There is genius in a glance

We measure “smarts” by books and discoveries. Einstein was smart because he was good at science. So was Newton. The mathematical genius of these men was unrivaled. But I actually think there’s a whole another type of genius: nonverbal communication.

Certainly the brain is working harder when it is allowed to just be and see, than when it is made to compute. What’s 2 times 2? Who cares! That does not get my mind going. Perhaps this is why I am no mathematician and never really was. My point is that there is more than one aspect to the mind; more than the computational intellect.

There is the emotional mind, which is what we use to perceive reality. And it is at its best when it is just allowed to be and see. You can’t really bring the soul out by force, when you tell it to or when you want it to. One becomes a good observer by simply observing. Observe your reality. Observe those around you. And you will see that when you look at people, their skin changes. It literally contains the workings of their mind.

The face is a mirror to the workings of the mind. When you focus in on someone, they will have more focus. Their mind will come to their face. Emotions are communicable. What you feel is felt by others around you.

Newton and Einstein may have been the world’s best “calculators”, but were they the best “nonverbal communicators”? No, everyone can be a good nonverbal communicator. All one needs to do is to let his emotions show. Sometimes, we don’t, we won’t, because we’re shy or don’t trust others! But at other times, we can become “emotionally outgoing” whether with someone on the bus, at a café or walking down the street. In that case, we have made a friend, even if it is a friend we never said one word to, or even made direct eye contact with.

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Essay on a religious retreat

Pilgrim Hills Retreat, Berlin, Ohio

January 2016

What I liked about the retreat was the conversation. Here we were four people in the middle of nowhere, with no TV and no radio. So the questions becomes: “How are we to pass the time?” By engaging in conversation! Meaningful discussion. I am inclined to believe that because we “removed technology” the quality of conversation and discussion improved. I also learned, through experience, what the meaning of a retreat is. It is literally, a retreat from modern society into a “simpler time,” a time without technology.

Some of the things we talked about were philosophical in nature. For example, we talked about the idea of always wanting more. More money, more success, more riches. And how always wanting more is problematic because it makes you feel you don’t have enough. I am an author and that can be a problem: wanting more book sales, more popularity, more success. And it feels like you have too little. That’s a trap to be avoided. The temptation of always wanting more.

The first evening we read some psalms, one from the bible and a few written by regular people. I am struck by the positivity of these psalms. And the humility. And the imagery: “I am like a tree planted by a river… with leaves that are always green.” And I am also struck by the faith that the writers has. They truly believe in God. “God save me! I need your help,” says another one. And when I say they believe in God, I mean they believe in the power of God to help them, as opposed to just the existence of God. To believe as in to have faith in God. As opposed to be scientific about the facts of God. As a religious person I have faith that God exists and wants to help me. I don’t know that God exists. I can’t prove it. But that’s not what religion is all about. It’s about believing. And by practicing religion we cultivate the capacity for belief. Because, just like with everything else, if we stop doing it, we lose our skill to do it. This retreat taught me to practice my religion. It gave me practice.

The next evening we discussed the gospel of Luke. One passage that I am reminded of is “Love your enemies.” This to me is the most essential of Christ’s teaching. And we discussed how hard it can be to love your enemies. It’s easier said than done. And now that I think about it, did Jesus love his enemies? I don’t know. I don’t think it was easy for Christ to love his enemies; certainly it was no easier for him to do so than for any of us. But he tried to love his enemies. But let’s not assume that goodness was easy for Christ. I think it was just as easy for him to be bad as for us. But Jesus was good, because he valued goodness. And I’m sure Jesus made mistakes. But he never gave up the path of goodness. And he preached for us to walk the same path in life. It is hard to be good. It’s not a paved road. It’s bumpy and full of rocks. But it leads to the right place. I am struck by the fact that there have been several teachers who have made it their life’s work to: “show humanity how to live.” Christ, Mohammad, Buddha. Life does not come with an instruction manual. These leaders have written a manual for life. Religion is an instruction manual for life. And in all of these religions goodness and benevolence is paramount.

One other passage we talked about is “ask and it will be given you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.” I love this passage. It shows the power of positive thinking. Then Dr. Padberg mentioned another Greek translation that says in fact, “keep asking and it will be given you, keep searching and you will find.” This in my mind throws an entirely different light on the matter. It emphasizes persistence. In life, you have to keep asking, keep searching, keep knocking. There is no way the door will open with one knock. Life is about perseverance and persistence.

This retreat showed me that religion has some of the same ideas I already believe in:  1. positive thinking, 2. goodness and 3. perseverance. If it’s in the Bible, it’s got authority! So I believe the early thinkers of our times, knew what we know, and valued what we value. They put it in the good book. And that’s why the Bible has survived for two millennia because it preaches the lessons of positivity, goodness and perseverance. These lessons have survived the test of time.

 

The world of spirit versus the world of matter

Spirit always takes precedent over matter. It is better. Of course. But the world we live in is fundamentally characterized by matter. This state of existence is physical and material. Our goal, though we live in the world of matter, is to infuse our brains and bodies with spirit, which we also call liveliness and happiness. Yet many times we cannot be happy, and we find ourselves just going through the motions of life without spirit, ghostlike or even in a depression.

The realm of spirit, also known popularly as the afterlife, on the other hand, is the opposite of the world of matter. It is fundamentally spiritual, and is not of matter. It is pure spirit. Thus it is impossible to feel very little happiness or nothing at all in the world of spirit. In fact, in the afterlife one is much more alive than here in the physical world, because that life is wholly spiritual.

Motivational Quotes 9/15/17

I am alive. Today I want to be happy and it is in my power to be happy in the here and in the now.

If you are depressed now, don’t give up. Look at the long view and take comfort in the bright future that lies ahead.

Have a purpose! Make your work/job/hobby your purpose!

You have what you need; you just have to learn to put it to good use.

Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop hoping

There’s gotta be something to live for!

Stand for something!

Your success matters

Motivational Quotes 8/18/17

If you’re not enjoying yourself you’re not doing it right.

Work will keep your mind of your worries.

Lose in the beginning; win in the end.

Always accept an outstretched hand.

Refuse to believe that your life will have a sad ending.

Be passionate about what you do, and you will be saved.

There is no ‘magic cure’ to your problems, so don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Look for happiness in common things.

If you are not going forwards, you are going backwards.

Motivational Quotes 7/28/17

Encourage love -Julianne Hough

We keep each other going.

Plan your funeral and you are sure to die tomorrow. Plan your life and you may well live to 100.

Something’s got to be at steak!

You got to be hungry!

Live with some urgency

Thank God for music, my savior! -Pitbull

A stumble may prevent a fall, or a stumble may begin a fall. (Gretchen Rubin)

If God wants to see how hard life is, let him become a man!

He who comes back from the abyss is stronger for it, and in the end will win.

 

The Griffin

I was walking one day in downtown Columbus. I had parked my car in the lot of restaurant next to the riverfront. The place was closed and I decided to take the pathway down to the place where there’s a replica of the Christopher Columbus’ boat – the Santa Maria that he and Spain used to find the new world. In fact, I had seen that boat numerous times, so I was not particularly interested in it, but last time I went there I noticed that near the boat, next to the road there is a small park – very little, triangular in shape, and mostly with concrete instead of grass. Anyway, this park caught my attention last time I had been there because it has a few bronze statues of mythological creatures. In fact, I went up to one of them and I saw that it was a unicorn, which looks like a small pony with a cone sticking out of its forehead. Then I read the plaque beneath that read: “Now the unicorn could not ask any more questions because he knew all things. The only thing the unicorn did not have was taste.” I thought those words to be rather interesting, although I did not contemplate on them much. Well, on this particular day, which was a few months later, in November, I wanted to go back to that little park to see that unicorn again, and to see if there were any other statues there that I might have missed the last time I had been there. And so I climbed the steps up to the park and I saw the unicorn again with his horn sticking out of his head. I read the plaque again, and again I was amused.

Then, interestingly enough, I saw another bronze statue of a quirky looking animal – another mythological creature. It looked like a leopard, but it had wings. I proceeded to read the plaque. The griffin, said the plaque, has what it does not need. Which if you think about it makes sense: why would a leopard need wings? Then the plaque said something extremely wise: “The griffin was afraid to be wrong. Do not be like the griffin.” As I read those lines, I thought they were revolutionary and very liberating. The griffin’s problem, you see, was fundamentally that he was afraid to be himself. And I think, especially when we are growing up, that is a problem that we all face. We are afraid that our behavior, or some characteristic of ours is unacceptable unto others, and so we hide it, in order to gain more acceptance. We, like the griffin, are afraid what other people will think. But ultimately, you need to realize that other people will not judge you. Other people are a lot less judgmental than your or the griffin believes! They are busy with their own lives. In fact, if you are one of those people who wants to please others at your own expense, here’s what I’ve got to say: do not be like the griffin. Do not be afraid to be wrong. There is no right or wrong when it comes to being yourself.

excerpted from my speech Good Luck!