How Did We Become So Distracted?

Originally posted March 10, 2015

We live at a discontinuous point in history.

Most of us know that the human race started evolving from primates, coming down out of trees over 1,000,000 years ago, but it’s only been the last 200,000 years that we’ve been homo sapiens.

We’ve written things down for only 6,000 years out of those million years so we have no written record of what went on before those roughly 6,000 years.

Key Survival Characteristic

My hypothesis as a social scientist is that in the last 6,000 years, written language changed the way we use our minds.

It actually started with the cave paintings, some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, using symbolism — we started to be able to look at abstract symbols to represent things like animals that we were going to be hunting.

When we moved to written language, we could see the language — the granular bits of information. Pictures don’t have chunks to them like words do.

Though nowhere near digital yet, we started to get into granular chunk thinking as soon as we got into written language.

This development marked the beginning of a revolution in the way we use our minds, and this has been accelerating for the last 6,000 years.

We started inventing things — first tools, then weapons and then media — and all of those things have contributed to the fact that we now every day are subjected to a deluge of stimuli that exceeds our ability to answer all the questions arising in our mind second-to-second.

We get into a habit of just sweeping things aside. “I’m never gonna answer all this stuff. I won’t try to answer all this stuff. I won’t even try to answer the basic question of what is life, what is the meaning of all this, what is my purpose? It’s just too many questions. I can’t answer them.” I call this condition Acceleritis™.

We see things like increasing ADD and ADHD and we see people who are supposed to be running big countries acting like high-school kids and not getting anything done.

This deluge of stimuli all the time is not good for any of us. In the face of the hugely distracting environment of Acceleritis, we are being distracted from Flow state, which I believe is our natural state and which occurred a lot more before 6,000 years ago.

This is why I consider psychotechnology, which prepares people with techniques to stay focused through complexity, to be so important. No matter who we are, the quality of our life depends upon our effectiveness in meeting challenges, whether as a parent, an executive, an athlete or a world leader.

Shutting out distractions

Most all of the techniques I use to increase focus and creativity are included in my book, MIND MAGIC, and I also share them here in this blog space — techniques like mindfulness, meditation, self-awareness and letting go of attachment. Learning to become the observer more often and not getting caught up or reeled in by all of these distractions, we can find greater clarity and reach Flow state more often. Learning to stay focused in an ever increasingly distracting world, we can ultimately increase our creativity and improve our decision making.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-03-10 12:24:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Win/Win Principle

Originally posted March 3, 2015

So many writers have impressed me with at least one thing, if not everything, they have written. Aleister Crowley for example in Liber Aleph makes the point that there are no rules, just principles to balance in every given situation. Yet just a few principles come closest to being rules that they should probably be applied in virtually every circumstance. Pondering this, it occurs to me that Win/Win is such an important principle it comes near the top of the list if not at the very top.

Your View of Reality

The intention and actuality of only making agreements that will benefit all parties is the essence of the Win/Win principle. It ideally permeates to the minutest level of each almost invisible tacit agreement going on every second of our social interactions. In my cosmology we are all holograms of the One Consciousness or more precisely facets of the one Conscious Hologram, so it follows logically that we would do unto others as we would do unto a reflection of our very own self. This is truly enlightened self-interest. It is then the most palpable form of omnidirectional unconditional love. Even in a humanistic materialistic worldview such as some of my best friends have, the Win/Win principle follows logically from their chosen noble stance. My lifetime favorite writer F. Scott Fitzgerald notes in The Beautiful and Damned that such a stance is even more meaningful if it is taken with no moral imperative to do so.

Maintaining the Win/Win intention is not always easy. It’s hardest perhaps when we believe we have a score to settle with someone. We want them to lose so they learn a lesson and they stop behaving the way they are. Take for example two Win/Lose players I met years ago. Mr. Z humiliated Ms. Y in front of others. I had a feeling and said to another onlooker later, “She is going to find a way to get even someday.” Sometime later there followed an unrelated Lose/Lose lawsuit, set in motion by a quiet remark from Ms. Y to her boss, which ended with both Ms. Y and Mr. Z being negatively affected.

The Biblical directive, “Let vengeance be mine”, gives us permission to not carry the burden of corrective punishment, absolving us from that task and enabling us to continue to act for the ultimate Win/Win even with folks who have harmed us. More good is ultimately achieved by this strategy than by any other. We benefit more long-term and often short-term, even when dealing with the most recalcitrant adversary. It comes down, as so many things do, to searching for a more creative solution. We then make it possible to achieve a Win/Win outcome even when up against a Win/Lose “opponent”.

It is a glorious fact of existence that each of us is a far more powerful player on the stage of this world than we ever suspect based on appearances. Words or even facial expressions can escalate things disproportionately. Win/Win as a deep-seated attitude in all situations is not only the best way to “win” — achieving the most benefit for all and therefore doing the most good in the world — it is also the best protection against forgetting our own principles even in a careless or tired moment.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-03-03 11:31:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Improve the Creative Result by Goofing Off

Originally posted February 24, 2015

In our present culture in which multiple jobs are held by most people just to keep up with their latest Jones, and in which Acceleritis™ necessitates massive multitasking, the creative process tends to become shortened into a two-step process of absorbing information (never enough), and implementation. In other words, no Aha! Moment.

Pfeiffer Beach at sunset in California courtesy of Craig Colvin Photography

Take a break, a mini-vacation at the right moments in your creative process, and the Aha! Moment reveals itself. 

The absorbing of information part was easier before the Internet. One saw the logic of not going too far because it would cost too much time. Now one can keep drilling down further and further without an apparent end in sight.

Finding information however, continues to be the major complaint of executives and their teams. You know you have it somewhere and you can go searching for it but it is so boring and annoying given the time pressure. Give me a dashboard where I don’t even have to remember what it is called and yet can still find it in a second. Until then, just send that thing to me again, please.

When you break down how much time goes into the absorption (including searching) and other aspects of the process, the two middle stages — turning away (“sleeping on it”), then the Aha! Moment — take almost no time compared with absorbing and implementing. And yet those two middle processes account for the quality of the outcome or creative result. With only the bookends and no middle the result may be passable but it does not rock. Are we here just to do stuff that’s passable, without the satisfaction of Flow state-level outcomes? No way — makes no sense. Life is about living large, not just robotically coping.

Are you letting your mind go wherever it wants?

The creative process goes through four stages: absorbing information, turning away, the Aha! Moment, and implementation.

A third of a second before the Aha! Moment — a type of Flow state experience happens. Daniel Goleman explains it as a burst of gamma activity, signifying the rapid creation of a new network of neural connections in the neocortical right temporal cortex of the brain. Simply put, the Aha! Moment is a scientifically measurable event, i.e. it’s real.

However, this only occurs if your mind is in a certain state receptive to the sense of Aha! That state can be described as the indirect observation of undirected mentation. Let’s break it down.

Undirected mentation is when you let your mind go wherever it wants. Indirect observation is (by my definition) the alert watching of something as if seeing it for the first time.

So you get the Aha! to the degree your mind can do whatever it wants to do with no pressure to perform or achieve anything, while a very alert part of you is watching your own mind, as if from outside.

When you do this, the tendency is for the Observer state part of yourself to go to sleep. That is, your point of view tends to get reabsorbed into the part of the mind that is just playing and you forget to look at it from the detached Observer point of view. You get caught up in some attachment motivation, some feeling/emotion, which identifies you with the relaxing, playing, wandering mind. This may feel wonderful; however, it doesn’t help you if the objective is Observer and then Flow states. “Identification with” leaves the attachment turned on. “Detachment from” is the goal. Stay in, or keep returning to the detached Observer state.

So how do you increase the Aha! Moments and improve the creative outcome? Take a break, a mini-vacation at the right moments in your creative process, and the Aha! reveals itself. Trust that if you remain the scientist, the objective observer when goofing off, Aha! Moments WILL come more often.

Best to all,

Bill

Photo credit: “Pfeiffer Beach” courtesy of Craig Colvin Photography

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-02-24 12:20:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Data Mining Your Own Intuition — Revisited

Originally posted February 17, 2015

Have you ever had an intuition?

You are the HEARER of your Thoughts

Intuition is when an idea pops into your head fully formed without being preceded by a step-by- step logical chain. These intuitions may come to you with “cognitive elements” usually in the form of a feeling. You understand the meaning of your thoughts and what it is you are saying to yourself, without having heard words spelling it out. Although often there may be no image that you can see in your mind, in heightened states of consciousness you may be able to see an image tied to this intuition.

These ideas flash into our mind and usually flash right out again unless we have a strong and abiding mental intention to pay attention to and remember their content. Without such conscious intention, we probably won’t even notice these fleeting intuitions. They are a subtle guidance system that does not speak loudly in our mind.

Dan Goleman points out that at least some of these feelings — the ones we call “gut feelings” — are called that because we sense they are somehow coming from our gut, which is accurate because the part of the brain from which these intuitions come (the basal ganglia) is also associated with the nerve connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal system. These intuitions are really the net guidance stored from our experiences in the form of summary action implications that tell us the way we are going either worked or failed in the past.

By contrast, the ego voices that dominate most of our mind at most times are loud, strident and salient. These ego voices are the thoughts, inner dialog, and feelings that are linked to our base motivations. We are pulled around by our negative fears and anger reactions to events around us when we feel our livelihoods and social standing are at stake and sense at any moment something can be taken away from us. The ego is also stressed out due to Acceleritis™ (Information Overload), thus exacerbating its own predisposition to worry.

As a result of this inner competition for attention and the fact that most of our attention at nearly all times is cast outwards not inwards, we don’t even catch these intuitions in the first place.

If we do catch the intuition, it is generally not heeded because of the jumble of subsequent louder thoughts giving us impulses to verbally fight, complain, argue, dismiss, or otherwise rain on whatever it was that somebody just said that may have triggered the intuition.

How to Use Your Intuition More Effectively

This is a testable hypothesis — try this:

Start a program of paying attention to your own hunches and look for them to arise. When they do, put off the other business that seems so important to the ego and everyday mind, and focus on what your intuition just told you. Make sure you remember the content by either writing it down or forming a keyword, key phrase or key image that will serve as a retrieval mechanism to bring back the whole content of the idea.

Then at an appropriate time in whatever is happening, tentatively see if the application of that intuitive idea seems to contribute anything to the situation taking place around you. Do this instead of — or at least before — offering the people around you any of the subsequent jumble of thoughts that came after the intuition.

On the other hand, you might see what the intuition is and realize that although triggered by the current situation, it really applies to another situation. Then wait to tentatively apply the hunch until you are in the other situation. In this case also resist the tendency to edit that first flash — though using diplomatic language is always a good idea so long as you do not distort the original idea.

Sometimes the intuition gives us not the right strategy but rather a strategy that although wrong will lead to the right answer, one that might not be reached other than through considering this wrong answer. Socrates appeared to know this — he flowed with his intuitions yet by phrasing the ideas as questions he protected himself against error.

Most often our mental process is to speed past the intuitive event and come up with some other strategy for dealing with the present situation. If we even retain memory of the hunch, our tendency is to later edit and “improve” upon it, which often has the opposite effect. Based on my experience, stick with the way it appeared in the beginning — the odds favor this being the successful course of action.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2017-08-31 09:27:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rediscovering that Ancient Territory: Your Own Mind — Revisited

Originally posted February 10, 2015

All of us are naturally curious about our own selves. When someone who knew us when, someone older, tells us a story about something we did when we were too young to remember it, we are raptly attentive.

Looking inward at oneself is the first step toward clarity.

If it were not for the culturally ubiquitous time pressure, we would have the same curiosity if offered a searchlight method to see more deeply into our own mind than ever before. Here we offer just such a searchlight.

This posting is a brief exploration into the architecture of inner experience and offers tools to look into your inner Self, through observation and experience. Why bother? Because in order to get into the two higher, most effective states of consciousness — the Observer State, where we can really see what is going on inside ourselves rather than being puppeteered by software in our heads, and the Flow state (Zone), where we are spontaneously doing everything just right — we need to become experts in the empirical study of our own minds and inner life.

What Is the Architecture of Our Inner Life?

Carl Jung defined the four functions of consciousness as perception, feelings, intellect and intuition — the latter referred to in day-to-day life as “hunches”. These are four kinds of events that can go on in consciousness.

Within consciousness, what we experience first is something inside that motivates us and moves us toward or away from something. Those are feelings. Instincts — hardwired genetic carryovers inherited before birth — are partly responsible for some or all of our feelings. The rest arise from motivations we accumulated during our lives, stuff we learned or decided to want or not want as a result of our experiences since birth.

So what are these things you call your thoughts, your feelings, your hunches, your perceptions? Consider, or reconsider, all of the experiences you have had of your own mind, your own inner life.

When I watch what goes on inside of me, it often starts with a feeling that is also somehow an image at the same time. Another part of me then takes that feeling/image and interprets it as a conscious thought — putting names, categorizations, and other specific recognizable details onto the original amorphous feeling/image.

I think that’s what a thought is. An interpreted feeling/image. Diverging from Jung, I posit that thoughts and feelings are the same thing, at different stages of development.

Thoughts add details to feelings/images, turning them into specifications, bringing out additional information that had somehow been packed into the feeling/image.

Possibly feelings are the most substantial and primary actor, coming out of our most intimate connection with our self, and arising to be transmuted into intuitions and/or thoughts and/or emotions and/or images/visions.

Perceptions coming in from the “outside” accompanied by an equal stream of feelings from “inside” suggests that feelings are another sense, like seeing and hearing. In which case, we simply perceive, and the rest of the functions are what evolves from our perceptions. In other words, feelings are inner perceptions, and what we call sense perceptions are outer perceptions. Inner and outer perceptions are the raw stuff of experience, and as we turn them over in our minds, those perceptions turn into thoughts and/or intuitions.

I suggest that perceptions evolve into what Jung classified as thoughts (intellect) and/or hunches (intuition). Outer perceptions — the five physical senses — are what Jung called “perceptions” — and the inner perceptions are what Jung called “feelings”. In my own experience, the raw stuff of my inner life is comprised of feeling/image arisings that I then articulate internally as thoughts, with either words or not, or observe as hunches, without inner words.

Intellect and intuition have always been seen as similar functions. Intellect reaches new conclusions step by effortful step. Intuition gets there in one leap, involuntarily, all by itself. Sometimes when the intuition or hunch is particularly credible and important and came out of nowhere, we call it inspiration, suggesting help from some outside invisible source.

The Searchlight to Our Inner Self

We need maps to study consciousness. We also need meditation to concentrate on seeing what really goes on inside by understanding the basic building blocks of all inner experience — thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions.

Try this. Find five minutes when you can’t be interrupted and there is nothing dragging you away like a deadline. You might not find time to try this until the weekend, so leave yourself a note somewhere you’ll see it Saturday or Sunday morning.

Sit with your eyes closed and back straight, with your head drawn up toward the ceiling. First, still the mind by experiencing your breath going in and out, without trying to control the breath in any way. After a half-dozen breath cycles or whenever you feel as if your mind is relatively still, begin the exercise.

Now simply watch for what happens at the very beginning of a thought or feeling. A thought or a feeling is going to arise. You are in a state of concentrated sharp attention and the game is to see that arising as quickly as possible, identify what it is, and be able to remember the experience of it as accurately as possible.

This is not as easy as it sounds because we tend to get so instantly caught up in the thought or feeling we forget that we are doing this exercise. That is, until through exercises like this, we find that we have gained true control of our minds in a gradual process that we get better and better at over time. By looking inside, we can begin to cut through dogma and other people’s beliefs, and see for ourselves who we are in our inner worlds.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-02-10 12:51:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The American Presidents – A Contrapuntal Soliloquy

Post Date: February 14, 2019

Monday, February 18, is Presidents’ Day. A day to honor our leaders, those who have assumed the executive responsibility for our democracy and our freedom. The burden for them, all of them, has been and remains enormous.

abraham-lincoln-when-I-do-good

Collectively, our Presidents have been almost as awesome as the concept of America itself. Even if we take their average, they are an extraordinarily gifted group of human beings.

Their wisdom has come down to us in their actions and in their most salient quotes. It seems fitting to reflect on some of the thoughts that they lived by.

Let’s start with the father of all Presidents.

’Tis better to be alone than to be in bad company.
     —George Washington

The guiding principles put into words by our best Presidents sound like the natural language of speaking to a beloved child. In the pre-Revolutionary period, Washington had to choose carefully with whom to align. History vindicates his choices.

This quote sums up the American Agenda:

To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.
     —John Adams

This is also the Perennial Philosophy and the root of all religion. You see right away what I mean about this group of people.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
     —Thomas Jefferson

Mental focus and attitude is the core of Buddhism and my own work and a lot of other great work being done around the planet more and more each day. A lot of the innovations that roll out, start right here in America, even today, even in our time of self-doubt. The mental climate in America remains right for innovation despite any temporary inner turbulence. The mental attitude of pessimism says that every great nation declines, like a law of physics. That’s not exactly the mental attitude Thomas Jefferson was recommending to us.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
     —John Quincy Adams

“Judge them by their fruits,” Jesus said. Truly the fruit of inspiration is an enthusiastic, hopeful populace. We are not always in that blessed state, but we have always returned to it.

It takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.
     —Andrew Jackson

The gratitude … should be commensurate with the boundless blessings which we enjoy.
     —James K. Polk

Surely over time we have taken for granted the rare privileges we receive here in the land of the future, The Noble Experiment launched by our Founding Fathers.

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.
     —Abraham Lincoln

God crowned our Good with Brotherhood, as the song goes.

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.
     —Theodore Roosevelt

The object of love is to serve, not to win.
     —Woodrow Wilson

These leaders, elected by the American system, often brought us to the highest principles of existence. 

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.
     —FDR

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
     —Harry S. Truman

 Pessimism never won any battle.
     —Dwight D. Eisenhower

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
—John F. Kennedy

 You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.
     —Jimmy Carter

As a beacon of freedom and opportunity, that draws the people of the world, no other country on Earth comes close.
     —Ronald Reagan (see video below)

No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.
     —George H.W. Bush

 If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.
     —Bill Clinton

 Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
     —Barack Obama

 Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.
     —Donald Trump

You may not respect all of these people quoted. But looking at the group as a whole, I’d say it attests to the inspired design of the American system that elected these men. Improbably, the system has worked better than any other political system in history.

I encourage you to have a listen to this precious gem, Ronald Reagan’s last speech, in the video below, in which he reminds us how lucky we are to be Americans, and how the attraction of bold and courageous immigrants continuously revitalizes our nation, and validates to the rest of the world the value of our way of life.

A big round of big-hearted, inclusive, unifying applause, folks, for the 45 elected leaders that have taken us through 243 years of growing pains as a nascent Democracy. We have been miraculously blessed, and we have much to be grateful for. We know what we have. And we are each responsible for our part as engaged citizens. Each day we can strive to make it better. And guess what—we will.

Happy Valentines’ Day to Every One!

Bill

My thanks to Bob DeSena and The Human Effectiveness Team for their inspiration.

Thanks also to Psychology Today whose curation of Presidential sayings is where the quotes above come from. Here’s the link. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/better-perfect/201702/inspirational-quotes-the-45-us-presidents

I chose a different quote for Ronald Reagan, a quote from his last speech (see video above).

Read my latest post at my media blog “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers.