Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Life Essentials: A Relationship With God

     The topic of religion is a very controversial subject, and rightfully so, due to the fact that the existence of religion isn't necessarily a known fact.  Besides what we feel within our souls, the only source of validation that there is a God is found in ancient texts whose authors we know nothing of.  The Bible, for example is a sacred text that we respect dearly and use as a manual to life, however, do we even know who wrote it? What did this author look like? Or better yet, what credentials does this author have?  What reason do we have to believe in what he says? With all these uncertainties, I am here to assure you that choosing to follow in the path of God is a decision that will by all means not create any negative results in your life.
     Religion, in the general context, is an advocate of positivity.  From the Ten Commandments to the various Suras, religion promotes human relation skills that should be practiced one way or another regardless of religious affiliation.  It is common sense to honor thy father and thy mother, it is in your own best interest to not steal, or to not kill, it is common courtesy to not covet thy neighbor's goods, etc. Religion, ie. a relationship with God, is merely a guideline to lead you in the right direction in life.  As far as i'm concerned, religion, and not laws, is the best measure of what's right and what's wrong.  With that being said, being religious has no negative repercussions.  You have nothing to lose when you develop a relationship with God.
     One might say, "Why waste your time being religious if the God that we worship might turn out to be non-existent?"  Religious faith is something that can't be taught, you either believe it, or you simply don't.  What I can, however, say  is that even IF there isn't a God, you have nothing to lose by choosing to be religious. Doing good is bound to lift your self esteem and ultimately make you a happier person.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather live a positive life led by religion, even if it leads to nothing in the end, than live a life frowned upon by God and risk being denied access to eternal life when he proves that he does indeed exist.  Like I've reiterated several times, you have nothing to lose, and like the old British idiom said, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Photo Credit:

5 Keys to a Healthy Relationship

1) Communicate Effectively 
As with any form of interaction that involves more than one person, effective communication is very important.  It is important to be able to share your feelings and opinions with your partner in a manner that will not create chaos.  Being an effective listener is essential to effective communication.  Be the shoulder to lean on when your partner has had a rough day and needs someone to vent to, be the one they can always count on to understand them when no one does, and lastly be the one they can always count on to have their back.
2) Embrace the Similarities yet Respect the Differences
Most couples are bound together by a list of things that they usually have in common.  Be it interests, views, hobbies, etc, these similarities play a big part in why two people decide to form a union.  As time goes by however, you may start to notice the differences among the two.  Instead of demanding your partner to change their ways or leaving the relationship, accept them for their opposing views/actions, and respect it.  After all, God made us all unique human beings.  Besides, what fun would it be to date someone with identical qualities as you?
3) Compromise
The art of compromising is a necessity whenever different views come together.  Take for example deciding upon where to go for dinner; if your partner wants to go to a fancy restaurant that specializes in steaks yet you want to go to a cheaper more convenient spot that has great seafood, what do you do?  You compromise.  You may have to give up some elements of your stance, perhaps broaden your range from just seafood to a restaurant with all types of foods.  In some instances, it's okay to sacrifice your desires for your partner, as long as you know that they will one day return the favor.  Compromising presents a win-win situation, even if the results don't come up immediately.
4) Have a Healthy Sex Life
This view might be a bit controversial and might differ from person to person based on religious views, age, etc, however engaging in sexual activities of any sort have been proven to relieve tension that may otherwise cause unnecessary arguments.  I'm not saying that a relationship should be a hump fest where one is only "in it to get it" however, it is a proven fact that a healthy sex life relieves stress and makes an individual happier.  If the couple is yet to engage in any sort of sexual relations, then I advice to by all means wait till marriage, however, if both individuals have been sexually active in one form or another in the past, they are bound to have needs, therefore those needs should be taken care of to avoid unnecessary tension.
5) Don't Give Up on Each Other
Break ups today occur far too often and are by many means unnecessary.  Many couples find themselves leaving the relationship as opposed to working on the relationship whenever times get hard.  In my opinion, obstacles are just another way to strengthen a relationship as long as they are overcome.  Walking away from the situation will not solve it, therefore don't give up on your partner whenever the going gets tough.  Work with one other, provide support, and save the relationship, for love is hard to find.

Photo Credit:

Obesity: A Larger Than Life Problem

        In today's society, the rate of obesity has reached levels that one wouldn't have been able to predict centuries ago; who is to blame for this rapid increase? Fast food? Lack of activity? Technology? or Genetics? None of these factors can individually explain this recent phenomenon, however, components of each contribute to what is becoming an alarming problem.
         Take for example fast food, it is merely impossible to drive 5 miles today without coming across a McDonald's or some other type of fast food joint.  With such consistent luring temptation, how is one supposed to stay true to a steady diet? Especially with the low cost of such fatty, greasy, high caloric food, how is one suppose to say no to a double cheese burger and yes to a salad?  Oh and by the way, keep in mind that the same dollar that is capable of buying you multiple different things on a dollar menu at McDonald's is most likely insufficient to buy you a vegetable, let alone salad dressing to put together a healthy choice of meal.  How is mankind suppose to eat healthy when all the smart economic choices are nudging us toward the direction of unhealthy food?  Going out to eat was once used as a reward of some sort, today, it is used as a substitute for making dinner/lunch, due to the lazy tendencies that we have developed.  With that becoming a normality, how are we suppose to track the amount of calories we consume in a day?
      Another thing to consider is the lack of activity by the people of this generation.  Technological advancement have given mankind a reason to be lazy, and this, believe it or not, affects our health.  Take for example the impact that video games have our children.  The time used to break a little sweat by your son through playing a sport with the neighbor's kid is now being used to sit behind a TV or a computer moving nothing but fingers. The once active american child is now replaced by the social media obsessed kid or the video game junkie.  But how can we blame these kids when the environment in which they live in, due to the many gadgets and social media advancements, have given them no choice but to indulge heavily in such activities?
    The last point I will like to make is in regards to the way a child is raised from birth.  This isn't necessarily genetics, however considering this impact begins at such a young age, it might as well be.  Children these days are introduced to obesogenic tendencies at a very early age.  From the feeding of formula as opposed to breast milk, to the very first meal a child has, many children are taught by parents and other caregivers an eating lifestyle that might ruin their lives for good.  Imagine if as a kid your usual meals consist of happy meals at McDonald's, why wouldn't such become a norm for you upon maturation?  The familiarization that we develop at an early age, with such tendencies, set us up for failure.  With that being said, one can't point a finger to any particular one aspect of life for this outbreak of obesity, however, a combination of all these components play a huge part in elevating the problem to this magnitude today.

