Two delightful people initially believed my explanation to which I could only say, “I really wish I were the kind of guy that could be true of.”
The more mundane truth was that some old fool (me) had left a heavy suitcase in the kitchen for some other old fool (me) to trip over, which incident led to a lot of swearing, a hospital visit, x-rays, and now a leg in non-weight-bearing plaster for six weeks.
I am learning lots through this new experience – not least that
a) the world needs an epidemic of grab-rails and
b) if you are going to break your leg the two most important things are to be young and thin (less weight to hobble).
Maybe the epidemic of grab rails will happen, and I am certainly committed to losing a stone or so when I get my leg back (that will still not qualify me as thin), but though I can do much to age better, I cannot become younger. Caius is a man. All men are mortal. So Caius is mortal. Which I have long believed was obviously true for Caius. But for me? – well it appears so.
So I may hope for much but not unrealistically, as the wonderful work by Prof. Rick Snyder teaches us. Shane Lopez wrote, following the untimely death in 2006 of his close colleague and friend, “Rick was in the business of changing lives, plain and simple. As my mentor he taught me how to honor suffering and seek out hope in daily life. As a leading positive psychology scholar, he demystified hope and forgiveness for the world.”
The partnership of Lopez and Snyder has given us so much, including of course the epic Handbook of Positive Psychology and most recently Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths which seems set to be the foundation text for decades, with Snyder’s vision and spirit still helping guide future revisions.
In the introduction to this most recent text, they quote Melvin (Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good As It Gets) “You make me want to be a better man”, to which of course Carol (Helen Hunt), quite stunned, replied: “…That’s maybe the best compliment of my life.”
Professor Rick Snyder inspiringly showed how being better for other people rather than better than others is the motivational core of positive psychology – the original example is Marty’s story of being inspired by his 5-year old daughter Nikki to stop being such a grouch. Of course we can have dreams (even of Brazilian dancers though don’t tell Shelagh), but our best goals and hopes are in relation to others including (as Daniel Gilbert highlights in Stumbling On Happiness), our future selves in relation to others.
Who knows? Perhaps next time even the old fool who left the suitcase in the middle of the kitchen will have more thought for the old fool who later tripped over it.
Gilbert, D. (2007). Stumbling on Happiness. New York: VIntage.
Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology. 277-287. New York: Oxford University Press.
Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, S.J. (2007) Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths. Sage Publications.