Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stress Management

Sunday Morning Sermon Feb 23 2014 (submitted by Graham Koch)

STRESS Management
A young lady confidently walked around the room while reading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question: 'half empty or half full?'..... She fooled them all... "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced.

So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later, after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now 'supposed' stress that you've conquered!"

Remember, STRESS is something we do to ourselves!
1 * Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their makers...

5 * If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can't push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15 * You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Division for Dummies

Sunday Morning Sermon - Feb 9 2014

Division is one of the four basic math functions that we started learning when Ms Dissanaike in 3C at RPS took us through the basics of Elementary Arithmetic. What we have come to understand, since then, is that division (÷) is basically an arithmetic operation where,
a ÷ b = c
a/b = c
b is not

where, a is the  numerator, b is the denominator and c is the quotient, and where if c has a fractional value attached to it, that is called the remainder.

Conceptually, division describes two distinct but related settings. Partitioning involves taking a set of size a and forming b groups that are equal in size. The size of each group formed, c, is the quotient of a and b

Then there are all sorts of other divisions that take place involving people, homes, businesses, towns, cities, and even nations.
The Bible Thumpers usually quote, 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 which states,
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

The Qur'an has its own share of verses dealing with creation and division, a significant one of which is 49:13 that states, when translated,
'O humankind! Surely, We Have Created you from a single male and female, and made you into tribes and families so that you know one another'

The Baghvad Gita 3:10, when translated states,

'In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Vishnu, and blessed them by saying, "Be thou happy by this 
because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation'

In the five fold path preached by Buddhism the first two refer to,

'I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing.'
'I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.'

On top of all that spiritual stuff basic common sense also teaches us that the good of the whole will improve the good of the individual, and vice versa. In other words working as a single unit for the betterment of self and community should be the primary goal of every single creature on our planet.

So, even with all this religio-common sense brain washing that every single human receives from conception to grave, from where did this concept of division enter into the human mind? Why did they start establishing groups and sects that emphasized on differences and separation which has subsequently resulted into hatred and violence?

The world is a large place and humanity has spread far and wide, choosing to live in various different cultures and societies, nurtured by beliefs, rituals, and laws. The intent of most of these edicts must have certainly been to establish some form of disciplinary structure within the populations if these groups in order to maintain peace, comfort, and justice.

At the end of the day, after having sojourned for hundreds of thousands of years man has now arrived at the crossroads where he seeks to divide rather than come together. All the factors of his environment, culture, society, religion and worship, have only persuaded him to destruction and chaos rather than construction and unity. Even in highly developed societies of the first world there still are the red necks, rightists, and fanatics, who seek this hatred and enmity over love an cordiality.

When one looks back through history it is crystal clear that division of people and nations, even based on the protection, safety, and rights of a people, has only reaped more hatred, enmity, death, and destruction, across the globe. Yet, we see some folks opting to divide and separate rather than reconcile and survive within a mixed group, irrespective of wjether they are a majority or a minority.

Pakistan and Bangla Desh are prime examples of how people have been subjected to a totally worthless state purely because their so called "wise" leaders led them into partitioning from India. he unification of East and West Germany has seen the emancipation of both nations as one people in recent times.

So, seeking more division and partition within the established structures at the present point  of time does not appear 

to bring us any additional value at all. One way of finding out, democratically, whether a nation must divide or stay as a 

single on, is to ask all of its people in a referendum.

Imagine going to the polls in Chennai, Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab, or Hyderabad, in India seeking this mandate. What do you think the people of these states will vote for? Divide and fall or stay as they are and survive?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Men Without Manners

Sunday Morning Sermon - February 2 2014

There used to be a time when we were taught, purely by default, watching our parents, elders, teachers, and other community members speak, act, and behave. What we learned from this was basic ethics, manners and decency which was quite the norm in the 50's and 60's. Since childhood, I can recall, my parents beating into me that "Manners Maketh Man". I understood that to mean, that good people had good manners and bad people had bad ones.

Of course there were always rascals, miscreants, thugs, hoodlums, and gangsters in every era. Yet, the basic people that one encountered in those times, in a normal day, were truly commendable in their behavior, attitudes, and personalities.

How often do you see men holding the door of vehicles and entrances for others to pass? Where do you see offerings of help without even being asked? We always stood up and gave our seat to a lady in the bus, irrespective of whether she was a young hot teen in a mini skirt or an ageing mama in a Saree. You rarely see people standing up for a pregnant woman or even a person carrying an infant these days.

