Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Communication Basics: Touching People's Emotions

Emotions are a TOUCHY subject, you might say!  But also in addition to leave them UNTOUCHED is dangerous.  Tonight, I listened to a political candidate give a well-reasoned concession speech.  It also touched on some emotions.  But I am not as certain that it was as well-emotioned (to add a new word) as well-reasoned of a speech.  It missed some key measures, when it comes to what emotions are involved in trying to win over others.  Could it be this is why a concession speech was offered rather than a winning speech?  

Here are the basic negative and positive emotions.  In most ideal cases, I would list the positives before the negatives, but in our situation today in the United States negative emotions are the place to begin, if we can learn anything from some of the winners in this political cycle.  Here are the five basic sets:

     shame and acceptance

     grief and joy
     jealousy and contentment

     fear and confidence

     anger and peace.

I love the positive emotions, as we all should.  Sometimes though, you have to begin with reality. People are experiencing more reasons for the negative emotions than the positive ones.  They are getting robbed.  I believe Americans are!  That makes the negative emotions kick in for healthy reasons, not for unhealthy ones.

Notice that we can paint or draw a rosy picture, but you can't make a burned up rose into a beautiful rose with an actual photograph.  It would have to be doctored to be as beautiful.  An actual photograph is then what it is.  The photograph stills reality.  It is not a painting or picture.

What is to be done; when people are forced to feel shame, grief, jealousy, fear, and anger?  Are we to just tell people to paint a positive picture?  No.  I think we are to lead them out from theses negative emotions to where the positive emotions make sense.  We are not to ignore the negatives.

Great leaders express the emotions of those people, who are their followers.  They do these things about the negative emotions as well as the positive.  They get angry about the negatives.  They don't get out of control - they don't lose it. They get after the anger and the problems and solve them instead.

They tackle what is upsetting. They see the shame that is not necessary when ready.  They get it.  They don't ignore it.

They conquer what is frustrating.  They see the grief that is not necessary when willing.  They get it. They don't ignore it.

They fight what is distressing.  They see the jealousy that is not necessary when satisfying.  They get it.  They don't ignore it.

They help against what is intimidating.  They see the fear that is not necessary when able.  They get it.  They don't ignore it.

They discover or search out what is undeniable.  They see the anger that is not necessary when sensible.  They get it.  They don't ignore it.

What distresses me about even some of my favorite people and politicians is that some times they paint a rosy picture in a tough situation.  They color white and positive what is black and negative. You have to go into the negative and lead people emotionally into the positive.  You have to get people's distressing situations.  You can't just whitewash emotions.

Emotions aren't deceiving, but people are.  Emotions are a normal part of the nervous system as much as logic.  There are ill emotional and well as illogical.  I wonder if tonight the concession speech happened mainly due to the negative emotional part of people not being addressed.  Perhaps it was too much ignored or downplayed - the fear, the anger, and the frustration.  Maybe some can't win, because they ignore these emotions that reflect reality not deception.

Optimism is great, but better than that is emotion that is healthy - emotion that knows the negative emotions as well as the positive ones.  We are equipped with negative emotions for a reason.  Bad things happen.  Let's not ignore the bad things or the negative emotions attached to them.  Let's win over them.  Being logical is great, but greater still is well emotion and healthy logic.

Emotions must be TOUCHED, not UNTOUCHED.  We need leadership that properly taps into the negative emotions and overcomes the obstacles to positive ones; so that people have many reasons for the positive emotions of acceptance, joy, contentment, confidence, and peace.

I'm a bit sad this evening that people and sometimes some pretty good ones are still not getting it. They are still ignoring what emotions are out there, even if they do it unintentionally.   Even an unintentional error is still an error.  I'm not sure if one can be right, when one is wrong about emotions.  Maybe winning and losing says more than the loser realizes.

May the rain stop falling on our heads and may there be sunshine on our shoulders instead. Then we will be well to be happy.   What a TOUCHING emotional and logical scene that will be!

Peace to All my Friends.

