Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Accentuate the Positive...but not too much...

Dr. Jay after a really strenuous yoga class, thinking about his next Yoga for Cynics post....

...since starting this blog, I’ve developed a reputation as one of the major badasses of the yoga world...kinda like a cross between B.K.S. Iyengar, Keith Richards, and Vladimir Putin...some have even called me a bad mutha...shut yo mouth!....can ya dig it?

...okay, admittedly, it’s mostly been me saying that about myself...nonetheless....yo! I live in Philly...popularly known in some circles as Killadelphia...famous for, in addition to its murder rate, police brutality, tendency to drop bombs on its own neighborhoods, and cheesesteaks that’ll likely clog up yer arteries and kill ya before anything else can (in one famous location, you can even purchase them from a well known and outspoken racist!)....it’s also been called the rudest city in America...and, true, people here do boo their own sports teams, really good opening acts at rock concerts (like the Clash when I saw them opening for the Who, or Sonic Youth opening for Neil Young and Crazy Horse, though both simply cranked it up so they couldn’t hear the boos)...even Santa Claus...

...then, that's kinda what I like about the place...people are straightforward, no BS, no fake smiles....if people are nice to ya, it 's probably because they actually like you...

We are living in the age of inhibition. The 1960s and early 1970s were the years of letting go, doing your own thing in your own time, rolling with the flow, and being cool. Now, it’s no smoking, no alcohol, no drugs, no casual sex, no fattening foods, no fun. We have learned to feel good by jogging, eating brown and tasteless foods, and going to bed early. One of the few remaining thrills available to us is looking down our noses at people who can’t inhibit their urges as well as we can. The New Self-Righteousness has arrived.
James Pennebaker

...there’s this psychologist named James Pennebaker who wrote a book called The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions...does studies in which he has people write about traumatic experiences and then sees if doing so improves their physical health....it does....then he analyzes the words they use, including the number of positive words, and the number of negative words....the test subjects with the best health outcomes, it turns out, are those who use a lot of positive words, and a moderate number of negative words....those who use a lot of negative words tend not to do so well...like Bob Marley says you just can't live that negative way, make way for the positive day...but here’s what’s interesting: those who use very few negative words tend to do as poorly as those who use a lot...

...in other words, it’s good to accentuate the positive, but not too much...if you’re gonna walk around with a forced new-age smile on your face, pretend to have all kinds of positive emotions you don’t actually feel, and generally try to convince yourself that shit doesn’t stink...ya might as well dress in black and sit around reading Camus and quoting Lou Reed lyrics...and some kindsa love are mistaken for vision....well, you get the idea...

13 comments:

Lydia said...

I seriously can't imagine writing about a traumatic experience without using negative words. As far as positive words in such an instance I'm thinking they would be suitable in summation......I'm so gosh-darned grateful to the loving priest who raped my dear handsome young son because the powerful experience turned him into the awesome faithful mama's boy he has been all these 45 years living with me in our special precious home.
(no, not my story...but am I on the Pennebaker track?)

the walking man said...

Political Correctness has its place...I don't know where the hell it is but it must be somewhere. My Canadian friends seem to think it belongs up there.

Certainly not in Detroit.

RB said...

I've heard that there are no certified teachers in Philadelphia, but you might want to look at Anusara Yoga. [http://anusara.com/] It's the school I just started my immersion and it's a tantric based philosophy which means (nothing to do with s-e-x) but non-dualist.

The premise is that there is no separation between you, your body and body and the world, and that embodiment is not an impediment but a good thing. That means, in the words of my teacher, in order to get the full benefit of life, we have to experience anger, jealousy and unhappiness. Not once. Not twice. Probably several times a day. And then we do yoga....

This Brazen Teacher said...

I think you're onto something!

What a universally understood, yet poorly practiced method for living well...

BALANCE.

Tamara said...

The problem with too much positivity is if you are faking it you end up hurting yourself more than dealing with the negatives. There a book I feel in love with that's called Lighten Up and Dance with Your Dark Side. Every emotion has a purpose, it is just a lot of times we don't know what to do with them. Anger is one of the most therapeutic emotion for some one who is timid and beaten down by life.

I tend to be very mushy these days, but that is only because there has not been a lot of balance in my life. I appreciate life so much more and am truly grateful for most things, and am quick to communicate what I don't appreciate. I try to do so on a one on one basis. I feel like I have enough negativity for a life time so I try not be around things or people that make me feel bad. Occasionally I'll indulge in the negativity but it for a good reason (like watching a zombie movie with my husband who loves them.)

Your post must have set off a light bulb because I can't stop writing. Now I feel weird to say this but, I love your writing and the way you give out down to earth positivity.

Lana Gramlich said...

I remember learning (some years ago now,) that the brain doesn't work well in negatives. It prefers to know & process what IS or what DOES rather than what isn't & doesn't. Interesting, certainly.

Kikolani | Blogging, Poetry, Photography said...

I think if someone wanted us to express our emotions to be healthier, a part of that would be releasing some negative emotions. Then once we get it out, at least it doesn't remain in our system.

~ Kristi

laughingyogini said...

Jay...so right on here...I DO know someone who is ALWAYS POSITIVE...the day is biting cold gray mizzling wet....and she'll smile and say oh what a beautiful day!

I kinda want to smack her sweet face and say WAKE UP and smell the crap that's falling outta the sky!

Is there another word for REPRESSION?

I don't think so.

Feeling what we feel is important for our health as well as our enlightenment. The dark side can only become a teacher IF we feel it AND explore those feelings.

PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY...does getting older feel like getting better?

svasti said...

I'm with ya there, as you know...

We've discussed a friend of mine, who I love dearly, but who thinks all 'negative' emotions (fear, sadness, anger etc) are 'bad', and so strives to not feel that way.

But that's called repression and its not healthy either mentally or physically.

At the same time, neither is it healthy to let yourself wallow non-stop in your own misery. Its good to be realistic about your pain, but not to think all your days are black, and always will be, y'know?

I second Laughing Yogini's comment - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Especially since I know you don't have an extremely negative reaction to your birthday as I do to mine...

Rhiannon said...

I kind of feel the same as Lydia about this subject.

How can you heal by always being and showing "light" when you have the dark side repressed inside you all the time? If we walk in light first, then how do we get through past the darkness to the other side....of light?

If we face and walk through the darkness from time to time and let some of our "stuff" out in some healthy manner of writing, or speaking or even playing an "angry" song and "dancing it out" as I call it..then I feel we are letting things out as we go along..rather than holding it in for years because some may shame us or pretend in their life all the time and want us to be just like them? We make them uncomfortable because we are being real.

I'm around a lot of repressed people who attend church, act as if everything is fine and feel guilty if they have any negative emotional feelings. They are not very comfortable with me when I speak for real. Whether it's about how I feel or just an honest opinion about "stuff" in life going on in our country. I'm used to hearing the comment "you don't know what your talking about" in a smug bossy way. But it's okay because I observe a lot and my intuition picks up on things way before they do..it gets me into trouble often..but as time goes on I have watched stuff happen to them or they finally break down and they say to me "you mentioned this to me before and I just didn't pay attention to you, I didn't take you seriously"..oh how many times have I heard that statement through? And how many times have I paid for being honest and real and yet tried to be tactful? Tons!

A lot of people can't handle "real" and they just hate it when you are...if I learned anything from my dysfunctional family that is the main thing I learned from them..."Be fake", "repress your feelings" and instead take it out on others by beating them..that's how repression bubbles up..into violence.

I've been told often by many that I am "ahead of my time"..but I don't know if that's it so much as being sensitive and picking up on things way before some others might. I feel my own warning signs when I go into being repressed so that others might be more comfortable and happy with me..what else is new?..Okay so I'm a witch>...he he...

Enough said..

Rhi

human being said...

usually cocktails will do much better...

Nocturnes said...

Killadelphia is an old friend of mine, and your description resonated. I also enjoyed the way you connected it to a way \of approaching life -- positivity, but with authenticity. I would agree.

uk phone sex said...

You know, that mind over matter will to win stuff is great, but there are other measures of success. Speaking of podcasts, you should listen to Krista Tippetts interview of Matthew Sanford on Speaking of Faith. I wrote something about that on facebook a while ago and you liked it. Or read his book. It's kind of amazing.