Monday, June 1, 2009

Todd B. Kashdan's "Curious?"

Todd B. Kashdan, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at George Mason University. He earned his B.S. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Buffalo. He has been active in the positive psychology movement since 2000, when he taught one of the first college courses on the science of happiness. He currently teaches courses on abnormal psychology, mood and anxiety disorders, and the science of well-being. Currently, he is the associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology as well as the Journal of Personality.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, and reported the following:
Part I: Summary of p.99 of the book

On p. 99 of my book, you will find yourself right in the midst of an exercise to clarify your values, or the bedrock foundation of your identity. This is a book about finding meaning, finding passion in life, and being open, curious, and receptive to opportunities that allow us to use our time and energy to the fullest. We spend more time choosing lattes, weekend plans, and furniture for our house than what we want our lives to be about and what we value. Although we cannot always be happy, we can almost always be profoundly aware and curious. To achieve happiness, meaning in life, and other elements of the good life, we will engage in a constant series of personal experiments.

Don’t let your daily chores, routines, and schedules get in the way of exploring and discovering passions in life. Know your values. Invest your time and energy into what you care about most. It all starts with taking an interest in ourselves, other people, and the world outside of our routine. If things aren’t working, we need the strength to reinvent our daily lives as needed. Values are our compass for figuring out what direction to start.

If you aren't living according to your values, you won't be happy, no matter how much you are achieving. Point your curiosity inward to begin the journey and be open and receptive to whatever it is you uncover. More information about the entire book can be found at:

Part II: Actual writing on p.99 of the book

{*}Virtue—To live a morally pure and excellent life

{*}Wealth—To have plenty of money

{*}Insert your own unlisted value:

{*}Insert your own unlisted value:

Once you select your top ten values, prioritize each one into the following categories:

{*}Most important to me

{*}Very important to me

{*}Least important to me

Having clarified your most cherished values, you can keep them at the forefront of your attention, and it will be easier to determine which activities are worthwhile to commit to and be interested in. Returning back to the “big-five” kinds of moments in our lives, we are regularly confronted with uninteresting or painful activities that are potentially hazardous to our health that we can quit (e.g., talking to a racist neighbor) or still feel compelled to do (e.g., calling your 85-year old grandmother every week and enduring the 10-minute spiels about how you don’t call enough).

Knowing your values makes it easier to make decisions as they offer us a direction to travel in. Enduring interest and passion—the hallmarks of a fulfilling life—start with moments of interest, that is, infusing daily activities with more delight, eliminating unnecessary activities that drain time and energy, and taking on new activities that have the potential to enhance our lives. But moments of interest are transformed when they tap into and reflect our values. It’s easier to quit painful or uninteresting activities when we know that our cherished values conflict with their continuation. It’s easier to justify ending a relationship if you know what values are at your core and are being disrespected or tread on. It’s easier to begin relationships when you know which values you are more flexible about. Then there are values you don’t identify with. Someone exemplifying them might expand your own world if you were to enter a relationship with them. Those unaccounted-for activities that are ruled out or rejected
Browse inside Curious?, and learn more about the book and author at Todd Kashdan's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue