Psychology Today blog article by Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D. (JUne 2009)
"When asked, people think that novel, uncertain events will be less pleasurable than feeling absolutely certain and possessing every bit of information possible in a situation. However, scientists are finding that when events are new and uncertain our pleasure is more likely to be intense; it will linger longer and be more meaningful. What this means is that most of us are doing the exact opposite of what will bring us fulfillment."
This blog echoes others I have read, Hugh Mackay,1 Charles Handy, William Butler Yeats2, Jane Roberts3 et al, in that handling surprise, challenge and difficulty is the stuff of life. It's why we're here. To learn, stretch and grow.
It's a common theme for success. As Lolly Daskal explains "By listening to your inner self and following your compass within, you will find a life that is aligned with your talents, truth and values."
As Todd explains:
"How can you thrive in an uncertain, unpredictable, rapidly evolving world?
Explore your deepest, most central values by devoting time for introspection. Schedule this time as you would your workout sessions and doctor appointments."
I wrote in Be and Become that to handle uncertainty effectively, it behoves one to remain centred; to enable our internal gyroscope (values, beliefs) to steady our stance as the ship of life rocks and rolls in turbulent seas. Most hang on to the ships structure (ego, material things), losing a sense of direction, purpose and stability, and ultimately left feeling at the mercy of the elements. Steve Chandler explains that we hang on to our personalities at the expense of relationships, commitments and results.
In an interview with Prof. Barbar Fredrickson (author, Positivity), Fiona reports that "experiencing negative emotions is crucial for mental social health." Fredrickson explains "'Research suggests that negative emotions are a very critical ingredient in flourishing. The honest expression of negative emotions is vital,' she says via phone from the US."
I believe it's also important to trust that which extends beyond ourselves ... the wider community, and our wider-than-thought (at-once, nonlocal) intuition.
"Forget about the pursuit of happiness. Create a life that matters and you might catch happiness along the way.
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoidance of danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
Additional good stuff
This from Hugh Mackay:
“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that - I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”
- 1. "I just want my kids to be happy," I hear people say, as if happy kids are part of their perfect picture of themselves. But what a dreadful fate to befall anyone, just being happy. What about anguish, despair, panic and pain? Shouldn't our offspring experience the lot? "We grow through pain," we say, mining the wisdom of the ages and mouthing it like a slogan. But then we expect our every pain to be eased instantaneously: "Quick, a pill! I need perfect happiness!"
How have we managed to dodge the rather obvious point that happiness only makes sense by contrast with sadness - or perhaps with tedium - and that uncertainty, the very essence of imperfection, is our default position? If you were ever granted a glimpse of perfection, it would seem like a remote island in the sea of imperfection on which we float our hopeful little boats. [Hugh Mackay, "Life is about compromise," SMH, June 27, 2005 ]
- 2. "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing."
- 3. "You are learning to be cocreators. You are learning to be gods as you now understand the term. You are learning responsibility- the responsibility of any individualized consciousness. You are learning to handle the energy that is yourself, for creative purposes.”(The Seth Material)
- 4. Fiona Smith, Good life more than just happy chappies", Australian Financial Review, Fairfax Media, Sydney, 4th May, 2010.