It’s hard for me to believe, but today’s is column No. 500 in The Times. I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t begin it by saying thank you for your interesting and insightful questions, for your comments and, of course for reading. A very special thank you also goes to Times General Manager and Executive Editor Alan English, who almost 10 years ago, after being a guest on the radio program, encouraged me when I timidly asked to begin writing some of what we were talking about on “Strategies for Living.” I remember thinking that it might be fun to write a newspaper column for a year or two, figuring maybe 50 or 100 columns, but I guess I’m not finished learning whatever it is I need to learn, and that’s the point isn’t it? Are we ever through? I don’t think so. How can it be that perfectly intelligent people like you and me at times do obviously counterproductive things? Why do we do the things we know we shouldn’t do, and why do we fail to do the things we know we should do? The mind is certainly fascinating.
I’ve written in previous columns about M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled” (1978, Touchstone Books) and its impact upon me when I read and then reread those inspired pages, underlining and making notes until the pages were both worn and tattered, and something had changed inside of me, too. I actually “blame” that book for turning things upside down in my life, and I’m not sure I would have become a therapist if not for its exceptional wisdom and information. One of the things that most attracted me to that book was the merging between spirituality and psychology. Recently I’ve discovered what I think may be a modern day version of that now classic work, “Wisdom From the Couch” by Jennifer L. Kunst, Ph.D. (2014, Central Recovery Press). Like Peck, Kunst is specially trained in the unconscious mind, which may well hold the answers to the important questions above. I had the opportunity to visit with psychoanalyst Kunst and you can listen to our conversation here.
Kunst’s chapter titles themselves reveal a depth and freshness not only from her training and work, but also from her own life and experience, which she readily shares. Some of the chapters include:
• What You See is Not What You Get, which deals with the unconscious life of the mind.
• If You’re Not Moving Forward, You’re Moving Backward, which is all about growing throughout our lives and facing ourselves as we truly are, with all our limitations, anxieties, unconscious maneuvers, hopes and capabilities.
• Life is Not an Entitlement; It is a Gift. The more we practice thankfulness, the more we grow spiritually.
• Because Thinking Makes It So. Real thinking doesn’t come naturally, even though we’re all preprogrammed to learn how to do it. It takes training and discipline.
• Can’t Live With ’Em Can’t Live Without ’Em. Wise mind is the ability to reflect on our feelings and learn from them.
• It’s Always Broken, So We Always Have to Fix It. This chapter deals with love, guilt and reparation. Life always has and always will involve conflict, work, struggle and death. These are natural and value-neutral aspects of life.
• Love is the Name of the Game. When we are able to make peace with our lives as they are, we are more and more able to see the good that is there.
Kunst contends that when we develop a clear understanding of how our minds operate, we’re able to make the kind of change that impacts us at the core. That’s change that lasts. This is great stuff. If you can’t listen on Sunday, catch the conversation with Kunst under Featured Podcasts at www.strategiesforliving.com.