Monday, June 29

How well do you know your partner?

For the last seven months of 2009, I am going to work on one principle per month out of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Hopefully there will also be some things that stand out for you for working on your own relationships.
Nat and I have made a lot of progress with our EFT therapist during the past 8 months. It has been both exciting and exhausting, and sometimes I have not looked forward AT ALL to going. It has been hard work. Despite that, we are now a lot more understanding and patient with each other, and most importantly to me we know each other a lot better. The connection is stronger, and we don't as easily get caught in those same problems over and over again.

There are a lot of reasons why I want the best relationship possible, but an important one is to be a good example for others in committed relationships, and a positive influence on society in general. We ALL have challenges (sometimes quite significant, sometimes minor). Some relationships just don't work out.

I want to continually learn and grow in my relationship, and inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and get to work as well. Improving one's relationship is not just for "those people" who have "problems"... Also, not to single out men, but so often it seems their hubris is in the way of really getting to work on their relationships. If you're one of those men (or women), GET OVER YOURSELF! :)

The principle for July is to build and expand Love Maps. This is how much cognitive room (space in your brain!) you have for your partner. How well do you know them and their world? Do you know what has been bothering them lately? What have they enjoyed doing this week? Their favorite (or least-favorite) relative? What they think about organic food or how they feel about the book they are reading?

Take this quiz to find out how well you know your partner. Then, go ask your them an open-ended question (one that can't be answered with a 'yes' or 'no'). Ask them what they think or feel about something, and then listen. Put your thoughts on hold and just get to know their world. Surprisingly, a lot of couples don't ask each other very many questions like this. We should be continually building on what we know about those we care about, and they should feel known by us. This is very important to do over the course of one's relationship because people grow and change.

Love Maps are also the foundation for all good friendships, not just romantic relationships, so this principle applies to everyone!

Thursday, June 25

shenpa warrior: The 2,760,016th most popular website in the country!

According to "Alexa: The Web Information Company" there are only 2.76 million sites ahead of me. According to Technorati, shenpa warrior is also the 498,210 most popular blog. Well on my way to making a living in the blogging world! ;)

Another interesting thing on the site was the "search terms" that have brought in the most traffic:
  1. taken movie
  2. shenpa meaning
  3. salt lake trib
  4. eyring caffeine
  5. eyring caffine
  6. takes to satan
  7. wall-e propaganda apple
  8. my geekines knows no bounderies
  9. joseph smith losing case
  10. stop mormon losing faith
Speechless. It seems that most of those are not intentionally looking to read my blog. These are pretty fun though--check out yours! According to my statcounter, over 60% of visitors are also on the site for less than 5 seconds. :)

Monday, June 22

Money CAN Buy Happiness?

We've all heard that "money can't buy happiness" ad nauseam. Now a study says it can.

In a social psychology class during undergrad we were taught that in general money does not make one happier, with the exception of wealth providing you with basic needs, and helping to fulfill significant life dreams that are in line with one's core values.

A recent study claims that money can also buy happiness in the sense that it provides some sense of control in cases of disaster or material loss. If you can't replace your wrecked car, you may be less happy than the person who can afford a new one. Reading further in the article, it says that what really matters is one's perception that they have an adequate amount.

Some thoughts:
  1. The wealthy, the big businesses, etc. who are driven to always have more may never be able to rest. They may never feel secure. In fact, that sense of material security is indeed false and ephemeral, according to Buddhist teachings. This is also part of the reason for my disdain for capitalism. A free market may be better than s*cialism, but ultimately it runs on greed, fear, and insecurity. You can argue the "lesser of two evils" idea, but it is still evil, in the sense that it ultimately leads to suffering.
  2. In order to be free from this suffering, and be happier, we should learn to find this security and peace with what we already have. Want more? Great, but don't seek more for the purpose of being happier. In the best case it will provide some temporary dopamine-laced thrills which will eventually die and a new fix will be needed.
  3. All that being said, I am loving my new iPhone. Hypocrisy abounds!
What do you think? How is your happiness related to your bank account? At what point do you stop and decide that you have enough?

Thursday, June 18

Let The Holy Spirit Clean Your Kitchen

I have been working at an agency owned by a religious organization. No problems there. In fact, many of my fellow therapists do not belong to said religion, with no reprisals. We all get along pretty well. It's a different story in the bathrooms though.

In all the bathrooms there are automatic towel dispensers. I don't know what brand they are because the logos are all covered up with stickers of the agency's logo. Fine. I guess they don't want any advertising. The amusing part is, the normal part of the dispensers that instructs one to "wave your hand here" in order for a towel to come out, have all been covered with stickers that say "Pray 'N Dry."


Another employee (who was offended by proxy for all the fellow heretics, as well as those souls receiving counseling services) has pulled the stickers off a few times, but they come right back. Just like the WalMart does in South Park.

What do you think is the purpose of the stickers? Perhaps an object lesson on faith? I.e. if I stick my hand under there, a towel will come out? Or is it a reminder to pray to avoid getting sick? If that were the case the sign ought to be by the soap, as in "bless this soap that it will wash those germs off and I won't get swine flu!"

Little did I know, some trickster had beaten me to it. I went into a different bathroom at work today, and there was a sticker (obviously home-made) on the soap dispenser that read:

"Receive the Holy Spirit, then wash the @$%&#! out of your hands!"

That sticker made up for all the others. Now when I see "Pray 'N Dry" not only do my hands dry, but I get a good laugh as well. Thank you Pavlov. You made my day.

Monday, June 15

Some Sex Statistics from The Kinsey Institute

Don't worry, it's just stats--nothing too uncomfortable.

Sex In Marriage:
  • 3% of married women have not had sex in the past year. 1% of men.
  • 13% of married couples have sex a few times a year.
  • 45% a few times a month.
  • 34% 2-3 times per week.
  • 7% More than 4 times per week.
This is about what I have been telling clients (e.g. 2-3 times a week to 2-3 times a month is the "normal" range). One client who was wanting sex multiple times per day is obviously in the extreme, (although, I think that may be due to his not knowing how to emotionally connect in other ways).

Sexual Orientation:
  • 90% of people consider themselves to be heterosexual, ~2% homosexual, ~2% bisexual, and ~4% as ‘something else’.
  • 6.2% of men and 4.4% of women are attracted to people of the same sex.
I think it is important to consider not just the prevalence, but the diversity of experience and attraction beyond the simple gay or straight categories, including the fluid nature for some (but certainly not all).

Internet Pornography:
  • 25% of men report* visiting a pornographic website in the last 30 days. 4% of women.
  • 8% of men and women who use the Internet for sexual reasons reported significant problems associated with compulsive disorders.
I wonder if in more conservative or religious cultures this is a bigger problem because of the secrecy and greater amount of shame involved (which seem to make an addictive cycle worse). I would be curious about studies on this topic done on a cross-cultural/religious manner.

  • 5% of men and 11% of women have never masturbated.
  • 35% of men ages 18-39 do not masturbate, 37% 'sometimes', 28% more than once per week.
For those who believe masturbation is something that needs to be abstained from, how do you teach your kids while at the same time not instilling them with excessive guilt and feelings of isolation, when in fact more than 90% do at some point?

  • 62% of women in relationships are “very satisfied” with the frequency of orgasm.
This seems to be in stark contrast to men, whom except in rare cases almost always have an orgasm during sex. Nature's cruelty to women!

  • More than 120 million couples a year have an unmet need for contraception.
Think about all the unwanted pregnancies that would not occur if these people had this need met!

  • 14.8 % of women in the U.S. are raped at some point during their life.
This stat is scary. I had no idea it was so high. My wife actually thought it was low. Scary.

*Keep in mind, these are all self-report statistics. Some could be higher or lower.

What do you think? Anything surprising here (on the low end or the high)?

Thursday, June 11

Fun with Deity & Billboards

Not believing in God is the cause of war.

God doesn't like the Big Bang Theory. I don't know why. Anyone have an idea?

Which sign came first I wonder...

This one's a classic. Watch out for that atheist family next door. Their son may shoot you. Then again, I can see their point. If you believe that people are inherently depraved and evil, without God they certainly would turn bad. What's wrong with believing in God AND the inherent goodness of people?

Monday, June 8

A Middle Way for Anger

"What is called for today is NOT the ungoverned gush of raw feelings, but a new civility that accommodates the expression of angry emotions."

