Tag Archives: Flow State

Moving Beyond Fear to Happiness

Originally posted March 31, 2015

The two biggest blocks to the Zone/Flow state are distraction and attachment.

Release Attachment - Let it go. - Bill Harvey

Attachment is also the only block to happiness, joy, delight, fun, ananda (or bliss, from Hinduism and Buddhism) — the natural built-in target state for all of us.

Attachment blocks happiness because one is fearful of losing the things one associates with happiness and tacitly assumes are requirements for happiness. When we are attached, we are also angry at whatever is suspected or known to threaten or take away those precious happiness-causing things.

“I am really attached to Pippin” (one of my cats) is a true statement for me because I love her. To experience love is not necessarily to be attached, though. To avoid confusion and getting lost in wordplay about whether attachment is a good or bad thing (because the word “attachment” is associated with the word “love”), I am using the term attachment to mean the inability to separate love from attachment and the resulting anger/fear syndrome.

The difference comes from the importance we give to keeping the “things” that give us happiness. If we truly appreciate the joy that has been created by our loves, joy that has been creating other good things through spontaneous Flow state creativity (which emerges naturally from joy and from love) it is still possible to not worry about losing any of those “things”. In fact, when we are in that state of not fearing loss, we are truly free.

A Process for Releasing Attachment

A powerful contemplation technique offered in Mind Magic involves burning out one’s attachments by intensely envisioning and feeling the loss of each separate thing one is attached to. This requires setting aside alone time, without a sense of time pressure. It requires immersion, concentration, patience as you go over the same material again and again. It’s probably best to focus on one object of your attachment at a time.

Give your imagination free reign like in a daydream. Imagine and see yourself go through the experience of the moment you lose something you are deeply attached to and visualize how it might happen. See it vividly from the inside, the way you experience life. Feel the feelings. Watch yourself in the daydream, the things you say in that situation, and the way you say them, and how the other person responds if the particular attachment involves another person. Let yourself actually feel the loss as if it is really happening.

Each time you go over the same imagined loss experience, you give the situation a more intelligent response. In your later iterations of the exercise you will start to act like the hero you are in the daydream of the loss. You will begin to feel differently about yourself from that moment on — more confident, more self-respectful, more courageous, in fact less prone to fear and anger.

Through this process, you realize you are no longer attached to a particular outcome, because you now know how you will respond if what you had feared ever happens.

Release attachments. Let them go. Happiness is the off-the-scale self-evidently best state one can experience in the emotional dimension.

 

Alone Space VideosWatch short videos on cultivating Alone Space Contemplation.

 

Happiness to all,

Bill

P.S. It can take some time for you to feel the effects of this technique internally, due to the interconnections among various ego circuits in your head. Be patient and persevere. And be happy. smiley

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

Originally posted 2015-03-31 11:30:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Second Cornerstone: Mindfulness

Originally posted March 24, 2015

First you must still the mind - Bill Harvey

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

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

Originally posted 2015-03-24 12:35:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Positive Thinking

Originally posted March 17, 2015

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 actually do 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

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

Originally posted 2015-03-17 10:49:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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

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

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