The phenomenal 1986 film, Flight of the Navigator was a life changing experience for young Cody. I was determined that if the aliens chose me to scan to understand humanity they were getting the entire show, then I delved deep to see all the amazing flavors humanity comes with. If those same aliens were to take humanity on as pets, scanning what most humans eat in the world, generic brand Human Chow would likely be water, rice, pasta, and goat meat. Mmmmm, goat meatballs with rice pudding… get my collar and food bowl! What would our Cesar Millan teach them about humans? Would they pinch us in the neck and shush us when we acted out? Just in case you get the honor of being scanned by aliens before they write our care & feeding manual, I need you to read this article on people’s default states… for the benefit of all petmanity.
Happiness is Not the Goal of Therapy
Nor like Rick Sanchez surmises, is it to make docile, mild people. I used to ask clients at the end of a session if they felt better, that was a horrible rookie move. People do not always feel better at the end of a session, sometimes they feel challenged or raw. Asking if they felt better put the duty on them to feel better, to feel some type of good, and that’s unfair. It’s unfair mostly because the default human emotion isn’t happy, it’s slightly bored and dissatisfied. The group of people who felt basically happy and satisfied were not ready for our ancestors who were a little grumpy and made more weapons. To reiterate, if you’re more at a 3 to 4 out of 10 happy-wise most of the time rather than a 6 to 8, yay! That’s most of us. Let me emphatically emphasize, it’s ok if you’re not joyous most of the time. This Canadian documentary goes into more detail. Counterpoint, if 3 or 4 out of 10 is the highest you ever get, or if you spend most of your time less than that, maybe reach out to someone.
I was told as a waiter, customers need 5 to 7 good experiences at a restaurant to overwrite a single, solitary bad experience. I was then identified as somewhere between 50% of our outstanding customer reviews, and 30% of our disgruntled customers reviews. I have a much better ratio as a therapist! In daily life, people look for and remember negatives more readily than positives. We’re wired for that. My running theory is it was more important to our ancestors to remember which plants tasted like burning and led to dire sickness than which ones were a little sweet. Negative sentiment override, seeing the negative, is natural for most of us. Positive sentiment override is often practiced within us, we see it talked about as building an attitude of gratitude. A wonderful example can be seen here. Going through the work to build a positive sentiment override checks a ton of boxes in the “living better” list of being a better person. One thing I was told and memorized immediately, you can choose to interpret every action as an act of love, or call for love.
Nobody gets out of this alive, and many of us land in our casket with a few scars, physical and emotional. Dr. Brad Reedy, an inspiring champion of wilderness therapy for youth, imparted a story about his wife in a podcast. Sending their own son for wilderness therapy, she wrote, “it is not lost on me you are working on overcoming the damage I have done.” My blended family has two therapists for parents, the irony is not lost on us either. Very few of us live the blessed life of a middle class family’s golden retriever. There’s an old saying, if you wait until you’re ready to have children you never will. Likewise, if you wait until you’re all perfect to build your life, it’s not going to happen. Nobody lives the perfect life, we all work towards a good enough life, and that’s ok.
It’s fine not to be blissed out and ecstatic all the time, in fact it’s ok to not be ok a fair bit. If you or someone you know could use some help building the good enough life, feel free to reach out to me below for a free 15 minute consultation.