Joe Darko

Amazing Experience With FIFA 14 On The XBoxOne – You Will Love It Too!


On Field Antics in FIFA on the XBOXOne leading to ban and suspension

On Field Antics in FIFA on the XBOXOne leading to ban and suspension

*Disclaimer: My thoughts and opinions and not of my employer*

While I was unwinding from work yesterday, I decided to play some FIFA 14 on the Xbox One. I was playing a game in Career Mode – “To Be A Pro” as Joe Darko – myself  (a young 19 year old from Ghana trying to make his way to the top to join the big names).

After a couple of games, I received various e-mails from the assistant manager about my “antics on the field”  and got suspended a couple of times. This was frustrating, because “Joe Darko” on the field was just scoring goals and not doing anything wrong. Then it hit me: anytime the referee made a bad call, I would yell at my TV and say stuff like “Really referee, you got to be freaking kidding me”, “what in the world”, “what the heck is that call for”, “wasn’t that a freaking offside”, “are you getting paid” and so on (I really did not swear… but apparently, these were fighting words). Come to find out, the Kinect would actually pick up these words and the tone of my voice, report it to the referee and the referee will report it to my authorities (see the picture above). I was really fascinated and decided to test it out. So I played one last game and this time around, for testing purposes decided to swear at the ref. Well, guess was happened.. he was not happy, paused the game at some point to have a word with me, and I got banned! As soccer fanatic and a FIFA game player, this is absolutely AWESOME!

The future of gaming and entertainment is definitely BRIGHT.. especially with the XBoxOne and Kinect. This system is not only changing the living room, but changing the gaming experience for the better!  If you do not have yourself an XBoxOne or XBoxOne with the Kinect, you should definitely plan on getting one – whether you are a hardcore gamer or not, this is a system for everyone – from people who enjoy playing video games and people who enjoy playing it once in a while and just want to have a good time. It is the future and you definitely have the opportunity to live on the cutting edge of it.

P.S: For those of you who like swearing and getting your frustration out during game play, remember that this only works in a certain Game Mode. If you are playing online with a friend or a visiting friends, you won’t be reprimanded for swearing – so you can still swear your life away :). . This was developed for this mode of Game Play in FIFA 14 (Be A Pro) to make things interesting and in a way, realistic – if you are trying to be a pro at any sport in real life, you won’t be allowed to say any everything to the official on the field or on court either.

– Joe Darko

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I Don’t Care About God


Too busy to care about God?

Too busy to care about God?

At some point during my college career, I was getting to know this young lady. She was interesting, smart, beautiful and most importantly, God fearing. While we were indulge in the “talking” phase of our friendship, she surprisingly made a huge accusation that I did not care about her. On a side note, the “talking” phase is the phase when two people interested in each other, decide to get to know one another exclusively, with hopes of dating in the near future. 

My friend’s accusation bothered me, so I sat her down to ask her how and why she came to the specific conclusion that I did not care about her. I was startled because even though I was preoccupied with school projects, campus activities, hobbies and personal projects, I did my best to spend some time with her whenever I had the chance; but apparently, it wasn’t enough. She blatantly told me that I did not care simply because I did not spend “quality time” with her. Once again, I was confused, because whenever I was not busy doing what I wanted to do, I did spend time with her. We debated about this for about an hour and came to the conclusion that it would be best for us to stop “talking” and just stay as friends because we were simply not on the same page. I did not understand her and she did not understand me. She felt as though I was not giving her a significant portion of my time and I felt she was just unappreciative and very ungrateful.

5 years later, I realize I was wrong and she was right. 5 years later, I understand what she meant by “quality time”. 5 years later, I realize I did not really care about her. Yes, I did spend time with her, I did talk to her but I was just going through the motions and did not really care.

This is the same reason why I say that I do not care about God. Being brought up in a Christian home, going to Church has become part of me. Whenever I am not in Church on any given Sunday, I feel uncomfortable. I try to influence my generation with the love of God and even though I am born again Christian, I realized I did not really care about God. I came to this conclusion yesterday during Youth Service when we talked about building a personal relationship with God. I realized “I was chasing after the wind” and not chasing after God. I was chasing after my aspirations, my goals and my dreams while leaving God on the back burner. I was going about my business but not my Father’s business. (Luke 2:49)

With regards to quality time, sometimes, my female friend wanted me to sacrifice some of my hobbies for her, but I was not willing to budge. I sometimes canceled already planned and scheduled time with her because something less relevant came up – of course she was definitely not happy whenever I did this. My priorities were out of “whack” and my sense of “priority assessment” was at an all-time low. What she meant by quality time was giving her the best of my time instead of my “leftovers”. I can’t help but think that this is how God feels about me currently. I am not giving Him the best of my time. I am giving him what is leftover and what is less important. I am simply not investing in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

During the weekdays, I wake up in the morning, shower, get dressed, sometimes eat breakfast and spend 30 seconds on my knees to pray. I usually spend time volunteering after work, work out by playing soccer or running and by the time I get home, I am tired and ready for bed. Sometimes, I grab my laptop, work on my personal projects and by the time I decide to read my Bible and pray, I would be fast asleep. Over the weekend, I support my community and friends by attending events or clean my apartment. On Sundays, I go to Church in the morning, watch football in the afternoon and go to Youth Service in the evening. I come back home, watch a show or two, work a little more and once again, make an attempt to spend time with God by reading the Bible and praying – it’s always end up in an epic fail.  As you can tell, the constant theme in my schedule is Work, Volunteering, Events, Hobbies, Church and Projects. While all of this is good, they can be meaningless if I do not develop a personal relationship with God. Christ should be my cornerstone, the backbone and the center of my life. No wonder Jesus said “not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). I was not only saying “Lord, Lord”, but I was yelling “Lord, Lord”.

As I was thinking about my personal relationship with God this morning, I could not help but think of Cain and Abel. Cain and Able both offered sacrifices to God but Abel’s was accepted and Cain’s was rejected. Abel’s offering was most likely accepted because “he brought to God the fat portions from some of the first born of his flock” (Genesis 4:4). I asked myself, am I giving God the best portion of my time or am I giving him the “leftovers”. Am I spending quality time with Him in prayer and studying the word?

