Constructive reality vs. destructive fantasy

I have recently been reading various books on Constructive Living and Morita Therapy, and doing various awareness exercises associated with the movement.

I have recently been reading various books on Constructive Living and Morita Therapy, and doing various awareness exercises associated with the movement.

Morita Therapy is often referred to as Japanese psychology as it was developed by Shoma Morita. It has been shown to be effective for dealing with neuroses.

Constructive Living is an Americanized version of Morita Therapy, primarily developed by Dr. David Reynolds. The process focuses on being in the present, dealing with reality, having a purpose, and doing what needs to be done.

In working through their materials, I am more and more appalled at the messages I see in advertising on television – the most pronounced being that of LottoMax.

It makes me wonder about our society’s addiction to destructive fantasy. Perhaps a dose of constructive reality would be the cure.

You may have seen the LottoMax ad. One fellow is in a helicopter, another is in a speed boat. They are playing a very expensive form of hide-and-seek in some barren Grand Canyon-type river basin. Do I recall the slogan correctly as “live your dream?” What?

Is that a message we want to send ourselves? That we should dream of winning (by luck only, not effort) millions of dollars so that we can squander them on an expensive playground for a momentary thrill?

With social messages like that, no wonder we have problems with homelessness, addictions, and people who seem to be unable to take responsibility for themselves. We have a society of worker/citizens who don’t want to take responsibility either. They think the government should take care of the problem. And even the government doesn’t want that job.

It makes me think of Andrew Carnegie every time I see a lotto ad.

Carnegie was born into a dirt poor family of Scottish weavers in 1835. The family shared a small one roomed cottage with another family of Scottish weavers. How is that for affordable housing?

When economic disaster struck and the country was in starvation, his family moved to the U.S. He then began his legendary rise from pauper to one of the wealthiest men in America – through hard work, dedication and reading.

His idea of winning the lotto was getting a job that required him to work six days a week, 12 hours a day and earn $1.20 a week in salary. To better his circumstances he learned to read.

As he became wealthy, he also began to give it away to good causes – the principle cause being that of establishing public libraries, 125 of which were built in Canada. Calgary’s Memorial Park Library is one and so is the Edmonton Public Library (though that original building was demolished).

Carnegie lived his dream – not through a lotto win, but through real, hard work. When he’d achieved his dream of financial success, he lived another dream – giving a hand up to millions of people, generations of people, by giving them access to the vast stores of knowledge, accumulated through centuries of human civilization. He was paying back a favour that had lead to his own success.

Now, thanks to Carnegie, a world of learning is all yours for the nominal price of a library card and the personal effort of learning to read.

One of his quotes was: “Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem of life.”

Are we doing that?

Are we teaching our children to deal with reality in a constructive way?

Morita Therapy challenges the western view that ‘feelings’ are so very important. Morita says feelings come and go and are therefore unreliable. But taking action is real. Doing something to solve the problem or change the situation is the important thing. Accept the feelings and get on with the action.

However, we have an attachment to destructive fantasy – the thrill of the moment. This is what we promote in car ads, lotto ads, fashion ads, food ads. Thrill is a feeling, not an accomplishment.

At so many levels in society, the impulse for the thrill, coupled with the ‘me-first’ lotto winner’s attitude toward life are destroying us.

What if lotto ads featured lucky winners investing in business, starting a training program – being good citizens and good role models? What if we modeled good citizenship and accomplishment instead of thrill seeking and luck?

Shouldn’t we, as a society, promote and honor the step-by-step creation of a long-term legacy (whether grand or simple and dignified) of a life well-lived?

Be constructive. Deal with reality. Accept your feelings – good or bad and press on.

Define it: What is your purpose today? Then, do what needs to be done.

Michelle Stirling-Anosh is a Ponoka freelance columnist.