The Best Possible Self: Ubermensch

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The stealing of Nietzsche’s concept Ubermench (the overman, the superman) by the Nazi’s is one history’s great philosophical tragedies. The concept itself is more positive than most people realize. Nietzsche had a vision of a person who had achieved a superior version of himself, a person who has organized the chaos within and created his own values.

Pushing ourselves to be better is valued far too little because of the negative view that this motivation devalues our current self. We should instead be motivated by an inspiring self image of ourselves.  We are very lucky because positive psychology has created a tool for doing exactly that:

The Best Possible Self Exercise

The BPS has three stages:

  1. Set a timer for ten minutes
  2. For ten minutes write down what your best possible self could be. Ignore grammar and punctuation and brainstorm to your heart’s content.
  3. After the ten minutes are up reflect on what you wrote down means. Ask yourself some questions like:
    • What of part of what I wrote down do I like best?
    • Can I achieve this?
    • How does this make me feel?
    • Does it motivate or inspire me?

With this tool everyone wins because on a personal level overtime we begin see our personal ubermench as achievable and are motivated to push ourselves towards it everyday. Personally I have added small personal vision’s of my own superior self at the end of my gratitude journal. On an ethical level we also begin to see this in others and are our kindness and compassion is additionally motivated by knowing that other person is also working everyday toward a better version of themselves and we would never want to stand in their way of doing that.

 

 

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Success Is A Liar But It Is Possible

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Success, unless you’re very lucky, is a lot of hard work. People only see the success and the successful make it look easy. We usually don’t see their long journey or the work they do behind closed doors in order to stay successful. Success is indeed a great liar. So don’t be discouraged because like Ayn Rand said:

The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.‘ -Ayn Rand

Secular Sources of Hope Part 3: The Aesthetic Imperative

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It’s really hard to describe the feeling of hope the arts give people. We attempted it before in The Arts: A Vital part of being human but even that didn’t really do it justice. In Howe’s description he says:

  1. The Aesthetic Imperative – utilizing the visual Arts- both elite and popular- as a mechanism for social and personal transformation. All four case studies embody explicit sources of ‘hope’ for 21st century individuals, communities and societies.

The important part of what he said being ‘as a mechanism for social and personal transformation”.

Part 1: Social Transformation

All forms of the arts painting, sculpture, music, theater, movies…etc. all have a powerful ability to express in a way that promotes social transformation in everything from economic and social justice to equal rights and equality to ecology…etc. There are many examples of people using art to enact social change. Here are some of the more famous ones:

Guernica by Picasso

Dada: An anti- war movement inspired by world war 1 that primarily used satire.

David Alfaro Siqueiros: Used his art to reach out to common people of Mexico.

Picasso: His work Guernica is credited as inspiring the modern human rights movement.

Vietnam: Ronald Haeberle, Peter Saul, Carl Andre, Norman Carlberg and Nancy Spero all used their art as a form of protest and made a significant impact.

In More modern times:

Some of Banksy’s work.

Banksy: An anonymous graffiti artist who uses his art to make political and social statements.

Rage Against The Machine: Used music to  inspire an entire generation to be active in social and political change.

Pussy Riot: A band who famously went to jail for protesting Putin and government corruption in Russia.

The arts can give us so much hope to that we can make positive change in the world Adorno said:

 ‘all art is an uncommitted crime’,

Personal Transformation:

The arts are so powerful we can use the arts to transform not just culture and society but ourselves as well. We can find our personal lives transforming through the arts in three different ways:

It’s Therapeutic

Artistic expression of all kinds leads a satisfaction not only in completing an art piece but expressing ourselves in whatever way we feel. Expression of an art from is so good for you that some psychotherapists actually use art therapy to treat mental illnesses and unresolved psychological issues.

It Expands Horizons

Getting involved in artistic expression opens doors to different cultures and other worldviews. Either in the art works themselves and/or the other artists.

Lifestyle Change

The arts can lead to entire lifestyle change. You don’t need to pursue the arts as a career to being involved in art museums, clubs and galleries.  As a hobby one can engage in many rewarding social activities and get to know other artists and influential figures in the arts.

