INTRODUCTION – Developing Character Strengths and Virtues in the Gym

Julie 52

If there are two moral attitudes that are needed to counteract the greed and narcissism of our times the attitudes would certainly be self-mastery and compassion. This would entail the ability to read emotions in others and the self-awareness to observe, accept and manage our own emotional world.

Turning Barricades Into Bridges

To be at the mercy of primitive impulses is one of the barriers to humanity progressing that must be turned into a bridge to a more civilised society. All of the technological advances in the world will come to nothing unless we are able to tame the emotional beast awaiting to destroy everything good about the human race. IQ Intelligence will never be enough without emotional intelligence being in control. Emotional intelligence must be the master and IQ intelligence the subordinate. Another way of looking at this is to see humanity as doomed if our left brain continues to dominate and our own right brains as the onboard saviour of humanity. However, in true Flexarian style harmonising both categories of intelligence into a well balanced team effort is the answer as neither is going away. The problem is that the left brain is dominant and just not up to the job.

Unless we can become more aware of our emotions we will forever remain the victim of a primitive side of ourselves that no longer serves us well in the modern world. This is made obvious by simply observing the news, sport and other media sources where human beings are losing control and showing us that we are not the rational animals that we like to think we are. Or at least our left brain likes to think we are. We have a long way to go and much work to do on ourselves before we emerge successfully as a species that will survive becoming the victim of our own nature and natural selection. Barring any natural disasters wiping us out. But even a natural disaster these days may be caused by human ignorance and lack of humility. Left brain is never wrong and that is the attitude that will bring humanity down to its knees.

Why are there so many conflicts both large and small across our world, while so many outsiders shrug at the waste of time and see the middle ground is the place to exist?

Left brain! Yep. We are all victim to some extent but we can see it and do something about it. It reveals the beast within and not one of us is totally free, some people seem aware and are able to manage it better than others. Sadly, it would seem the world’s leaders seem to be hopelessly left brained. Maybe it’s the power fix that feeds it but it has to stop. Like dogs with a bone they will hang on to being right no matter what the consequences. That is their “right” as right is totally down to personal interpretation. How is it that people die every day, not for any good reason but for someone’s idea. Ideas are created by us and then we value them above life itself. If someone dares to not like the exact same idea! Ironically those that are closest to our idea but not quite with it in often minor details create their own new category and idea and those are the ones we detest the most!

Hmm! It would be laughable if it were not so costly in lives.

Category upon category upon category all in conflict due to our left brain adopting fixed and inflexible positions and then needing to be right and dominate everything above all else.. A perfectly good right brain sits waiting to present the whole picture in a more sustainable way. But handicapped by having no language to communicate – the left brain holds all the aces except the ones that will save the human race. Emotional intelligence gives us that boost to using the right side of our brains more and recognising when we are stuck in the left by the narrow mindedness of our behaviour and actions. Developing our character strengths and virtues may literally be planet saving.

How Can We Bring Intelligence To Our Emotions?

Emotional intelligence includes being able to motivate oneself, resilience in the face of adversity, controlling impulses, delaying gratification, regulating ones moods and managing any emotional distress in order to think and act for the better and finally to empathise with others and adopt a more hopeful attitude. Emotional intelligence runs hand in hand with character. There can be no progress without them. I will signpost how we may progress with our emotional intelligence and both get better ourselves and make the world a better place or at least begin to think about this stuff. The left brain thinking likes to dismiss such thinking as unimportant.

A Contrasting Kind Of Intelligence

People that are emotionally proficient and can read and deal with their own and other’s feelings successfully are at an advantage in all walks of life. People that cannot get to grips with their own emotional life fight inner beasties that cripple their ability for focused work, clear thought and action. They may appear irrational. I know I have my irrational moments. When my reaction seems not to fit the moment. This is because the moment has awaken emotions reacting to something entirely not of this moment. I then need to observe what may really be going on. Why the overreaction? Possibly a fear has surfaced. Myself, as an organism feels threatened.

The realm of the emotions extends beyond the reach of language and understanding. While up to a point we can try to explain and describe (left brain) emotional intelligence, ultimately – emotions, feelings and intuitions are unexplainable (right brain) but nevertheless essential to even the most logical decision making process. Yep! Love it or hate it feelings are involved in every decision we ever make and we make much better choices because of it. Science likes to think that it has eradicated this but in this case science is deluded. If you doubt it. Do your research Mr Scientist and discover what is really going on with science’s supposedly objective conclusions. Emotions are contained within all of us and are always in operation. Science as a left brain creation is dominant in society and whilst there is much good about science without reinstituting what science excludes during analysis we are doomed. Science separates and analyses things which changes the thing, right brain is needed to put humpty back together again for the big liveable picture. This is often the process that is missed – our left brain doesn’t seem to share. It is right brain that finds new stuff for left brain to analyse. Without the broad minded right brain we would be even more limited by science and our recognised senses – science both limits and extends humanity in the name of scientific truth – but at what cost? Flexarians know that things are never good or bad but rather situation dependant and relative to the interpreter. The whole world can seem to be run by statistics and we all know that human nature and practical living can make a monkey out of statistics once living in the real world is the only acceptable aim and intended conclusion.

I have nothing against science but I have a problem with anything that considers itself the only way or the right way or even the last word. History has proven that scientific discovery is rarely the last word on anything or even the right word but it is just one interpretation amongst many. Science is a creation of the left brain and needs to be recognised as such. Science is part of the solution, not the total solution. Flexibility and open mindedness to other interpretations is key to the flourishing and survival of the human race. Science is needed to ably assist the more right brained human traits. Egoic mind (left) has to let go of the reins.

Human beings are not computers or machines and cannot be separated from their environment. That is part of what being human means also. Being with all there is. It is impossible to alter parts without impacting the whole. Emotions cannot be removed from the human experience but they may be understood and managed. The world is not logical and we are not rational. random and unpredicatble would be a better description of how things are. Understanding emotions would be a good starting point to knowing what lies behind them. All said and done we run on auto-pilot and stuff bubbles up to consciouness for whatever reason. We may never undertsand the reason but we may be able to control the reaction and the quality of our experience by getting a grip on all that bubbles into consciousness from wherever it appears. The why? is not as important as the knowing how? To deal with the stuff that we may be able to affect. It is an attempt to change what bubbles up – our “core conditioning” or if you prefer computer comparisons “programming”- that might be the solution.

We are a bundle of habits that may or may not be able to change. That is the task ahead of us all. To alter what parts of our nature are dominant and what play a supporting cast. Maybe that is truly when we can consider ourselves CIVILISED. Taming the primitive beast that subtly operates our worlds with guile behind our back won’t be easy because the beast will need to want to change – that is – the master will need to accept the benefits of being relegated to a supporting role and a team player in order for humanity to survive and flourish. This is to happen in a world where we are dominated by left brain and millions are of the view that their way is the only way. Change begins with the acceptance that the view we hold so dear is our left brain dominating our thinking and only we can loosen the grip and open up to new ideas and horizons. Curiosity is a good place to start with anything we are told is just the way things are. Refusal to accept as a given such things works hand in hand with curiosity and finally innovation to create new ideas, thoughts and actions into the world. Something has to change and it begins with your attitude (and mine).

Emotional Intelligence – HOW?

We all have different character strengths and virtues operate at different levels in the categories used to measure them by positive psychologists but we are also capable of learning and changing behaviours if we so desire and are willing to mindfully take on the task of becoming more emotionally intelligent in every moment. There is never a moment when we are not feeling emotion so there will be plenty of practice. And I guarantee any progress will map a zig-zag line from here to wherever, there is no final destination. All progress proceeds that way with ups and downs but overall steadily moving in the direction of progress. Often the downs are more educational than the ups, even if at first they may not feel as satisfying. And best of all there is no place to be, no final destination just progress and better people in a better world. A good motto to have is that adversity rules okay! Negotiating adversity is where the genuine progress is to be found.

Optimising Gym Time

A Testing Center For Body-Mind Excellence

In true flexarian fashion I am going to take the liberty of trading some of our 21st century learned gym practices for some of those used by the Greeks in their gyms.

The Greeks didn’t separate the body from the rest of their personal development needs – knowing instinctively that the sum of the parts is so much greater than the whole and in fact a totally different thing than when separated off into parts. The Greeks used gymnasiums as places for physical excellence but on top of that as centres for intellectual excellence also. The ancient Greek gymnasium became a place for more than exercise. This development arose through recognition by the Greeks of the strong relation between athletics, education and health. Accordingly, the gymnasium became connected with education on the one hand and medicine on the other. Physical training and maintenance of health and strength were the chief parts of children’s earlier education. Except for time devoted to letters and music, the education of young men was solely conducted in the gymnasium, where provisions were made not only for physical education but for instruction in morals and ethics. Philosophers frequently assembled to hold talks and lectures in the gymnasia; thus the institution became a resort for those interested in less structured intellectual pursuits in addition to those using the place for training in physical exercises.

On the down side Greek gyms were men only and the training was naked. For my part I will trade our enlightened attitude to women’s rights and our fondness for keeping our wobbly bits covered up.

In return I would like to take from the Greeks the use of gyms for developing our character at the same time as our body and mind. A Great idea and good use of time. I suggest we use gyms to perfect our totality to the point of excellence. What better place to experiment than in one of life’s laboratories.

Following this introduction – In future blogs I intend to show how we can use our lives to develop our character strengths and virtues – I will use the gym as an example but any place where interaction is occurring is equally suitable. Practicing life where it is actually happening or living the learning as I like to call it. Practically living the learning is the Flexarian way. If a philosophy can’t be lived then it is of little use to any of us.

Thanks For Visiting x Adam x

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