Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is Love?

If I were to write a book about the Principles of a Happy Marriage--assuming someone out there would want to read romance advice from an academic economist--I would definitely include a section or two about what is love.

I understand that every individual is different and has unique needs. Therefore, every pairing of individuals and thus every marriage is also unique. Nevertheless, I believe that several fairly universal principles will apply to making any relationship successful:

The most important principle of a happy marriage is love. Love is caring for another person such that we genuinely want what is best for them. When we love someone, we want them to be happy, content, and to have peace.

There are at least two ways to love someone:

Passive Love: while we are busy with our own struggles, we silently hope that they are happy, content and at peace.

Active Love: we specifically dedicate some of our own life energy to helping this person to be happy, content, and at peace.

The kind of love that makes for a happy marriage is Active Love, though passive love is important in a world where our time and abilities are limited.
More accurately, working toward a happy marriage involves being willing to sacrifice all that you have in order to help your spouse to be safe, happy, and to have peace--even when they are not all in.

  1. This means that no matter what your spouse does or does not do for you or for your marriage, it is your responsibility to make sure that they get from you that which is best for them.

  2. This also means that a large portion of your life energy is going to be devoted to learning about your spouse.
    Research, Research, Research.
    In order to provide what is best, you need to figure out what that is. This is not an easy task. Even the seemingly most simple person is a complex puzzle. It takes more than a lifetime to figure any one person out, so you'd better get started now....and keep at it.

I hope you find my thoughts helpful.  Please comment and/or respond somehow if you have other thoughts about this sort of thing. 

I passively love you all.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wisdom and Understanding

I had a thought today about wisdom, and what it means to be wise. It was sparked by the following statement of the prophet Abinadi, from the Book of Mormon:
Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise.
(for more information on Abinadi, see chs. 11-17 of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon.)

This statement implies that in order to be wise (by Abinadi's definition), one must apply his or her heart to understanding.

Do you want to be wise in Relationships?
                                               Career success? 

Keep in mind that if we are not wise, then we are fools.

The above observation leads to a sort of wisdom self-check. If we wonder whether we are wise or foolish with respect to a certain matter, we can ask ourselves:
  • How important is it to me to truly understand this?
  • Have I truly applied myself to fully grasping what is going on here?
  • What can I still do to possibly understand this better?
This can apply to anything in our lives that is important to us. 

I do not intend to imply here that if we apply ourselves then we will definitely be wise. But it is important to note that if we are not truly applying ourselves, then how can we ever expect to be anything other than a fool?

This is personally important to me because in many cases, even if I do not care to be an expert in a certain area, the last thing I want is to be perceived as a fool (which in many cases is a weakness, not a strength).

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's all about the children

I came across this quote today, (Thanks Heidi):

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
-Frederick Douglass

Well said.

I have often thought about this principle in terms of stuff and things:  an ounce of maintenance is worth a pound of repairs. But I have never really applied it to people in quite this way, and oh how much more important are the people!

I am old enough now to have had at least a cursory level of experience with broken people. It is sad for me to see people hurting others or themselves when I am fairly certain that the root cause of such pain-inflicting is often external. And while efforts to ease suffering are noble and necessary, I often wish that we (or I , or whoever) could do more to prevent the pain.

This is a big reason why I believe that it is crucial to focus some attention to helping our children grow up into happy adults that know how to "inflict" happiness on others; some important principles include service, kindness, patience, forgiveness, tolerance, etc. It is much easier to learn these principles when we are young humans than when we are fully grown.

THE CRAYON BOX THAT TALKED from tim webb on Vimeo.

One caveat and discussion question: This principle has been repeatedly used by both well-meaning and nefarious men to attempt to force many young people (particularly those who have a natural disposition toward people-pleasing or authority-respecting) into aligning themselves with particular ideologies. This approach to child-rearing has had success I believe because the principle in the above quote is true.

How can we apply this principle to help our children become the type of people who influence happiness, without using force or coercion?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to make a good idea into an influential idea

So you think you have a good idea about how to change the world. So what?

Your idea will never be implemented on a mass scale unless it can pass two tests.

Test 1: the Grandma test

Your idea must be simple enough that you can explain it to your grandmother in a way that she understands.

Test 2: the Elevator test

Your explanation must be short enough that you can express it to someone during the course of a short elevator ride (about 20 seconds).

These two rules govern why only a limited set of ideas are ever discussed in Congress. Unfortunately, bad ideas can also pass these tests....

So before you try to get the rest of the world on board with your brilliance, make sure that you can organize your main points as to be able to get your grandma to understand in less than half a minute. Good luck!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to Be a Peacemaker

Nope. That's not it.

What I am talking about is how to get along with people, and how to not get upset or mad at people. This is an important concept for me and I hope you find use in it.

The main principle is to learn how to blame the universe when things go wrong, instead of blaming other people (especially those we love--though this applies to other drivers on the road, etc.).

In my experience, very few people in the world actually enjoy causing harm to other people.  These people are called sadists, and I doubt if I have ever met one. The only exceptions I perceive are instances in which a person feels harmed first, and then desires vengeance.

Principle 1.  If someone harms you because they feel you harmed them first, you should find a way to talk to that person. While it may take some control over our natural reflexes, a sincere apology in these situations can be powerful. Additionally, if the lines of communication are open, then we can often make amends in these situations by understanding the next principle.