Jon Westlund

Friday, March 11, 2016

Communication Basics: Communicating Well On Relationships

In college, I was introduced to the importance of communicating well.  It came through linguistics, the scientific study of language.  It is part of the larger topic of communication.  Lately, we have been hearing in the United States a lot of communication directed towards its citizens as many candidates try to convince the people to follow their vision for the country.  I want to turn to a very old message to society, found both in the Hebrew Scriptures of Isaiah and in the Greek Scriptures of Luke for what I think needs to be communicated well.  It is a summary statement of objectives in regard to a society or nation.  Let's see how the current leaders are communicating.

I know there exist complex issues in relating Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18, since not all the wording is the same.  While I am fully aware of those issues, that is a topic for sometime future.  Time is limited in a blog post, so I am going to look at Jesus' manifesto. Here it is with some modifications in some of the translation:

The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me
to preach the gospel to the empty-handed;
he has sent me ...
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and
to give recovery of sight to the blinded,
to offer freedom to the oppressed.

What I find interesting is what Jesus is offering and what is offered in Isaiah to people looking for a break in their lives to return to something healthier than what they are currently experiencing.  It is a time for healthy message to those experiencing lack; a time for change, a time for a break, a time for freedom,  a time for seeing things previously unseen.  We've heard speeches and communication that sound promising like this passage, but that also have failed to deliver.  What is missing?

I think what is missing is these promises without context or proper regard for the situation.  Here is an ideally balanced social manifesto outlined by my linguistics professors, William A. Smalley and Donald N. Larson, at Bethel University in the 80's.  Their strengths as professors of linguistics lay in their ability to look at language from a societal or anthropological perspective. To the best of my knowledge, they are the only ones who bring together this full outline of what I consider healthy or well-rounded communication.  Their outline for language classes were outlined as follows, with some minor changes that I'm quite certain they would approve were they still living by yours truly:

Model and Theory
Continuity and Change
Bond and Break
Rule and Freedom
Sense and New Sense

We've all heard speeches in the United States that proclaim each of the later items - theory, change, break (independence), freedom, and new sense (innovation) as virtues.  It is harder to sell the former items on the list, but that is a paramount tragedy.  If I follow my role model and live well, I hope that is celebrated!  If I am being paid fair wages that continue to rise according to merit, I hope that continues!  If I am married to the right marriage partner, I hope we keep our bond to each other forever!  If the rules I am given for success keep providing success, I hope I keep using those rules for achieving success repeatedly!  Finally, if I have sense to see things, then I don't regret it!

What theory, change, independence, freedom, and new sense are for is when those things aren't happening.  When their is disparity from fair wages, let change happen!  When a bond is violated, let independence be available!  When rules are not enabling, then let freedom reign!  When sense is nonsense, then let a new sense be discovered!   These are the contexts and situations when these all make sense.  They are not one size fits all situations solutions.  They are based on conditions and our responses to them in a society where we are in a relationship to each other.  A society needs to cater to what is healthy and remove what is unhealthy.  A society needs wellness.  We need to welcome what is needed to fill what is lacking.

So I am in favor of a wellness theory and the healthy communication of all that makes us well -
WHEN hands are empty from a model that lacks the particulars that follow.
So I am in favor of healing -
WHEN hearts are broken or breaking by negative amounts in trying to live life.
I am also in favor of liberty or independence -
WHEN people are made captives through barriers rather than bonds f relationship.
I am also in favor of freedom
WHEN the methods employed are not enabling, but disabling or oppressive to workers.
Finally, I am in favor of a new sense for students and teachers
WHEN the current sense can't see things that really exist.

So we in the United States are sometimes only fed part of what makes us whole and healthy.  We are only partly made well through the people fighting it out through a societal message to us.  Sometimes freedom is needed.  Sometimes it is not.  Sometimes independence is needed.  Sometimes staying in a marriage is needed.  To me, my professors ideas are well-communicated.  They made me well!  

Look at the conditions.  What makes us well?  It is the option that fixes what is lacking!  The welcome speech at a welcome time is what occurs in both Isaiah and in Luke.  It was the favored or opportune time in each case, because it made people well through what they needed in order to have their hands full in a healthy way!  Don't ever let our leaders leave you empty handed - that is not a welcome message!!

