The news this year has been sad and frustrating. I’m still trying to find the middle ground between ignoring what’s happening in the world and obsessing over it. But in the midst of the storm, there are still new joys to be discovered, and that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning: a sense of curiosity about where I’ll find brightness in the day, even if it’s just for a moment. In reading some of your questions, I’ve been encouraged by the brightness that many of you are seeking. Happy reading.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the scolding phrase that sits on the first page of the parenting handbook: “If everyone went jumping off a bridge, would you do it, too?” In this situation, it seems like a new question is needed: When you and your friends jump off the bridge, should you push your roommate off, too?
Rather than asking your roommate to make their word meaningless by violating the COVID Safe, Thunder Strong Commitment which they signed (and you did, too!), you should thank them for their obedience to the college’s policies. Because your roommate is not breaking COVID rules with their friends, your friends run a lower risk of contracting COVID when they come over to your dorm or apartment unmasked. If you were both lenient, the chances of exposure and contraction among both of you and also your immediate friend groups would multiply significantly.
In the future, I hope you will avoid criticizing your roommate’s behavior and perhaps even find the strength to imitate it.
As many of my friends will confirm, I am not qualified to give any advice on the actual cooking process. Knives and fire/extreme heat make me incredibly nervous, and I did not learn how to use an oven until the current ARD of Smith-Traber showed me how two years ago. But, if you are not afflicted by an inexplicable fear of wielding sharp objects and playing with fire, there are some studies which may make you rethink your aversion to practicing in the kitchen.
A new form of psychological treatment is on the rise. Culinary art therapy, as bizarre as it may seem, has developed out of a growing body of research that, despite being in its infancy, finds the process of cooking (especially cooking for other people) to yield a number of psychological benefits, including higher levels of self-esteem and quality of life.
Why cooking appears to be so psychologically beneficial is uncertain. Likely, it is due to the creative nature of cooking, as creativity is known to help cultivate positive psychological functioning. Additionally, setting achievable goals for yourself that can be completed in a moderate timeframe contributes to an increased sense of self-esteem, a core understanding behind behavioral activation therapy. This style of therapy focuses on developing the patient’s contact with sources of reward.
So, you know that cooking is psychologically beneficial, but that fact is meaningless if you feel like your cooking skills are so inferior that you’re too embarrassed to cook anything for anyone. Here’s a trick to making your food taste better, without improving at the actual cooking process at all: the psychology of plating.
Did you know that food is regularly rated more enjoyable if the participant is given silver utensils as opposed to plastic or colorful utensils? Additionally, the weight and color of utensils can affect how sweet or salty we perceive foods to be.
Other research on plating has found that, in western cultures, round, white plates tend to enhance sweet flavors in food, whereas black, angular plates tend to bring out more savory flavors. In the same vein, artistically arranging foods instead of tossing them randomly on a plate can actually influence the enjoyment of a meal.
The reason for these phenomena are due to the mental associations people bring to a meal, rather than the utensils or food arrangements themselves magically making the food taste differently (if only a silver fork could make kale taste like steak). If you’re looking for a fairly immediate way to enhance the flavors of the meals you cook, rather than practicing, look into plating methods and invest in some nice silverware, as well as plates that are colored in agreement with the flavors you’re trying to bring out.
Before we dive into tips on how to read the Bible more often, start by considering this question: where are you when you try unsuccessfully to read the Bible?
If you’re trying to read in a space where you don’t normally enjoy yourself, you might start to associate the Bible with that undesirable space (a phenomenon known as evaluative conditioning). This can also take place based on when you read the Bible. If you try to read it right before going to bed, while you’re fighting sleep, you’re making the task much harder for yourself than need be.
My first tip, then, is to read the Bible in a space where you are most comfortable, at a time when you’re awake and clear-minded. This doesn’t have to be at the crack of dawn.
Second, think about your daily schedule. Is there a time of day (perhaps between classes) when you are most tempted to scroll through Instagram or to just keep clicking “refresh” on YouTube in the hopes that some magical life-altering video will appear? This may be the best time for you to tackle reading scripture.
One last tip that I employ regularly, is coming up with a particular theme or question and looking for its presence in the text. While not all passages will speak to the particular question you come up with, having something specific that you’re looking for may help make reading scripture feel more like an engaging activity than an endless task. Some themes I’ve used to guide my Bible reading are: biblical views of atonement, prescriptive and descriptive language regarding gender and the treatment of women, perspectives/lenses of viewing evil and identifying spiritual forces, etc.
I hope the above tips work for you. Not only will you be enlightened by increasing your reading of scripture, you might even answer a few of the lingering theological questions you’ve been wrestling with lately.