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Posted by Isabel Galupo at 8:14AM   |  7 comments
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Blog posting written by Isabel Galupo, Cinema and Photography '14, FLEFF Intern, Towson, MD

I hesitate to open this blog post with a quote.

I admit it; in attempting to formulate my very-own-super-personal definition of “microtopias,” I turned to someone else’s words.

Specifically, I turned to the words of writer Anaïs Nin. Nin was a fantastic writer and thinker. She is most famous for her published diary (which inspired the movie “Henry and June,” starring Uma Thurman).

 She wrote:

“From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life. Those who cannot live fully often become destroyers of life.”

I discovered this quote about two years ago, while casually scrolling down my tumblr dashboard. It struck me then, so I saved it in a document on my computer…then quickly forgot about it.

However, I found myself coming back to it after reading Gretchen Rubin’s enthralling book “The Happiness Project” this past Winter Break (follow her blog about happiness here!) Rubin’s insights, along with Nin’s quote, informed my conscious decision to actively pursue positivity in an effort to control happiness in my life.

After becoming inspired by the words and ideas of these two women, I knew that I needed to test my new perspective.

Enter: my little sister, Lucia.

Lucia is an extremely creative, bright, compassionate, and outspoken five-year-old. She, like any five-year-old, can be also insolent, stubborn, and dramatic.

Before I committed myself to intentional positive thinking, I would get easily frustrated with Lucia when she refused to listen to me. Occasionally, I would raise my voice at her—and she raised hers right back. I began to think that the situation was hopeless, that she would never calm down and that things would continue to escalate.

And guess what? Because I thought that things were going to escalate, I panicked and got more upset. And the more upset that I got, the louder I raised my voice. So things, naturally, escalated!

When I thought negative thoughts, the situation would continue to produce negative results.

However, when I took a deep breath and spoke to Lucia calmly—the whole time thinking, knowing that she would calm down and everything was fine—she started to listen to me!

Positive thinking = positive action = positive situation.

I find solace in knowing that I, and I alone, have the power to control my emotions, and subsequently my life. My mind has the potential to become an escape from frustration, sadness, anger, and guilt— if I only choose to recall the hub of good feelings that are always accessible to me. If I can turn negative thoughts and emotions into positive ones, I can transform negative situations into positive ones.

I have come to learn that I can create my own microtopia simply through intentional positive thinking.

But, hey, this is just my personal experience!

I am sure that many people have denounced positive psychology, finding that it simply does not work for them. So I am interested in your opinions!

Do you believe the human mind has the potential to become a microtopia? Are different perspectives and outlooks on life, in essence, just different microtopias?

 


7 Comments


I'm wondering, is it possible to create a microtopia by oneself, in one's own thinking? Or could it be that positioning oneself to be open and positive, as you say, about a larger set of interactions and community is an element of the process of building a microtopia?

I believe that before a person can make meaningful connections with other people, one must have a firm grasp on oneself. By creating a microtopia in one's own thinking first-- to choose to be positive and feel good about one's own convictions-- a person will be more receptive to building a microtopia with a community of like-minded people.

I LOVE the idea of the possibilities of creating a microtopia within one's mind. To me, it goes along the lines of "every little thing counts." And in the case, I feel like it's acceptable to say "you can never to too micro." By starting within one's self I think it's the perfect way to create a strong foundation for larger scale communities and contributions!

Isabel,
I'm impressed by the reference to Anais Nin. She was brilliant. She led a very complicated and unconventional life. And she certainly was strong willed and independent in her search for happiness, or at least in the pursuit of what she wanted. I can understand why you admire her.

Dr. Shevory- Anais Nin has been a huge literary force in my life; my mother is a huge fan of hers, and she passed along the admiration to me! While I hesitate to say that I approve or connect to every decision that Nin made in her lifetime, I am simply floored by the honesty and self-reflexivity that pervades her writing. In times of writer's block, I try to remember her fearless and passionate technique!

Anais Nin's writing consumed me when I was a teenager looking for an example of someone who lived a passionate life with gusto through the arts. At my all girls catholic school, we passed around her books like contraband. The boys at the all boys school across the way were into Henry Miller when they weren't, uh, playing basketball...so when I was younger, microtopia meant carving out a place that was different from the rest of life (i.e. uniforms and catholic school and rules)

What a fascinating story; thank you for sharing that, Dr. Zimmerman! I can definitely relate to using literature to escape from immediate realities. I was a huge bookworm as a child (I still am!), and I often turned to fantastical books such as the "Harry Potter" series, "A Wrinkle in Time," "The Phantom Tollbooth," and "The Witches," among many, many others, when my own life seemed to lack a certain magical quality.

While I still carry a soft spot for fantasy novels, I have come to appreciate the ways in which narratives about seemingly ordinary life can be equally as compelling and magical ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being," by Milan Kundera, for example.)

I think that the most important thing to remember when escaping through literature is to carry over the ideas that are played out on the page and allow them to collide with your every day life, as you mentioned Dr. Zimmerman.

All of this book talk is giving me many ideas for future blog posts!



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