Why Today Stinks: The Dangers of Complaining

edouard-tamba-138814.jpgI don’t always like life. One journal entry I wrote describes this well: “This morning I awoke in my normal weekday mindset…and completely detested life.” Some mornings I look at the day ahead and say, “Gross. I’ve already had one of these and I’m so done with it already.” It doesn’t seem so wrong to say this, really. But let me give you the same scenario from a different perspective:

Every breath you breathe is a gift from God. Picture this with me: you wake up in the morning, God looks at you lovingly and hands you a new day. “Whadya think?” He questions, eyes glistening with excitement.

“Gross. I’ve already had one of these and I’m so done with it already.”

Seeing as how I’m writing to millennial college students, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that we all fall prey to complaining. I’ve already admitted that I complain sometimes, so I have first-hand experience. However, as a comm major and psych minor, I’m also familiar with some aspects of how what we do influences how we think…and vice versa. With this background, I sincerely hope to shock you with some of the dangers of complaining, and thereby inspire you to complain a little less each day.

Bad for you: Some of you may recognize that complaining is bad for you. Others may feel that complaining is okay. I mean, you’re just “venting” and if you don’t “vent” you’re going to keep all your problems hidden inside of you until you burst. Well, nice try. Really though, complaining is bad for you.

Image result for brainSteven Parton (n.d.), in his article The Science of Happiness: Why Complaining is Literally Killing You, explains how the brain has the ability to rewire itself. When you practice something, your brain literally rewires itself, making new neural connections and shortcuts. Just like how learning to play the piano makes piano-playing easier, complaining makes negative thoughts more prominent and easier to come by. It physically changes your brain. Travis Bradberry (2017), Ph.D. and co author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, backs up this claim, concluding that complaining can become a default, regardless of outside circumstances, when you practice it on a daily basis.

Bradberry (2017) continues on to note that complaining also increases the stress hormone cortisol into your body. Think about that for a minute. The act of complaining actually biologically increases your stress. When you wake up in the morning and gripe about the day, you are physically setting yourself up for a tougher day–you’re setting yourself up for stress. And everyone knows the dangers of stress: it makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Not good. Just sayin’.

Another reason to avoid complaining is because communication creates reality. That Image result for coffee spillwhich you see you are more likely to look for and that which you look for your more likely to see. If you start complaining about something, you will start to see all there is so complain about, which leads to a dangerously downward spiral. I bet if you give it some thought, you can remember a day where, after one thing went wrong, the whole day seemed to bomb. This happens partly because once one thing goes wrong, you’re more likely to have that negative attitude and perspective.

Bad for your friends

Just as colds can be contagious, comm students are aware that emotions are contagious as well. Emotional contagion–the act of catching another’s emotions–comes into play with complaining as well. When you complain it easily brings your friends down as well. Bradberry compares complaining to smoking: “Complaining [is] a lot like smoking–you don’t have to do it yourself to suffer the ill effects.”

Image result for smokingThe first time I went to Frederik Meijer Gardens was years ago as a family trip designed to honor my mother on Mother’s day. For whatever reason, all six kids were determined to have the worst time of it ever. We complained and whined until it nearly drove my parents insane. Looking back I see how that attitude completely ruined my mom’s celebration and also fed more grouchiness. I still have bitterness toward Frederik Meijer Gardens to this day and because some of us decided to complain, nobody could have a good time.

Bad for your relationship with God

The third, and most significant, reason complaining is dangerous is because it’s bad for your relationship with God. As evidenced in the introduction, complaining is dissing God’s creation and gifts. It’s very true that the world is broken so obviously not everything on earth is good nor is life on earth what God wants it to be. But, even in the brokenness, God has given us gifts and when we complain, we completely ignore those gifts. We whine about homework, but we forget that we are lucky to be in the 7% of people nationwide who can even get to go college (100 People, 2016). Image result for cafeteria foodWe gripe about the cafeteria food, but we forget that 815 million people in the world are going hungry (UN World Food Programme, 2017). That’s considerably more people going to bed hungry each night than double the entire population of the US and Canada combined. Students on Cornerstone’s campus moan about having to walk the long way around the construction to get to the library, but we never thank God for working legs in the first place.

