Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Ultimate Currency

The Yen? The Pound Sterling? The Dollar? Not according to Tal Ben-Shahar. In his book "Happier" the Harvard professor defines happiness as the ultimate currency. That's all well and good but this is a martial arts blog. Martial arts are not about being happy they are about fighting...right? I think the answer is yes and no.

Certainly people can practice martial arts or a fighting system for self defense. In our day and age there are certainly easier ways to protect oneself and others. In addition once those self defense needs are met why continue with martial arts? What if after training for a period of years you found that you were, well...happier?

If we look at Ben-Shahar's ideas and compare them to tradition martial practice we will find that they share many common practices and principles.

Creating Rituals.


Present and Future Benefit.

Meditative Practice

Improved Physical Health

Development of Purpose and Meaning.

Developing Potential.

Setting and Achieving Self Concordant Goals.

Achieving the state of "Flow" or Optimal Experience.

The opportunity to be Known rather than Validated.

Involvement in a Supportive Community.

The practice of benevolence.

So, just as a warning, if you begin training in martial arts to kick ass be careful. You might just find yourself with an account full of the "Ultimate Currency". You may end up too happy to care about fighting someone to the death.


Laura Napoli said...

So in other words, we can achieve world peace by requiring everyone to train in the martial arts.

Mark Cook said...

I don't think so. I think Ben Shahars principles are not context dependent. Also choice of practice seems to play an important role.

Roushiichi said...

As Funakoshi Gichin states in his 20 precepts, "Karate goes beyond the Dojo". 道場のみの空手と思うな。
Under correct guidance, any Martial Art helps develop the mind and spirit in a positive way so that we can be a positive and contributing member of our communities.
Of course under wrong guidance the results would be opposite.

Bob M said...

Hi, Mark, this is interesting food for thought. I was surprised there was only one review of this book when I looked on Amazon. While I'm not studying a traditional martial art, my "mixed martial arts" school started out as Shotokan karate and some of the traditional elements you mention are present there as well.