November 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm #43343
Note: What embracing your dark side is ultimately about is achieving completion. I have been sharing my interpretation of Taoist notion of achieving Highest Destiny for sometime. The short summary: life is not about achieving happiness, it’s about achieving completion of your WHOLE self. I’m happy to see this spreading to mainstream psychology. -Michael
Kashdan, Todd; Biswas-Diener, Robert (2014-09-25). The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment (pp. vii-viii). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
PERHAPS THE MOST difficult test commonly used for recruiting elite special forces soldiers has nothing to do with marksmanship or proficiency in hand-to-hand combat. Its a simple jog down a remote road. Young men are instructed to don full gear and report to the starting point early in the morning, often sleep deprived and hungry. What makes this particular run unusually challenging is that none of the candidates are told the length of the course . Is it three hundred yards? Three miles? Thirty miles?
The stakes are high as the recruits begin their jog into the unknown. Some sprint forward in hopes of being first if the run is short. Others pace themselves, carefully conserving energy in the thought that the run could turn out to be a marathon. Some keep to themselves, trusting in their resolve and determination. Others jog together as a group, shouting words of encouragement. Running with sixty-pound packs is tiring, but the physical exertion is less demanding than the mental strain. The pressure of not knowing the distance to the finish line pushes many to the breaking point.
Ambiguous tasks are a good place to observe how personality traits bubble to the surface. Although few of us are elite soldiers, weve all experienced the kind of psychological distress these trainees encounter on their training run: managing unclear expectations, struggling with self-motivation, and balancing the use of social support with private reflection. These issues are endemic not only to the workplace, but also to relationships, health, and every aspect of life in which we seek to thrive and succeed.
Not surprisingly , the leading predictor of success in elite military training programs is the same quality that distinguishes those best equipped to resolve marital conflict, to achieve favorable deal terms in business negotiations, and to bestow the gifts of good parenting on their children: the ability to tolerate psychological discomfort.
This is what psychologists refer to as distress tolerance, a quality found in people who can handle the emotional equivalent of camping (no shampoo, flush toilets, or walls to keep out creepy crawlers), who dont shy away from anger, guilt, or boredom just because they feel bad. Instead, they withstand the discomfort of those feelings and when appropriate even draw from this darker palette of emotions.
You might be asking, why would I want to do that? Pain hurts. Id rather be happy. If this question occurs to you, were nodding our heads in full agreement. We want you to be happy too. Distress tolerance is important not just because it makes you a better camper or soldier, but also because it allows you to become stronger, wiser, mentally agile, and, most important, happier in a more resilient, and therefore durable, way. After more than a decade of working with patients, clients, students, small companies, and organizations as large as the military and the Fortune 100, we, the authors, are putting forward a new way to pursue what is desirable in life; its not happiness, exactly, although it does have the side effect of making us happier. We call this state wholeness.
There will always be experts especially in psychology who argue that one particular way of being (happy, hardy, optimistic) is a cure-all. In this book, we take a different approach. Instead of suggesting that one state is best, we suggest that they all are. We believe and new research supportsthe idea that every emotion is useful.
Even the ones we think of as negative, including the painful ones. Anger is a good example. Research shows that only rarely does anger turn into the kind of overwhelming rage that leads to violence. Instead, it tends to bubble up when you perceive an encroachment on your rights as a person. Anger stirs you to defend yourself and those you care about, and to maintain healthy boundaries.
Similarly, embarrassment is sometimes an early warning sign of humiliation. More often its a signal that weve made a small mistake and that a small correction is required. Even guilt is not as awful as you might guess. Its a signal that youre violating your own moral code and therefore need to adjust either your actions or your code.
All psychological states have some adaptive advantage. Rather than steering you toward a single feeling state, then, we urge you to consider the usefulness of many especially the ones we turn away from and to develop the ability to navigate every one. For some people, seeing the bright side of life is an uphill battle; for others, feeling sad is an unusual event. We dont suggest an extra helping of happiness or a dash of negativity; we suggest both. It is by appropriately flipping back and forth between these two states that you can achieve a balanced, stabilizing sense of wholeness.
Simply put, people who are able to use the whole range of their natural psychological gifts those folks who are comfortable with being both positive and negative, and can therefore draw from the full range of human emotions are the healthiest and, often, the most successful.
It turns out that the uncertainty, frustration, and occasional dash of guilt that stem from broken hearts, missed basketball shots at the buzzer, and botched interviews are the seeds of growth in knowledge and maturity. These often unwanted, negative experiences end up shaping some of the most memorable and inspiring experiences of our lives. By learning to embrace and use negative emotions as well as positive ones, we position ourselves for success.
But even as we tilled the fields of positive psychology, both of us were also increasingly put off by the gung-ho happiology (my emphasis) we often witnessed . Over the past fifteen years, positive psychology has been transformed from a reminder that positive experiences are important to a kind of smiling fascism.
If positivity and optimism account for 80 percent of success, then tapping into a whole range of experiences offers that remaining 20% edge.
Well never free ourselves to soar in that infinite potential if were busy trying to avoid the darker parts of our selves, the aspects we fail to appreciate. What were offering you here is an anti-happiness book that, paradoxically, opens you up to a far greater degree of joy than you could ever experience with a more direct approach. In fact, the latest studies show that there is no direct path to happiness. We are not opposed to happiness, positivity, kindness, or mindfulness. In fact, we embrace them.
We also wish to ask you, the reader, one further question: are you ready for more? Will you join us in taking happiness to the next level? To go there youll need access to everything in the human psychological knapsack, which means unpacking and integrating previously ignored and under appreciated parts of who you are.
In the pages that follow, you will learn how to become more emotionally, socially, and mentally agile. By accepting the challenge of drawing on the dark side when its most helpful, you bring wholeness within reach, perhaps for the first time.November 29, 2014 at 11:25 pm #43344
The completion approach – essential. Another book – Shiva sutras – being discussed – same issues. Video link – starts part way through. Version of inner smile, non dual acceptance. Amusing slant on it, perhaps.December 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm #43346
This book looks very interesting.
The short summary: life is not about achieving happiness, it’s about achieving completion of your WHOLE self.
It strikes me that the book may be about means rather than ends. As the authors say
What were offering you here is an anti-happiness book that, paradoxically, opens you up to a far greater degree of joy than you could ever experience with a more direct approach. In fact, the latest studies show that there is no direct path to happiness. We are not opposed to happiness, positivity, kindness, or mindfulness. In fact, we embrace them.
And elsewhere they say
Myth 4. This is an anti-happiness book.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a pro-happiness book. In fact, you might think of it as our version of Happiness 2.0. We were not the first to arrive at some of these concepts. Indeed Carl Jung and others addressed the potential benefits of negative aspects of psychology. But we present an up-to-date synthesis of modern research. We point out some of the newest trends in happiness research including some of the costs of positive affect. Although my father published on this decades ago, it has seen an uptick in attention by a wide range of very responsible academics in the last decade. We do not leave the reader there, however. We also discuss positive aspects of happiness. We discuss both meaning and pleasure (and their relation to one another), as well as familiarity and novelty (and their relation to one another). It is our hope that this will help deepen the exciting conversation about happiness, not dismiss it.
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