Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I am reading a great book by Dr. Nick Baylis called A Rough Guide to Happiness; Practical Steps for All-round Well-Being. It's a bit like a psychology textbook, but easier to read. I'm about half-way through, but so far the premise seems to be that happiness is about balance. I remember taking a Psych course in university on Positive Psychology. There I learned that we should continually seek out the positive and you can only know positive because negative exists (not an exact summary, as that was a few years ago.) Dr. Baylis's book says the opposite. Happiness comes not just from the positive. Think how many times we've heard of someone having something great happen out of something bad. I'm thinking Lance Armstrong's Tour do France win after cancer. Lance says he was strong enough to win because of the cancer, not despite it. Happiness therefore is more how you react to an event rather than whether or not the event itself is negative or positive. Hence, balance (wholeness) is necessary to both recognize happiness and to be in the frame of mind to embrace it. (I"m really taking liberty here with this author's work, but you get the drift.)
One particular section of the book has caught my imagination. P. 138 "What is the meaning of life? is a common enough question, but it makes no sense. It's like asking the meaning of air or water or wood. Life, just like those element, is a limited natural resource, so a more helpful question is "What can we do with our life that would seem wonderfully worthwhile to us? ....Who or what excites us that we bother to get out of bed early, break a sweat, be brave and stay sober so we can get a good night's sleep, wake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and try it all again tomorrow?" That is the question that's been rolling around in my mind; that and, how do I find the time anyway?

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