angry with me. All I wanted was for there to be peace.

Have you ever experienced anything close to this kind of worry? How about your finances? Ever worry about your kids? How about worry about present-day politics or whether you will get cancer or not? We are worrying people, always have been. You might experience the cousins of worry such as fear, anxiety, even anger. Anger, you see, is an expression of feeling out of control and directing it at self or others often with very little positive consequence as a result. We fret, worry, fear, blow up, criticize, get defensive, or maybe balk at these and go hardline contempt which is the arrogance of a perfectionist looking down their nose at anyone who struggles.

Worry is faith turned inside out. Faith is believing even though you don’t see, taste, touch, or smell. Worry is the inside out version of this where you have seen yet you still don’t believe, you have tasted, you have touched, you have smelled yet you still worry. How is this even possible? It is possible because your brain is a phenomenal instrument that can be used for good or harm.

Every time you worry you create a rut in your brain called a neuropathway. This rut turns into a full-blown gully if traveled often. A gully in your brain is an easy path for a worrisome thought to travel especially if it has been rehearsed for years and years. The opposite is true. If you think something life-giving, true, or faith-driven accompanied by belief, you form a rut. A healthy rut well-traveled over time creates a gully that is easily traveled when a worrisome thought crosses your mind. Now your brain has a fork in the road. The simple difference between producing the action of worry or the action of faith is as simple as taking the right road when the opportunity comes.

Try this: say one healthy thing about yourself out loud. Try it, say one thing out loud that is healthy. Practice this every day for the next 10 days. What will have happened during this short period of time is the phenomenon of changing your mind. The bible calls this the renewing of your mind. By renewing your mind you actually develop the capacity to begin to experience the reality of healthy thinking which leads to healthy behavior, which leads to healthy choices, which leads to better outcomes in your life and world. When worry comes visiting it will find a deeper gully than the worry gully and will travel the faith gully.

What would your life look like if you worried less? How might your anxieties and fears decrease if you were to apply the one healthy thought for 10 days activity? Imagine going through your Sunday night full of faith rather than worry! How about imagining the difficult challenge you are facing in your family when approached by faith instead of worry. How might this change your life? I dare you to try this out for 10 days.

Don’t worry about it!

 

Anger

Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.

Ever been angry? Dumb question I know. Imagine a puppy pulls out in front of you in traffic and you slam on the brakes, this is what anger is like. Anger is a physiological form of pulsating arousal that causes our breathing to quicken, eyes to focus intensely and our hearing to become singular. What does all this mean? It means you turn into a giant hammer looking for the nail. Bad news for you if you yourself are the nail. Anger turned inward becomes depression, anger turned outward becomes rage. In all of these episodes, you lose your mind because of your body trying to regulate itself. Simply put we get into a state of fight or flight. Sadly some of us are stuck in fight or flight everyday. Should we get angry? Of course we can get angry, we must learn where to direct the hammer in a healthy way to keep ourselves from hurting ourselves and those around us.

Application:

What is one thing you can do the direct the hammer toward a healthy place that will not harm yourself or another?

F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out)

The more advanced we become the more necessary it is to keep it simple. Take social media. What an amazing advancement in communication and connecting. The problem is, we are now seeing an entire generation that are growing up with devices in their hands yet more unhappy than ever before. One of the new acronyms I just learned is called FOMO or fear of missing out. Defined, FOMO means, “The state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.” This is the feeling we get inside that everyone else is having a blast with their life while I’m home without a clue or a plan to enjoy it.

Hold the phone! Google this, I’m not making it up! We are growing more unhappy because of a fear of missing out on a life that is happening somewhere else except in my world. Screen activity fans the flames of this fear. Basically the more we live life behind a screen, smart phone, tablet, t.v. computer etc. game system, the more unhappy we become.

What is a reasonable strategy for battling F.O.M.O.? The solution is quite simple, balance. A 50/50 balance of screen time vs real-time is a good place to start.

  • Pay attention to what you are paying attention to.
  • How much time you are spending behind the screen?
  • Write down your daily time behind the screen.
  • If you believe you are spending too much time behind the screen, step away and carve out time away from it.
  • Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.

The screen is not the enemy, too much of the screen is.

The Feathered Reminder

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

God knows we worry. He thought of us when He created the birds. You see the birds are our constant reminder that God will take care of us. They sing a song everyday that is a reminder that your heavenly father loves you and will provide for your every need.

Next time you get caught in a worry trap, stop and listen. Listen for the birds. If you can’t hear their song you are too busy or too worried. When you do hear one, focus in and let the tune calm your worry. The birds sing the same song each and every day. The words go something like this, “I love you, I love you, I love you, don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry”. He told me to tell you.

Application:

What is one thing you can take from this to calm your worry? Share your story with us!

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