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Joyful Thinking for Stressful Times

Question 6:

Wasting Time Is Wasting Life vs. Finding The Time Of Your Life.

Super Joy Thinking: Time is not flying, we are. Time is merely a theory of life, a perception of how things are and what is happening. Time does not exist. We give time whatever power over our lives the concept of time may have.

I walked along the beach on the island of Rangiroa. This is a small, beautiful island in the Tahitian French Polynesian chain.

An old Tahitian man resting in a hammock, humming to himself, said, “Why are you walking so fast?” “I didn’t know I was,” I answered. “I guess I’m just used to a faster pace.” “A shame,” he said. “Time is too precious to waste by rushing it. When you do nothing, there is no time to waste, no time to rush. You are in control when you first do nothing. Then you can decide what you want to do, how you want to do it.” When I work with terminally ill patients I notice that, contrary to popular myth, many of these people choose to sit, to think, to fish, and to stroll during the last months of their lives. They do not typically choose to crowd as much into their remaining days as possible by engaging in constant hectic activity. They create more time by taking time, embracing moments, experiencing being alive rather than urgently trying to live.


To illustrate my point, I ask my patients to try the SDASU technique. This stands for “Sit Down and Shut Up.” Just sit quietly for a few minutes without talking, waiting for someone or something, or meditating. Just sit down and be quiet. You will notice immediately that you control time when you stop, sit, and get settled.

Question 7:

Winning Is Not Everything, It Is The Only Thing vs. Learning How To Love Losing.

Super Joy Thinking: Winning is not the only thing. In fact, winning is really not anything at all if winning means being first, best, and on top, for winning in this set of circumstances means that many people must lose.

I have never been to a sales meeting where someone has failed to quote the famous Vince Lombardi statement that “winning is not everything, it is the only thing.” I recently spoke at a large sales conference where the theme emblazoned on the conference folder and banners was “Rage to Win!” The program began with the loud sound of a human heartbeat followed by the racing of a car engine.

“Gentlemen (and presumably ladies), start your engines!” came the loud announcement to begin the meeting, likening sales to the Indianapolis 500 auto race. At the end of the presentation the audience ran to the coffee break, devoured the doughnuts and coffee, and seemed ready to roll over any competitor. The family of the “competitors” was likened to a pit crew in a car race, and most of the attendees nodded in agreement with this conference theme.

If winning is so important, why does it seem so short-lived? Try to name the last five world champion baseball or football teams. At the time of the competition, everything seemed to ride on winning first place. After all of the cheering subsides, winning is little more than a quick fix, an intense and short high. If the training and practice were not the purpose, not the joy, then winning was only a cheap thrill at the expense of months of work and competition, just another fix in support of our stress addiction, the loss another fix for addiction to depression.

At another sales meeting, I managed to convince the organizers to add to their awards for golfing and tennis competition (for at these meetings even the fun must have winners). I suggested awards for the highest golf score and the most losses in tennis.

This “joy of losing” award is now a regular part of many meetings, but I sense that beneath the laughter at the awards ceremony rests a general disrespect for losing. Laughter greets the “joy of losing” winners, while loud applause still greets the “real winners.”

Question 8:

If You Are Going To Do Something, Do It Right vs. How To Enjoy Incompetence.

Super Joy Thinking: Doing things wrong can be more fun than constantly struggling to do things right. In our eagerness to do things right, we are forgetting to have fun doing things.

The couple were playing a game of tennis. The woman was laughing and her male partner was smiling with every return of the ball. The club pro was watching and interrupted them.

“Sir, sir. Oh, miss. Excuse me. You are both running around your backhands. I have not seen either of you hit a backhand yet.

Get the racket back, rotate your grip, and swing through.” “Oh, okay,” said the man. The woman did not reply but assumed a tennis-ready position copied directly from the cover of Tennis magazine. The smile had left both of their faces, the quality of tennis markedly improved, and laughter was replaced with an occasional expletive.

Our society is committed to the orthodox. The wrong grip, the wrong stance, and you are failing to enjoy the game in the correct way. All of the fun is being taken out of failure. This focus on the orthodox is difficult to understand, because the most outstanding athletes in every sport are typically unorthodox in their approach to their skill. I call this success through unorthodoxy the “Ty Cobb syndrome” after one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Ty Cobb held the bat incorrectly, threw incorrectly, and violated almost every guideline for being a good baseball player. He was successful because he was unorthodox and had a super joy for playing baseball.

Listen to sports commentators and you will hear some form of the joy of performing as the common denominator among the best athletes. Orthodoxy is only one way, perhaps a beginning first step, for learning to do something. Even then, the true creativity of doing anything in life comes from taking the unorthodox risk.

Our quest for and compliance with orthodoxy relate to the brain’s preference for pattern. As I stated in Chapter 1, the brain is lazy and prefers the efficient, quick-stimulus mode of life.

Unorthodoxy breaks from pattern, may not be efficient, but may considerably increase our enjoyment, and therefore our success, at whatever we are doing.

Question 9:

Doing Several Things At Once Is Getting More Out Of Life vs. How To Cure The “Mad Juggler Syndrome.”

Super Joy Thinking: Trying to do many things at once only diminishes the enjoyment of fully experiencing whatever we are doing.

“I can eat lunch, talk on the phone, and balance my check book all at one time,” bragged the business woman. “Now that I have a car phone, I can drive, work, talk, and think all at once. I never skip a beat.” This woman had the “mad juggler syndrome” and was proud of it, but she seldom enjoyed any one of the activities she was juggling in itself and for itself.

Our society values multiples of anything. Multiple orgasms, multiple jobs, and multiple incomes have become standards to emulate. Television commercials glorify the woman who works all day, cares for her family in the late afternoon, parties until dawn, and then returns to work without a trace of fatigue the next day.

This mad juggling of life activities is another symptom of stress addiction or of coping with depression addiction through pseudo-busyness, a form of activity jitters that are the stress tremors of the toxic psychochemicals racing through our bodies.

The artifacts of our society give testimony to our valuing of multiples. It is difficult to buy a phone that simply makes and receives calls. Now our phones answer for us, send messages, play music, and tell time. “Multifunction” is a standard line on the cartons of electronic equipment. Imagine an advertisement that said, “This product only does one thing. It does it very well.

Thank you for buying it.” Super joy depends on intense focus, on doing and experiencing one thing at a time. Think of the many times you have been distracted during an activity, never fully being able to return to your enjoyment because of the interruption. Have you ever been so distracted by your own busyness and concern for multiple activity that you completely lost a very good feeling you had while you were doing something? Have you ever forgotten what it is you were saying right in the middle of saying it? These are symptoms of the mad juggler syndrome and the brain’s fixation on stimulation at the expense of meaning and enjoyment.

We have developed a pseudo-attention, a robot-like trance whereby we do many things but do not really know what we are doing. Take stock of your daily activities and see how many times a day you are doing just one thing at a time. You get more out of life by doing one thing intensely than by doing many things with the minimal emotional contact of a juggler’s hands lightly touching the balls as they rotate in their redundant and senseless circle.

“Joyful Thinking for Stressful Times” is an extract from Super Joy, the New York Times bestseller by Paul Pearsall, Ph.D, now available in paperback from Amazon and other bookstores, and on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes.

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