Not only are disrespecting God when we complain, we are actually called–it is our duty–to be joyful. We are instructed to be positive. The New living translation of Phillipians 2:14 says, “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:16 states it very simply: “Be joyful always.” Our God is the God of love, peace, and hope. senjuti-kundu-349426.jpgWhy would we not be joyful? Why would we complain when we have an unimaginably bright future in God’s presence waiting for us?

So. Stop complaining. Stop. And start being on the lookout for what you are grateful for. If today stinks it’s because you are letting it stink. Complaining is bad for you, it rewires your brain toward negativity and adds stress, it’s bad for your friends, and it’s bad for your relationship with God.

Guys. This isn’t an innocent past time. Take this seriously.

Stop making life harder than it has to be!

 

 

 

 

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Am I Proud of or Ashamed of Who I am?

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I wrote a post on surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you, be a good influence on you, and challenge you. For me, as a Christ follower, that means finding close friends who are serious about their faith and are pursuing a relationship with God hard core. But then the question plagues me: how can I tell if someone is sincere in his/her faith?

As I wrestled with this thought, I had to ask myself what I am doing to show my passion for Christ? This can be a painful question. This post is written as much for myself as it is for you

To get a practical application of how I could see Christ in others or how I could demonstrate my faith myself, I considered people around me who I admire to see how they show their passion for Christ. As much as we might prefer a glorious, mythical answer, the truth is, in those who I admire, I see Christ lived out in the little things.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 commands: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.” 1 Timothy 2:2-3 repeats the idea, “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”

Big glorious things for Christ matter, but it is the simple, daily, living-life things that we are commanded to submit to Christ if we really want to live out our faith.

Free stock photo of man, person, dirty, constructionWork

Especially over the summer, the idea of using everyday work to glorify God spoke to me. 40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work?40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work? is a heart-felt post I wrote explaining how our time at work is a chance we have to serve others and find purpose. Work is not simply a wretched torture we must suffer through to supply our needs; instead it is an opportunity to engage with the people and tasks around us–to use the gifts and talents God has provided to serve others.

People will see Christ in me when I do my work passionately, go above and beyond expectations, and work as if it really matters. For my job as a tour guide at Cornerstone University, this means not just leading tours and saying what I have to say, but adding sincere energy. It means memorizing the names of the students on my tours. It means asking what they would like to know about, caring about their needs. It means arriving early to work and being willing to stay late sometimes. It means smiling while I work and going out of my way to find answers to questions. Is that the attitude I have when I head to work?

I want to be a Christian who has a great reputation at work because I am going to work looking to serve others, and not just looking out for myself.

Time management

Blue sand falls in an hourglass on a rocky beachThe way we prioritize also speaks volumes to what we are living for. Am I making time for one-on-one time with God daily (severely important!!!)? Am I making time to spend with others? Am I being responsible with the tasks I have to accomplish?

Everyone needs to waste time sometimes, but when I am tempted to binge watch Rhett and Link, I have to question: is that really the best way to use the limited time I have on earth? When I stay up late and am grumpy at work the next day, it’s not just myself who is affected. Am I viewing my time on earth as a temporary loan, or am I just looking to use it for myself and my personal pleasures? Am I wishing time away or am I looking to use the most of each moment I’ve been gifted with life?

I want to be a Christian whose time management points to a purpose above my own.

Respect for Others

A Christ-follower should believe that each individual possesses at least some aspect of who God is. I believe those who call themselves Christians should not gossip, should not tear others down, and should, in fact, do quite the opposite. The Christians who I admire do a great job of seeing the positives in others and serving others. As Christians, we can speak so much of God’s love by serving those around us. Sometimes this means opening doors for others. Sometimes it means befriending that lonely kid in your hall. Sometimes it means helping a classmate with homework. Or writing an encouraging note to someone. It can mean not dissing a professor, not speaking poorly of that one kid in class, not watching that film that the others are into. It can be small, but respect shows.

I want to be a Christian who radiates respect.

Image result for brokeMoney

How a person spends his/her money will show exactly what that person prioritizes. Again, it is absolutely okay to spend some money on yourself from time to time just for fun. But am I tithing? Am I giving some of it to the expansion of Christ’s kingdom? (Compassion International is a great organization to donate to, you can sponsor a child and see how much that one sponsorship can change the world for a child on the other side of the world!)

I know I’m speaking mostly to college students here. I know that we have very minimal amounts of money to spend. So maybe the question isn’t so much about how you could spend your money differently, but how about considering how much energy you waste worrying about your money? I want to learn to trust God so that, when I’m doing as much as I can, I can lay aside the worry and not let money stress me out.

I want to be a Christian who has enough confidence in my great God that when money is tight (i.e. always), I will never stop giving and will trust God to be in control.

Attitude

I hope that if you’ve been following my blog even halfheartedly that you’ve been slapped in the face with my passion for having a joyful attitude. Attitude is such a choice and it has the potential to be such a huge witness! I believe in a God who grants us hope, peace, trust, and JOY! As I Christ-follower, it is my sincere hope to represent some of God’s great attributes through having a joyful attitude.

Going out on the mission field, draining your savings to support a Christian organization, adopting a whole family of kids from the other side of the world: these are things that glorify God. But walking into work with a smile, writing an encouraging note to your roommate, working hard on your homework: these glorify God just as much.

The majority of our time and energy on earth is honestly spent just trying to stay alive; eating, sleeping, and breathing. It’s exhausting. But God put us on earth to live. And these things are what living takes. It is even these things that glorify God.

The way we do the simplest aspects of everyday living is what truly communicates to the world about our passion for Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Journalling 101 (don’t you dare skip this one just because of it’s subject!)

IMG_20171004_221824757 - EditedNovember 19, 2016 “…yesterday, I had a pleasant coming-in with cement…I may have been riding my rip stick while uploading a video on YouTube and carrying a water bottle with a backpack on. But then again, I may not have been; who does that? If I may brag a little, skinned elbows hurt a whole heck of a lot more than they look like they are going to hurt…”

Journalling is a form of communication that I believe everyone should try (men, don’t ignore me: this article about journalling is in the blog “The Art of Manliness“…). There are countless resources describing why journalling is a good habit. Let me explain a couple of my own.

Journalling helps me unwind

September 18, 2017 “Considering all, today has been a marvelous Monday…”

Nearly everyone will admit that life in the twenty-first century flies by and we don’t give ourselves a lot of opportunity to decompress. Journalling is my way of giving myself that chance. It allows me to take a breather, rethink my day and calm my mind (This is perfect for helping me to fall asleep 😉 ). Journalling reduces stress. Also, because I can be completely honest with myself, I can have a good sense of humor with myself, and I can talk about literally anything I’m in the mood to talk about, I normally come out of a journalling session a little more confident about myself and/or about my situation.

Journalling helps me think logically

Related imageAugust 20, 2017 “So often (well, maybe not, but definitely overwhelmingly right now), when I’m thinking big picture thoughts (i.e. moving to college), I think about how scary life is. Then I go curl up in a ball, pulling my knees against my chest (I wish I were that flexible), and crying hopeless, helpless tears alone in the night. I forget to look at how big my God is…Oh Lord, wrap your arms around me. Remind me that you love me through and despite my failures…that your strength and love is enough.”

Similar to talking it out with a friend, journalling forces me to rethink my emotions. Why am I upset with this person? What exactly is stressing me out? What about the day disappointed me? A journal is a safe space to think and vent (honestly, I could write my deepest secrets). Plus, as I write out my thoughts, I begin to see circumstances more objectively. When writing in my journal, I give myself lots of room for personal pep-talks (and, since communication forms reality, these can do great things for morale). Similarly, when I read past entries and see I was completely freaking out about a “massive problem,” I can gain encouragement by seeing that, as bad as it felt then, I did overcome the issue–and am likely to do so again this time.

Journalling teaches me about myself

18447672_1209095852549509_4222890287560671535_nJune 2, 2016 “If I had to use one adjective to describe myself, I find myself caught between ‘active’ and ‘adventurous.’ …recently I have discovered that I appreciate being hands-on outdoors…I also love people. I get no small amount of amusement from watching folks interact. Quirky people amuse me more than annoy me…”

Whether it be through reading old posts and seeing patterns in my behavior, or through stopping in the moment to consider why I’m feeling what I’m feeling, my journalling experience has taught me a lot about myself. Having a more accurate sense of self-concept, I can proceed to make wiser decisions as well as combat my weaknesses in a more educated manner.

My journal is always there

August 3, 2017 “Long time no see, dear!…I’m especially desperate to journal when I am lonely, in pain, and detesting life…[so today] I made a “B” line (why a “B” line? “B”s are not straight!) for your company.”

Ever get lonely and just need a friend to talk to? Your journal is always there for you. ‘Nuff said.

18451333_1697170693629944_1680720937309472440_oJournalling is just plain fun!

June 23, 2017 “BethAnn feels pretty moody…perhaps it’s just the bee poison that entered my blood through a still-stinging attack in my right, middle-finger, upper-knuckle. Yeah, that’s what I think of you bees: middle finger.”

Sometime my satire of the moment causes me to laugh. Not only is the calming experience of journalling enjoyable, reading past posts and reliving old experiences is a treasure. Often the best times of my life are recorded in my journals. I now have the opportunity to re-experience that joy and excitement and thrill all over again. It’s a sure-fire smile at least 🙂

You should definitely give journalling a shot; it’s super cheap and really easy. Let me know how it goes and be sure to leave me a comment! 😉

This is a phenomenal post (!!): harnessing the power of emotive language

Image result for emojisI would describe one of my high school teachers as lax, wishy-washy, careless, and too lenient. He comes to mind when I’m asked which teachers I’ve had a hard time respecting. Yet, other high schoolers adopted him as their favorite teacher, finding him accepting, open-minded, flexible, and easy going.

Though we are talking about the same man, our word choices (all of which do describe him) leave completely different impressions. This shows how much impact emotive language (language that naturally feeds a specific emotional response) can have. Even when we believe we are simply “stating the facts,” we can be doing so much more than that, declaring to the world exactly what we think of something. And–you know it–communication forms reality.

Image result for teacherBecause of this, using emotive language can cause some problems. For example, because of self-fulfilling prophecies, stereotypes, and our tendency to cling to first impressions, I can do someone’s reputation a whole lot of harm if I advertise them in a negative manner. If I told a student going into a specific teacher’s class that the prof was distractible, yielding, emotional, high-strung, and arrogant, and that his expectations were severe and demanding, that student would certainly join his class with set caution. As the semester began, she would probably notice things the way I described them (at least to some extent–self-fulfilling prophecy) and be more willing to describe them in such a way to the next student. Doing this isn’t fair to neither the teacher nor the student, really.

Emotive language also applies beyond describing teachers or classes; it can effect the way we view other people, situations, and goals.

Therefore, it is wise to learn to recognize emotive language. When others are using such language, realize that their opinion is subjective. They obviously have their own viewpoint, but that doesn’t mean you will end up seeing things the way they do. Image result for smileSimilarly, after recognizing emotive language, try not to use it as much yourself. It is fairer to others if you allow them to make their own decisions.

Be careful about what you’re saying and what you’re hearing other people say. To those who call themselves Christians: our goal is to build others up, not tear them down. Speak positively. And be aware. Now, go out and find some emotive language!

Leave a comment! I want to hear your perspective 😉

 

Tell me who I am: I will believe you; considering self concept

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It was one of the first weeks of the fall semester at West Shore Community College. I had just walked out of science class with my brain spinning, back pack loaded with homework. The whole week had been trying. I had two tests to prepare for, but, with their being the firsts tests of the semester, couldn’t even guess what they would be like.

Then I had read the psychology study guide. I immediately felt overwhelmed. Paragraphs of questions covered two pages. They weren’t yes or no”, “true” or “false” questions. They weren’t questions with one word or phrase answers. They were “describe” and “explain” questions. It was so long, confusing, and extremely detailed. My stomach had tied in knots.

Image result for geoffrey kramer west shore community collegeNow, as I walked in the empty hall, from behind me, my psych teacher approached. Cheerfully, he commented about a question I had asked that morning. “You aren’t still worrying about the absolute refractory period, are you?” I pasted a friendly smile on my face and stopped walking, but I couldn’t answer. He might’ve been seriously wondering, or perhaps he was just making conversation. Either way, I couldn’t lie, but I certainly couldn’t tell the truth. I tried not to let the “yes, I am still really worried” show on my face, but couldn’t think of anything to say.

In the silence, he spoke up again, conscious of at least a little of my worry. “Well, I saw you were looking at the study guide. Isn’t that helpful?”

The smile disappeared. “No. No, not in the least. The study guide was what put me into such horrific terror!But I didn’t say what I was thinking. I put all my effort into not letting the tears form and run down my cheeks.

I knew the silence was long and the lack of eye contact would make him suspicious. I knew if I didn’t answer right away, I would have to admit the truth. If I didn’t say something, he would find out how I felt. But my jaw was clenched as I fought to keep the tears from escaping. I lost the battle.

In the empty hall, in front of my respected teacher, I started crying.

cristian-newman-141895I really didn’t want to make him feel bad. He had done a fine job, I was just stressed. It wasn’t his fault, and he didn’t need to feel bad for me. But I couldn’t hold the tears back.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“It’s not a big deal. I’m just a little worried about this test and the material.”

“Do you want to come to my office and we can go over some of it?”

I’ll never forget those fifteen minutes of my life. Partly because breaking down crying at college, especially in front of one of my most respected teachers, is embarrassing and is not an easy thing to forget. However, I’ll remember those minutes mostly because what Dr. Kramer was willing to do for me meant so much. A single one of his how-many-students starts sobbing about something stupid and he takes her back to his office, even though he had a meeting to be to in fifteen minutes, and spends his time trying to calm her down. The value that Dr. Kramer had for me–as evidenced in the way he treated me gave me more confidence in myself.

Self concept is complicated. So many things influence the way we view ourselves. Even things like those simple fifteen minutes are so crucial, so memorable, so impacting. This is partly because people and instances impact the way we view ourselves. This is called reflected appraisal–“the theory that a person’s self-concept mirrors the way the person believes others regard him or her” (Adler & Proctor, 2014, p. 413). So, the way people treat us can change the way we believe in ourselves. What they do sends messages–and we believe what they tell us.

Image result for self conceptOur self concept has significant value. If we are confident, yet humble, realize our strengths with pride yet understand our weaknesses without becoming distraught, then we will be able to spend our energy on more productive things than simply worrying about who we are. Being confident that we are valuable will allow us to reach out to greater things–take bigger steps.

Because of how easily impacted our self concept is–but still how valuable it is–it is essential that we keep ourselves in good company, spending time with people who will show us love and respect. It is vital to surround ourselves with people who will back us up and push us to press onward. It is also essential to spend time in God’s word or inspirational books which remind us how valuable we are (Spoken For: Embracing Who You Are and Whose You Are). Especially those of us who tend more toward beating ourselves up over struggling with pride, if we don’t purposefully remind ourselves who we are, we are likely to fall into pity parties or stop marching because we no longer believe in ourselves.

Similarly, we need to speak love and value to other people–especially those of us who believe that each human is created in God’s image. There are so many ways to encourage others: write a note to them, give a phone call, spend some fun time with them, complete one of their chores for them. Where will the world see God’s love, if his people aren’t showing it? But even speaking to people who aren’t into God, you know how much encouragement from a friend can speak to you.

Image result for I love you noteI’d like to challenge you to consider the five people you spend the most time with. Do they believe in you? Are they building your self concept in a healthy way? I’d also like to challenge you to encourage some of the people around you. A good friend gives, and doesn’t just take. What is something concrete that you can do right now to influence your friends and tell them that they are valuable?

Finally, you know I love comments 😉

My Communication Testimony: how learning how to communicate saves relationships

IMG_20170708_170348990I lay in the top bunk, trying to calm down my younger sister as she exploded, “I hate you! Every single day you make me so angry at you!” I could hear her crying as I responded to her, “I don’t understand; you never make me angry. Why do I upset you so much?” I could sense her frustration in her reply: “Everything you do makes me angry. Every single day. I hate it!” “Well, tell me what to change. If you tell me what to do differently, I’ll do it. Then I won’t make you angry. I can’t change until you tell me what I am doing wrong.” I lay calmly on my bed listening to her sobbing in frustration with me. “It’s just everything, BethAnn, you make me feel so worthless.” Although I was calm in my bed, I will admit I was hurt to know I was hurting her. “Well, goodness, just tell me how to Image result for confusedchange. I’ll change for you! Just tell me what you want! You have to give me specifics or I’ll never be able to stop making you angry. What do you want me to do? I know it’s not your communication style to be so blunt, but I can’t speak your language if you don’t adjust and speak my language sometimes. You’re going to have to do something outside of your comfort zone so that I can speak your language. What do you want me to do?!”

