Monday, January 17, 2011

Thrivals and Dr. King's Dream

Unfortunately, I was too lazy to participate in my local Martin Luther King Day celebration like I wanted to.  However, as of late, the concept of "thrivals" in relation to Dr. King's dream have been on my mind. In contribution to acknowledging this day, here's a thought I wanted to share: In looking at Dr. King's views, I see similarities with the principles behind "thrivals".  Even more so, I see a responsibility for thrivals to carry on Dr. King's legacy.

By now you're probably wondering who are thrivals.  Janelle Monae puts it best by describing them as people who "don't see race and gender as an obstacle" to their goals (Dr. Nat Irvin II, the man behind the term, elaborates on the subject here:  As the many boundaries that have divided us as a nation and world decrease in significance, it's becoming increasingly inportant-if not necessary-to have a willingness to work with people of diverse backgrounds for the ultimate good.  With such an understanding, as one of my friends recently tweeted, "thrivals will change the world".

So what does this have to do with Dr. King's dream? As he says in the speech, "...we cannot walk alone". This is especially true in our current society. In many ways, the issue of who gets affected by various policies, technologies, and innovations is becoming less affected by race, gender, and nationality. Addressing the problems that accompany this reality requires the recognition that, to quote King's speech again: " inexorably linked".

Yes, there are many examples of division throughout the U.S. and the world.  However, on the whole, there are more features of contemporary civilization that are bringing us together than separating us. This doesn't negate issues of racism and other forms of discrimination as a thing of the past to be disregarded.  They are the impetus in creating a better future. Dr. King recognized that in his lifetime, and thrivals recongize it now. It is thus crucial for thrivals to continue his legacy.

This is achieved, in all actuality, by thrivals being themselves. By becoming engaged in diverse arenas of study and profession, thrivals embody the future King envisioned in which people were "judged by the content of their character.  Also key is informing others about the thrival philosophy. As the word spreads, the easier it is to create change.

Given we're in a new year, this is the perfect opportunity to consider ways in which to impact society for the better.  As we all know, there's still work to be done. Considering the similarity between Dr. King's ideals and that of thrivals, thrivals are in a unique position to take on this challenge.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Feeling Addict

Among the many things that have been on my mind recently has been the idea that people can be addicted to feelings in the same fashion as drugs, food, alcohol, etc. In observing current trends in our culture, especially in terms of behavior (a prime example being that of politicians and pundits), it seems like people have a need to feel some kind of way on a level deserving of its own Intervention episode.  The result of feeding into such needs, can be akin to the worst junkie stories imaginable.

These feeling addictions can be put into two categories-addiction to positivity and addiction to negativity.  At its worst, the positivity addict can be blinded to actual problems that need to be addressed. This can basically be illustrated by many with the "Polyanna" mentality.  We've all been around at least one person like that.  On the other end of the spectrum is the negativity addict, always in need to feel anger, hatred, or see the bad side of everything. Case in point-most of the pundits of a certain cable news network named after an animal.  This too results in disasterous consequences-namely stagnation in life, strife, and even violence. The common thread is that the overwhelming drive adapts the addict to the situation that they're in, leading to fear of any type of change.

Recent decades have seen an increase in people talking about how they feel.  Feelings, after all, are part of what makes us human.  However, there's a difference between feeling and NEEDING to feel.  The question becomes, then, "Do I feel this way at this particular moment because I actually feel this way or do I feel this way because it makes me comfortable?".  Ask yourself that sometime.

In many instances, it's necessary to get to the matter at hand, as opposed to focusing on how you feel about it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On Happiness and Choice

Let me begin this entry by noting the serendipitous nature of how various quotes or sayings come together to speak to a larger theme in life. In this case, it is the role of choice in happiness and its meaning.  It began with a tweet I came across today (well, not exactly came across, but that's another story):

"wishing you more chances to chose(sp) happiness. You deserve it. We all do.:-)"

This tweet resonated with me for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that it made me think about what it meant to choose happiness and being deserving of happiness.  With that, another quote stood out
 to me in the midst of contemplation:

"...the secret of happiness lies in renouncing the right to be happy"

The abovementioned is from The Revolt of the Elites by Christopher Lasch.  Though he makes the quote in the context of religion,  it is very much salient to life as a whole.  No matter what anyone's definition of happiness is, it can be agreed that things happen in life that evoke feelings of happiness or unhappiness. In illustrating the act of renunciation as part of being happy, Lacsh indicates that happiness involves choice.  The same concept is more plainly stated in the aforementioned tweet.  Considering the fact that much-if not all-of human existence is about choices, no area of life is exempt from making decisions. The question then becomes, what exactly is meant by choosing happiness?

As suggested by both the tweet and the book quote, it is using your creative abilities to foster a state of happiness. The individual, in these instances, utilizes their free will in how they react to life circumstances. This, it can be argued, has led to a sense of entitlement among people to be happy. Another question then arises: how can "deserving to be happy" be defined?

The tweet and the quote inherently acknowledge that life happens.  They also allude to a significant aspect of reality-nothing in life is guaranteed.  As Thomas a Kempis notes: "But never to feel any dsturbance at all, nor to suffer any grief of heart or body does not belong to this present life..".  Therefore, it is in the letting go of the need for certainty in life and making use of the freedom that comes from it that we, as Lasch demonstrates, unlock "the secret of happiness".  It is also here where that happiness becomes "deserved".

In sum, we have a substantial part to play in our happiness.  It is fulfilled in our utilization of our free will and creative powers.  As we recognize uncertainty as intrinsic to human existance and adjust ourselves accordingly that we find and, in turn, deserve, happiness.

May we bear this in mind as we wish each other a "Happy New Year"