The Power Of Belief

The Power Of Belief

The truth is, when you believe in something, when you believe unapologetically that you can do something, you will constantly make decisions and pursue means that fulfill those beliefs.

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I have written extensively about two parables in Odyssey articles so far: the Parable of the Lost Son and the Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee. I think about these parables all the time in terms of how I should regard, treat, and live among others. But another parable I like, that isn't quite in the Bible (and functions more as a simple story) is the Parable of the Alcoholic Father.

My perception of the parable goes like this: a violently abusive alcoholic has twin sons. One of the sons turns into a violently abusive alcoholic, just like his father. The other son turns into an abstinent, supportive father and parent, and when both sons were asked how they turned out to be who they were, they answered: "Given who my father was, how could I not?"


What's the lesson we gain from the Parable of the Alcoholic Father? It might be something as simple as the fact that we have a choice, but what is it's not like we decide overnight that we decide whether we want to be like our fathers or not. It is a lifelong choice, a gradual battle where we succeed sometimes and fail other times, and everything we do contributes to what we become. What even is a choice, and do we have them? Even though determinists in psychology often say that we don't, I've written before about how a choice, in HBO's Westworld, is how we deal with our defining life moments. A choice is how we deal with trauma, and how we deal with the things in our lives that are "too precious to lose."

But overwhelmingly, the language of the two brothers indicates that they don't, in fact, have a choice. Their destinies, as either the model of their father or the exact opposite of him, is predetermined. Both brothers share the powerful mantra of "how could I not?" However, they see the world from very different perspectives. One views his life through a lens of powerlessness, and the other views his through a similar lens of powerlessness on a different path. They both believe that they have a destiny, and that's what makes the paradox of the parable so fascinating to me.

Does having a choice mean believing you don't have a choice? Perhaps. Instead, the parable is special because it helps to illustrate a concept, and a powerful one at that: perspective is often the most powerful thing in determining who we are. The self-fulfilling prophecy, in psychology, is defined as a "prediction that causes itself, directly or indirectly, to be true." The parable shows the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy, and above all the power of belief. The most common

For the alcoholic twin, believing that he was going to be just like his alcoholic father was half battle in becoming his just like his father. For the abstinent brother, believing that he was going to be the opposite of his alcoholic father was also half the battle.

My initial impressions of the parable have changed drastically from what I think of it now - what the parable of the alcoholic father shows is the power of believing in yourself. It's quite obvious how much more difficult and challenging it is to do something when you don't believe, and I know some people who think it hubris or sheer arrogance to believe that you can do anything. But many of those same people would, instead, would buy into the words that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phillipians 4:13)

The truth is, when you believe in something, when you believe unapologetically that you can do something, you will constantly make decisions and pursue means that fulfill those beliefs. It's no secret that believing in an unconditionally loving God will make you spend more time going to church and reading scripture, nor is it a secret that believing you're a hard and tenacious worker will make you do more at work. It's no secret that believing you're a good student will make you spend more time doing homework or studying, nor is it a secret that believing you're a good person will make you more likely to treat people more kindly.

And back to the Parable of the Alcoholic Father: maybe the lesson here isn't as simple as the fact that we have a choice, but believing we have a choice, and that we are capable of executing it. And there's an added layer to the power of the parable - when you have a goal you're aiming for, ask yourself, in terms altered to your own personalized circumstances, "given everything that's happened, how could I not?"

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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21 Quotes From Twyla Tharp's 'The Creative Habit' That Will Fuel Your Artistic Self

Use your half-baked ideas for good!

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Twyla Tharp is a master dancer and choreographer. She's worked with the world's most prestigious artists to create works that will withstand the test of time. She published her book "The Creative Habit" as a viewing window for seeing into her creative process. Tharp offers both hard truths and gently encouraging words for both serious artists and everyday people just trying to expand their circle of knowledge about art. I compiled some quotations from the book that were profound, useful and to-the-point when it comes to examining artistic development.

1. "Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."

You get some creativity! YOU get some creativity! Everyone gets creativity!

2. "If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge."

3. "Everything that happens in my day is a transaction between the external world and my internal world. Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity."

4. "In the end, there is no one ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down."

5. "Someone has done it before? Honey, it's all been done before. Nothing's really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself."

Ouch. Toes stepped on.

6. "Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing to what we have experienced before."

"It's *literally* like this..."

7. "...get busy copying. Traveling the paths of greatness, even in someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill."

Choose your muse wisely!

8. "You can't just dance or paint or write or sculpt. Those are just verbs. You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however minuscule, is what turns the verb into a noun..."

9. "When you're in scratching mode, the tiniest microcell of an idea will get you going. Musicians know this because compositions rarely come to them whole and complete. They call their morsels of inspiration lines or riffs or hooks or licks. That's what they look for when they scratch for an idea."

You know you look crazy, but press on, baby ideas in hand!

10. "It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful."

"Alexa, play the Reading Rainbow theme song."

11. "...there's a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work."

Screw this global need for instant information. You gotta just let things run their course sometimes.

12. "Habitually creative people are, in E.B. white's phrase, 'prepared to be lucky.' You don't get lucky without preparation, and there's no sense in being prepared if you're not open to the possibility of a glorious accident. In creative endeavors luck is a skill."

Twyla Tharp is really just a more Type A version of Bob Ross.

13. "I know it's important to be prepared, but at the start of the process this type of perfectionism is more like procrastination. You've got to get in there and do."

14. "You're only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity."

15. "That's what the great ones do: They shelve the perfected skills for a while and concentrate on their imperfections."

16. "Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above your craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. combining the two is the essence of the creative life."

17. "My heroes are those who've prevailed over far greater losses than I've ever had to face."

18. "Part of the excitement of creativity is the headlong rush into action when we latch onto a new idea. Yet, in the excitement, we often forget to apply pressure to the idea, poke it, challenge it, push it around, see if it stands up. Without that challenge, you never know how far astray your assumptions may have taken you."

19. "...there's a lesson here about finding your groove. Yes, you can find it via a breakthrough in your craft. But you can also find it in other means -- in congenial material, in a perfect partner, in a favorite character or comfortable subject matter."

20. "A math professor at Williams College bases ten percent of his students' grades on failure. Mathematics is all about trying out new ideas -- new formulas, theorems, approaches -- and knowing that the vast majority of them will be dad ends. To encourage his students not to be afraid of testing their quirkiest ideas in public, he rewards rather than punishes them for coming up with wrong answers."

This approach would've been so helpful.

21. "I began as a dancer, and in those days of pain and shock I went back to where I started. Creating dance is the thing I know best. It is how I recognize myself. Even in the worst of times, such habits sustain, protect, and, in the most unlikely way, lift us up."

Take Twyla's knowledge and have fun exploring creativity in your personal life!

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