I am driving aimlessly down Highway 44 (because I love driving a little too much, and it is one of my more expensive stress-relief methods) with my iPod on shuffle and Do What U Want by Lady Gaga comes on. Of course, being alone in the car means I can belt out pop songs in my full volume and not worry about being kicked out of society for disturbing the peace, and it also means my mind is free to come up with the most random associations to songs I listen to.
As a twenty-three-year-old Psychology Major, Senior in college, and self-proclaimed guru on how not to be in a relationship, I was inspired to consider how not allowing people to “do what you want” with your body, mind, heart etc. is part of healthy self-love. In light of a recent breakup, I’ve been on a roll with existential questioning and more in-my-head pep talks than usual. The chorus of the above Lady Gaga song stuck with me all week, like gum sticks to ratty hair and refuses to loosen it’s hold no matter how hard you tug. It wasn’t until I started writing this article that it finally left my head. So thank you for the inspiration, Lady Gaga.
There has been a recent influx of articles all over the Internet about taking care of your heart and what self-love can do for your overall well-being. These are not new ideas, but in times where life becomes too fast-paced due to the wonders of technology and many of us forget how to be still, being reminded to listen to what your heart needs is vital. In my opinion, emotional well-being for men and women alike, takes precedence as it affects all areas of life.
A Harvard School of Public Health research article from 2011 finds correlations between a positive state of mind and better state of health. Laura Kubzansky, associate professor at Harvard and a forerunner of research on the positive state of mind and its impact on physical health believes that instilling “emotional and social competence in children… would help confer not only good mental health but also physical resilience for a lifetime.” She goes on to warn society that it is not simply a one-step method and that staying positive and working towards a less stressful life despite predisposed living circumstances is a work-in-progress for each individual. We are cautioned not to buy into a one-size-fit-all theory and to find out what personally helps us be at our most healthy emotional state.
The happier your heart, the better you feel physically, so start looking out for it!
Here’s are some steps that I live by, and have to be reminded of by loving friends on days when all I want to do is wallow in self-doubt and negativity:
- Feelings are normal. Be okay with feeling. There is no such thing as a wrong or negative feeling. Validate the way you feel in the moment, acknowledge it and then move forward with what is important to you.
- There is no set amount of time for grieving. Do not let anyone tell you when to start or stop grieving. Only you know when enough is enough, and it is time to move on. A healthy heart is one that is allowed enough time to process grief (or any emotion).
- Forgiveness of others and oneself is a key step to a healthy heart. That does not mean going back to someone who does not respect you or treat you right, it simply means freeing your heart from the burden of anger and grudges.
- Let healthy people in; cut out people who aren’t. I used to think cutting people out of my life was the harshest thing I could do. But over the years, and after many painful, unhealthy relationships and friendships, I have learned that this is part of deciding to love oneself. Healthy people encourage, respect, love you, tell you the truth and help you to grow. Unhealthy people bring you down and hinder any type of positive growth. (A good read: Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend)
- Do what YOU want with your body. Allowing yourself room to say no to people and things that you know are personally damaging to you is a powerful thing. Harmful activities or people may seem to fill a void in the beginning, but after a while it only wears down your heart. Everything in moderation is a healthier way to go.
- Have relaxing hobbies. Set aside time weekly to do whatever you are passionate about, be it painting, hiking, or watching a favourite TV show. I found that doing something that makes me happy a few times a week that is not work-related, and doing it alone improves self-confidence and strengthens one emotionally. Helping others is a great hobby that not only makes others feel better but helps your heart stay content too.
- Be by yourself more. I surround myself with busyness daily and sometimes this busyness is to keep me around people so I don’t feel lonely. Lately, I have seen the benefits of taking time away from people and learning to be content on my own. It is entirely uncomfortable at first and takes time to work up to longer periods alone, but it becomes extremely rewarding and empowering once you make it a habit.
- Be Mindful. Take note of your surroundings. Notice small things that make you smile. Write things down. Be in nature. Meditate. Breathe deeply. Be in a place that requires you to be still. Take stock of what is good in your life.
- Be Active. Exercise at least fifteen minutes a day. It can be in the form of working out at the gym, yoga, a short walk during lunch break, biking, a swim or anything that gets your body working. Endorphins are released when you exercise. This chemical interacts with the pain receptors in your brain and triggers positive feelings. It’s the body’s natural Morphine!
- Let go of control. This is the hardest step for me. I am a perfectionist and a worrywart. Learning that nothing in life is actually in my control has helped me work towards self-love and a healthier outlook.
Remember that taking time to love oneself is important. All these steps require a conscious, constant effort. No one can make the decision to nurture your heart other than yourself. It’s a beautiful, empowering process. Begin working hard to love the most vital organ you have, and you will be grateful as time goes by.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23
Written by my daughter, Erica Lee
Who loves to have fun? We do! We had our Youth Devotional outdoors at Sunway Extreme Park, Ipoh on Aug 2nd, 2014. We played fun softball. There was lots of laughter as we enjoyed the game.
