How to Overcome Societal Traps

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Once we are born in the material world and become members of society, we are thrown into a sea of social norms. These norms can be laws, rules, regulations, customs, traditions, and other forms of behavioral regimes. Social norms when effectively enforced can be coercive to people. Each norm carries with its sanction and punishment. This sanction can be psychological such as ostracism, rumors, and gossip, public shaming, etc. or penal in nature such as imprisonment, suspension, banishment, or paying off fines. Norms limit our freedom and action in society. They also structure our mental life and thinking. If caught by authorities violating them, we can be trapped in society for life.

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One story that struck me in a documentary shown in a local television is the story of a homeless Filipino migrant in the United States. He said before he became homeless, he lived a happy family life with his wife and children. But this happiness was overturned when his wife filed a divorce. The law on alimony in San Francisco requires a husband who divorced his wife to pay 70% of his monthly income as a support to his wife and children. According to him, this has radically changed his life. He was unable to keep up with the payments and incurred debts from the government. Thus, he lost his job and left his normal life and became homeless. He can’t return back to his old life since this implies paying his huge debts and finding a high-paying job. His story is an example of a societal trap in the material world that people may sometimes find themselves imprisoned, unable to free themselves from material bondage for violating societal norms. For people who live without a spirituality and life of prayer, to live a societal trap is probably the end of the road. It can be a life of boredom, without meaning, progress, and hope.

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Material bondage is not an end, however, for people with a deep sense of spirituality, particularly for those with strong beliefs in the supernatural or God. Religiosity can provide people with a sense of meaning and purpose which can “empower” and provide them with a sense of control in the face of potentially stressful events (Hood 1974; Matton & Rappaport 1983). Spirituality can give us resilience and courage to face difficult situations in life. Thus, one secret to transcending the limitations of our material limitations is searching of an appropriate spirituality that fits one’s ultimate goals in life. Searching for ultimate values and meaning of life is the key to purpose-driven life that transcends the material world. This is not escapism but an acknowledgment that there is more what the material world can offer.

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5 Deadly Differences that Can End a Marriage

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Marriage is cross-cultural. It is not only a union of persons but a union of cultures or way of life of two people who have different cultural upbringing or socialization. It is expected that conflicts and tensions can occur during the marriage. But there are certain differences which can threaten a marital commitment. The following are some of the deadly differences that can end a marriage:

1. Different Schedules

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If your work schedules are completely incompatible, that can make being in a relationship together pretty tricky. Different work schedules can greatly affect their relationship and intimacy.  This incompatibility in schedules can be noted among couples who are busy in their work, business, and career. Celebrity couples, for instance, who are busy with their own schedules in shooting and post-production promotion of their latest movies and gigs that they seldom find time to maintain and nourish their relationships. This is not to say early birds and night owls can’t make it work, but major differences in how two people operate day-to-day can create major date scheduling challenges and prevent momentum from being that wind behind your backs.

2. Different Relaxation Styles.

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If two people have completely different relaxation styles, it will be very challenging to make a relationship work.”Based on how someone likes to spend their weekend, I mentally put people into two different categories: ‘activities person’ or ‘homebody. Activities persons want to spend their relaxation by doing relaxing tasks such as swimming, drinking, camping, or doing some sports activities outdoor. Homebody persons feel more relaxed by resting or doing something worthwhile inside the home or indoor. This incompatibility in relaxation can lead to some frictions and stress in the marital relationship which can threaten the stability of the marital union.

3. Different Eating Habits

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“This can extend to physical activity as well. For instance, if one partner enjoys working out and eating healthy and the other partner isn’t as interested in this lifestyle, it can be incredibly frustrating for both parties.” If one partner is a vegetarian and the other is a “meat eater” can be a dangerous combination. There is always an argument or friction every time they dine together because of their differences in the choice of food.

“While you and your partner don’t have to be at the same level of fitness, share the same interests (maybe you like running marathons and they prefer to lift weights), or eat the exact same way, it’s important to at least have some commonalities when it comes to your health and lifestyle.”

