Friday, August 13, 2010

Productive Obsession

When I headed out to Nevada, I took the June issues of O: The Oprah Magazine ("Say Yes to Life!"), Psychology Today (Serendipity) and Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses and many lessons and reminders jumped out at me.

In Help!, an article in O: The Oprah Magazine, Catherine Price talks about taking off for Tokyo with no plans. She took index cards that had translated questions like:

In your opinion, what is the most Japanese thing I can do or see in Tokyo?
Price had a memorable trip and the reason that Price even went to Japan is because she approached a woman in the bookstore and asked her what was the most fascinating place she had been to. Deeper into the article, Price talks about how people strike up fleeting relationships with strangers. She notes:

Sociologist call these interactions fleeting relationships, and, on the surface, they appear to be nothing more than pleasant ways to pass the time. But according to Calvin Morrill, PhD, coeditor of a collection of studies on personal relationships in public spaces called Together Alone, these interactions are more than just enjoyable: They act as the "connective tissue" that helps societies function and makes the public realm nicer -- and potentially safer -- place to be.(184)
In Psychology Today's "Making Your Own Luck," the following phrases stuck with me:

Listen to your intuition, but don't expect to feel 100 percent certain. "If we wait until all negative emotions disappear, we're never going to go anywhere," says Kashdan (Todd Kashdan, psychologist at George Mason University)
"Go Ahead, Obsess!" also in Psychology Today had valuable insights:

  • A productive obsession provokes all sorts of mental states -- euphoria when something goes brilliantly, irritation when you feel thwarted, fatigue after hours of mental struggle, excitement as one idea leads to another...

  • The life of your productive obsession depends on your constant recommitment...(83)
  • Sound familiar or applicable to the fitness journey?

    I found everything to admire about Rebecca Skloot who wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Slacks, a book project that required untold commitment. Skloot was featured in the Go Ahead, Obsess! segment.

    And, now, for the fleeting airplane relationship with someone who appeared to be very moody.

    : Where are you from?

    Me: St. Louis. And you?

    Cop: Davenport, Iowa

    Me: What did you think about Vegas?

    Cop: It was my first time. You pretty much get what you see. Okay for a one time visit. I don't gamble. I was here for a convention. You know those fancy hotels were made possible by some one's hard earned money. They did have $1.50 beers at Hooters. I wish that I would have known that earlier.

    Me: What was the convention about?

    Cop: Our department wants to get accredited.

    Me: What does that entail?

    Cop: It's about a three year process. We have to meet certain standards. (He sighed and shook his head.) Which is why I'm glad to be going home. I hope to be pulling in my driveway by 8:30. How was your trip?

    Me: Yadda, yadda yadda... The only annoying thing was the SWAT team of folks constantly handing out Direct Women flyers and who were skillful at making a snapping noise with the brochures.

    Cop: That was annoying and, really, everyone knows how to look in the phone book.

    Read any good books lately or magazines or had any meaningful but fleeting relationships?


    1. Funny you should ask...yes! I am finishing up Gang Leader for A Day and the relationships are so intriguing. I think you'd like it based on what I now know! :) Have a great weekend!! :)

    2. Interesting post - I highly recommend the book referenced by Price, "Together Alone," which is pretty much required reading in my field.

      I've had lots of meaningful/fleeting relationships - I lost a lot of shyness and timidity when I lost weight, and now I'm perfectly at ease talking to strangers (while applying common sense of course). I talk to people in grocery stores, bus stops, elevators, wherever. And I love it, because I frequently see people walk away with a smile on their faces, so I feel like I'm contributing something, however small, to the betterment of the world. Bad moods are contagious; so are good moods. You wouldn't know it from my blog, but I'm quite a positive-thinking person in real life!

      And I LOVE hearing an articulate, well-informed person talk about their job.

      What is Direct Women? Is that a prostitution thing? (well, it IS Vegas...)

    3. @Nicole, RD,

      Checked out the description of "Gang Leader for a Day" on Amazon and I'm putting it on my must read list. Thanks for the rec.


      I'm also going to add "Together Alone" to my list. I enjoy *fleeting* relationships too. That doesn't sound completely right, does it?

      Like you and Diana Ross, I came out of a shell, of sorts, when I lost weight.

      Glad to hear that you are positive-thinking in real life. ;)

      Re: Direct Women, it's not a prostitution thing but it seems quite close to it...