Thursday, July 28, 2005

There is no cure for hot or cold!

I love that line! Its so counter to how we live--we act as if we believe we could create a universe that is so ordered and under control that nothing could bother us, inconvenience us. I think we actually do believe this--and it is certainly the way most of us are scrambling around in our lives--busy trying to get everything under control, neatly ordered--and we actually think we will succeed and somehow hold back chaos.

There is no cure for hot or cold (Trungpa Rinpoche, Buddhist monk) is a reminder to live with the awareness that the world is both pleasurable and painful and I can accept both. The second you do, you discover your focus is no longer trying to hold back chaos (which takes enormous amounts of our time!). Now your focus can just be--be accepting, be present, be.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Enough to get by or...thrive?

“For most of its history, psychology has concerned itself with all that ails the human mind: anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsessions, paranoia, delusions. The goal of practitioners was to bring patients from a negative, ailing state to a neutral normal, or, ‘from a minus five to a zero’*. I realized that my profession was half-baked. It wasn’t enough for us to nullify disabling conditions and get to zero. We needed to ask, What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish? How do we get from zero to plus 5?” Dr. Martin Seligman, APA president, Time magazine 1/05.

What struck me is that this describes not only the field of psychology, but is a description of the helping professions in general. Have you ever stopped to think about this? A system that is oriented this way creates an impact on us all. If all a practitioner has been taught to do is to get you out of the ailing state and into neutral normal--it isn't long before you the client come to think this is the best you can expect. This locks enormous amounts of people into maintaining status quo and settling for mediocrity.

To his question: "What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish?"--they've been right there in front of us all the time! It's what Life Puzzle is all about--acknowledging the physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual SELF. And that 'normal' isn't a neutral enough to get by--"normal" is to thrive! And to thrive, we wake up each day to take responsibility for those 5 dimensions of our SELF, making choices in the 16 core areas.

Let's make "thrive" the normal we all expect! Imagine what a fun world that will be to create!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

By pass that bypass...and angioplasty too!

This year, 400,000 people will have their chests cracked open for heart bypass surgery, another 1 million will have angioplasty. If you asked most of them, "As a result of this procedure, do you think you 'fixed the problem'. they would likely say yes. And they would be wrong. Research shows--that with the exception of patients with severe disease, bypass operations don't prolong life or prevent future heart attacks. Nor does angioplasty. Yet, the average person thinks they have no choice other than to have these procedures performed (usually under duress since they're having heart pains at the time the doctor says, "you must or you'll die")

Businesweek, 7/18/05 asks, Is heart surgery worth it ( This article breaks the taboo on this topic and finally acknowledges what has been known by the medical profession for sometime. I recall reading over 10 years ago that angioplasty was rated(by doctors) as the number one least useful operation. When I first read this I thought, well, fine then, they'll stop doing them. But they didn't--they just kept 'perfecting its uselessness'. Angioplasty (where they put a little balloon type device to 'expand the blood vessel' to increase blood flow) gives symptom relief only--it doesn't cure anything.

What is better? Diet, lifestyle changes (exercise, meditation, emotional support groups). Hmmm, all the things you get when you make your Life Puzzle!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wait til it's broke, then fix it! But don't change...

An interesting article in Fast Company magazine (May 2005) by Alan Deutschman, entitled Change or Die.
Essentially the article challenges you with this question--Told that you needed to change the way you think and act, otherwise you would die a lot sooner than necessary, would you change?

What do you think? Yes or no? The research he quotes says, no, you wouldn't change--even when death could be the result. I'd agree with him--most people would only do enough to get through the immediate crisis--but they wouldn't change their behaviors/lifestyle which created the problem in the first place.

The most significant aspect of Deutschman's article though was the REASON why most people don't change. It isn't because they don't have enough information, data, choices. It's because 'information', while important, isn't sufficient. Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to "people's feeling". And bottom line, we don't do that.

Which is sad, because most people are so "emotionally blocked". But it's also why it makes sense that changing our behavior so we can be healthier and live long doesn't happen for about 85% of people. As the article says, "Who wants to live longer when you're in chronic emotional pain?"

Saddest thing of all--it doesn't have to be that way. You can open these emotional blocks. It's not that is a big part of what I'm trying to help folks do through the Life Puzzle model. I'm not afraid to take on this piece of the puzzle, while most professionals are!