To You Hearing a Well Communicated Message,


P.S. This blog post is more about social health than mental health, but it also is based on the insights of the latter or I never would see the things I see in this post.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Communication Basics: You Must Address the Elephant in the Room with Respect

In 2014 when I took my diagrams from September of that year to the classroom, I sort of knew the elephant in the classroom was the machines of computers and the internet.  I used the student's computers or Chromebooks as one example that proved that bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter were better than smaller, slower, weaker, and unintelligent for mental health.  Does any student ever ask for a smaller hard drive, a slower internet service, a weaker wi-fi signal, or a unintelligent phone?  I think in writing in the past to the larger audience, I have not addressed the elephant in the room as effectively as when I spoke of my materials in the classroom. In writing this post, I want to address the positives and the negatives of the elephant in the room.

The machine as understanding

When it comes to big, computers can do much bigger things than previously in an even smaller size.  A laptop today dwarfs the bigness of past computers in what load of data it can handle and operations it can perform.  The internet's numbers are incredible.  Look how many hits can happen in less than seconds for an internet search.  These numbers put your neighbor's volumes in a library to shame in some cases.  So while the quality of information may suffer, the sheer number of sources is enormous.  The students know this.  The adults cry foul due to lack of quality.  While I agree that quality is important alongside of quantity, the combined bigness is staggering after factoring in quality.  

The negative though in understanding is the quality part.  It is a problem.  When I did research on mental health and on high end scholarship for discovering the meanings of words in a biblical text, I found that the best quality research was not always accessible on line.  I had to go off line and submit an inter-library loan request to find a lot of primary materials.  The internet though often did alert me to the places to go.  It still has a quality than my old-fashioned research efforts could not touch for size!  So can the internet be bigger in quality?  Yes, it can.  Can my Bible program called BibleWorks be of higher quality.  Yes, it can.  It probably will be in the future  

The machine as inspiring

The speed of an internet search engine is inspiring.  It shows off speed like the fastest man or woman cannot touch.  It probably sets new world records for speed every day!  The problem is that many don't understand the speed part.

People are not seeing how the shift from water to wind to sound to light to electricity has changed the speed of life.  These different means brought us boats, then cars, then planes, then lasers, and then the internet.  People don't know that the speed of electricity when it comes to signal speed is in trillions of kilometers per hour.  No boat or water can touch that speed!  Not even light can touch it as only millions of miles per hour.

That jump from the speed of light to the speed of electricity is incredible.  It is inspiring.  Think of how you can call the person standing next to you in the same room and the signal can travel from your phone to a cell phone tower to a satellite and to their phone in a second or less.  I can't run that fast!!  Hence the weakness of inspiring speed.

The negative though is that some people let this part of the elephant in the room bother them.  They try to match it's faster by going faster too.  The problem is that while our minds can do things in a split second, our bodies consist of a lot more than a mind - there is bodily strength, a soul for connecting, and a heart for counting.  Our selves are made up of more than electricity, we also have water, wind, sound, and light to deal with as well.  They operate at a diverse # of speeds.  A human needs a variable speed control to match up with real life.  One speed - like that of electricity will not cut it.

On the most serious level, the elephant in the room may be the major contributor to why manic-depression and anxiety are on the rise while psychology seems to have contributed on this topic some great insight.  I think the elephant speaks louder than text after text on mental health that does not recognize the machine leading to us living too fast (or in rebellion against machines - too slow).   The machine has exposed a weakness in our thinking, the literature does not address well.  

I used to think that Aesop's Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare with the moral of "slow and steady" was at least an elephant in the room.  Maybe as a kitten.  Likewise, I thought all the psychological literature on slow down to fight manic-depression and anxiety might be a mouse in room.  I now know they are no longer very large.  The machine in the room dominates.  It says fast is better than slow, but its lesson can lead to everyone trying to make all things like the electronics of our day.

The machine as motivating

The machine can make things that used to be difficult, easy.  I think of how difficult it used to be to make a negative of a photo and get it to a friend.  Now, I can turn to my printer with its scanner and take photos from the early 1900s and share them on Facebook with many of my family members.  I can easily find out if my library has a book I am looking for or I can go to WorldCat and find books and information on them that took weeks and months previously as I waited for the library to find things for me.

