Tuesday

Dis Ability


You have, no doubt, overheard or been in a conversation with someone talking about "their" depression or anxiety, or someone else's OCD or ADHD (most likely their child) as if it were a possession. You've possibly seen cartoon depictions of illnesses as monsters in advertisements for medications. You may have even used your personality color as a scapegoat when trying to elude a responsibility in a group assignment, or your love language as an excuse for disinterest.  In each case, an idea or an abstract concept has been externalized, and, as if it were born out of the collective mind, given a body and identity, if only to give us a reason to buy more Zoloft®. In our never-ending pursuit of global conquest though intelligence, we humans have developed an insatiable urge to label everything whether it exists or not.

Granted, there's plenty of justification for naming things which don't exist physically, but merely as ideas. Idea itself, for example, or even the idea of naming ideas has a name: Nominalism. Communication of ideas such as commonalities, comparison, and numbers* are made possible (or at least expedited) by the labels we lend to their fabricated existence. In fact, all nominalizations owe their existence to the organizational efforts of the human mind.

But wait! What does this have to do with illnesses and disorders?! Abstract and physical disorders alike are real, but only as real as the way they affect us. We only call them a "disorder" because they aren't of the order of normality. If it were normal to behave as though one had ADHD, the disorder would be called Attention Durability Hypoactivity Disorder for people who act calmer than average. Or imagine, if you will, a world in which the majority of people (which you are not part of) suddenly developed the ability to fly; would this diminish your quality of life in any way? Would it be fair to label you as a flightless person, and connect your identity to a deficit? Why would your lack of extra ability have anything to do with your identity? And yet, to be treated as if you could fly would be equally inappropriate. Much of the stigma and misfortune of disability only exist within a paradigm of comparison.

But the disparity from normalcy can be poignantly distressing in contexts where comparison is inevitable, and mental illness is horribly real for those who suffer from it. So what is the point of apparently downplaying the objective reality of abnormality? Why call into question diagnosis and labeling? Well, reader, because the way we think about our disabilities can influence their severity.

In an attempt to humanize those affected by physical and mental aberrations, the accepted method of labeling, known as "people-first language," takes the form of person with disability descriptor (e.g.: a child with ASD; click here for more examples). Though a step in the right direction by separating deficit and identity, the externalizing language figuratively (by now do you understand why it's not "literally") puts the disorder out of reach. Psychologically speaking, it promotes an external locus of control; in other words, the belief that what happens to you determines the quality of your life. Expressing an external locus of control is nearly ubiquitous among people experiencing depression.

There are few things more depressing than to be told you "have" depression. Similarly, worrying about having anxiety can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As Forest Gump's mother taught him, "Stupid is as stupid does," so it is for most labels. For example: anxiety is as anxiety does; therefore, if you don't feel anxious, then in that moment you don't have anxiety. We all have moments of introspection each day where we must choose how to respond to external influences. One could blame a wave of distress on an external force which would only add helplessness to the situation, or one could respond to the distress by looking for a remedy instead of fixating on a cause. While holding a needle, have you ever been horrified by your own thought to plunge it into your eye? That is what's called an intrusive thought. Assuming OCD exists externally, as does a communicable disease, one might begin to obsess over that intrusive thought—"have I been stricken with the OCD?!" Obsessing over that Compulsion could become a Disorder (see what we did there?). Knowing that intrusive thoughts are strangely common (like that one you had to jump off the balcony for a brief, dizzying moment, or the more benign "did I lock the door/turn off the oven?") keeps them from becoming a problem. They only become a problem once you start believing they are. By understanding that diagnosis (barring disease) is merely a label, it has less power over you than your own perception of it.
Of course, there are many disorders which will not be alleviated by a mere change of perspective; in some cases the right medication is helpful or even needed, but these cases are rare. Whether it be an abstract label, a deficit compared to the majority of the population, or a disease, understanding the meaning of the diagnosis is an essential step on the path toward acceptance. Distancing by externalization rather than acceptance of disability does as much for disability as "color blindness" and white guilt do for racism—lock it up tight enough to preserve it. Also, seeing the person "behind" the disability is as curative as feeling better about obesity by imagining one's "true self" is skinny. These more inconspicuous forms of denial seem helpful, but delay the process of acceptance, and the delusion is hard to keep up in moments of distress. Acceptance and self-worth are what's needed to feel at peace with reality.

So, for those of us dealing with difference, whether it has a label or not, try to see yourself the way MrRogers does. And for those of us observing the differences in others, in the rare case that it's even our business, please at least use people-first language.

Monday

Monday

A few weeks back, though the feeling is as present to me as the chair I sit on, my mind and heart seemed to stumble upon the same wavelength of mutual understanding; a moderately rare occurrence as their natural state seems to be one of discussion and deliberation. One blessing followed another as this concurrence of my soul was given a voice early this morning by the words of William Hazlit, Victor Shklovsky, and Percy Shelley. This type of experience, "penetrates the hard shell of habit to reimmerse us in the depths of experience, refining the sense of beauty to agony, making the stone more stony, creating anew the universe, after it has been annihilated in our minds by the recurrence of impressions blunted by reiteration."

In short, reality became more real; a lonely and unlikely phenomenon if not accompanied by the usual concomitants of gratitude and love. This morning I endeavor to express why I love religion.


Wonder

To see the tide of human souls
Tide with which I yearn to flow
Stark honesty rare; does not appear
Yet effort and ally motive conquer

Back again to radiant parentage
Life's Fountain creates, emancipates
No beauty has the world seen
Like these souls who swim upstream


The Thick Green Forest

Occasionally I enjoy watching ABC's Shark Tank, a reality show in which hopeful entrepreneurs try to get billionaires to invest in their businesses. Why is it so popular you ask?

1. Great name. MLK, Washington, Independence, and the greatest birth ever recorded (see Luke 2:1-20) don't even get a full week of holiday. Compare that with Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Seven dazzling days of delight. We are fascinated by sharks. Sharks enjoy people too.

2. Our society seems to have an insatiable interest in money. Who has it, who is losing it, and how they spend it. Whole TV series, documentaries, and movies are created primarily to satiate the public desire to know more about people who have made loads of cash. Even out here in the ocean, the Green Stuff can take center stage.

3. The American Dream, or some mutant form of it, is played out before our eyes. Every episode seems to have at least one success story, where a struggling entrepreneur makes millions because he/she teamed up with one of the business savvy "Sharks".




The story I wanted to share with you begins at 32:50, if you want to see for yourself, with a humble farmer named Jonny. He enters the Shark Tank hoping that one of these investors will use their experience and resources to help him accomplish something good - water conservation.

Seeing this story played out reminded me of a quote by C.S. Lewis.

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you.”


As the "Sharks" question Jonny about his profit margins on this product, most of them are baffled as to why he doesn't raise the price to make a better profit. Jonny's simple response to their inquiry is truly beautiful.

"I've never done that, I've always tried to be right."

"Because I'm working with farmers."

Most of these investors couldn't understand why Jonny would leave "money on the table" and keep the price so low. They couldn't see eye to eye with a man whose motivation was a little better, a little higher. Any of these gill-ty business types could certainly write a book on how to set an optimal price point, yet Jonny just taught a lesson that most of today's business world probably couldn't grasp if it was a 100 dollar bill dipped in crazy glue. He was trying to build a business without forgetting to see his customers as real people. (Luke 6:31)

Let's make sure we carve out a sizable piece of this ocean for those good souls who are shark enough to think and act a little more altruistically, rather than to applaud and idolize the typical, rapacious "business sharks" that infest our waters.

D



Friday

Kelpless

We've talked plenty about choosing on this blog before, but the concept of choice is broader than the Pacific and deeper than Marianas. I wish I could say that once you choose something it will all feel like the perfect fit, the starfish will align, and you'll know you've entered the Current of Destiny. As is my current experience, circumstance has yet to provide me with any sense of satiating finality. I'm slowly learning that satisfaction is a matter of who you are rather than where you are. I am presently at the beginning of a potentially lifelong career. Having taken it for granted that I would be at peace with achieving this milestone based solely on having achieved it, it's been hard to come to grips with my lack of satisfaction. Is this because I chose the wrong career? Though I often feel that way, and I would like that to be an excuse, I don't believe that's the reason.

It's really tempting to believe that satisfaction is something you can find if you look hard enough and don't make the wrong choices. I'm not sure if it is, in fact, I'm pretty sure it isn't. Don't get me wrong, I believe it is possible to be truly satisfied with your life, but my issue is whether it is accurate/pragmatic/healthy to think of satisfaction objectively as a destination or achievement. It may be like success and happiness from the perspective of Viktor Frankl in this quotation Danny showed me from the book Man's Search For Meaning:

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”

But I always run into the same problem with these "ensuing" qualities. How do I work on something that is undone by any conscious effort?
"I've conquered pride and am now humble! or at least more humble than you."
Does wanting to work on it already doom you to failure? I don't think so. I think the problem is rooted more in why we want to improve ourselves, so if we can somehow go about it in way that is less competitive, selfish, or boastful, then we might be able to see past the mirror, and all the way to Heaven. Let's start with something practicable

There is a concept in economics known as "satisficing" that has been shown to increase one's sense of satisfaction in the choices one makes. Satisficing is simply the mashing together of the words satisfying and sufficing. Satisficers are satisfied with what suffices. You like satisficers—they demand little of the world, are flexible and easygoing. You can feel safe around a satisficer because s/he doesn't need you to be anymore than you are. The contrast to satisficing is maximizing. Maximizers are the type of people always looking for the very best deal possible. Maybe you know some. Maybe you are one. You admire maximizers—they are ambitious, hardworking, and well-informed. But you probably don't feel very comfortable around them because they want the very best of everything and you might feel like you don't qualify. They're judgmental—They have to be in order to know what the best is so they can get it. The problem with maximizing is that there is only one "best." Not only is it quasi-impossible to achieve the best in anything, but there are so many subjective/ambiguous variables that you can never be sure you truly maximized, therefore, maximizers are seldom satisfied. Satisficers decide what they want, and when they get it, they're satisfied no matter the comparison with other options.

I just bought a car a couple weeks ago, and I had to battle the maximizer in me so I wouldn't regret such a huge purchase. So, after all my habitual, maximizing research, I tried being more satisficing by deciding on a make, model, year, price, condition, and mileage. When I found a car that fit that mold, I bought it. I still have to fight the tendency to be a maximizer ex post facto in comparing my car to others'. Maximizers are expert comparers. They're so good at comparison that all it takes is a better deal that they missed out on to ruin the value of what they have to them. Think of the danger that presents to relationships.

I was surprised at the physical sense of satisfaction I experienced as I tamed the maximizer in me. Interestingly enough, at least in the eyes of comparing maximizers, what maximizers usually end up choosing is qualitatively better than what satisficers get. Not by much, though. in most cases, choosing alone is 99 yards of the field. All your stress and extra effort of maximizing for just the last few feet only makes sense if we see life as the playing field to a goal of happiness instead of a lifelong journey of joy. The most important quality for satisfaction in a car you buy, a career you choose, a school you go to, a person you marry, or a bird in the hand, is that it's yours. Especially satisfying are the things you've chosen that have the volition to choose you back, and literally nothing can compare.

I started this thinking I would write about other things, but sometimes your heart bypasses the brain and goes straight for the fingertips. Sometimes the right choice to make is "let it be," or at least I'm going to let it be.

If you are worried about where you are, just take time to gaze at the stars, or swim in the ocean (at your own risk, of course), ponder on the immensity of the universe and the insignificance of our little world. And, though to us our world is huge, life is long and longer still. Take 3 deep breaths. Tell someone you love how much you appreciate them, and do something nice for someone you don't know. And above all:
Matthew 11:28-30


Love, Alex


Sunday

A Cry for Kelp

Recently this beautiful ocean (life) has seemed to expand for me.

I concede this change is largely one of gaining new perspectives, rather than anything physical, just as an avid diver has a far different take on the term "depths of the sea" considering their experience.

Since my first week as the greenest freshman on the college campus, I have admired those students who already appeared to have found their passion or career. Seeing their happy, genuine confidence has prodded into existence a question which has dogged my footsteps to this very minute. With persistence and determination surpassing even the best Vivint alarm sales rep, I have long since grown weary of it's routine, circuitous path through my conscious.

I would give my left arm (something a great white would happily arrange) to never again become introspective asking, "what should I do for a career?"

Before I continue one more league, I want to openly recognize the ocean-sized blessing of having the mental and physical faculties, as well as the freedom to choose virtually any profession or career under the sun. (Sun is used intentionally, because working graveyard is NOT a faculty I possess.) Perhaps my friends who occasionally argue for arranged marriages would be less prone to blow the whistle on my ingratitude, as they too have confronted the conundrum of almost unbounded agency.

I see two clear, well-marked paths before me. Neither one evil and both having a distinct appeal. On one hand I could view my career as a means to an end. Should I pursue a career wholly based on it's ability to give me the money and time I want to raise my family and serve others? Or is work the means whereby I render a significant amount of the service I hope to accomplish throughout my life? By following the latter I would predictably come across much broader opportunities to serve, whilst the former affords a more flexible family and personal schedule. Above all I wish to be the worlds greatest Dad. But what if I am capable of being that kind of father and impacting my community on a deeper level too?

Perhaps I am just muddying the waters. Perhaps you see right through the kelp bed to Atlantis herself and my ocean-enlarging perspective could use a second set of goggles. But swimming through this with you may have cleared up the waters a bit already.

D

Friday

Strange

About a year ago, I thought I had put a couple very big parts of my life away for good. I was entering into a new phase of my life, turning over another leaf, changing the baby's diaper, letting bygones be bygones, etc. However, since about a year ago, about a year has gone by, and I don't have much to show for it. I'm still at BYU, I still have the same job, I still did the same thing this summer as I've done for years, and alas, no babies' diapers to change. Strange, this change, or lack thereof. Smooth is stranger than friction, it seems.

So, what the heck can I learn from this?: Sad is the journey only validated by milestones. The journey of 1,000 miles not only has a 1st step, but also a 749,531st step. Is that step going to suck? I'm not exactly sure how many steps it would take to walk 1,000 miles, but I'm pretty sure it would take more than that... assuming a 3-foot stride, of course. I'm sure one could do the math, but I'm not going to. Anyway, Life is not only about reaching goals, it's also about reaching; it's not only about winning races, it's about racing; it's not only about changing diapers, but filling them as well. From the right perspective, some pains can be pleasures. i.e.: work becomes working out, etc. You don't have to look to the future to find meaning when real Meaning can be found in simple, seemingly mundane, everyday activities. Life, the way it is right now, is worth living.

-Alex

Wednesday

Cha cha cha changing

We have been cruel to you my kindred shark friendlies, and I apologize for it. Summer has definitely caused a decrease in our current "blog output level," which has left many of you starving for a tantalizing morsel of well thought verse. Tis' time that your salivation ceases. Unfortunately, you might still have to wait until Alex adds his 2 million cents ($20,000 for those of you playing along at home) until that time, perhaps my scant offering will suffice.

Consider the last 24 hours. Congratulations. You were just offered numerous ways to change yourself, others, and the course of your life. Most of the time you were barely cognizant of the decisions proffered. Opportunity didn't simply knock; it was firing cannon balls at your front door. This being the case, I don't blame you for not answering.

I've often heard people complain at restaurants that there are "too many choices," it really doesn't surprise me that many would prefer to attribute change to powers outside there control. This way, if the "meal" isn't to our liking, we can conclude that, "well hey, I didn't order it, so Im not responsible for enjoying it." We can all be miniature critics of "fate," or "providence," or whatever we attribute to deciding the course of our lives. This is an enormously heavy burden off our shoulders! (Alex would say "phewf!") since a critic is rarely required to take something mediocre and improve upon it. Rather, their number one priority is to pass judgement on what is presented to them.

Pass judgement on providence? Yeesh. Sounds daunting.

But with all of these choices, and our apparent numbness to their quantity and frequency (perhaps cold ocean water is the culprit), it is essential to view each choice through the appropriate scuba mask (or lens for you landlubbers). In order to use a very pertinent example, let us briefly consider the lens of a follower of Christ.



Jesus Christ taught that the greatest commandment was first to love God, and then to love others as we love ourselves. Using this lens or paradigm, our choices can now be separated (for the most part) quite easily. At any moment what we say, think, or do can be tested by answering one question. Does this thought, word, or deed demonstrate that loving God is most important to me? Subsequently, does it demonstrate that I love others as I love myself? Thus this lens becomes a divider and filter for us and helps us to be consistent, faithful, and improving people. An honorable goal if there ever was one.

I understand that this technique is probably not foreign to you. In fact, I'm sure many of you could give me a lesson or two on good decision making. Example: once my older brothers convinced me to jump off a boulder into a pile of hay. A fine decision to be sure; except when the pile of hay turns out to be a hornets nest. My caring and brave older brothers made sure to pass along their sage advice of "run!" as they sprinted off to the wall that separated our house from the small dessert. Like I said; I am first in line for lessons on good decision making.

My goal is simply to encourage each of us to make sure that our scuba goggles are clear and untainted. This world can be a murky place; hence our need for the clearest lens is paramount. Beeeeee yourself. And make sure you've made a good decision about who exactly that is.

My love for you is like an ocean, inside of another ocean.

Dan

Thursday

Change

Do you have some to spare? Well you might not have any coin to give away at this moment (who likes carrying change anyway), but your life is probably full of another kind of change…the kind that could possibly be defined as “deviation or variation from one’s daily routine.” Change is constant… Each day is an adventure. In the words of the late Tupac, “That’s just the way it is. Things will never be the same.”


I have included this video as part of my post because it is super cool. Feel free to think about how it applies to change.





If you are anything like me, you probably have a hard time adjusting to changes at times. Our outlook, optimism, and ottitude (attitude doesn’t start with an “a” so I modified it) contribute to how we react to situations. Big or small, changes require us to adjust our lives. Moving to a new country, getting a new job, or switching from Yogurtland to Farr’s Frozen Yogurt … all these are just a few of the situations that may be classified as larger changes. These may require a bigger adjustment that may take more time. You may not want to change…you may not even like the change at first…and you may even try to resist the change…but then you realize: Not only can I get yogurt here, but I can also get ice cream and custard. So many delicious options!


In the gospel, we learn from Alma that we need to have a spiritual change of heart. After all, what is repentance but changing our heart. This can be a more difficult process than changing from white to wheat bread, but in the grand scheme of things we know the change is better for us. I think Winston Churchill speaks a lot of truth when he says, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” This goes with our underwear as well.


In general, why do we reject change so much? Why is it so hard to break out of our routines? Why do we insist on thinking that our way is the highway? Is it pride, fear, selfishness, or just an unbreakable desire to drive past that pothole on 100 E and 400 North? When it comes to change, I think we could all do a little better at embracing it instead of shying away from it… I know I can. So to all you sharky friends out there –Learn to embrace the good kinds of change (I am specifying the changes to be “good” because some of you crazies were getting some wacky ideas). In the words of Elder Wirthlin, “Come what may, and love it.”


Your friendly neighbor who is off to medical school soon,

Chris

Friday

Independent Events

Some of you probably thought I had taken a hiatus from blogging in order to establish a more refined level of independence. Some of you are right! We will just never know which of you that is. But all of you are great!

I believe the following image to be as much a part of independence as salt in the ocean, the shaky weight and big biceps, charity and service, Chris and sportscenter, etc.


If you don't know how independence and this picture are interrelated, you have a long six months to wait before you have a dream of finding out. Perhaps you should try one of those independence refining vacations too.


Concerning independence, it really boils (for some reason fish despise this word) down to agency. We have been given the freedom to make choices as we desire. This reaches far beyond the choice to eat old fish sticks in your apartment rather than head home for a good meal. Now that we have been blessed with complete freedom to choose, the purpose of discipleship is to show that with complete independence in choice, we choose to demonstrate our dependence on God. Its irrefutable that we are dependent on him. We are. The end. El fin. Romeo and Juliet are dead...etc. From the good books, the word "nothingness" comes to mind. What we choose is to recognize our dependence and live accordingly. i.e. Being humble.


So don't let all that independence go to your head. Yes, stop living off your parents and show some backbone. (I actually detest backbones when I'm eating fish but I've never had that complaint about sharks.) Learn how to develop good strong relationships with your family where you play the role of a contributor to their well-being. But remember that you live by grace.

Your friend of refined independence,
Daniel

Sunday

Independence

No. I am not referring to the BYU football team. And no I am not referring to the Day either. But both the aforementioned things can give us insight into what the word “independence” means. One thesaurus states that “freedom” is a synonym of independence. In the BYU football sense of the term, the team is free to play whatever team they want, whenever they want. But there is a little hitch to this freedom… there are still consequences to the actions of the football team (and no, I am not talking about the personal decisions of the football players, but the actions of the team as an organization). The team can’t just play Provo High every week, beat them by 100, and then go to the national championship every season (that little trick is reserved only for the SEC). BYU still has to schedule quality opponents every week and win in order to progress on the football totem poll (so I just realized I said I wasn’t referring to the BYU football team…and then I wrote this whole paragraph about the BYU football team. Sorry. All of my sentences can be considered independent of each other. They make their own decisions about what they are going to say…sort of). Now on to the meat. Let’s talk independence in the post high school sense.

Everyone has to go through the stage in life where they have to leave their parents. This event happens in all shapes and forms, whether gradually or abruptly, when you are 18 or when you are 30, etc, etc, etc. We are going to refer to it as the time when a young lad or lass moves out of their house (even though true independence probably comes earlier or later than that). In a lot of cases, leaving home is accompanied by a lot of joy. But sooner or later, every young adult realizes how comfortable (in most cases) home really was. An independent soul realizes that food doesn’t just appear on the table anymore, for example. This shock to the system takes a little bit to get used to.


In my experience, I have seen that people get more and more independent as time passes. They get past that initial food problem and figure out how to nourish their bodies more effectively. They begin to make their own day-to-day decisions without having to ask everyone and their dog’s opinion. They begin to develop their routine with school, work, social life, etc. Basically, they begin to not “depend” so much upon parents, or even other people.


But is there such as thing as becoming too independent? Well I know of some wise men that have said it is harder to get married as you get older because the marriage relationship requires a high level of unselfishness. Could it be harder to be unselfish with independence? I think it could be. Just some food for thought for those of you with hungry brains.


Tu amigo,

Chris

Re-Impress

So I bet most of you were wondering when I was going to throw in some sports analogies to spice things up a bit. As you all may know, I love sports…shocker, I know. So let’s talk Tiger Woods for a second… For those of you who live in a box, Tiger Woods is a golfer. And he is really, really good. Now imagine someone taking a long, metal pole and hitting a little white ball with it. But imagine doing to better than anyone else. Pretty cool, eh? After that scientific explanation of the game of gold, let’s get on to our story of Mr. Woods. So you probably either hate the man or love him. If you can think back to 2 or 3 years ago, the majority of the golf fan world loved Tiger Woods (1. Yes. Contrary to popular belief, there are golf fans. 2. If you are wondering whether golf is a sport or not, we’ll discuss that in another session. 3. Yes again. I do think these little blog posts can appropriately be termed sessions). Back to the nitty gritty. If you lived anywhere on this earth you heard that Mr. Woods cheated on his wife many times, blah blah blah. You know the story. This man, who we held up in such high esteem for his superb skill on the golf course, killed his reputation in one weekend when the media told the world of Tiger’s personal life (Well he killed his reputation when he made bad choices…but when the world found out about the bad choices, many people didn’t think so highly of him. But that doesn’t mean you should do bad things as long as you don’t get caught. Alex will probably find out somehow, because he is kind of sneaky, and he will punch you in the face. And you should be good regardless or irregardless or gardless. And God knows all. All these parentheses keep sidetracking me).

It takes many years to build up trust, but it only takes a second to destroy it. Mr. Tiger is arguably the best golfer to ever play the game. He impressed the world with his play week after week. And then BAM! Perhaps some will never be able to respect him again.

Now of course, I believe in the power of repentance and the Atonement. I still will like Tiger Woods for his superior golf skill…but the moral of the story is this – It takes a long time to build people’s trust…and once you lose it, you will have a tough time earning it back. Now Mr. Woods is in a tough position because of the glaring spotlight that follows him around. But in the end it is always best to choose the right. Be honest about who you are or everyone might think you are a big fat liar the rest of your life (4. No, I don't think fat people are all liars.) End of story.

Stay away from dangerous sharks...and liars,

Chris

Monday

Worst Impressions

They say you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. You really only get one chance to make second impressions, too. As far as third impression go, the jury's still out.
But this begs the question that first impressions are important. The first time I met one of my closest friends, he was a total jerk to me! (I'll let you speculate as to which of my friends it is... it's probably you... unless you're a girl. I gave that part away) Luckily, the majority of subsequent impressions have been quite pleasant.
I do remember it, though. If it's memory you're worried about, by all means, worry about first impressions. Psychologically, first, last, and deviant impressions will stick in your mind the longest, but usually it's the consistent impressions that matter the most emotionally.

In my experience, the first impressions are the worst impressions, especially when an impression is trying to be made. If the impression I was trying to make were an accurate representation of myself, then I guess I wouldn't have to try too hard. Right?! This calls into question the validity and efficacy of job interviews and blind dates (or the opposite of a blind date: a date based solely on sight). It baffles me that often the presumed remedy to not knowing anyone you'd like to take on dates is to ask someone out that you don't know. I'm truly baffled.
One of the worst ways to get to know someone: take them on a date. That is, of course, unless you plan on swapping shoes and going on a walk for at least a mile. Why???: girls show their true colors when they're wearing uncomfortable shoes. and for the girls: you can tell a lot about a guy by the socks he wears (if you've done this right, his feet won't fit in your shoes) What does this say about the women's no-shows I often wear?: I'm in touch with my feminine side. What side is that? No more questions! This is getting too personal. But I'm definitely not an ambidexter.

Brief and initial impressions like dates and interviews usually give us time to hide the negative parts about ourselves. Familiarity usually takes people off their guard and allows us to see each other as we really are. This is what C. S. Lewis says about that:
"...surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is. Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth. If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light."
So, we've all got rats. Hiding them may make a better impression, but it'll also keep 'em around. Rat's love dark, dank, and dishonest corners. A brief review of our honesty posts might be in order.

Real impressions take time. I put a lot of time into the bum impression on the driver's seat in my car. I'm proud of the body shaped impression on my bed; I've devoted nearly a third of my life to that nook. And, I'm pretty sure I'm responsible for at least one of the impressions on the stairs in the BYU library.

So don't worry so much about immediate and superficial impressions! Quit rehearsing answers; Don't wear so much makeup; Stop working out so much. If the consistent impression you leave while your guard is down isn't that impressive, looks like you've got other things to worry about that will be or have been addressed in other posts.

Here's the challenge: The next time you're talking to someone, stop thinking about what you're going to say next, and really listen.

A swimming friend,
Alex

Tuesday

First Impressions

Wrong. I'm not talking about throwing the first punch! Although if Alex threw that punch it might be your first and last impression...on you face. Like this:




Some of you are possibly using this picture to symbolise your last relationship, job, boxing match, or run-in with bad mexican food. All of these uses are appropriate.

However, for the purposes of this post we will be using the picture as comic relief and nothing more. It's interpretation is left to your volition. You're welcome.

Now I want to share with you a lesson I learned that left me quite impressed.

After a scuffle between two of my siblings, my brother told my Mom he was sorry. My Mom wisely replied, "Come back when sorry is accompanied with a plan."

(Yes, I'm quoting my own mother yet promising you this is not a Mommy blog.. feel free to use the picture above as a depiction of your feelings right now.)

When we are trying to be good friends, good family members, good citizens, or just good people, it is inevitable that we will find plenty of opportunities to apologize. Regardless of your situation, I am certain that you have already had an opportunity today to apologize to someone.

Since apologies are used so frequently, there is danger that through repetition they will begin to lose their meaning. This holds true for our apologies to both men and God (feel free to substitute "repenting" for "apologies" in the case of the latter.) A true apology requires a plan of action or change of course.

So my finvitation to you is that next time you are about to say "sorry" (and assuming you are NOT playing the board game sorry, which teaches principles contrary to those we have discussed above) consider how that apology is going to be accompanied by a change in yourself.

Just keep swimming friends,

Dan

Friday

Hactions Speak Louder than Whords

Actions don’t really speak. Let’s just clear that up right now. Those little voices that you may claim to be hearing when you are all alone…those aren’t real. However, everything we do, or don’t do, or do do, communicates something about us (So if you are confused about the last “do do”, I just wanted to write doodoo in a sentence so you would either say it in your head or out loud…preferably out loud). I heard some statistic one time…I don’t remember the percentages but most of our communication is non-verbal. If you think about it, half-infinity people see you every day and never have a conversation with you. However, each of these people conjures up some kind of judgment about you. Part of their judgment most likely comes from the different behaviors we exhibit.


But we don’t really want to dwell on the people that don’t know us. Even the people that know us well communicate with us through non-verbal means. As Ursula reminds us in The Little Mermaid, “And don’t underestimate the importance of body language! Ha!”


Our actions can communicate our feelings very strongly and should correspond with our words. If you punch someone in the face that you hate…well…you might have anger issues…but at least you are getting the correct message across to them. If you smooch them, they might be a little confused when you later tell them that you utterly loathe them. Actions can be the facial expressions we use, the smooches we give, or even the things we don’t do. In a relationship, if Doug fails to tell Lisa that he likes her, Lisa may only be hearing, “He/She hates me.” A little dramatic? Yes. But it happens. I am sure you can think right now of 435 examples of a situation similar to this one.


So back to my main point of writing this whole bloggy post… Make sure our actions and our words coincide so that the message is clear. If relationships are started with honesty, I feel like it is easier to continue on the honest path to awesomeness…and when I say “awesomeness,” I mean success.


Honestly, this post took me forever. I started over a couple times, then when I was almost finished I accidently deleted it... So I had to tell my computer my true feelings. Have no fear...it was for the better. And now I have to go apologize to my computer.


Your Amigo,

Chris

Ponesty

Not to be outdone by our adoring public, this shark boy recently followed the advice of his aquatic friendly. I encourage you to do the same. Team honest sure has some perks!

I am almost certain that you were surprised to discover that Alex has friends that have been dead for over 221 years. I believe you should refer to "Obsession pt. 2" and his "Dino-buddies." That might clear up the confusion, or perhaps leave you pleasantly confused.

Time to call out the sea dogs..

Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, speaking, living, and loving. The average fish would agree that being honest would include not stealing. However, even a fellow shark can be ensnared in an even more pernicious form of thievery.

The sweet swan of Avon once quilled the following:


Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

Othello, act 3, scene 3, lines 157–61

When is the last time you participated in a conversation that tore at the good name of someone else? Are we otherwise docile beasts who transform at the slightest taste of someone else's blood in the water? (That might have been a bit gruesome, but I believe it conveys the sentiment accurately.) (Also, please do not falsely conclude this is a vampire reference. We put those beautiful bloodsuckers behind us DAYS ago!)

Isn't it odd how material theft is the primary concern of humanity? Or should we say materialism and leave it at that?

There are far too many people who need character building to waste time tearing others down.

And so the invitation for us stands: Next time you see these elusive thieves going about their business, call it out. Send them home empty handed. As with so many other things in life, learning how to be honest about material things is only the first tiiiiny baby step towards genuine, disciple-esque honesty.

Your friendly shark boy,

Dan

Thursday

Honesty

News Flash: We're all a bunch of liars!
A good friend of mine once said: "Half the truth is often a great lie." That friend: Benjamin Franklin. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or it ain't really that true. ask any judge.
I was recently in a situation which is far too common a situation, I think. Talking of matters of the heart with a lady, I realized that I was strategizing what I was going to say based on the type of reaction I thought it would evoke. Withholding some feelings, exaggerating others. Plotting and planning my next moves as if by a secret playbook. Like I was in a competition... on the offensive... the ball in my court, I needed to hit it hard and good, perhaps with a little bit of spin. That way I can win! right? I kind of felt like a spy, too; keeping the intel safe from the enemy... this enemy I secretly wanted to smooch on.
Does anyone else see the problem here? Am I too presumptuous in thinking that I'm not the only one who does this? Do we not often refer to courtship (the most morally applicable social dynamic, in my opinion) as "The Game"? Competition and honesty seem mutually exclusive to me. Of course, I'm sure if I prove whatever point I'm trying to make in any of these situations, she'll fall for me. 'Cause when someone proves me wrong, all I want to do is smooch 'em!

This Just In
: We should be more honest with each other.
Like another one of my good friends once said: "Honesty is the best Ponesty." He wasn't much for slant-rhymes, I guess.
I'm tired of playing on the opposing team of the very people I'd also like to smooch. And no, I'm not considering that type of team-swap. Same team, but I still plan on playing a different position. Get your mind out of the gutter and consider this: Isn't it much more likely to get a bum-slap from a teammate than an opponent? I'm talking about the team of honesty! It's time we start saying what we feel even when it's uncomfortable. Babes love dudes with feelings... or so they tell me. Of course, this goes for the girls too. Dudes appreciate honest feedback and reciprocation.
A caution for all of us: There are always exceptions. Some things should be kept to ourselves. This ain't no invitation to say everything you think without any filtration just because the Shark Boys told you you could. Saying everything you feel might be uncalled for and a little creepy. But that doesn't mean that creepy is always bad, for, creepy turns into cute when it's successful. Just remember the Golden Rule: Creep onto others only as much as you would be creeped upon. And here's a little rule that will keep your honesty honest: Be honest for the other person's sake, not yours.

This post's challenge: The next time you think something nice and no more than mildly creepy about someone, but hesitate for comfort's sake, say it... to that person. Report back once you've completed your task.

Your buddy... watching you through your window... right now...,
Alex

Monday

Obsession cont.

Fear not kindred blog following spirits! I intend to provide the emotional cut of cold steak for those painful shiners. I know. You have probably just finished taking down your life sized Jacob and Edward cutouts, called the cable company and told them to discontinue sports center, and have determined to never discover who receives that final rose. We award you 50,000 shark points for your herculean effort. (Unfortunately ladies and gents, even Hercules himself probably could not have stopped reading this blog. I guess we will all deal with that obsession later.)

Congrats! You have just finished the easiest part, and you have the emotional bruises to prove it! I'm sure Brother Norris is smiling down from Ranger heaven.

In the words of Metroman, "Lets get real for a minute."

If we ask ourselves to list three things that we should give up in order to become better, I'm confident that it would take us almost no time (we did just earn a load of shark points after all.)

Then if its so easy to list these things, what holds us back?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "We should remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent. So motivated, we will seek for that condition where we have overcome the evils of [our lives] and lost every desire for sin."

Remember that list we just made in our minds? Those are our righteous desires! This is why real hope and faith is essential to our making lasting change in our lives.

To quote Atlas himself, "move over hercules." The effort required to relinquish obsessions/addictions is nothing to shake a stick at. But lets just keep in mind who we are serving, and I promise the burden will be lighter.

