When Things Go Right: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Do you ever have one of those weeks when things go unaccountably right? I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out: I’m getting a good initial response to my new book, Raccoons Respect My Piss But Watch Out For Skunks. I gave a successful talk, and - get this -  I actually got my taxes done without going into an existentialist crisis. Not only that, my personal life has picked up in a serious way.


    Let’s put it this way, the only way things could have gone better for me this week would have been for the dishes to wash themselves with no help from me and maybe for my bed to make itself.

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    Okay, nothing lasts forever - I know that as well as anyone. But too often with our illness we over-focus on all the negatives - the things that go wrong. Yes, we need to do that. We need to own up to our mistakes in order to learn and self-correct and become better people. But we also need to make a serious study of what goes right. Because - whatever we are doing right, we want to keep doing it.


    But here’s the catch: We are not good at doing that. Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness cites a study that compared optimists to pessimists (read depressives, which embraces just about all of us with bipolar). The optimists in the study attributed their success to their own efforts. The pessimists, by contrast, attributed their success to dumb luck.


    When it came to life’s screw-ups, the findings were reversed. The optimists wrote off their failures as bad luck. The pessimists pinned the blame on themselves.


    I’m really good at learning from my mistakes and other assorted bummers. I’m forever asking myself, what did I do wrong? 


    But my successes? I hardly ever analyze them.  See what I am driving at? How am I expected to repeat my successes if I continue to think they had nothing to do with me? I need to break down the game film, analyze, and learn. To find out, essentially, what I did right and keep doing it.


    Funny thing, when you ask the right questions, the answers tend to present themselves. Nothing earth-shaking. In my case, the bottom line seemed to be that I was way more relaxed and patient than usual, not forcing things, not trying too hard to please.


    Can I keep it up? Look, this is all novel to me, so who knows? In fact, I can use your help on this, so let’s get right to it:


    Question: When things go right in your life - what are you doing right?


    Let’s analyze this every which way and backwards. Comments below ... 

Published On: April 14, 2012