Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Origins of Positive Psychology

By Jennifer Morse MS PhD

Positive psychology can be traced back to the Humanistic psychologists. Most often Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy describing the steps of personal transformation is cited as the forerunner of positive psychology. His greatest gift popularized, beyond the concept of self-actualization, is the requirement for our survival needs to be met prior to self-actualization.

Survival and safety. Many think of safety only in financial terms. And financial security is an essential component to well-being. But safety is much greater than what is circumscribed by money. Safety encompasses personal safety, health, and most importantly safety buffers the erosive effects of accidents or illness. Now add in financial security. Too many of us have the appearance of financial success yet live in an abusive, violent family matrix. A perfect example of financial security not providing safety.

Maslow’s second step in the hierarchy of needs is family relationships and friendships. Functional and loving relationships are essential to the foundation of well-being. This is more difficult to achieve then it sounds. For those of us raised in a family environment of love and support it will be easier to build enduring friendships.

For those of us who were raised in an environment fraught with intermittent violence coupled with neglect it can take a lifetime to unravel the wounds to trust and innocence. Can you feel the weight of this challenge?

Personal freedom is discovered in Maslow’s next hierarchical dimension, esteem. Where does esteem come from? We can find the pre-cursor of self-esteem in childhood interactions within the loving family. Why? Loving families provide opportunities to explore and develop our interests.

Self-esteem is derived from our mastery of skills and the momentum created by a history of good decisions. It is within the dimension of self-esteem that even those of us raised in dysfunctional or impoverished settings can thread the eye of the needle.

What does it mean to thread the eye of the needle? Even those of us stranded in impoverished environments, through the development of our personal strengths, can develop a corresponding sense of well-being.

Building self-esteem requires a tolerance for success and failure. Yes, some of us need to learn how to tolerate success. Self-esteem requires building the muscles; delay of gratification, tolerance for ambiguity, and a one-pointed focus on building the skill-sets applicable to our dreams and goals. There are whole books written on the subject, including my own, The Way of the Fairy Godmother.

There is one more element in my cliff-notes version of Maslow’s hierarchy. It turns out true happiness requires a context of meaning and purpose, greater than ourselves, threaded through our dreams and goals.

Context: Our lives developed within a bubble or context of service, devotion, love, meaning and well-being not just for ourselves but for others as well. This element on the surface seems like a rubber stamp. Need a greater context in your life? Become a nurse, a psychologist, a financial planner.

Reality is a far cry from these simple decisions. If living a greater context of purpose and meaning were as easy rubber stamping we would see no abuses within the priesthood, nursing, psychology, elder care, financial institutions and the list goes on.

Can positive psychology help us out of this quandary? Yes, positive psychology does have answers for us. Positive psychology prioritizes our identification and development of personal strengths. Utilizing positive psychology we follow, like the trail of bread crumbs, where our interests and native talents lead us.

Have a passion for the ocean and its mysteries? Become a marine biologist! Yet even this pursuit has a slippery slope. Do you have the money to acquire the skills and education necessary to earn a degree in marine biology?

Here is the juncture where the one path has infinite expressions. The one path (in case I haven’t been clear enough) is developing our personal strengths, passions and interests. We want a career in medicine but don’t have the money to pursue the ultimate MD degree? Perhaps beginning in nursing at the junior college level affords us the entry into the world of medicine. Fueled by our strengths a foot in the door can take us a long way.

Developing personal strengths leads us into a state of absorption and flow. We lose track of time. Our strengths match the task. The task challenges, but doesn’t overwhelm, our skills. The joy of developing and evolving is at our fingertips. Can you see how absorption and flow leads to feelings of well-being? Well-being is the matrix where we experience kindness and friendliness. Immersed in well-being it is easier to be kind, and extend ourselves for the benefit of others.

Follow your dreams is the mantra for living in the United States. No, it’s not as easy as it sounds. However there are many right answers for one dream. And dreams evolve. Building on our natural talents and strengths is the foundation for self-mastery, well-being. When we develop skills we build a platform to extend ourselves to others. Sometimes we stumble into transcendence.

Whew! Thank goodness we have a lifetime because self-actualization is an enormous amount of work! Did I forget to mention the path to actualization is fraught with pitfalls? Here is an example. I am an author. For many years I was the kind of author who writes manuscripts and hides them in the computer. I wrote and retreated from the writing. Then my health failed. Simultaneously in the financial collapse of 2008 I was ruined.

Now writing became the vehicle to transcend my impoverishment. I wrote about what I know, my life’s passion; mysticism applied and made practical, tangible. Mysticism designed to create beauty and well-being. Okay I noticed the irony. My life is trashed and I’m writing about motivation, well-being, positive psychology and mysticism. What?

Where is the value? Firstly, I’m living what I write. Why is that important? Authenticity. Authenticity may have value and meaning for others; primarily readers. There might be clues in what I’m doing for others well-being. Is this the element of greater purpose for myself and others? Partially.

Yet the true passion of my driving ambition is to create an enduring shelter success makes possible. At the heart of it all is my desire to provide for myself and my family the buffer to life’s shattering moments.

Anything else? Yes, I want to provide education to people interested in dovetailing the practical and the mystical. Success as an author may reach that specific population. Is there more? Yes, I want to create a store, online and local, that will sell merchandise that supports the path to beauty, well-being and authenticity. My store will provide tangible tools that buffer stress.

Before I can create those opportunities I’m back at Maslow’s first step in the hierarchy of actualization; survival and safety.

Jennifer Morse, MS PhD is the author of The Way of the Fairy Godmother, Awaiting the Fairy Godmother and Letters from the Land of Midlife Dating available @amazonkindle.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The past week has been our best sales week since entering the world of self publishing. Very rewarding! It is great 5 Star reviews from the likes an Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer and readers like you that keep my fingers humming..writing the Next Great Novel. So much fun. :]

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Author Jennifer Morse, M.S., PhD, trained as a marriage and family therapist, has spent her life studying mysticism, striving for balance between conventional life and the mystical. She first published a Young Adult novel REDEMPTION'S WARRIOR. THE WAY OF THE FAIRY GODMOTHER is her second venture in publishing but it would not be at all surprising to expect future books - this sensitive person knows how to write! For all the self-help books available today few have taken on the stance that Jennifer has - basing her recommendations for finding happiness based on the Cinderella fairytale from the viewpoint of the Fairy Godmother. `The Fairy Godmother is incontrovertibly positive. She lives within uncompromising, radiant happiness. Her lifestyle is dangerously optimistic. As a result she expedites miraculous outcomes. It's not that she doesn't notice the problems of life.'

Though the author lauds the positive attitude of the Fairy Godmother, Jennifer matches her in the tome of this entertaining and instructive book.' The Fairy Godmother models a positive language specific to goals and ambitions. Our brains translate our words and thoughts into images. How does our biochemistry interact with images? We'll become aware of our biochemistry and the impact of visual images to prepare us for success and happiness. A Proclamation will revolutionize our life. Clear goals initiate self-esteem. Focal points of beauty support us on our journey. Golden Ladders each rung associated with behaviors congruent with our Deepest Desires will delineate the territory of our personal happiness. With step by step procedures we'll enter the world of the Fairy Godmother. She will guide us. Our goal? Enduring happiness.' She makes a point of distinguishing between superficial vis a vis authentic happiness. `Superficial happiness is important. Seek it out.... superficial happiness is a cardboard imitation of life. It cannot substitute the satisfaction we get engaging our talents and personal strengths. It cannot take the place of the contributions we make to one another's lives. Superficial happiness, hand in hand, with a life of meaning and purpose. Perfect.' `Authentic happiness is good for you and good for the people who are in your life. Recent research in the field of positive psychology tells us happiness actually creates success.'

`Focal points help us reflect the spiritual and literal aspects of life simultaneously. And just like symbols they interpenetrate all the dimensions of self. They create a moment, a breath, to refocus our attention on what has meaning and purpose. Use focal points of beauty to create a reconnect, reset, begin again pause.' And this book is rich in such opinions. But it is her final chapter of the Nine Keys to Happiness that is the most immediately beneficial: though these 9 keys should be read by those who purchase this book, they include Deepest Desires as the seeds, focusing on harmony, health and success, use our native talents, crate a proclamation that revolutionizes the inner and outer worlds, create and implement the Golden Ladders, create a language that is positive, transform dreams into reality, and release the unwanted, claim the wanted and be determined to manifest Deepest Desires.

Though not a phrase used often, I love this book - it strikes an inner chord, makes me embrace Jennifer's wise and brilliantly warm writing, and produces the urge to share this fine book with every caring one. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, June 15


Friday, October 2, 2015

The Making of a Healer…A Fable Retold

By Jennifer Morse, MS PhD

I’ve learned the hard way healing does not always mean the cessation or disappearance of symptoms. I’ve spent decades searching through holistic healing, studying the paths where the mind and body meet trying to unravel the pain in my body and the pains of the past. Some people heal into life and others heal into death. Patients follow treatments and reduce or cure their symptoms. Other patients follow the same treatments and remain ill. And yet they may be healed.

I was twenty plus years on my quest and in my forties when I realized maybe I wasn’t going to find the key to resolve my symptoms. Could I find a way to soften and buffer the erosive effects of chronic pain?

Is it through acts of compassion we heal ourselves and the world? Is compassion the missing element in a world that glorifies science? Let’s not forget the influence of the Sacred Mystery. A portion of life operates beyond our ability to comprehend its scope. It is known by many names: The Great Unknown, The Sacred Mystery.


Here is a story of a healer and how he came to dwell in The Great Mystery…..

Our healer began the study of healing as a child learning from his father the community shaman. Eventually he grew in his abilities and wanted to live beyond his father’s shadow. He wanted to push beyond the boundaries of what he knew and venture into the unknown. He left on a day when the clouds thundered and lightening split the sky. He left his home and friends. It was a heart break. The rain poured in straight lines. The storm masked the weeping of his mother and the roar of his father’s disappointment. Yet something was pushing him beyond his comforts, beyond the pleasures of the familiar.

He was hungry for healing. He had lived too long, invisible, within his father’s shadow. He was ashamed of his unspoken agreements to remain invisible. He allowed his loyalty to his father, his teachings, the family and even the greater community to subvert his personal strengths. Now he must reclaim himself.

He was hungry to define himself on his own terms. He longed to test his skills without looking over his shoulder for approval. He traveled until he was far beyond the reputation and influence of his father. He found a community looking for an apprentice to assist their healer. Within the forest of tall pine trees he studied the paths of mind, body and spirit. First traveling the geography of each dimension individually, next he studied their interactions and relationships. It seemed an eternity before he understood the effects of interventions on one level interwoven with all levels. Long story short when he attempted to heal the body it affected the mind and spirit.

And as much as he loved his teacher they had a falling out. On another stormy afternoon with the thunder at his back he moved on once again. Traveling into different lands he studied the ways of medicine. He hungered for both traditional medicine and esoteric or holistic medicine. He began his studies with the different bodies that live within the skin of one man.

The brain was one control center with its powers of observation. The heart’s wisdom held within its power the drumbeat of life. When the heart is filled with love it beats steady and strong. Even when weakened with illness the heart can sometimes transcend itself with love. We call this a peaceful death.

Our healer found the gut is the third control station of the body. It is lined with antennae. Each filament is designed to read truth. When he learned the truths of the gut he came to live within his personal power. But there is more….

He learned blood, the rivers of life, carried hormones and other messages throughout the body. The bones of each body form a structure. The muscles hold the bones in place. To support this knowledge our healer learned massage and adjusting the body so the components, the power stations of the body, could work together in alignment and harmony.

To give the body strength he studied healing with herbs. Discovering energy fields resonating beyond the skin’s surface, he learned the healing properties of gems and minerals. And eventually as a healer he was able to hold a patient’s hand and listen to the pulse of health and perceive the shadows of illness.

Using himself as the laboratory he practiced the tools of health and vitality. He found engaging personal strengths, in conjunction with purpose for a greater good, created vitality. To tone his body he walked in the hills and the ripple of wind flowing over his skin called him into attunement with the forest. He practiced yoga until the movement became a prayer. Engaging strengths, at one with the forest, in prayer with yoga made him happy.

One day a yoga teacher said, “The purpose of yoga is to prepare the body for meditation.” He turned his attention to meditation. There were breathing meditations, sitting in stillness, guided imagery. He tried them all. He cultivated an openness to hear the quiet stillness within. Beginning with intentional rest he learned the pathways of meditation. He traveled the dimensions of dreaming. He magnetized the powers of healing.

When his teacher retired he decided to move on. He did not want the responsibility of becoming a community healer. His next teacher initiated him, by blowing power through the top of his head, into the hands of healing. A channel of cosmic light opened. This fueled the health passing through his hands freely. Wellness was transmitted to the patient he touched.

This time when it was time to leave he was able to make his goodbyes with thanks. He left gifts. He told his teachers how they changed his life. He left with a light heart on a sunny day. He traveled to the city where he studied a long time and learned to heal with his words. This required he first listen with his full presence. Sometimes just listening with care was enough. He became attuned when to speak and when to listen. It was if his studies in meditation had changed his ability to hear with the mind, the heart and the gut. They fueled his words and contained his silence.

He moved to a monastery along the cliffs of the sea, where through prayer he cast out illness and encouraged health. They taught with prayer to release his agreements, his ties, to negativity. Continuing in prayer he petitioned Infinite Intelligence to fill the void. His greatest prayer was to be at one with the Divine. The Sacred in the silence began to fill him. This was a new kind of prayer. It revolutionized his perceptions.

At the monastery he learned to set bones and sew up cuts. He learned the secrets of nutrition as medicine. Fish oil in conjunction with primrose oil reduced the body’s inflammation. Magnesium malate calmed and soothed muscles. Potassium rich diets increased heart health. Dandelion root is a blood cleanser. Cinnamon reduces and stabilizes the blood sugar. The list grew longer and longer.

Eventually he combined all he knew of healing methodologies into complex treatment regimes. It would be easy to say he had integrated the diverse modalities and had been transformed. But it was more than a transformation. He no longer practiced the elements of healing. Through cohesion the dimensions of healing were ingrained on his DNA. The essence of his cellular replication was imprinted with the essence of healing. He was at one with healing. Healing was at one with him. He had undergone a radical transmutation within the essence of life.

Hopelessly ill patients were waiting at his door each morning. He became well known and successful. People crowded together waiting for an appointment. Day after day he treated patients. He worked long into evenings. Absorbed in the needs of others he had little life beyond illness.

Toxicity began to crowd out his health and vitality. Even when he wanted to stop and walk in the forest his gift insisted on its expressions. He could not turn away from the need. He gave of himself until there was no more to give and then he left to become a wandering healer. Life pulled him. He surrendered into life and was reborn.

When there was no where else to go, when he embodied the art and science of healing in its totality, he surrendered again and no longer called himself a healer. He simply traveled the world.

Eventually he returned to his village arriving on a cold winter’s day. The trees had lost their leaves. The branches stood stark against a grey sky. The mountains in the distance were covered in snow. A hawk flew around him in a full circle. The forest rushed a greeting to him on the rustle of evergreen trees. Walking at the center of his knowledge long ago translated into wisdom; warm within the glow of self illumination, as he walked past the Cherry tree, the flowers blossom.

Author’s note: When I hear this story I understand the healer transcended the methodology of healing. He was dwelling within the Great Mystery. His presence was Grace itself. Is Grace the dimension of life that transcends healing and is born of the Great Mystery?

Jennifer Morse is the author of a motivational book: The Way of the Fairy Godmother. A fictional book: Letters from the Land of Midlife Dating. Together with her husband, William Mortimer, they co-authored the young adult book: Redemption’s Warrior.

Found here