Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Have a very active left prefrontal lobe day

In a recent New York Times article Happiness 101 students at George Mason University learn that pursuing pleasure only puts one on a "hedonistic treadmill," while "True happiness comes with meaning." Todd Kashdan, the positive psychology professor there says, “there are ways of living that research shows lead to better outcomes.”

click here to see the short film MoreKashdan notes "published studies that optimistic people live longer and that certain regions of the brains of positive people show more activity (“Have a very active left prefrontal lobe day,” he joked at one point)." The article goes on to note the popularity of such classes around the country, such as at Harvard where, with 855 students, the class is the most popular at that esteemed university.

Signature Strengths
What exactly do you learn in a class on happiness? One example comes from George Mason where:
Students were asked to do something that they were good at, be it writing, playing basketball or talking to their friends. According to positive psychology, your signature strengths play a special role in building your confidence and thus bringing you happiness.
You are asked to identify your special strengths and then use those strengths to try something new.

This is not so different from churches getting folks to identify their gifts and then figure out how to use them. I know that at King of Peace we are better off not when someone takes on some task at the church because the church has a need, but when someone identifies their gifts and then figures out how to use those within the church or community. We are all better off when someone is doing what they are good at and love for the benefit of others, rather than doing something they have to do.

A Profound State of Well-being
The article describes this media-loving new corner of psychology saying
Positive psychology brings the same attention to positive emotions (happiness, pleasure, well-being) that clinical psychology has always paid to the negative ones (depression, anger, resentment). Psychoanalysis once promised to turn acute human misery into ordinary suffering; positive psychology promises to take mild human pleasure and turn it into a profound state of well-being.
Wondering how you rate? Dr. Martin Seligman of Pennsylvania is a leading researcher who offers some questionaires at to help people assess themselves online.

beyond happy to manic—Tom Cruise on OprahOK. I know this is closer to the Gospel According to Oprah than to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but finding meaning in life through using your God-given talents to reach out to others sounds pretty solidly Christian to me, even if the way it is presented is more Oprahesque than usual. In fact, Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, says, “I guess I just wish it didn’t look so much like a religion.”

What do y'all think?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor


  • At 1/10/2007 6:19 AM, Anonymous barb said…

    KingofPeace : I received a MA basically in Positive Psychology just over one year ago. I am quite interested in SIGNATURE STRENGTHS. taking that 240 question survey 3 times about 6 mos apart, I felt my top 5 were 'really me.' I wish to pursue talking to groups about Sig.Strens. [SS] as I view not living by one's SS a bit like trying to comb hair which grow to the left - comb to the right .... and it won't remain that way without superglue spray ! it also goes to a question which has been used in past for mid-age persons who feel dissatisfied with their jobs or life: what did you enjoy doing as a child? as our SS are mostly inborn, these are evident usu. in childhood. do you agree ?
    barb in central MD

  • At 1/10/2007 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So, if our gifts are inborn, does that make us predestined to become who we are? Or, do we have the free will to choose what we like?

  • At 1/10/2007 8:30 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    Ho Ho!

    I think what Barb meant was simply, you may be good at doing many things. The ones that are in your heart are the ones you should do.

    We all know people that are excellent at their jobs but hate them. They are good at doing "A Thing" so Society says that is "The Thing" they should do.

    ORGANIC FERTILIZER!! Stop letting Society tell you what your life is all about. Ask the Lord.

    I already know what he'll tell you.......

    ......"I will write my words on your heart." He will tell you what He told me. "Do what you want to do."

    Does that mean you have free reign to run about causing mayhem and mischief? Of course not. It means find those words that He wrote on your heart. Read them, find that thing (or two, or three things) that you have talents for. Things that make you happy and fulfilled.

    Isn't that God's Promise? Not riches, fame or fortune but Peace!



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