When Dr. Stephen Post arrived in Three Village in 2008, he wasn't prepared for the devastating effects uprooting his family from their suburban Cleveland home of two decades and moving to a new community would have for himself and his family.
Now, almost three years later, Post has chronicled the process through which he and his family put the pieces back together in a new book, The Hidden Gifts of Helping, which features Three Village and its various institutions as part of the healing process.
Post, who heads the at Stony Brook University, is also the co-author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, which he described as a "reasonable success" after it sold about 50,000 copies. He began writing his new book about six months after he moved to Setauket in the summer of 2008. The book, which combines personal narrative with scientific research and discussions of faith, was released Feb. 22 by the publisher Jossey-Bass.
"I’d been thinking about the times we live in and the number of people struggling, especially in the aftermath of the economic downturn," Post said during a recent interview with Patch. "It would be just an honest statement about adjusting to a very new place when you leave a lot behind. Not that everybody has the same experience ... but I don’t want to underestimate the stresses of being uprooted after being so deeply rooted."
Post and his family had spent two decades in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland which he describes as having cheaper taxes and a long-established midwestern standard for a nearly automatic rapport between neighbors. Not something you find everywhere on Long Island.
But his wife found a job working with special needs children in the Three Village school district, and his son got involved in service projects at school. For himself, he tried to adopt an attitude of treating those around him with kindness and generosity. In the little ways they were helping others, they began to adapt to their new lives in Three Village. And it turns out there's a growing science behind the relationship between a person and his environment. Post cites research that shows various changes in environment, like moving, can lead to depression and other health problems in people of all ages.
"They’re understanding it better at the level of stress response, neurological response," said Post, who has lectured widely and has appeared on television shows like Long Island Talks and .
In The Hidden Gifts of Helping, Post also talks about some of his favorite places in and around town, like the , , and the Port Jefferson Ferry, and the first slice of pizza he had at pizzeria. He has given away about a hundred copies of the book, many to the local folks whom he mentions in its pages. The responses he has gotten have been largely positive so far, with Publisher's Weekly dubbing it "today's handbook for survival."
"What I’m getting is that it succeeds in touching people’s heart strings," Post said. "Somehow, it connects with people."