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the final common pathway of learning, part 3

And, get this, punishment wasn’t required. Being encouraging, supportive was. What the heck happened? Don’t know. But something definitely happened. Our three year old runs into the street. We grab him, carry him back into the yard, give him a couple of swats on his bum, he screams in response and our startled spouse come running out to see what happened.

“What’s wrong?”

“Jimmy just ran out into the street. Luckily I saw him before anything bad happened. I grabbed him and gave him a spanking to teach him never to do that again. That’s why he’s crying.”   “Oh, Gawd, how scary. I just can’t take my eyes off you for a second.  Now, come in here right this minute. You’ll have to stay in the house with me.”

Why? Why can’t Jimmy stay out in the yard and play? After all dad, through spanking, through punishment, just taught him never to run into the street again. Why can’t Jimmy stay out front? Don’t be silly, you say. He hasn’t learned that yet. He’s only three.

Exactly. We learn by trial and error. Punishment isn’t required. But, feedback is: “Jimmy, you scare the life out of me. I’m sorry that I grabbed you like that but sit here for a while with me and watch. Do you see those cars go speeding down the street? If you run out there a car could hit you and hurt you. We don’t want you to get hurt. Here, take my hand. Let’s go down to the curb. See how fast they go. It’s not safe to play out here. If the ball goes into the street, you might forget and run after it. Instead, come get your mother or me and we’ll help. Remember, never run out into the street. Let’s go back there and have some fun. OK?”

the final common pathway of learning, part 2

Did I keep you in suspense? The final common pathway of learning is TRIAL AND ERROR. In other words, we earn our learning the old fashioned way, one mistake at a time. Notice a little cognitive dissonance here? There is only one way, the "right way", yet the only way to learn that "right way" is by screwing up! And, why don’t people know the answer, why don’t they just shout it out?  Making Mistakes!  It’s part of normal not being healthy. We only know how to celebrate our victories, not our defeats, mistakes or losses. We have the employee of the year awards. But, have you ever been to a mistake of the month meeting?

Here in the Excited States of Amnesia we’ve forgotten what our hunter-gatherer ancestors knew. Life will teach you what you need to learn if you pay attention. Try something, fail. Make adjustments, try again, and fail. Adjust, try, and fail. And what happens when one has failed enough? One learns. Adjusting to the feedback from ongoing experience one continues to learn and eventually new skills are gained. Learning is important. Survival depended upon learning and learning didn’t require punishment…

the final common pathway of learning, part 1

I would like the opportunity to invade your thought space for a few seconds. Is yours full? Just kidding. I know you have many other important grownup concerns that could just as easily impinge upon your thinking. Alas, none is more important than what you are about to read. Although it is of vital importance to Adult-Child relationships, it is nonetheless something that is rarely discussed, or even acknowledged.

Regardless of ethnic or cultural differences, there are many things that we share in common. It’s important to honor our differences and learn from them. Exposure to difference informs, it educates. However, exploring what we share in common can also educate. For instance, the specifics may vary but in every family system there is the "right way" to do things. And every child in that family has to learn that "right way". Didn’t we all hear the same thing: "any thing worth doing is worth doing well", "if you can’t do it right, then don’t do it at all", etc? But, we’re not born with intrinsic knowledge of how to do things "right".

We have to learn. There are different learning styles: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. But what is the final common pathway of learning? I have asked that question to thousands of professionals that work with children. Their answers relect the problem: "experience", "practice", "repetition". These professionals include teachers, educators. So why don’t professional educators know the answer? When we see someone do something and try it ourselves, will we do it right the first time? Maybe, if we’re lucky. But, more than likely, not. We need practice; repetition, repetition, repetition. Why? Because the final common pathway of learning is …    (stay tuned)

What does play have to do with wellness?

Wellness has traditionally been focused on individuals taking responsibility for their lifestyle and then implementing positive health habits.  The areas of focus have been physical fitness, nutrition, weight reduction, smoking cessation and stress management.  You’ll notice that the fun factor, play, is not included.  Neither is a values piece to include spirituality or a relational piece.  The former is problematic as we are separated into different club affiliations.  And you know how clubby some folks can get. The latter, nonetheless, should be included.  Why? Much of our stress is about relationships. 

The transformational approach to suspiciously healthy living includes taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior and body.  You can think of the last two as the tip of a metaphorical iceberg.  After all, behavior by definition is observable as is one’s body.  But those two aspects of our isness are a small part of who we are.  They are only the tip.  What is going on below the surface, hidden from view is the larger portion of what makes us human.  Both body and behavior are driven by the brain.  So what we do in the cortex, the thinking part, and what we do in the limbic system, the emotional brain, influence our observable selves. 

Talking about the brain is important for many reasons.  Our narrow focus here will be to recognize that our thoughts don’t arise at random out of the ether.  They reflect our values and beliefs.  What do we most value in our culture?  Success.  And how do we attain what we most value?  The secret to success is hard work.

One can put that cultural bias into action as their approach to wellness.  They can work hard to become physically fit and survive to 100 years.  But, survival is not enough.  You can survive your whole life and never live it fully. 

What is a full life, a life well lived?  Different people would answer differently.  One thing that’s shared in common is that many don’t begin to figure that out until their own mortality, or that of a loved one becomes a pressing issue.  At that point the tip of the iceberg wellness factors fall away in importance.  Our beliefs about what we most value arise as our most important drivers.  It’s the people, the relationships that matter most.  And the time spent with those people special to us becomes precious.  Not just time but quality time is most precious.  And the seriousness of the circumstances can weight heavy on everyone.  It can take away from the living that is still possible. 

What then can transform the quality of energy present in the room?  Playfulness.  Light, buoyant, playful energy creates a more relaxed atmosphere for authenticity.  Lightness balances heaviness and emotional

equilibrium results.  What follows can be a level of connection amongst those present that is a present, a gift for everyone.  The present moment is opened.  Now is all there is and it’s enough.  The feeling tone in the room is that of sacred space.  It’s a holy moment enriching the living, comforting the dying. 

A life well lived would squeeze as many of those moments into it’s living.  And play, with love, may just be central to living fully, living well.  Play creates the psychological space for connecting in suspiciously healthy ways with others.  Defenses drop and deep sharing can result.  We risk more and in risking more are more fully alive. 

Play also frees up potential energy in the psyche and puts it into creative motion in our problem solving.  The stressful dilemma breaks the status quo.  What was fixed is now fluid.  As the problem solver moves into the play state. that fluidity opens up many possibilities.  Playing with those is fun, engaging.  The player flows, testing ideas to see what floats.  The result may be a  new variation better adapted to present circumstances. 

 

Wellness may be seen as a transformational movement of energy arising from our core, our center, out into the field of action.  The trajectory is toward wholeness and vitality as one fully participates in the possibilities of the moment.  Play evokes that energy and facilitates that movement as our creative impulse is given expression in the play state.  One is not diminished through this expression as a well is not diminished through the gift of its waters.  As the water table replaces what is removed, the psyche replaces what is expressed and we stay green, juicy and growing.  Stop that movement and we dry up.

Let’s Be Reasonable

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." Albert Einstein   (Thanks Greg Tamblyn for this quote at the end of your email)

One might blame the Enlightenment for this state of affairs. Or, perhaps we have forgotten that there are different kinds of reason. There is ecstatic reason and scientific reason. I’m guessing that Einstein’s reference was to the latter. Why? Because the former, can be inclusive of intuition. I was ignorant. I hadn’t forgotten. I never knew about the concept of ecstatic reason. At first glance, I thought it to be an oxymoron. Rollo May straightened me out. In the Discovery of Being, he writes about "reason as including the capacity to transcend the immediate situation, to grasp the whole, and such functions as intuition, insight, poetic perception were not rigidly excluded. The concept also embraced ethics: reason in the Enlightenment meant justice."

Part of normal-not-being-healthy is that Einstein, while long dead, describes a society that is still present. Perhaps it’s time to change that. What do you think?

Everything is connected

I’ve been thinking about how everything is connected to everything else.  It’s true, EICTEE, for short.  Long before going to medical school I read Barry Commoner’s book on ecology, can’t remember the name.  But, EICTEE, stuck with me.  Its clear that it is true.  Must be a natural law.  Look at the tiniest bit of stuff and we find that electrons are fickle.  That person standing next to you on the elevator seems to be separate and distinct from you.  You’re here and they are over there.  The atoms that make up your youness are here and the atoms that make up their otherness are over there.  Right?  Of course, in terms of gross anatomy that is correct.  But we have a problem of visual acuity.
Our eyes cannot see at the atomic level.  If they could we’d see that the nuclei of the atoms that make us up are here but the electrons that orbit those nuclei are not.  Those rascals are mostly here and look, now they’re gone, over there smoozing with that stranger’s atomic nuclei.  We are them and they are us.  See it is all about ME. or..is it…….. US?

My Ethical Bias

I’ve decided, with nudging to write a blog.  It will reflect a particular set of biases, mine.  It’s not an advise blog.  It’s more, the world according to me.  I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I’m OK with that.  But I am interested to see what comes up.  I’ve written before and have been ruminatingabout many things with the thought of writing again.  This could be a vehicle for stringing pearls into something wearable in the psyche.
If not, no matter.  I believe in a comedic ethos.
A comedic ethos is one in which expectations aredown sized. There is a recognition that a lot of life is about walking around bumping into things.  That bumping into process then provides an opportunity for learning while having a few laughs along the way.  A tragic ethos, on the other hand, is one in which expectations are very high, goals lofty and a lot of people are dead at the end of the play.  That’s my take on Joe Meeker’s book, The Comedy of Survival.
Take the current military foray into the “cradle of civilization”….tragic or comedic??

My Ethical Bias

I’ve decided, with nudging to write a blog.  It will reflect a particular set of biases, mine.  It’s not an advise blog.  It’s more, the world according to me.  I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I’m OK with that.  But I am interested to see what comes up.  I’ve written before and have been ruminating about many things with the thought of writing again.  This could be a vehicle for stringing pearls into something wearable in the psyche.
If not, no matter.  I believe in a comedic ethos.
A comedic ethos is one in which expectations are down sized. There is a recognition that a lot of life is about walking around bumping into things.  That bumping into process then provides an opportunity for learning while having a few laughs along the way.  A tragic ethos, on the other hand, is one in which expectations are very high, goals lofty and a lot of people are dead at the end of the play.  That’s my take on Joe Meeker’s book, The Comedy of Survival.
Take the current military foray into the "cradle of civilization"….tragic or comedic??