Constructive Living
114pp. May 1984
Constructive Living
Author: Reynolds, David K.;
Constructive Living is a Western approach to mental health education based in large part on adaptations of two Japanese psychotherapies, Morita therapy and Naikan therapy. Constructive Living (CL) presents an educational method of approaching life realistically and thoughtfully. The action aspect of CL emphasizes accepting reality (including feelings), focusing on purposes, and doing what needs doing. The reflection aspect of CL enables us to understand the present and past more clearly and to live in recognition of the support we receive from the world.
"A delightful book that helps us take a glance at the quality of our lives and gives very practical and sensible advice for daily living. I highly recommend it to anybody who is concerned about the quality of their life." --Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying

"A positive, disciplined, action-oriented strategy for personal living interpreted for our culture with skill by David Reynolds." --Karen Blaker, WOR-AM Radio

"Dr. Reynolds will turn your thinking about self-esteem upside down and inside out." --O Magazine, March 2001

"There is a Japanese saying: 'Down seven times, up eight times.' This book will assist you in doing that. I recommend this little book heartily, for it focuses upon our human problems in such a way that you discover the East that is in the West." --Mitsuo Aoki, founder and professor emeritus, Dept. of Religion, University of Hawaii

Author: Reynolds, David K.;
David K. Reynolds is recognized as the leading Western authority on Japanese psychotherapies. He is a former faculty member of the UCLA School of Public Health, the USC School of Medicine, and the University of Houston. His books have been published by university presses (California, Chicago, Hawaii, and New York) and popular presses in the U.S., Japan, China, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. In 1988 the World Health Organization sent Dr. Reynolds to China to train psychiatrists there in Constructive Living. He currently lectures and conducts workshops around the Pacific, including approximately three months in spring and three months in fall in Japan lecturing and consulting in Japanese. He is the only non-Japanese to receive the Kora Prize and the Morita Prize by the Morita Therapy Association of Japan.
From the Introduction

This is a book about outgrowing your problems. Let us be clear at the outset that I cannot promise to make your problems go away. No one can. Life brings to all of us problems as well as successes, despair as well as joy. The Apostle Paul wrote that he had learned to adapt himself to every kind of circumstance, even being in jail. And the Buddha pointed out the inevitability of loss, sickness, aging, and death in human existence. Life cannot be an uninterrupted high. So if there are bound to be occasional lows it seems sensible to have a strategy for taking them in stride.

The same goes for shyness or chronic pain or tension or lethargy or any disability. If life has brought you such a problem (or even if you have created the problem yourself) you need to know how to take charge of it so that you can make the very best of what life allows. Anyone who promises more arouses my doubts about his or her ability to deliver.

The ideas behind this book have been around for hundreds of years. They are basically Buddhist, but don't let that fact mislead you. They are no more religious ideas than the concepts of psychoanalysis or the power of positive thinking or the principles of the American Constitution. They are simply the summed-up experiences of a lot of people over the years. They make good common sense. Some eighty years ago a Japanese psychiatrist named Morita pulled together some of these ideas to turn his own life and the lives of many of his patients into demonstrations of the constructive possibilities that lie within us all. His methods are still practiced in Japan today. I have translated Morita's thought into terms understandable to Westerners and have added a notion of my own here and there, but the essence remains unchanged. The principles are as applicable to you and me as they were to the Japanese of Morita's day and the Japanese today. We are, after all, humans. And human suffering is human suffering wherever it encountered.