Perhaps one of the most valuable and compelling books I have ever read is "The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships" by Neil Strauss.
I briefly touch on the book in my Read section, but the few sentences there do not do it justice. The novel is an insanely personal look at one man's (real life) struggle to overcome his urge to cheat on the love of his life. His vulnerability and incredible storytelling is what makes the book so compelling...
...but what makes it valuable is the intimate, inside look at all of the therapy. Neil sees dozens of different therapists on his journey, but there's one in particular that goes on to fix him: Lorraine. Unfortunately, I don't know much more about Lorraine's certifications or credibility, but I do know that her advice has helped both Neil and myself during some tough times.
The psychology in the "The Truth" leans heavily on traditional exercises, with various therapists helping Neil move on from a traumatic childhood. Fortunately, the book doesn't stop when Neil's demons have moved on (just like psychology doesn't stop there). Today, I wanted to share just one of the many positive psychology concepts that Lorraine champions in the final pages of the book.
Your Six Core Needs
Here's the quote that I return to over and over again:
"Each day I try to take care of the six core needs Lorraine told me about: physical, by surfing and eating healthily; emotional, by allowing myself to experience and express feelings without being either hyper-controlling or out of control with them; social, by spending time with Adam, Calvin, Rick, and other growth-minded friends; intellectual, by reading literature, listening to lectures, starting a film discussion group, and most importantly listening more; and most alien of all for me, spiritual, through transcendental meditation, which a friend of Rick's teaches me."
I've been using this framework on a daily basis ever since reading it in the pages of "The Truth," and it's been enormously helpful in terms of ending each day with a sense of fulfillment and wellbeing. Breaking it down, here's how I'll try to incorporate these concepts into my everyday life:
How To Meet Them
- Walk to and/or from work
- Practice yoga
- Get a workout class in
- Eat veggies at every meal
- Me, today: 25 minutes on the treadmill after work (it counts!)
- Write in a journal
- Allow tears over something sad
- Savor a joyful moment
- Talk to a therapist
- Simply carve out some alone time
- Silently repeat an affirmation
- Me, today: Mentally checking in with myself during a quiet moment and asking "What do you need to be happy right now?"
- Call mom, dad, grandma, sister, brother, etc.
- Take time to grab lunch with coworkers
- Plan a girl's night or a game night
- Facetime with a special someone before bed
- Me, today: Had lunch with a new work acquaintance and took time in the afternoon to hang out & chat with coworkers
- Read a book
- Listen to a podcast
- Watch an educational video online
- Discuss a current event with a friend
- Write about a topic you're interested in
- Me, today: Applied some SEO tactics I'm learning at work to my personal blog and started this post!
- Listen to a dharma talk
- Take a beautiful walk in nature, no technology
- Send a silent little prayer up into the ether
- Me, today: 15 minutes of meditation post-work out & listened to one of Tara Brach's podcasts on the bus ride home
Were you wondering where that sixth core need was!? Neil doesn't mention it in the quote above, because he's just gotten out of sex rehab. We'll give him a pass. I don't think I need to expound on this point, other than to say I think it's just about paying attention to the very real, intrinsic pull that humans have to procreate and not shutting that out due to societal norms, puritan values, etc.
Connecting Back to Positive Psychology Concepts
We all know that exercising regularly and eating with an eye for nutrition is important to keeping your body in good shape, but what's less commonly taught and understood is the mind-body connection. There's a ton of information on the web about this, but I like this article because it highlights scientific studies that support the idea that regular exercise helps with stress & anxiety management, mood regulation, and the prevention/treatment of depression - all central aims of the positive psychology movement.
From the workplace to Friday night parties, the world is full of spaces that are not designed for the intimate and vulnerable expression of the human experience. The crazy thing is, we're all going through it, and we all need to express our version of truth and reality in order to make sense of the myriad emotions that come out of this wild life. Carving out time every day to check in with yourself, giving yourself permission to really feel the things that you're going through, is an extremely powerful tool for wellbeing.
Nothing is more important to our happiness than our relationships, which is why their maintenance is a central pillar of positive psychology. In 2015, Berkely ran an independent study with definitive results showing, "if you want to be happier, then you should focus on the quality of your relationships." If that's not enough to convince you, check out the famous Harvard study about relationships.
In the video below, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, "What makes a life worth living?" He notes that while money does not make us happy, those who find themselves in a state of intellectual "flow" are the ones getting pleasure and lasting satisfaction from their activities.
According to Dr. Emma Seppala of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism, spiritual people are more likely to donate (time or money), meditate, have a built-in community, and pray during times of need. Although I don't consider myself a religious person, I very much appreciate the peaceful & communal foundations of a spiritual practice.
"Sexuality is often a key factor in understanding happiness and satisfaction in relationships. In a cross-national sample of individuals from 29 countries, the people who were most satisfied with their sex lives were often the happiest with their lives in general. Further, those are more sexually satisfied tend to be more satisfied with their relationships." Read the full, fascinating study, funded by the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the National Science Foundation.
Catering to your six daily needs is such an easy way to foster a healthy relationship with yourself and quickly course-correct when life feels a little off track. If you find this kind of daily framework helpful for staying balanced and joyful, then stay tuned for more of Lorraine's positive psychology concepts. You can stay connected by subscribing to the blog or one of my social channels.