My guest this week is Gregg Krech, who specializes in Japanese psychology. We focused on the principles of Morita therapy, which emphasizes taking action that brings meaning to one’s life. This approach contrasts with our tendency to dwell on how we feel and what we feel like doing, and to get lost in self-focused attention. By asking instead, “What needs to be done?” we can build a life defined by meaning and usefulness.
Topics we discussed in this episode include:
- Valuing action over words, and purpose over feelings
- The distinctions between Morita therapy and action-oriented Western therapies like CBT
- The power in realizing we can accomplish things that are important to us even if we’re feeling anxious, down, or other uncomfortable feeling states
- Overlap between Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Morita therapy
- Feeling better as a “fringe benefit” of Morita therapy
- Co-existing with one’s feeling state while doing what one wants to do
- The suffering that comes from self-focused attention
- The benefits of shifting our attention from our internal experiences to the world around us
- How to know which action is the right one to take at a given time
- The contemplative Japanese practice of Naikan
- Figuring out what to do by starting with action
- The problem with trying to figure out life in your mind
- The crucial role of momentum to combat paralysis
- The effects of technology on our attention span, and our experience of life
- The joy and pleasure we can find by being in the present moment of our lives
- The compatibility of fun with Morita therapy
- Feelings as one actor or actress, and not the director of the play
- Acceptance as a common precursor to action
- The Rule of 3 for setting priorities
- The power of helping others to put our own problems in perspective
- The history and mission of the Tōdō Institute in Monkton, Vermont
- The concept of having, on average, 30,000 days in a lifetime
Early in the episode I mentioned the book that introduced me to Morita therapy, Constructive Living by David Reynolds, who offered Gregg his first introduction to Japanese psychology. (A percentage of each purchase made through this affiliate link will be used to support the podcast, at no additional cost to you.)
Here’s the fascinating book Gregg mentioned called The Un-TV and the 10 mph Car.
We focused our discussion around concepts from Gregg’s book The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology. Some of Gregg’s other books include (these are affiliate links):
- A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness: Japanese Psychology and the Skills We Need for Psychological and Spiritual Health
- Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection
- Question Your Life: Naikan Self-Reflection and the Transformation of our Stories
- Tunneling for Sunlight: Twenty-One Maxims of Living Wisdom from Buddhism and Japanese Psychology to Cope with Difficult Times
Gregg Krech is an author, poet, and one of the leading authorities on Japanese psychology in North America. His work has been featured in The Sun magazine, Tricycle, SELF, Utne Reader, Counseling Today, Cosmopolitan, and Experience Life.
Gregg and his wife, Linda Anderson Krech, founded the TōDō Institute, a non-profit center in Vermont that uses Japanese psychology as an alternative to traditional Western approaches to psychology.
Over the past 25 years, Gregg has introduced Japanese Psychology—particularly Naikan Therapy, Morita Therapy, and Kaizen—to thousands of people through his books, workshops, retreats, and online courses. His work supports a blend of the psychological, the spiritual and the practical, and helps individuals to clarify purpose, cultivate gratitude, develop compassion and engage in meaningful action.
Gregg is a member of the North American Naikan Counsel and Editor-in-Chief for the quarterly journal Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living.