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Water, Snow, Water

Constructive Living for Mental Health

David K. Reynolds

Publication Year: 2013

“You can’t be happy all the time. You can’t feel comfortable all the time. You can’t have the feelings you want when you want them for as long as you want them. Life just doesn’t operate like that. Maybe you have tried counseling or therapy or diets or meditation or chemicals or some sort of esoteric magic to work on your feelings, to fix your life or make it perfect. Nothing worked as well as you had hoped. Reading this book won’t solve your life problems either. But it will give you some suggestions that are sensible, practical and doable—suggestions about how to work on your life. Work is the key word here. Sitting and talking with someone is not enough. Venting your feelings is not enough. Putting your mind in some quiet inner place is not enough. Working on your life involves moving your body, doing your life purposefully and constructively. This book offers you concrete assignments for such activity.”

Adapting ideas from Japanese psychotherapies and Eastern thought, Constructive Living (CL) offers a sensible way of living. Across cultures and generations, CL ideas make sound, practical sense. Water, Snow, Water presents the current state of CL in its application to the West. Using a variety of materials—including essays, tales, maxims, detailed behavioral advice, case studies—David Reynolds, the founder of CL, presents fresh perspectives on everything from worrying to love, from psychotherapy to death.

For more information on Constructive Living, go to constructiveliving.org, constructiveliving2.weebly.com.

David K. Reynolds, Ph.D, is the founder of Constructive Living and has authored more than twenty-five books on mental health. His work has been published in Japan, China, Germany, England, India, Australia, Mexico, Israel, and elsewhere. He is the only Westerner to have received the Morita Prize and the Kora Prize from Japan’s Morita Therapy Association. Formerly on the faculty of the UCLA School of Public Health, the USC School of Medicine, and the University of Houston, Reynolds is director of the Constructive Living Center in Coos Bay, Oregon.

David Reynolds’ other books include A Handbook for Constructive Living, Light Waves: Fine Tuning the Mind, Constructive Living, and The Quiet Therapies: Japanese Pathways to Personal Growth.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

We would do well to reflect sometimes upon the larger whole of which we are animated components. How do we fit in? For what purpose have we been embedded in this flowing glacier called time? What does reality require of us? What is the benefit of having us around for these moments? ...

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pp. ix-xii

Happiness is fine. However, achieving your goals is more important than being happy. Enduring some discomfort and anxiety is worth living life with positive accomplishment. Living constructively, living a meaningful life, making a contribution to your world are more satisfying than just feeling good temporarily. ...

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Chapter 1 Questions and Answers about Constructive Living (CL)

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pp. 1-20

Over the years articles about Constructive Living have appeared in Cosmopolitan, USA Today, American Health, New Woman, Fitness, Self, “O” Magazine, Vogue, Men’s Health, New Dimensions, The Japan Times, Common Ground, and elsewhere. The Cosmopolitan article alone prompted inquiries from more than five thousand readers ...

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Chapter 2 Getting Along with Life

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pp. 21-23

There is something about the moment of acting that frees us from worries, fixations, and unrealistic concerns. Of course we need to plan for the future and review our pasts; we need to feel fully. But in our time and culture we have lost perspective and proportion. ...

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Chapter 3 Shinks

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pp. 24-27

The Japanese describe some people as “shinkeishitsu.” The term refers to people who are tense, nervous, worried, introspective, and self-critical. In Constructive Living we call people in their moments of distress “shinks.” One of the core characteristics of shinks is self-centeredness. ...

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Chapter 4 Common Sense

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pp. 28-32

It’s not common sense! It doesn’t even fit your own experience! Nevertheless, some people have swallowed the pill-sized doses of mental health beliefs excusing all sorts of hurtful behaviors because of strong feelings or poor experiences in childhood. ...

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Chapter 5 Fleeing from Responsibility for Behavior

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pp. 33-46

A young man kills his abusive stepfather and then expects to be excused for his action. The United States wages war in another country for what it considers righteous reasons and expects the victims of war to love and support us. A young person tells the truth about a delinquent acquaintance and is surprised by the repercussions. ...

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Chapter 6 An Alternative to Psychotherapy

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pp. 47-51

In the West psychotherapy is still sometimes practiced as though mental health experts exist who know more about their patients’ minds than the patients do themselves. Their patients may be encouraged to talk about themselves, their current difficulties, unsatisfying emotions, disturbed relationships, ...

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Chapter 7 Psychotherapy as Myth

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pp. 52-53

Psychoanalysis, now supplanted by behavioral and chemical therapies, seems to me closer to religion than to science. Any stimuli—from dreams, writing errors, choice of clothing, word associations, diet, choice of lovers or friends or enemies or whatever—can be interpreted by someone with a reasonable imagination ...

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Chapter 8 On Feelings

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pp. 54-61

Each year for more than thirty years I have flown to and from Japan twice, in spring and fall. I’m always scared when I fly, especially during turbulence. Often I tell people that my fear of flying is a kind of membership card, evidence that I understand their personal terror in phobic moments. ...

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Chapter 9 In Praise of Pain

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pp. 62-63

I couldn’t have written this chapter three weeks ago. I was hurting too much then. My left side ached, my intestines burned, my stomach threatened anything I sent its way. I was weak, disoriented, and exhausted by months of misery and medical tests that didn’t reveal the source of the disease. Standing up brought some relief. ...

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Chapter 10 Whirling Dust

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pp. 64-67

How much of modern life is the equivalent of studying outdated television listings, listening to recordings of last week’s traffic and weather reports, clipping expired coupons from yellowed newspapers? How much of modern life is just allowing information to flow through, filling our mental time? ...

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Chapter 11 Reflections on Mind

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pp. 68-69

The West holds that you can understand the “it” that blinks your eyes and opens your mouth and raises your hand. The East holds that this “it” cannot be understood but that it is constantly experienced. The person who hasn’t given the matter much thought is unaware even of the existence of an “it.” ...

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Chapter 12 Attention

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pp. 70-71

Neurosis is a matter of attention. The more one focuses attention on the suffering—noticing how unpleasant it is, trying to get rid of it, wishing it didn’t exist, comparing the self with others who don’t appear to suffer in this way, worrying about when the suffering will appear next, emphasizing other difficulties related to it, ...

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Chapter 13 Paralysis by Possibility—Unipossible and Multipossible Situations

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pp. 72-73

Unipossible situations are those in which only a single option is perceived to be available. The choice is whether to accept the option or reject it. Multipossible situations offer more than one option. Extreme multipossible situations with many options may make an individual feel paralyzed, unable to select from among the possibilities. ...

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Chapter 14 Under New Management

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pp. 74-75

Control by means of understanding was one of the central contributions of the ancient Greeks. The better humans understood something, the better we could manage it—that was the idea. Such an approach works quite well with cars and chemicals and rockets and computers. It isn’t so effective with minds. ...

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Chapter 15 Contentment

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pp. 76-77

How does one go about determining when one is content, or miserable, or just doing all right? When does one reach a point at which one believes some action is necessary to change dissatisfaction? ...

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Chapter 16 Backups, Throwaway Tissues, Road Kill, and Resources—Self-focus in America

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pp. 78-80

In the grim interpersonal sense, backups are people we keep in reserve to use when times get rough. They may be parents, children, lovers, friends, or anyone else on whom we can impose. We are likely to contact them when we need something from them. Tissues are people whom we have used and thrown away. ...

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Chapter 17 On Being Natural

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pp. 81-82

I wonder whether most Americans want to hear the fact that, however much we may wish to be extraordinary, nearly all of the time we are unremarkable. American culture seems to place a strong positive value on individuality, diversity, and unconventionality. Look at the synonyms for “ordinary” in a dictionary or thesaurus. ...

Chapter 18 Some Truths

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pp. 83-84

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Chapter 19 Reflections on Interpersonal Relations

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pp. 85-93

I don’t claim to have any special expertise in interpersonal relations. I have misunderstood and wronged enough people to know how lacking in skill I can be at times. Nevertheless, from seventy-odd years of experience living in two cultures and operating in two languages I can pass along some very basic observations about us humans. ...

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Chapter 20 Constructive Living Assignments

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pp. 94-110

The essence of assignments is the doing of them, not the reporting or commenting on them in individual sessions. However, we do allow our students to report their accomplishments in individual sessions, because they may need instruction about the methods and meanings of the assignments, and because they deserve our recognition of their efforts. ...

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Chapter 21 Constructive Living Tales

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pp. 111-121

There once, just once, was a very wealthy man who was so pleased with his house and furnishings that he decided to build an exact replica of them in a distant land. That way, if his first house were to be destroyed by fire or storm he would have a completely furnished backup house ready and waiting. ...

Chapter 22 Constructive Living Maxims

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pp. 122-135

Chapter 23 Constructive Living Poem

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pp. 123-124

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Postscript—Healing America

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pp. 125-126

Don’t get me wrong. This is a great country. I remember tears coming to my eyes as I reentered Immigration at LAX and the officer said “Welcome home.” I travel to Japan twice each year where I lecture in Japanese to Japanese people about Japanese psychotherapies. But America is my home. Of course, it is not a perfect home. ...


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pp. 127-128

Production Notes, Back Cover

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pp. 145-146

E-ISBN-13: 9780824839178
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824836955

Publication Year: 2013