Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A miscellany

I'm sitting here with nothing to say. So naturally I thought I blogging would be a good idea.

My house is currently in a state of great disorder due to the bathroom renovation. This is not something I can really complain about, because having the bathroom re-done is fabulous and I probably need to stop bragging about it. The disorder at home, though, has me a bit discombobulated. Also, I just realized that most of the stuff that's cluttering the rest of the house is not going back into the bathroom, for it is now no longer a utility room as well. So I need to start sorting and getting rid of stuff. But it's such a mess right now, I don't know where to begin. So I might wait until (a) the tile is all done and I can start putting appropriate things in the bathroom and (b) the washer and dryer are moved out of the living room. Also the tools my god the tools! There's a tile cutter blocking the closet with the dog food in it.

I'm reading a very interesting book called The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, who teaches here at UVa. Its major premise is that our conscious minds and our animal selves are like a trainer riding an elephant. We can't make the elephant go where it doesn't want to go. We must understand and work with the elephant in order to effect change in ourselves. He also talks about 3 routes to happiness, which he says are meditation, cognitive therapy, and prozac (by which he means all antidepressants).

I've always been a fan of the cognitive therapy process, which is basically changing the way you think about things. One of his chapters is "I'm Right, You're Biased" and he talks about how we see the world through a "rose-colored mirror." He suggests that it's a good idea to get out of your own point of view, especially in conflicts. He says that even if you are sure you are right and the other person is wrong, try to think of one way in which the person is right, or at least understandable, and one way in which you yourself contributed to the conflict. This is an exercise I'm now trying to do, and I think it will be helpful during this election year. Haidt is concerned about the divisiveness in the country right now. I am too, but I always thought it was the other side's fault -- I always thought my side was right, not to mention moral and just. So I'm trying to listen and really hear the other side, and try to remember that they're not evil, that they are doing things for reasons that make sense to them and might even be understandable to me if I could really listen to them.

It all dovetails with my thinking about forgiveness, so I feel that I'm working on things that are important to me and that will help me grow.

As I said, he recommends meditation, and since my dr has recommended this to me as well, I will probably try it. I used to meditate when I was involved with a Tibetan Buddhist group in town, but I stopped practicing when I left that group. But I think I will try it again. There's a local group that meets on Tuesdays that I might try, or I might go it alone. We'll see.

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