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Life Outlook Enhancing Methods

Reprogramming Emotions

Changing one's emotional reactions or behavior has been a topic of discussion a couple times on MoreLife Yahoo and Paul provided the method that has used successfully for himself for many years to reprogram emotions. Kitty too used similar techniques with varying degrees of success but since her partnership with Paul has found that his steps below are a better formulation. The following has been taken from the comments Paul made in MoreLife Yahoo Message #301 and most recently discussed in the thread beginning with MoreLife Yahoo Message #2122.

  1. Any emotion needs to be seen as a habit - a subconscious reaction to some event, which reaction assigns some positive or negative emotional value to the event.
  2. If you have emotional responses to events which are not consistent with how you actually value the event when it is consciously examined, then this is an unhealthy conflict situation for your mind. It is also not very functional in that you cannot rely on your emotional response as a quick indicator of how you should act consistent with the emotion. (Being a "quick indicator" is one of the major uses of emotions - I have often thought of them as one of my "tools" of cognition.)
  3. Just as with "breaking" a habit, the first step to changing an emotion is to recognize when it occurs and to not evade it. You must bring it clearly into your consciousness and focus on it.
  4. It may even require some other observer to give you a hand with this (just as it often requires some other person to remind you that you are performing a external bad habit).
  5. With a bit of work and help, you will soon be able to detect the unwanted emotion earlier and earlier and thus to focus strongly on its initiation.
  6. Your conscious focusing should consist of basically "squelching" the emotion! - ultimately "nipping it in the bud". Each time it occurs and you catch it happening, review with yourself the reasons why it is an incorrect emotion (ie why it is inconsistent with your rationally held convictions), and tell yourself very strongly (as done by an admonishing parent or conscience): "I must not feel that way".
  7. In time by doing this process, you will find that you no longer have that emotional response to that event.
  8. A variant depending on the particular situation, is to replace the unwanted emotion, by another (more correct) emotional response to the same event. This just means that in 6 (above), instead of merely denying or squelching the unwanted emotion after reviewing your rational evaluation of the event (which would leave an emotional vacuum with respect to the witnessed event), you imagine having the new emotion about it, one which is fully consistent with your rational thinking.

Improving One's Thinking while Increasing Spoken and written Vocabulary for Effective Communication

A non-native English speaking poster to MoreLife Yahoo asked about ways to improve his English vocabulary. The following has been taken from the comments Kitty and Paul made in MoreLife Yahoo Message #134.

I do not think that you can improve your vocabulary (in any language) in isolation (or that it would be very useful) without also improving your thinking and writing. Thus, you should only seek to improve your English vocabulary while you also improve/hone your thinking ability and philosophical views. There are a number of authors/books that I can suggest; here are just a few that come quickly to mind:

The above are just a brief sampling of writers Paul and I have read and still do periodically. There are also a number of good suggestions for expanding your world - and therefore your vocabulary - from the links on MoreLife Links page and the links within the Practice and Science Indexes as well as the Glossary.

As Hazlitt recommnends in his guide on thinking, writing one's thoughts is an invaluable way to improve one's thinking. Writing critiques of what one reads provides the combined value of exploring new or deeper ideas and then exercising one's brain by formulating analyses and evaluations. The old adage of "use it or lose it" applies to all parts of the human body; the human brain as the essential organ for man's survival (he's slower and weaker than many other animals on earth), let alone his progress, requires far more attention than, unfortunately, most people give it.

Good reading and clear thinking to you! **Kitty

PS. All those like Chip for whom English is not their first language, are really at an advantage since proficiency in more than 1 language is extremely mentally stimulating. But of course this also applies to those who speak multiple languages (not just related dialects), none of which may be English. However, since so much of the accumulated knowledge through the ages has been stored in English and it is a dynamically changing language, it is the most logical for those communicating on the Web. Still, being able to go back to the original language of the writer - say Bastiat's "The Law" in French, would be a good experience. It's especially desirable when reading technical papers since sometimes a limited English speaking researcher's/academic's translation does not convey complete clarity. **Kitty

Paul added his comments to this same message:

It is probably even more important to read and critically analyze things with which you do *not* agree than those with which you do agree (and will likely not think about so deeply, but merely "nod" and proceed). But "nodding and proceeding" are not what digesting, understanding and learning are all about. Even when you agree with something, you must focus on every aspect of it and consider all possible alternatives in order to truly understand it. In the same manner, when finding something with which you disagree, it is not sufficient to merely think/say "I disagree", "that's wrong", etc. If you cannot formulate a coherent, logical argument demonstrating and stating (in writing) *why* you disagree and *why* the statement/idea is incorrect, then you really have no *grounds* for your statement of disagreement. (All you will have done is asserted your *opinion*.) Writing down your argument is imperative when analyzing and arguing in this manner because:

During this process you will almost certainly need to consult dictionaries and thesauruses (thesauri? -:) in order to hone the description of your argument. An additional aid would be to get a second party to read and try to understand your writing once you have got it to a high level of completion on your own. These same needs (albeit somewhat less) also apply to merely writing a comprehensive report on something which you have read so that you or others can truly understand it.

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Created 10/31/04
Webpage last updated 1/20/10
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