Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Want to Learn More About Fatal Self-Absortion

Mrs. Roosevelt's image found on Wikimedia, here

After reading this book review written by Maria Popova, I think I need to load yet another book onto my Kindle: You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt. By the way, if you haven't discovered the amazing Brain Pickings site written by Ms. Popova, check it out. Here's how the author describes her work:
I believe that creativity is a combinatorial force — it happens when existing pieces of knowledge, ideas, memories and inspiration coalesce into incredible new formations. And in order to make a concept (or product, or idea, or argument) fully congeal in your head, you have to first understand all the little pieces that surround it — pieces across art, design, music, science, technology, philosophy, cultural history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, you-name-itology. Pieces that build your mental pool of resources, which you then combine into original concepts that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful — the foundation of creativity. 
This is Brain Pickings. It’s a modest exercise in vision- and mind-expansion. Selected bits of culture that will, at the very least, introduce you to new ideas and perspectives and, at their very best, help you think more, laugh more, create more.
A few days ago, I read with interest the Brain Picking's review of Mrs. Roosevelt's book. This was timed perfectly since I was needing a small kick in the psychological pants to boost me out of a bit of a funk. I was grumping around feeling sorry for myself because it seemed that my back and innards were cheating me out of valuable post-rituximab energy. Popova's discussion of this book included several thought-provoking book quotes. Here's a goodie:
Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product. Paradoxically, the one sure way not to be happy is deliberately to map out a way of life in which one would please oneself completely and exclusively. After a short time, a very short time, there would be little that one really enjoyed. For what keeps our interest in life and makes us look forward to tomorrow is giving pleasure to other people.
It is easy to slip into self-absorption and it is equally fatal. When one becomes absorbed in himself, in his health, in his personal problems, or in the small details of daily living, he is, at the same time losing interest in other people; worse, he is losing his ties to life. From that it is an easy step to losing interest in the world and in life itself. That is the beginning of death.
Hm. Fatal self-absoption. I like Mrs. Roosevelt's way of thinking. I think I'm going to check out her book.

Have you read "You Learn By Living"?


Heda said...

I haven't read Mrs Roosevelt but I already like her from what you've written. She sounds like a most sensible woman. And maybe she's answered my question. I've been pondering lately about whether it is possible to have both a severe chronic illness and hypochondria? Or maybe whether one of the symptoms of the severe illness is hypochondria? And if anyone is unfortunate enough to have hypochondria what's the treatment? But looking on bright side there's lots of salutary lessons to be learned by others with chronic illness including me! Nothing like a reality check every now and then to keep grounded and maintain a healthy sense of perspective. :-)

Angana said...

I think I would enjoy both the Brain Pickings blog as well as Mrs. Roosevelt's book. Two great recommendations in one post!

I am fascinated by the new field of Positive Psychology, and it sounds like Mrs. R's intuitions and observations are cortoborated by research conducted sixty plus years after her time. What a wise and prescient woman.