4. Different Levels of Intelligence

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Similar levels of intelligence can dictate whether a relationship will work out or not. Intelligence can mean a general curiosity or interest in learning to better oneself, education or a college degree(s), or emotional intelligence. If you are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum, the relationship likely won’t work.

5. Different Ways of Expressing Emotions

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Differences in expressing emotions due to differences of personalities and social upbringing of couples can a deadly path towards a breakup or dire in marriage. A marital commitment is based on a constant negotiation between partners to maintain their relationship. This implies diplomacy, openness, and compromise to settle a dispute or marital conflict. But if one of the partners is more aggressive in expressing their emotions, especially anger, and the other would not give in, then the marital union can be in danger, particularly if the quarrel is persisting. In this case, a mature third party such as a counselor or common friend, would act as a referee or mediator can be desirable to avoid a breakup or separation.

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Reference

Fellizar, K. “The 15 Incompatible Qualities That End Relationships, According To Matchmakers”. Bustle.com. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/the-15-incompatible-qualities-that-end-relationships-according-to-matchmakers-8102682.

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10 Top Signs of Women Falling in Love

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1. Seductive Eye Contact 

(She looks at him once in a while, looks into his eyes, looks at him often, looks long, etc.) 

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If the woman continuously looking at a man and not the room or surrounding, it is a sign that she is interested in him. She can also show her special affection for him by occasionally glancing at him, especially if he is not looking at her. If the man is observant and sensitive enough of this nonverbal sign of attraction, then he can sense that somebody is seducing him through her eye contact.

The eyes are said to be the windows of the soul. The movements of the eyes are loaded with meanings and clues to the internal disposition of the person. One can sense if a person is sad, happy, afraid, or falling in love through his/her eyes. Most surveys on which body part is the sexiest for men and women revealed that the eyes are considered the sexiest of all body parts of both genders. The movements of the eyes of the person can convey romantic and sexual meanings for the other.

2. Seductive Eye contact with other Nonverbal Facial Expressions 

(She looks at the man in a seductive way, ogle, wink, smile at, smile in a friendly way, smile sweetly at, etc. )

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Showing seductive eyes implies that the woman is interested in a particular man. The eyes are the most expressive body part that provides a crucial clue whether the woman has a special interest to the opposite sex. A woman who likes a particular person usually look, ogle, or wink with a sweet smile to him. A seductive glance with a smile or other facial expression is different with an ordinary disinterested look. An observant and sensitive guy can tell whether a woman has a special concern for him or not by just observing a woman’s seductive look and facial expression.

3. Moving Closer to the Guy:

(She stands or sits close to him, walk by, stay near him, etc.)

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Physical distance has a social meaning in a relationship. The distance between two people implies the degree of intimacy. If a woman is too far from the man, it implies an absence or lack of connection or intimacy between. But if a woman is moving closer to a man by approaching, standing or sitting near him, it implies that she wants to know more about him and to have some intimacy with him.

4. Approaching  and Starting to Talk to the Man:

(She walks to him and begin a speech, go next to him in a bar or coffee shop and say something, etc. )

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Some aggressive women do not only go near to the persons that attract them but also try to make initial and indirect verbal moves to connect with them. They sometimes walk to them or go next to them in a bar or coffee shop and start conversing with them informally. Their aura is usually friendly and their interest is shown in the sweet smiles on their faces.

5. Talking to Guy about Issues of General Interest:

(She makes a joke, begins a conversation, saying something witty to him, asking a question, making a remark, etc.)

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To get the attention of the guy, the interested woman would sometimes approach him and start a light conversation, say something witty, ask a question, or make a remark, especially if the initial encounter was already established. This is an indirect way of inviting her man to a romantic relationship. It all depends on the guy whether he too is interested and would accept these initial moves of wooing.

6. Talking Directly to the Guy:

(She makes a compliment, says she likes him, offers him a drink, says directly what she thinks of him, invites him to dance, etc. )

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If some women want to ensure that their seductions and nonverbal signs of interest are noticed, they usually approach their targets directly and say something nice about them, offer some drinks, or invite them to a dance.

7. Talking Indirectly to the Guy, Apparently in a  Functional Way:

(She asks what time it is, ask for a light, ask for a coin for the telephone, ask for a cigarette, etc.) 

