Personal Development

The Transformative Power of Reading

Transformative Power of Reading

(Photo Credit: Black Christian News Network)

One of the most powerful ways to awaken, develop, strengthen, and renew your inner intellectual is through reading substantive pieces each day. When you read substantive works, your knowledge grows, your imagination becomes broader, and your capacity to dream elevates. Reading permits you to not only discover many or most of the answers you seek, but also it enables you to formulate the right questions, questions that will lead you to a better, more interesting, and more successful life. This intentional focus on your inner intellectual will pay true dividends in enhancing your self-concept and naturally and ultimately your self-esteem.

When you read quality material, material that relates to your interests, aspirations, and search for answers, your purposeful reading will serve as a strong defense against negative factors affecting and influencing your self-concept and self-esteem.

Reading substantive literature, such as slave narratives, allows for you to place the challenges, barriers, and problems you face in their proper context. When you read slave narratives, you will learn about individuals who persevered and triumphed in impossible conditions—conditions much more difficult than you will ever be able to imagine. These stories about how American heroes and heroines endured these impossible conditions will inspire you to continue to strive for success—even when success falsely appears unlikely and barriers seem like they will never be conquered. Look for the strategies, values, principles, and thinking that led to those individuals’ success. Find ways to incorporate what contributed to their success into your own life.

Use your school library, public library, and the internet to find books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals. One of the greatest investments you can make in yourself each day is to read something that is going to support your interests and place you further on the path to achieving your goals. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t waste a moment in self-doubt. Expand your knowledge, expand your horizons, expand your imagination through a commitment to reading meaningful books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals.

A commitment to purposeful reading every day is one of the most powerful ways of strengthening your self-concept and self-esteem. With this commitment, your mind becomes occupied with self-advancement, pursuing your interests, and meeting your goals.

Let books and articles occupy your mind, limiting the amount of time for condemnation, peer pressure, and self-doubt to discourage you and halt your progress.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Everybody Old Ain’t Wise

Old Fool

(Photo Credit: Eucman)

When many old people, especially those who attend church regularly, approach young people, they make statements to those young folks based on their “wisdom” and “experience,” for, in their view, their experience is much more valuable than this “book knowledge” the young have. By “book knowledge,” they generally refer to learning one has obtained in school, including various levels of higher education. Without “book knowledge,” what type of informed lens do you employ to situate the insights of your experience? Without “book knowledge,” how do you really know you’re wise? Isn’t some level of “book knowledge” necessary to have wisdom? If old age automatically makes one wise, then how do we get Donald Trump? Exactly.

II Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Scripture, therefore, teaches that true wisdom begins and ends with “rightly dividing the word of truth” in one’s thought, talk, walk, and heart. One’s right believing will produce right living, right conduct. Authentic experience is gained through one’s consistent engagement with the word of truth and his or her applying it to daily life. One cannot have real wisdom without an accurate and comprehensive understanding of Scripture. You might want to benefit from some “book knowledge” if you desire to possess wisdom.

Don’t allow anyone, including some old church coon, to make you feel bad because you’re highly educated.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Make Your Work Pay

Pay Me

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Although it may sound harsh and selfish, don’t do anything that will not yield you a beneficial return. View your work and activities through the lens of budgeting and investing. Labor and activities not producing a useful return—eliminate them. Does a fruitful return necessarily mean money? No. It can mean anything deemed valuable to you. When you constantly feel overextended, take an opportunity to see why. Are you trying to do more than you’re able to do? Are you attempting to solve all of the problems of those around you? Are you more preoccupied with the affairs of others than your own? If your answer is “yes” to those aforementioned questions, then your life is rife with imbalances.

Have enough courage to turn down work that does not pay. Be willing to disengage or not participate in activities that will not improve you in some way. When you know your worth, then you will place a demand and/or price on requests people make. If someone wants you to do something for him or her, then he or she should expect to give something in exchange for the request. He or she cannot go into the supermarket and pick up a bag of grapes without supplying the cashier money in exchange for the item.