These conversations happened on a very regular basis over an extended season in time when my relationship with my sister hit a rough spot. Looking back I see how cruel I was in these conversations, speaking my conversational style in a pushy way, forcing the task-oriented, low-context side of things. But she hated me and I didn’t understand why she didn’t know that I loved her. I didn’t know what to do. Working our way through this extended and painful conflict was one of the reasons I am so passionate about communication today.

Communication in close relationships is like communication in any other kind of relationship except that everything in close relationships is so many times more magnified, intense, and important. This is mainly because in close relationships, we have IMG_20170620_115110749much higher expectations for the other person combined with the fact that we have regular, long-term interactions with the other. We expect the other person to truly know us and we expect love to conquer all. But when there is even one communication style difference, that one thing which gets on the other’s nerves really builds up over time. When one thing you do whispers a lack of care for the other, this one thing begins shouting a lack of care over time.

In this case with my sister, it turned out we were speaking different love languages. I speak words of affirmation and physical touch. “Tessa, we’re a great team. I appreciate how we compliment each other and I’m glad to have you as a sister” was my way of proving I loved my sister (I didn’t hug her–I already knew she has a large space bubble and can’t stand hugs!). But to my sister, whose love language is acts of service, these words were very shallow.

I actually asked Tessa to share her side of the story, and here are some of her thoughts: 0514171506What made it worse is that I would show her that I cared by cleaning our room, making her pancakes for breakfast, or collecting F Minus comics out of the newspaper only to be met with remarks like “Why does it matter if our room is clean?” “I actually felt like toast for breakfast,” or “Well, I don’t need all the jokes. And that one isn’t even all that good.” It seemed like all my attempts were getting met negatively, on purpose. Yet each time I would explode, she would try her best to convince me that she really did love me and she couldn’t understand what was wrong. Unfortunately, often actions speak louder than words in my life, and in this situation, it was very difficult for me to believe her words when her actions were conveying a very different message by my interpretation.”

It took me a long time to figure this out. It’s not that I didn’t believe actions mattered, I just didn’t realize how crazy much they really mattered. I really just wanted her to spell it out so that I could solve the problem quick and easy. Geez, Tessa, just tell me what you need! But to those of you who can relate to this, I have something to warn you: talking it out doesn’t always solve everything.

Consider the act of wishing someone happy birthday. If I remember it’s your birthday and greet you with a bright, “Happy birthday!” when I see you, it can mean a lot. But if we go through your birthday together without me remembering and you finally speak up and say, “You know, it’s my birthday today.” My bright “Happy Birthday!” isn’t the same. You can’t necessarily know if I was doing it because I cared or because I felt obligated.

Image result for pancakesIn the same way, I have to learn to communicate in Tessa’s love language on my own sometimes to show that it is genuine. If she had to tell me, ““BethAnn, my love language is acts of service and I’m not going to feel loved until you sincerely do occasional acts of service for me just to remind me that you do care. If you would only clean our room up sometimes and maybe make breakfast for me, or just do something for me…” for one she wouldn’t know how much I’m doing it out of concern for her happiness or how much I’m doing it out of a guilt trip. Secondly, this approach would likely make Tessa feel guilty for asking these things of me. Going out of my way sometimes to show my sister love is healthy. But if you’re the person asking for this, it feels needy, selfish, and wrong.

Tessa helped explain this too. “Another straw that was added to the camel’s back was the guilt that she would indirectly make me feel for communicating the way I did and for feeling the way I felt. There was obviously conflict in our relationship, but since she didn’t see anything wrong, it was apparently my fault. I was the one being annoyed; I was the one who couldn’t spell things out plainly; I was the one not feeling loved. But I felt guilty for telling BethAnn what I would like her to do and what would really make me feel like she cared because it felt very selfish of me and like as soon as I told her it would be fake.”

I had to figure this out the harder way: I had to pay better attention to what made her happy, I had to try different ways of proving my love, I had to go out of my way to speak in her love language. But doesn’t that demonstrate love much better than if she had just told me? So this is why I am so passionate about studying communication. It’s humbling to recognize that my way of communicating is not only not the only way, but it’s also not even a “better” way. Recognizing this fact is what allows me to truly demonstrate my love for my sister and it’s what allows me to have a better perspective of where I fit in IMG_3582this big world. And it saves a very valuable relationship in my life 🙂 

I hope that you will take communication seriously and will humble yourself to recognize that other ways of communicating are valid. Please let me know your thoughts and/or experiences. I’d love to hear how understanding the complexity of communication has made a relationship of yours stronger.