Adieu from your friendly neighborhood blogger,

Dan

Sunday

obsessions pt.2

Whoa... alright. I don't know about you guys, but I'm seriously reevaluating my life right now. Some of those jabs gave me emotional shiners. Looks like my Twilight obsession will have to take a back seat to... to... Oh, I just can't! How could I possibly get this face out of my mind?!

Am I right ladies?!

Ok, that's enough. gross. I'm sorry. Now I feel sticky, and super mommy.
I was at D.I. the other day, and the woman in front of me at the checkout had a stack of books, the top of which was entitled "I want a Texas Ranger" and it had a picture of a cowboy with his shirt off. Blech! that gives me the jibblies!... a-jibbly-jibbly-jibbly... She was even wearing a wedding ring! how can anyone even justify that? I don't care how much you want a Texas Ranger, if his name ain't Walker, there's no excuse. Besides, he would never stoop to the level of romance novels. Trust me, we're buddies. he told me... and then he ripped a romance novel in half. through the pages.

What's funny to me is when people talk about their obsessions as if they're proud of them:
"no seriously, if I don't have my Diet Coke, I'm such a grumpy-head, like all day. it's so funny!"
...you know who you are.

Well done, Chris! No punches held.

I'll close with my obsession confession. It might be healthy for you to do the same in the comments.
-I am obsessed with dinosaurs. Sometimes I neglect real people because I feel like all I need are my Dino-buddies. Recognizing the problem is the first step. take it with me.

Your real-life buddy,
-Alex

Obsessions

This post is intended to be a change from the joviality of the previous posts. Although popular demand might not agree with this change, I want to prepare of audience for the emotional rollercoaster that we would like for you to experience along with us.


One of my fears for starting a blog was that I would initially become obsessed, writing long posts and including pictures of every event of my life. It would without a doubt be added to the list of 4 or so websites I feel a need to visit each time I enter the wide, wide world of webs (oh blessed facebook). However, the bigger fear I had was that the blog obsession would follow the pattern that most of my obsessions follow - the initial onslaught of effort put forth shortly followed by a period of neglecting, or possibly forgetting completely, the once beloved obsession. Obsessions that don’t fade away are a 9-letter word known as an addiction (the “9-letter word” part is not too significant, so don’t get stuck on that).

Obsessions, of course, take on many shapes and forms. The idea of blogging is just a good example to start with, for obvious reasons (if these reasons are not apparent, please consult the same physician as before). A prime example of obsessions is seen in the frozen yogurt industry, a.k.a. “froyo”, for the younger, hipper crowd. There are approximately half infinity frozen yogurt places in Provo, UT. Another obsession is seen with girls and their desire for diet coke (this one might be an addiction as opposed to an obsession) – “jab”. Another is boys and their sports (this one I will defend to the death – try me). TOMS shoes, Abercrombie & Fitch (an obsession for some people probably 10 years ago), World of Warcraft, anything from Anthropology, Words With Friends, shool, Michael Low, Angry Birds, The Bachelor, aspects of the dating life - I could keep this list going for days, and I will, but not here.

Everyone has his or her favorite obsession(s). I don’t believe there is a magical formula to decide whether a specific activity or thing is an obsession. However, I do know some signs of having an obsession – it consumes your life, you can’t live without it, you can’t go a full day without doing it, etc. (This excludes all things that you should do or have every day).


I have a neighbor. He says the following (roughly quoted), “I don’t have time. I am just so busy.” Come to find out he spends roughly 6 hours per day playing video games. It also doesn’t help that the poor boy has very poor social skills and little awareness of others, but that is a discussion for another time.


There are 2 words that helps me in life: priorities and balance…and smart choices…and smart buying…and practicality…and adventure, too….and some good leisure time. Well, I don’t really know completely where this is going, but it helps me to keep my life in check every once in a while. In the end, I have to ask myself…if Michael Low were here, would he do this?


Tu amigo,

Chris

Saturday

A blog for the people pt. 2

I'm not sure how much i can add to this one. I didn't really contribute to the comments... at all! granted, her foot is not a face... I just assumed she missed the memo. However, that is a pretty big foot! scroll down and take a second look. it may actually be a mask. who knows? If that's the case, joke's on us.

If you'd like to know a little about Michael K. Low, I'm sorry the wide, wide world of webs still ain't big enough to capture MKL in all his splendor. That's why he neither has a facebook nor footbook page. Smelling chocolate cake without being able to have a taste is just mean. I'll give you a waft, but I'll use two popular tv/film personalities which will describe his personality, physique, and charisma better than words could (and because he doesn't have facebook to steal pictures from.) He's kind of a mixture of these two fellows:

Any questions? If some of my descriptions above led you to believe he was a black man, I'm sorry. But that still wouldn't be too far from the truth (you should see this kid play basketball.)
if any of you were offended by my racial stereotypes, get over it; this blog brings it hard and fast. no reservations.
That's all you're getting from me. If you'd like it straight from the source, and are willing to give it up to 10 tries since I promised I wouldn't put his full number on the wide, wide world: 801-380-464# (trust me, it's worth the discomfort)

Yikes! I gotta go-- He's on to me!

-Alex