Face it—we live in an exchange society: you want something; you give something.

For those who have a problem with this exchange society, they’re really the ones who are selfish. Why would you want someone to do something for you and you not at least offer to do something in return for him or her?

My dad taught me to work smart—not hard. Yes, I know his teaching is counter to the American ethos of “hard work pays.” However, does hard work always pay? How about most of the time? If you desire for your work to be meaningful and your activities to be meaningful, then you better attach expected returns to that work and those activities. Don’t become so altruistic to the point you lose yourself, lose your self-worth.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Unload Unnecessary Baggage

Although we keep important items in our metaphorical luggage, too much unnecessary stuff remains. Continuing to carry all of this junk weighs you down, presses you small. “Bag Lady,” one of Erykah Badu’s most powerful and popular songs, reveals the toxic nature of maintaining excess baggage, and people disregard at their own peril the valuable lessons this song offers. You must realize that immense stress will kill you. It’s essential, therefore, to remove stressful phenomena and people from your life. Don’t get buried in the baggage you elect to transport.

Today is the right time to release the excess, dispose of the trash, and organize the clutter. Consuming and hanging around mess will turn you into mess. If you really don’t like mess, then get rid of it. Don’t go another day dealing with unhealthy stress levels, guilt, shame, condemnation, worry, and fear; tap into a hope on the inside of you far greater than them all.

When you cannot find any joy and benefit in a thing or person, then it’s time to disconnect from it or him or her.

You possess the power to improve your life today: dump the junk now.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

10 Tips to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Man Crying

(Photo Credit: The Telegraph)

Numerous people can benefit from a significant improvement in their self-esteem. When you have low self-esteem or unsatisfactory self-esteem, don’t be ashamed; take steps to boost it. You possess the authority necessary to take control of your life. A healthy self-esteem is essential for a healthy life to materialize. Recognizing how important a strong self-esteem is to a productive and fulfilling life, this piece offers ten tips to aid you in strengthening your self-esteem.

1. Take Charge of Your Own Life. This is your life—choose what you want it to do for you. Make life submit to you; don’t allow it to dominate you.

2. Accept the Notion that You Are Responsible for You. When you claim responsibility for your life and are able to own your failures and celebrate your successes, you place yourself on the path to a healthier self-esteem.

3. Reject Those Committed to Destroying You. Surround yourself with people committed to building you up and advancing you. Disconnect from those who consistently attempt to undermine and attack you. Refuse to allow your friends and family to destroy you with their words and actions. If necessary, separate yourself from them.

4. Speak Positive Words to Yourself. People with an unproductive self-esteem constantly speak negative words to themselves. Their thought-life is consumed with self-defeating thoughts and images.

5. Take Calculated Risks. If you’re going to reach your full potential, comfort zones must be eradicated. Comfort zones kill dreams; comfort zones extinguish passions; comfort zones limit possibilities. Never permit the fear of failure to prevent you from tackling a challenge.

6. Discontinue Comparing Yourself to Others. Focus on yourself. Become the best version of yourself possible.

7. Love Yourself. You will never experience true happiness and joy when you fail to love yourself.

8. Be Trustworthy and Loyal. Let your words and actions prove you to be trustworthy and loyal.

9. Win with Grace, Lose with Class. Be a great winner and lose honorably.

10. Be a Giver. Being an authentic giver fills you with joy and dismantles the elements that compose low self-esteem.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison    

9 Ways to Stay in Your Lane

Excessive Talking

(Photo Credit: Cheat Sheet)

When you learn to stay in your lane, your life will be so much better. The purpose of this piece is to offer nine ways to help you stay in your lane.                                    

1. Fix Yourself First. When you’re too eager to solve the problems of others, or too swift to make an unproductive generalization or analysis about someone else, pause and begin working on yourself. You have too many issues in your own life to address to devote time to the problems of others.

2. Recognize Your Own Inadequacies. Before you attempt to highlight the inadequacies of others, take enough time to eliminate your own.

 3. Stop Running Your Mouth So Much. Many people talk so much—never taking time to listen—that they fail to realize what they are actually saying. Excessive talking can lead you to commenting on phenomena you lack sufficient knowledge to discuss. Listen just as much as you speak.

4. Consider How Insignificant Your Comments Are. Most of what you respond to that doesn’t directly involve you will not be affected in any way by what you’re wasting your time trying to convey about it. Take a moment to consider this question: Who cares what I have to say? If your response is “all that matters is I said what I had to say,” then understand you’re simply being self-indulgent. When this is your frequent response, recognize that you’re self-absorbed.

 5. Understand the Harm Your Words Can Cause. When you get out of your lane, you increase the likelihood of communicating something hurtful or harmful. If you feel compelled to say something, at least take the necessary time to articulate it in a responsible way.

6. Respect the Differences of Others. Just because people don’t do what you do and don’t think like you, those aren’t valid reasons for you to involve yourself in their business. Give people the freedom to be who they are—just as you desire to have the liberty to be who you are. Don’t attempt to impose your values on others; your values are just that—your values.

7. Analyze your intentions. Investigate the real reason or reasons you feel it necessary to step into someone else’s lane. You may discover that your intentions are what need addressing instead of the issues others are confronting.

8. Keep a Private Journal. Instead of always involving yourself in the affairs of others, purchase a journal and record your thoughts. You will find journaling to be a healthy way to end your desire to get into other people’s lanes. Also, you will discover that journaling is cathartic and meaningful narrative therapy. A private journal is a safe space for you to collect your thoughts without hurting anyone, without getting into a lane you shouldn’t be in, and without having to experience negative repercussions.

9. Acknowledge You’re Not the Messiah. You don’t have all of the answers. You’re not always right. No one believes everything you say is the Gospel.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison          

The Problem is You—Not Someone Else

Solving Problems

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When one allows his or her challenges, problems and circumstances to overtake him or her, the resolution lies in the mirror. You are the problem. Stop running around trying to make it seem like the problem is someone else. Even when you do underhanded stuff to attempt to make the real problem seem like it’s someone else, the fact still remains the true problem is you. People will allow their intellectual and spiritual vision to become clouded by listening to the lies and noise of folks who really don’t mean to do them any good in the first place. You have to be careful who you lend your ears to, considering you might be lending them to someone who is responsible for your downward spiral or downfall. Always allow the wisdom and discernment God gives you to lead you, even when you’re at home with members of your immediate family. Lending your ears to the words and “advice” of those immediate family members may be the reason why you’re dealing with the challenges, problems and circumstances you’re currently facing.

A person who has great character does not allow what he or she is going through to have a deleterious impact on his or her character. People with great character rise above the problem and seek an effective and amicable resolution to the problem.

If you’re truly interested in resolving your problems, then you should welcome the input of people you’ve known for a long time. When they offer their opinions and critiques, you shouldn’t turn them into your enemies simply because they express unsettling sentiments. Those unsettling sentiments might be the vehicles through which you realize what you need to do to remedy your problems. God intentionally designed us to be dependent on one another, evidenced from the beginning of the world by Adam’s longing for human companionship and a “help meet.” Never allow a spirit of intolerance to cause you to think and act ignorantly.

When people challenge you, embrace the challenge.

Never be afraid to acknowledge and admit you’re losing your way. Although people are willing to give superficial support to someone who says, “be yourself,” many don’t demonstrate an authentic commitment to being themselves.

Get out of your comfort zone and respond to your problems candidly. You will live a more enjoyable life when you muster the courage to deal squarely with your problems. Take the necessary time to conduct a frank self-assessment. Engage in deep thought about the way you process problems and your style(s) for addressing them. Make the essential modifications and begin to live life to the fullest.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison