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?

Flow

~A state of full immersion

Here I sit Lord wanting to write and create yet realizing that it takes a minute to heat up the engine. Like a good diesel once she is cranked and warm it can take you thousands of miles into adventure, lands unseen, solutions to life’s problems you name it. A runner must warm up the muscles before bounding off into a sprint lest they injure themselves, I believe a writer can take cues, one must warm up, have stretching exercises to get the blood flowing. What we are after more than anything is the creative equivalent to a runner’s high and that is flow. Flow happens when it all lines up and comes out through the heart, mind, then the fingertips. Flow is elusive though, many things war for our flow energy. A mere conversation can zap flow as can wandering thoughts. Each time I sit to write I must wrestle down the wild horses of my mind.

Flow impacts every aspect of our lives from athletics to business deals to fixing a broken piece of equipment. There are such things as flow stealers, little vampires that emerge and steal the flow away dissipating like cotton candy to the roof of your mouth. This is an expensive problem. Take some time today and identify flow stealers in your world.

Application:

  1. What are some flow stealers in your life?

Dirt and roots

Growth amidst the dirt and roots, the grime and smell yet yielding to life.

Crushed, down further and further into the decayed rotting soil of life goes the roots in search of precious water and sustenance.

Out of the effort springs forth life above ground where the roots can’t see.

It seems our focus in life is the above ground pursuit but the real pursuit occurs in the muck and yuck of the growth underground where eye cannot see.

Ever pressing onward deeper and deeper into blackness, void of senses yet toiling ever deeper in a necessary rush to find life.

The world around us draws towards the upward life.

Real life happens in darkness, in the workshop of root work.

Application:

How are you growing below the surface where no one can see? Write 3 ways you are growing.

Invisible

More than anything in the world I want you to see me.

Can you see me?

Do you see my effort to get noticed?

Can you see my dance, my song, my heart?

I long to be noticed, to be accepted, to be understood, to be nurtured, cared for as a mother cares for a child.

I am longing, hungry, empty, aching, searching, invisible.

See me but don’t see me, the tango of twisted evil, a divine yet cursed dance.

Even the writing is edited for the sake of invisibility for fear of scoffing.

Application:

When have you felt invisible? Write without stopping about a time you felt most invisible.

Canoeing and marriage

Marriage is like canoeing. Picture this, a canoe with one person sitting up front with a paddle and the other sitting in the back with a paddle. Each person has a destination they would like to get to but have to paddle together to get there. This is often where the fun begins. We have differing strengths in paddling, sometimes one is less familiar with paddling, sometimes both are extremely inexperienced. What happens next is a true picture of marriage.

If both parties aren’t paddling in unison agreeing on the end target and syncing their paddling strokes, they will often miss their destination. It is not uncommon to find beginning canoers rowing in circles, or zig zagging furiously while one member screams at the other to switch sides. Sometimes the canoers will wind up in the weeds and have to reverse themselves in order to get out. Worse of all some canoers swamp their canoe by flipping it over and getting the canoe full of water. Most often though we find one member yelling at the other member sometimes whacking the other person over the head with their paddle. Sound like marriage?

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.

Change begins with me

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi

When one gets better we all get better.

Would you agree with that?

Like the butterfly effect, (a minute localized change in a complex system that can have large effects elsewhere), small changes can result in huge effects elsewhere.

So what does all this mean?

It means that as one person improves their marriage, entire generations are impacted.

As one person invests in their Spirit, Mind, and Body, entire communities, workplaces, households, and churches can be impacted.

As one student works on their attitude and habits an entire school can be impacted.

Application:

What is one area of your life that you want to improve. Write it down and create a small attainable goal to improve that one area today.

Pardon the mess!

“End of Construction-Thank you for your Patience”

We are all under construction.

Construction is complete when we die.

Until then show some grace to others including yourself.

Construction is messy!

It is dangerous to believe you are the only one with a mess. 

We are ALL under construction.

When we believe we are all in process we treat others nicer. 

Application:

Next time you get angry or frustrated with someone else, remember they are under construction.

Applause

Applause, like candy, is sweet to the taste yet leaves you always wanting more.

Have you ever received applause only to want more?

Applause is a poor motivator because it is so fickle. 

The performer must top the last performance to increase applause.

What if we lived for the applause of heaven?

Does the applause of heaven exist?

The applause of heaven is a mindset whereby we seek to please those above not those

here on earth.

When we live for the applause of heaven we get earth thrown in. 

When we focus on God’s pleasure in our endeavor we gain the applause of earth as well.

Application: 

What is one area of your life that could benefit from the applause of heaven?

Be weird because normal doesn’t work

Resist the urge to blend in.

Blending in is easy and builds the wrong kind of muscles, the easy muscles.

Instead build the weird kind of muscles, the kind that gains the type of results you want anyways. Need some help? Try these as some examples of ways to be weird and build weird muscles:

  • Cancel your credit cards and pay them off
  • Resist the quicksand of the “not enough” life that social media offers
  • Read excellent books
  • Be a filler not a drainer
  • Rise early and get moving
  • Pray often
  • Thank at least 5 people a day

This is a start as you set out to be weird.

Why weird?

Because so few people are actually doing this.

Begin today!

Application:

What is one thing you can start doing today to break out of the ruts? Share your story here.

Kill the cul-de-sac 

Cul-de-sacs stunt growth.

To kill the cul-de-sac you have to go back to the beginning to start again.

Sometimes reverse is progress.

Cul-de-sacs frustrate the one driving and makes passengers car sick.

Cul-de-sacs exist so you will not stay there.

Choose to exit the cul-de-sac the way you came in and get back on the road of life.

Application:

Have you ever experienced the round and round experience of a cul-de-sac? I see this most often in workplaces where people are frustrated by the exact same problems everyday. Relationships are a breeding ground for cul-de-sacs as well. Share a time when you were caught in a cul-de-sac and explain how you got out.

Comfortable being uncomfortable

 

Routines create ruts which over time can become shallow graves. 



Choose one thing in your life that you KNOW will make you uncomfortable and do it.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

Question: If you do not like where you are today what needs to change? 

Once you make up your mind to press play on your decision a release of adrenaline will shoot through your entire body like the fireworks before a football game, it’s the kickoff.

fireworks-180553_640

You will find that it never becomes comfortable to do hard things but you can learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Application:

What is one crazy goal you can set before you? I chose to run a marathon and did it! How about you?

Conspiracy Monster

“In the absence of information conspiracies abound.” -Brene’ Brown

There is a little monster inside of us called the conspiracy monster. This little creature lives between your ears and roars things that aren’t true. The effects of the conspiracy monster are far-reaching from the classroom to the boardroom and even the bedroom. The conspiracy monster feeds on bits of information with much room for interpretation. A wild conspiracy monster can ruin your life. 

The conspiracy monster feeds on social media. When we view a picture-perfect family it is easy to be overcome with a myriad of thoughts most of which are completely untrue. When we feed on these untrue thoughts they serve as food for conspiracies only fueling the monster that lives in each of us. The worse part is when we behave out of the conspiracy. We might act impulsively and spend money where we don’t need to because we feel the need to be more active like that perfect family, (chomp, chomp) the monster eats your checkbook. Or we begin to dislike our lives because they seem to be so boring (chomp, chomp) there goes your contentment.

How do we identify and defeat the conspiracy monster? First, you are halfway by believing the conspiracy monster exists. Second, you need to filter events that happen in your life through the truth filter. If you hear the monster chomping, press pause and ask one question, what is true about this event right now? The truth of an event frees you from the grip of the conspiracy monster. Better yet, the truth of an event frees you to behave out of that truth. When we behave out of truth we live with significance and contentment.

Application:

Have you been allowing the monster to eat you alive? What can you do to filter the conspiracies thrown your way?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. View social media with the belief that what you are seeing isn’t THE TRUTH but a version of a person’s truth. Filter hard.
  2. When a person shares a victory in their life, pause, kill the monster, and genuinely celebrate with them.
  3. When information is scarce regarding a circumstance or life event, gather facts like a detective before permitting yourself to behave out of the limited intel.
  4. Fill your life with truth statements, factual truths that pertain to you. The Bible is a tremendous source of solid truth about who you are.
  5. Share these ideas with others.

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