“Constructive Living” is the result of two Japanese systems of thought (ways of living) as synthesized by Dr. David K. Reynolds. The two systems used are “Morita therapy” and “Naikan.”
“Morita Therapy” is a realistic action-oriented approach to daily life; “doing what needs to be done” and “holding to one’s purpose.” For example, If the dishes are dirty, try washing them one at a time. Don’t wait until you are “motivated” to wash them, simply begin washing the first dish and watch the dirty dishes transform into clean ones. If your legs are cramping from spending too many hours in front of the computer, take a walk, stretch, sweep your floor. Do what needs to be done. These things may need to be done and, while you are engaged in the task, the cramped legs disappear and perhaps a new wave of energy arises.
What this is pointing to is what is controllable in our daily life. The stressful feeling that comes from some annoying colleauge may not go away at your leisure, but how you engage yourself and do what needs to be done is controllable. Moreover, the feelings you feel are a natural part of your person. As Reynolds writes throughout his books “Do the Now well.”
“Naikan” stems from Buddhism (more specifically a lay Buddhist priest named Yoshimoto Ishin) and asks us to focus on three questions, a kind of guided meditation. The three questions (as used in close concentration on a specific person or object) can be expressed as follows:
1. What have I received from this person/object?
2. What have I done to repay this person/object?
3. What troubles have I caused to this person/object?
Now, even though feelings are quite uncontrollable, through Naikan meditation one may come to see the mediated-upon other under a different light, under a more balanced light. When was the last time you thanked your jacket for the warmth it gives you? When was the last time you focused on all of the people that went in to making it possible for you to be reading this blog right now (the computer designer, engineers, Internet Service Provider, the money you earned to buy the computer and so on). The idea of “giving back” comes into focus through Naikan, perhaps even the feeling of gratitude for the overwhelming support that one is receiving at all times every day.
Again, taken together, Morita Therapy and Naikan compose the life-strategy known as Constructive Living.
In an age of the digital, we may forget about the importance of “being-lived” or we may find ourselves procrastinating ourselves into excuses about why we didn’t do such and such a task. Our muscles wither, our brains fatigue. Perhaps, in these times of Web communication we are in need of this Constructive Living lifehack, for a more focused and productive living experience and a more balanced and grateful one as well. Thank you for reading this, you have just brought this post to life.
photo by laughingmonk (CC)