 

Making the Most of Memories: the benefits of Reminiscing

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Memory of going to a “hobo” party with siblings 🙂

July 4th I went to work at the campground as usual (holidays aren’t breaks for campground workers–they are busier actually). Half an hour into my work day, two guys in black ski masks and sun glasses blocking out their eyes snuck into the campground office while I was distracted. I turned around and they grabbed me, blindfolded me, and put me in a car. My mind was racing during the following 40-50 min drive and, aside from a hasty command to remain seated and just wait at the beginning of the ride, nobody in the car spoke during the whole time. 

File:Balaclava 3 hole black.jpgWhen we finally parked, I was pulled out of the car, passed around from person to person at least once or twice, and after what seemed like a very, very long time, the bandanna blindfold was ripped off; I was greeted with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” and a cake with burning candles. 

I spent the day in the company of good friends exploring the ruins of an old cement factory and biking on the North Country Trail. I had a fantastic day and know I will remember the day for a very long time.

Memories are astounding things. But they don’t seem to get the credit they deserve. Experiences that were hard work, cost a lot of money, or are long gone are easily retrievable and re-experienceable and yet we so often forget to take full advantage of this mysterious thing called memory. I would like to encourage you to go back and consider some good memories for multiple reasons:

Memories are a way to stay content

The day after that kidnapping adventure, work was especially slow and boring in comparison. But while I worked, I remembered the happenings of the day before and was forced to smile every so often. Plus, I recognized that the only way adventures like that can happen is if we go through our normal, every day lives most of the time. Thinking about that instead of having a pity party at work helped me to be grateful for what I have instead of bemoaning what I don’t have. When you are bored or discontent, take the time to consider an old memory that will make you smile. I can guarantee it will make you just a little more content in the current situation.

IMG_20170708_153310165_HDRMemories are a way to stay connected with friends

Relationships have a past, present, and future too. As explained in my intriguing post “Relationships in the 3-D,” keeping the past (good memories together) in mind helps to strengthen the present. Remembering old adventures with friends and siblings is a guaranteed way to rejuvenate love and admiration toward others.

Memories help us to keep a good perspective on life

Have you ever been on one of those vacations where everything goes wrong? Or you had an experience with a friend that was just rotten at the time? Our family once watched a terrible movie. It had a lame plot and ended with the family being broken up and doled out because the parents died and the orphans needed homes. It was such a waste of time to watch, and yet, now our family laughs whenever we remind each other of it and we use that waste-of-time experience for good now. Remembering and laughing about those Image result for hippie vankind of situations in the past helps us to keep a better perspective in the present. When you have a hangnail and your eyelid won’t close all the way and have a mosquito biting your nose (but you can’t swat it because your hands are sticky from eating spoiled oranges) and you get a flat on the side of the road and have to hitchhike with a hippie gangster (not a true story and NOT recommended), you’ll be more likely to take it in stride–recognizing in a little while it’ll be over with and just be a memory to laugh at. Rough things have to happen, but they aren’t the end of the world.

Memories are a way to keep in mind what God has done for us

In the book of Exodus we see God doing miraculous sign after miraculous sign after miraculous sign to free the Israelites from their bondage to the Egyptians. And yet, as soon as they are freed from their miserable slavery, they immediately forget God and turn to such wretched activities as building themselves a golden calf to worship. How guillaume-de-germain-303020 (1)insane is that?! And yet, I do the same thing. I am SO quick to forget what God has done for me. Taking the time to remember what God has done for you in the past is an invaluable way to keep your faith strong and to keep you well connected to your maker.

It is true that sometimes we need to leave the past behind. You’ve been forgiven for your sins and there are some memories we need to let go of in order to move on. But there are also countless memories we are way too quick to forget. Reminiscing over past joys is such a free, easy activity that can really have so many benefits!

I’d like to challenge you to remind a friend of a shared memory with him/her–just to Image result for smiley facemake the two of you smile, or to thank God for something he’s done in your past that you sometimes forget, or to wake up in the morning (and, if you’re human, you’ll sometimes wake up grumpy) and to immediately consider a good memory so that you can start the morning with a smile. Why not take advantage of the advantages of memories?

Also, I’d love for you to comment on the post with a good memory or just your thoughts 🙂