This week I contend that humor should be viewed as an essential part of life no matter what kind of work one does, even lawmaking. It appears that having a sense of humor benefits us even in the corporate realm where it’s supposedly always been a “dog eat dog” world. You can read this adaptation of McGhee’s article below on my blog, or go directly to it by clicking here.
Paul McGhee, PhD, www.LaughterRemedy.com
[Adapted from P. McGhee, Health, Healing and the Amuse System: Humor as Survival Training.]
It wasn’t very long ago that virtually every company in the country drew a sharp distinction between the notion of work and play. If you had fun, or were found joking, laughing, or showing a “playful attitude” on the job, it was assumed that you were goofing off, not taking your work seriously, immature, unprofessional, etc. Over the past two decades, however, as the pace of change in the way business is done has escalated, companies have thrown many of their old assumptions about how businesses should be run out the window. There is a new openness to any management strategy that works; i.e., that supports the bottom line. It is precisely this openness that has led many CEOs to consider the idea of putting humor and fun to work. Every year, more and more successful executives and managers are finally beginning to see that humor is a powerful tool in meeting the challenges and stress that are now a daily way of life in every workplace. As early as the mid-1980s, a survey found that 84% of Vice Presidents and personnel directors in 100 of the largest corporations in the country felt that employees with a sense of humor are more effective on the job than people with little or no sense of humor. The organization conducting the survey concluded that “People with a sense of humor tend to be more creative, less rigid and more willing to consider and embrace new ideas and methods.” Another mid-1980s survey of 737 chief executives of major corporations showed that an amazing 98% of those completing the survey said they would hire a person with a good sense of humor over one who seemed to lack a sense of humor.I have had many companies tell me following a program I’ve done for their staff that they specifically look for evidence of a good sense of humor in employees they hire (especially for management positions), because they are convinced that this helps them continue to do their jobs effectively without getting “bent out of shape” or overwhelmed on the tough days.Continue Reading
It is Christmas once again.
And in honor of, and to remind us of just whom we are celebrating, the words to the carol, “Silent Night, Holy Night“.
I am also including a link to a lovely rendition of it performed on Youtube by Sarah Mclachlan. (I recommend you dismiss the advertisement at the beginning and view it full screen.)
This article regarding the importance of silence at this time of the year appeared in the Albuquerque Journal last year in December. Its message bears repeating…
Sister Elizabeth Tran adjusts the nativity scene in the chapel of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert, near Blanco, N.M., about 35 miles from Farmington. (Photo courtesy of Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal) The sisters moved to a cluster of mobile homes there in 2009.
BLANCO – Christmas is a time of silence at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert.
The silence here is so profound it seems to amplify even tiny sounds, such as a whispered psalm or the clang of a bell that calls the sisters to prayer seven times each day.
“Silence doesn’t mean no noise,” said Sister Julianne Allen, 80, one of seven sisters who compose the small Benedictine community about 35 miles east of Farmington. “You can have exterior silence and be too busy in your head to hear anything.”
More important than silence is “a quietness within.”
“I think that’s what Christmas is about – to find that silence, because Christ comes in silence,” she said. “Christmas is really the time to be still so you can hear the gentle voice of God.”
The silence and predawn darkness here have a gravity that city dwellers rarely experience.
Mother Benedicta Serna, the community’s mother superior, stood in the freezing air before sunrise and pointed to the distant headlights of a car passing on U.S. 64, a mile north of the monastery – far enough away that the engine was inaudible. “There’s the world passing by out there,” she said.
Our Lady of the Desert is a silent religious order, meaning the sisters refrain from speaking at certain times, such as during meals. At other times, the monastery rings with talking and laughter or the clatter of pans and dishes as the sisters prepare meals.
The sisters’ day will have started hours before most New Mexicans begin stirring on Christmas morning.
They rise at 4 a.m. every day and gather in the chapel a half-hour later to sing hymns, read psalms and pray.
The monastery is housed in a clutch of refurbished manufactured homes at the end of a dirt road. Earlier this month, workers hauled a new mobile home to the site to serve as guest quarters.
The sisters plan to eventually build a new monastery atop a high mesa nearby and use the current facilities to sponsor retreats and provide income for the community.
For now, the monastery remains largely dependent on donations of money, work and food. The sisters set aside a four-hour work period each day for tasks such as sewing, cleaning and making crafts for sale.
To the south looms 7,000-foot Gobernador Knob, named for the Navajo deity “Changing Woman.”
For the women of Our Lady of the Desert, recent years have brought many changes.
