Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Faith, Annunciation to St. Mary
Volume 7 No. 448 November 24, 2017
 

IV. General Weekly Features

Family Special: 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family Today

by Dr. Scott Hahn

Emmaus Road author Katie Warner's new book "Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family" is jam-packed with ideas for strengthening family life. Here are just five of Katie's many suggestions from Head & Heart:

1) Prioritize Prayer

St. Teresa of Avila offers a simple and powerful prayer philosophy: If you don't pray sometimes, you can't pray always. Seize those “sometimes” moments to intercede for family members or to give thanks for God's providence.

2) Identify Your Family Mission

Writing out your family mission will give you the power to unify, focus, and guide your family to achieve your goals.

3) Take Up Your Cross

God does not let our suffering go to waste. If we accept our trials, He allows us to share in the redemptive value of the Cross by uniting our sufferings to His, for the sake of building up the body of Christ.

4) Cultivate Peace

God wants to free us from the stress that plagues our families. Simplifying our lives, honoring the Lord's Day, and maintaining personal balance and rest are all ways we can safeguard peace in our homes.

5) Be Who God Made You to Be

The best way to strengthen your family is to be an active participant in God's plan for your life. By pursuing sanctity, you'll become a source of inspiration and transformation in your own family.

For more advice on growing together spiritually as a family, check out Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family by Katie Warner.

Source: St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Family Special: 10 Experiences That Can Make You Happy

By Mark Ford

"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many times, the things/experiences that give us the greatest joy are free.

But oftentimes, money is involved. And when that's the case, we have to weigh the cost of the thing/experience against the pleasure we will get from it.

One example: owning a home...

In my book Automatic Wealth, I argued that one of the most important things you can do to become rich is to get off the "moving-on-up train" and be satisfied with the house you have. This conclusion was based on two observations which I'll reveal below...

First, your house - although usually the most expensive thing you will buy in your lifetime - is an imperfect investment. As the center of your family's universe, it is likely that you will spend money on it that won't provide market-level returns.

Plus, the costs associated with owning a house go well beyond the cost of the house itself. They include taxes, insurance, and upkeep (which rise in direct relationship to the cost of the house). They also include things that you would normally consider separate line items - e.g., schooling, vacations, and furniture.

By keeping the house you have and investing the money you would have spent to "move up," you will end up far richer over 10 or more years.

That is a matter of dollars and cents. But there is another reason to follow this advice - an interesting psychological fact that I recently became aware of by reading a good book titled Happy Money.

The book's authors, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, compare spending $200,000 on a house to spending the same amount of money on a flight into outer space. On the face of it, spending $200,000 on a six-minute space flight might seem crazy. And even crazier if you aren't wealthy and could have bought a house with that money.

But research, they say, suggests this is not necessarily true. "Remarkably, there is almost no evidence that buying a home - or a newer, nicer home - increases happiness."

Moreover, they argue that spending the money on the space trip would provide more long-term satisfaction.

How can that be?

"Between 1991 and 2007," Dunn and Norton tell us, "researchers tracked thousands of people in Germany who moved to a new house because there was something about their old house they didn't like. Immediately after settling into their new abodes, these movers reported being much more satisfied with their new homes than they'd been with their old ones."

As time passed, satisfaction with the new house did not diminish all that much. But what was remarkable was that the purchase of a new home did nothing at all to increase their satisfaction with their lives. "Their overall happiness didn't improve at all."

In another study, researchers found that a group of Harvard students who were lucky enough to get rooms in the dorms they wanted were no happier with their overall school experience than students who had to settle for lodging they initially didn't like.

As recently as 2011, 90% of Americans said they believed home ownership to be a "central component of the American dream." Yet in study after study, home ownership does not seem to correlate to happiness.

To understand what's going on here, Dunn and Norton suggest the following mental exercise:

Think of purchases you've made with the goal of increasing your own happiness. Consider one purchase that was a material thing, a tangible object that you could keep, like a piece of jewelry or furniture, some clothing, or a gadget.

Now think about a purchase you made that gave you a life experience - perhaps a trip, a concert, or a special meal. If you are like most people, remembering the experience brings to mind friends and family, sights and smells.

According to one study cited in the book, 57% of the participants said that the experiential purchase made them happier. Other studies show that even when people spend only a few dollars, they get more lasting pleasure from buying an experience as opposed to a thing.

Another interesting discovery that came from Dunn and Norton's research is that sometimes even an unpleasant experience can provide happiness afterward. They cite studies in which people on trips reported that they were having a less-than-enjoyable time. But when asked about the trips later, they remembered them as being good.

This makes sense to me. I have several times competed in national grappling meets. My nervousness prior to the events and the actual experience of fighting was anything but fun. But I have drawn enormous pleasure from remembering and recounting these experiences.

This was also true of the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The experience itself was excruciating. Yet I enjoy the memory of it more with each passing year.

My two years in West Africa were half pleasure and half pain. But thinking about it has provided me with a great deal of happiness over the 30 years since then.

Veterans often remember their wartime experiences nostalgically. Nostalgia turns out to be a very beneficial emotion, some scientists say. It allows us to convert difficult times into positive memories. And that helps us cope with tough times ahead.

It seems, then, that the actual pleasure you get from an experience is not the most important criterion for determining its ultimate value. The criterion seems to be one of intensity. The more challenging the experience, the more happiness it brings.

The bottom line: Experiences provide more happiness than material goods.

There are many reasons why this is so. For one thing, experiences tend to involve most, if not all, of the senses. Another reason: Experiences often bring you in contact with other people. Most importantly, perhaps, experiences - especially intense ones - tend to stay in your memory for a long time.

When Cornell University researchers asked groups of people to discuss purchases with one another, the groups that discussed experiential purchases reported enjoying their conversations more than those that talked about material goods.

Another series of studies focused on feelings about trips and vacations. Generally, people remembered having had more fun than they'd reported having during the experience itself. And the further back in time the experience was, the more happiness they remembered.

In my 30s and 40s, I had a very different view of this. I felt that money spent on vacations was largely wasted because the experience itself was finite. I thought it made much better sense to spend $10,000 on a used car or a handful of gold coins than on a family trip.

My good friend Eddie agreed with me. But his wife Barbra and my wife had a very different idea. They thought money spent on trips to Europe was a good investment. And so we went. Year after year, for more than a decade.

Looking back now, I can see that they were right. I value those trips not just for the good times I remember, but also for what I learned during our travels and (most especially) for how it deepened our mutual friendship.

For more than 20 years, K and I have sponsored a sort of extended family reunion. We call it "cousin camp." We pick a destination where about 40 of us congregate to have an adventure for several days or a week. These camps have become increasingly expensive over the years. Nowadays, each one costs us considerably more than $100,000.

My former self would have thought that it would have been smarter to invest that money in some tangible assets and perhaps divvy up those assets among those same people. But I don't feel that way. And neither, I think, do the family members who have been enjoying this experience.

Relative Values

An interesting issue not addressed in Dunn and Norton's Happy Money is this: Is there a relationship between how much you pay for an experience and how much happiness you get from it?

Since I have no studies from which to draw conclusions, I will research my memory banks instead.

Off the cuff, I think these are the 10 experiences that have given me the greatest overall happiness:

  1. Romancing my wife
  2. Having and raising our children
  3. A dozen European trips with Eddie and Barbara
  4. Poetry classes with Harriet Zinnes
  5. Learning and practicing Jiu Jitsu
  6. My two years in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer
  7. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
  8. The 20-year conversation I've been having with my friend Jeff
  9. Writing books, stories, poetry - even a few memos
  10. Teaching students, employees, conference attendees, etc.

The most expensive of these experiences were the European vacations. Each of them cost, on average, about $10,000. Next would be the trip to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro. That was about $6,000. I spent several hundred dollars per month on Jiu Jitsu lessons. Everything else on my list cost me little or nothing.

Now, if I were to make a list of the material purchases I've most enjoyed, it would include my present house, several of my cars, my art collection, and certainly my cigars. I can't say that the pleasure I've gotten from these things measures up to the pleasure I've gotten from my experiential purchases.

But when I think about them more carefully, I realize that the material purchases that gave me the greatest pleasure were much more than things to me. They were in their own way experiences.

The cars I most enjoyed, for example, were the old cars I restored and drove on special occasions. The reason I love my house so much is because it has been an ongoing project of restoration and improvements.

Likewise, art for me is not just an investment. My art collection crowds every room I live and work in. I have spent countless hours admiring those objects.

So I think the argument that Dunn and Norton make in Happy Money is a solid one. Money spent on experiences, by and large, can be well-spent if the criterion you are judging them by is how much happiness they give you during your lifetime.

Conclusion

What can we take from this?

First - that it is a mistake to think as I did when I was a young man. Just because experiences end doesn't mean that the pleasure they provide ends. The opposite seems to be true, at least with intense experiences. In general, they seem to provide more happiness than the purchase of material things.

Second - that the satisfaction you have with the purchase of material goods is not directly related to happiness. You may feel that the purchase of a house or boat or car was a good one, yet it might not add a drop of happiness to your life.

Third - that the amount of money you spend on an experience has nothing to do with the amount of happiness you draw from it. Many experiences that cost nothing can produce abundant, lifelong dividends.

To have a rich life, you need a rich mind. And the rich mind recognizes that spending money on things will not automatically add to its lifetime store of happiness. It prefers to spend money on experiences, recognizing that very little money needs to be spent. But it also recognizes that when money is spent on a material object, that object can bring happiness if it is used and enjoyed over time.

[Ed. Note. Mark Ford was the creator of Early To Rise and the Palm Beach Letter. His advice continues to get better and better with every essay. ]

Source: ETR Copyright © 2014 Early to Rise, LLC.

Three Elements of Great Communication, According to Aristotle

by Scott Edinger

In my nearly 20 years of work in organization development, I've never heard anyone say that a leader communicated too much or too well. On the contrary, the most common improvement suggestion I've seen offered up on the thousands of 360 evaluations I've reviewed over the years is that it would be better if the subject in question learned to communicate more effectively.

What makes someone a good communicator? There's no mystery here, not since Aristotle identified the three critical elements — ethos, pathos, and logos. — thousands of years ago.

Ethos is essentially your credibility — that is, the reason people should believe what you're saying. In writing this blog I made an effort to demonstrate my ethos in the introduction, and here I'll just add that I have a degree in communication studies (emphasis in rhetoric for those who want the details) for good measure. In some cases, ethos comes merely from your rank within an organization. More commonly, though, today's leaders build ethos most effectively by demonstrating technical expertise in a specific area (which helps convince people that you know what you're talking about), and by displaying strong levels of integrity and character (which convinces them that you're not going to lie to them even though, since you know more than they do, you might get away with it).

Pathos is making an emotional connection — essentially, the reason people believe that what you're saying will matter to them. I've written here before about the importance and the power of making emotional bonds (more ethos?) and why I believe this to be a critical area of competence for present-day leaders. Giving people your undivided attention, taking an active interest in your team members' career development, and being enthusiastic about both the organization's progress and the individuals who enable it are ways that leaders do this well. At the end of the day, pathos has the greatest influence on followers' perception of their leader's effectiveness as a communicator.

But all the authority and empathy in the world won't really help you if people don't understand what you're talking about or how you came to your conclusions. Logos is your mode for appealing to others' sense of reason, ergo the term logic. Employing strengths in strategic thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills are how today's leaders express logical ideas in clear and compelling enough terms to influence outcomes. While some people can get by on gut feel, as Steve Jobs famously tried to convince us he did, most leaders are required to provide some kind of analysis to make clear their decisions. This is where many leaders feel on the firmest ground — when assembling and analyzing data to address organizational problems. A caveat, though — assembling facts is not the same as presenting them clearly (here talking in complete sentences helps a lot), or marshaling them expressly to demonstrate the merits of a course of action. Facts do not speak for themselves, which is sad, since it would save so much time if they did. Effective leaders know the effort and time spent making explicit the connections they're drawing from the data to the analysis to their conclusion are well worth it.

These three elements of communication reinforce one another. You may rely heavily on data and analysis (logos) to make a point and in so doing create a perception of expertise and authority on a topic (ethos). And while all three are necessary to excellent communication, improving your ability to do any one of them will help you become a better communicator and so a better leader. Combining them is the path to achieving the greatest success.

About The Author

Scott Edinger is the founder of Edinger Consulting Group. He is a coauthor of the October 2011 Harvard Business Review article, "Making Yourself Indispensable."

Source: Harvard Business Review Blog  

Seven Ways to Eliminate Fear and Doubt in Your Life

By Tony Rubleski, Mind Capture Group

I usually don't share much about my personal life, so I must admit that I'm a bit nervous about what I'm going to reveal to you now. Recently, I took an inventory of my basic fears and found that...My biggest fear is losing touch with my kids. I know, it may sound strange, but I travel a lot. With my hectic travel schedule and career path it's not always easy to talk to, yet alone, see my kids as often as I'd like. Yes, it's a choice I've made, which I'm fine with, but on occasion the fear of losing touch with my three children does cross my mind.

So, my question to you is... What is your biggest fear and is it holding you back?

Recently, I was rereading through Napoleon Hill's amazing and thought provoking 2011 release, Outwitting the Devil – The Secret to Freedom and Success, and I was fascinated by the following quote he uses to set the stage for the book:

“Fear is the tool of a man-made devil. Self-confident faith in one's self is both the man-made weapon which defeats this devil and the man-made tool which builds a triumphant life. And it is more than that. It is a link to the irresistible forces of the universe which stand behind a man who does not believe in failure and defeat as being anything but temporary experiences.”

I think his recommendations about how to handle and deal with fear and doubt are not only spot on, but even more important than ever especially at a time when the media continues to obsess, package, and aggressively market fear-based news and information. In addition, the lack of spotlight and attention being given to hard work and success stories built by honest businesses and entrepreneurs is a shocking indictment again to the fact that the media continues to focus on the wrong priorities by perpetually covering negative, fear-based stories and people. Hill warned about the media's power to influence –often to scare not inspire- long before we had hundreds of TV stations, the Internet and mobile communications.

Let's take a look at seven ways to eliminate fear and doubt within your own life that Hill discusses in the book, which was so controversial that his family hid the original manuscript before its eventual release in 2011, more than 41 years after his passing in 1970.

#1: Definiteness of purpose.

It's amazing that once someone finds their true passion, life gets much easier. A confused mind uses excess energy and time. When you see or meet someone who's passionate about their job, career, business or mission it's very inspiring and the 'lucky breaks' seem to go their way. It's the power of focus and goal alignment which brings opportunities -not luck- into their life.

#2: Mastery over self.

Your habits are either making or breaking you each day. Are you focused with your time? Do you have written goals that you review often? Do you have your day planned out with specific deadlines? I ask these questions, because as a society most people run from responsibility and seek to blame others for their own shortcomings. This victim mentality of blame and passing-the-buck is epidemic and is a major reason why so many people are “drifting” as Hill mentions versus moving ahead with confidence.

#3: Learning from adversity.

It's a measure of someone to see how they treat others when life has handed them a tragedy or major setback. If you're doing well right now in most areas of your life, I congratulate you. However, I caution to be aware that being prepared to handle adversity when it rears its ugly head is a smart insurance policy to staying focused on your goals.

#4: Controlling environmental influence.

This is simple: who you associate with and what you put in your mind each day is either making or breaking you. We are given the gift of free will and decision. For example, I'm amazed at how many people make excuses for years to justify and defend why they continue to hang around negative friends, relatives, and even a partner or spouse that saps their energy and dreams. I sometimes want to shake them and loudly proclaim “Please, for yourself and your dream, WAKE UP!”

Do you watch 3-hours of TV versus spending an hour of that time reading an excellent book that could change your life? Do you engage in gossip or listen to negative, fear-based radio shows? I ask this because it's easy to get pulled into others 'dramas and traumas' which chew up time, creativity, and seductively distract you from the real priorities of life.

#5: Time.

Use it wisely. Defend it like a hawk. Avoid as my mentor Dan Kennedy calls “time vampires” at all costs. You are in war for not only attention these days, but also defending your time from those who seek to impede, waste, and distract you. Harsh. I know. But high-achievers are militant about the use of time.

A valuable tip I learned from success legend Brian Tracy is to 'eat the frog' each day. What he means is simply this: attack your biggest priority at the beginning of the day so as to get it in motion versus letting the enemy of procrastination attempt to sabotage and win the battle for your mind.

#6: Harmony.

Your ability to get along with others cannot be understated. In a global, highly connected world, being open to new ideas and life-long learning are essential skills all champions possess. On rare occasion when I meet a 'know-it-all” person, I immediately do my best to avoid and not engage them. These types of people are usually not only inflexible, but arrogant and full of pride and a massive ego. I'm often reminded when I meet people like this of the classic and prophetic quote, “pride cometh, before the fall.” Not that I'm implying that I wish this upon them, it's simply a logical progression path they are heading towards.

Here's the shocking realization that the media rarely talks about or reports on: many self-made millionaires and billionaires are HUGE students of life-long learning. They know that to get too comfortable is often a dangerous thing to do.

#7: Caution.

Seeking wise counsel and masterminding are of immense value. To go it alone without other ideas and perspectives is not only arrogant, but dumb. There are countless resources and smart people available to provide advice, tips and contacts which can save you time, money and potential heartache. It is simply shocking to me how many new entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders that are often clueless about their industry and the pros and cons of pursuing their idea.

I think this goes back to the fact that it an instant gratification most people expect immediate results and success. Please wake up. The best advice I've ever hear about success was when I spoke with former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton at an event in Indianapolis. He came right out at the beginning of his speech and said, “Do you want to know the secret to success? Here it is: hard work!” I shook my head in agreement and in my mind thought, “Here's a wise man who really speaks the truth.”

About The Author:

Event organizer and host, Tony Rubleski, is the president of Mind Capture Group that focuses on direct marketing consulting, training, and corporate keynote programs on motivation and mindset. He is a bestselling author, speaker, strategic business consultant and has over 20+ years of knowledge, expertise, and contacts within the business and personal development industries.

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