[vimeo 102706714 w=601&h=338]
At the end, we also learned a spiritual lesson about our own race just as what Paul says in 1 Cor 9:24-25 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.…
Our Saturday Campus and Youth Fellowship was so blessed to have some visiting brothers and sisters from the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur Church. They made the environment so fun, spiritual, enjoyable, and warm. The Singapore sisters planned a game for our youth called the “Alphabet Game.” It was so fun seeing the brothers and sisters twisted and turned to form the words:
The rules of the game are:
Each group is given the 26 alphabets in sticker form. They are to stick each alphabet randomly in their palms or the sole of their feet. A word is called out, e.g. L.O.V.E. The members of the group with these alphabets are then to form the word holding up their palms and sole of their feet. The word have to be formed in sequence regardless of how many relevant alphabets a member has. Those member without the alphabet of the word should step aside.
This game is best played by 5 or more players per group.
For additional fun: At the end of the game, there is a forfeit for the losing team. In this case, the losing team has to pretend to sound and walk like an animal of their choosing around the room.
Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said:“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
“Jesus has many who love His Kingdom in Heaven, but few who bear His cross (Luke 14:27). He has many who desire comfort, but few who desire suffering. He finds many to share His feast, but few His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few are willing to suffer for His sake. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion. Many admire His miracles, but few follow Him in the humiliation of His cross. Many love Jesus as long as no hardship touches them. Many praise and bless Him, as long as they are receiving any comfort from Him.” -Thomas a Kempis (14th century Christian writer)
This cartoon* from a Rick Morgan article depicts this point well.
Questions for Personal Reflection: Are we similar to what Thomas a Kempis and Rick Morgan have illustrated? Do we long for Christ as long as it’s easy to follow His path? Easy Christianity just doesn’t work, though. Like the cartoon shows, if our cross is too short, we can’t get over the tough times in life. We will miss out on the celebration in heaven! Let us be willing to take up His cross, and through Christ we will see the victory.
*Take Up Your Cross by Rick Morgan
ICOC International Leadership Conference (27 to 31 August)
27 – 29, August 2014 : International Leadership Conference (ILC)
30 – 31, August 2014 : Conferences around the SEA Region ( please refer to page on SEA Region Conferences for details )
The SEA Region is humbled and honoured that Singapore was chosen as the site of the 2014 International Leadership Conference (ILC). This is a significant milestone, for it marks the first time in twenty years that an Asian country will be hosting an ICOC world leadership event.
The theme build! seemed to make sense for several reasons:
- The pages of the Bible are filled with inspiring stories of God’s people going up against all odds to build! His kingdom. Satan directs his fiery arrows at anyone who takes on the task to build! God’s church; most of those in leadership discover how costly and even dangerous such work can be. However, throughout history, whenever God’s people are led by courageous and Spirit-filled leaders, His kingdom eventually grows from strength to strength. The apostle Paul admonished the Corinthian disciples to build! on the right foundation (I Corinthians 3:10-15). While we cannot take credit for anything because we are all saved by and called to serve by God’s grace, we have to be careful how we build! The world is waiting for leaders and believers to build! His church!
- The theme build! reflects the heart of the Singapore story. Few gave this tiny island a chance of survival when independence was thrust upon her unexpectedly in 1965. The young nation’s leaders knew this 35-mile wide by 20-mile long city-state had to be extraordinary to survive. With vision, passion and determination, the Prime Minister and his team decided to build! Singapore in a very purposeful way, turning it from a sleepy developing-world backwater to a first-world nation in one generation. And build! it they did – today, with a population of over five million, Singapore is an English–speaking global city with one of the world’s highest per capita incomes.
- Partially inspired by such vision, diligence and determination, the SEA Region leaders are striving to build! on a strong and spiritual foundation, and they look forward to learning from the worldwide fellowship of leaders about how to betterbuild! in Asia. They are also trying their best to organise a faith-lifting and memorable event for all ILC participants, and at the same time, to create a compelling “Singapore experience” for everyone. We welcome you all to immerse yourselves in the rich vibrancy of sights, sounds and tastes, enjoying the colourful cultural tapestry that has come to represent our nation.
We started our very first HOPE MY Reading program with the help of the KL HOPE team to reach out and serve the community in Ipoh. God was truly amazing, on the first session in April, we had 7 youth beneficiaries. On the second week, we had 11. Currently we are serving 15 youth. God opened the door for us to have wonderful volunteers from Sunway Ipoh College. We also managed to be sponsored by Tower Regency for the venue.[vimeo 92949126 w=601&h=338]