Managing Feelings Through Action: Constructive Living


Morita Therapy was developed by Japanese psychiatrist Shoma Morita in the early years of the 20th century. It is a practical psychology of action taken from direct life experience.

The principles of Morita Therapy are stated clearly by David Reynolds in his Constructive Living maxims. Maybe they will be of help to you.

Constructive Living Maxims

Behavior Wags the Tail of Feelings

Unpleasant feelings frequently shift once we start doing something. Our doing triggers changes in our feeling or mood state. We might think that we need to feel a certain way to take on a task when that is not the case.

Let’s say, for example, that your boss asks you to give a presentation on your department’s project at the monthly staff meeting. You say, “Yes, of course,” but your knees are already two pools of jelly. You have never put together a presentation or shared one.

Although feeling inadequate to the project, once you begin working on it, ask questions, learn from others, and start getting your ideas formatted into the computer, your confidence naturally builds.

Effort Is Good Fortune

We often consider that good fortune is getting the results we want. Yet there is so much in life outside our control, what we want can elude us. An alternative is to set goals that we desire – but to make our efforts to achieve them the primary concern.

For instance, you may decide to write, and have published, a book of poems. After months of diligent writing, a publishing firm may or may not print your book. However, you can choose to view your daily writing effort as your good fortune, as an opportunity to learn and grow in a way significant to you.

Reality Is More Interesting than Our Ideas About It

Many of us cruise through our busy days living from our mind, not really noticing, enjoying and appreciating the rich reality around us. Our thoughts about the past, plans and worries about tomorrow blind us to the textures, patterns, sounds and shapes of the environment.

When you have a few moments, close your eyes and imagine the surroundings you are in. Spend at least a couple of minutes trying to conjure in your mind the detail and color that surrounds you. When you open your eyes, take a few moments to compare your mental recollection of the surroundings with the rich sensual experience of paying attention to it.

We Care About What We Care For

When we invest our time and energy in something, such as tending a garden, we are likely to stimulate caring feelings for the garden. As we invest ourself in something, its well-being becomes important to us. Those things we ignore we tend to become disinterested in.

If you have lost interest in something or want to develop interest in something, you might experiment by devoting time and energy to its care and see whether your interest grows.

For All of My Dreams, I Am What I Do

Manifesting our dreams requires moving from a state of inertia to a state of action, and this is often uncomfortable. Going from drifting to focusing can feel unpleasant. Yet, until we shift into focus and action, our ideas will remain just that.

In our dreams we may imagine being builders, writers, healers, financiers, teachers, leaders, chefs or naturalists, but in the end, we are what we do.

Source: Krech, Linda; Krech, Gregg, "A Finger Pointing to the Moon," To Do Institute, 2004.


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