In 2008, the nuns abandoned a comfortable home in Abiquiu where they had lived since 1997 under the protection of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, a 37-year-old monastic community for men.
“Our life was good at Christ in the Desert, but we didn’t own our own property,” Sister Mary Fisher said. “We didn’t have a say in any decisions. Nobody knew we were there. We were hidden away.”
First, they moved to temporary quarters at St. Rose of Lima parish in Blanco, then in 2009 to their present home on 40 acres of donated land. In that time, the number of sisters dwindled from 11 to seven. They range in age from 44 to 80.
“It was very difficult,” Fisher recalled. “We didn’t have any money. We didn’t know what we were in for.” The sisters who left for other communities were troubled by the uncertainty, she said. “Some of the sisters couldn’t handle it.”
Evidence of Christmas is muted at Our Lady of the Desert during the Advent season. The sisters place a holly wreath in the chapel during the weeks of Advent and set up a nativity scene on Christmas Eve. But their daily cycle of prayer and work changes little.
Traditions such as Christmas trees, farolitos and caroling were absent at the first Christmas, and so they will be today at Our Lady of the Desert.
“Our silence of Christmas is like the silence of Our Savior being born in the stillness and quietness of the manger,” Sister Kateri Lovato explained in an email. “It’s so simple, it becomes hard to grasp.”— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
Meet Dr. Karen Wyatt whose focus is on how to live well, including living “fully and fearlessly”. And guess what? She believes including prayer in ones life is really important also! Her website and blog are all about spirituality and medicine and where she believes the two must meet. Wyatt’s book entitled “What Really Matters: Seven Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying” is a testament to her practical work experience as a doctor with Hospice. Here’s what she has to say…
During the last century, as the science and technology of medicine advanced exponentially, spirituality became less and less a consideration for the medical practitioner working with an ill patient. In fact, addressing spiritual issues has even been looked upon as inappropriate in some medical settings.
But there is now substantial scientific evidence supporting the important role of spirituality in health and illness and that medical providers might be causing harm to their patients by overlooking these factors. Here are 5 spiritual concepts that should be introduced as part of routine medical care for the optimum health of all patients:
Numerous studies have been conducted over the past few decades showing the power of prayer to improve outcome from serious illnesses. These studies conducted by research organizations such as Duke University and Spindrift Research have even shown the effectiveness of prayer performed at a distance by individuals who do not know the patient.
2. Unconditional love
Researchers at Yale University have found that love can help protect our hearts. Other studies have demonstrated that the experience of genuine love can speed healing and improve the functioning of the immune system.
Following along with the practice of genuine love, forgiveness has been shown to contribute to emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Those who make a practice of regularly forgiving others enjoy better health outcomes than those who have a tendency to hold resentment and anger toward others.
When all of life, including illness and loss, is viewed as having meaning and purpose, the seemingly negative events can be better tolerated. In fact, the outcome of an illness or adverse health event is likely to be worse if the patient is unable to perceive meaning in the experience.
5. Spiritual practice
Studies have shown that individuals who attend church regularly live as many as 7 years longer than those who do not attend church. Other spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, prayer and contemplation have all been associated with a decrease in negative health events and an increase in wellbeing.
Medical training is necessarily steeped in science and rational thought. Many medical providers may have distanced themselves from spirituality because it seemed in conflict with the scientific method that has informed their professional training.
But the evidence is mounting that spirituality can no longer be ignored in the medical office. Even those physicians who do not value spiritual concepts in their own lives cannot justify omitting them entirely from their assessment and treatment of patients. It is time for the medical profession to wake up and recognize that the new frontier of medicine in this century lies in spirituality and spiritual energy.
For Les, and others who realized my incorrectly dated proclamation last week and were kind enough to let me know, I promised to share the link once this year’s posted. It was finally released this past Tuesday and I apologize for waiting till now to get it sent out, but I was busy doing what it instructs, gathering with family and friends and feeling extremely grateful for them all. Hope your Thanksgiving was equally as delightful. And thank you for your patience … Here it is.
I found this year’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation by President Obama in the “Christian Science Monitor”.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country. This spirit brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe – who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Massachusetts for thousands of years – in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago. This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation’s heritage. We also pause our normal pursuits on this day and join in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year’s bounties and blessings.
Thanksgiving Day is a time each year, dating back to our founding, when we lay aside the troubles and disagreements of the day and bow our heads in humble recognition of the providence bestowed upon our Nation. Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country. In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for “the Almighty hand” to heal and restore our Nation.
