“We will go out into the world and plant gardens and orchards to the horizons. We will build roads through the mountains and across the deserts and irrigate the deserts until there will be gardens everywhere and plenty for all. And there will be no more empires or kingdoms…No more slavery, no more property and no more taxes, no more rich and no more poor, no killing or maiming or torture, or execution, no more jailers, no more prisoners, no more armies, no more navies …No more suffering than what life brings us from having to be born and having to die. And then we will see what kind of creatures we really are.”
Indian Raja- 19th Century- on how to increase the infrastructure in Indiacreate your own utopia
A lot of my work is based on the positive psychology movement which has a simple basic principle – by focusing on what is good and positive in our lives we go beyond surviving to reach a place where we are thriving. Martin Seligman, the father of the movement, is something of a hero of mine. For many years he studied psychology from the traditional viewpoint which is to identify and fix what was WRONG with the human psyche. However, since then he has conducted a lot of research into how we can increase our happiness and what happens on an individual, collective and political level when we do.
Like many of you, I was tired on Friday evening after a long week of work. I was sewing the badges onto Luca’s new Cubs sweater and put on Youtube to watch a lecture that Seligman gave in London in May of this year as part of his actionforhappiness campaign. More details can be found here: www.actionforhappiness.org
At the end of the lecture he read the quote above from an Indian Raja and hearing this Luca piped up “That’s what I want to see in the world!” I have to admit I was pretty impressed by his ability to multi-task as he also happened to be playing Minecraft at the same time. It is amazing how children can soak in everything about them.
The ideas expressed in the Raja’s quote might be dismissed as “naive” and “utopian” but I think that we can all take something away from this wise Raja. Our ability to focus on what we do want rather than what we don’t is paramount to our mental well-being. Refusing to focus on all that is wrong in the world, let us nurture and grow what is right.
This week, I ask you to do one simple thing – every time you find something you are less than happy with choose instead to focus on what is already good about the situation. If you have any challenges or problems, big or small, focus on the solution and the desired outcome rather that what could have or should have happened.
By following this principle of positive psychology, you may not necessarily create a utopia or irrigate all of India but you will have made a decision to use the daily opportunity to be the very best person you can be and to make your small corner of the world as positive as possible for those who inhabit it. create your own utopia
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