Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Media Freedom

Something happened today that I thought I'd never see. I never expected to see it, not because it was technically difficult, but because too much money is riding on it. Thomas Nelson publishers sent me a book to review called Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain. The review will probably be up in a week, but that's not the news. What couldn't wait is my introduction to Nelsonfree. (www.thomasnelson.com/nelsonfree)

Because I had the hard copy version of the book, I was invited, even encouraged to also pull an e-book version or an audio format of the same material! Did you get that? They gave me the e-book copy for my iPhone Kindle and an MP3 Version for my iPod! What a deal.

Maybe you are aware of other publishers or Thomas Nelson even and how they've been doing this since ancient history, but I just became aware of it and I'm one happy puppy.

Thanks Thomas Nelson and @MichaelHyatt and the authors and other publishers that participate in a program like this. I'll be doing more business with you on purpose for sure. In fact, since I want so many different titles at any given time, I can practically guarantee I'll pick the Nelsonfree item over the others in the list every time! Finally, a rational mind has entered the book publishing world.

Photo: Sticking Together by Michael Heiss

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quality Of Life

How can you improve the quality of your own life? What factors are most important to you as you judge the "quality" of your life?

Quality is an individual measurement. For example, I value the quality of an automobile by comparing it's total cost of ownership to the benefit received over the useful life of the vehicle. Others value quality as the absence of defects. So, when a polling entity tells me that a car is "first in initial quality," I don't put much stock in their opinion. I don't value "initial quality" as much as "life-cycle quality."

Quality for me is a measure of value. "Quality of life" is the degree of success you have exchanging your minutes for experiences. If the experiences are beneficial, you might conclude that you've had a quality life. As our minutes become fewer, as the time ticks by, fewer things grab your attention. Quality experiences are typically the fewest things, the things left when very, very few minutes remain. The time spent in those activities is referred to as "quality time." So your exchange rate equals valuable experiences divided by the minutes used (Q=Ve/M). Your Quality or the benefit you receive determines the value of your moments; and the sum of the value of your moments equals your value of life. You set the value. The value of anything is what someone will give for it and in the end you will have given everything. Think about it.

So what are you giving your life for? What are you getting in return? Are the experiences temporary? What do they cost? A candy bar costs me 20 minutes on a treadmill! Is it worth it? The treadmill time has other benefits (feeling good, adding minutes by making my heart stronger, etc.). But think about a candy bar costing 20 minutes or more and that might help you make a different choice.

So which experiences are truly valuable? How do you measure the value of an experience? Part of the reason I believe in Jesus and the Bible is because it seems to me to line up with the truth. Many people value time with family and friends. Many people believe it is good to help others, but most also agree that helping others with selfish motives is bad. Our founders held that some truths were self-evident. I believe God designed the fabric of every human being weaving it with the idea that helping others is a quality activity. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself." He also said we are to store treasure up in heaven where it won't be destroyed or stolen, because where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Christ claimed that helping others lasted for eternity. Everything else will just melt away.

This year, I'm listing the experiences that are important to me. I've never been much of a goal setter, but this year I purpose not to fail. I've written the list and I'm monitoring it. I'd like to help more people this year than ever before.

How about you? Have you written such a list? Will you let this time of your life pass without living it on purpose? You're giving your life. What are you getting for it?


Sunday, March 15, 2009

This Is Your Brain On Joy

Can some of our "spiritual" problems actually be caused by brain malfunction? Can we blame our spiritual problems on our brain? Dr. Earl Henslin delivers an entertaining, informing, and interesting work on this challenging topic.

His book, This Is Your Brain On Joy: A Revolutionary Program for Balancing Mood, Restoring Brain Health, and Nurturing Spiritual Growth, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers is a surprising work on a difficult topic. Certainly there is no shortage of scientists (and wannabe scientists) who assert there is nothing spiritual going on in the brain. And just as certainly, there is no shortage of Christians (or followers of other religions) who are constantly on guard against thoughts that everyone is a victim of biological malfunction. I must confess, I happen to tend toward the latter camp. I tend to beieve we find too many "scientific" excuses for our sin.

But Dr. Henslin makes a compelling case for how our minds affect our attitudes, actions and responses. Our mind processes information and reacts according to how it's wired. If the wiring is faulty, it will react in a faulty but consistent manner. He sets forth the arguments based on years of study with Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD, a world renown neuroscientist, pioneer in brain imaging research, author of over thirty professional papers and twenty-two books. But he also bases his case on biblical principles and even uses some of the science to verify those same principles.

The book opens with a very descriptive layman's description of the brain and the areas to be discussed. He shows SPECT scans (single photon emission computer tomography) which highlight the areas of brain activity. For several years, Dr. Amen has been scanning patients in different situations to find patters in brain activity linked to different chemical reactions within the body. The book contains many photos illustrating the findings. Dr. Henslin keeps his descriptions at a level most can understand. He makes clear, sometimes even humorous, analogies to real-life comparisons with everyday language in a way as to keep the average reader awake and engaged.

After the initial explanation of the brain's areas and function, the book presents test to see which areas of the brain you might address. There is a general chapter on therapies, foods, and behaviors, called Joy Boosters, that should help improve any of the mood areas and the the next five chapters of the book discuss the five mood areas specifically. If you have a particular tendency, you can concentrate on those areas of most interest to you or read straight through.

The mood section is followed with a chapter on joy from the spiritual perspective using the book of Philippians as a guide. As a Christ-follower himself, the author brings together the arguments of the science-only group and the bible-only group in one chapter that addresses what the bible says about joy. A healthy mind still must deal with issues of joy due to our fallen sin nature too. Dr. Henslin explains his belief "that science and spirituality go hand in glove: God created our brains and our bodies to respond positively and in healing ways." Dr. Henslin shows the six secrets of joy from this small epistle from the apostle Paul; secrets we should be using to experience joy and glorify God without regard for any specific brain condition.

The book closes with three appendices. The first is titles The Day I Had My Head Examined; a first hand account of the SPECT imaging and analysis performed on Becky Johnson, collaborator on the book. She candidly describes her background, her thoughts, the procedure and the result. The book is filled with specific examples of other people whose lives were changed dramatically by the diagnoses made using the SPECT scans. This first-hand account helps bring the point home and provides an appealing perspective.

I highly recommend the book. My wife and I both appreciate the information provided as it applied differently to each of us but it also helped from both of our perspectives on 26 years of marriage and behavioral patterns. We're thankful to the authors and the publisher for having the courage to address both extremes of the physical / spiritual argument and reach informed conclusions.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Charrise McCrorey - Full Out And Fearless

I recently had a coaching session with Charrise McCrorey, also known on Twitter as @CoachCharrise. Her website is Full Out & Fearless (www.fulloutandfearless.com). She and I met through Twitter and Steve Chandler (another Fearless friend). First of all, know that Charrise can help you focus your life so that you really do live a full out, fearless life.
Early in our conversation we found that we have some common background. Unlike many "coaches" today, her expertise isn't in how to use the web. Charrise has first hand experience in sales and other job functions in quite a few industries. Amazingly, she even has some background in my industry, the logistics business. Her experience is practical, too. She won't be telling you about something she read on someone else's blog!
Charrise then listened through more monologue than I care to admit. She asked questions that got to the heart of issues in my background very quickly. After the monologue, she made some recommendations that were really questions for me to answer for myself. She left me with 6 questions that helped focus my mental energy and bring clarity to my situation. Rather than telling me stuff I already knew, she helped me focus on just the gaps. The time I spent talking with her was very helpful. It went by very quickly.
Follow @CoachCharrise! Just do it. You won't regret knowing her. She brings value to people, something we can all use. Thanks Coach.