Messages to Young People

A friend and I are working on producing an audiobook for Messages to Young People. I won’t be posting any of the videos on my blog. If you are interested, please follow this page: Messages to Young People

Enjoy


 

 


 

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Thoughts for a Friend

Be confident, because the way you are is the way that the person who will love you will want you. Love is better than pity, so why do you seek pity over love? Sooner do we grasp the wind, than someone’s love that is meant for another. Jealousy is the most confusing and pervasive of human emotions. The catalyst that turns love to hate. It makes us look with intensity but not with accuracy. What is and what could have been, are so quickly pierced in that moment. A feeling lost at sea, due to an un-anchored love.

I cannot say I understand what a girl goes through in choosing the right guy. But I know God often claims for himself men whom the world would not. A man’s heart, a man’s sincerity, and a man’s godliness cannot be seen by you. There is a thief hanging on a cross that God has chosen for himself, and a young rich ruler whom He has denied.

I’m sure God can take two people, who will respect each other and keep their eyes on Him, and make them happy together. But there is still such a thing as the right and wrong person, even among Christians. Like the wooden yoke that pulls the plow, we who pull it must be equally matched. The person we choose to love can bring us and the families we create to the gates of Heaven, or away from it. So we must be careful. For not everyone who says “Lord, lord,” ought to have the keys to our hearts.

The arrogance of success, is thinking that what you have done yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. For manna must be gathered daily.

Yet our capacity for guilt is so great that we can always find ways to blame ourselves. We are not good enough, in our own eyes. Those eyes which see the sun rising but not its light. Those eyes surrounded by love, yet seeing only the loneliness.  The song of birds ushers the morning, while the music of crickets welcomes the night. Yet no one realizes that we’ve all felt the same. We are a broken people, and they will know us by our love. Jn.13.35.

How To Overcome Worry

A book about overcoming worry, should not go against its purpose by inciting worry in its reader. Dr. Winfred Neely does a good job of that. The brevity of this book, with its short chapters, and short subsections, and relatable narrative, makes it easily digestible and appetizing. The author is speaking to you, as opposed to lecturing you, a style of writing well suited for the subject matter.

This book is meant to be spiritual as opposed to psychological. By that I mean you are getting Scriptural guidance as understood through the experience of the author. This point of view is much appreciated by someone like me, whose had to study anxiety, stress and worry from the scientific perspective.

Anxiety tends to be a perspective-driven emotion. Meaning that the way you are looking at the world is linked to the anxiety you are feeling. Change your perspective, and you’ll change your anxiety. This book provides just that, a change in perspective through the practical approaches found in Philippians 4:6-7.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in a Scriptural approach to anxiety.


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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this
review.

 Pre-order. This item will be released on April 4, 2017.

How to Overcome Worry

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Early in 2011 I was wandering around my college library, apprehensive about going to class. I already had an interest in the field of psychology and neuroscience, but I didn’t know much about it. I found this book out of curiosity. I had already heard about Dr. Oliver Sacks too, after having watched his biopic Awakenings, but I didn’t know he had written books. The name stood out to me as I was looking through the book titles.

Anyone who has heard or read any of Oliver Sacks books, knows there is much to be admired about the man and his craft. Back when I first began reading this book, I remember having an almost otherworldly sense of neurological disorders. These were people beautifully lost in the world of disease. Though at the time I knew nothing else about these disorders. The almost artistic aspects of each malady is contained in the title of each chapter, “The Lost Mariner,” “The Disembodied Lady,” “The Dog Beneath the Skin.”

Looking back from where I am now, I find new admiration for the book. I no longer approach it as a curious individual fascinated by the mystery. I come as one knowing the mysteries, having learned and dissected the topics in many of my classes. The Lost Mariner to me now is a person suffering anterograde amnesia due Korsakoff’s Syndrome. The Disembodied Lady is a woman suffering from a loss of proprioception. Though I may have gained more technical knowledge about each of these problems, books like this one still keep the awe and mystery awake in me.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in my blogs.


The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales

*Bryan Rivera is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

16. Gold

What details would you notice if someone changed them?

Counterfeit money is a problem for many countries despite real money being drowned in security features that are intended to be both irreplaceable and noticeable by anyone; from watermarks, to color-changing ink, even metallic strips, and other special features. Yet many fake bills could have passed unnoticed through our hands, for the simple reason that we are unobservant, we’ve become so accustomed to handling bills that we no longer pay attention to them. It is said that the devil is in the details, and details often pass unscrutinized if they fit the general theme of our assumptions. (Eagleman, 2017).

Inattentional blindness as it’s called, is when you miss something that is in plain view. Psychological Research has demonstrated that not only are you blinded to things that are outside your peripheral field of view, but that not paying attention can cause us to miss the things you are looking directly at (Goldstein, 2014).

The Church of Laodicea thought that they were rich, and had become wealthy, when in reality they had no wealth, and were in poverty (Revelation 3:17). The only way a person can be convinced they are rich, while they are in fact poor, is if they think themselves in possession of authentic money, when it is infact false and counterfeit gold; holding no value, and no worth.

Pay attention to the gold you buy, and where it comes from. For it is written, “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” (Revelation 3:18, KJV). What Gentle and Loving irony, that the poor man, in his poverty, can buy wealth. That we may buy what we can’t afford, to receive more than we’ve invested. Yet that Heavenly gold once bought, makes us far richer than we are.

Be observant, lest you buy counterfeit gold.

