Sugar kills more people than guns. It will increase your chances of getting diabetes, obesity, heart attacks and strokes. It is a major cause of inflammation which leads to a variety of other illnesses. A hot fudge sundae may put a smile on your face. But it’ll also put one more nail in your coffin. You are what you eat isn’t just a fun catch phrase. With our food we either strengthen and vitalize ourselves or wear ourselves out and get a front row ticket to an early grave. So I ask you: Got sugar?
In the movie, Meatballs, Bill Murray is coaching a summer camp softball team. Just prior to the final game between his team of nerds and the super-jocks, Bill gives his team a pep talk, reminding them that whether they win or lose, it just doesn’t matter. What does matter is showing up and doing the best you can. What does matter is stepping up to the plate and taking your best shot. What does matter is not letting your fear define you.
We used to go to the movies to see weird and outrageous wackos. Now all we need to do is go online, search for any topic, and we’re sure to find someone spewing hate about it or doing something super freaky associated with it. It’s all incredibly entertaining, even the horrifying stuff. Unfortunately, the quantity and frequency of our collective insanity is increasing exponentially. It’s like we’re on an amusement park ride that has no brakes and is about to head over a cliff. Unless we find our moral compass, re-invest in The Golden Rule, consistently and without exception treat others as we wish to be treated, and make this one behavior our top priority, the apocalypse or armageddon we will eventually experience will be the result of our fear, our rage and our confusion, and not what God, Nature or Bad Luck has wrought.
The Butterfly Effect states that small causes can have large effects. A butterfly flapping its wings in New Jersey can affect the weather in Siberia. If that’s the case, imagine what each of us can do to change the world by changing our mind, by softening our heart, by engaging in estimable acts of kindness, by accepting, forgiving and loving others, by treating others as we wish to be treated. Let’s make these behaviors our New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s flap our wings with love and watch our world get better.
Just because your wife divorces you and you are angry at her and want her to feel the pain that you are feeling doesn’t mean you should act out by doing mean, spiteful things to punish and hurt her. Not cool. Particularly if you have children and use them as weapons against your wife. Try to find a way to dissolve the relationship without bitterness, animosity and vengeance. Try to find a way to remember the love that once was rather than all the awful things that you did to each other. Try to behave in ways that will bring peace and joy to all involved parties as best as possible.
Most relationships fail because one or both partners have poor communication skills. Issues are never adequately resolved, resentments build up over time, and eventually one of the two partners finally accepts the fact that the relationship is just not going to work and they exit stage left. Or they stay together in a love-hate relationship, longing for something better but not believing it’s possible. Guess what? It is possible. Both of those scenarios of failed relationships are unnecessary.There are techniques that can be learned as to how to communicate effectively, how to navigate arguments in a healthy way, and how to resolve conflicts and negotiate differences so everyone’s needs are met and no one is diminished in the process. Why settle for anything less than a loving, satisfying, sustainable relationship? You deserve it and you can make it happen.
Being righteously indignant and outraged by bad behavior in others, while turning a blind eye to the bad behavior in ourselves and those we support is very common these days, and is probably the leading cause of the extreme division in our country today. We need to have the courage to acknowledge the ugly truth in ourselves if we are going to point the finger at others. Judging and attacking other people for things we have been guilty of in the past or are guilty of now is not a good thing for society or our souls. We need to be accountable to the Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We need to practice what we preach. We need to treat others as we wish to be treated.
In a preview of her interview with Oprah Winfrey which airs on December 19th, Michelle Obama told Oprah something to the effect that hope is gone. To suggest such a thing to people who are terrified about the future serves no good purpose. Particularly since it isn’t true. Hope is never gone. To suggest such a thing is irresponsible because it not only makes people feel even more frightened and depressed, it also makes them feel powerless to do anything to effect change, and makes them feel there is no point to do anything to effect change. After all, why try to change things if it truly is hopeless? I believe Michelle Obama is a well-intentioned person, and that her comments reflect her own fear and sense of powerlessness. But, being a thought leader and an inspiration to many, it was not a well thought out statement to make to millions of people. That is something she should have kept to herself. Viktor Frankl, Jewish psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, wrote in his book, “Man’s Search For Meaning” about his struggle to hold onto hope during the three years he was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp while people perished all around him. I would make the case that what we’re going through right now pales in comparison to what he experienced during the Holocaust, and he never gave up hope. And nor should we. Would Michelle Obama have told Viktor Frankl that hope is gone so you may as well just march into the oven and spare yourself any further pain and suffering? Ridiculous. So why would she say such a ridiculous thing? Because she’s afraid. And I understand why she feels afraid. But instead of fanning the flames of fear, and the aggression and impulsivity that goes with it, perhaps she should recall the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Our fear and our rage won’t resolve the problems our country and our world faces today. They only compound the problem. It is our commitment to Truth, Compassion and
Calm (my personal Holy Trinity) that will get us through these difficult times. Be afraid, if you will. Be very afraid, if you wish. But don’t believe that hope is gone. And don’t give up trying to make our World a peaceful and loving planet for everyone. Channel your fear, your judgment and your rage into non-violent, non -cooperation with evil. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in. This is what enabled Mahatma Gandhi to defeat the British Empire’s stranglehold on India. Hope is never gone.
PTSD is a very difficult condition to live with, particularly in the acute stages, because their autonomic nervous system has been re-set to over-react, and just about everything triggers the intense dread and panic of the traumatic event as if it were happening again. People have flashbacks, nightmares, depression, anxiety, irritability and anger, insomnia, hyper-vigilance responses, hyper-startle responses, and more. There are many therapeutic approaches, one of which is to desensitize oneself to the triggering stimuli by gradual exposure to it. In addition to PTSD, this technique can be used to desensitize oneself to phobias (fear of flying, fear of snakes, etc.) and social anxiety disorder.
Many of us in stressful and strained relationships become sad, anxious, irritable, and/or angry. We regress emotionally. We lose our joy. We lose our laughter. Add to this the stress and anxieties of a world gone wild, we find ourselves most of the time not laughing at all or laughing in a mean-spirited way, at the expense of others, in an effort to discharge our fear so we are not totally consumed with dread. And so the humor we do entertain becomes another divisive rather than inclusive behavior. Not good. Laughter can be very healing on an emotional and a physical level. Best that we remind ourselves of this, that we realize that, in any given moment, despite the hurricane of chaos all around us, we can engage in healthy humor that is uplifting, rather than degrading, and we can elevate the human spirit in everyone rather than be part of the downward spiral of decay and doom that is engulfing the planet. Bottom line: We take seriously the difficult issues facing us, but, at the same time, we find our good-natured funny and we remember to laugh.