This motivates us to do things that are now easier than before.  It can make the once difficult easy.  I don't understand why sometimes it makes things more difficult instead.  Well actually I do.

The weakness of machines is that the inventors or techies think that strong is the same as big.  No.  Let me say it again.  No.  Strength is not another kind of big.  It is instead flexibility.  It sees the yoga master as the strongest man in the world.  I think the strongest man competitions should be called the biggest man competitions!  But back to computers.  They lack flexibility, sometimes making the once easy now more difficult.  Go figure!

Still, at the end of the day, they overall contribute flexibility, the ability to do the once impossible. Yeah, baby!  I'm motivated!

The machine as captivating

Walk into any room of people and machines called computers, tablets, and cell phones and you'll see people captivated by the machines.  If some of the people are of a certain kind - a celebrity of some kind, then the people might still be captivated by people.  The machines show us the previously unseen.  Teachers can do the same, but sometimes they lose sight of their unique place in the world of training the mind to be captivated.  Science captivates by showing the previously unknown.

People are captivated by the smart person who puts old wine in old wine skins - that hot rod Lincoln and new wine in new wine skins - new software in new hardware.  It is taking the concealed and making it revealed.  It is taking the once hidden and making it known.  Our machines - the electronics - can do just that.  So can great teachers and parents.

The problem is when the teachers and people only pay attention to the old and not the new.  They try to put the new into the old or the old into new.  They can't see.  They are blind.  People who can see usually don't follow the blind.

The problem is that computers and the internet are also blind.  They can be used for seeing or for blinding. They can focus attention and captivate for good reasons or they can distract us from the bigger things in life.  Can we see?  Can we prevent distractions and know to see what matters most? Can we see what machines help us see and what they blind us to seeing?


So the elephant in the room of machines and electronics must be treated with respect.  It can be seen as understanding, inspiring, motivating, and captivating.  You have to respect anything or anyone that does those things.  There is no point in trying to ignore something so big, so fast, a little strong, and scientifically smart.

You can try to say that small is better, slow is better, weak is better and unintelligent is better; but you will lose.  The lessons are elementary, really.  Every child knows that big, fast, strong, and smart is better.  Why else do they look up to the adults?  Why don't you agree with artificial intelligence and put natural intelligence back into that mind of yours?  It feels good doesn't it.  Don't ignore the elephant, see it.  Now that you see it, you are back in charge of your decisions.  



Friday, February 19, 2016

Communication Basics: What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate about Rest

As a track coach, I have always understood the difference between walking and renewing.  The problem is that many people regard walking as a form of rest.  It is NOT!  Not only that, but it is the least restful of the paces available to a person trying to reach a destination in a particular time frame.

Let me illustrate this from track.  In track, there are four paces:


These are the variable speeds available based on a person's lung, spirit, breath, or wind capacity.  Every public school track coach knows these are different.  I hope everyone can agree on these.  My coaches never failed in communicating this clearly.  Walking was unacceptable for the mile run, for one example!

Let me also illustrate from the Bible, In Isaiah, there are four paces:


These are the variable speeds available for those who bind themselves to the LORD (Yahweh). Every private school should teach these paces to all their students.  I hope all Christians (and Jews) can agree on these.  When a situation calls for a sprint, I hope no Christian (and Jew), thinks a run or trotting pace will do!

This is all pretty straightforward, but there is still a problem.  The problem is that people think walking is restful like renewals or rest itself is.  That is a major mistake.

Let me explain what I mean.  Moving from renew and rest pace to walk pace, each pace is increasingly more restless.  So here is how I rank each pace in terms of its level of rest:

renew/rest - most restful
sprint - more restful
run - less restful
walk - least restful.

To understand this, you need to recall something that goes beyond track athletes.  You have to think in terms of location and time.  In everyday life, people have a destination and a time for arrival.  In track, you have for a destination of at least three places, the fenced in area around the track, the starting line, and the finish line.

Think of young family members here.  Children don't get too restless about shorter distances or shorter time frames.  They get restless about longer distances and longer time frames.  Don't you recall this question on the way to Grandma's house: "Are we there yet?"  This grows out their increasing restlessness on every stop along the way.  They won't rest till they get to Grandma's house unless you can entertain them, like my parents when I was growing up and help the children lose track of time.  Everyone should get this.

In track, it is the same way, except now you are no longer dealing with the youngest family members, but with young people who are now functioning out of their first stages of being an adult.  Still the lesson does not change - the slower the pace, the greater the restlessness.

The first pace is that of rest.  Once at the track and settled on a location, a good track coach instructs all competitors to take it easy and to rest.  He or she then tells each individual to listen for the 1st through 3rd calls for their races.  These 3 calls are each fore-warnings to report to the area of competition and to break off from resting with the team is at place where they are resting.  Rest, though, is the first state or pace that track athletes need to master.  During full rest there is no distance or time between start and finish.  You rest where and when you are resting with your teammates. They may not move an inch and settle in under a second. Their starting and finishing line overlap one another.  Rest is living in the here and now fully.

The second pace is that of the sprinters.  They are generally those who run races that can be finished in a minute or less. This varies, of course, according to conditioning.  Also the separation between starting and finishing lines are 50 meters (I'm not sure what has replaced the 60 yard run from an earlier era?), 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters.  These locations are relatively close to each other and like I said before can be sprinted in under a minute.  With that short distance between lines and the short time to run, the sprinter's restlessness until they have reached the finish line is relatively short.  Be smart here.  You must separate fear or nerves due to a lack of confidence from restlessness.  Once the runner eclipses the finish line, they have put that race to rest.  The sprinter flys a short distance for a short time to reach the here and now of the finish line.

The third pace is that of the runners.  These races all take over a minute.  There is the 800 meters, 1600 meters, 3200 meters, and 4800 meters (3 mile) runs.  In these instances, the races vary from around 2 minutes long up to quarter of an hour.  The 3 mile race on the high school level is not part of a track meet like in college.  It is instead the distance for cross country racing.  Runners have to set a reasonable pace for their distance and they have to be more patient than a sprinter because they have to run for a longer time.   As an experienced runner and coach, I can tell you that one of the reasons sprinters don't want to e distance runners is because they don't like how long the race takes.  As a former distance runner, I can tell you that the length of the race is the roughest part.   You don't get to rest until you cross the finish line!  A runner runs for a little longer distance and time.  It can test how well you handle a long restless state.  For me, the two most restful moments were the start and the finish.  Let's end the wait.

Finally, the fourth pace is that of the walkers.  These races all take place at the college level and higher.  I happen to be at the UCLA Summer Olympic Festival in the early nineties where the American record for race walking was set by the gentleman I happened to visit with before his run.  I also had one of my former teammates from high school, Roger Kordus, go on and become a race walker in college.  That is my only direct connection to these races.  For me, this is where the tortoise and the hare story makes some sense.  It is "slower" than the sprint and run, but not "slow" and here "steady" is important.  The thing is that these races can become tedious and people can become restless and leave before the race is over!

The problem in our day is that people mistakenly associate restlessness mostly with sprinting rather than walking.  I think there is a failure to communicate and understand the restlessness of a sprinter in that case.  The restlessness is building due to a delay in a finish, and not due to a fast finish.  Also there is a restlessness created by a tension between one person who can do something fast and someone who is less fast.  Let's clarify things more at this point.  Here is how I see it:

renewing is not restless
sprinting is restless for a short time
running is restless for a little longer time
walking is restless for the longest time among the four.

In each instance, restlessness is there until the final destination and the end time are reached.  There is no tension, when you are already here.  There is the height of tension, when we are not there yet. Don't forget the elementary here - remember the kids!

I am at a place of rest in my life.  It is only when I walk out the the door and meet people who still haven't found what they are looking for that I run into restlessness!  Ah, the satisfaction of having already finished finding what I was previously looking for!  Ah, the satisfaction of having finished this post also.

