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Your Resolution Sucks

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Your resolution kind of sucks.

new-years-resolutions

Sorry…

Over half of the population has made a resolution this year to lose weight/diet. Of those, according to the stats, most will maintain their Jenny Craig diet for about two weeks. By February 1st, nearly half of the resolvers will be sneaking a Twix between dropping their kids off at school and beating the morning traffic to work. By March 1st, they’re almost all knee-deep in a Fudge Suicide Delight at their favorite grease bucket.

It’s just science, and it’s depressing.

Why are we so bad at resolutions? Is it because of too little resolve? Is it too little discipline? Is it Facebook’s fault?

No, our resolutions just suck.

Check it out – the top three resolutions of the New Year made by the population are as follows:
1) lose weight
2) get organized
3) save more, spend less
Kinda lame when you think about it.

Can’t we be more creative? Or even… Selfless? If we are being totally honest, losing weight, getting organized, and pinching pennies sometimes has less to do with others than it does with us and what we would like to accomplish. Not always, but we as humans have a habit of looking in the mirror and wanting to like everything we see rather than appreciate who we are in the first place.

But what exactly is it that stops us from accomplishing our goals regardless? In short, the thing that often impedes us from achieving our resolutions has nothing to do with the resolution we set.

Our resolutions often suck because we fail to take care of what we do before the resolution.

We don’t continue dieting because we leave boxes of Valentines chocolates lying around, unopened. We don’t work out because we don’t pack work out clothes and don’t drive near the gym on the way from work. We don’t save money because we carry too many cards we can spend money with easily with no accountability. We don’t spend more time with people because we feel we have to work just an hour extra before we can hang out; after all, what’s another hour of _____ really going to matter?

It will matter because it will stop you from seeing through your resolve.

Effectively seeing through a resolution works like this:
A) What activates your feelings? Want candy? – What makes you crave it? Want to spend? – What were you doing before you felt like spending? Pinpoint the feeling before the temptation.
B) What do you believe about it? “One more candy won’t hurt.” Ah, there’s the belief. Once you’ve found what activates the temptation, now, ID what you tell yourself to sell yourself on the idea.
C) Change it. Force yourself to drive a different route, tell yourself something different, or do it differently a second time.

A-B-C. Ha. See what I did there? With the, ya know, letters…

This is the fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy used by therapists across the world. Google “successful resolution” and you’ll probably see something like this. Yet, when it comes to resolutions, there’s something we need even more of – something much deeper – that I believe impedes us the most:

“Resolve.”

Resolve involves us gathering ourselves and standing against an enemy that we eagerly want to vanquish. Perhaps “resolutions” have become too soft. They have become glorified “goals.” Tsk tsk. Resolve is far more powerful than that. Resolve pushes us to fight against things that are really gnarly, like indifference, impatience, and apathy.

Now those are things that could use a resolution or two.

This month, the blog is going to focus on the theme of “RESOLVE.” The things that plague our life, love, and families could really use some resolutions with some serious resolve. Our weight, finances, and gym memberships could use a rest this year. Broken relationships, depressed lives, and confused and deeply troubles love could use the attention this year instead. So let me formally invite you to tackle a new resolution – to make a resolve – that overthrows the old, confused, broken cycles in our relationships and replaces them with healthy, communicative boundaries, love, and life.

And if you haven’t already, follow us this month by clicking the “follow” button nearby so you can keep up with the theme of “RESOLVE,” and what it means in our life, love, and family.

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Sorry for the Religious Holiday

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Merry He-who-should-not-be-named-mas!

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Or just Happy Holidays…

The internet today is a-buzz with a story about a woman in Chicago who killed three people in order to get the last Xbox One during Black Friday. It may be bogus – who knows – but the story says it happened at Wal-Mart which only adds to it’s credibility. That petrie dish of disease and frustration is dangerous even during the weekday.

But here’s the crazy part – we would all believe this story without batting an eye even if it wasn’t true! Now that says something.

The reality is, Christmas shopping is dangerous. Heck, Christmas alone is dangerous. Electrical fires, frostbite, scalding cocoa, too much egg nog at the Christmas party – sheesh, I should wear a helmet this month!

However, let us not forget in all the hustle and bustle that Christmas is a religious holiday. There are certainly disputes about how religious it is. Some say that Christmas is mostly pagan traditions and is hardly Christian at all. Others remind us that Jesus is the reason, no matter what traditions we celebrate with. Still others mesh traditions and Jesus by flying their Santa figurine over a Nativity; these people are just weird. No matter how you spin it, Christmas is still quite Christian even for the non-Christian, non-religious, non-God crowd.

Now, as an observer, I’ve observed that some observe religious observation during Christmas as offensive. Religious observations around this time does, at least, become a little annoying to people who find that stuff bothersome. But taking the “Christ” out of Christmas is kind of like taking the -anukah out of Chanuka – it wouldn’t make much sense.

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A child’s rendition of the Nativity – my favorite.

I understand that some of my readers don’t identify with the Christian faith. That’s okay with me; this isn’t an explicitly Christian blog.I want to reach individuals and families of all backgrounds and ideas. But as a Christian, in an attempt to make universal the lessons of my faith, I want to bring everyone a few of the best reasons why a religious Christmas is best. Perhaps you won’t be lighting candles at a church service on the 24th, but that doesn’t make the “Christ” in Christmas any less important for you too. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. God was born next too poop. Glamorous, I know. Consider the story universally, though. A god is made flesh by a virgin girl. Virgin girl gives birth to a god himself… next to a big steaming pile of goat scat. Whether you believe the story actually happened or not, it’s still a good story. Perhaps the lesson here for us all is that we should consider where we come from; even God himself was born in a less-than-glamorous way. Think of the lady stabbing people over an Xbox – do we consider ourselves as being like her? Probably not, because I’m sure we’d all like to think we wouldn’t do such a thing. Reality is we all were born the same – naked, smelly, and bringing nothing with us. Perhaps we should treat each other the same, remembering our common roots, and with a little dignity.
  2. The baby dies in the end. Hindsight is 20/20. Everybody knows now that historically speaking, a man named Jesus was crucified on a cross. In the context of the Bible, Jesus was born so that he could die, thereby paying back the debt owed by man’s selfish ambition. But this ending wasn’t exactly a secret to anybody in those days; everybody knew of the prophesy – a savior would come and die. In the spirit of Christmas, a baby was born so that it would one day be sacrificed. Kind of grim. Also, kind of remarkable. Consider the bumbling, angry crowds at the big box stores. They don’t quite seem to be concerned with sacrifice. For a holiday about a baby that would pay the ultimate price doing what he believed in, we tend to forget our manners – and the need for the little, daily sacrifices we make for others.
  3. God had a family that gave him a headache too. One of the first things little baby Jesus did was meet family. He met lots of them. They weren’t all the most trendy people either. He had a great grandmother who was a whore. He had a cousin who would grow up eating bugs for a living. His parents would get on his case about what he wanted to do in life. Jesus had a pretty dysfunctional bunch just like the rest of us. Think about how frustrated you get in the midst of your family chaos at Christmas dinner. Perhaps one of the coolest lessons from the religious Christmas is that we’ve all been there – surrounded by crazy people, blood relative or otherwise, we have to share the day with. We all know what it’s like to experience that headache. But if the story of Jesus teaches all of us anything, perhaps we should be reminded that Jesus still went on doing what was right, even when his family was a mess. He still sacrificed and gave to them, even when they were a bit selfish themselves. When I think of my own patience with my family at Christmas time, I’m ashamed to admit that I can become a bit of a Grinch.

Maybe you’re not religious. That’s okay. But seeing as the Christmas holiday is religious in nature, maybe it’s not so bad to take a look at it as such. Humility, sacrifice, patience – those don’t seem like just religious values to me. They seem like good values all around. At the very least, they certainly come in handy at the checkout counter as you purchase that overpriced gizmo at 20% off.

Sorry for the religious holiday, but perhaps it won’t be as bad as you think.

– Merry Christmas!

Sorry, Busy Doing Nothing

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WARNING: The video I’ve posted today is graphic. It contains some real, violent situations. I encourage you to watch it, regardless. I pray it will leave you a little more self-reflective. I know it did to me.

“You know, I’d love to help you but I’m busy doing this thing with this guy at this place. Yeah. Sorry.”

Everybody love the story of the Good Samaritan. You know – guys gets mobbed, left to die. Religious leaders pass by and ignore him. Politicians pass by and ignore him. In fact the only guy who cares about this dude is a low-life Samaritan. This guys stops. He helps the guys who got mobbed. He takes him to an inn, gets him patched up, and makes sure the guys has food to eat. We love this story because we all like to see ourselves as that Samaritan.

But you are NOT that Samaritan.

Trust me, I’d like to think that too, but I’M not that Samaritan. Statistically speaking, when we see someone in need, we will pass by them and ignore their problem. This grotesque human phenomenon is called “the bystander effect.”

It’s especially bad when we are busy. These two researches by the name of Darley and Batson recreated the Good Samaritan story in 1973 with Princeton Theological Seminary students no less. They had the students go from point A to point B in a hurry. As they did, the students passed by a guy who needed help. Did they help? Overwhelmingly, no. Only 10% offered to help! These are religious students no less. And it doesn’t stop there. The bystander effect is worse when we are with others. A study by some smart folks (Latane and Rodin are their names, 1963 was the year) found that only 40% of people in groups would stop to help in an emergency situation. That’s less than half.

Humans – we kinda suck.

Hence the video this week. We all would like to think we are that good Samaritan, but we aren’t. The video today is real proof of this and I post it for this reason – what kind of love are we sharing if THIS is what we are doing everyday? Answer: We aren’t sharing any kind of love.

It’s not easy to break out of this bystander effect, either. I’m aware of that. But here are some ways to make a change for the better:

  1. Get some guts. Break out. When you see injustice, don’t assume someone else will take care of it. They won’t. If you don’t help, no one will.
  2. Don’t be afraid to stand alone. The effect is worse in groups. Sometimes, doing the right thing means standing alone.
  3. NOTHING is more important than helping someone who needs it. No meeting is more important, no text is as urgent, and no spreadsheet is as vital as helping someone out. To know someone breathed easier because you lived today is to know you’ve truly lived.

And lastly, hold each other to a higher standard. If you see me passing by a situation I should be stopping at, throw a shoe at me.

Love is about doing the right thing, even if it costs you your life. This world needs a little more love. Why not give it a little bit more of your life today?

A Old Story with Fresh Breath

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Ugh – this story sounds a lot like that movie I saw the other day. Way to be original, people.

One of the greatest Christian allegories of all time
One of the greatest Christian allegories of all time

How many times have you said this? For years, storytellers have been repackaging successful stories in order to make a quick buck. It’s not a new problem and isn’t it frustrating? Didn’t Avatar seem a lot like Pocahontas? Didn’t White House Down look a lot like Olympus Has Fallen? Didn’t The Great Gatsby look exactly like the book, The Great Gatsby!? (Oh, wait… that last one may have been on purpose…) Still, recycling stories can be a real no-no in my book.

But I’ll make an exception for C.S. Lewis.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a retelling (an allegory) of the story of Jesus. Retelling the best-selling story of all time in the land of Narnia, Lewis paints an absolutely gorgeous and brilliant picture of a wonderful story. Even if you aren’t a Christian, this book is an incredibly story about love, which is why I repost it here for all to engage and enjoy. It’s also an easy book to read (it takes about an afternoon to read for adults, maybe a week for kids) so there really is no excuse not to read it.

I recently reread this adventure a few weeks ago. I left it with such a sense of awe and wonder that I wore a smile for several days afterward. It’s worth the read. Take a look at Robert Bruce’s review on the book (and take a look at his blog, 101 Books). I love what he said, especially his summation of the book:

Even if you choose to not dig deeper into its meaning, the story itself is still amazing. Redemption. Sacrifice. Forgiveness. Honor. It’s all right there.

And if you haven’t read this story yet, may I be the first to shame you into doing so.

SHAME.

🙂

KB