I saw a video that featured a man named Martin Seligman who some call the father of positive psychology. He explained that psychology had been focused since its inception on the medical model. That is, they’ve been interested in finding what is wrong and then finding out how to get rid of it. In some ways they have found success but he says that this focus has ignored a huge group of people, the normal folks who are simply looking for ways to feel better and enjoy their lives. Seligman and his colleagues have been focusing on that group. Rather than focus on illness and psychopathology they focus on the positive side of being human and what helps make people happier.
In the video Seligman lists three states of happiness. The first is simply finding pleasure and enjoying the good things of life. He was quick to point out that this element was short lived, and as he said, it was a square wave. When you experienced the pleasantness you enjoyed, but after it was gone, so was your positive feeling. It was very short lived.
The second element was the state of mind we find when we become enthralled with an activity. He called it FLOW. Everything else disappears and we lose track of time and simply experience this state. It can take on many faces. For some it might be captivated by music, for others it might be a game or another passion/interest.
The third element was where we did things that we tied to meaningfulness. They were important to us due to their meaning.
He then made the point that when we can combine the second and third element that this combination could produce a potent example of something that helped us to feel good. Its impact on us was not short lived like the temporary pleasure, it had a much more lasting impact. He called it Eudaemonic.
We will be looking at more of Seligman’s ideas and practical suggestions about feeling good in newsletters to come.
Think if you have something you do that helps you move into FLOW. Is it something you do often? Something you enjoy? Something that has meaning to you?
Happy Independence Day!
Yeah, I’m Independent.
Why is independence important to men? Ever notice that men work hard to appear to be independent? Men tend to not want help, preferring self-sufficiency, wanting to possess the resources to do something. They are hesitant to admit when they are coming up short, not wanting to appear weak or soft including not wanting to show tender emotions. What is driving this?
The driver of this is one of the best kept secrets in the world. It’s the fact that men live every day in a male hierarchy. Most are unaware of this. It is common to hear women judge men harshly for wanting to appear independent, to be on top, to have it all together. Women will often mistakenly see this as a sign of immaturity but the fact is that since boys went through puberty they have been living in a world that judges them and rates them on their manhood. Continuously. Women have never experienced anything like it and they will often err by assuming he is just acting childishly or worse.
Think that is incorrect? Just look at the research that has been going on for the last 10 years on what researchers are calling “Precarious Manhood.” The researchers are studying this phenomenon that shows itself as young men and men being rated by cultures around the world. Yes, this is not just in western cultures, they are finding the same rating systems universally. They see that manhood is difficult to achieve and very easy to lose. Compare this to womanhood where girls after puberty are automatically considered to be women.
Ladies, you don’t have a clue about this and you would do
well to start asking your man some questions about what it is like to be in his
shoes., You would learn lots and he
would feel, well, independent if you could understand the nature of this male
We wouldn’t dream of letting someone steal our cell phone. But all too often we allow people to steal our peace of mind and feeling good.
How does this theft happen?
Usually someone has an excess of feeling bad and wants to channel that to some unsuspecting and willing recipient. Here’s an example:
You are sitting quietly and someone comes up to you and criticizes you, your political party, your family, or some other aspect of your life where you are attached. You fight back! The game is on and back and forth it goes. But guess what? Usually in fighting back we get caught up in the whirlwind of negativity that previously was not ours but we now carry. After the interchange we go to someone else and tell them what a jackass that person was, we think in our heads how we are right.
At this point our peace of mind and our ability to be in the present moment has been stolen. We have been ripped off and we don’t even know it.
What to do?
Here’s an example of how Abe Lincoln handled this sort of thing:
I remember a story about Abe Lincoln attending a White House Christmas party when a notoriously nasty woman came up to him and asked him in the most insulting voice she could muster that “didn’t he think his legs were far too long?” Lincoln reportedly looked at her, smiled, and said “Actually madam I have always found them just the right length to reach the floor.” Everyone laughed and Lincoln strolled on to another group. He was able to completely negate her sour attack with humor. He left feeling good, and she left stuck in her own crap.
That is a great model for us. Remember, people who are trying to shame you are doing so because they are stuck in their own bitterness. Maintain your sanity and don’t eat what they are selling. Find your way to leave them to stew in it and don’t lose your peace of mind.
See if you can think of times that you may be allowing your peace to be stolen. Think of ways to use your strength to counter these situations.