The ‘habit neurosis’

The desire to break the bonds of their own laziness may even lead men to behave in ways that are obviously contrary to their best interests. Vang Gogh threw up a comfortable job as an art dealer to become a lay preacher among the miners in Belgium. Lawrence of Arabia refused comfortable government appointments to become an ordinary aircraftman in the R.A.F. The philosopher Wittgenstein gave away an inherited fortune to become a badly paid schoolmaster. These ‘outsiders’ were driving by a need to escape a feeling of enstiflement, of stagnation. The aim was to throw off the ‘habit neurosis’ -the ‘habit of inferiority to one’s full self’.

But then, there is obviously an element of absurdity in deliberately seeking out of danger or discomfort, since we otherwise spend so much our lives trying to avoid them. Their must be other ways of breaking through to our vital reserves, apart from risking our necks or sleeping in a bed of nails. For example, it is plain tha it is not the crisis itself that creates the flow of vital energy; it is our response to it. It is as if some innervoice gave an order that causes something inside us to snap to attention.

Colin Wilson in G. I. Gurdjieff: The War Against Sleep

Bokeh-licious by VinothChandar, on FlickrImage by VinothChandar

‘Power’ position

Group one was instructed to sit in a chair, at a table, in a very submissive posture (head down, shoulders curved forward, legs crossed and arms tight to the body). They held these positions for two minutes, and then went into the interview. Group two did just the opposite. For two minutes they sat in dominant or “power” positions at the same table (legs outstretched, even up on the table top in some cases, arms out and raised above the head, shoulders back, chin up and smiling). After all the interviews were completed, the interviewers (who had been kept uninformed of the purpose and content of the study) unanimously ranked the folks from group two (the dominant group) more highly than group one.

Amy Cuddy

The nice tree by Tambako the Jaguar, on FlickrImage by Tambako the Jaguar on flickr

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