My female friend felt I was not giving her my best of time and she was not happy with the “leftovers”. My words told her that she was important to me, but my actions were the direct opposite. Yes, I was busy and I had a lot do to, but if I was going to include her in my life as a special person, then I had to make sure she was getting the best of my time and not my leftovers. I had to make sure she was being treated like a priority and not an option. She was available but wanted to feel important and it was my responsibility to device a plan to help accomplish this. She was really not asking for much. Even though she knew I was busy, she cared for me enough to be there for me, gave me the best of her time while I gave her the worst of mine. It was not fair to her and it is something I am not proud of.

I’m definitely not trying to compare this girl to God, because God’s loves and care simply can’t be compared. I’m only trying to draw your attention to something that we can all relate to, so at a very high level, you can understand why we can sometimes sing all the right hymns, know all of the right verses, but fail to invest a decent amount of our time in building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Christians. God is not asking for much. He wants our best time so we can continue to grow in Him and through Him. God is always going to be available and God is always going to care for us and most importantly, love us unconditionally. He is always going to chase after us but are we going to chase after Him? Do we care enough to put certain things aside in order to build a healthy relationship with him? Do we care enough to make Him the center of our lives? Do we care enough to make him a priority in our lives?

As my Youth Pastor said yesterday, our relationship with God should be personal but it shouldn’t be private. The moment you make the decision to invest in your relationship with God and build upon your personal relationship with Him, you should not make it private, but rather, allow the love, grace and peace of Christ to flow through you at your job, at your Church, at events and whenever you volunteer  – this is when you become the Salt and Light of the world. This is when God can use you to make a positive impact in this generation and beyond.

I don’t care about God based on my actions currently, but I am willing and ready to change that. Even though Christianity is not ALL ABOUT the “works”, it is imperative that we make the conscious effort to juxtapose our deeds, actions and work with our faith. Faith without works might be dead, but faith coupled with works is full of life – a life given to us by Christ through the medium of Grace on the Cross.

 

 

My Message To Africans – “I Am Sick & Tired”


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Africa, the Beautiful

The beautiful Africa! Filled with natural life and resources, yet we are poor. We are not poor because we don’t have enough, we are poor because we are greedy. Now, let’s not blame our leaders but let’s look within ourselves: How many times have we visited our beloved continent after years of staying abroad? We go on expensive vacations to other places, spend money to enrich their economy but we refuse to do the same for our continent. Yes, you are entitled to go anywhere you want to go in this world, but have made an attempt to visit the motherland? Yes, the conditions might not fit your current lifestyle and no one is asking you to pack your bags and go live there (even though that will be great), but it will be great to go back and see the conditions the people are living in and possibly think of a way you can assist.

I am sick and tired of Africans tearing each other apart instead of building each other up. Africans are being exploited in their own continent. The rest of the world is taking advantage of us all because they see that we are more than willing to look out for ourselves at the expense of our neighbors. They see us divided and “a house divided shall not stand”. It is obvious, we are willing to bring each other down instead of supporting each other. It obvious in Africa and oversees. An African will try to harness their talent but will get no support; an African will start a charity, a project or a program but will get no support; but we are more than willing to support foreign ventures (which is not wrong to do), but if we are going to take care of others, we better start taking care of our own for “Charity does begin at home”. The biggest excuse you hear from this issue is “we don’t trust Africans”.

Honestly, I am sick and tired. What do you mean by you don’t trust Africans? Who do you trust? I mean, you shouldn’t trust anyone but God to begin with, but what is the point of not trusting your own? Yes, we might not have the best track record when it comes to trust, but believe that the “devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know”. We are quick to trust others but our own. If you are not going to trust your own, then you might as well not trust any human in general, because the good Book says “the heart of a man is wicked” – the heart of man, yes, the Asian, the Caucasian, the Hispanic and of course the African. 

I am sick and tired of the corruption eating up our continent. Yes, corruption is a product of greed. We might all be greedy to some degree, but should we be greedy to the point that we are willing to kill one another? Should we be greedy to the point that we are willing to watch our neighbors starve and die? Should we be greedy to the point that the same people we lead are the same people we exploit? Should our greed cost the lives of our kids and women? Should our greed destroy? If our greed is going to lead to all this, there we might as well not be greedy anymore. 

I am sick and tired of the lack of accountability. We wonder why our leaders are getting away with a corruption. Our leaders know we are only going to talk and rant and not act – no wonder they are always doing what they promised not to do. When are we going to stand and say to our leaders “Enough Is Enough”? When are we going to hold them accountable to their responsibilities and actions? With accountability comes adherence to responsibilities. Our leaders are only human like you and me and you know for a fact that they are bound to be tempted and not do as they promised. Yes, there are systems in place to help avoid corruption but it is left to the citizens to get up and act and not only speak; these systems need humans to fuel it to run efficiently. If they know we will be quick to act, they will not act up. Let’s not be complacent.

I am indeed sick and tired! Us Africans can be very spiritual, but spirituality without faith is dead and faith without works is dead as well. Meaning, we got to strike a balance, we got to be spiritual, have faith and work towards our faith. We can’t say we want to stop corruption, fast and pray 24/7 and not act about it. In case you didn’t know God is not a magician. No, He is not. He is not going to come down and immediately fix everything, He is going to need people who are willing to stand up and act on their faith. Look through History and you will see that God used men who acted more than proclaiming their faith. These were men and women of action: Yaa Asantewa of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and so on and so forth. These men and women acted on their faith, trusting God that their actions will bring about change and it did. They did not curl up in their rooms to fast and pray for 90 days for things to change. Don’t get me wrong, as a believer, I believe in fasting and praying, but do not let any Pastor, Prophet or Preacher lead you astray by telling you not to act out in faith. Even the Prophets in the Bible acted out on faith! 

I am sick and tired of the fighting among ourselves. Why are Christians fighting Muslims? For what reason? To see whose God is powerful? Why are we destroying each other for no good reason? Why is one ethnic group rising up against another ethnic group? We should accept our differences, appreciate the beauty in our differences and out of love, tolerate one another – we should not only stop there but extend that love to other nations and all people. Not every “Akata” is a criminal, not every White person is a racist, not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every Nigerian partake in fraud and not every Ghanaian eats fufu or dances azonto. Let’s get rid of the preconceived notions about our own and other, let us look beyond what separates us and look ahead of what binds us together: we are all humans, living on earth and will one day die irrespective of how much we gather here on earth out of greed or hate. 

Africa is beautiful, Africa is gorgeous. We have our resources, we have our jungles. We are blessed in so many ways, but we are allowing our blessings become a curse.

Yes, I might be sick and tired, but it is only because I want Africa to get well and healthy – In a nutshell, I am Africa, you are Africa. All the concerns/problems stated above is something we all Africans can relate to; as a matter fact, we are the biggest contributing factor. We are sick and tired: we are corrupt, we pull each other down, we tear each other apart, we don’t trust each other, we are not stepping up to act, we over spiritualize and don’t act on faith. We are seriously sick and tired, but we can all get better. The change we want to see in Africa is the change we should see in us first and foremost, because we all contribute to the problems in Africa and we are the only one who can help turn this around. Do not just see the change in you, act and bring about the change you want to see.

 

3 Reasons Why Manchester United Is Struggling & Why Moyes Needs To Go


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Manchester United Players

I have always been a die hard Manchester United fan. I remember the first day I fell in love with them was in the early 90’s when they lost to Arsenal in a Premier League game. I don’t know why, but something about them made me fall in love with them. My love affair with them has been a great one with memories of the “Comeback of ’99” against Beyern Munich, the emergence of Christiano Ronaldo, the bull like play of Rooney and the memorable 20th PL season. I am in love. I am not in love because of the victories or the players, or the coach. I am in love because this team has given so much to it’s fans and win or less, there is the hope of better things to come! Sadly, this hope seems to vanishing among the fans across the world and it is a sad thing to see.

Manchester United has been struggling ever since the start of the 2013/2014 Season and these are the reasons why:

1. Ferguson’s Wrong Timing Retirement

Ferguson shouldn’t have retired when he did. The team was in a very bad shape from Top to Bottom and he was the only manager who could have won with such a team. You simply do not appoint a mid-level-table manager to oversee a club like this. Our defense needed help: Vidic, Evra and Ferdinand were getting old, and they were not playing as great as they used to. Besides the old age, these center backs were constantly getting injured and players like Smalling, Evans or Jones were not ready to step up to that major role. 

Our midfield has always been a problem since Paul Scholes retired, but Ferguson did not see the need to invest in a young talented midfielder and actually watched Pogba leave. Our center midfielders were Carrick, Fletcher, Cleverly and Anderson. With all due respect, it will be very tough for you to beat teams who come at you with players like Modric, Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Toure, etc. While Teams like Man City were willing to spend a lot of money to get 2 star players at each position, we were moving the other direction. Yes, Carrick and Fletcher are decent, but they are not creative Iniesta or Xavi, not as strong as a Michael Essien in his prime, and are simply not feared. We lost most games in the Champions League because our midfield play was not as strong and not as creative. 

Our attack was the most healthy part of our team with the likes of Van Persie and Rooney leading that gang. I mentioned Rooney and Van Persie because these 2 are the only consistent players we have in that phase of our game. Welbeck is extremely inconsistent and seems lost in games, Hernandez’s luck seems to be running out, Valencia is just a winger who likes to just cross the ball (sometimes predictable and to be honest, boring), Nani and Young are another inconsistent players who can be flashy at times and Kagawa is the only player who shines out of this bunch, but he lacks power and flare. 

In my opinion, in soccer, your attack and defense is as good as your midfield is and we did not have consistency or young players in that area of the pitch to help us out. 

Ferguson should have stayed for at least 1 or 2 seasons and used his influence to court more players to the team. His influence and credibility were key in transfer windows and without him what have done so far? Nothing. 

2. The Appointment of David Moyes

People are saying we should stand by David Moyes all because when Ferguson came on board as the coach of United, he had a tougher time. Well, guess what, times have changed! When Ferguson became United’s coach, United was not an entity in the stock market and was not traded openly, so Ferguson definitely got away with a lot but in this dispensation, Manchester United has Share Holders all around the world and all what Share Holders care about is their money – you simply perform to increase their revenue and if someone is not going to do the job, they will find someone else. 

Teams were not spending lots of money to stay on top in the 80s, but teams are doing so now. Teams want to remain competitive and they want to compete with the best of the best in the world, so to be honest, there is only a small room to make mistakes and be allowed to live with them. 

Ferguson is GREAT! Yes, we all know that, but at the end of the day, he is only human and as human being myself, I know for a fact that we are bound to make mistakes. Ferguson made a mistake by appointing Moyes as the Coach because Moyes’ resume was not up to par. Moyes was the coach for Everton, and Everton had never won the Premier League under Moyes. Everton was a mid-table team under Moyes and never posed a threat to finish top 4. What did Ferguson see in Moyes? Nothing. Ferguson probably thought that if Moyes coached a team like United with players like Rooney and Van Persie on board, then he will do well. That is not the case, because if you can’t make good use of the little you are given, you are never going to make good use of the plenty. Mourinho is a perfect example of a coach who did a lot with little: he won the Champions League with Porto and that opened a lot of doors for him, because he had a track record of doing more with what he was given. 

Ferguson is human and he probably regrets his appointment, but the majority of us do. 

3. Moyes is not influential and has bad tactics

Some people enjoy their job because of their employer – they will go above and beyond for their employer. In sports, some players play their best because of a specific coach, but David Moyes is an exception. These same players at United would have performed under Ferguson because Ferguson was a respected man, and very influential. Manchester United has lost some lousy games this season but I personally do not blame the players, because these players have performed under a different coach for so many years. The players are not playing for him and it is obvious because some of the strong leaders are ready to leave and start else where. 

Moyes lack of influence can be seen in both transfer windows. We could not sign any top player because players did not want to play for him. Period. Moyes can make the argument that they wanted money, but we signed Felaini for 27 million pounds. In the January Transfer window, we could only sign a player who was on the bench of our rival team for 37 million pounds. Yes, Juan Mata is good player, but we broke our transfer record for a player who was not even starting. This showed how desperate Moyes was and showed how any team is willing to take advantage of us in future transfer windows if Moyes remains the coach. 

Tactically, Moyes has no clue. I remember at some point in the season, we were losing by 3-1 and Moyes brought in Chris Smalling. Chris Smalling is a defender and not a midfielder or attacker. Moyes obviously was content with losing. Moyes has made some head scratching decisions with his line up and I have already embraced myself for the worse. 

I am a die-hard United fan and I will continue to be, I will support the team and the players but I am not a supporter of David Moyes. I don’t believe he is the right man for this job. I am willing to say this with confidence because I want him to prove me wrong. Yes, Manchester United is struggling because of some bad decisions internally, but at the end of the day, the Manager is the face of the franchise, and he does not have great managerial skills to lead this team forward. I understand he is doing his best to retain Wayne Rooney, but you don’t treat him like an assistant manager when he is only a player. Moyes has lost the locker room and he looks pathetic allowing Wayne Rooney (one of my favorite players) to get involved in off season acquisitions – something Ferguson never did. It is the players job to play and the managers job to manage, but Moyes out of desperation is making certain decisions which only reveals his true identity as a manager: clueless.

Manchester United is sadly not feared anymore. Teams believe they can go toe-to-toe with us and come away with at lest 1 point. We are not respected anymore and as a United fan, this breaks my heart. We have become the laughing stock of the Premier League an we have fallen greatly from grace. I believe in United and I believe in the future under a new manager, but for now, it will be a tougher time for us next year if we do not finish Top 4 this season, because most of the top players who can help us out would like to play in the Champions League and would also like to play under a manager who can allow them to be World Champions and so far, we are not looking like a Top 4 Team and we certainly don’t have that manager player would like to play for. 

Wish the best to all of the United Fans out there. It is only a matter of time. 

Don’t Read Too Deep Into The “Tweeps”


Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Don’t read too deep into what people tweet or else you will be depressed because no one tweets their flaws, insecurities and failures.

Let’s Give A Little Backgrounder: The truth is, there is always going to be someone richer, smarter, better looking and more intelligent than us at some point in our lives – but we certainly can’t and shouldn’t focus so much on what we don’t have, but rather appreciate what we do have. News Flash: Tweets, TwitPics, Facebook Statuses, and Instagram Posts can make you depressed and unhappy. How? Let’s find out.

Some Stats Won’t Hurt: Social media is taking over our lives and let’s face it, it is interesting. We are in a dispensation whereby we receive more information and more data more than our minds can consume. There are about 55 million Facebook Statuses every day, 58 million tweets per day, and about 40 million posts on instagram per day – this ladies and gentlemen is crazy especially compared to what we had or did not have about 2–5 year ago. Yes, we are in a technological age, but as you can see, this age is being dominated by big data. On Facebook alone, 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month and this includes web links, new stories, posts, notes, photos  etc.

Now The Real Meat: Through out all the data we receive from our Social Network contacts, how many of them are negative information? Not so much. It is natural for humans to talk about the positive things in their lives rather than speak of the negatives. Of course there are always the “debbie-downers” who will constantly bore you with their issues and problems on social media, but the platform is usually dominated by people sharing their success stories, accomplishments and their wonderful love life. For example, you will see some people post their Grade Point Averages online when its very good, you will never catch anyone tweeting about a 1.2 GPA. During this time of year, a lot of students are going to be receiving acceptance letters to their Master’s Programs or Universities of their choice and best believe about 80% of them will use Social Media to broadcast this good news. Do you think someone who got denied by the college of their choice will post that image on instagram or tweet about it? Definitely not. Finally, Valentine’s Day is around the corner and the lovers will come out and share their “love stories” with the rest of the world. I don’t think anyone will be quickly to come out and say “yaaaay!! My partner cheated on me and broke my heart, so let’s celebrate that”. My point is, we we all yearn to be respected, accepted and appreciated and some way, somehow, we believe that allowing the rest of the world to know of our accomplishments and our successes, we are going to be respected, accepted and appreciated. There is nothing wrong with that, but it becomes a problem if that becomes the only avenue of our sanity. It is simply in human nature to want to share good news and keep the not-so good news to ourselves and social media gives us the platform to be heard and seen. Once again there is nothing wrong with this, but I am afraid for this generation  because our value seems to be limited to ‘Likes’, ‘Retweets’ and ‘Favorites’ – this is a different topic all together.

Let’s Drive This Baby Home:  Only an evil heart will hate on the success and elevation of others, so it is good to be happy for your friends and followers on social media and join in the celebration  – but “do not get caught up”. What do I mean by “do not get caught up”? We naturally tend to lose track of what we are supposed to be doing when we focus so much on what others have done. We  tend to allow their success and triumph be a burden on us forgetting that they are also struggling with something. Sometimes when we look at the success of others, we only see the glory but forget about their struggles and pain; I am not blaming anyone, because most of the time, they forget to mention their struggles, their problems, issues and weaknesses. We sometimes go the extra mile of hating our own existence and lose track of what we can accomplish if only we learn from their success and focus on achieving our goals and writing our own stories.

Now Let’s Park This Baby:  Focusing so much on what your friends and followers say online can make you depressed especially if you are not living up their standard of living – it might make you feel, for lack of a better word , “useless”. You might think everything is perfect in their world, forgetting that we all live in this world and we all face some setbacks, challenges and difficulties. Simply do not read too deep into tweets, facebook statues and instagram posts and continue to live the life you have been blessed  with. Acknowledge their accomplishments but never let them make you feel inadequate – if anything, let it motivate you to accomplish YOUR OWN goals and YOUR OWN dreams.

 

3 Point Turn: Finding Happiness As An Adult From Your Childhood


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“We couldn’t wait to be adults”

Remember when you were a kid? Just take a moment… Take a trip down to memory lane… Remember how happy you were? How free spirited and carefree you felt? I don’t know about you, but anytime I think about my childhood, I smile. As Bryan Adams said in ‘Summer of ’69’, “those were the best days of my life!” 

But wait a minute.. how come the best days of my life can’t be ahead of me? As kids, we thought our best days were ahead, but as we got older, we started to think that our best days were behind us. Ah Ha! I hope you had ‘light bulb’ moment, because I did. Think about it, is this the reason why we seemed so happy as kids? Were we happy because we had hope and were optimistic? Now that I got you think, let’s make a “3 Point Turn” and break down some of the things we used to do as kids which contributed to our overall well being and happiness and let’s see if we can implement them in our lives today. 

1st Point Turn: Enjoying Responsibilities & Family Time

As kids, we enjoyed responsibilities! We felt a sense of pride when given the chance to be ‘responsible’. We enjoyed helping our parents and smiled anytime they said “good job”. We wanted to help mommy with everything and we wanted to help dad with his duties. At the same time, we enjoyed being around our parents. We couldn’t wait to go home and see our moms after school in kindergarten. We enjoyed family re-unions because that’s when our uncles could act the fool, that was when our 40th cousins came around to play board games and football with us. 

Today, we occupy ourselves with so much that we do not have time to spend with friends and family. We run away from our 40th and 50th cousins, and we constantly make excuses to spend quality time with our parents. Yes, our responsibilities have grown as well: we are in school working on various degrees, we have jobs and we have bills, but let me ask you this, are we really enjoying our responsibilities? Our we enjoying going to school? Are we enjoying working? I can read your mind and I agree to the notion that no one likes to take tests or work crazy hours a week only to pay bills; but do we see them as responsibilities we have to enjoy? Whether we like it or not, we will have responsibilities as humans till death, and enjoying these responsibilities can change our attitude and enable us to be more happy.

2nd Point Turn: Saying “No”

Believe it or not, kids know what they want and they know how to communicate that effectively, irrespective of how you feel. Kids don’t care so much about pleasing others. My little niece Oli is barely a year old, and anytime I visit my family in Maryland, I want to see her and play with her. As soon as she sees her mom, she does not know me – yes, she is cold. She will quickly leave my arms and run towards the arms of her mom. My sister will then say “Oli, why are you doing this to Uncle Joe? Let’s got to Uncle Joe”. As I open my arms to receive her again, she will shake her head and crawl back to arms of her mom. She already knows how to say NO! She prefers to be in the arms of her mom, than the arms of her uncle. When Oli gets older, for some strange reason, she will be less comfortable saying no because she will grow to appeal to the desire of others while ignoring hers. I hope she doesn’t change. 

As we get older, we begin to become conscious of how people feel – which is a good thing, but should this growth of consciousness stop us from being honest? The happiest people know how and when to say “No” irrespective how the recipient of the answer will feel. They say “no” not because they want to be rude or evil, but simply because they can’t comply with your request.  Now, I am not saying we should go around saying “No” to our parents, our bosses, authority, for no apparent reason. Being an adult means being able to decipher when to say “No” and “Yes”. We should not be afraid to say “No” just because we are going to offend someone, or else we end up pleasing people and offending ourselves.

Being happy is not about saying “No” – it is actually about saying “Yes”, but knowing when/how to say “No” will make you better at saying “Yes” and when do you say “Yes”, you will say it meaningfully and a value add will be attached to it. In a nutshell, when you learn to say “No”, you learn to honestly learn to say “Yes”.

3rd Point Turn: Hope & Positive Thoughts

As a kid, I thought I was going to be the greatest soccer player ever! Obviously I thought wrong. Kids will are always hoping for the best and thinking that great things will happen to them. Our positive attitude as humans take a major hit when we being to focus on what we see: hiccups, roadblocks, and setbacks – believe it or not, these become more evident the “older” or “wiser” we get.. It seems as though as kids, we had more faith. We walked more on faith and not by sight. Faith does open doors. 

There is nothing wrong with thinking positive and having hope irrespective of your circumstances. Thinking positively and being hopeful forces your overall being to be in a positive atmosphere which promotes a more happy well being. Once you create a positive atmosphere, you begin to feed off of the positive energy around you. 

Being negative and being around negative people will only get you depressed. Kids understand this concept. 

Drive Off: At the end of the day, you control how happy you want to be. You are in the driver’s seat of your own happiness. What are you going to do?

Do Not Stop Lying! If You Haven’t Started, Get To It


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Lies Lies Lies

Do not stop lying and you haven’t started, then get to it – at least that’s what Mark Twain thinks.

If you haven’t read Mark Twain’s essay “On The Decay of The Art of Lying”, then it should definitely be the next thing to read. It is a good read! It is a short essay written by the master of essays. Mark Twain wrote this essay in 1885 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In the essay, Twain focuses on the lost art of lying by discussion why people lie, the different kinds of lies, situations in which people lie and why all lies are not bad. He concludes by insisting that: “the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.

I have never heard anyone argue for dishonesty – for Politicians and Lawyers for that matter. While it is entertaining to poke fun at Politicians and Lawyers for lying, let’s be honest with ourselves and agree with Mark Twain that we are all liars. We often forget that we sometimes indulge ourselves in something Twain likes to call “silent lie”. Silent lie is simply not speaking when you know that your words (the truth) will not better a specific situation or might cause some kind of harm/damage – Twain likes to label such truth as an injurious truth. Twain makes the argument that an injurious truth is as deadly as an injurious lie. In a nutshell, Mark Twain argues that lying is good, so long as your intentions are good. Sounds so good from such an intelligent man, but wait…. we do not judge a man’s character by his intentions, do we? I don’t know what world you live in, but on earth and with humans, we certainly do not judge people by their intentions, but by their actions. The irony is we judge ourselves by our intentions and judge others by their actions. It makes sense – we judge people by the “knowns” and not the “unknowns”. We judge people by what we can see and examine and not what we hope to see in them. Lying in itself is bad irrespective of intentions. 

Now, I don’t know what was going in the 1880’s to provoke Mark Twain to write an essay on the decay art of lying, but I know what is going on in my generation and I can say that we live in lies and we have lost the art of truth telling – maybe Mark Twain got his point across and it has created another problem. Looking at it closely, the problem here is not lying, but acceptance and unconditional love. People want to be accepted and people want to be loved, but we often reject others’ authenticity in exchange for their “fakery”. When someone tells us of their weakness, struggles, and shortcomings, we hypocritically alienate ourselves from them instead of trying to understand, accept and love them. This forces people to paint a different picture of themselves or their situation in order to be accepted and this leads to lies upon lies. We become people pleasers only to please ourselves. Pleasing people only to please ourselves means that our entire happiness and well being is dependent on others. It does not get more dangerous than this.

When you lie, you need to tell more lies to cover up the first lie and this leads to you being buried in lies and losing your identity as a person. We are relational beings who cherish relationships, but there can never be a solid relationship without trust and what usually negates trust is dishonesty. At the end of the day, we want to build healthy relationships based on trust. 

Telling the truth is not easy and it can prove costly. You stand the chance of being alienated by society when you tell the truth, but it does indeed set you free. It sets you free from guilt and sets you free from the prison of lies. Lies limit you and what you can do or say, because when you are caught up in a lie, your credibility and brand takes a major hit and you might never be able to rebound from that. Tell the truth, but do not go around telling people they are ugly. You might be telling the truth, but you are being disrespectful. When your opinion is not needed, don’t talk – this is self control and wisdom. If you have something to say about somebody, make sure it will encourage and elevate them. If you have nothing good to say about an individual, you can humbly swallow your comments and allow the person to live. Contrary to Twain’s opinion, choosing not to comment is not necessarily lying, but in most cases, wisdom. He calls it silent lie, but I call it wisdom. Wisdom is not only found is words but in silence as well. 

Twain says we should master the art of lying, I say we should master the art of telling the truth by including wisdom. 20 something odd years of living, I have realized that telling the truth does not only free the person telling the truth, but it frees the recipient of the truth. The truth is a tough pill to swallow, but the pill will cure your sickness once it enters your system. The truth might not be received with a glorious heart at first, but with time, it will accomplish it’s task: correct, inform, educate, reveal, and help. What if we went about giving each other false feedbacks? Our planes wouldn’t have been flying and our ships wouldn’t have been floating. Someone has be open and honest with you in order for you in order for you to see your faults. If you can’t see your faults and wrong doing, you might go about your life only to end in disaster. We should not only develop the art of “truth telling”, but we should develop the art of “truth receiving”.

Mark Twain made some valid points about the benefits of lying, but I prefer the truth. Yes, we all tell lies and we can’t escape that. But we should make conscious efforts to speak the truth when necessary and we should do our best to accept and love people for who they truly are. 

As previously mentioned, On the Decay of the Art of Lying was an essay written in 1885 for a $30 prize for the “Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford”. Twain notes that he did not win a prize for this essay. Well, I don’t know whether to believe he did or did not win the prize. I don’t know what to believe anymore. 

Embracing Being Single & Being Happy


Embracing Being Single & Being Happy

Embracing Being Single & Being Happy

As babies, we get attached to our parents and those around us. In Kindergarten, we get to meet our “best friends” build upon those relationships straight into Elementary and Middle School. In High School, we begin to associate ourselves with people  we simply like and we dissociate ourselves from people we do not like. We move onto the college world and we find ourselves being around people who are similar to us. As we mature, we yearn for something deeper and most of us eventually get married to someone we truly care for or love. We simply never want to be alone.

Loneliness, for the most part, is not a good thing. Loneliness can create negative emotions and negative energy. There are times where by we need to alone with our thoughts for our own well being, but as humans, we have always yearned to be inclusive or to be involved with others.

Not trying to sound super religious here, but let’s take a take a trip back to the book of the beginning s- when God created man, he saw that man was lonely even though he created all the other animals around him. Man was lonely solely because he did not have his own kind to relate with. So God said, “it is not good for man to be alone”; God went ahead and created a suitable mate for him – Eve. According to the book of Genesis, the first words from Adam’s mouth were, “this is the flesh of my flesh and the bone of my bone” – man quickly recognized that among all the living creatures in the garden of Eden, this is the being he was going to be able to relate to and not feel alone.

Now, my questions is, does singleness constitute loneliness? My answer is a simple NO! If you are single, it does not mean you are alone. Being single simply means, you are not married or you are not in an exclusive relationship with another individual.

A lot of my friends (both male and female) settle for unwanted partners because of the fear of being “alone”, while in reality, there are people of their kind they can build healthy relationships with. The worst excuse I have heard is “I just didn’t want to be alone, so I had to go out with him. I didn’t care (at first) whether he was going to treat me right or not, because I simply didn’t want to be alone”. While we all (most of us) want to have a significant other to love and be loved, it is equally important that we get the necessary love and respect from our dealings and/or relationships. We should not settle just because we feel alone and we should not make decisions based on negative feelings but positive ones to reap positive results – example, do not get in a relationship just because you feel lonely, but rather get into one because you are ready to accommodate someone else in your life and you are ready to change their life as you expect them to change yours towards a positive future. 

As Tupac once said “Thugs Get Lonely Too”. Yes, it is true that you can feel alone at times when you are single, but being single should not always make you lonely.  If you are always lonely because you are single, then you Simply Need A Life. Occupy yourself with making friends, building platonic relationships and focusing on your career or your education. Focus on spending time with your family, friends, picking up a hobby or two and most importantly, Investing In Yourself.

The most important person you can care for is yourself. If you can’t take care of yourself, you simply can’t take of others. Being single gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself, get to know yourself better and be comfortable with who you truly are. If you truly do not know and love yourself, you can never accept or love others. Knowing yourself gives you confidence and makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This in the long run enables you to succeed in life.

If you are always looking to jump from one relationship to another, you will always be defined by others and your value and success will always be dependent on others. This leads to unhappiness, because you are always looking for someone to make you whole or complete you, while you have already been made whole! You are a fine finished product. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I have been single for 2 years (and counting) and I always get the question, “Joe, why are you single?” I always pause and ask this in return, “am I supposed to be in a relationship? I do not have the right to be single?”. We quickly assume that being single = being lonely = being unhappy. But to be honest, I enjoy being single and I am extremely happy. Yes, there are times where by I wish I could share great moments with a special someone, but to be honest, I’m not going to be single forever and this is the time I should keep certain things to myself and enjoy doing so. At the end of the day, I have friends and family who I spend quality time with and who I sometimes spend the good times and bad times with. Being single has enabled me meet and get to know more people (both males and females – especially females) which is never a bad thing. I have developed platonic relationships with some females and they have been great friends to me – this is something which might not have happened if I was in an exclusive relationship with someone. When the time is right and with the right person, I will be in a relationship and continue to live a happy life. My happiness is not dependent on who is, and who is not in my life because at the end of the day, I came into this world alone, chasing my own dreams and my own destiny and at the end of it all, I will die alone.

If you are single, take this opportunity to add value to yourself. Eventually, you are going to be with someone, and you will want to add value to their life. Take the time to see where you fell short in your previous relationships and use this time to be a better person. After my last relationship, I decided to spend sometime to be single, invest in myself and use this time to re-evaluate myself as a person. I mean, I am not a perfect person and I figure there is always room for improvement, but it will be best to improve myself while I am single.

If you plan on getting married someday, then enjoy being single and being happy now. The best advice I received was, “Never be with anyone or marry anyone who was not happy by ‘alone’ when you met them”. I thought about this for a while and realized that it simply can’t be far from the truth, because if that particular person couldn’t make themselves happy before meeting you, they simply won’t be able to make you happy. Think about it, if they couldn’t make themselves happy, then it will be extremely difficult for them to make two or more people happy (themselves, you, your future kids, family and friends). Yes, other things and other people do constitute to our happiness in some fashion, but in a nutshell, we create our own happiness. I agree with he advice above and I will also like to add, “if you can’t be happy being single, then you won’t be happy being in a relationship. Nothing or no one can make you more happier than yourself. “

Singleness is never a bad thing. Embrace it, pick up new hobbies, meet new friends, learn something new, invest in yourself and add value to yourself. Life is all about what you make of it, so do not rely on another individual to make or break your life.

Thanks!

Joe Darko

Twitter: @joe_darko

Faebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Instagram: joe_darko

“Why Are Good Looking Guys Hooking Up With Ugly Girls?” REALLY?


A friend of mine posted on Facebook that “Whats up with good looking guys hooking up with ugly girls…?” When I saw this on Facebook, I immediately commented just to share my opinion as to why the “good looking guys” might go in for the “ugly girls”. Below is a snap shot of what she said and my brief answer. 

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As you can see from my response, I do not believe that any guy gets up and says “well, let me go in for the “not so good looking girls”. Being a guy myself, I know that we are usually moved by what we see. If what we see is presentable before our friends, then we believe everyone will see us as manly and will see us as the “alpha male”. The trick is, there comes a point in a man’s life, when his goals becomes more clear; as he aligns his goals properly, he begins to feel the need to find a woman who will be there for him through and through. He begins to look for the intangibles in a woman. He begins to look for a matured woman, a woman who can support him, encourage him, be faithful and committed to him and most importantly, a woman who can bring his goals and dreams to life. He begins to look for all these things, besides outward appearance, because his goals and dreams are far more important that what can fade with time. 

Secondly, looks are deceiving and they do not always tell the whole story about an individual. Another point to consider is that, “one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure” and “one man’s meat, is another man’s poison”. What you may find dirty, someone may find gorgeous and what you may find ugly, someone may find beautiful. Boys in fact do grow up to be men who don’t focus on outward beauty alone, but inward beauty; because as we get older, we realize that outward beauty fades with time, but inward beauty persists. Probably some of these men are going in for the “not so attractive women” because they do things these so called “pretty women” do not do. Yes, it is good to look pretty all the time, but to men, it is better we get fed, so we most of the time need a woman who can cook. It is also good to know that you have a woman who can support you, help you build a strong network to succeed. 

Take a minute and look around you. Look at all of your successful friends or all the great people you know and you will realize that behind them is a supportive woman. This woman might have the looks, which is always a plus, but most importantly this woman has what it takes to cater to her man. Females, do not get me wrong, it is good to look pretty, but know that a wise man will always appreciate you and accept you for what is inside of you and not what is outside of you. 

I have a beautiful sister who got married last year. If you know my family, you will know that we have been blessed with the genes of good looks :). But on a more serious note, my sister Jennifer is very pretty, so because of her looks, my mom always advised her that “when it comes to marriage, looks will take you to your marriage home, but your personality will send you packing”. My mom was just trying to remind her that she should continue to build her character as a woman and continue to keep that positive character as a woman in her marriage. 

I hear a lot of girls say that “these men are cowards, they are are afraid of bold, strong, and beautiful woman and they are afraid of women making it big”. Well, anytime I hear this, I cringe all because it is not accurate. Not all men are cowards and not all men are afraid such a woman. What the men probably do not see are your intangibles. Besides you being successful, beautiful, bold, and all that, do you have the intangibles which he finds very crucial to have? Or are you only flaunting what you think will get him attracted to you? If you can’t support him, can’t cater to him, can’t cook, then why would he want you? He is not a coward, but rather bold, because it takes a lot to find such a woman in today’s society. Such a woman is considered virtuous and like the Bible says in Proverbs 31, “..a virtuous woman who can find? for her price is far above rubies..” Meaning, she has a worth. She is worth something. If men are not coming to you because of your looks, then this should hint to you that, to them, your looks is admirable, but probably not worth a whole lot in the long run.

The secret is, the alpha male world does exist for men and in that world, men are competing against each other to rise to the top to fulfill their goals and dreams. This group consists of the vast majority of men in today’s society, and they will do anything they can to get to the top. Most of these men know that, in order to kept to the top, they need their sanity, they need to be taken care of and they need someone to love and accept them. Because of this, they go in for women who can deliver on what they consider deal breakers or intangibles. Such a woman will not only help him get to the promise land, but excel beyond his dreams. These men working to get there do not need a “trophy wife”, because they do not have the time to waste and certain issues which might come with having a trophy wife. If you have noticed, men who are working hard on their way to success, do not care for looks or “trophy wives” – if you have that, then it is a plus. But men who have already made it and I mean “made it” usually go after the best looking girl possible as trophy – hence the phrase trophy wife. This wife is there to make the man look good and send a signal to all the other men that, “I can win and win BIG TIME – look at my wife. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the case for ALL successful and well to do men and there is nothing wrong being the trophy wife, if you want to. But do you want a man to see as you as “Add On” or do you want a man to see you as a partner who is crucial part of his plan? If you choose the latter, then you have to make it a point to develop the the intangibles.

I would like to leave with a quote by my aunt this morning: “Looks are wonderful, but if you’re also a man of wisdom and you love knowledge, please don’t deal with dumb pretty girls. You’re wasting time and blocking your blessing”.

So to answer my friend’s question in nutshell, I would like to say that no one is downplaying good looks, but everyone is praising great character and that is probably what these “good looking guys” see in these so called “ugly girls”.

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Why Nice Guys Do Not Finish Last


Is he going to finish last? No!

In today’s society, it is believed that nice guys “finish last”. I am here to debunk this statement once and for all because I believe that nice guys DO NOT finish last.

Before I get into this, I would like for us to define the term “nice guy”. A lot of females tag boys who naturally like them and who are into them for their best interest as “nice guys”. This is the kind of guy who usually opens the and hold the door for her. This is the type of guy who will take the girl out to eat, get to know her and actually offer to pay for the meal. This is the kind of guy who was probably raised by a real man who taught him how to be a gentleman and this is the kind of guy who probably saw his dad treat his mom with respect. But the term “nice guy” has a negative connotation and is usually perceived as a guy who is desperate to be with a particular girl, who is “pressing” and who is probably a “loser”.

Grant it, there are some guys out there who I will certainly not condone their actions especially when it comes to dealing with females. Some of these guys probably lack some advice or two on how to approach a female and keep a female interested. I mean, you can’t and should not act desperate, you can’t be pushy, and you simply can’t your put your whole life on hold all because of a female. Best believe that females will always want a man who is pursing something and focuses on other important things besides her alone. Yes, they will complain and all, but to be honest, that will never change; complaining for them comes with experience and they get better at it. I remember I used to talk to this girl a while back and she always wanted to hang out with me on Sundays. Now, my Sundays are solely reserved for Church, Family, Playing Soccer and Watching Football. I have been doing this for years. So I simply told the girl, “listen, I know you would like to hang out with me, but I have been doing this for years, and I will simply not be able to drop this and hang with you on Sundays – maybe on another day”. Now, she was not pleased with this, but as a matter of fact, she came to respect me and my time. Now, what a probably desperate guy will do is “Okay, sure. I will drop everything I love to do just for you”. There is time for everything (time to make sacrifices for your partner), you do so but don’t always do that at your expense because as a guy it makes you seem desperate and of course the girls begins to think, “of course he can’t say no, he has nothing else to do” – guess what, you are being looked like a loser. Ladies, if a guy acts desperate, then that’s what he is. He is being nice because he is desperate NOT he is actin desperate because he is nice – such a guy is desperate and pressed! Sometimes, he might be “stalkish” and this is by no means a nice guy, but a guy with problems.

Before I lose my train of thought (I am getting hungry), Nice Guys Do Not Finish Last all because at the end of the day, the same girls who will choose a “bad boy” over a “nice guy” end up complaining the most and end up dissatisfied with their decision. Let’s be real here. Have you ever seen the winner of any event complaining? Never! Winners do not complain but the people who lose or finish last usually do. Nice guys at the end of the day WIN and finish FIRST! At the end of the day, they find a woman who appreciates them for who they are. They find a woman who would like to be treated like a queen and enjoy being respected.

There is a fine line between being nice and being desperate and “pressed”. Nice guys at first might come off as desperate because to be frank, A LOT of females are used to “whack guys”. A lot of females are so used to a guy not wanting to take them out, a guy not willing to respect them, a guy who usually physically or verbally abuses them, a guy who is not a gentleman, a guy who is willing to cheat and play them. To be honest with you, look around you. It starts at a very young age. A lot of these girls are not used to having real men and real gentlemen treat them right so they see such things as foreign and they do not understand sometimes, can’t come to terms with it. Like the saying goes, “people fear what they do no understand”. A lot of girls like to live in that comfort zone of being used to someone who might not be treating them right. Believe me when I say this, some of these girls know what they deserve, but its either they are not willing to give up on the guy because they believe they can change him (mind you, YOU CAN’T) or they simply do not want to be single again (which is foolishness if you ask me). The secret is, you got to be a nice guy but know how and when to put your foot down. Females are very beautiful and interesting creatures. Give them an inch, they will take a yard. That is them and you can’t do anything about it. As males, we should learn how to appreciate females for who and what they are but we should not put up with anything out of the ordinary.

Females, you are the future mother of presidents, heads of states, lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc. We need you at this young age to be treated right for your sanity and the sanity of these future leaders. Please do not deem a guy as a “nice guy” just because he has been brought up as a gentleman. But rather, appreciate and respect him even if you do not like him, because someone else will love him. At the end of the day, Nice Guys Do Not Finish Last.