Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chew on this! (II)

Every Friday until November 7, 2010 you will find entries from a series written by Iris about her training to run the New York marathon in 2010. It is something she never aspired to do; she has never run a distance of more than two kilometers in her life. In this series she describes her adventures and how she works on her beliefs to transform her challenges and successes into one great experience.

It’s the end of week two of the inflammation injury. I've run a total of five minutes (!) over the last week and have been doing strengthening exercises. This seems to me a slow, slow recovery! I am registered for a 10K in three weeks and I wonder how I will be doing by then. Ahh, well... that’s the future. I'd rather come back to the present moment and take it one day at the time. The strengthening exercises, the stretching and cross training will do their work.

This afternoon I heard that my friend Jonathan knows about this diet that in his opinion works really well to eliminate inflammation. This weekend I will hear all about it and change my diet to help my body. By Friday I will give you an update about this all. No beliefs to explore this week. Everything feels peaceful in this area, and I want to leave this subject to go back to the article that I wrote yesterday.

Chew on This!

If you have not yet read the article Chew on This!, I suggest that you to do that first. If you don’t, you'll miss some of the fun of creating new neural pathways by squeaking some of the rusty wheels of your brain!

It’s all about doing
Lots of people talk happiness. They know the lingo and easily recite the words taught at all the right times. But then when it’s time to put the learned materials into practice, not many people seem up to the challenge! This is the reason that I thought it a good idea to start writing about my marathon experiences: a real life example of how the happiness philosophy can help you create your world.

And this was also a motivator for writing Chew on This! yesterday. How do we put a philosophy in practice? By playing with it! By using it! By doing it!

While writing this article, I still am a little surprised by the quietness of everyone who read the Chew on This! yesterday. The statistics show that quite a number of people came to the site yesterday. The readers stayed longer on the page than on other days this week. So I know that people have done more than just glancing at the post. I know you're out there! But still, almost no one commented. Was I unclear? Were you unclear? Do have nothing to say? I'm sure you have wonderful things to say and great insights! Come on, let's do brain crunches together!

OK, it's play time. Let's go find the beliefs in Dr. Seligman's paragraph.

Find beliefs.
It is all about beliefs. Beliefs are everywhere. You read them; you hear them; you create them; you buy them; you sell them.

There are beliefs we change easily, and there are beliefs we take for true. There are beliefs we've held since we were little and there are beliefs we created during the day when working or watching television. The philosophy or happiness is about recognizing beliefs, so we can post ourselves firmly in the manager's seat of our lives and be in control of our beliefs and the actions that flow out of them.

The paragraph I posted yesterday presented a big pile of Martin Seligman’s beliefs. We could distill and analyze the paragraph for a long time. There is so much fun stuff to find in it. But let's start simple: what are the beliefs he sells? Do you recognize them? Let me start by listing a few that I see.

1. Ending friendships is difficult.
2. There are kind and unkind ways of making this transition, but they are all unpleasant.
3. This is a horrible situation, one that most children experience from both sides.
4. As parents, we want our children to react like Andrea.

Do you recognize these as beliefs? Can you hear the unspoken "always" in the sentences? Can you hear the "this is the truth" in the sentences? Can you see in the fourth sentence that he is speaking for every parent? OK, what other beliefs can you find? (Hint, hint... feel free to use the comment box!)

Does not fit...
One belief that Martin Seligman sells that does not fit my version of the philosophy of happiness:
I don’t believe that Andrea hurt Lauren, but I do believe that Lauren can feel hurt by Andrea’s actions. I would like Andrea to think "Lauren felt hurt after I told her I don’t want to be her friend anymore" and also "is there anything that I can do to help her (compassion)?"

I don’t believe in taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings or pain, like Dr. Seligman says in this paragraph. But I do believe in approaching people with compassion.

Kinda fits...
I do support Martin Seligman's belief that Andrea has learned from this situation and will probably do better in similar situations in the future. I also believe that, if Andrea had been able to immediately go to the belief "Lauren felt hurt after I told her I don’t want to be her friend anymore", she would have been more easily and quickly able to go to the compassionate state of explaining and supporting Andrea during the conversation itself, instead of responding from a with guilt after her actions.