Be healthy and live life to its fullest,


Friday, January 15, 2016

Communication Basics: A Test for Your Present Mental Health

The test on this occasion is a test of your mental health.  This test is a direct test of your "software programming" for the thinking in your mind that you learned in school, etc.  (It cannot test the physical health of your brain, though that can be a complicating factor).  This test will also test you not only on your logical intelligence, but also your emotional intelligence.

Do not be intimidated, if you fail to get 76% correct.  Before I wrote my book and constructed my diagrams, I failed this test too.  Test results only test your actual performance at that moment  They in no way test your potential to be healthy and how fast your scores will improve - which will in many cases be very fast!  I like to say that actual great mental health is not far away.

On any test occasion, it is important to outline the rules.  You cannot use my book.  This is a closed book test for those how have never opened my book, Mental Health for Everyone.  If you use the diagrams in the front of my book, then you will pass easily as mentally healthy.  That will skew your health scores in your favor. If you have already peered inside my book and there is no turning back, the test then will access what you actually learned.

Here then are the challenging questions:

Draw a four by four diagram of the most basic principles for teaching (seeing).  Note on the diagram the labels you would use for the columns and for the levels of the diagram, etc.  Make your best guesses if you are not sure.  Try to avoid leaving your diagram blank.

Draw a four by four diagram

[under construction 1-15-16]

Communication Basics: What does it Mean to be Healthy versus Unhealthy?

We assume we know the meaning of healthy.  Some psychologists claim that there is no contrast between healthy and unhealthy, there is only a continuum.  In that case, I suppose a bad grade doesn't ever mean failure, but only a grade that is lower than someone else's grade.  The idea of having only a continuum sounds a bit suspicious.  In that case, you can be declared mentally healthy if you are better than schizophrenic.  I hope I grade better than that.  Just because I don't have multiple personalities shouldn't mean that I am healthy.  So what is it to meet the grade of being mentally healthy?  That is a great question we are going to explore and test.  

In October 2015, I finished a book titled, Mental Health for Everyone: For Making Good Choices.  In the title is a summary in seconds of what the book is all about.  All of the words are relatively clear though a person might not know the precision that the title has in it's choice of words.  It is my shortest statement of the point of the book.  

There is one word though that is not real clear as to definition.  It grabs attention, but alludes our grasp.  It is the word - healthy.  It is, according to a dictionary, to be in good health or to be not sick or injured.  How do we measure good health when it comes to the mind - the mental part of ourselves?

I think it is actually fairly clear to me now.  I think the grading system in the school hints at a pretty good way to score mental health.  You can fall into a continuum of healthy to a degree, but there is also a point where we say someone has passed a lowest measure or someone has failed to make that lowest grade.   

I think a person can have a passing grade of health while not being fully healthy.  Likewise one can have a failing grade of unhealthy even while they are not fully unhealthy. In school, I was lucky to make the passing grade a number of times, but that didn't mean I was necessarily as mentally healthy as my grades seemed to indicate.  

Here is the most dramatic example in my life.  While I was getting on the Dean's list in college, my mind was suffering not thriving.  I won't bore people with the details, but if the measure of being on the Dean's List means high intelligence or smarts, then why did it happen that at the very time I reached a pinnacle of smarts that my mind was traveling in the opposite direction at the same time? A smart mind should be a help towards health and not be a hindrance, right?    

Since Sept 2014, I have known what caused my mind to begin to fail the grade even while getting high grades.  I didn't have a way of thinking that fit my mind's natural way of thinking. Some of the way that I had been taught to think, didn't bring peace of mind, but anguish of mind. I was thinking in ways that were too heavy, too restless, too difficult, and too foggy to find peace of mind.  It was too hard.  Or sometimes too things to travel to the opposite extremes.  .   

Then when I sat down to write about mental health for 2 months in August and September of 2014, peace of mind for me came together in 4 diagrams that to this day give me more peace than I ever had previously. The peace of mind I have now matches more with being a cheerful five year old.

The central idea of being mentally healthy is that one has to reach a certain level and column on my 4 x 4 diagrams on page xvi to be healthy.  I call it the rule of 76%.  You have to get past just 3 x 3 (75%).  Likewise I think a passing grade in each level or column could also be the rule of 76%.  

There is one other aspect of my book that is very important.  Martin Luther King once said the first step was more important than being able to see the rest of the staircase, if my memory serves me right.  My book says that is not healthy.  What is healthy is taking that first step knowing at least in a shadowy view where the stairs take you in the end.  In this case the books says we start at square 1 as an interval and end at square 64.  

Now, not all of us are called to lead at or get to interval 64.  We can stop ourselves somewhere before that point.  But what is not optional is the need for respect for those who keep going on to higher and higher heights.  No respect for the higher intervals is not any more healthy than a bench presser not being respectful of another weight lifting who lifts more and with more repetitions.  

So that is my definition of healthy.  Hit 76% to pass as healthy.  75% or less would be unhealthy. Likewise someone who says necessary knowledge all ends at high school (or God forbid in kindergarten) is unhealthy.  Let's communicate clearly through numbers.  

We need real mental health in the United States.  We need to measure it accurately.  In my next entry, I will offer a test of mental health.  Thank you. 

To Your Better Mental Health,


Friday, December 18, 2015

Communication Basics: Healthy Begins with Fast and Variable

I Have to Last and Not Just be Fast, I Have to Be Fast and Not Just Last

Whenever a person does an activity like writing a book, it is done in the context of time.  There is a first edition and there is a last edition.  From one to the other, improvements can be made, but the first edition remains the first except under one condition.  That condition is that a significant part of the fast first edition will last until the last edition.  Was the book written well enough to avoid a full restart at its core?  Will I need to retract what I said in any major way? 

I wrote the first edition of my book, Mental Health for Everyone, to get out my ideas fast and to make them last.  I felt the need to try to break the cycle of mental illness fast, especially for the sake of the suicidal; but also to make corrections to my work as it progressed to make sure its effect will last.  The finishing part is never completely done for a writer.  For example, I can always continue improving the book.  The only question is whether the start requires a full restart.  I don’t believe my book will require a re-start – that I was too jumpy and was guilty of a false start.  I waited for the gun and I am off and running already with no plans to finish until the race is over!

I don’t need to restart what I did, but that doesn’t mean I can’t add to what it says to explain aspects of the book in a still better way.  My principle in the area of schooling and relationship of “fast and variable” will last.  I will not retract that piece, but I can still further amplify what I mean.  I’m a track athlete and track coach so my analogy from track is routine to me.  Even the complex parts are relatively simple to me. The first edition of has to balance amplify with simplify, but only in the future it can be good to still further amplify it as well.
Let’s amplify what I say in my book.  So what do I mean when I suggest that the key to schooling is being fast?  Doesn’t that fly into the face of common sense which according to Aesop’s Fable says that “Slow and steady wins the race”.  Also doesn’t that disagree with psychology’s insights about manic-depression or hyper-activity?  I can clearly answer for myself that it does not fly in the face of common sense or the basic insight of psychology on manic-depression.  Let me assure you though what I mean by adding to what I have said before. 

In my book, Mental Health for Everyone, I emphasize four principles for guiding mental health in the areas of education, schooling, coaching, and teaching.  They are:

         1)   Biggest 
         2)  Fastest  
         3) Strongest 
         4)  Smartest

It is not just the biggest that wins, it is not just the fastest that wins, it is not just the strongest that wins, and not just the smartest that wins.  It requires all four in some winning combination.  All of this may sound a bit controversial.  I can’t amplify on that here in this short space or amplify on every principle individually here, but let me assure you that I am aware of the movement from big (small) to biggest, fast to fastest, strong to strongest, and smart to smartest. 

I am not a proponent of the too big to fail, etc. thinking.  I am a proponent of a healthy movement from all of the least starting points to all of the greatest ending points.  For example, biggest is a virtue, and it is not a harm in the proper understanding.  In the size of this blog entry, I am going to only amplify more what I have said before on fast to fastest, but I can make it even bigger elsewhere or when I am given more time than the average blog reader will give me. 

There are five themes I want to emphasize.  To each I will devote one paragraph.  They are:

1) Fast to Last
2) Fast to Fastest
3) Variable before steady
4) Unhealthy states
5) Healthy states

First, let’s discuss fast to last.  Here is a key thing.  The carpenter’s rule says, “Measure twice, cut once”.  Why don’t they say measure once?  Isn’t that faster?  Doesn’t twice mean we waste time?  Doesn’t that mean there is no end to double-checking, triple-checking, etc.?  You get the point.  I believe the first measure is to get the job done fast.  The second measure to make sure the first measure can last.  If it doesn’t and only if it doesn’t, then  you measure again to make sure it will last.  You keep re-measuring until you get a match, then the measure with high probability will last and now you can move fast to cut the board once.  It is a lot better than starting over again, because you were going too fast.  In the long haul, a house built by measure twice until two agreed is built fast and to last. 

Next, notice that I say it starts from fast and moves to fastest.  I don’t believe that in life we begin from slow.  Even babies are commended for being fast, when they are.  They learn that fast trying to keep up with adults.  We recognize when they are getting fast.  We say, “Look at him (or her) go!” Today, we have the signal speed of electricity moving at trillions of kilometers per hour to power the internet and our cell phones.  The baby’s physical movements are no match for the signal speed of the human brain or the internet, but eventually that baby may become the physically fastest man (or woman) on earth! 

Next, I say variable comes before steady for a very obvious reason.  When I first was a competitive runner in grade school no one said anything about steady.  They didn’t have too.  I never ran far enough for that advice to really apply.  Even when I ran somewhere around 550 meters, I just ran as fast as I could to stay with the leader.  Later in Junior High, I set a record (that didn't last!) in the 200 meters.  It was not until high school, when I went up to the 400 meters, that I realized first that I had to vary my speed from the 200 meter race.  Then I also learned to vary my pace (very slightly) for the 4 parts of 400 meters.  Finally, when I move to the mile, then I learned the lesson of steady.  But steady doesn’t win a single race, if you are slow.  Aesop is wrong.  Someday, I am going to write not a fable called, “The Tortoise and the Hare”, but the true story called, “The Wolf, the Tortoise, and the Hare.  Well, it will be a fable that is in one sense true. You can imagine who wins!

Next, I want to applaud psychology.  The other day, I applauded psychology and a sincere Christian, who met me for the first time, wanted to introduce me to Jesus.  He didn’t know I could applaud both.  Let me applaud psychology for recognizing one unhealthy state – manic depression.  Most of society still doesn’t know what it is, because the diagrams for it are rarely introduced with the theory.  Psychology gets it right that manic-depression is unhealthy.  It shows that too fast is harmful outside the healthy lines.  Please pause for the applause.  Now, there is still one problem.  That is not the only unhealthy state.  It is though the only unhealthy state that colors outside the healthy lines.  So that unhealthy state is fairly obvious.  There is another state that is equally unhealthy.  I call it the too slow version of unhealthy – procrastination regret.  On the upper cycle it lives in the euphoria of its procrastination and in the lower cycle it lives in the despair of regret.  This too is unhealthy!  This set of unhealthy states can happen between the lines as can also too fast unhealthy states within the lines. Psychology needs to finish the job!

Finally, the major problem for psychology in the US at least is, as Japanese leaders in the business world have commented, that they are too negative.  They start with a name that essentially names what is unhealthy, but does not start with what is healthy.  They don’t talk about the four speeds we have in track that are healthy: rest, sprint, run, and walk.  What is the name for all the healthy states together?  In track, we call one combination Fartlek running with unappealing connotations.  So do we call the healthy states fast variable instead?  That is my first guess.  It may not be my very last, but I am sticking to as a start for discussing what is healthy and not just what is unhealthy.  My track coach made me a healthy runner.  He didn’t just teach when I was an unhealthy runner.  I pray that we can all learn to be healthy minders and not just healthy runners, etc. 

Everyone needs to last to a reasonable level and not just be fast.  We also have to be fast to a reasonable level and not just last.  Have a great day running your mind to health and not to stealth – a hidden objective of health.  I have revealed to you some part of what is healthy here.  It is a start.  I will add one last thing.  Smart athletes know that the first step to running fast is recharging your batteries with rest when needed.  That especially applies to your mind.  Take care. May you now have greater peace of mind. 

Be Healthy Everyone,