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Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity

Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity

Author:  Dexter [ Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity

Quote:
If you are a pessimist, consider meditation, cognitive therapy, or even Prozac


I gotta get on that!

He also goes on about the benefits of religious faith and practice. Gotta get on that too! Which God shall I choose?

Author:  geo [ Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity

My wife has suggested that I try an SSRI (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor). Hmm, what is she saying?

I was wondering if Buddhism, which arguably has a spiritual dimension, is a "religion" for atheists. Certainly many atheists gravitate towards it. But I gather that Haidt is merely open-minded about religious belief, not that he's suggesting it's for everybody.

Author:  DWill [ Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity

geo wrote:
My wife has suggested that I try an SSRI (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor). Hmm, what is she saying?

I was wondering if Buddhism, which arguably has a spiritual dimension, is a "religion" for atheists. Certainly many atheists gravitate towards it. But I gather that Haidt is merely open-minded about religious belief, not that he's suggesting it's for everybody.

I can't help you interpret your wife's suggestion! Mine has wanted me to try something for focus, but I feel that if I did I'd lose that ability to be all over the map, which isn't a good thing but is one without which I probably wouldn't feel like myself.

It's interesting that Buddhism comes in this form of essentially a non-religion, more of a combination of philosophy and practice. There aren't really any required beliefs, certainly none that rely on the supernatural. Yet popular Buddhism is rife with spirits and gods and superstitions. I saw a documentary about a blind woman who worked with blind children in Nepal. One of the social barriers to acceptance of the blind was the Buddhist belief that blindness was punishment for sins of a past life, so that the blind were shunned.

This makes me wonder--and I'd like it if Christians were to chime in--if there is Christianity apart from the doctrinal beliefs in Christ as a savoir, etc., that is, apart from the supernatural metaphysics? Does Christianity have a distinctive offering that might be generally valid and useful, in the same way that Buddhism does, and so doesn't require beliefs based in faith?

Author:  geo [ Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity

It seems to me that the premise or promise of afterlife lies at the core of the Christian faith. You cannot extract that premise and still have anything that resembles the Christian faith.

Whereas Buddhism is more of a philosophy, as you say, and we can take from it what we will. There's no dogma to get in the way.

Author:  DWill [ Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 7 - The Uses of Adversity

Some do say that Christianity introduced the concept of concern for universal humanity, through ideas such as "all one in Christ." Judaism might not have had this emphasis, being more concerned with establishing the kingdom of the Jewish God, in which all could take part..as long as they were on board with that God. For all the bigotry that Christians have committed, was there an idea of universal regard for humans running alongside that? Buddhists value compassion towards living things, but isn't there an individual focus in Buddhism, and a kind of quietism, rather than an activist "command" to go out and make the world better?

I like what Haidt said about each culture developing expertise in something, but never in everything. So that if, as uncommitted people shopping around, we're looking for the one philosophy or religion that covers all the bases, we're never going to find that.

Hmmm... the above is a ways from the topic of this chapter. I liked his statement about verbal venting, or the catharsis hypothesis--that contrary to the common assumption venting doesn't quiet anger but adds to it. That has been my observation (and experience, too, on the few occasions when I've been angry). What helps when we're airing our negative feelings is to increase our understanding of the nature and causes of those feelings. Haidt discusses a journaling technique designed to do that.

So, is it true that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger? Haidt carefully considers that dictum. It will involve the uses of adversity in making us not only stronger but eventually happier. That adversity will provide the teaching in resilience that we can't possibly get from direct instruction. Haidt says that the ability to benefit from hardship and trauma depends on individual, social, and chronological factors. We have our set points for the amount of hard stuff we can handle. If the hardship or trauma happens to us while we're embedded in a social web (maybe even a "bad" web such as a gang), we'll come out better. And if we hit the rough patches when we're in our late teens to late 20s, we're more likely to have the capacity for adaptation and progress than when we're either younger or older than 30.

The uses of adversity bear closely on child rearing. Perhaps the biggest dilemma for parents is how much help and attention to give children. Today, the gold standard is to do whatever you can for your children; you can never do too much. But Haidt would say that this does better at easing the parent's guilt than to help children to master the world.

Also thought-provoking: the more constraints a society contains, the less its people will want to kill themselves. Too much freedom is bad, at least it is unless we consciously accept more suicide as the fair price to pay for liberation from constraints.

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