Saturday, August 22, 2009

Capstone Prelude, Part 2

My MAPP capstone paper has been submitted for publication. Hopefully, it will be accepted. Until then, here is the second (more inspiring) part of the Prelude:

Despite her illness, she continues to evolve, transform, and grow. It is the time for her to change – for the better. She knows that it is not a coincidence that, at the exact point in time when her illness is becoming critical, her thinking and feeling is blossoming. She senses that some profound truth is about to rise to the surface of her consciousness. Now, after billions of years of life she is having an epiphany; she now knows that she possesses the tools necessary to save her precious life. The way that she and her children will overcome illness, transform life, and flourish, is through the magnificent power of positive emotions.

· She has TRUST – for it is the glue that will keep all of her living parts working together in harmony.

· She has HOPE – for she knows that hope is the driver that will get her beyond her current state of illness and to a more positive and healthful destiny.

· She has JOY – for it is the energy that will flow as she heals and transforms herself to vitality and health. She also knows that joy will continue to be available to her throughout her journey.

· She experiences AWE – for she knows of her own excellence and beauty and it inspires her. She is also in awe of the universe. She is but a small part of something much greater, and that gives her life meaning.

· She feels FORGIVENESS – for she knows that forgiving the behaviors that have caused her illness will guide her now and forever because there will always be some bad that goes along with the good.

· She is GRATEFUL – for it motivates her to see things through to a flourishing life. There is so much to be thankful for. Many of her friends throughout the vast universe are without life. She will never let her life end - it is too rare and precious.

· She feels COMPASSION - for it will provide her with the power of knowing that she is intrinsically good despite the mistakes she has made along the way.

· And, she feels LOVE – for it is the sharing of love for which all else is done.

The future is opening up to her – it is opening up and expanding in a most positive way. She is seeing beyond her current state of illness to an existence that is full of happiness, meaning, engagement, and good health. As in her long and tumultuous past, despite the current challenges, she will overcome, transform, and flourish. It is her destiny and she knows it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fear & Hope

Watching the current debate on health care reform has been interesting, to say the least. The battle is a psychological classic - will our most primal negative emotion of fear overwhelm the progressive power of the transcendent positive emotion of hope? Right now, it looks like fear is (once again) winning.

Psychologists have known for quite some time that "bad is stronger than good". What this means is that negative emotions are much more salient than positive emotions. They also result in powerful physiological reactions. Fear, for example, causes cardiovascular reactivity, which increases blood flow to the large muscles allowing us to maximize our capacity to escape imminent danger. If only those feeling the most fearful at town hall meetings would run out of the room as fast as they can!

What's more important for the healthful evolution of human society is that negative emotions narrow our attention and limit our focus to the short-term. This is important for escaping predators, but is a terrible motivator for inspired societal change.

The survival value of positive emotions, on the other hand, is in the potential for the future. They literally broaden our capacity to envision a better future for ourselves - that is their ultimate purpose. Now, more than ever, we need positive emotions, such as hope, to guide us toward a more healthful future. The more the powerful emotion of fear guides our policy, the more short-sighted and less inspired this policy will be.

It looks likely that fear will overcome this time around. Ultimately, we must draw on the creative and transformative powers of positive emotions, in spite of fear, to authentically open up to the possibilities that exist to expand human flourishing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Capstone Accepted!

I am very pleased to announce that my capstone (thesis) paper, the culmination of my master's degree program at Penn, has been officially accepted by the university.

My capstone project, entitled "Cultivated Positive Emotions Inspire Environmentally Responsible Behaviors", will hopefully be published soon. Below is a teaser for your enjoyment:

From space, she looks just as she has for millennia. The depth of her blue is still beyond description. The complex swirling white patterns rising above the blue give the impression of both profound energy and staggering beauty. She appears as the embodiment of peace. What cannot be seen from space, however, is that she is sick - very sick. No one would ever know it from how absolutely stunning she looks from way up here. Not only is she very sick, but she is getting sicker every day. Her illness is not the result of some extraterrestrial menace. Her health is fading because of her own behavior – the activities of those for whom she is home. These harmful activities are making it difficult for her to flourish.

Her blood feels thick and heavy, making her lethargic. She is constantly stressed and anxious. The bad weather that she carries around with her all the time is really starting to affect her. She is finding it more and more difficult each revolution around the sun to shake the storm clouds that shroud her thoughts and emotions. After each daily rotation, it is harder for her to see and think clearly. Mother Earth is depressed and dismayed.

She knows that something needs to be done. For the past several hundred years, the behaviors of her children have been destructive. Deep down, she knows that these destructive ways can no longer continue. Unlike her children, however, her memory spans thousands of millennia. She personally identifies with all that has gone before, and she knows that those who now dominate her vast surface are a formidable foe. Though she recognizes that some treatment of her symptoms is important and necessary, just fixing what is wrong with her will not be enough to cure her. Like all living things eventually do, she has reached a critical point in her life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Thing of Beauty!

I know, I know, I promised that this blog (this time around) would be more fun and uplifting. Well, I just could not resist posting these absolutely delightful lyrics from Joni Mitchell - delightful in the sense that they perfectly capture the cruelty of big business and the market economy.

All around the marketplace, the buzzing of the flies
The buzzing and the stinging
Divinely barren and wickedly wise
The killer nails are ringing
Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Tragedy, now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do your dirty work when the slaves are free?