Lessons of Love #3

Why you lost those butterflies in your stomach and how to get those puppies back.

Of all the things that I’ve learned from my relationship with my girlfriend Jessica, no lesson was harder to learn than lesson # 3. Let me explain why it’s probably going to be as difficult for you as it was for me. From a very young age, the majority of us are taught to believe that love is some sort of mystical force that binds two people together forever. Were taught to believe that when we meet our soul mate, that we will know immediately and live happily ever after with them from that day forward. As ridiculous as it may sound to you now, the truth is that most of us (myself included) believe in this myth, even if we don’t realize that we do. However, the fact is that this myth is no truer than Santa Claus or the Tooth fairy is. Recognizing that fact is the first step to understanding real love and the reason why the butterflies likely went missing.

I remember when I first started dating Jessica I would tell everyone how amazing she was, how perfect everything was and how in love we were. I felt so overwhelmed with love that I couldn’t hold back a smile even if I was at a funeral. It was as though all of my senses were amplified and my thoughts were occupied solely with her, making me feel both crazy and more alive than ever before. However, sooner or later, this intense feeling begins to fade and reality returns. All of a sudden the butterflies are gone, your partner no longer seems as perfect as they once did and both of you begin to show your true colors to each other. What happened? Were you mistaken about your feelings? Did you rush into things too quickly? Thousands of questions begin to race through your mind and doubt begins to push its way into your thoughts.

The reason that we hit this wall of doubt after being so sure about one another could only be explained by scientific research. What scientists have discovered is that our brains release a chemical called Oxytocin when we first begin to date a person. This chemical is what produces the effects that make us feel crazy in love and completely overwhelmed with emotion. But once two people have been together for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, they stop producing this chemical all together. The result is that we begin to think clearly again and no longer feel this sensation of butterflies in our stomach. Scientists believe that the reason why we developed this instinctual chemical release in the first place was so that our species would multiply and increase our chances for future survival (aka. Have sex and make babies). While I understand that the idea of some magical binding force may sound so much more romantic then an instinctual chemical release, the reality is that this initial sensation that we all experience is no more than an evolutionary instinct passed down from generation to generation.

Lucky for you and your significant other, you both have a tool more powerful than Oxytocin or any other chemical in the brain, to attain true love. That tool is choice. This is the hard part to comprehend. In order to attain true and lasting love, you and your partner must both CHOOSE to love each other each and every single day. Being in love is not something that just happens on its own, but rather it is something that you must work hard for. Before you start to feel like you did on the day that you found out your parents were Santa Claus, hear me out. Yes, choosing to love someone is a difficult task and sometimes even a pain in the ass, but the reward for doing so is greater than you could ever imagine. The reason why I say that is because after realizing that your significant other chooses to love you every single day, is that you are able to truly appreciate that person and their commitment to you.

As for getting those butterflies back, you first have to talk to your significant other and explain to them how real love works. Discuss what you learned and be patient with each other, this isn’t something that can be done in 20 minutes, trust me. Now if choosing to love each other is something that both of you decide to do, then get ready to experience the real magic. As far as the butterflies are concerned, I recommend that you try doing this. For one whole week, spoil your partner every single day. For my budget friendly couples, don’t worry, you don’t have to break the bank. Things like picking flowers one day, writing a note the next day and/or burning a CD with their favorite songs are just as good as buying them a gift or taking them to a restaurant. Believe me that by the end of the week your significant other is going to be so overwhelmed with love that they will have no choice but to reciprocate that love. Finally, after all of your hard work and patience, you’ll find that those ever so elusive butterflies have returned at last!

 

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Lessons of Love #2

Keep things fresh and avoiding routines

Do you ever feel like your relationship is boring? Do you feel like it lost its momentum? Well I wouldn’t be too worried about it because luckily there’s a solution to that problem. The first thing that I do when I see that things are getting boring is identify the routine. Routines, while useful for certain tasks, are probably the worst thing for relationships. Once you fall into a routine, you risk making things boring and stagnant. So I try to identify the routine and make that the first thing that I change. For instance, if you get home from work every day and then eat dinner, shower and go to bed, try to change that up. Instead of doing it every day, take your partner to a restaurant or go on a pic-nick a couple of days out of the week.

One time I fell into a routine of going to the same restaurants over and over. Although we enjoyed going to restaurants, my girlfriend and I eventually got bored of going to the same ones. The joy that we once felt for going out to eat was diminishing. The solution to that problem was making a point of only going to restaurants that we had never been to. It didn’t matter if they were good or bad because the whole point of going was never to be food critics but rather to have fun, and we did. This is only one example of thousands of possible routines that I encounter on a daily basis. However try to change just one at a time. You don’t want to change everything that you do. Try to find things that used to be fun and no longer are, and start changing those.

I promise that every time that you start to change things up, you will notice that you and your partner have more fun. Also, doing new things together gives you something new to talk about. Spending years together with someone could tend to cover all possible topics of conversation. But doing new things will allow you to engage each other with fresh topics. That’s why I say to keep things fresh. Keep in mind that none of us is perfect and we are going to fall into some sort of a routine eventually. The trick is to realize that they can and should be changed. If your partner is the one who fell into the routine then try to talk to them about it in a calm and casual way. Let them understand that you want to change the routine and that you are willing to do things differently too.

I hope this little tip helps someone out there with their routine. If you have been through a routine and overcome it I want to know about it. Please let me know your story and what they outcome was for you after changing your routine.

 

 

Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.

After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.

Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…

I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries