Welcome to the ToDo Institute's Library of Japanese Psychology and Purposeful Living. Please take your shoes off (Japanese style) and come in and browse through a wide variety of resources designed to help you meet some of the most challenging situations you may encounter.
Our work is primarily grounded in methods of Japanese psychology (particularly Morita and Naikan therapies) and if you have experience with Western psychology you will find these approaches quite different. For many people, the blending of the psychological, the spiritual, and the practical is a refreshing and useful contrast to the traditional methods offered in the West.
Our library is set up so that ToDo Institute members have full access to all our resources, over 100 articles, and non-members have limited access to the underlined articles listed in the right margin. If you'd like to become a member, click on "Become a Member" in the left margin of this page for more information and a list of the benefits. We are a non-profit organization and your membership helps support projects like this library and work with disadvantaged groups like prisoners, cancer patients, people with mental illness, and others.
As you read articles you are also invited to post comments and responses to the articles. At the end of each library article is a simple method for you to post your comments, which are then available to other library visitors.
So enjoy your visit and let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Director, ToDo Institute
by Linda Anderson Krech and Gregg Krech
It doesn't take much to set off a spark with a spouse, at least around certain issues. He's not ready on time, again. She's buying things they can't afford, again. The history of our arguments remains in the air around us and creates the conditions for sparks to fly, with very little provocation sometimes. In merely an instant the room flashes red, our temperature soars, and our thoughts race wildly ahead. Is there any hope for a different outcome at a moment like this, a better resolution than in the past. . . or are we destined to repeatedly crash and spin in the same old go-round, with anger leading us where we don't want to go?
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and psychology and Robert Glaser, Ph.D., professor of microbiology, immunology and internal medicine, a husband and wife team at Ohio State University, have spent more than a decade studying the way married couples argue. Their findings provide . . .MORE...
by Gregg Krech
"It must be borne in mind that the tragedy in life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal -- the tragedy lies in having no goal to reach." -- Benjamin Mays
In many of the workshops I conduct we begin by having people introduce themselves to someone else and as part of that introduction share the three most important things they've accomplished during the past year. For some people this turns out to be a very depressing inquiry. They scan the past months searching for something important they've done but find that they have little to show for the past year beyond "survival." Indeed, some participants will actually say that "getting through the year" was a major accomplishment. Most of us would like to finish the year with some sense, in concrete terms, that we're further along the "road to a meaningful life" than we were last January. But what does that road look like and where is it headed? If we don't give some thought to that question at the beginning of the trip, we're likely to end up at some random destination (including one which is not very far from where we started) and then, after the fact, we find ourselves dissatisfied with the direction we've taken.
Though we're already checking days off our 2008 calendar, it's not too late to step back and reflect on where you've been and where you're headed.MORE...
by Linda Anderson Krech
Naikan can be a powerful tool for reconciliation. Sometimes I keep this tool in my back pocket, or even walk around with it in my hand, but this is just about useless. If I take it out and use it in a focused and wholehearted way, it can be transformative, revealing missing pieces that may dramatically change what I see and understand.
Many years ago I, along with a handful of other family members, helped to start a center for those with serious mental illness. Fueled by our passionate desire to help our loved ones and our great disappointment in the existing mental health system, we secured funds, found a space, hired a director (who then hired me as his assistant), and opened our doors. It was a dream come true. The director, however, was not living up to my ideal. On the second day of the program, he did not come in, choosing instead to attend to non-urgent personal business. I had been watching his job performance with some dismay during the preceding months as we prepared to open, noticing all the things that he could be doing that he was not doing, and becoming increasingly disappointed. When he did not show up on the second day, I was livid.MORE...
by Linda Anderson Krech and Gregg Krech
For many families the start of the school year has a more noticeable impact on day to day life than the start of the calendar year. This is certainly true in our family. As September rolls around, the daily routine of every member of our family, even our dog, changes. This year our youngest child starts middle school, so elementary school is now a part of our family history. We thought we’d share with you eight ideas we’re using to get off to a fresh start for the school year:
1. Sleep: A recent study of 3,120 Rhode Island teenagers found that 85% of the teens were cronically sleep-deprived and accumlated at least a 10-hour sleep deficit during the week. While adolescents need an average of 9 hours a night, 26% said they usually got less than 6.5 hours on school nights. Although it can be challenging to raise bedtime issues with our kids, sometimes that's what we need to do. Children can be in for a rude awakening when their bodies and brains make the adjustment from a lax summer routine to an early rising day. In fact, many kids face a 2-4 hour adjustment -- the equivalent of the jet lag that occurs when one flies from California to the East Coast. They may need our help to figure out a plan that will work. The same applies to wake-up time. Our daughters each have alarm clocks and are responsible for getting up on their own. If they miss the bus we drive them to school and they repay us in time for our inconvenience. As you transition to a new school year, consider giving your kids some added responsibilities. Once they get to college, they have to do it all on their own.
2. Organization: Try to create a good, solid daily routine for yourself, taking care of assorted tasks in the evening -- homework, teacher’s notes, backpacks, clothes, lunch money, etc. If your kids learn to get up with plenty of time to spare, you can minimize the chaotic morning rush. And in terms of the bigger picture, it can help to get a year-at-a-glance calendar so that everyone can get oriented to the bigger picture ahead. (We use Google calendar and find it immensely helpful).
3. Anxiety: Each child will go into the first day of school with a different sense of anticipation. For some, that anticipation is grounded in excitement. For others, . . .MORE...
"The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube."
- David McCullough Jr.MORE...
by Romola Georgia
My mother was 96 years old when she died last month. This tiny woman, child of immigrants from the Ukraine, lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and countless economic and political upheavals. Her childhood was cruelly marked by a misguided radiation treatment, which destroyed her health and physical well-being. She never expected to live past the age of fifty (when both her parents died). Had she died 46 years ago, I would be writing a very different story.
I grew up during the thrill of psychology's early promise, and we were a very modern family. When I seemed moody or sullen or jealous of my brother, help was available in the form of therapy. I began play therapy at a very young age and wandered through a succession of experts promising to relieve me - and my family - of myriad uncomfortable feelings. As I matured, I hardened into the certainty that my mother was the true cause of my psychological problems. She was the villain in our family – the root of all our unhappiness and misery.MORE...
by Peter Smith
In 1999, Peter participated in a course on Naikan reflection with the ToDo Institute. During that time he reflected on a number of his relationships, including his relationship with his mother. He wrote the following essay, describing how this reflection impacted on his relationship with her.
Last summer, due to economic circumstances, I lived with my mother and father. I was very nervous about this as the majority of the time my mother does not want me to live at home and I rarely want to live there as well. Just to put things in context, my mother is an alcoholic, addict, and, as I was growing up, was a rabid feminist who hated men and yet was utterly dependent on them at the same time. I am just as stubborn in many ways. I don’t put up with a lot of nonsense from her and neither does she from me.
In June, I began doing daily Naikan reflection on my relationship with my mother and went year by year, circumstance by circumstance. I was absolutely amazed by the generosity of my mother throughout my life. My former therapy taught me to hate her and blame my problems on her. Yet with Naikan, I saw a very scared woman who constantly gave and gave at her own expense. Who changed a thousand pooply diapers and nursed me through all kinds of illnesses. And in myself, I saw a kid, a teenager, and a man who did nothing but take and complain and inconvenience her.
I sent her a thank you card and an . . .MORE...
by Dr. Henry McCann
In the Huang Di Nei Jing, the core text of Chinese medicine that was written about 2000 years ago, there is a key chapter that describes the functions of the internal organs. In this chapter (Su Wen Chapter 8, Ling Lan Mi Dian Lun) it is said that the heart is the sovereign of the body, discharging the illumination of the spirit when healthy. In this same chapter it goes on to say that when the monarch (i.e., the heart) is in a state of brilliant illumination, all the other organs will be at peace, ensuring health and longevity. Furthermore, when the monarch is in this state of brilliant illumination, everything under heaven will have great prosperity.
The “heart” that is talked about in this chapter however is not the simple pump that propels blood through our arteries and veins. Rather, it is the symbol that describes the very spark of consciousness that defines being human. It is the sum total of our awareness, our emotions, and our affects. Thus, it truly is the sovereign of our life. As someone who practices Chinese medicine, I find that treating this heart in my patients is not so easy. . . .MORE...