News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Don't Worry, Find Your "Redemptive Narrative" and Be Happy

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Don't Worry, Find Your "Redemptive Narrative" and Be Happy

Like we needed to know that people can tell themselves anything to make themselves overcome those nagging suspicions that life is not as real as we want to think and believe it is. Now people are saying the brain is hardwired to find that silver lining in life that will explain it all. Nice story, if only it was the whole story...

According to some scholars, we all want to make a story out of our lives. I say that this is the human propensity not only to find that silver lining but also the desire to find a grand picture of what gives meaning to life.

Now, what if life simply doesn't mean anything? What if all those little stories we derive from the chance happenings of the universe are simply fictions that basically represent the same thing as "whistling in the dark?"

But you know scientists and pinheads. They want to find the meaning of everything and are always glomming on to one theory or another. I guess this one's as good as any other--especially since it makes people so fuzzy warm about their comfortable adjustments to the basic cruelties of reality.

According to Prof. McAdams, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, in his book "The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By," the basic method to get religion is the following:

In rough outline, to discover your own narrative, divide your life into chapters; identify critical events, talk about your greatest challenge and how you faced it, describe the heroes and villains in your book, that is, the people who had the great positive and negative effects on you, think about what could be positive and negative futures for you, and, finally, identify the major theme of your life narrative.
Now I like fairy tales as much as anyone. I doubt, though, that fairy talizing our lives after the age of 10 is going to get us any closer to what really matters. But then, I am not saying there is anything real or true since that's something I do not believe anyone can tell someone else. Nor am I convinced that most epople take the real effort and time that is necessary to explode all those comfortable little lies we tellourselves to make the boredom seem like a sitcom.

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