Tag Archives: Flow State

Are you getting enough pleasure out of your life?

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If you’re not, you’ve got to fix that. No one else is going to do it for you.

ability to re-create ourselves

All that exists is now, this moment, so you can’t be putting off fun to some hoped-for future. If you’re not getting it right now, this very day, you’re not playing to win at the game of life; you’re trapping yourself in illusion and accepting second best.

What’s stopping you from seizing the day and living your dreams, right this very moment? Very likely it’s the deep dark repressed (or expressed) belief that you don’t have the power to change your life into the ideal vision you had for it. Especially now, when so much time has passed, and you’ve got negative momentum leading away from the goal.

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The Second Cornerstone: Mindfulness

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In last week’s post we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance is achieved mainly through Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. We included tools to increase Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control.

The need to be master of one’s own attention has gotten progressively greater over the centuries as a result of information overload and its distractive effects. We have given this condition the name Acceleritis™, the vast increase in the amount of information needing to be processed by our brains each day. ADD, ADHD, and a fairly obvious reduction in the general population’s ability to stay focused on one problem long enough to solve it, have been the result.

Watch a video about the cure for Acceleritis.

The need for Mindfulness has never been greater.

The Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, recommend three yogic mental/emotional methods to achieve the conscious and willful control of our attention.

  • Concentration is the focus of the mind on a single object.
     
  • Contemplation is the focus of the mind on a single subject.
     
  • Meditation is the contemplation of the Self.

What then is Mindfulness?

We define Mindfulness as the optimal allocation of attention for maximum effectiveness. When one is mindful, attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This helps us understand our own motivations in the moment, to consider not only our needs but the needs and probable responses of others, and to greatly improve what fighter pilots call situational awareness. This is in sharp distinction from our typical behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open.

It takes attention and effort to be mindful, but practicing persistent mindfulness not only allows us to be more present in each moment, it also allows us to shift into a higher state of consciousness to reach the Observer state more often and launch into the Zone or Flow state, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking with a solution orientation — overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution — are the cornerstones of what I practice to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of my life. Try this approach for yourself to see if it works for you.

Best to all,

Bill 

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI". It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

Bill interviewed on RBDRFor those interested in my work in the media business world you might like to watch my video interview with Bob Lederer on Research Daily Report in which I sum up highlights from the ARF Re:Think 2015 Conference in New York March 16 – 18.

Positive Thinking

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People are always saying to me, “Bill, you’re one of the most positive people around.” While I take it as a high compliment, I am always thinking “How do I convey that there’s more to it than positive thinking?”

Positive thinking is an idea all of us know by now, and it is not easy for most people to practice it when faced with perceived threats, disappointments or other mood negators.

You Have The Power

I actually didn’t set out to be a positive thinker. Like all children I wondered about everything, I just wondered more systematically, and in a bulldog fashion. A philosopher by nature, I really wanted to figure things out. The positive thinking came along with a lot of other discoveries.

As a philosopher I am attracted to pragmatism. This moves the mind toward positive thinking as a side effect. From a pragmatic point of view, one does not start with positive thinking, but with questions like what is our goal or purpose, and then what means will get us there. In the context of pragmatism, anything but positive thinking is an obvious waste of time and energy! Negative handwringing is staying in the problem definition phase when it’s time to move on to the solution phase.

Having been led to positive thinking via pragmatism, I was then able to see the value of projecting positively, pre-visualizing positively, and communicating positively as simply more effective at achieving goals. I didn’t do those things out of a belief in thinking positively; I did them because I saw that they worked.

Here are some other attitudes or strategies that I find work well along with positive thinking:

  • Have fun, because fun is conducive to reaching Flow state.
  • Develop long-term goals and then work toward aligning your short-term goals to your long-term goals.
  • Consider “What can I control or change, and what must I accept?”
  • Take the right action and let the chips fall as they may.
  • Pre-visualize successful outcomes.
  • Non-attachment to outcome is key.

Positive thinking is one of the cornerstones of success, leading to Flow state or Zone-level performance, ability to withstand and meet challenges, ability to be happy. I highly recommend it as a daily practice.

Mindfulness is another necessary component that works side by side with positive thinking. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on mindfulness in the next post.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI". It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

How Did We Become So Distracted?

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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

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI". It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

Improve the Creative Result by Goofing Off

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Looking Inward At Oneself is the first step

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.

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.

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

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI". It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.