Category Archives: Classic Bill

Infusing Life with Meaning

Originally posted September 29, 2015

In the absence of knowing, I’ve found a way to arrive at decisions that works extremely well for me. I call it Game Theory.

With Game Theory, when I don’t know what the outcome will be, I list possible outcomes and then see which ones I like, and what end result I want to create. Then see if I can make decisions that will get me moving in one of those preferred directions.

How much meaning do I want to see in life, in my every day, second-to-second life? If I want there to be rich meaning abounding, then I can choose to use a lens that gives me that view — a lens that makes things more explainable and understandable.

For example, in terms of the nature of reality, there are really only two clusters of lenses to choose from. One says there is something like a God, and the other says there is nothing like a God.

Through the lenses that say there is something like a God, there may appear to be an abundance of meaning in our lives. In the other cluster of lenses, there may appear to be a dearth of meaning — much happens that makes no sense, nor do we expect it to make sense.

I was in this lens for many years. It came from being so impressed by science as a kid. I can testify that there are good things about this lens. For one thing, it makes us feel terrifically autonomous, as independent thinkers, since most of the world is viewing things from the other stance. It sometimes strips away so many considerations that we quickly look at situations and see the barest of elements, the quintessence. There is a certain minimalist “cleanliness” if not clarity to this view.

Emotionally, the lens of being alone in an unbenevolent universe can be toughening, allowing us to more easily become fatalistic and to shed many of our attachments. We don’t make assumptions but are very common sense and down to earth: very empirical. We don’t lean on illusions or faith or anyone else to define reality. All of which can be good.

Another viewpoint, which I have dubbed the “Something like God exists” lens, affords meaning to everything.

Imagine Everything is a gift from the universe.

If you yearn to have more meaning in your life, I suggest using this lens without believing it to be the truth or disbelieving it. This way, you will always see the meanings you ascribe as tentative, without becoming locked into them or attached to your view. You may also see a wealth of value in using this lens, imbuing more meaning in your life.

Pope Francis’ visit to the US offers a great example of the utility of wearing the “Something like God exists” lens. Regardless of the religious beliefs you hold (or not), it’s difficult at best to not acknowledge the palpable message of love, hope and caring for one another that emanated so powerfully from the Pope’s presence even more than from his words, which were also so beautifully spoken.

None of us, not even Pope Francis, really knows the meaning of life. It is all a wonderfully thrilling awesome unknown, which makes life interesting, mysterious-mystical, immense, awe-inspiring. Wouldn’t we be missing something if we did know everything?

Since God or a universal intelligence of some kind* cannot be ruled out, wearing the “Something like God exists” lens allows you to start seeing possible reasons why certain things have happened — as if the universe is trying to help you by putting certain training obstacles in your path. I call this noia — being the opposite of paranoia.

By seeing things as possible gifts from the universe even if they are not, and even if they don’t feel like gifts at the time, we gain some leverage from being able to see how to use the event constructively.

Best to all,

Bill

* For a deeper dive into universal intelligence, see my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That.

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Originally posted 2015-09-29 09:45:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What Is the Meaning of Life? – Revisited

Originally posted September 1, 2015

When I was younger, I would ask this question whenever anyone, even a tour guide in a museum, asked me if I had any more questions.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn

Internally, it’s the question I asked myself multiple times a day all my life until I felt sure of the answer, which occurred sometime in my 30s.

The underlying question is “What is the meaning of ‘meaning’ in this context?”

The intent of the question is to understand what life is, what its purpose is (if any), what the universe is, what its purpose is (if any), why we are here, who we are, how we are to behave, what our relation is to one another, is there a God, and why are we compelled to consider any of this as relevant or meaningful to the second-to-second management of our personal business of existence.

One alternative to asking and answering this question to one’s own satisfaction is to go about life happily without caring about the question (which could be a Zen-like answer in itself, essentially filing the question away into the “Overthinking” file). Another alternative is to consider life meaningless, which many existentialists did in the last century.

Other than an intuition I had at age 12 that “I am God and so is everyone else”, which I tucked away as an interesting but unexplained aberration, the meaninglessness of life was my own position for the first 30-odd years of life. Around age 20, as I studied philosophy, I put reasoning around this earlier intuition, deciding that one took positions like this based solely on aesthetic preference, since knowability of the answer to What Is the Meaning of Life? was apparently beyond our scope.

