Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bad News Kind-of Sucks

Listen to the news today and you’ll hear stories about shootings, war, and heated exchanges between politicians. The grocery store tabloids tout scandal about celebrity divorces and deaths. We hear about bankruptcy, nuclear arms, and natural disasters. You get the gist. But every now and then you’ll get a good news story… new promising treatment for a terminal disease, a heroic rescue, missing person found. Wouldn’t it be great if we had more of those stories?

The media is full of “bad” news. And it seems the more horrific, the more it’s covered and talked about. But frankly, bad news kind-of sucks.

Bad news is disheartening and depressing, and too much negativism is contagious. The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) contains a report from the Communications Research Center entitled, The Effects of Bad and Good News on Newspaper Image and Community Image. The study concluded that “bad news created a negative image of the community not only on characteristics directly related to the news topics (safety, crime, and violence) but also on general characteristics (standard of living, neighborhoods, and environment).” Too much bad news just proves things are bad and getting worse, it makes you feel generally bad. But guess what? Good news is just as contagious!

As followers of Christ, we are commissioned to “love one another,” (John 15:12) and we should give the same amount of attention and talk time to our good fortunes. Imagine a world that is full of positive thoughts and actions and deeds! Oh that I would live to see!

Now I’m not saying that we should ignore or be oblivious to all bad news. I don't advocate turning the news off. Certainly not – it’s important to be aware of the issues. But we need to feed ourselves with equal amounts good news. What goes in is what comes out. Good news is uplifting, and it breeds happiness.

It takes a little more effort to find and hear inspiring stories. Those feel good stories don’t always make front page or prime time, but they're so worth the effort. So here's three websites I've found that feature good news:

Good News Network (subscription service)
Happy News
Huffpost Good News

So where do you go to hear your positive and enriching stories?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When Bad Things Happen

We all experience problems in life, both personally and as a society. Maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a job, a loved one, or your home. Maybe you have a boss that is so mean you can’t stand the thought of another days work. Perhaps your health is failing, or you’ve lost money in the stock market, or ______. You fill in the blank. We all have them.

As a society, our problems are no better.  In this world we have people dying of starvation. There is crime and corruption. War.

Plenty of reason to complain. Justification to lift our fists in anger and blame God. For some, it’s enough to even doubt that God exists.

Remember though - we were given free will. And if we look hard enough, we will find that most of the time, the blame for our calamities and problems can be traced back not to God, but to us. Poor choices, hatred, bigotry, greed, indifference – these are usually the culprits and cause of our grief, not God.

Look around you. Humankind has been blessed with a world of abundance[1] and beauty. But yes, bad things happen, even to good people. That doesn't mean God doesn't exist, nor does it mean God is to blame.

Remember when you were a kid riding in the backseat of the car and started whining. Your parents told you to be quiet, but you kept on whining and kept on, until finally your dad shouted that he’d give you something to cry about. Well, maybe God gets tired of hearing us all complain too. How about we look for the joy and beauty (because it is there), and offer our thanksgiving instead on this trip called life.

[1] According to numerous authorities on hunger, including Poverty.com and LifeNews.com, there is plenty of food to go around. It’s just up to us to see that it’s distributed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Discerning the Correct Career Choice

What do you want to be when you grow up?” I ask my daughter and some of her friends this question on occasion, and I was asked this when I was young too. My daughter doesn’t know what she wants to be, nor do most of her friends. I wonder if I do either, or if I ever will.

You would think at my age, I would have it all figured out, that I would know what I want to do, what career path to take, where to focus my energies. I’ve worked in various industries, from banking to technology, real estate to retail sales, office administration to sales initiation. I’ve read books, including Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger, which suggests career choices based on your Myers Briggs personality type. Yet I still don’t know, for sure.

So how does one discern the correct career choice in life?

The right career varies throughout a person’s life as their life unfolds and changes. If you don’t have kids for example, you might not mind travel or working the long hours required in many professions. But once kids are in the picture, your life transforms and so does your ideal job. So it’s a floating target, and throughout life you may make many changes (particularly true for women as they are oftentimes the primary caregivers).

The advice I offer my kids (and you, my readers) is this:

1.       Find a line of work in which you have interest. If you have a lot of interests, this isn’t going to narrow your choices so much as give you a broad lineup of options that will work and satisfy.
2.       Don’t go for a job simply because of the pay. Money isn’t the end all. Sure, it’s needed to afford necessities, but it also fuels wants. It doesn’t necessarily make your life richer.
3.       Pray, and then listen for God’s direction. God has a plan for you, so pray for wisdom and discernment, and most importantly, God’s will.

The litmus test as to whether you are in the right field can be done in the confines of your own home – no books or research required. And it’s simple. Do you wake up in the morning dreading work, or looking forward to another day?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Loving Family - Top Priority

What are your stresses? Everyone has them. There are so many pressures in life today – work, making ends meet financially, busy schedules, constant connectedness through electronic devices, and so forth – making it difficult to find time to relax and unwind. We’re pretty good about keeping everything in check though, and holding those burdens inside. If you’re like me, you’re friendly and polite, even with complete strangers. Actually . . . especially with complete strangers. But the minute we are with our loved ones...

A loving family is like a mini-extension of your self. You look in the mirror and like yourself (hopefully), even seeing all your faults. Well, your family does too, just like you love them. They love you and know you better than anyone else, your talents and your flaws, and maybe even more than we know ourselves. And they love us despite our shortcomings, which makes it easy to let loose our frustrations and disappointments. After all, they will love us anyway, right? Even though we might be a little curt?

But we shouldn’t take our families for granted; rather we should always make an effort to develop an even stronger family unity through loving kindness. Even when we’re stressed. Why in the world wouldn’t we treat the people we love the most in this world better than anyone else? Shouldn’t we treat them always with the specialness they deserve and with the love they hold in our hearts?

Dictionary.com defines priority as “something given special attention.” A loving family rocks. We would all do well to remember to show our families our best attributes, and make family a top priority.