Other thoughts I had...
If Martin Seligman’s books were totally filled with these kinds of paragraphs, I would not be interested in reading his work. But luckily, I have also read in his materials lots of stuff that I really love and seems really useful. There are even insights that I might want to adopt into my version of the philosophy or happiness! But let's go there when we have the basics down! This paragraph is useful, because it is such a great example of how often we all make up that our worldview is everyone else's worldview!

Your time to Chew on This!
OK. Want to play and practice? Go back to the first article and be present with the words. Use all the material that is there to learn about yourself and others. Are you drifting off to other subjects? Are you judging what you read? Are you agreeing what you read? If so, are you aware of the beliefs that you're buying? What do you feel in yourself?

Then sit down and write down the beliefs you find. Why are they beliefs? Which of these beliefs do you support? Which not? Why?


  1. hi Iris.....your first puzzlement/question it seems is wonderment bout lack of participation. I too was wondering what 'animal' you were actually looking to play with. To me it seemed to judge/compare other modalities. Approaches which, while aiming in the same general direction of an option approach, seem to complicate and confuse, perhaps in part because the writers themselves are still not as clear and simplified as one of an option persuasion tends to be.

    OK,When you suggest, "that if Andrea had been able to immediately go to the belief," I'm also thinking...if Seligman spoke cleanly and clearly as Option fascilitates......yes, other flavors of experience are more readily discoverable.

    Yes, 4 thumbs up, about the common tendency to assume others think as we think. This can mislead oneself, from embracing and accepting that everyone is ultimately possessed of 'volitional consciousness,' No one outside of the individual has ultimate control over this.

    My intent is not to distract. I'm ok if that is how others might make my participation up as.:) My intent is only to add to, to further stimulate, participaction.....hugs bw

  2. Ahh... The thing that occurs to me is that there is a mixing of systems and beliefs. I think the places where I really agree with Dr. Seligman is in the system level concepts that he puts forth. For example, that generalization makes things bigger and that specificity makes them smaller. However, Dr. Seligman tends to intertwine his academic and system level concepts with his personal beliefs and observations; it's just lazy science.

    Although, the intermingling of broad, unsupported generalizations with core concepts based on clinical research undermines the credibility of his books from a scientific perspective, it doesn't detract from the usefulness of the core concepts; it just makes them harder to ferret out, kind of like a garden of beautiful flowers overgrown with weeds.

    What do you think?

  3. Awesomely described.
    Anyone hear of David R. Hawkins, Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior? A friend of mine seems obsessed with his abunant sharings of his 'cluttered garden' approach of making sense of people and their choices. Watched one meandering you-tube of him, and I just don't get the fascination with his sharings of seemingly cluttered thinking and complications....

    The optionistic perspective outlines/explains behavior choices just as well as any, with less jargon and unnecessary hoopla.

  4. @ BW: I do love your participation. Sometimes I am surprised where you go in your comments, but it helps me understand who you are and where you come from, so I really appreciate you being out here. I don't know D. Hawkins, but will check it out!

    @Teflon: I agree with you totally, and I am enjoying the puzzle of ferreting out the more useful ideas and concepts from all that Seligman writes!

    @everyone: I learned a lot about myself being unclear in stating my intentions. I had not intended to discuss Seligman's overall materials. I just wanted to use the paragraph he wrote as a basis for the discussion of beliefs and then see what each of us makes of it. For me the Option philosophy is not about adopting and holding on to a specific set of beliefs (sound like religion to me!), but about being consistently aware of our beliefs, the beliefs of those around us, and how they all interact and change. So, from that perspective, I would agree with Teflon. It's not about the beliefs, it's about the system that we use to process them.

    @Iris, I am going to look at getting better at conveying my ideas and intentions. I'll practice this in my next blog.

  5. Teflon: you summarized it very nicely,as usual. From my one reading of Seligman, I had the same feeling - many useful concepts but mingled with assumptions/judgments typical of any non-Optionized person, ie a lack of distinction between beliefs/facts/judgments/opinions.

    Iris: I did read your first post, and considered writing a response, but the paragraph was rather long and a detailed/complete parsing of it would have taken more time than I felt I had, plus I thought it was quite elementary to pick out the judgments & assumptions. Nevertheless, I want to be able to write in bite-sized chunks, not just well-finished pieces, so I will jump in more often.


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