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To get the attention of the men they are interested in, some women would approach their targets and ask them in a functional way for some things to be noticed. They would, for instance, ask the women about the time of the day, ask for a light or help in some mobile phone problems, a cigarette, etc.

8. Approaching the Guy through a Third Person:

(She approaches him through a friend, she walks by and talks to another person, etc.)

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Women would sometimes use a “go-between” or a common friend just to get in touch with their targets. A woman, for instance, would ask a friend in a gathering about the next guy on the table, etc. She can make a whisper to her friend and look seductively on the guy.

9. Paying Special Attention to Him:

(She listens to him with amusement, she’s attentive, asks interesting questions, be nice, pay attention to him, etc. )

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A woman signals her interest to a guy by being extra interested with what he is doing. She asks questions in a nice on his latest project, hobby, sport, etc. She also follows him in the social media or anything he is active online.

10. Showing Some of Her Physical Features:

(She shows her sexy body or any body part to her crush)

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Showing some sexy body parts is another strategy of women who fall in love with their men. This is a more direct nonverbal sign to invite men to approach and make a connection with the seducing females. This can be an effective strategy since men, in general, can easily be attracted physically to women.

GIF credits: Giphy.com

References

De Weerth, C. & Kalma, A. (1995). Gender Differences in Awareness of Courtship Initiation Tactics. Sex Roles. Vol. 32, Nos. 11/12, 1995.

________”Spot the Signs to Know that a Woman is Seducing You”Men’s Corner Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.ayushveda.com/mens-magazine/spot-the-signs-to-know-a-woman-is-seducing-you/.

The Limits of Material Happiness: A Christian Reflection

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It has been said that happiness is a state of mind and a relative term. Our views on happiness are determined by our mental frames which are reflections of our own cultural orientation as members of a particular community. For Christians, happiness is not only limited to material happiness. The Christian concept of happiness goes beyond the material world and satisfaction of our sensual needs. In fact, the Church's teaching on the 7 deadly or cardinal sins includes gluttony. The word "gluttony" comes from the Latin word gula which is derived from gluttire which means "to gulp down or swallow". Gluttony is the inordinate, over-indulgence, and over-consumption of food, drink, or material things that provide much pleasure to the body.

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The Church does not discourage people to enjoy consumer goods that provide pleasure and material happiness to people. But consumption must be done in moderation. As embodied beings, we are entitled to the enjoyment of God's creation and human goods and services. But we must avoid inordinate attachment, i.e., our life is not tied up with material goods, we don't crave for things that are unnecessary in life and detrimental to our spiritual life with God.

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In Church teaching, happiness is, above, spiritual in nature. True happiness is spiritual joy of being in the state of grace and of knowing that one is following God's will. The happiness of parents of seeing their children praying or doing their duties in school is spiritual joy that last in their memories even after death. The consolation we experience when we pray to God is spiritual joy that can propel us to be with the divine in the afterlife. In other words, spiritual happiness is lasting, while material happiness is fleeting.

THE LIMITS OF MATERIAL JOY

Material happiness has limits. We may have achieved our personal goals. We may have acquired much wealth and fame, but the end of the day we still remain mortal and moving towards our own death. The great Steve Jobs may have reached the pinnacle of success in business and innovation for co-founding the tech giant Apple. But when he was stricken with cancer and was dying, he acknowledged what that lingers in people’s memory are not achievements, pleasures, and material success in life, but the loving memories of the things we care about that make our loved ones and other people happy. In other words, he is referring to our spiritual joys which are indeed lasting!

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Material happiness is like eating our favorite cuisine. After we have savored it and satisfied our craving, the sense of pleasure immediately vanishes. And it is only a matter of minutes that we crave again for another type to continue the pleasure of eating. Some Roman gluttons were said to intentional vomit the food they just ate in order to feel hungry again and to continue to feel the pleasure of tasting their sumptuous meal.

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The fleeting moment of material satisfaction can also be illustrated in buying a new luxury car. After using it a couple of days or would probably after a week, the excitement and pleasure of driving our dream car would immediately subside. And the desire of acquiring a new car which is better than the previous model would probably surface in our dreams. We enter into an endless cycle of craving and pleasure to satisfy our insatiable material desires. This also the case of people who find happiness in sex, drugs, and other forms of material pleasure. The material happiness is indeed very temporary.