Photo Credit:

Linsanity: the Hype

      A few weeks after the NFL season ended, it seemed like the sports world was bound to get a break from the media's obsession with an athlete, correct? Wrong.  Ever since Jeremy Lin's insertion into the Knicks line-up in the first half of the February 4th match-up against the New Jersey Nets, the media has fallen in love with the first Asian Basketball player to achieve prominent success in the NBA since the departure of Yao Ming.  Jeremy Lin, in many regards, has become America's sweetheart, as he continues to impress game by game.  Is his performance, however, being over-hyped a bit? I think yes.  Don't get me wrong, Lin is a very good basketball player with lots of skill and potential, however any good basketball player in a Mike D'Antoni system is very likely to appear a bit greater than they actually are.
     No knock against Lin's talent, but D'Antoni has been known to elevate the offensive play of many players.  Take for example two time MVP Steve Nash: in Dallas, Steve served as a Robin to Dirk Nowitzki's Batman.  In Phoenix, however, under D'Antoni's run and gun offense, Steve Nash became known as the best point guard in the league for at least two consecutive seasons.  After D'Antoni's departure, Nash's numbers, although still good, have decreased.  Not to say that Steve Nash isn't a good player without D'Antoni, but he is certainly better with him.  Another beneficiary of Mike D'Antoni's offensive genius is Joe Johnson.  Pre-D'Antoni, Joe Johnson was known as a decent player in the NBA, but never thought of as an All-Star.  Within D'Antoni's system, he was able to elevate his game to a level that warranted a star-player caliber deal from the Atlanta Hawks.  The list goes on and on; my point is that though Lin is a good player, his numbers are only this great because he is playing in a D'Antoni system.
      Another reason why I think Linsanity is a bit over hyped is due to the fact that the Knicks haven't faced that many solid teams during this stretch.  What about Lakers and Dallas? At this stage in the season, neither the Lakers nor the Mavs have established a consistent identity as a formidable team.  Yes, both teams are over .500 and will most likely make the playoffs, however, these teams have been inconsistent all season long and are not nearly the teams the were in the past.  With that being said, although Lin played great against those teams, I'm not all that impressed with it.  Both teams struggle defensively at the point guard position with aging veterans in Derrick Fisher and Jason Kidd.  Most point guards that go against these teams usually have a field day statistically, therefore I'm not overly impressed with Lin's performance against them. It is what was expected if you ask me.  His struggle against the Heat, and a quicker younger Mario Chalmers proved that going against elite talent will present problems for the upcoming phenom.
     To me, the most impressive game in Jeremy's young career is by far the game against the Raptors.  Although not necessarily against a  good team, Lin showed in that game that he possessed something that a lot of great players of this game past and present lack: a clutch gene.  To pull up for a high risk three in a situation where going for a high-percentage two was probably the safest thing to do shows how gutsy the Harvard graduate is.  That, to me, was a sign of fearlessness that the Knicks will definitely need come play off time.  Although those shots will most likely go to Melo with his return, it is nice to know that they can count on somebody else who can deliver in the clutch, and that to me is the most impressive trait of Jeremy Lin.
    With all this being said, I think that Linsanity is slightly over hyped.  Jeremy Lin is a good player but this whole Linsanity craze is not all that it seems to be.  I think Lin will be a solid point guard in this league for a long time, perhaps like a Mark Jackson, but I do not think he'll be able to achieve superstar status like a Derrick Rose or a Gary Payton.  That's not me being a hater, that's just me telling it like I see it.  As long as he continues to improve and work on cutting down his numerous turnovers, New York might have found themselves a point guard for years to come.  Will he become a Hall of Famer or a superstar? Probably not, but don't be surprised if he makes a few All-Star teams due to fan votes.

Photo Credit:

Smart Phone Age, No need for Computers

Before the invention of the iPhone, or even the blackberry, computers were the only source of communication that existed beyond phone calls or even texting. Today, the only function of a computer that cannot be achieved on a smart phone is writing papers, or anything that involves Microsoft word, power point, etc.  To some extent, the computer isn't even needed anymore! Computers were once the best friend of a student, however; considering the fact that most assignments today are done online, and do not require being written and printed, who needs a computer anymore?  Compared to a smart phone, a computer, be it a lap top or a desk top, is too heavy, usually overpriced, a burden to carry, and simply unnecessary. It is safe to say that in this day and age, the need for computers is diminishing, and with the continuous progress in technology, computers are bound to become extinct.  With gadgets such as the iPhone, the iPad, Droid, etc, taking over and not only completing the tasks of an old fashioned computer but exceeding them, the need for these objects that were once considered cool will be eliminated.  It's safe to say that children of the next generation will one day look at our lap tops and laugh at us, as we once did about typewriters.

Photo Credit: