Tag Archives: Human Effectiveness Institute

The Flow State of Bliss

Volume 4, Issue 8

In this most recent series of blog posts we are reviewing the highest levels of consciousness above the divided levels in which most of us live most of the time. Two posts ago we discussed the three Observer states and in the most recent post we covered the first of the Flow states, the Flow state of Action.

These five Flow states and three Observer states are nested upward, meaning that the benefits of the Observer state inhere in all the Flow states, and each Flow state contains the benefits of the Flow states below it. It is because of this cumulating upward characteristic that it is logical to consider the states progressing upward in the sequence in which we have placed them.

I began to discover the Flow state of Action at age four when performing onstage. Fascinated and sensing that this strange experience had something to do with the purpose of my life I studied my inner states constantly after that. I suspect introspection has always been a strong natural tendency for me.

In my 30s I began to realize that I was not alone in experiencing these states. Gurdjieff and Ouspensky had written about their efforts to organize and understand states of consciousness, and then Oscar Ichazo founded a school called Arica Institute. John Lilly had written a book about his studies with Oscar, and in his descriptions of the states of consciousness I saw correspondences with my own experiences. Much later I read Czickszentmihalyi, who advised the Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) for a few years in the 90s and it was at that point that I adopted his term “Flow” state. Continuing my readings in the 2000s I learned through my friend Daniel Goleman of the Visuddhimagga, written in 430 CE, which includes tables showing levels of consciousness based on the path of concentration and on the path of insight. My own stacking of the levels I have experienced is similar but not identical to the path of insight table in the Visuddimagga, as accessibly reported in Dan’s The Varieties of Meditative Experience.

Above the Flow state of Action is a state I call the Flow state of Ecstasy or Bliss. The objectivity of observation that exists in the Observer state carries through into this state along with the self-propelled perfection of action. In this state, however, there is the additional overlay of the most positive imaginable emotions/feelings. Another way of saying this is that there is total appreciation for what one is experiencing. One sees the perfection in all of it and nothing is lacking.

This is the first stage in which a spiritual intuition comes along with Flow state although it may not be cognized that way. One is filled with love that connects to everything. A feeling of benevolence washes over you from the inside. The highest ethics become innate because there is a feeling of understanding and forgiving and therefore no wish to cause hurt to anyone or anything.

Of course, when the Founders of The United States of America (specifically Thomas Jefferson) used the expression “the pursuit of happiness” as one of the components of the unalienable natural rights of human beings, he was in a sense alluding to this end- state as the implied highest good (Latin summum bonum). From the standpoint of my own theory, described in my new book You Are The Universe: Imagine That, the highest end-state three levels above the Flow state of Bliss would be the target state, retaining the joy of the latter state but adding more dimensions to it, as will be discussed in my next three posts.

Best to all,

Bill 

P.S.

  1. Watch for my new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, coming next month.
  2. 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.
  3. For those interested in my work in the media business world you might want to check out this collection of videos.

Can Creativity Be Induced?

Volume 3, Issue 38

Waves booming, the expletives of gulls as they glide like white boomerangs buzzing us, scouting for handouts. I’m sitting with Lalita at breakfast on the terrace at the Malibu Beach Inn, reading The New York Times and I come across a book review reprinted from the Financial Times of London of the new book The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas by David Burkus.

According to Burkus, taking the review at face value, Plato and the other dons of antiquity were deluded and superstitious in believing that creativity was conferred only on certain humans and that moments of inspiration were given to them by the gods; that even today the popular notion that an “Aha!” moment exists is foolishness, and that creativity really comes down to hard work by large numbers of people working together to generate “creative ideas”. To which my first thought is “Why does it have to be one way and not the other, why can’t there be some truth in all of these ideas?”

The author reportedly goes on to point out that the efforts by organizations to instill increased creativity often backfire, instead causing people to conform so as to belong to a new groupthink where they hold back ideas that they fear would rile the comfort of the tribe and thus cause themselves to become treated like outsiders. This part also has the ring of some truth in it, as I’ve been in such situations, though found myself and a few others quite willing to bear the risk of contrarian creativity.

The book deserves to be read before coming to any conclusions about it, and it surely provokes useful thought if even its review does so. Yet all books that take seeming black and white positions from the title forward would in my estimation have low likelihood of portraying the complexity of the real world as it exists. I will apologize in this space if after reading it I must eat those words, for the review is not the book, the map is not the territory, as S.I. Hayakawa liked to say.

In my practice both at Bill Harvey Consulting and at The Human Effectiveness Institute I’ve often been asked to lead workshops aimed at increasing individual and group creativity and performance. My book Mind Magic is specifically tasked at doing that, and one edition of the book was even experimentally titled Freeing Creative Effectiveness. So as you can see I have a dog in this race, and a potential axe to grind.   😀

Can I prove that I’ve ever induced creativity by a book or workshop or any other means? Alas, no scientific proof yet (we’ll do A/B testing at some point), although anecdotal circumstantial evidence abounds in thousands of letters from readers, including this review from Dan Goleman:

“Highly recommended… will loosen your moorings and open you to creative vistas.” — Dr. Daniel Goleman

Science of course considers individual reports subject to placebo effect and various other biases including the desire to be nice.

In group work, there have been similarly non-definitive measurements. When Richard Zackon and I did an ARF creativity workshop last year it got good scores from the participants and many nice emails. Several people even followed up with telephone consultations. And beyond kind words there has been evidence that one day’s worth of a creativity-inducing workshop has had major positive effect on the directions that leaders of major companies took soon afterward.

I was amazed at the creativity I found in high-ranking officers of two different military branches during workshops I led. In one war game I created, a female officer in charge of a powerful group of units took the bait of my scenario to find a solution even more creative than the one I was going to reveal at the end had nobody thought of it.

The placebo effect and its counterpart in groups, the Hawthorne Effect, suggest that false effects can be caused simply by paying special attention to people. And yet why call these effects “false”? If one can remove pain with salt water and the powers of the subconscious why not use it? If one can cause creative behavior with hand waving, why not take all you can get?

Coming back to the Myth of Creativity book, one of its conclusions ascribed by the review is that creativity is best fostered in organizations where it is challenged. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and compressing a spring or irritating an oyster analogies do apply to inducing creativity. I used to tell my team at a certain large agency that the repressive conduct of my boss at the time was an opportunity to be “creative within constraints”.

At the aforementioned ARF creativity workshop, we had the participants anonymously hand in ratings of their own organization on a ten-point scale of creativity repressiveness and siloed confusion. The range of scores we received covered practically the entire range from zero to ten. Take a look at your own organization and see what score you would give it.  :-)

Other than distributing our book and video to your team or doing our workshop, or doing similarly with other interveners from outside the organization, what else can you do? Guard against simulated creativity-inducing exercises, which can backfire. Give people autonomy within the bounds you feel each is equipped to handle and then give a bit more. Give people permission to try new things even if they might fail. When someone screws up, be kind yet honest. Don’t just simulate that, be authentic. Check the effect on target to be sure you’re not kidding yourself to make yourself feel good when you might have actually crushed them.

One way I found it easy to get bollixed organizations to be more creative is to interview the employees and get their creative ideas and then feed those ideas to the top person who can then take credit. That person was always the bottleneck and would only act on creative ideas if he/she could take credit for them. Before the intervention, good ideas had come up in meetings and been shot down, and months had passed until the top person was able to forget that the idea had been mentioned before, then putting it in new garb and “inventing” it as his/her idea. Thus the organization lurched forward, driven by organizational creativity with a delay cycle equal to how long it took the top person’s ego to forget and reinvent.

The notion that the “Aha!” moment is a fiction strikes me as funny. I have had this experience all my life, of ideas putting themselves together in a flash. Carl Jung and William James and many others define the intuition as the mind’s way of suddenly making logical connections among bits of information lying around. Saying that this process does not exist is amusing. Daniel Goleman’s description of the way the brain works at these moments would seem to add further veracity to the existence of “Aha!” moments in fact.

As to Plato’s being superstitious in considering that inspiration can come from levels above human consciousness, please see my new book when it comes out, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, which postulates that all observed phenomena including the paranormal and religious can be accounted for by my Theory of the Conscious Universe, in which we are all one Self living through many avatars, one biocomputer server networked to many clients. In that picture of reality, Plato could easily have been right.

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. 

Useful Transcendence Techniques in Mental Wrestling

Volume 3, Issue 37

Fluttering saffron leaves wave at me through all the windows that surround. It is another ecstatic autumn day here in the Hudson Valley. Inside the house, décor projections of Lalita’s beauty catch my eye as I sit to write to you.

The subject as always is living in the Flow state (the Zone), and employing psychotechnology to get there. My recurring theme: it’s easiest to get there through an earlier state of awareness, the Observer state.

Educators at their best have toyed with the notion of providing courses in Thinking (click and scroll to Majoring in Thinking),  allowing students to major in it. The second article at this link uses the term “metacognition” to describe thinking about thinking, and being cognizant of one’s own prior thought. This is exactly the Observer state if one is focused only on the thinking dimension, but instead of thinking out of the box, folks ought to consider getting out of the box called thinking. There is also intuition, perception, and emotion to be cognizant of within oneself. The Observer state then is to be aware of all of this stuff that is going on within, without losing observant attention to the apparently-outside world. So in the end it is all about attention.

Brilliant psychological work has been done by Piaget in recognizing the high abstract level of thinking he dubbed the Formal Operational Level. In my new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, I suggest that as a race we reached this level for the first time when cave paintings and then written language appeared, which happened only very recently in our embryonic species career. This triggered such acceleration in information input to each of us that we mostly operate below the Piagetian level due to distraction. More recently other brilliant psychologists and researchers have named a new even-higher level of thinking called Systems Thinking; however, one is still locked into the trap of acting as if thinking is the whole of the self. Flow state and even Observer state require that one is in one’s body feeling the emotions, receiving the perceptions, and attuned to the subtle guidance system of the intuition. In fact the intuition is the most valuable platform in terms of Systems Thinking, where the more precise term might be Systems Perception.

Within the sphere of the emotions there is a crucial dimension called motivation. Here the leading psychological minds of the twentieth century include Maslow and Erikson, each of whom offers a specific set of levels the individual passes through on the ladder to the highest states of consciousness. At Maslow’s highest stage, one is motivated by morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts. This is a very good description of the Observer state, and the spontaneity part of it is suggestive of the Flow state.

In fact it is the lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts that best characterizes the Observer state among Maslow’s list of terms. Below the Observer state one is operating through a distortion lens caused by wounds one has received and habitual defensive patterns one has robotically adopted to cope with these wounds.

Wrestling the angel in transcending the wounded ego self, which is the true/higher inner jihad, one learns the traps one’s opponent (the ego) gets one into, and the escapes by which one extricates one’s higher true self. Incoming gets autoclassified by the ego self and this autotriggers certain reactions —look for these reactions and let them float downstream, disidentifying with and annihilating them. This keeps or gets one into the Observer state, the launch pad from which Flow can occur. Emotional reactions to be on guard against are: anger, negative judgment, unease/fear, envy, and irritation/impatience.

These emotional reactions are signs of the nonacceptance of fact, and the existence of prejudice in oneself. One is projecting a subjective expectation rather than observing objectively. This reduces one’s problem-solving ability, bringing one down below the Formal Operational Level.

Woodstock Roundtable host Doug Grunther, himself a psychologist and dream therapist who has interviewed many deep thinkers, commented in a recent radio interview with me that “higher” states of consciousness ought to really be called “deeper” states of consciousness, because these states come from deep down within oneself. I would agree and add that they come from deep down within the One Self too. So in what sense are they “higher”?

The stated purpose of my nonprofit Human Effectiveness Institute is the improvement of decision making. Our objective in understanding psychotechnology and getting more people into Observer and Flow states more often is so that we can run ourselves and the world better, be more competent, more effective, more creative. “Deeper” may be more descriptive and explanatory, but “higher” illustrates the rise from lower dysfunctional levels.

Takeaway: notice and nullify the prejudicial instant reactions of anger, negative judgment, unease/fear, envy, and irritation/impatience. Accept the facts and get on with finding creative and effective solutions. This will bring more pleasure to you and yours, and radiate outward as positive energy to the ends of the universe.

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. 

Inner Head Language

Volume 3, Issue 33

My daughter Nicole and I were at a book fair today, ostensibly selling my book Mind Magic from our table alongside other local authors at their tables. I say “ostensibly” because my real motivation for attending these events is to see if and how people can be helped to reach higher levels of consciousness. Everything is reconnaissance with readiness to engage with any seeker. The average seeker today has seen it all and has the t-shirt.

