Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lisa Genova

I'm at the top of Rabbit Lane instead of the summit, and I'm on a handicapped snowboard instead of skis, but nothing about this experience feels less than 100 percent, less than perfect. I'm on the mountain with my family. I'm here.

--from Left Neglected

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Geoff Warburton

So, in grief you're going to meet hate, anger, emotional pain, rage, terror, if you get through that, you're probably going to feel torn to pieces, you might feel crazy, you might end up in a total emotional abyss. You need to feel that emotional abyss. You need to let that abyss swallow you. So, it may feel that in that abyss a part of you is dying. And maybe, a part of you needs to die. Close off your experience of the abyss, and you close off the flow of life. Here's the thing: Block that anger, and you block your vitality. Block that fear, and you'll block your excitement. Block that deep emotional pain, and you'll block your access to compassion. Even block your hatred, and you'll block your access to peace. Block your experience of that abyss, and you will block access to the depths of who you really are and the energy that's going to take you forward.

Right in the center of that abyss, in that silence, you'll find your liberation even if you've lost the love of your life. We do that not to get away from what's hurting us, we do that --we embrace all that, all those emotions-- to connect to the flow of life. Connecting to the flow of life is what will ultimately make us happy. Happiness, for the people I came across in my journey, was about the way they traveled; it wasn't some end destination; it wasn't some place they reached when they "got over grief"; it was about how they continued to be open to their experience. If we close our experience, we're more likely actually to feel or become depressed. How many of you associate grief and loss with gloominess and depression? The thing is, grief is not depression.

Loss through bereavement can become an adventure to be had, rather than a problem to be solved.

--Geoff Warburton, The Adventure of Grief

Vijay Iyer

Speaking to your Harvard students, how would you define what makes a work of music great?

I will never say anything like that. I would never say, “This is what makes something great.” Because greatness is relative, and it’s subjective and it has to do with one’s own standard of greatness. And when you tell someone, especially in a pedagogical situation, that this is what makes something great, they don’t have a chance to really explore that for themselves. They just feel like, ‘oh, I guess that’s what I’m supposed to write down and that’s what I’m supposed to know for the exam’ and stuff like that. It’s not real.

From Ingenious: Vijay Iyer: On the science and talent of Kevin Berger, Nautilus, Oct 30, 2014

Vijay Iyer is a 2013 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, a musician is versed in seeing the world through the lens of science. Iyer’s Yale undergraduate degree in math and physics paved the way to his Ph.D. in technology and the arts at the University of California, Berkeley. The jazz pianist has recorded over 15 albums and in 2012 was voted Jazz Artist of the Year in the DownBeat International Critics Poll.

Gabriele Oettingen

MANY people think that the key to success is to cultivate and doggedly maintain an optimistic outlook. But the truth is that positive thinking often hinders us.

Why doesn't positive thinking work the way you might assume? As my colleagues and I have discovered, dreaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals. Positive thinking fools our minds into perceiving that we've already attained our goal, slackening our readiness to pursue it. 

What work[s] better is a hybrid approach that combines positive thinking with “realism.” Here’s how it works. Think of a wish. For a few minutes, imagine the wish coming true, letting your mind wander and drift where it will. Then shift gears. Spend a few more minutes imagining the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing your wish.

This simple process, which my colleagues and I call “mental contrasting,” has produced powerful results in laboratory experiments. When participants have performed mental contrasting with reasonable, potentially attainable wishes, they have come away more energized and achieved better results compared with participants who either positively fantasized or dwelt on the obstacles. 

Mental contrasting spurs us on when it makes sense to pursue a wish, and lets us abandon wishes more readily when it doesn’t, so that we can go after other, more reasonable ambitions. we found that people who engaged in mental contrasting recovered from chronic back pain better, behaved more constructively in relationships, got better grades in school and even managed stress better in the workplace.

--from "The Problem With Positive Thinking,Oct. 24, 2014, New York Times

Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg, is the author of “Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation.”

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Claire Creffield

Fearful of such an immense decision amid such uncertainty, I allowed myself to drift into parenthood instead of choosing it. I let other people’s expectations, the sheer normality of having children, construct a new, sociological destiny for me to replace the biological one and protect me from what seemed an impossible choice.

Even when we reassure the parents of wrongdoers that they are not to blame, we do expect them—require them—to feel guilt, to need such reassurance.

from Parenthood, the Great Moral Gamble: The decision to have a child is more ethically uncertain than you might realize in Nautilus by CLAIRE CREFFIELD June 13, 2013