Category Archives: Mental Optimization

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

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

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at MediaVillage.com. Here is the link to my latest post.

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

How a Subtle Shift Can Be Useful

Originally posted May 5, 2015

The peachy-purple-gold sunset reflects with pink iridescence on the wet sand where the sea recedes from its last sally onto the beach. Soundlessly a squadron of hunting pelicans glides past my writing hand. These two-day escapes to the seashore reinvigorate my excitement at life.

beautiful sunset on the beach

Simply clearing the decks of our mind and its latest obsessions, stepping back as the Observer and seeing the richness there is to be observed around us, we can attain peace anywhere.

When I was very young, somehow I became inspired by the notion that a slight shift in the way I look at things could have enormous effect. Now decades later, the number of times I have applied this principle must be in the millions, firmly installing it in my neurons, making it second nature for me to shift my point of view.

What I’ve learned

The thinking part of the mind and the feeling part both represent potential obstacles of different kinds.

The feelings do not want nor seek solutions. Specialized in expressing themselves, the feelings therefore wish to simply find more and better, increasingly dramatic, ways of expressing whatever they are feeling at the moment, kind of an inertial momentum (i.e. an object in motion tends to remain in motion kind of thing).

Reasoning with the feelings, using thinking to change unwanted feelings, is not inherently a strong strategy. Telling oneself to feel joy, and that happiness is a choice, so go ahead and make that choice, be strong, be positive — this sometimes worked for me, because I liked the idea of being indomitable and of not allowing anything to have power over me or my mood. At other times some part of me is clearly relishing wallowing in sulking, rage, guilt, anxiety, or whatever, as if a part of me is coming from a separate reality and visiting here on a trip specifically for the experience of such an operatic-size dramatic expression of emotion.

The strategy that works best for me is more intuitive, neither straight thinking nor straight feeling. It is through the intuition that we can make a creative and altogether indiscernible slight shift in the way we look at things, which will both fill us with the happy anticipation of effecting positive change, and enlighten us with light cast in from a new angle to reveal amazing insights.

Engaging the intuition this way has first a positive impact on hope and secondly a positive impact on curiosity. I find myself looking around in my mind for the perspective that will create the shift. I start from the assumption that my thinking mind accepts: there will always be an angle on the situation that will bring relief. So far, that prediction has always come true.

Finding that mental switch inside that leads to this subtle shift in feelings may not be so easy the first time you try it. Keep practicing.

Wishing you all a strong and agile new mind muscle, giving you the ability to seek and grasp the hidden gearshift to indomitable happiness.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Here is my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-05-05 07:50:35. 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

Visualizing 2019

Visualize the whole universe as one thing

Originally posted January 5, 2016Volume 5, Issue 47

As we leap into 2019, with clear intentions and resolve, let’s keep this visualization in the forefront of our minds to guide our thoughts and actions:

Visualize the whole
Universe as one thing
Every individual

of every species
Every idea
Every event
Every moment of time
Every percept
Every lump of matter 
and energy
All parts of one thing*

Then, each day, realizing your connection with the Universe, play your hand as best you can:

You are a Musician,
harmonize.
You are an Actor,
detach.
You are Real,
don’t pretend.
You are in Time,
don’t hurry.*

May we all reopen our minds to the existence of all possibilities, as we rediscover the unique experiment that Nature has designed uniquely for each and every one of us on our branch of the Tree of Life.

Happy New Year 2019!
Bill

*From Mind Magic: Doorways into Higher Consciousness

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Originally posted 2016-01-05 08:54:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Regenerative Method for Stimulating Innovation

Volume 2, Issue 2. Originally posted April 12, 2012

This blog takes a shortened form optimized for Acceleritis™ conditions

Listening to you readers, I have enjoyed writing this blog more than ever. Everyone I’ve talked to has said it is something totally different and therefore worth reading. Thank you all again for the encouragement.

Habit is the biggest obstacle to innovation and adaptability. The number of repetitions in our ingrained mental habits is in the millions by age 30. Each repetition reinforces many synapses thus increasing their automaticity. This is your challenge in breaking out of mental ruts, which is something you must do if you aspire to Flow state. And something you must do simply to innovate and adapt yourself and your company/organization to an accelerated treadmill of inputs, questions, challenges, and opportunities.

Imagination is the best tool we have and the one that is the most fun to use. Use of imagination regenerates synapses that have fallen into disuse and dials back the automaticity of the ones you use all the time.

Take your company, for example. Imagine the wildest scenarios you can — radical changes in partnerships, a totally different pricing model, an impossible dream of a new product you’d love to have — you make it up. See if this mental exercise doesn’t give you some imaginative yet prudent immediate actions. I bet it will.

Do the same for yourself. Think the unthinkable. Every seven years every cell in your body is different, the old ones are gone. We are a new self every moment. Daydream your near-term and far-term future, knowing you are purposely being unrealistic and perhaps grandiose — it’s allowed because it’s only an exercise.

Or is it?

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers.

Originally posted 2012-04-12 10:56:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter