Wednesday, March 5, 2008

With Friends Like These....

In this world there are friends who are supportive, kind, and encouraging and then there are friends who repeatedly try to force you into a dangerous, cold, and expensive new sport and refuse to take no for an answer and slowly wear you down until you finally agree to try it. My friends are of the second variety and today is my first whitewater kayaking lesson. Granted, there will be no whitewater involved today and the likelihood of drowning in the EWU pool has to be close to nil. Nevertheless, I reserve the right to complain heartily about the whole experience.

Except, I read yesterday about an anti-complaining movement that was started by a pastor in Missouri. He challenged his congregation to stop complaining altogether and handed out little bracelets to help them out. They were instructed to switch the bracelet from one wrist to the other every time they caught themselves complaining about anything. It took the pastor three months to kick the habit; some of his parishioners took longer. Everyone who gave it a try reported that their lives were improved in many ways; they were happier and less stressed, their relationships were stronger. This isn't just some churchy gimmick, either. Cognitive behavioral therapists use a very similar method of behavioral modification to help those with severe and long term depression and similar ailments. From a neuroscience perspective, the process works because it re-routes the neural pathways in your brain. What were once negative connections that always brought about negative feelings can be changed to positive or neutral connections if you make an effort to change your way of thinking. Stefan Klein writes about this in The Science of Happiness (one of my favorites) and you can read more about Pastor Will Bowen here:

Actually, I am really excited about learning to kayak and I expect I will like it very much. So thanks for all everyone. : )

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