My recent conversion
I have recently converted to idea of listening to audio books. I’ve dabbled in listening to audio podcasts but never audio books before. I decided to read something that wasn’t in the category ‘Positive Psychology’, which is what I usually read but, now for something completely different (as Monty Python would say – cue music)! The reason I wrote that silly line is probably because I have started to listen to Eddie Izzard’s audio book ‘Believe me’ and it evoked lots of memories.
Eddie Izzard is a Positive Psychologist!
Eddie Izzard has most likely heard of Positive Psychology – he is very well informed but, I bet he doesn’t think of himself as a Positive Psychology Practitioner – but he is!!! Audio books are not cheap however they can last a long time, unless you happen to be a person like me who gets easily hooked into interesting things. I have listened to more than half of Eddie’s book so far, to the detriment of other things I should have been doing (oops!), and that’s how I know he is a PP Practitioner.
Positive Psychology themes
Now, I understand the theory of ‘confirmation bias’, when one interprets things as evidence for one’s own beliefs, and I know that I see the themes of Positive Psychology everywhere but it’s not that, or not just that. Usually, I notice the absence of Positive Psychology as well as when it is present, but not in this autobiography. Eddie’s account of his life, written and read in his own inimitable style, is full of wonderful examples of Positive Psychology in action. Had I read this when I was studying for my MSc in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) I would have loved to have used it as a thematic analysis study and illustrated how was he was so ahead of his time in his thinking.
I love this example. When Eddie wanted to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival he lacked experience and knowledge and consequently confidence. He had a talk with himself (literally) and worked out that if he had the confidence he would perform and gain the experience and knowledge he needed and gain confidence too. Therefore, he deduced, confidence was the only missing element in the present time. So, he became a mental time traveller (what an excellent idea), he decided to ‘Act as if’ (something I’ve written about before elsewhere) he did have the confidence. Then he went to ‘the bank manager of confidence’, he knew existed somewhere in his mind and took out a confidence loan, which he then ‘wore like a cloak’. Did it work? Duh! Today he is an extremely well known stand-up comedian/actor who performs around the world and has realised many of his dreams many of which were created before the age of 10.
A lesson to be learned
I am reminded of some of the young people I mentored in the Princes Trust, many couldn’t get a job because they lacked experience, they couldn’t get experience because they couldn’t get a job. Such a frustrating and discouraging situation to be in but I wonder if they might take a bit of the ‘Izzard spirit’ and borrow from the ‘bank of optimism’ in their minds’? What’s certainly true is that they are more likely to accept the ‘Act as if’ principle from Eddie Izzard who has such tangible proof of how it works, than me who is not cool, I mean sick (if you don’t know what sick means, you’re not cool either or is it kool?)
I can’t give many more examples (I could be sued for breach of copyright) but there are plenty – grit, hope, optimism, growth mindset, humour (there’s a surprise), perseverance (in abundance) and resilience. Eddie’s story (so far, still more to come) is one of post-traumatic growth and there are many lessons for us all.
Unintentional book review – apology
I realise this might sound like a book review – it wasn’t meant to be but if you ask me if I recommend the book the answer is, unreservedly yes (unless the second half is rubbish and then I’ll write about that too).
Please note: I am an early riser and frequently wake up with thoughts and questions on my mind. I write them down and record them in these short unedited, un-researched, unscientific bits of writing. They are written in a half asleep hypnopompic state and should not be regarded as anything more than what they are – random thoughts and musings. For sensible subjects and writing please visit Positive Psychology Learning website