Thursday, June 23, 2011

Healthy Living and Plastic Surgery?

My local paper ran a “Healthy Living” section one recent Sunday.  I suspect it’s just another way to get advertising money.  One of the ads, for a “plastic surgery center,” which I suspect is just one physician trying to make himself sound like an institution, caught my eye.  It listed the top 8 reasons women (of course) seek plastic surgery.  In all fairness, I recently read that men are seeking plastic surgery with alarming frequency as well.  But the top 8 include, as you might expect, getting rid of wrinkles and “unwanted hair.”  Also in the list are increasing boobage and lip size.  Then there are the removals, of fat, bags and “extra skin.” 

You’re reading a section of the paper about healthy living, and you see ads for surgery right next to articles about yoga, sunscreen and household mold.  What’s wrong with this picture?

How about acceptance of who we are instead of focusing on our inadequacies?  If we’re not happy with who we are how about working on changing who we are inside, not outside? 

Mental note:  questions to ask self before signing up for plastic surgery:

1.  Is this going to make me a better person?

2.  Is this going to make me happy?

3.  If I gave the money I’m going to spend on this to someone in need, would that make me happier?

4.  If I spent this money on myself  in some other way (e.g., joining a gym, taking a class, taking a trip, hiring a coach!) would that make me happier?

5.  What do I really need to be happier?

On the very same day I read “Healthy Living,” I came across Tina Fey’s “Twelve Tenets of Looking Amazing Forever,” in her awesomely funny memoir, Bossypants.  Number twelve is touted as the most important one to remember:

If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty.  “Who cares?”

I rest my case.

For fun:  Vogue, Madonna

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friendliness in Murfreesboro, TN and Other Places

One of the things I’ve noticed living in the South, is how friendly people are.  When I run near home, people always say hi, wave a hand or give a nod.  The first time I ran on Cape Cod after living in Georgia for a year, I was struck by the lack of acknowledgement.   I’ve run all over the world and I’m struck by the variability in friendliness.

Among Seligman’s signature strengths are loving and being loved, and kindness and generosity.  They fall under the general heading Humanity and Love.  Also relevant are several strengths falling under the general heading of Transcendence.  These include gratitude and sense of purpose.  It seems to me that having strengths in these areas could account for some of the differences.  We know there are regional personality differences.

At the top of the friendliness thermometer are places where I say hi, 99% of people say hi back, and lots say hi first.  In the middle, are places where 50% say hi back, most don’t say hi first, but most kids in little bike trailers and jogging strollers wave.  At the bottom are places where few say high back, virtually none say hi first and even the little kids don’t acknowledge me.  In these places you start to wonder if you’ve entered the twilight zone and have mysteriously become invisible.

How hard is it to say hi or otherwise acknowledge a fellow human?  Particularly when you’re responding to someone else and you don’t have to initiate and run the risk of, heaven forbid, rejection.  But what if you do take the leap, initiate, and said hi to a stranger?  I can almost guarantee you’ll feel a little jolt of good-will, especially if they respond positively.  It has to be a happiness-boosting activity.  And Murfreesboro, I'd give you an 8 out of 10. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

College and Your Signature Strengths

While Mike Rose, author of Why School?, says you have to think about the cost of college in relation to the benefits, he also points out that it’s not just a question of the economics.  Indeed, his points all relate to values that underlie signature strengths.

Rose asks that we consider what it means to be educated.  In addition to how much you’re going to earn, consider the following reasons to consider education beyond high school, and the strengths I associate with each:

Civic purpose – To have a functioning democracy in which the citizens understand something about politics and economics.  Strengths:  Citizenship, Leadership

Intellectual growth – Learning enables you to find interests and pursuits that expand your vision.  Strengths:  Judgment, Critical thinking, Love of learning

Social benefit – Education helps us learn to think together and sometimes disagree, to problem solve together, and it exposes us to other points of view.  Strengths:  Open-mindedness, Perspective, Teamwork

A place to experiment – College is a place you can figure out what you want to do with your life and find your passion.  Strengths:  Future-mindedness, Sense of purpose, Zest, Enthusiasm, Passion

I say you consider tweaking your strengths by continuing your education, at any phase of life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Meditative Psychology & The Art of Flourishing

Just out today is Dr. Jeffrey Rubin’s The Art of Flourishing: A New East-West Approach to Staying Sane and Finding Love in an Insane World.  Rubin uses his own brand of ”Meditative Psychology” to address challenges of modern life like information overload, demoralization and alienation.  The book proposes to help us “access hope.”  Rubin identifies twelve qualities that can help you flourish.  They’re not the usual positive psychology exhortations to increase PERMA.  Rubin talks about some of the lovely eastern concepts of expanding inner space, cultivating clarity and practicing self-care.

I’ve just had a quick peek and I’m really looking forward to settling down with it.  You may want to check it out.