~John Bryan

Further Reading: Incognito by David Eagleman

Reference: (Eagleman, 2017) (Goldstein, 2014)

15. Influences

Perceptions have an intriguing way of being altered by our circumstances; and our circumstances have a beguiling way of being altered by our perceptions. Have you ever felt as if your feelings were in harmony with the weather? (Edward, 1993). Metaphors such as “gloomy” are often used to describe the clouds as well as our own emotions. Bright is the day, and bright is my life. It is not uncommon to see wide smiles on your friends faces with the first rays of sunlight after a long week of rain. But why did you feel so sad during gloomy days? Your feelings were more easily hurt, you were more prone to giving up, you felt lonelier and unmotivated. Yet in the morning, as your eyes received the first glimpses of sunlight, you seem to have forgotten all your sorrows. You wept over everything, and now seemingly over nothing. You just experienced—the Priming Effect. (Bargh, 1996).

Everything you behold and encounter, has an effect on your personality, your thoughts, and your emotions. We are not independent and isolated beings, but rather merge within the fibers of a net, like the threads of a tapestry. We walk from day to day, unaware of the thousand things happening in our brains that do not reach consciousness; things perceived but not attended. We seldom consider that things can have an effect without our conscious volition, but they most certainly do. By beholding we become changed. By beholding we behave different.

Thus it is written. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)

~John Bryan

Further Reading – Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Reference: (Edwards, 1993) (Bargh, 1996)

14. Remember

Imagine being a prisoners of the present moment. A moment which never progresses and never moves on.  Memory, above all other mental faculties holds the throne and the scepter over our lives. Who we are and who we might become, and especially what we can do, rests on the brains ability to learn and remember.

However, memory has its limits. In the 1950’s psychologist George Miller conducted tests on working memory, and postulated the famous “7 ± 2” theory. This number signifies that on average our working memory can hold about 7 units of information, before it becomes saturated (Miller, 1956).

Now consider the Seventh-Day Sabbath, and how it is coupled with the verb “Remember.” Perhaps if the command consisted of remembering every 37th multiple of every 9th full Moon, we would have some legitimate reason for forgetting. But instead the command states every 7th day. This lies at the central point of what our brains, on average, are designed to handle. In addition, the repetition of the weekly cycle ensures consolidation of the command into long-term memory, since repetition is shown to increase synaptic connections in the Hippocampus (Kendall, 1981).

The Seventh-Day Sabbath is designed to be remembered. So don’t go out of your way to forget. (Exodus 20:8).

~John Bryan

Recommendation – In Search of Memory by Eric Kendall

Reference: (Miller, 1956) (Kendall, 1981).

13. Time

What will I regret at my last hour? If nothing else, perhaps not having lived more slowly. Life feels like an unwanted fall, hastened by the passing of each day, like 9.8m/s². Moments do not last long enough for me to savor them, and remembering them once they’re gone doesn’t bring half the pleasure.

Music helps. The reverb of a single key, solitary and subduing; the sound of strings like voices arising and descending. Sounds can turn ordinary moments into milestones for me; they calm my hurried life to its proper pace. The pace at which infants and babes which breathing the first rays of light seem to live.

But music doesn’t last. Too much of it dulls my senses, and I long for silence. Reading during the silence also slows my restless mind. The pleasure of a sentence well written; a word which captures a thought and holds it for a moment. Those are the pauses that I long for. But I find reading to be tiresome. I cannot get lost in it as some people can. The excitement with which I first open a book, is not the same with which I put it down.

Then there is traveling. Which doesn’t seem to slow down time for me, but it does allow an escape from it. Standing before monuments which once seemed impossible for me to see with my own eyes, makes me forget that my clock is still ticking. Gazing at that mountain range in the distance, or that river running without care; seeing snow fall slowly for the first time, makes seconds fall at a similar pace. But traveling too quickly comes to an end; and life speeds up again.

And I’m left with the same question. How does one slow life down, Redeeming the Time? (Ephesians 5:16.)

~John Bryan

♦ 9.8m/s² refers to the accelerations of gravity, doubling in speed at the passing of each second.

12. Hands

A relationship between two people has a distinct signature. It is the sound of two instruments echoing the same song—harmonizing like the octaves on a piano. Defensiveness, Indifference, Criticism, and above all Contempt: these four notes unlike any other create dissonance within a melody, (Gladwell, 2007).

Contempt is the feeling that you are beneath consideration; below someone’s standard. It is expressed through tone of voice, body language, spoken words, even movement of the eyes. It is also the greatest predictor that a relationship will fail (Gottman, 1998). Research conducted on couple interactions found that contempt, even at its earliest and most minimal stages, had a high correlation with divorce and broken relationships.

Love must be without hypocrisy. (Romans, 12:9).

~John Bryan

Further Study: What Makes Love Last by John Gottman

Reference: (Gladwell, 2007) (Gottman, 1998)

11. Eyes

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The eye reveals our designed dependency on others. They, above all other faculties, declare us a social species. No other species of primate has a noticeable sclera allowing for the detection of a glance. And the ones that do, seem to be oblivious to it, following the movements of the head rather than the eyes. Even infants before developing language follow the direction of a person’s eye (Senju, 2008). Chimpanzees and other animals cannot, instead they only follow head movement.

“If I am advertising the direction of my eyes, I must be in a social environment full of others who are not inclined to take advantage of this to my detriment—by beating me to food or escaping danger before me. Instead, I must be in a cooperative environment where others following the direction of my eyes somehow benefit me” (Tomasello, 2007).

Our eyes do not naturally hide or deceive, as many species of animal find it necessary to do, for the sake of competition and surprise. If we note that the Heavenly command is to love other’s as ourselves, then it makes sense that our eyes are not antagonistic to this end. Instead they show we are fundamentally dependent on one another. Love works no ill towards others. Love is the fulfilling of the Law, and our eyes are witnesses to it. (Romans 13:10).

~John Bryan

Recommendation: The Brain by David Eagleman