Many men, in today's global world, have this despicable habit of dropping their underwear to the floor and leaving it there for someone else to pick up after they change. They rarely make their beds when they wake up. They litter their food all around the plate when they sit to eat. They rarely wash what they use. How many have you seen leaving the cupboard and drawer doors open after they have fetched something they need?

If someone walking in front of you on the sidewalk, inadvertently, dropped something you would pick it up and alert them immediately. How often do you see people assisting older folk wheel their shopping carts to their vehicles or giving a hand to lift something heavy?

What my Mum used to call manners, by definition, supported by her own behavior and by pounding into our young heads day in and day out, came to mean courtesy toward and respect for others, especially if they were adults or old folk.
That meant a polite hello to all my parents' friends, even the buxom Burgher lady, Ms Kelaart, who came every evening, swinging to and fro like a pendulum, to teach piano to the neighbors daughter, for whom we had to suppress a giggle.
A smile was expected to accompany the hello as though we were glad to see them. The response that came through was always very warm, cheerful, loving and kind. It brought about an aura of goodness even if the event lasted only for a moment or two.
Further, we were always expected to be standing until all the grown-ups had been seated at any event or location. My folks did that too, making sure their guests were comfortable. At that point there was an offer of something cool to drink.
This was Colombo long before shit hit the fan or even the fancy LG and Samsung AC's that blew in the coolness much later on. We were even taught to take the umbrella's and walking sticks from visitors to be placed in the enclosure meant for them that usually stood in one corner of our verandah. Serving the guests tea or Orange Barley was part of our job description.

On those special weekend occasions when the family went out to a restaurant, we always stayed in our seats throughout the meal. That's what children did. I notice now that kids bolt from their seats, race around and holler a lot making an utter nuisance of themselves. Family restaurant dining has become a playground for the restless.
Then there was the "thank you note" thing.

If a gift came for from someone whom we would not be likely to see and to thank in person, we had to sit at the dining room table with note paper and pen that Mum always had available, and write the obligatory note.

There were rules: 
We had to name the gift-givers, as in Dear Auntie This and Uncle That. Then 
we were required to name the proffered gift and say how much we would enjoy using (or wearing, reading) it. A final "thank you" and "love" ended the ritual. 
The note was addressed. licked, sealed and stamped and the envelope was deposited in the red post box that stood silently on the sidewalk along Galle Road in front of the Bamba flats.
How could we ever, as grown up adults, possibly forget any of these lessons?
But today I hear friends complaining that they have sent wedding gifts to young couples and months later still no thank you. The gift may have been something selected from the bridal registry. It now falls on the giver to check with the store to make sure it was sent.
Am I out of line thinking that not acknowledging a gift from maybe one of your mother's or father's friends, clients or business associates is rude and thoughtless behavior?
Whatever happened to manners? Has our frenetic, self-absorbed society given up on kindness, respect and consideration of others?

Our two Gals and Grand Kids have all been wormed and weaned by this mannerly imprinting, both, by my wife and I, throughout their lives and even continuing to do so to date. It surely is  an important part of a parent's job. Never a moment passes without us pointing out the right from the wrong to them, if and when we do encounter it every single day.

Perhaps somewhere out there a flock of courteous dodo birds are waiting politely to be summoned?


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Screwing up your Kids

[extracted from The Huffington Post]

Our children are the lights of our lives. We all start off as parents envisioning nothing but success, love and happiness for them. However, these dreams often do not manifest because they are not getting the important things they need to become disciplined, mature and motivated adults. The following are eight parenting f*ck-ups that will guarantee your child will suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, tense family relationships, problems with friends, low self-esteem, a sense of entitlement and chronic emotional problems throughout his or her life.
1. Ignore or minimize your child's feelings. If your child is expressing sadness, anger or fear and you mock them, humiliate them, ignore or tease them you minimize what they feel. You essentially tell them what they feel is wrong. When parents do this they withhold love from their child and miss opportunities to have open and vulnerable connections teaching them to bond and to know they are loved unconditionally.
2. Inconsistent rules. If you never talk about your expectations, you keep your child from knowing how to behave appropriately. Children live up or down to what you expect. Rules give them guidelines and boundaries to help them define who they are, good and bad. If you keep your child guessing and life is vague, they will begin to act out to find the boundaries themselves, which leads to low self-esteem and problem behavior.
3. Make your child your friend. Never share all your worries, concerns and relationship problems with your child or ask their advice. If you act helpless and defeated to your children they will never learn to respect you and will treat you as an equal or an inferior because you have used them for your own therapy. You must show your children you can stand up to problems, face your challenges and handle life through all the stress and come out on the other side. Be real, have your emotions, but do not burden your children.
4. Put down your child's other parent. If you never show affection and love to your partner/spouse in front of your child, the child does not develop a barometer for what love is or what it looks like. If you are always putting your spouse down and rejecting him/her, threatening divorce, you create a chronic state of anxiety for your child. If you are already divorced and you remain cold, distant, bitter, angry and blaming of your ex-spouse, you are sending the subtle message to your child that your ex-spouse is the cause of the divorce and you need to be the preferred parent. This is parent alienation.
5. Punish independence and separation. When we punish our children for growing up, we make them feel guilty for having normal developmental needs and desires which often causes deep insecurity, rebellion, cutting and other forms of behaviors that indicate failure to be able to branch out and be themselves as independent people.
6. Treat your child as an extension of you. If, as a parent, you link your own image and self-worth to your child's appearance, performance, behavior, grades and how many friends they have, you let them know they are loved not for who they are but for how well they perform and make you look good. This turns them into pleasers rather than doers, and they will always worry about being good enough.
7. Meddle in your child's relationships. Directing every action your child takes in their relationships -- from friends to teachers -- inhibits their maturity. For example, if your child gets in trouble at school and you immediately rush to talk to the teacher to get them off the hook, or you are constantly telling your child how to be a friend, as your child grows he/she will never learn to navigate the sharper edges relationships bring on their own.
8. Over-protect. When we protect our children from every problem and emotion, it creates a sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem that often crosses the line into narcissism. They expect life to be easier than it is. They want everything done for them no matter how they behave. They then become depressed and confused when they don't get what they believe they deserve.

Those Nosy Peeps

Sunday Morning Sermon - Jan 26 2014

People have always been the interfering kind, wanting to peep into other peoples lives and gossip about them, sometimes in very nasty and insulting ways.

Interference is always the culprit in most marital relationships, especially in Africa, Arabia, and Asian countries, where the culture of family and extended family is very dominant on peoples lives.

Indulging in gossip about other peoples private lives is another trait that is seen commonly in most of these regions. Sometimes the chatter can be harmless and just meant as a discussion topic between friends and family. In other cases it can also be harsh, hurtful, and horrible, where the intent of the source is not very honorable.
Prasan and his old school mate of over 50 years, Siva, are chatting on FB one evening.

Siva: "Machan, I was at a party the other day, I heard something about you which upset me badly. can I discuss it with you?"

Prasan: "sure"

Siva: "I heard your daughters marriage ended up in divorce. What happened. secondly you sold your house in Colombo to Ahmed? You have no plans of going back?"

Prasan: "yes, she was divorced in September, it was a mutual decision she and her husband made between themselves and they did not get into any unpleasant or difficult situations"

Siva: "I feel so sorry. Inwardly I feel so bad. You must be going through a lot of worries. I pray you find a way out."
Prasan: "No worries, alls well. Life must go on. People must make their decisions and live their lives as they seem best for themselves. We are all human. And there are 8 billion people on earth. Why cry cos of a few? They are professionals, they have their jobs, they are independent, and will survive"

Siva: "No Machaan, it is your family and your offspring. It is your happiness and your children come first. You must find a solution. you cannot leave without a solution."

Prasan: "what solution? is another marriage a solution? to what problem? isnt marriage the original problem? they are old enough to know whats good for them and they will manage their lives well"

Siva: "Between you and me, it was Mala's grand daughter's B'day party, Fonny, Albert, and Mohideen and I were there. I remember someone said that you had sold or rented your house to Sunil's wife's mother. I heard it as sold and then the failure of the marriage. I was shocked and had no clue. Topic was then changed but everyone was worried sick for you. Please keep this to yourself. I hope you are not upset that I discussed this topic. I know you for over 50 years and could not take up this news."

Prasan: "Well, we can do what we can do only for our kids, the rest is in their hands, and life is filled with so many variables, values, and viciousness these days, so they choose their own paths according to their thoughts and needs"
Siva: "yes, thats true, but these guys were kind of laying it on, over and over again as if to say you may be down in the dumps cos of this situation and I was really upset with what I heard"

Now, who is trying to be the nice guy here and also who is trying to portray who is not so very nice?
While friends and family may have true concerns for their own this type of chatter doesn't leave much god taste when one hears about it in this manner. The undertones are certainly not that well intended, in my view.

However, at least one gets a great opportunity to be able to understand and assess who is who when such information trickles down the grapevine.

It is fine if one can be concerned based on ones love for the other. But when it starts to drip into statements that seem to imply some form of pity and condolence of another, then it can be seen to be not so nice.