For a marriage class I am teaching, I have been reading Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion. Apparently there is indeed a middle ground between suffering in silence and unbridled self-expression, and it is a myth that we have "bottled up" emotions that have to be let out. Not surprisingly, finding a balance in the middle is best.
  • We have a choice regarding what to do with our anger. “We do not need to deny our mammalian, primate heritage, but we do not need to reduce ourselves to it, either.”
  • Ventilating our anger just makes us more angry, especially if we can't really make a change. Want to hate ____ (liberals, George W. Bush, militant atheists, CEOs, Hollywood, Evangelicals, Utah, Mormons, war, gays, anti-gays, broccoli, WalMart) even more? Continue to talk about your dislike, as passionately as you can. It really works!
  • Controlled use of angry expression or catharsis can indeed be beneficial and promote change, only when certain circumstances are in place: 1-It must be directed at your target, 2-It must give you a sense of control, 3-It must change your target's behavior OR give you new insights, 4-You must speak the same anger language as your target (i.e. both parties at least understand the way the other side is using anger), and 5-There must be no retaliation from your target. If there is, contention will usually ensue and the problem will only get worse.
  • Emotions almost never occur alone. When we are angry about something, there are often other emotions involved, such as hurt, fear, sadness, loneliness, etc. Expressing only anger will exclude and drown out the other emotions. In relationships, a key is to express your other feelings, which may be more likely to lead to fixing the problem, rather than defensiveness from your partner.
  • Rage or venting is not a biological imperative, but rather a learned and habitual way of dealing with anger.
I think it is important to realize that not all anger is the same, and that it can be beneficial. Again, moderation.

How do you deal with your anger? How do you respond to your kids when they are angry? How is anger in public (online, in politics, protests, arguments) used, and when is it effective--or not?

Friday, June 5

Why Criticizing Obama for Choosing a Hispanic Woman is Racist

I am a product of white privilege. While I don't feel guilty about it, I do believe it is my responsibility to help those who have not been as fortunate to be successful, and that includes people of other cultures and backgrounds.

Where do you stand on this issue? I think what irks me the most is people like Pat Robertson who claim "reverse discrimination." Seriously, he thinks white people are not fairly treated. Where is "REALLY? with Seth and Amy" on this issue when I need it? White people have been getting theirs since the beginning of time. Please, don't worry about me. I'll be OKAY without the minority scholarship.

Should race or gender have any influence in the nomination something like of a supreme court justice or employee of the month? Obviously anyone would be accused of playing the race card if they chose the one Hispanic out of a group of white people. But that accusation itself smacks of racism.

Wednesday, June 3

Sometimes the "future" really does look like BTTF Part 2

I totally want this game.

When I saw this it totally looked like something from a movie 10-20 years ago, where someone (perhaps Marty McFly) goes to the future and they see all kinds of strange, yet very cool, things. Still waiting for the hoverboard.

Monday, June 1

For some kids, life is REALLY bad

Being a CASA volunteer a few years ago, and for the last two years working with foster children has opened my eyes to the reality that some children in our society face. I had no idea how bad it really gets for some. We should not be burying our heads in the sand.

Has anyone read A Child Called "It"? It was required in the CASA training as a sort of "welcome to the field, read this to prove you have some empathy" test. An acquaintance of mine wrote a critical review of the book a while back. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it really shows how many of us are completely unaware of what the lives of many children are like. Here is part of what she said:
"I classify this under non-fiction with tongue in cheek. The author claims it is the truth, but that's been called into question by the media and literary groups, and pretty much anyone reading it would have a hard time believing all the things happened which the author claims."
Whether or not the book is factual is really not the point. The author may very well have fabricated or sensationalized his early life in order to make a profit. Who knows? The point is that while the stuff that the boy's mother inflicts on him in the book is not a pretty sight (mostly emotional and some physical abuse), his story is not abnormal for the foster care field, and probably anyone I have worked with for the last two years could offer you a dozen case examples that were more horrific than that of the boy in the book.

Yes, perhaps "pretty much anyone reading" the book "would have a hard time believing all the things happened." I agree. It is hard to believe, until you realize they are really happening.

Not everyone is cut out to work in the foster care field--I've only been doing it part-time for two years, and have probably had enough. If you know any foster parents (who are not just doing it for the money) or counselors who work with children and trauma, they deserve your upmost admiration and respect. In terms of deserving praise on a national scale, they should be on par with the military.