& a must-read – especially for anyone hoping to be well-informed about health claims related to mindfulness, meditation, yoga, etc
While digging through a “Free Swap” area on campus I came upon a forcefully optimistic series of etchings laid out on some sort of a plaque situation
The Optimist Creed:
- To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
- To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet,
- To make all your friends feel that there is something in them,
- To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true,
- To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best
- To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
- To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievement of the future
- To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile
- To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others
- To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble
Neat. A swirl of reactions shared that space behind my eyes after I located and skimmed over this. One reaction tasted like Wow this is psycho this is brainwashing and another reaction had some sort of a Yeah but you need it, you sick fuck type of overtone. Grabbed the thing, brought it home and made a commitment to memorize it. Thought I’d elect one item on the list as a area to focus on (optimistically, of course) & choose another that seems to be going ok. On typing out the list one jumped out as urgently in need of work and it was less clear which item I’m doing best with. Following that I’m curious to find/post at least an article or two on the neural substrates of positive/negative thinking.
Urgently in need of work: To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. This one screamed at me.
Doing best: Maybe To make all your friends feel that there is something in them, or To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future? The former case makes me smile because I think friends would have good things to say about that. The issue with the latter would be the hours spent daily ruminating about past/current failures. But the feedback I often get from adults is that in the long game I am overwhelmingly more resilient and future-focused than the other young folks they run into. The discrepancy between that externally-imposed feedback and the actual inner experience/introspective assessment is really jarring but hey, that’s psychology.
Materials & readings on optimism, pessimism, & associated neural bonanza:
- Bonus- no powerpoint or reading necessary
Richie, plugged back in: A lovely overview of ~current research taking place in the Davidson lab back home in Madison. You’ll note some brief descriptions of research under WELL-BEING & BEHAVIOR that seem to dig most closely towards this gem called optimism
- This is a pile of summaries about what Richie is working on in Madison. If you’re not salivating upon reading those studies (just consider all the other thousands of studies being funded in the biomedical sciences) you might not be optimistic enough!
- Mentions some neat research by a researcher by the name of Barbara Fredrickson (creates new bookmark) who I haven’t heard of before.
- The article mentions a David Lykken, PHD, here in Minnesota at the U. Haven’t heard of him until now – (adds new bookmark to Brainman folder) – eager to see what he’s about and if he’s around these days. Bad news – on looking the guy up turns out he passed 12 years ago. Oh well.
- Make sure to scroll all the way down in this reading – it’s actually 5 full pages long but one can easily get the impression it stops when the first page stops.
- Haven’t read this one all the way through but not surprisingly the abstract mentions the vmPFC. Heck!!!
- Absolutely necessary adjunct reading for anyone getting too hyped, biased, or fundamentalist about optimism
- Uses the term positive illusion as an umbrella term encompassing their defined notion of unrealistic optimism. Positive illusion would be/is my overall characterization of optimism but it seems these authors demarcate between optimism as being rational/a proper assessment of circumstances (no illusion here) and optimism sometimes being irrational/an improper assessment of circumstances (illusory).
but I stood up anyways.
I knew not to feed the cats
but I fed them anyways.
I knew not to take my meds
but I took them anyways.
I knew I should smoke (instead of resisting),
but I resisted anyways.
I knew not to stay awake
but I stayed awake anyways.
I knew not to eat breakfast
but I ate breakfast anyways.
I knew not to exercise
but I exercised anyways.
I knew not to shower
but I showered anyways.
I knew not to shower or shave
but I showered and shaved really well anyways.
I knew not to go to class
but I went to class anyways.
I knew not to stay in class
but I stayed in class anyways.
I know that after all of this I’m not supposed to feel shitty
but after all of this I feel shitty anyways.
I do. It’s weird
Coffee is a devilish drug with a tendency to cultivate dependence and craft caffeinated chains between itself and the user. As I type this I’m maybe a few ounces (probably 30-50mg of caffeine) into a cup of coffee &, as often happens, I started crying in what totaled to a brief 10-second spurt. Playing on my mental radio was a sudden dialogue with a formless stranger about how beautiful my cats are, how grateful for them, etc. An image of myself much older came to mind; I was seeing an old picture of the cats and hadn’t seen that old picture in some time and I was crying tears of gratitude.
This mental trip took place in less than 4-5 seconds, was profound, colorful, and detailed, and took me straight out of the room I was sitting in. There was a glowy feeling of being decades older and shown these gorgeous pictures of these gorgeous cats. It was less a thought process and more of a vision or fleeting headline on the newsreel of my frontal lobes.
It immediately passed and I felt funny for having had the experience yet again. Self aware, un-emotional, and nonreactive to what had just occurred. This type of thing occurs very often after coffee but it was quite some time before I realized that. I thought I was the type of person who had an early morning cry session, or a few chaotic ones (always of about 10-20 seconds maximum) but the link with caffeine became clear after a long period of daily journaling. Will post an excerpt soon but just wanted to leave this note here for myself later. With that said, I’m off to finish this coffee