Guest post by Mick Kelly
I can choose my own personality. I say this because I am an ordinary human being who happened to be drawn to Kazimierz Dabrowski’s ‘Theory of Positive Disintegration’ when I came across it many years ago.
I believe those six words (I can change my own personality) form the central thesis of TPD and they have helped me to be courageous and ambitious enough to explore this theory in the context of my own life experience and to make my mind up on whether or not it is a valuable reference point from which to navigate.
A flying instructor once told me that from a navigation perspective there are three questions you need to be able to answer 1. Where am I now? 2. Where am I going? and 3. What am I going to do when I get there? These questions resonated with me at a deeper level than navigating an airplane and have stayed with me for over 30 years, as a matter of fact they are with me as I’m writing this article and I hope they are with you as you are reading it. Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living” and we all want to feel that life is meaningful.
Change is a constant but so is our desire to feel that our life is meaningful. I’ve recently retired after a 49 year career in Aviation and I’m home after two weeks of inter-railing around Europe. I know that for my life to feel meaningful I need to explore my inner and outer worlds. I find this exploration turbulent because of my judgments on how things should be compared to how they are. An example of this is I find it hard to accept some realities about how collectively we humans manage ourselves and resolve our disputes. This came home to me as I toured Europe and visited World War 1 and World War 11 battle sites and when I was faced with the reality that a visit to the birth place of Kazimierz Dabrowski near Lublin in Poland would mean I would be competing with women and children fleeing the war in Ukraine for transport back from that region. So I choose not to go.
The choice not to go was a behavioral one but it also begs the questions, how free are we to choose? Is it the case that life has the meaning that we give it? Can we choose a meaningful life irrespective of our circumstances? Can we choose our own personality?