Whether you use your artistic expression to reach and make change through political and social statements or to bring change in yourself both will  bring powerful meaning and hope into your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sources:

http://artsandsocialtransformation.com/

https://culturalpolitics.net/social_movements/art

https://www.widewalls.ch/protest-art/alex-hartley-nowhereisland/

 

Journal November 17th, 2017

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Hard to post inspirational songs because everyone has their own tastes in music but the lyrics to this song I really like and are helping me get through my days lately (emphasis mine):

I give myself up every day
To fight this woe is me demeanor
If things had gone another way
Now would my grass be any greener?
And as I’m struggling on my own
I have to think I’m not alone
Give and take, we catch our breaks
We all learn to survive
Oh, but don’t look now
I said don’t look now
Cause here we are
Living the best days of our lives
These are the best days of our lives
I fly around the world to spend
My nights with strangers and their lovers
I notice happiness depends
On if we share it with each other
So when this craziness is through
I’ll spend my happiness with you
Give and take, we catch our breaks
We all learn to survive
Oh, but don’t look now
I said don’t look now
Cause here we are
Living the best days of our lives
These are the best days of our lives
As we’re walking through the fire
Isn’t it great to be alive?
Give and take, we catch our breaks
We all learn to survive
Oh, but don’t look now
I said don’t look now
Cause here we are,
Living the best days of our lives
These are the best days of our lives
Everybody, let me hear you sing
It goes
Give and take, we catch our breaks
We all learn to survive
Oh, but don’t look now
I said don’t look now
Cause here we are
Living the best days of our lives
These are the best days of our lives

Perspective

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With all our everyday problems we can get overwhelmed and perspective is one of the easiest things to lose when that happens. Fortunately the information age makes it easy to get back again.

 What Perspective?

That having your own perspective is ok. In fact that should be encouraged. There is only one exception: Extremism. If your viewpoint leads to any kind of extremism then that viewpoint is unhealthy,  even dangerous. Otherwise your opinions and philosophy are almost always valid, no matter what they are.  In Short:

 

Journal Nov. 14, 2017

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After much thought and consideration I updated the about page to better reflect the change of direction the blog took a few months ago.  I explained the tagline ‘Happiness if Free’ and how we plan to help people achieve happiness for free. I only didn’t mention ‘Happiness Is Free’ was inspired by the Shania Twain song ‘When’. The lyrics that inspired the tagline:

And the actual Video:

Happiness truly is free for me and I really hope I can help other people see why.

Secular Sources of Hope Part 2: The Ecological Imperative

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It’s our planet, why would anyone not want to take care of it? It’s our home. It makes sense to want to protect it. The people who understand this are in a constant battle with the selfish and greedy.

‘The state political elites serve capital. They are unable or unwilling to control and regulate capital even when the very survival of the human race is ultimately at stake. One is reminded of the radical literary theorist Frederick Jameson’s quip that ‘it is easier to imagine a total catastrophe which ends all life on earth than it is to imagine a real change in capitalist relations’ –Graham Howes

We are losing this battle and the science supports this.  The Earth’s temperature has risen (source):

And it is human caused (source):

Scientists predict potentially disastrous results from global warming. Including more frequent and severe weather, higher death rates, wildlife extinction and more. It  is not all doom and gloom we can fight it and we can give ourselves and others a lot of hope. The David Suzuki Foundation has ten great ways:

  • Get involved
  • Be energy efficient
  • Choose renewable power
  • Eat wisely
  • Trim your waste
  • Let polluters pay
  • Fly less
  • Get informed
  • Green your commute
  • Support and Donate

All of these things all of us can do. Even if we only do a few we will feel a lot less guilty and a lot more hopeful that we are doing our part to keep the planet healthy. Carl Sagan summarized why caring for this planet (and each other) is so important, quite beautifully, in this video:

 

 

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest.

But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.

On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager,

every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love,

every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician,

every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there

– on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.

Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner,

how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.

In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit yes. Settle, not yet.

Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character building experience.

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

-Carl Sagan