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Contrast this material pleasure with spiritual joy and happiness of helping and loving our loved one and people who are in need. Our loving memories of the good we do to others do not just fade away in our consciousness but can linger even up to our last breath. That’s why people capture memorable moments in selfies, groupies, posts, videos, digital photos and pictures to remind them of their treasured happy memories. This is not say that we should disregard our material desires and suppressed them altogether, but we have to be conscious of their limits and not be imprisoned by our inordinate attachment to material pleasures, thereby losing sight of our spiritual journey in life.

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Seeing life from the point of view of death has been recommended by great saints and thinkers. St. Ignatius of Loyola, for instance, recommended a meditation on death to make us more humble and see the limitations of our being or what the great philosopher Martin Heidegger calls a human person as a “being-towards-death”, and to feel our vulnerability on the face of death and remove the last vintages of pride within us.

Again, Steve Jobs is one of the most innovative and charismatic leader in the American business world and has been idolized by millions of his fans worldwide for his technological innovation and vision and for co-founding Apple and its innovative products. And yet, he has acknowledged the limits of success and accumulation of wealth. In the face of death, everything fades except our loving memories of people. In our dying bed we recall these memories and thank our God for giving us the spiritual grace of genuinely loving other people, especially our family and friends or whoever that touched our life deeply.

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Praise God for reading this post. If you feel that this post can help others, press click share! I pray that God will always guide you in your daily activities. God bless!

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4 Ways to Handle Marital Conflict and Stress

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1. Manage Your Marital Conflict. 

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Marriage is an ongoing negotiation. It formally begins during the wedding day when the bride and the groom say “I Do” to signal their lifetime commitment to stay together. But this agreement does not stop there. Right after the wedding ceremony the art of marital negotiation commences.

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Everyday, the couple has to agree and compromise to stay together. When there is a disagreement, especially on serious things, such as handling conjugal property or educating the children, the couple must manage and resolve the issues as soon as possible. If they need some professional help from a lawyer or counselor, by all means they must agree to such a move. If couple will not resolve one issue at a time, things and tensions could pile up and partners would find the issues become complex to handle that could eventually lead to their separation or divorce. Remember: Always nip a problem from the bud and not allow it to ruin a lifetime marital commitment.

2. Forgive Your Spouse.

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Forgiving your’s partner’s fault is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Giving mercy is an acknowledgement that your partner is, after all, a human being with frailties and weakness as a person. Many marriages fail because couples failed to forgive one another. Marriage is a union of two unique people. Thus, expect the spouses to clash in many personal issues, since each partner has a different personality, social upbringing, and cultural orientation.

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To be able to forgive requires some form of spirituality based on your religious beliefs. Forgiveness is actually going beyond your self. You let go of your partner’s fault because you also know that you have your own faults and weaknesses too as a human being and you believe in God. So forgive and forget is a great key to make marriages work!

3. Sacrifice in the Name of Love.

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The type love in marriage is different from romantic relationship, although romantic love is a preparation for marital love. Marital love is a self-giving love. This means that when you say “I Do” during the wedding ceremony, you promise to sacrifice for the other because of love. Sacrificing for the sake of your spouse is an expression of marital love. A willingness “to forgo self-interest and desired activities for the good of a partner or relationship is an important aspect of maintaining relationships.

4. Alleviate Each Other’s Stress.

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Sustaining and maintaining a family can be a very difficult task, especially for poor couples who are pressured by poverty. Also, troubles at work, financial crises or family drama can all push spouses apart. Couples who can respond to each other’s stress in a way that is soothing rather than exacerbating can weather the tenser times. That’s why constant communication and mutual affirmation are very important to maintain a marital commitment. Many married couples divorced because they no longer mutually support each other. The marital vows that mention the phrase”for better or for worse, ’til death do us part” implies that the couple’s mutual support in times of need and stress! Going out together on a date or special vacation during times of severe stress in family affairs is a great opportunity for couples to talk, support each other, and create new strategies on how to deal with their serious marital problems.

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