If you haven’t seen Mama Mia yet, don’t read this post!

Streep at the 61st Academy Awards.Image via Wikipedia

Celebration of baby boomers

Last week, someone kindly took me to see box office hit, Mama Mia. Meryl Streep and others were looking good, singing and dancing on a Greek Island.

I think the show is intended only as light hearted frivolity. It is a celebration, though, of baby boomer culture – bell bottoms, pop, and liberation.

The dilemma facing baby boomers

I found it interesting because it has sufficient of a story line to address the dilemma facing baby boomers.

  • What should boomers make of their past lives and decisions?
  • Where is the fine line between reminiscing and treasuring the past?
  • What is our role vis-a-viz Gen Y?

Mama Mia – an example of moving on

The movie does offer an example of moving on gracefully.

  • The sixties are shamelessly celebrated in a beautiful setting with beautiful people.
  • The past is brought into the present without apology or aggrandizement.
  • The parents resolve past misdeeds allowing them to “let go”, plan their own retirement and allow Gen Y to plot their own course.

I’ve posted Rainer Rilke‘s poem (translated by J. Mullen) before about the challenge of approaching old age.

Lord: it is time. The summer was great.
Lay your shadows onto the sundials
and let loose the winds upon the fields.

Command the last fruits to be full,
give them yet two more southern days,
urge them to perfection, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who now has no house, builds no more.
Who is now alone, will long remain so,
will stay awake, read, write long letters
and will wander restlessly here and there
in the avenues, when the leaves drift.

“Who now has no house, builds no more” is a tough line to understand, possibly because it directs our attention to our disappointments.  Mama Mia is a great movie for someone to watch to “get it”.

What is the house that we built?   In what way was everything a rehearsal for this?

Accommodate boomer at work

We hear so much about accommodating Gen Y at work.  What do we need to do to accommodate boomers?

Do you know of any systems, formal or informal, that build in this reflection and draw out of strengths of older members of an organization?

Would empowering boomers impower Gen Y too as it did in the movie?

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How our training as psychologists inhibits our ability to understand generative, positive and appreciative psychology

The way psychologists were taught to think

I suspect that the most interesting concept in positive psychology, if you are a psychologist, is the relationship between the past, the present, and the future.

Our training is based predominantly on on linear models. We are trained to think that if we are X today, we will be Y tomorrow. Most of our tuition taught us to define and measure X’s and Y’s and took for granted that today and tomorrow are independent.

The way psychologists will be taught to think

Positive psychology is based on recursive models. The past does not predict the future; it is part of the future. Mathematically, we predict the value of X in the future, rather than the value of Y in the future.

Is the future a separate place?

David Whyte’s Midlife and the Great Unknown begins by addressing the relationship between future, present and past. To feel well, to feel vital, to feel alive, we need to be active, to be acting our future in the context of the present. In other words, always to be doing now what we want for the future, without the future being a separate place.

Everyone’s story is unique

I particularly like David Whyte’s idea that we are all unique – well of course we know that, but do we act that way? Do we look at all our relationships with people, with events, with places and even with things and see a unique story that is unfolding and interesting in itself?

Mindfulness as experiencing being present

Related is the concept of mindfulness – to be fully present in events, not to experience their beauty or their ghastliness (ghastliness is real) but to experience being present.

It is a hard concept for we psychologists!