From a perfect mental storm to resilience in 3Ps

Two weeks ago a friend invited me to join his wind-surfing class. I thought, “I loved taking regular surfing classes in California and Hawaii, and now I could add the power of the wind to harness Mother Nature’s energy. Isn’t it awesome?” So, I paid for the class in advance, borrowed surf booties, and even managed to squeeze myself in a full-body wetsuit I bought in 2004. The latter came with a bonus: I didn’t have to shave my legs. Double awesome!

The morning of the trip, however, I began looking for a way out. Do you know that nagging feeling? When I caught myself doing this, I asked: “Why not?” To which, my mind with great enthusiasm and unhelpful sophistication offered a wide menu of excuses: “Ah, it’s too hot outside; too far to drive; what if you fall and break something; it’s a four-hour class and you’ll be dead tired; your back hurts (let me check, yes, it does hurt).” Yada, yada, yada. Clearly, I was stuck in a drive-through of a “bad food for thoughts” restaurant.

Maybe I needed reassurance, a friend who would say, “It’s going to be all right, it’s gonna be fun.” But no one did, because I kept these thoughts to myself. More ruminating led me to ‘realize’ that my life was like a pulse on a hospital monitor: It keeps beeping at regular intervals (which meant that the patient is still alive) but the line is nearly flat with neither highs nor lows. “It’s all my fault that my life is not what I want. And it’d take pure magic to turn it around,” I concluded. Have you heard that on average we have 70,000 thoughts per day, and 80 freaking percent of them are negative? As I failed to be my own reassuring friend, I became the disempowering statistic.

I turned to comfort food (chocolate biscotti in my case), then I paced in my living room to break the cycle, then I turned to Facebook to get my mind numb. After a while, I stumbled on a post by Sheryl Sandberg, FB COO, about the untimely death of her husband, her grief and her ways of coping with it, and the support that she received from friends and strangers alike.  I sobbed reading it. The post and close to a million comments it generated were personal, authentic, raw. What Ms. Sandberg and other people shared gave me a different perspective. Suddenly, I remembered how resilient I have been when unpredictable and unpleasant events happened in my life. Too many to mention, but here I was on my feet again with plenty of reasons to be grateful for. Ms. Sandberg also wrote about the 3 Ps of the perfect mental storm that could be turned into the 3Ps of resilience:

  • Personalization: Accepting that not everything is our fault.
  • Permanence: While we may feel blue at this particular moment, there were times when life was good, in fact amazing, which means that we can and will feel that again.
  • Pervasiveness: Not all areas of our lives are in flux (or deep mess) at the same time. We can always find at least one thing or one person to be grateful for.

Armed with the “3Ps of resilience” perspective, my 70,001 thought was different: “I can’t solve all my big questions in one day. Maybe today isn’t the day to go wind-surfing. It’s ok. There will be tomorrow.”

Then, as if by magic, I got a text message from another friend inviting me to a pool party. So, I put on my bikini, shaved my legs, and took off.

 

 

Photo credit: CEBImagery.

 

Thoughts on love and relationships

Since primordial times we are eager to hear a good story, especially if it’s about love. Stories have the power to transform and inspire and, for sure, they teach us lessons. One such story – “The Gift: A Different Love Story” – is a Chilean short animation that portrays an ordinary couple that falls in love. Here’s the plot:

To prove his feelings, the man gives his love interest the gift of his heart. The woman cherishes it, and she is the center of the man’s attention. Their days pass in dancing, serenading, and eye-gazing. But as the magic of “falling in love” fades away, the couple goes back to business as usual: he chases skirts and she obsesses over him not paying attention to her. Both are getting frustrated and they toy with each other’s feelings. Eventually, the woman walks away taking the man’s heart with her. The man is now heart-broken, or more precise, with no heart in his empty chest. He’s sends electromagnetic waves of misery out to the world. Until one day, another woman comes along and saves him by splitting her own heart in two. They are now happy again, each having a piece of her heart.

[A collective Aww.. may or may not follow here]

The animation, screened at 101 festivals and with awards or nominations from 20 of them, has been described as a “beautiful film teaching us about relationships and love.” But what exactly does it teach us? Here’s my (unconventional) take:

  1. To love someone, you have to give up your own heart/soul/self as a proof.
  2. Falling in love is a passing stage, followed by the business as usual.
  3. Men are just destined to look at other women; plus, they need no attention from their partners to feel good about themselves.
  4. Women only care about their appearance and rely on men for their worth.
  5. Someone has to save you from your broken heart, while you have no role in your healing.

Yikes!

If this is indeed the case, guess what would “The Gift 2” be about? Exactly! And why wouldn’t it? As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” [Meanwhile, I transform into a tomato ninja deflecting rotten tomatoes thrown at me by the fans. Phew, dodged that stinky, fat one!]

I wish that the film with the subtitle “A Different Love Story” picked cues from ancient philosophers to modern philosophers and from fiction to positive psychology to portray a truly different way of loving and connecting:

I trust – and maybe even challenge – the director Julio Pot and his creative team to unleash their creativity, which is clearly abundant, to empower us to be different from the oh-so typical romance story.

Kiai!!!

 

Photo credit: Natalie Lucier.