Monday, March 26, 2012

I am Introverted and I love It

I have been watching a video by Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

“Solitude matters, and for some people it is the air that they breathe.”
I have been able to fully identify myself with her.  Especially, when she opened that suitcase and pulled out all these books.  Reading has been a favorite pastime all my life.  I became more interested in identifying the different personalities after I participated in a seminar where Robert A. Rohm gave an enchanting presentation.
Definition of an introvert: 
An introvert  is typically more concerned with internal aspects of life and prefers thoughts and ideas over people and things.  An introvert recharges his energy by being in quietude.  That does not mean that he is shy, it’s just her interests are more in learning and listening.
I learned about introverts and extroverts:
Robert A. Rohm, the author of the personality insights presented his experiences by showing us the DISC model.  He teaches us that we are foremost Outgoing or Reserved people. The other classification is that we are either Task oriented or People oriented.  Obviously, there are many people who are multi-faceted but once we can understand the basic personality aspects it becomes easier to understand people.  Florence Littauer, in her book Personality Plus made similar observations.
Accept who you are:
We are all created as unique individuals.  For us to get along with others, it helps to understand ourselves and accept who we are.    I can see clearly where our society is breaking down.  If we just relate to each other horizontally, there is no connection and we don’t have a common base.  The only way we can see that link is by connecting vertically with our creator, God.  There, we discover universal principles.
Character or Personality?
We are born with a certain personality while we acquire character over our lifetime.  When we can live according to our given talents and are allowed by our parents and society to develop our God-given potential, we feel happy.  With the right kind of values and vision for our lives we can cultivate our character to become members of our society who are kind, serving and concerned for the welfare of all.
Opposites attract each other
When we talk about personality types we don’t value one over the other.  In fact we discover that opposite personalities attract each other.  The quiet, internal personality is attracted to the outgoing, people oriented person.  With right kind of understanding they complement each other and make best marriage partners or colaborate well together in the work place.  By striving to find our true self and accepting each other for who we are at the core we become more authentic.
Here are some of the 10 myths about introverts:
They embrace solitude.
They let their fingers do the talking. Expressing themselves through writing.
They express calmness in face of challenges.
They focus on depth.
They think first, talk later.
If you are an introvert, enjoy your solitude, your quiet times, and your books.  Or if you know an introvert let him have his private space.
An introvert is not depressed or negative when she wants to be alone.  Many gifted people are introverts: theologians and philosophers, scientists and inventors, explorers and researchers, just about quarter of our general population.  How do introverts manage in our so extroverted world?  Watch Ms. Cain’s video or read a book called The Introvert Advantage by  Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.
The real issue is that we understand that we were hardwired from birth to focus inward.  Isn’t it sometime more important to talk less but to communicate more?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Daylight Saving Time (DST) – Do we need it?

I am sure I am not the only one who gets confused by the idea of Daylight Saving Time (DST)   and wondered what is the purpose of changing the clock twice a year?  When I found out that on this day, March 19, 2012, in 1918, Daylight Saving Time (DST) was first put into law, I determined to learn more about its origin and purpose.

To my greatest surprise, it was not to benefit the farmers with extra hours for their outdoor activities.  Some people suggest that it was implemented by the politicians for greater voter turnout during election.  Others say that it helps the children being save and have the extra hour for trick-or-treat.  You may be surprised as I was when I found out that DST was first put into practice during WWI for the benefit of saving energy.  Over the years it was revised several times by congress.

What is Daylight Saving Time (DST)?

To lessen the confusion what to do when, people coined the phrase “Spring forward, Fall back.”  Now, we are turning the clock on hour forward at 2 a.m. on the 2nd Sunday in March.  The “Fall back” means we are turning the clock one hour back at 2 a.m. on the 1st Sunday of November which means we are returning to Standard Time.

Why do we have Daylight Saving Time (DST)?
Way back in 1784, Benjamin Franklin thought of the idea of saving daylight.  Ben Franklin swore by the “early to bed and early to rise” habits. He thought that people should not burn candles at night and still sleep past dawn in the summer.

Not until 1916 did all the allies of WWI adopted the clock-change in order to conserve coal, even though the United States did not adopt the practice until 1918. The theory is that by using daylight saves both fuel and energy. 
That might have been the case in the early 20th century but records show that with the use of air conditioning during the hot summer month we actually use more energy.  Some health experts also have evidence that because of the one hour time change more accidents happen at the work place and some people are prone to heart attacks and anxiety because the change interrupts workers' sleep cycles.

When was Daylight Saving Time first started? – History of DST
1784 – Ben Franklin had the idea of saving daylight
1916 - Germany started the use of DST and other European countries followed suit.
1918 – March 19th, DST implemented by the Standard Time Act of 1918

1966 – Congress passed the Uniform Time Act 1966
1973/74 - The importance of this practice was reinforced in 1973-74 during the OPEC oil embargo (in America, it was actually extended by two months due to the crisis).
2007 – Passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 hoped to save thousand of barrels of oil each day which extended the summer time 4 more weeks which means we “spring forward" on the 2nd Sunday of March and "fall back" on the 1st Sunday of November.

The question remains, do we really benefit from DST?  Since the practice of the change of time is not world-wide and countries closer to the equator don’t profit anyway (their days and nights are closer to the 12 hour mark), it will be a matter of personal preference.  One thing is for sure, you cannot fool the body.  By the circadian rhythm the body does not care what time it is on the clock.  It is the same as when we experience jet lag when we travel beyond our own time zone.  It takes some adjustment.
Whatever we humans do with the clocks or time changes, it does not affect the amount of daylight we have in a day; as long as we stay in our longitude.

To conclude my observation on the purpose of Daylight Saving Time, here are 12 more things you might not know about DST.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fat Makes You Fat - Myth ot Fact?

I don’t know where certain ideas start but that fat makes you fat is not a proven fact.  It seems that we are thrown from one extreme to another, especially regarding to what to eat. Most of these suggestions come from manufacturers which advertise for new products, many of them full of toxins and additives which are causing stress to our bodies, like hydrogenation of liquid oils, colorings, artificial sweeteners and other flavorings.  The fact with low-fat foods is that the manufacturers have to add sugar or other flavorings to baked goods and other prepared foods in order for them to be tasteful.  It is therefore the extra carbohydrates which make us fat.

First of all it is not fat that makes us fat but calories.  Fat contains more than twice as many calories per ounce as carbohydrates and protein; therefore making it an efficient source of energy.

Unfortunately, most low-fat products are then laden with sugar, MSG (monosodium-glutamate) or other chemical flavors.  Since we started the low-fat craze in this country about 30 years ago, obesity has become a plague, especially among children. 

Are there really Good Fats and Bad Fats?

Many divide the fats into good and bad fats with unsaturated fats being labeled good and saturated fats being bad.  A better way to look at fats is to understand where they came from and what their chemical structure is.  Our dietary fats come in form of triglycerides, each of them containing three fatty acid chains. 

There are short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs),
and long chain fatty acids (LCFAs).  The length of these fatty acids is very important because of the way our bodies metabolize these FAs. While most of the animal fats are LCFAs, Coconut oil is made of MCFAs.  The reason some classify LCFAs as bad is that they can lead to weight gain, raise cholesterol and cause cardio-vascular disease.

Why are fats necessary for our diet?

The basic fact is that we need fats in order to absorb the nutrients from the foods we eat.  The avoidance of fat in our diet is contributing to some degenerative diseases.

Some fats are called essential fatty acids that humans and animals must ingest because they are required for good health.

Why are Medium Chain Tryglycerides (MCT) more beneficial to us?
MCTs resemble carbohydrates more than they do fats.  They are also more water soluble. 

The benefit of MCFAs is that they don’t need any bile or enzymes for digestion.  Rather they go straight to the liver and can be used for immediate energy.

Why are Trans Fats so Bad?

The worst transgression in our food production today is the making of trans fats.  Through a method of hydrogenation liquid oils are made into solids in order to preserve them and to use them in all kinds of processed food such as margarine, baked goods, crackers, fried foods, and most commercially packaged foods.

Dr. Bruce Fife explains the nature of fats and oils in his book The Coconut Oil Miracle.  He mentions that fats are in general solid while oils are liquid (at a certain temperature).

Here is a video by Dr. Bruce Fife explaining the The Healing Miracles Coconut Oil

I hope that I could shed some light on a very complex and controversial subject of nutrition.  Rather than explaining the profound chemistry in all details I hope that you can follow the links and take the detailed information from there.  Since I learned about the benefits of coconut oil I am in love with this fat.  I put it on all my foods and even add more after I have cooked eggs or refried rice, etc.  Coconut oil doesn’t give this oily feeling afterwards but rather makes the cooked food moist and tasty.  I also use it on my skin and had good result with some remaining warts and scars from the removal of them.  I will use coconut oil for the rest of my life. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Woman named Hagar

I just read a book called “Hagar” by Lois T. Henderson.  Although the book is written as a novel, I became very intrigued by the life of Hagar.  Hagar was a woman during the biblical age of Abraham, some 4,000 years ago.  Ms. Henderson portrays her life from childhood to the time where she is given to Abram (who later became Abraham) to bear the promised son and finally is cast out from the tribe.  Based on my reading the novel I was motivated to look up the story in the bible and learn more about this fascinating woman who some say became the mother of the Islamic world.

The whole story is recorded in Genesis 16.   Genesis 16:3 notes that Hagar became Abram’s wife.  In biblical history it was common that when a woman could not bear children within the first 10 years of marriage that a slave or servant could be used as a surrogate mother.

While many of the accounts I have read about talk about the difficulties of a blended family views of Abraham being pushed around by his wife’s decision, or even Hagar’s feelings of inferiority, nobody mentioned that the whole story is an attempt to restore the original family of God.

That’s why I like to introduce here the view Reverend Sun Myung Moon has given us in his teachings of the Divine Principle.

Rev. Moon teaches extensively about “History of Restoration” of the human family.

He teaches from a biblical point of view with a new insight he received through nine years of studying and praying.  His emphasis is on Abraham who became the “father of faith.”

The Importance of Lineage and Monotheistic Faith

Abraham was the first ancestor who believed in ONE GOD.  The monotheistic approach to believe was an important step to restore the lineage of God. 

"And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered"
~ Genesis 13:16

 “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,… ”
~ Genesis 22:17

In the 12th Message of Peace, Rev. Moon emphasizes the Importance of Lineage.  He said: “Do you know what has pained God’s heart the most, causing him the greatest grief over the long history since the Fall of Adam and Eve?  God lost his lineage, and with that God lost the basis of human brotherhood and even His ownership over the creation.  God’s lineage is more precious than life itself.” 

From that standpoint we can see the importance of the role of Hagar.   Even though, God had promised Abram a son, he loved Sarai who was barren (couldn’t bear children); to choose Hagar as surrogate mother was a natural solution.  The way Ms. Henderson suggested, Hagar may have been of great status in her homeland of Egypt.  Hagar was already living in the household of Abram.  She was only 12 yrs. old when she became Sarai’s handmaiden.  Ms. Henderson portrays Hagar as an obedient servant and Sarai raised her like a daughter.

After she conceived the promised baby, Hagar became arrogant and showed off her big belly to Sarai.  That made Sarai angry and she hit her.  Ashamed, Hagar left and had an experience in the desert (Gen.16:7) where she met an angel of God; he spoke to her and promised her: “I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” (Gen. 16:10)  Wasn’t this the same promise God gave Abraham? 

Abram left his home in Haran and left behind idols and multi-god worship.  When they lived in the desert, Abram taught his whole household about his living God.  Through her personal encounter, Hagar, also became a believer and discarded her idols.  The fact that Hagar became a believer and shared her faith with Abraham may have been a comfort to him, but it was not enough for him to avoid Sarah’s suggestion to send Hagar away.  After the birth of Isaac, Sarah could not stand to have Hagar around.  (Gen. 21:14)  Rev. Moon teaches that it was a historical mistake that Sarah expelled Hagar from their family.  The two boys, Ishmael and Isaac, should have grown up together and restore the mistake of Cain and Abel which was later accomplished through Isaac’s sons Esau and Jacob.

We have to give a lot of credit to Hagar.  She raised Ishmael by herself (Ms. Henderson suggests that she married Simeon but that is only in the novel) to still love and respect his father Abraham.  Later on, Ishmael’s daughter, Mahalath, becomes the wife of Esau, Gen.8:9 one of Abraham's grandsons by Rebekah.  When Abraham dies Gen 25:7-10 at the age of 175, both Ishmael and Isaac bury their father.  And by some account, Hagar still loved Abraham and became his wife, now called Keturah (Gen. 25:1-2).

Abraham’s life-timeline

75 yrs. – Abram leaves Haran (Gen. 12:1-3)

85 yrs. – Sarai gives Hagar to Abraham to conceive her heir (Gen. 16)

86 yrs. – Ishmael is born

99 yrs. – Covenant of circumcision

100 yrs. – birth of Isaac

137 yrs. – Sarah, his first wife dies; he possibly marries Hagar who is now called Keturah (Gen. 25:1-2)

175 yrs. – Abraham dies (Gen.25:7-11)

The Importance of the Role of Women in the History of Restoration

Even though biblical history focuses on the role of men and often mentions only their genealogy, we learn through the family of Abraham what influences women really had.  Abraham was the lord over his household, but when Sarah was having difficulties with Hagar, Abraham told her that she could do with her what she wanted.  Also it was the role of the mother to find a wife for the son.  We see through all this the importance of having children.  To preserve the lineage was the responsibility of the women.  As we learn from Sarah, she took that obligation very serious, to the point that she offered her servant Hagar to her husband.  She was only human when she felt jealous of Hagar after she gave birth to Ishmael.  Before, she had great faith in Abraham, when they went down into Egypt (Gen. 12:10)  and told the Pharaoh that she was Abram’s sister.  Unfortunately, her faith was not strong enough to get her through her attitude toward Hagar.

Her story allows me to understand more about today’s struggle in the Middle-East.  The political situation cannot be solved by politicians or from an external point of view.  Reverend Moon has made this very clear through the efforts of the Universal Peace Foundation.

Here is a quote by Rev. Michael W. Jenkins, Co-Chair, MEPI-USA  in regards to Reconciling People of the Abrahamic Faiths:

Christianity and Islam became like enemies. Ishmael was the Cain type offspring of Abraham. Who got the real victory in those areas of the Middle-East? - Islam. Abraham had two wives. Because Sarah could not bear children he took a second wife to have a son. When Sarah was 100 years of age, Isaac was born, but the second wife had a child too. Those two wives were supposed to be united together as one family of Abraham but that was not done.”

I like to conclude this portrait of Hagar with an essay by Dr. Thomas Ward:

Why God Loves Islam and the Arab People

“There is an unfortunate part of Genesis that we need to consider when studying Abraham’s family. Because Abraham’s wife Sarah was unable to give birth to a child, she offered him her female slave Hagar (Gen. 16:2). Hagar bore a son for Abraham who was named Ishmael. God, nevertheless, had promised that one day Sarah would also give birth to a son. Indeed, she did give birth to her son Isaac approximately thirteen biblical years after the birth of Ishmael.

Once Isaac was born, Genesis records that Sarah felt jealousy toward Hagar and, once Isaac was born (Gen. 21:1-7), she asked Abraham to send away Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 21-8-11). Abraham was not pleased with Sarah’s insistence; however, God told Abraham to abide by Sarah’s request. (Gen. 21:14) He comforted Abraham by saying that a great nation would rise up from Ishmael’s lineage (Gen. 21:12-14).

While Ishmael certainly struggled because of this abandonment, he did not fully separate from Abraham and Isaac. According to Genesis, Ishmael and Isaac together prepared Abraham’s burial (Gen. 25:9). Later Ishmael betrothed his daughter Basemath in marriage to Isaac’s son Esau (Gen. 36:3). God must have been moved by Ishmael’s unswerving loyalty to his father and by his love for his favored brother Isaac. Ishmael is someone whom we all should be able to admire, as a victor over resentment.

However, what impact might the painful rejection that we have recounted have had upon Ishmael or upon his descendants? In her book “A History of God,” author and religious scholar Karen Armstrong argued that, until Mohammed, Arabia suffered from a sense of inferiority, from a lack of love because God had never blessed the children of Ishmael with a revelation until Mohammed appeared:

There was… a widespread feeling of spiritual inferiority. Those Jews and Christians with whom the Arabs came in contact used to taunt them for being a barbarous people who had received no revelation from God. The Arabs felt a mingled resentment and respect for these people who had knowledge that they did not. Judaism and Christianity had made little headway in the region, even though the Arabs acknowledged that this progressive form of religion was superior to their own traditional paganism.

In Unification Thought, Ishmael and Esau stand as Cain-side figures who could only receive God’s direct blessing through their younger brothers. Divine Principle teaches that this was finally achieved by the reconciliation of Esau and Jacob. This course of indemnity was prolonged from Ishmael and Isaac to Esau and Jacob, not because of Ishmael, but because of Sarah’s request that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away (Gen. 21:8-11). Unification Thought would argue that something needs to be indemnified by the physical and spiritual descendants of Sarah (that is, Jews and Christians).

Hagar must have been a great spouse and a great mother. Due to her mistreatment at the hands of Sarah (Gen. 21:6) and her abandonment by Abraham, she stood in the position to hate Ishmael’s father and his brother Isaac. To some extent, Ishmael's’ loving heart towards Isaac and towards Isaac’s sons must be due to the fact that Hagar taught her son to love his father Abraham even though he had abandoned them. If that is God’s memory of Hagar and Ishmael, the ancestors of the Arabs and of Islam, it would seem that it should also be a most cherished memory that members of the U.N. Peace Council would want to harbor as they pondered the future of the Middle East.”

I am glad that I learned about Hagar. She certainly had a very sympathetic and intriguing character. Ms. Henderson's rendition of Hagar's life opened for me a tremendous interest of this special woman.  History can be dry and lifeless, Lois Henderson created a story with characters that spoke to me and made history come alive.