Monday, March 24, 2014

Discovery

I like reading romance because I think about love all the time, and I like reading well-written books of all types because they make me think, period. But I especially like well-written, young adult love stories because they're mysteries of self-discovery. Who am I? What do I want? Why do I desire that person? And how do I get them to like me back? At age 12, we know none of this. By age 15, we're supposed to have it all figured out. Often by 18, we're in a pattern that we'll stay in all our lives, sometimes with the person we'll marry. I started dating the man I married when I was 16.
 Buy Me :)
Or, read me at your local library.

Dye cast.

And yet I remember thinking at the time: What on earth am I doing? He doesn't like me (he was convincingly nonchalant). Other boys do. Go with those other boys.

But you can't change who you like, which you discover when you try. And that process of discovering who we are through who we like is fascinating. Books that capture it are often my favorite books of all.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of those books.  There's such a essence of truth about the book, like if you want to understand how we humans learn about life and love, watch this play out.

Adolescence is one burst of activity for our understanding ourselves and other people, and then figuring out how to expand or use that knowledge. Another chunk of info comes at us the first time we live with others outside our family, a roommate of any variety. Our first supervisory job. Our first long-time relationship. All build upon our knowledge base of how we're likely to act and react in different situations, and understanding how others will do the same. This is becoming the field of Personal Intelligence, which is a framework for a type of positive psychology, that is knowing yourself and others well enough to make the kind of choices that will lead to long-term happiness. Scientific American titled their article on the topic "How to Plan for Your Future Self."

Take a sample quiz here
When I was in grad school I was the TA for a course in Self-Understanding, and it was fun to teach and even better to take, but there was an edge of self-indulgence to what would sometimes be called "navel-gazing." Although the intention was to cultivate the kind of introspection that would help college students make informed life choices and the text book more engaging than most, it was a personality class disguised in a way that appealed to the inherent narcissism of kids that age. I doubt many of my former students remember much from the class because learning about personality theory is not the same as being good at studying people and making accurate predictions about how they'll perform under different sets of circumstances.

If you think about the people you know who are really good at this--whether a coach, boss, adviser, teacher, captain, friend--there's a security in knowing that in anything you do together,  chances for success are high because they understand human nature, and teach you in the process.

To me, Aristotle and Dante did the same.

Love, Lisa

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