Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Get a Life

Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.
-- Paul Gauguin

Reading this quote, I had to smile. Hamlet waxed poetic on the subject as well. A dish best served cold is another that comes to mind. Not being a revenge junkie, it took me quite a while to appreciate the meaning of this last one.

The positive psychologist in me considers revenge and revenge fantasies to be energy zappers. I think we all pretty much subscribe to the notion that we have a finite amount of emotional energy to expend. If we waste a lot on revenge, there’s less left for the good stuff.

Maybe as an initial coping response to a crushing blow, I can see it. It’s better than crumpling up in a ball or melting down into a puddle. Plotting and planning, not carrying out (!), sophisticated and novel revenge techniques is a one way to keep the mind facile and to keep one from dwelling in the house of pain.

But as a life’s work or continuing pastime, I’d suggest Sudoku, crossword or solitaire would be preferable. Better yet, beef up your exercise schedule, take up a new hobby, read more, talk with friends more. Work on letting go with meditation, writing, forgiveness exercises or getting closure in some other way. In short, move on. Or as my kid would say, dude, get a life.

See Seligman's REACH exercise in Authentic Happiness: Recall the hurt; Empathize with the perpetrator; be Altruistic in your forgiveness; Commit yourself publicly to forgive; Hold onto forgiveness, not anger),

Listen to: Don't let it show. Pat Benatar

1 comment:

Michael said...

revenge is a dish best served cold, you better believe it ... like an ice berg smacking you in the head ... it's not a waste of energy, it's like a deep dark pool waiting to erupt ... that moment when ying meets yang ... when evil meets it's reward.