Principle 2. Misunderstandings occur when two or more people do not adequately understand why each other thinks or behaves in the way that they do. Given the time (and required patience), misunderstandings can be overcome through open communication.

We may wonder, "if people are not sadists and I did no harm to them, then why did they choose to cause me harm?" Harm most often comes in the form of hurt feelings--these can be feelings of rejection, neglect, abandonment, betrayal, etc.

Hurt Scenario 1. Someone did not think about our needs before they acted.

In this case, we may ask questions like "How do you think that makes me feel?" The fact of the matter is that no one in the world thinks about your feelings more than you do. No matter how important you are to someone and no matter how much they love and adore you, there will always be times when they neglect to consider your feelings as fully as you do.

This leads to Hurt Scenario 2. Someone had to make a tough decision that did not maximize YOUR happiness.

We live in a world of scarcity. We cannot maximize the happiness of everyone we care about with every decision that we make. Many decisions in life will have clear "winners" and "losers", but these decisions cannot be avoided. For example, a married couple must decide each Christmas if they are going to spend time with extended family. If they choose to spend time with His family, then Her family misses out and visa versa. If they choose something else (assuming it infeasible to bring both sides of the family together), then both families lose.

Perhaps if we had more time, we could consider every possible decision that we make and come up with the choices that will always benefit everyone--or cause the least harm. Many decisions, however, must be made on the fly. I suspect that MOST of our decisions must necessarily be knee-jerk reactions simply because we lack the time and energy to deliberate at every moment (note: this begins to highlight the importance of developing good habits... a topic for another post).

The result is that many of the day-to-day choices that we are forced to make may cause harm to those around us. Sometimes we do things that may hurt others or cause them to feel unloved, but we do so not out of malice. The fact that our decisions cause harm is often a matter of pure happenstance.

Conclusion.  With this in mind, we must understand that sometimes (often) the universe is not fair to us. We (or those whose decisions affect us) are put into positions in which perfect outcomes are unreasonable or impossible. We may get frustrated that things do not go our way, and our reflex may be to subconsciously project that frustration onto others who are involved. But hurt is rarely their intention or their fault. The trick is to learn to be frustrated with the universe, and to still love (and not resent) the people whom the universe required to make the decisions that ultimately hurt us.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Economic Immigration

Check out my Policy Brief on how a change in the immigration system may be part of the stimulus our economy needs.

Suns Make a Run

NBA highlights the Suns

With just a couple games left in the season, the fight for a playoff position comes down to the wire.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

If you have a blog, and I can't make comments...

Blogger is having a problem with the comment form code.

Please check to see if people can leave comments on your blog.  If not, 

If you have the embedded below the post comment form, CHANGE TEMPORARILY to either the pop-up form or the whole page form. When the underlying problem has been resolved, you will be able to change back.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Belong More

I saw this sign on my way across campus the other day... 
(Beware: mock rant is imminent)
Really?!?    Belong More.  So I don't belong enough at BYU.  I have been a student at BYU since 2004.  I keep the Honor Code. I eat at the Cougareat. I pay the full tithing-subsidized tuition like the other 98 percent of Mormon students (mostly).

Apparently, however, I don't belong enough until I participate with BYU/SA (BYU Student Service Association; swallow the second S... or so I'm told).

Or perhaps it's the fake blonde hair and the white teeth that I'm missing.  Any ideas?  I guess it's too little too late at this point.  Just a few more months and I'm outta here.

...they do look happy, though...

Monday, February 6, 2012

2011 Countdown

I am aware that it is now February and over 10 percent of 2012 is already behind us. Nevertheless, what follows is a count-down wrap-up of me in 2011.  Thanks to Megio for the idea.

10 New Movies I Enjoyed

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Source Code
Captain America: The First Avenger
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Kung Fu Panda 2
Soul Surfer
Green Lantern
Gnomeo and Juliet

9 Place I Went

Home (for the summer, and for Christmas)
Eagle Creek (Punchbowl Falls)
Hogle Zoo

Salt Lake City Temple
(we got to see the room in which Kira was sealed to her family)
Park City (I got two pairs of shoes in one trip)
Texas Roadhouse

8 Reasons to Celebrate as a Family

Theodore Leonard Miller
(Technically not born until January)
Dad and Heidi got married
Seconds turned 10 (that's what? 70 in dog years?)
Acacia graduated from high school
Kira quit her job

7 Crazy Things that Happened

Kira got pre-eclampsia
We got a different car
We saw a beaver at Leslie Groves park
We sold half our furniture and rearranged our living room
We did not celebrate our anniversary
(We are celebrating twice this year)

6 Scholastic Progresses

Finished the first year of my Masters program
Started the final year of my Masters program
Interned for the Benton County Commissioners
Participated in an Intermountain Healthcare Student Think Tank
Took the GRE again
Applied to PhD programs for Economics at 10 Universities

5 TV Shows Kira and I watched

Up All Night
The Voice
The Sing-off

4 Photo Shoots

Baby J's Newborn Photo Shoot
Friends of Acacia- Graduation Photo Shoot
Jace's 6-month Family Photo Shoot

3 First Holidays

Jace's First Halloween
Jace's First Thanksgivings (2 of 'em) 
Jace's First Christmas

2 Songs I Wrote

Philosophers' Remix of Black's "Friday"
Hey Stephen

1 New Favorite Number

Phi over Thrix

Thursday, January 19, 2012