In confronting the challenges of our day, we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and take comfort in knowing a brighter day has always dawned on our great land. As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation. This Thanksgiving Day, we remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity. Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day.
As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God. Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2010, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together – whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors – to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
The following is a brief summary of an author’s end thoughts after reading the entire Bible. It was a project penned for and published in Slate Magazine. It took him two years as he read, blogged and wrote his own book entitled, “Good Book”. You can read his thoughts about the experience here pasted into my site, or click on the title below and read it on Slate.com. Although he found the God of the Bible not a God to his liking, Plotz thinks it’s a book well worth reading. And if you find what he has to say interesting and want to hear more, I found you can also go back and read his blog from 2006 and 2007 where he talks about his journey through the Scriptures book by book…
By David Plotz|Updated Tuesday, March 3, 2009, at 6:58 AM ET
In 2006 and 2007, David Plotz blogged the Bible for Slate, starting with “In the beginning …” and reading right through to the end. This week, Plotz publishes Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible, a book sparked by the Slate project. You can buy Good Book here. The following is adapted from the book.
Should you read the Bible? You probably haven’t. A century ago, most well-educated Americans knew the Bible deeply. Today, biblical illiteracy is practically universal among nonreligious people. My mother and my brother, professors of literature and the best-read people I’ve ever met, have not done much more than skim Genesis and Exodus. Even among the faithful, Bible reading is erratic. The Catholic Church, for example, includes only a teeny fraction of the Old Testament in its official readings. Jews study the first five books of the Bible pretty well but shortchange the rest of it. Orthodox Jews generally spend more time on the Talmud and other commentary than on the Bible itself. Of the major Jewish and Christian groups, only evangelical Protestants read the whole Bible obsessively.
Slate V: You read that in the Bible?
Maybe it doesn’t make sense for most of us to read the whole Bible. After all, there are so many difficult, repellent, confusing, and boring passages. Why not skip them and cherry-pick the best bits? After spending a year with the good book, I’ve become a full-on Bible thumper. Everyone should read it—all of it! In fact, the less you believe, the more you should read. Let me explain why, in part by telling how reading the whole Bible has changed me.
When I was reading Judges one day, I came to a complicated digression about a civil war between two groups of Israelites, the Gileadites and the Ephraimites. According to the story, the Gileadites hold the Jordan River, and whenever anyone comes to cross, the guards ask them to say the password,shibboleth. The Ephraimites, for some unexplained reason, can’t pronounce the sh in shibboleth and say “sibboleth” instead. When an Ephraimite fails the speech exam, the Gileadites “would seize him and slay him.” I’ve read the word shibboleth a hundred times, written it a few, and probably even said it myself, but I had never understood it until then. It was a tiny but thrilling moment when my world came alive, when a word that had just been a word suddenly meant something to me.
And something like that happened to me five, 10, 50 times a day when I was Bible-reading. You can’t get through a chapter of the Bible, even in the most obscure book, without encountering a phrase, a name, a character, or an idea that has come down to us 3,000 years later. The Bible is the first source of everything from the smallest plot twists (the dummy David’s wife places in the bed to fool assassins) to the most fundamental ideas about morality (the Levitical prohibition of homosexuality that still shapes our politics, for example) to our grandest notions of law and justice. It was a joyful shock to me when I opened the Book of Amos and read the words that crowned Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Just as an exercise, I thought for a few minutes about the cultural markers in Daniel, a late, short, and not hugely important book. What footprints has it left on our world? First, Daniel is thrown in the “lions’ den” and
King Belshazzar sees “the writing on the wall.” These are two metaphors we can’t live without. The “fiery furnace” that Daniel’s friends are tossed into is the inspiration for the Fiery Furnaces, a band I listen to. The king rolls a stone in front of the lions’ den, sealing in a holy man who won’t stay sealed—foreshadowing the stone rolled in front of the tomb of Jesus. Daniel inspired the novel The Book of Daniel and the TV show The Book of Daniel. It’s even a touchstone for one of my favorite good-bad movies, A Knight’s Tale. That movie’s villain belittles hero Heath Ledger by declaring, “You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting”—which is what the writing on the wall told Belshazzar.
While reading the Bible, I often felt as if I had finally lifted a veil from my eyes. I learned that I hadn’t known the true nature of God’s conflict with Job, which is the ur-text of all subsequent discussions of obedience and faith. I realized I was ignorant of the story of Ruth. I was unaware of the radical theology of Ecclesiastes, the source of so many of our ideas about the good life. I didn’t know who Jezebel was, or why we loathe her, or why she is the painted lady, or even that she was married to Ahab.
Not to sound like a theocratic crank, but I’m actually shocked that students aren’t compelled to read huge chunks of the Bible in high school and college, the way they must read Shakespeare or the Constitution or Mark Twain.
That’s my intellectual defense of Bible reading. Now a more personal one. As a lax, non-Hebrew-speaking Jew, I spent my first 35 years roboting through religious rituals and incomprehensible prayers, honoring inexplicable holidays. None of it meant anything to me. Now it does. Reading the Bible has joined me to Jewish life in a way I never thought possible. I trace this to when I read about Jacob blessing his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh at the end of Genesis. I suddenly realized: Oh, that’s why I’m supposed to lay my hand on my son’s head at Shabbat dinner and bless him in the names of Ephraim and Manasseh. That shock of recognition has been followed by many more—when I came across the words of the Shema, the most important Jewish prayer, in Deuteronomy, when I read about the celebration of Passover in the book of Ezra, when I read in Psalms the lyrics of Christian hymns I love to sing.
You notice that I haven’t said anything about belief. I began the Bible as a hopeful, but indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn’t really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I’m brokenhearted about God.
After reading about the genocides, the plagues, the murders, the mass enslavements, the ruthless vengeance for minor sins (or none at all), and all that smiting—every bit of it directly performed, authorized, or approved by God—I can only conclude that the God of the Hebrew Bible, if He existed, was awful, cruel, and capricious. He gives us moments of beauty—such sublime beauty and grace!—but taken as a whole, He is no God I want to obey and no God I can love.
When I complain to religious friends about how much He dismays me, I usually get one of two responses. Christians say: Well, yes, but this is all setup for the New Testament. Reading only the Old Testament is like leaving halfway through the movie. I’m missing all the redemption. If I want to find the grace and forgiveness and wonder, I have to read and believe in the story of Jesus Christ, which explains and redeems all. But that doesn’t work for me. I’m a Jew. I don’t, and can’t, believe that Christ died for my sins. And even if he did, I still don’t think that would wash away God’s crimes in the Old Testament.
The second response tends to come from Jews, who razz me for missing the chief lesson of the Hebrew Bible, which is that we can’t hope to understand the ways of God. If He seems cruel or petty, that’s because we can’t fathom His plan for us. But I’m not buying that, either. If God made me, He made me rational and quizzical. He has given me the tools to think about Him. So I must submit Him to rational and moral inquiry. And He fails that examination. Why would anyone want to be ruled by a God who’s so unmerciful, unjust, unforgiving, and unloving?
Unfortunately, this line of reasoning seems to leave me with several unappealing options: 1) believing in no god; 2) believing in the awful, vindictive God of the Bible; or 3) believing in some vague “creator” who is not remotely attached to the events of the Bible, who didn’t really do any of the deeds ascribed to Him in the book and thus can’t be held responsible for them.
The Bible has brought me no closer to God, if that means either believing in a deity acting in the world or experiencing the transcendent. But perhaps I’m closer to God in the sense that the Bible has put me on high alert. I came to the Bible hoping to be inspired and awed. I have been, sometimes. But mostly I’ve ended up in a yearlong argument with God. Why would He kill the innocent Egyptian children? And why would He delight in it? What wrong did we do Him that He should send the flood? Which of His Ten Commandments do we actually need? Yet the argument itself represents a kind of belief, because it commits me to engage with God.
As I read the book, I realized that the Bible’s greatest heroes—or, at least, my greatest heroes—are not those who are most faithful, but those who are most contentious and doubtful: Moses negotiating with God at the burning bush, Gideon demanding divine proof before going to war, Job questioning God’s own justice, Abraham demanding that God be merciful to the innocent of Sodom. They challenge God for his capriciousness, and demand justice, order, and morality, even when God refuses to provide them. Reading the Bible has given me a chance to start an argument with God about the most important questions there are, an argument that can last a lifetime.
In an effort to find out what is being said out there regarding just how and how much our thoughts influence our lives and the possible value of monitoring and even consciously changing them can be, I found in the following blog and article of interest. Enjoy!
- A blog on the topic of the mind-body connection as it pertains to health. http://mlmv2.com/blog/mindbody-connection-and-its-influence-health
- One article that has taken the psychological world by storm comes from The New York Times. How Culture Molds Habits of Thought – The New York Times
And finally, “Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny”. A quote by Tryon Edwards (1809–1894) that definitely is in keeping with the idea and value of weeding ones mental garden. Edwards was an American theologian, best known for compiling “A Dictionary of Thoughts”.