10 Resources on Behavioral Marketing, Economics, and Psychology to Get Your Son to Do Everything You Need Him to (92.8% of the Time)

Today I was talking with a friend of mine about behavioral marketing, behavior psychology, and behavioral economics. In short, this field is all about learning how to make small adjustments to change the behavior of someone or multiple someones (and hopefully for the better).

1. Want someone to significantly decrease road accidents?

Create a camera embedded with a lotto system that fines speeding drivers while rewards a random compliant driver.

2. How can smiley and frowny faces get us to prevent road accidents?

Check out Rory Sutherland. (Be warned that Rory tends to be PG-13 in his language).

3. If you ever feel unmotivated to work...

Maybe the problem is that you shouldn't reward the behaviors you are looking for. Dan Pink has the inside scoop here.

4. Maybe the reason you aren't happy is because your choosing the wrong spaghetti sauce.

Watch Malcom Gladwell speak on why people obsess over Grey Poupon and fixing the problem of getting the right sweetness for Pepsi.

5. Struggling with procrastinating too much, exercising too little, and eaten more than you wanted to?

Dan Ariely speaks on making minor adjustments to improve your self-control.

6. Maybe you want to encourage someone to exercise by using the stairs.

Hook up piano keys to each step and increase usage by 66%.

7. It might surprise you that the next major revolution won't be technological, but psychological. Rory explains in this TED talk.

8. Why would the Economist price their subscription products so strangely?

9. The truth is, we aren't really in control of our decisions as much as we'd like. In fact, your likelihood to donate your organs comes down to the wording of one simple question.

10. In fact, in this twisted world, we've figured out how to get people to cheat and steal and get away with it.

How do I trust in the Lord with all my heart?

If I had to pick the top 10 most popular verses, I'd be willing to bet that Proverbs 3:5-6 would make the cut. It is a favorite of many people and carries with it a beautiful promise: He will guide us on the right path. 

We see this promise in many forms throughout the Bible (Ps. 37:3-6 and Gal 5:16 are two that immediately come to mind), so we know this is more than just a general observation. 

And while this is easy to say, practically, how does it look for us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding?

This has been something I've been processing on and off for the last 5 years whenever considering major life decisions, particularly much more in this last year. Though there is much more I continue to discover, here are two things I've observed:

1. God's thoughts and ways are far above our own (Is. 55:8-9).

At times, I feel like this is a cop-out to getting an answer. But at the same time, I find satisfaction in this promise too. 

He knows all of history past, present, and future, I don't. 
He knows all possible outcomes of this events, I don't. 
And best of all, He loves all of us enough to know what would be best, for His glory and for what would benefit us the most (which isn't always what we think is best). 

So, I need to trust that He knows what is best and act accordingly.

2. God's Word will equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Every principle that should guide our lives has been given to us in Scripture. If it were not, then we would not be "fully equipped for every good work." Thus, whatever God desires for us to know to trust in Him, it has been recorded in Scripture. 

While on the surface, this is something I'd think to myself, "Well, duh!," on the other hand I don't always act in accordance to that belief. 

When Scripture states it is more blessed to give than receive, am I willing to be obedient and give? 

When it says to be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving and to make my requests be made known to God, do I really do so or do I just remain "concerned" about the subject and not actually pray?

And when I'm called to love my neighbor as myself, do I really strive to show God's love to them, even if it may hurt me or they may not see it as love?

Many times I've had to stop and ask myself if I really am acting in accordance with what God has made clear me to do through His written Word. So much easier to assume I'm being obedient and move on than to really pry into my life. But Scripture also states that he who hunger and thirsts for righteousness (i.e. right living) will be satisfied.

And that's a promise that I pray each of us will experience more fully.

Pray that we as Christians become more diligent doers of God's Word and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Lamentations of the Heart, Soul, and Mind - In Honor of My Mom and Grandma

The "tl;dr" summary 
Today marks both the 8th year of my mom's anniversary in heaven and 3rd for my grandma.

In remembrance of both these godly women, I am dedicating the song “Lamentations of the Heart,” a summary of the book of Lamentations, and some thoughts from the contrasting beauty of life and death in moments of my own lamentations.

Dark Night of the Soul - Lamentations of the Heart by Philip Wesley

If there has ever been anything that has astounded me the most, it's trying to determine the value of art and aesthetics. Sure, as a marketer, trying to figure out why Willem de Kooning's "Untitled VIII" sold for $32.1 million will always boggle my mind.

"Untitled VIII" sold for $32.1 million at an art show in New York

But why do we care about beauty?

Does placing a photograph from Ansel Adams change the atmosphere of a room compared to one without it?

Does playing baroque music improve your performance, temporarily boost your IQ, and aide in lowering stress and anxiety? If so, is there any shared benefit when you listen to dub-step, death metal, or dance-pop instead?

Do we care about the words that are used, even if it communicates virtually the same message?

This past year, I've begun to weight the importance of these transcendent (incorporeal?) matters. From studying the power of George Whitefield, George Herbert, and C.S. Lewis in their writings and rhetoric, to the effects of culture on the arts, and perhaps just as much, the arts affects on our culture - what once seemed elusive now began to take concrete form.

In anticipation of the anniversary of both my mom and grandma going to heaven, who in God's sovereignty both passed away on October 24th (2006 for my mom, 2011 for my grandma), I've prepared a piano piece, a partition of God's Word, and some personal reflections since this time.

Lamentations of the Heart by Philip Wesley


“After a painful divorce and major life changes, solo piano artist Philip Wesley channeled his deep emotional angst into his music, rising up to become one of today’s most popular solo piano artists in the country.” 
“Before and during my own divorce, I felt like my life was over.  Like being in a deep, dark pit, escape felt hopeless.  I felt truly helpless; it was the darkest and lowest point in my life.  However, I took those gut-wrenching emotions and channeled it into my art.  The result blew me away...” Excerpt from Philip Wesley's website. For more great music, check out his works at www.philipwesley.com.

The Lamentations of Jeremiah

Woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bildern", 1860. Lamentations of Jeremiah.

It is not too common that you hear people sharing about the great time that they've had reading the book of Lamentations in the Bible. Though brief, it is of no surprise that most of this book is, well, a lament from the prophet Jeremiah.

After the destruction of Jerusalem from the brutal hands of the Babylonians, Jeremiah expresses his raw emotions as the city lies desolate and barren. Yet in the middle of great pain and sorrow, Jeremiah likewise points to the mercy and faithfulness of God.

In the first four of his five poems (with the 3rd using 3 lines per letter), Jeremiah utilizes an acrostic to express his grief, perhaps to signify the totality of the matter, from A-to-Z, or aleph to tav. Although I do not know Hebrew well enough to verify this, other scholars mention that the 5th chapter still as a similar rhythm to it as the first four.

Jeremiah also writes in a chiastic structure, meaning that with however many points are used, the first point relates to the last point, the second point to the second-to-last, and so on, with the middle point being the major climax.

A simple outline of Lamentations:

1   The misery and destruction of Jerusalem
     2   God's punishment of Jerusalem
          3   A prayer for mercy
     4   God's severity of Jerusalem
5    The prayer for restoration of Jerusalem

I think it wise to note that Jeremiah was very meticulous in his writings during his time of mourning. How often do we see this in our culture people make light of or gloss over the pain and puzzlement of suffering?

I heard from many people that “my mom/grandma are in a better place now.” Yes, true, and praise God that He saved them from the punishment of eternal separation that they (and you and I) deserve!

Have you come to consider why there is such great pain? Have you stopped to consider what may happen the moment you will die?

I wrestled with understanding what God's purpose was through these events in my life. A year before my mom died, I spent time reflecting on the life of Job. 

After facing the first round of disaster in which he lost all livestock, servants, and his 10 children in one fell swoop, he tore his robe, bowed before God and stated, 
“Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” Job 1:21.

William Blake Job's Tormentors c1785-90 this state 1800-25 British Museum London


Through this man's faith, I came to recognize that I came into this world with nothing, and I'll leave in the same way; with nothing. The only thing that will remain are the treasures that I lay up in heaven; the things that I do that honor and please God (Matthew 6:20).

There is a part of me that will never fully know the answer to why God allowed my mom and grandma to die. His ways are far above my own (Isaiah 55:8-9). And yet, I take great comfort too that perhaps I don't need to know those things, otherwise He would have revealed them (consider Romans 16:25 and Ephesians 1:9).

Throughout Lamentations, Jeremiah described much of the horrific suffering the children of Israel were going through as a result of their sin. 

But what is the central theme of Lamentations?

Even though the Israelites were greatly disobeying God (likened to an adulterous wife, spiritually prostituting herself to other gods) and thus facing the just wrath of God, God still is a God of hope.

Looking at the chiasm, we'd expect it to be in chapter 3, and there it is in verses 22-25:
“The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.”
No matter how far we have gone from Him in every wrong committed, we can ultimately find compassion and forgiveness if we repent of our sins; turning away from our old way of life and pursuing Christ.

“Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old” Lamentations 5:21