Thursday, August 16, 2012

Step by step

First, I ran into Martin Seligman's newest book, "Flourish".  From my studies as a psychology graduate student, I developed a strong appreciation of Seligman's approach.  As the president of the American Psychological Association, he called for research, development, theory and education in the area now called "positive psychology", basically the study of what makes people happy and successful at living a full and satisfying life.  

Then, I saw a statement in the blog "Barking Up The Wrong Tree" by Eric Barker, that Seligman and his students had done repeated on a simple but valuable procedure that seemed very popular with people and also effective at helping them get into the habit of noticing the nearly uncountable good and positive events in their lives.  Us animals are evolved to be alert to dangers which our human minds can recognize in psychological events and in abstractions as well in charging, drooling, nasty beasts.  So, we don't tend to note the zillions of things that are going right, going well, going nicely.

Then, I found out about "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg.  The Buddha (= the awakened one) taught 500 years before Christ that everything changes, that nothing lasts.  Of course, physical aging and decay is responsible but in the human mind, what can be called "habituation" or "accommodation" accomplishes much the same thing for us.  As the gorgeous drum majorette told me in high school, "no one is a knockout after you get to know them".  However, beautiful your date or partner or new car or new house or its vista, you will get used to them and the thrill from them will lessen, maybe even cease, eventually.  The thrill or the shock of anything will lessen, wear out.

Finally, I listened to that interview of Cheri Huber I posted about the other day.  She has recently found that similarly to Seligman's 3 good things a day and reasons why they happened', participants in her workshops, retreats and online classes have reported gripping results from a practice she developed.  The Huber practice involves using a portable tape recorder.  She only explains her procedure roughly in the interview but gives more information in "What You Practice Is What You Have", only available in paper format but being mailed to me.

I do know that her way includes noting in the tape recorder things that happen that upset the user during the day.  Then, later, the same person speaks into the recorder to comfort someone who has had those troubles noted earlier.  Huber was surprised to find how enthusiastic people have been about the practice.  She reports that they report hearing amazing wisdom, calm and insight coming from their own mouths, ideas and words they wouldn't have thought they had in them.  

She states that she hopes she herself is able to maintain the practice every day of her life since it is so much fun and so helpful.  She also reports that her daughter, the mother of Huber's grandchildren, likes her mom but "doesn't read every book she writes".  However, during recent challenging times, the mother advised the daughter to give the procedure a try.  Soon, thereafter, Huber received a rare text message from the daughter expressing amazement at the value and effectiveness of what she has to say to herself.

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