Doing Life Together

ID-100166885Money, money, money…The OJays sang about it, reminding us us what people will do for the love of money-steal from their mother, rob from their brother, lie, cheat and don’t care who they hurt or beat, etc.

In Matthew, Jesus tells us that you can’t love money and God. He chided the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees, and called them lovers of money in Luke 16:14. In 1 Timothy 6:10, we are warned that the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of  evil. And Hebrews 13:5 tells us to keep our lives free of the LOVE of money and be content with what we have.

So, how are you doing when it comes to loving money? My pastor challenged me this past Sunday by asking these 4 questions.

Take the short quiz: Answer YES or NO

1) I frequently find my mind drifting to something I want to buy.

2) I feel jealous over what other people have when I don’t have it.

3) I often complain about what I do not have rather than focus on what I do have.

4) It is really difficult to give up something I want in order to give to something that will further God’s kingdom.

If you answer YES to any of the four items, search your heart and priorities. The love of money, not money itself, can block our relationship with God. It can become an idol, something we regularly see in our celebrity culture and have to guard against.

Stay balanced in your view of money. James tells us that every good thing and perfect gift comes from God. Thus, we are to be good stewards of the good gifts that God brings our way and not allow money to capture our hearts.

ID-10087460These days, parents seemed consumed with their children getting high test scores. The belief is that high test scores predicts academic success. But a new study suggests that parents should put their efforts elsewhere–in developing the personalities of their children.

With more concern about what leads to academic success, researchers continue to look at a number of factors that might contribute to positive educational outcomes. We know that it helps to be smart when it comes to success in life. But what else could be important for success?

A new study by Dr. Arthur Poropat from Griffith University’s School of Applied Psychology found that personality may be a better measure of success than intelligence. He looked at what is called the “Big Five” personality traits–extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience, in college students and compared these traits to their test scores and grades. Two of those traits, conscientiousness and openness to experience had the biggest influence on academic success.

This means that students who are willing to put in focused effort in their studies may have an advantage over being smart, as measured by intellectual tests.  Interestingly, if you look at previous studies, students who think they are smart often have declining performance in college because they stop trying so hard. But hard workers try more and do better.

Since we can’t train intellect, but we can train personality, this study points to the idea that more attention should be focused on helping our students have intellectual curiosity and a strong work ethic–two things we can train!

Personality, it appears, it not just an adjunct to intelligence, but a major player when we assess educational outcomes. Personality is associated with academic success. And of all the factors studied, Conscientiousness had the strongest association with academic success.

So parents, focus on teaching your children intellectual curiosity and strong work habits. Those two character traits will take them farther than intellect.







Source: Arthur E. Poropat. Other-rated personality and academic performance: Evidence and implications. Learning and Individual Differences, 2014; 34: 24 DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2014.05.013

ID-100208264Rosie is a little anxious about her first date with Sean. We all know how important first impressions are when it comes to finding love.

After a few outings at a local coffee shop, her feelings of attraction were obvious. The setting was intimate, soft  music played in the background and the aroma of coffee filled the air. All led to a favorable impression of Sean. She wanted to continue the relationship, seeing many positive traits in Sean.

Did anything about that first coffee shop date contribute to Rosie’s good impression of Sean? A Japanese study suggests that something about that coffee shop date could have contributed to her positive impression of Sean.

The study looked at the impact music had on the impressions formed for opposite sex conversation partners during a first encounter. When music was part of the background of the conversations, participants rated their conversation partners significantly more favorably than those in pairs with no music in the background. The researchers concluded that music may have made the conversationalists more charming!

Based on this study, music could facilitate feelings of interest and attraction during first encounters. Because of the way music stimulates neurochemical systems in the brain, positive impressions can be increased. And character traits such as friendliness and openness were rated higher when music was playing in the background.

So, if you want to make a good first impression, have music playing in the background. It might make the attraction stronger! Music just might be the aphrodisiac of love!




Source: Sumi Shigeno. Effects of background music on young Japanese adults’ impressions of opposite-sex conversation partners Psychology of Music 0305735614561816first published on December 15, 2014 doi:10.1177/0305735614561816

ID-100220921Music, dance, drawing, reading, listening to poetry–all ways we can engage the arts. But is there a connection between staying young and engaging these activities?

Yes, engaging in the arts helps you stay young.

1) Take up dancing. Dancing is not only aerobic but it challenges the brain. So the benefit of improved blood flow to the brain and the mental tasks involved in dancing have been shown to lower the risk of dementia. Maybe it’s time to take that salsa class or sign up for Zumba and dance your way into a healthier brain.

2) Take up an instrument or continue to play one. For years, I have played the piano and flute because I enjoy it. But now I know that continuing to play those instruments could help my aging brain. A study from Stanford University School of Medicine showed that baroque music was especially good. So pull out that Bach piece and improve your rusty playing skills. It’s not only relaxing for many of us, but engages our brains in ways that help memory and focus.

3) Read poetry. Drink it in, don’t be distracted and think about the deeper meaning of the poem. Too often we read without focusing and read too many things, downloading too much information to our brains. This isn’t good. But if we take a poem, read it with focus, think about it and allow the beauty of poetry to sink in, this is good for the brain. Go ahead, pull out a classic like, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost and meditate on it. Better yet, read portions of the Song of Solomon and let it sink into your soul. It’s not only good for your spirit, but also your brain.