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Life Arts    H4'ed 7/6/14

For the Pursuit of Happiness, Try a Daily Dose of Non-Judgmental Awareness

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) July 6, 2014: On the Fourth of July each year, we Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which contains the famous wording about "the pursuit of happiness."

Much has been written about what exactly constitutes happiness. I'd like to add my two cents to the discussion of what constitutes happiness. First, I will set forth here a psychological explanation of happiness. Then I will suggest as the remedy the daily practice advanced by Anthony ("Tony") de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987): non-judgmental awareness.

Unlike Tony, I will work with the conceptual construct of the Inner Child (also known as the Child Within) that John Bradshaw, Susan Anderson, and other work with. In addition, again unlike Tony, I will use the Jungian conceptual construct about archetypes.

Anthony Stevens's book Archetype Revisited: An Updated Natural History of the Self (2003) is the most up-to-date account of archetypes. In the Glossary (pages 352-357), he sets forth a succinct definition of the archetypes: "Innate neuropsychic centres possessing the capacity to initiate, control and mediate the common behavioural characteristics and typical experiences of all human beings irrespective of race, culture or creed" (page 352). In short, archetypes are hard-wired into us in our neurological condition.

My main claim is that the Inner Child is the repository of archetypal wounding.

In his book The Two-Million-Year-Old Self (1993), Anthony Stevens, M.D., the British psychiatrist and Jungian theorist, suggests that archetypal wounding requires archetypal healing. Makes sense to me.

After our Inner Child has experienced archetypal healing of all archetypal wounding, then we are free at last to experience happiness -- and to be happy when circumstances in our lives warrant being happy. We are also free to be sad in a healthy way and to be angry in a healthy way.

In other words, archetypal wounding is the source of all kinds of unhappiness. So archetypal healing is necessary to move us toward being happy when circumstances warrant it.

We can formulate two psychological laws regarding happiness:

(1) Inasmuch as we are suffering from archetypal wounding, our capacity to be happy is diminished.

(2) To the extent that we have experienced archetypal healing, our capacity to be happy is enhanced.

Archetypal wounding begins when we are infants and small children, but it may not end there. When we are infants, we project archetypes on to our mothers and fathers (or the mother-figures and father-figures in our lives).

Robert Moore, the Jungian theorist at the Chicago Theological Seminary, says that all of us have two sets of four archetypes of maturity in our psyches -- one set of feminine archetypes and one set of masculine archetypes. These are the archetypes that we project in kernel form on to our mothers and fathers when we are babies.

These projected archetypes can be wounded and invariably are when we are infants and small children. The severity of the archetypal wounding can vary from person to person depending of how they were treated as infants and small children. But archetypal wounding can also occur later in life, and later archetypal wounding also requires archetypal healing.

Evidently, there are no fool-proof ways in which to bring about archetypal healing of archetypal wounding. But the situation may not be entirely hopeless.

In his posthumously published book The Way to Love (1992; reissued 2012), Tony advances a practice for engendering psychological healing. The practice he recommends involves archetypal healing.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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