In my 30s I had some unusual experiences that also reminded me of similar experiences in my childhood, at which point I felt as I do now — a very strong conviction that I actually know the answer.

The way I see it, all that exists is a single consciousness of such great computing power as to know everything that goes on within itself instantaneously at all times (though God or the One Self is above time). Since we don’t share this omniscience, God gets to play our roles with more drama and excitement. So the meaning of life must be to realize and enjoy this game as our true Original Self does, and thereby re-merge into the Original Consciousness.

I talk about this theory more in my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That.

From a practical standpoint, life becomes most meaningful for us to the extent that we realize our own unique gifts; we love doing the things inspired by those talents; we develop a life plan around sharing these things with others, and then we go forward with that plan without being attached to the outcome.

We then have a Purpose, a Mission, which satisfies the thinking mind of our own meaningfulness. Just as I go into meetings with awareness of my preferred outcomes, I set them aside at the last minute so I can go with the meeting flow, taking the standpoint of simply trying to help out everyone else in the meeting as best I can. Pragmatically and empirically, this appears to work best in balancing out the complexities of life as well.

So “What is the meaning of Life?” Enjoying it, loving it, loving all, and helping others to do the same.

“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return.”
— “Nature Boy”, by Nat King Cole

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-09-01 11:34:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Role of Feelings in Decision Making

Originally posted July 14, 2015

Negative feelings not only bring us down, medical evidence shows they also weaken our immune system, making us more prone to disease, and they distract our cognitive concentration, thereby reducing our effectiveness.

Bad feelings can also serve a positive function — as an alarm system to quickly get us to pay attention to a problem. Ironically, if bad feelings continue unabated while we are grappling with a problem on a rational level, it will take longer to solve the problem because we are stuck in a cycle of negativity. Most of us have experienced this cycle.

Are you more driven by thoughts or feelings

Are we generally more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts?

Freud established that thoughts are more likely to be rationalized in support of feelings, rather than our being able to use our thoughts to control our feelings. And yet, how valuable it is to be able to do just that — to have the mental self-discipline to focus our thoughts effectively even when our feelings are in an uproar?

Feelings are urges that arise within us, within our minds and within our bodies. Feelings are experiences, states of consciousness resulting from our motivations, sentiments, preferences or desires. These terms all really mean the same thing: what we value, what we want, what we are trying to get, what we want to avoid.

Feelings are how we respond internally to outer and inner events, based on what we are trying to get and avoid, and how current events can help or threaten our desired outcomes.

We feel positive if current events appear to favor our targeted outcomes, and we feel negative if events seem to be heading away from what we want to have happen.

Positive feelings are valued universally. There’s no argument: we all like them, and would like to have more of them!

Generally speaking, feelings are also a manifestation of our motivations colliding with the external world. What would we feel if we had no motivations?

You can discover this by meditating. While there are many meditation techniques, all of them have a mind/gut mirror effect of showing us what our motivations really are, where they have gotten us, and why we have each of our experiences. Through practicing meditation we can achieve this objectivity, turning off certain motivations at least for the moment and seeing what that feels like. What visions of future possibilities arise now that X motivation is gone?

The perspective we gain through meditation can give us a unique vantage point on our feelings and our motivations. Meditation helps us consider deeply our own feelings and their consequences in the world. It also generates positive feelings, so it’s good for our overall health and well-being. Practicing meditation and becoming aware of the role our feelings and motivations play in our lives allows us to better understand the value of both in our decision making process.

My best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-07-14 10:41:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Let’s work together to reunite America.

Originally posted July 7, 2015

Let’s agree that this is a mission worthy of our collective focus and best efforts.

There is rich value in our dynamic differences

Our individual and largescale best move would be to first acknowledge the feelings and disparity that exists on so many issues we are facing, and then seek new creative ways to formulate compromise concepts and action programs that can bring all of us together to effect authentic change.  If we just begin the dialogue together and quickly wind down the negativity, we can pull together toward creativity and compromise.

Creativity is one thing that has still been missing on the real issues at hand. Mostly we hear variations on ancient themes, not inspiring new ideas. Exactly the opposite of what is needed. Look at the world around us — it is full of amazing surprises in technology, lifestyles, and new ideas in every field except politics when it comes to some of the most serious societal issues that we face. The American people want creativity in public policy and in healing the serious societal riffs that still fester.

We all need to retrain ourselves to think, stripping away everything and starting from fresh sheets of paper or blank screens, reinventing anew. Let’s think the unthinkable. Pour out ideas without regard for taking credit, resolving to work together as one team, for the greater good. We have real challenges, and we must together devise the real new solutions that lie just beyond barriers of our own making. We are in need of leaders, those who will propose new, positive and healing solutions as we move forward.

There is rich value in our dynamic differences. Respect for those whose views or backgrounds differ from our own is the mother from which invention of new creative re-bonding ideas springs. Lack of such respect is an infertile ground for creativity and healing. If we open ourselves up and consider other’s perspectives, there can be real inspiration in our own creative ideas that might succeed in bringing us together. Let’s all share in the creative process and bubble up grassroots ideas for leaders to build upon.

In this spirit of America, let’s all step up to heal the rifts that divide us with ideas that can solve the challenges the human race has created for itself.

We invite you to embrace healing in your own life so that it may radiate out — as from pebbles rippling in a vast pond.

My Best to All!

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-07-07 11:52:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are you balancing activity and stillness?

Originally posted June 16, 2015

If we are always pushing toward our goals, we are inadvertently setting ourselves back from reaching them.

There is a stage in the creative process in which it is wise to turn away from the challenge and do other things, for it is during this turned-away phase that the Aha! moment comes.

not creating may be essential to creativity

Certain batteries get recharged when we take ourselves temporarily off the wheel that is always driving us. This can happen when we are entertained — on our screen devices, reading, watching stage or other performances, spectator sports, vacations, making love, being with family and/or friends.

The subtlest batteries, however, only get recharged when we are alone with ourselves. This can take the form of sitting meditation but it doesn’t have to. We can be alone in nature, alone at home, alone on an airplane, anywhere. As long as we are not working down the TO DO list, there is a greater chance that we will slip into the Observer state (the precursor to Flow state) effortlessly.

To help bring on Observer state — a mindset in which you are able to simultaneously observe and analyze your emotional reactions to situations somewhat impassively — this works for me:

  • Look more closely at the place from which thoughts/feelings arise.
  • Don’t add to what you observe inwardly/outwardly, i.e. stop interpreting everything.

If we spend too much time doing, our conscious mind will block the functioning of our subconscious mind, and we’ll interfere with the stream of consciousness. If we spend too much time not doing, we will under-actualize our own goals. The movement associated with creative energy is a good thing, but stillness in body and mind is also valuable.

Balancing movement and stillness is optimal for maximizing effectiveness toward all our goals in life for love, creativity, and ultimately spiritual fullness, intuitively knowing and feeling connected with all beings and all things.

Strive to achieve the right balance between times spent doing versus time spent not doing.

L’chaim! (Hebrew toast “to life”)

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-06-16 14:04:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Trying to Move a Boulder?

Originally posted June 9, 2015

Feeling blocked? Have you run up against a challenge that is worrying you and bringing you down? Here’s another of the tools I keep handy when I run up against a boulder that frustrates me, casting a dim light or even fog over the achievability of my goals and priorities. I find these tools can also be used proactively even during times of smooth sailing to notch my game up a bit.

Relax and Breathe

Imagine that you can feel the muscles in your head relaxing while you go blank and stop gnawing whatever bone has your mind obsessed at the moment. Don’t let yourself revive that conversation in your head for a while. Let it go, for now, and steer yourself into thinking or feeling about some different subject, for at least several minutes. If timing permits, it’s ideal to do this for up to three days.

Step away. Get out in nature alone, even when it’s cold or cloudy. Sit in it, hear it, smell it and see it. Pay attention to nature all around you, up and down, above and below you. (This works in the streets of big cities too although not as powerfully, so nearby parks are a plus, the less city-like the better.) This makes room for the inner messages that come from our feelings and intuitions, and the outer messages we get from our five senses.

Like trying to remember a word that’s on the tip of your tongue, you have to stop trying to remember it. You are going into the wrong file drawers in your mind, which blocks you from relaxing into the right file drawer where suddenly the word just pops into your mind in the midst of some completely different conversation.

Turning away from a problem allows the subconscious mind with its far greater resources to approach the problem from new directions. If we persist in trying the ingrained approach we are stuck in and can’t see beyond, it will just take longer to get to a solution, making us miserable and less effective in everything else we do in the meantime.

Try this approach next time you have a boulder to move. It works for me.

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-06-09 12:17:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter