Monday, November 30, 2009

A Little More Delusional Optimism

Excerpted from "Quantum Psychology" Chapter 7 - Taking the Mystery out of "Miracles" by Robert Anton Wilson:

According to Brain/Mind Bulletin (May 1988) John Barefoot of Duke University has found a negative correlation between suspiciousness and longevity. In a sample of 500 older men and women whose health he monitored for 15 years, Barefoot discovered that:

(a) those who scored high on suspiciousness, cynicism and hostility died sooner than all others;
(b) this high mortality remained constant when compared by age, by sex, by previous health, by diet and even by "bad habits." [Those who smoked and remained generally optimistic lived longer than those who smoked and worried about it.]
(c) those who scored highest on hostility had a death rate more than six times higher than others.

In a related study (Brain/Mind Bulletin August 1988) Shelley Taylor of UCLA and Jonathon Brown of SMU refuted the conventional idea that those who score high on "mental health" generally have a fewer number of illusory beliefs. Among the most common illusions of the mentally healthy:

(a) overly positive views of themselves;
(b) convenient "forgetting" of negative facts about themselves;
(c) illusory beliefs about having more control than they do have;
(d) "unrealistic" optimism about themselves;
(e) "unrealistic" optimism about the future in general;
(f) "abnormal" cheerfulness.

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Kinda puts a different spin on what might be viewed as mental health; this might be called Survival Emotional/Mental Health.

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"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude." - William James; 19th century pioneer of psychology.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Please Pardon the Mess - Under Reconstruction

This is a sign I've felt could be tattooed to my forehead in recent years. As I told someone the other day who was warning me with concern about the Great Armageddon coming in 2012 [or a theater near you]: when you've survived your own personal Armageddon you tend not to fret over possible 'End of the World' scenarios. I've fought bigger battles. I'm still standing. I'm not special. I know others just like me.

The 'end of the world' can come in many forms: death, illness, divorce, job loss, estrangement - collapse of the world as we knew it. In this world of the temporary, we've all experienced and will experience many more endings of the world as we know it; that's how this place runs - endings and beginnings. Cycles. One era ends just in time for something new to begin. In between the ending and the new beginning is difficulty and challenge; it's messy. There's debris, old and new boards, nails, tools and a film of construction dust covering everything. It's not attractive or even of sound construction - yet.

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el poquito is a trickster. He'll say 'yes' when you expect 'no', 'goodbye' when he greets you and 'hello' as he leaves. Since the day he arrived at my door he's been playing his tricks on me. Most recently was when I was writing here about 'Restoration' - a conception of healing. I thought this would be written quickly. I had it all mapped out 1-2-3, a project that after having spoken most of it hundreds of times in various ways, I thought I could complete with ease.

I was in the midst of writing about the Emotional quadrant of the Restoration Wheel when teaching became learning from deep inside the lesson; lessons that I thought I already knew well. Hah! Guess I was going to be given a review -- boot camp style.

Life lessons are never easy, especially when they involve endings. Without enumerating my own recent ones, I'll just say it's been challenging times and I had no words to express emotional restoration. I was in the midst of being buffeted by various storms and felt I knew absolutely NOTHING about emotional balance; to write on the subject seemed fraudulent, misleading and arrogant. Plus, all I could do was to try and keep my eye on my own road. The best I could do was to document for myself and for you the miracle of transformation - the Monarchs.

It's all metaphor: the endings of one stage; the leap forward into the unknown chrysalis into the dark; the waiting and the more waiting; the restless waiting, the anxious waiting, waiting for things to change, to get better, to be something different than they are - and then finally, the birth of something completely new and different. The monarchs say it all, everything that I have no language to express about the journey we all must walk, the emotional labyrinth of being human. In some ways, when in the midst of the throes of emotional upheaval, worries and fears, we seem as fragile as a monarch butterfly. But then the metaphor continues. The beautiful, gorgeous, newborn butterfly that seemed so fragile, makes this huge act of courage, flying thousands of miles; a ridiculous act of delusion, a delusion their very survival depends upon.

All I can give you is metaphor and the concept that much of my navigation through is also the result of a delusional optimism that my very survival also depends upon. Perhaps oddly, my emotional navigation has two flags I sail under: Delusional Optimism and a tough, no-nonsense Pragmatic Realism. The QUALITY of the survival is dependent upon that: Delusional Optimism joined with Pragmatic Realism - a tough match - a bridge between the heart and the mind. Emotional restoration, it doesn't happen without the pragmatic tool of the mind at the helm. As best as I know, wielding the power of the mind is the surest way to add ballast in the emotional storms. More on that as we enter into the next quadrant - the mental.

More lessons, courtesy of el poquito: Yes means no; no means yes. Goodbye, it's nice to see you again. Hello, I'll be going now. ; )