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6 entries from February 2014

15 things I've learned in 15 years of marriage

In honor of my fifteen year anniversary today here are fifteen things that I think I've learned over the last fifteen years:

  1. Marriage is the greatest thing I have ever done. My life is incredibly enriched because of my marriage. I am a different and better man because of my marriage.
  2. Marriage is the hardest thing I've ever done. For anyone who has ever been married, I doubt I need to expand on this one at all.
  3. Marriage has taught me the meaning of the word selfless
  4. Marriage has taught me what it means to ask and accept forgiveness.
  5. Marriage has taught me that just because you can, doesn't mean you should
  6. Marriage has taught me that sometimes I love you means sitting holding someone's hand or hair while they puke.
  7. Marriage has taught me what it means to be vulnerable.
  8. Marriage has taught me what it means to dig deeply into the really painful places of our hearts
  9. Marriage has taught me what it means to know you will always have someone next to you, who will walk with you.
  10. Marriage has taught me what it means to have almost nothing but your lovers hand in yours and know that's enough.
  11. Marriage has taught me what it means to have someone next to you, offering to walk beside you while you walk the what you believe may be the darkest days of your life.
  12. Marriage has taught me what it means to have someone walk into a room and take your breath away.
  13. Marriage has taught me what it is like to watch someone grow and succeed and feel like you're succeeding.
  14. Marriage has taught me what it is like to watch someone give you their best and in turn make you your best.
  15. Marriage has taught me what it means to have a soul mate. I know this idea isn't a popular one today but yes, I believe that my wife is my soul mate.

Points to Ponder (100 words or less)

If we are going to be truly happy, we have to learn to be content. Most of the time, we fixate on our lack of happiness thinking that we can become happier by getting that thing, whatever that thing is. We cannot worship at the alter of happiness and truly expect to be happy. Happiness comes when it is not the number one priority in our life. Happiness is a by-product of learned contentment.  (73)

Do Anti-Depressant Meds work?

One of the most common questions I get is "How do you feel about drugs?" My answer is almost always that I have complicated feelings about them. What I often tell clients is that they should do their own research. What I have below is an excerpt from a book that I think everyone who is remotely interested in this topic should read. It is controversial and will probably upset some of those who read it for one reason or another. But we have to engage this conversation deeply. We need to talk about the risks associated with this medicine and the benefits. Mostly, we need to look at our assumptions on a societal level about how we deal with problems.

What the published studies really indicate is that most of the improvement shown by depressed people when they take antidepressants is due to the placebo effect. Our finding that most of the effects of antidepressants could be explained as a placebo effect was only the first of a number of surprises that changed my views about antidepressants. Following up on this research, I learned that the published clinical trials we had analysed were not the only studies assessing the effectiveness of antidepressants. I discovered that approximately 40 per cent of the clinical trials conducted had been withheld from publication by the drug companies that had sponsored them. By and large, these were studies that had failed to show a significant benefit from taking the actual drug. When we analysed all of the data - those that had been published and those that had been suppressed - my colleagues and I were led to the inescapable conclusion that antidepressants are little more than active placebos, drugs with very little specific therapeutic benefit, but with serious side effects.

Kirsch, Irving (2010-01-26). The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth (pp. 3-4). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

The Biggest Loser and the Roman Coliseum

The internet world has been abuzz lately with the finale of the show The Biggest loser for this season. Apparently the girl who won, lost a significant amount of weight in a rather short amount of time.

Can I make a confession? I’ve never watched an episode of that show. I’ve never watched an episode of hoarders. I’ve only seen one episode of intervention.

Which, begs the question of why, why haven’t I watched any of these shows that have “inspired” millions and coincidently made millions, if not billions of dollars?

Quite simply, because I am afraid that we have made entertainment out of people’s maladies. We’ve turned people’s problems into entertainment for the masses.

I’ve heard most of the responses:

“I watch because I’m inspired!”

“ I watch because I like the stories of overcoming.”

“I think it’s amazing to watch the transformations…”

Honestly, in my opinion, who cares? That is the wrong criteria to be deciding what we should be supporting.

We need to consider if the means that we are receiving our inspiration is right or wrong. Is it wise to sit back and be entertained by someone with a mental illness (hoarders, intervention, etc).

I’m afraid these shows highlight out societies obsession with the wrong things. We use the TV to anesthetize our own existential issues. We can safely sit on our couch and watch Mary Jane Watson from Tacoma West Virginia and thank God that our house isn’t as messy as hers.  We can watch Gwen Jones from Bloomsburg, Minnesota struggle to go from “morbidly obese” to anorexic like skinniness all in the name of health...and let's be honest, some fame.

I’m not sure we’re all that different from the Romans and their coliseum.

The story being sold is that our society is becoming obsessed with weight loss because we want people to be healthy. But let’s be honest, we kind of like the fact that we can fat shame.

Shows like this, allow us to sit back and just thank whatever higher power we pray to that we aren’t like those people. They allow us to perpetuate the myth that fat people must be lazy or that hoarders can just choose to get rid of things.

We make profit (or help others make profit) off of their misery. We can indulge in our own worship of the body and whatever “sexy” currently and feel like we have the moral high ground because we’re taking part in a system that “helps a person improve their life.”

The ends justify the means, right?

Except that they don’t.

We have to demand more.

More of society. More of ourselves. More of those we choose to make millionaires and billionaires by giving them our money.

I realize that you may disagree with me. In fact, I fully suspect that many people will disagree with me. That’s one of the reasons, I’ve been putting off writing this post even though it’s been bouncing around in my head for a long time.

I just want more. I want to leave my kids a world that doesn’t teach them that it’s OK to judge someone or be entertained by someone just because the other person is heavier than they are or has a mental illness.  

I want a world that really sees other people as neighbors, not as sources of entertainment.