This is part 26 in the series: RESILIENCE

Resilience Tip from Japan

Help others.That seems obvious, but let me talk about our society. Our society has created a therapy culture and my profession is probably guiltier than any other. We think if we go and pay somebody money for fifty minutes of their time just to whine and complain, then we’ll feel better. I’ll tell you the truth. That kind of therapy doesn’t help you feel better. That just makes you really good at whining and complaining.

Of course, there are good kinds of therapy. In Japan, they have a very different culture, but they also have a very effective form of therapy called Morita therapy.

Here’s how Morita therapy works:

You have a nervous breakdown. They put you in the hospital. What do they do? They have you sit in a room by yourself for three days and think. Most of you are saying “Oh, I could use three days.” I guarantee you after a day and a half, you’re going to go squirrely. Then after another twenty-four hours, you’re going to actually start thinking. You might get about eight hours of good thinking in, but that will probably be enough. Most of us don’t ever pause and reflect. We’re too busy. So what Morita therapy makes people do is it makes them stop and reflect on their life. No distraction. No way to escape. They just think.

At the end of the three days, do you know what they make them do? Three weeks of community service. That’s it. “You’re done with your reflection phase. Time to get on the bus. We’re going to go up and clean up trash. We’re going to go build a house.

At the end of three weeks of community service, guess what? People feel better. Whining about your problem doesn’t make you feel better. Doing something productive to help others does. At the end of the three weeks people say, “Man, I helped build this house. I guess I’m not such a waste case after all.” It actually makes a difference.

Go help others and you will help yourself.

Photo credit: Farm ladies at meeting of the Helping Hand society. Gage County, Nebraska – 1938

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