Journal Nov. 26, 2017

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I’m back after a bit of a setback. I had some minor surgery and it took a bit longer to recover than normal. The positive side is some downtime allowed time for coming up with great ideas for content and some research to support it.  More positive psychology, science and philosophy that helps guide people to living a happy, full life free of dogma and superstition. So even though I haven’t blogged as much as a should for medical reasons these last few days and sp readership dropped off I have had time to come up with some great ideas for posts. So as Dan Millman said:

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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.

 

 

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 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 1: Urban Regeneration And Development

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In 2012 Graham Howe published Sacred and secular sources of hope for a post modern society for SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) and in it he described 4 sources of secular hope:

  1.  Urban regeneration and community development – symbolizing and securing hope for a viable urban future.
  2. The Ecological Imperative – optimizing hope for the perpetuation of ‘Planet Earth’.
  3. Re-Sacralizing the Secular – re-investing ‘post-religious’ secular social theory with overtly religious norms and values.
  4. 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.

In the article itself Howe attempts to rectify the cognitive dissonance between the religious and secular thinking of all 4 of these sub-topics. We will  be exploring all except number three in secular terms. We won’t be looking at number three as that is more of a matter of politics and cultural conditioning. But we will look at the other three in terms of why these are secular and why they can provide the non-religious so much hope.

Urban Development

The simplest way to describe urban development is the building of a community. Community can mean anything from a neighborhood to a multinational network.  Urban development covers a wide range of issues for a given urban area such  as:

  • Economics
  • Culture
  • Ecology
  • Inclusiveness
  • Managing urban expansion and congestion
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Resource use (water, mining. ..etc.)
  • Parks

It’s a vast topic and can take years of study to truly be skilled at. However you don’t need to a have university degree to be concerned with and involved in the urban planning of your community. This is of course tied to community development:

Community development is both a process – developing and enhancing the ability to act collectively – and an outcome – a decision to take collective action and the results that action generates. Effective community development occurs when community members work together with organizations and governments to solve problems and realize new opportunities. Community development is an essential ingredient in effective community change efforts: helping to prioritize and align strategies to the community’s context, as well as, revealing, and mobilizing, untapped community resources.(source)

Being a part of a process allows us to also be a part of the outcome. Knowing that we did the work that resulted in our community befitting in some way gives a satisfying and empowering feeling; a feeling of hope that we helped build a better present and future for ourselves, our family and friends. The best way to do this is volunteering and there are countless ways to do this. Moneycrashers has 12 good ways:

  1. Offer to Help Family
  2. Volunteer At Your Local School
  3. Organize a Yard Sale For Charity
  4. Visit a Senior Center
  5. Coach a Local Youth Team
  6. Tutor a Student
  7. Fix and Serve meals
  8. Serve on a Community Board
  9. Become a Docent
  10. Be a Good neighbor
  11. Organize a Food Co-Op
  12. Volunteer At a Hospital

Charities and Community organizations are always happy to take volunteers. Do a little research, find one you like and volunteer. You don’t even necessarily need a community organization. Something as simple as tending a community garden or shoveling the neighbors sidewalk is just as good. Even an hour a week can lead to the powerful sense of hope that comes from contributing. Not because you are trying to please a God or Gods or anyone but simply because the results are always positive and tangible and feels so good.

 

 

 

Gratitude Journal

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If you’re reading this right now you’ve probably got it pretty good. Life is tough, for some more than others, but overall most of us are pretty lucky and we often don’t appreciate the things that make us so lucky. Like:

  • We have our freedoms
  • We have access to food and clean water
  • Healthcare
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Pets
  • Fun (Sports and hobbies..etc.)
  • Peace
  • Emotions (good and bad)
  • A bed
  • Heaven right here on Earth

Positive psychologists have found that reminding ourselves of the things we are thankful for can help us have hope in our lives.

Evidence has shown that developing gratitude for the things in your life that you may otherwise take for granted can have a big impact on your outlook and your satisfaction with your life (Davis et al., 2016; Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2006).(positivepsychologyprogram.com)

Journal Therapy has been shown to an effective form of psychotherapy since the 1960s. ‘Dr. Ira Progoff, a psychologist in New York City, began offering workshops and classes in the use of what he called the Intensive Journal method’ ‘Journal therapy has been used effectively for grief and loss; coping with life-threatening or chronic illness; recovery from addictions, eating disorders and trauma; repairing troubled marriages and family relationships; increasing communication skills; developing healthier self-esteem; getting a better perspective on life; and clarifying life goals.'(source)

A gratitude journal develops the ‘getting a better perspective on life’ part of journal therapy. Seligman and colleagues recommend either writing three things everyday or five things on a weekly basis and to be specific (source).

If you’re stuck for ideas here are 80 little things that can make us happy in fact there is an entire website dedicated to little things hit shuffle and get your mind thinking of the things we have in our daily life you are thankful for. Greatergood magazine has some great tips for doing a good gratitude journal. Here is a good template as well (source):

Even better we don’t need to thank anything supernatural for the things we are lucky for. We can thank ourselves, our job, our friends, our family, our doctor or many other things and people that will appreciate it. As an added bonus it feels pretty good giving credit where credit is due. In short, a little gratitude can go a long way!