Sunday, May 20, 2007


I saw SHREK 3 today and there is a wonderful scene in the movie where Snow White, Cinderella (Amy Sedaris) and Sleeping Beauty are needed to help in a jailbreak. The three of them immediately assume positions of rest and when queried state the obvious, "We are waiting to be rescued." Later, while sitting around and reflecting on the day I am sure these animated women bemoaned the fact that once again they had passively stood by while someone else took action. Once again their "learned helplessness" training had kicked in and dictated their reactions.

This happens continuously in the world and I won't exempt myself. How often do we see friends, loved ones and ourselves make the same mistakes over and over while still being surprised at the way things turn out. What is it about human beings that at times work and relationships feel like the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. We seem to be caught in a repeating loop of reality. However, we notice it mainly with our friend's choices. We only seem to notice it in ourselves for a brief period after "it happened again". Tonight while reading Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, he gave me a solution. Surrogacy. Instead of feeling unique, the three princesses could have recognized that they shared their "humanity" with the rest of the characters. Then, they could have asked the Queen and her daughter which action would make them happier with themselves at the end of the day. (The queen and her daughter are the surrogates because they are independent. action oriented and happier in their lives.) Then by following their advice the three could have broken out of jail and broken their pattern of passivity. (They could have also given Rapunzel a little advice about that prince she thought was so wonderful.)

But do not bemoan the princesses fate because according to Gilbert the faulty role of imagination in their lives will explain and alter their failure. They will be ready to repeat it in the future. Though the efficacy of surrogacy is irrefutable, "alas, we think of ourselves as unique entities-minds unlike any others-and thus we often reject the lessons that the emotional experience of others has to teach us." Pg 257 Gilbert

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