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!

No more dumpster diving for dates!

So you’ve gone on several dates and ended up all stinky. What is going on here? What seems to be the problem? Are you just picking wrong people, or are there any good people worth picking, or do you need to find the latest dating app, or read the latest dating book? While many of these problems may be occuring, chances are there is something else causing you to wind up stinky at the end of dates. Maybe you are dumpster diving for dates!

Have you ever picked someone to go out with in hopes that you can fix them? Have you ever met someone and thought to yourself that they will look better to you over time? Have you lowered your standards to keep someone around? My friend, you are experiencing an epic problem that our world is experiencing. There’s hope, this is a problem that can be solved. It starts with the person in the mirror.

We all have within us our unique identity it’s what makes us uniquely set apart from others. We each think different, choose different, and feel different with a variety of needs that span the globe. Simply put, your identity is the unique in you. Here is the kicker, without an awareness of or health within your identity you will struggle to find people who are a good match for you. Let me explain.

Without a clear view of who YOU are you will never be able to see who THEY are. Does this make sense now? How you see you is how you see them, if YOU is not seen accurately chances are your view of THEM is inaccurate as well. Think of a pair of glasses, they are prescriptive in helping you see more clearly. If these glasses are broken they will skew the picture creating an inaccurate view of self and situations. Are your glasses broken? Are you seeing yourself accurately? This is the first question as we learn how not to dumpster dive for dates. Check your glasses.

If you have good glasses meaning they aren’t broken, you will stand a pretty good chance of seeing yourself but more important, you will see others clearly. Seeing yourself is important in selecting friends and dates however seeing others clearly is vital to being able to determine whether someone is good for you or not. Suppose you know yourself pretty well and have a decent level of confidence, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to date and marry a drug dealer right? If you have extremely poor vision of yourself and others you just might meet and date a con artist, or a liar, worse yet, you may meet someone harmful!

Dating isn’t meant for missionary work. We don’t date to change people, we date to grow a great friendship that has tons of laughter, fun, togetherness and an ability to solve simple and tough problems without staying stuck forever. If you can do these things together chances are high you are in a good relationship that didn’t come from the dumpster.

If you are dating someone and there is intense jealousy, or every conflict gets hung up and blows up, you may be in a dumpster relationship that will never stop stinking. Here are a few other signs to look for in a stinky relationship: Criticism, defensiveness, you feel like you have lost your mind, your feel isolated from your friends and family. If any of these are what you are experiencing you may have a dumpster relationship.

Imagine what it would be like to talk to someone about anything in the world and they wouldn’t make you feel unsafe. This is what a great relationship looks like. Spend your energy becoming the kind of person that can foster this relationship, then go out and you just may find someone just like you in this sense where you share these traits.

NO MORE DUMPSTER DIVING FOR DATES!

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.

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