My great friend Stanford Silverman, who came from 25 miles away to buy yet another copy of Mind Magic, summed the answer up as “99.9% actually get no benefit from books.” He went on to say, “when the supreme reality is not understood, the reading of books/scriptures is useless, and the study of books/scriptures is useless when the supreme reality has been realized.” This is the viewpoint of a person who has found a Living Master and has devoted his service thereto, for its own sake and also to receive the kind of grace that has been observed to effect great positive changes in people.

Nicole later questioned this pessimism about our work and I repeated the stats I had shared with Stan, that out of 35,000 books sold we’ve received over 2000 letters/emails/cards from readers saying the book changed their lives in a way they wanted to thank us for. That’s 5.7% — in a considerably higher ballpark than the 0.1% stat Stan offered. And 5.7% only counts the hand-raisers, not those who got benefit but didn’t let us know. I also told her we are not doing this to see a complete world change as a result (though that outcome would be nice and was my initial vision) but rather we are doing it because it’s the right thing to do, sharing this stuff based on the 2000+ hand-raisers. Whatever effect it will have, it will have.

A man asked what the book was about and Nicole answered “It’s about you,” and I explained that “the way the language speaks to your subconscious, it brings out your own higher Self.” The language in the book is my own “inner head language” — it came unbidden and I didn’t put it into the King’s English — and as a result, coming from my subconscious, it seems to absorb directly into the subconscious layer of the reader.

One reader said it like this: “The communication so transformed and met me as to feel as though it was clearly mind-to-mind.” (Jordan Salison, Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA)

And this, from a review in New Age Journal, “resonates with the higher aspects of our beings and is experienced as truth…”

You can get a flavor of Mind Magic here.

I am always curious to hear what I will say when a person asks me what the book is about because something different always comes out. In a bookstore I don’t want to rattle on any more about the brain, Observer state and Flow state (the Zone), I want to relate to daily life, not its underlying science.

“It’s a mood, an attitude, the book gets you into. You see opportunities to take elements in the situation and move them around in ways you actually can, to be a win for everybody. Including stuff inside yourself, which you can move around to create a win/win inside yourself.”

The most useful answer we found was to suggest, “Open a page at random and see if it speaks to you.” This worked 4 out of 4 times, at which point I fled to write this column, leaving Nicole for a hostage. One woman said it understood her, that it was exactly what she had been thinking about. The others got absorbed and read for quite a while.

In the 70s, when the human potential movement got that name it was rediscovered that intellect alone does not change behavior, emotion and/or the subconscious, something deeper than the rational mind, must be involved. This goes back to even before the Eleusinian Mysteries, before the cave paintings, as old as homo sapiens ourselves, 200,000 years. The shaman was wise by definition, understanding at a gut level that someone not-yet-wise needed certain stimuli and experiences to become wise, and so he/she did the needful. Sometimes it worked. Maybe it nearly always worked a little.

Emotion, imagination, and/or the subconscious are engaged by the “inner head language” in Mind Magic in much the same way that these beyond-rational faculties are brought into play by art, poetry, music, theater. It is this linguistic subtlety as much as the insights that make it possible to move people into the higher states of consciousness with a book — not just Mind Magic but also other books whose neurolinguistic approach engages with the deeper levels of self.

This form of linguistic communication with more than just the rational mind could be more deeply investigated by brain researchers in order to optimize the psychotechnology. This is one of the goals of the Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI).

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. 

What Is Mindfulness?

Volume 3, Issue 24

In the prior post we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance in the end reduce to two main drivers, Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation, is easier said than done, and we pointed to our book Mind Magic as a compendium of proven operational techniques for actually achieving and maintaining both of these inner behaviors. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control. Going back at least as far as written language and probably as far back as the cave paintings, the human race has discovered the importance of focusing attention in achieving its aims. The cave paintings are widely believed to be evidence of a method for rehearsing the hunt. Yogic mental/emotional methodologies are the essence of what is recommended in the Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, and these include contemplation, concentration and meditation, all three related to the conscious and willful control of the attention.

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. Our relevant hypothesis is that written language, by making language visual — the dominant sense of not only homo sapiens but of all primates — brought the human race up to Piaget’s Formal Operational level of thinking, the highest known level of thinking until Systems Level thinking was discovered in the twentieth century. This so augmented the ability to invent that in only 3% of the time since the appearance of the species, the human race in the last 6000 years has invented more and more things and ideas each year than in the prior year, and at an increasing rate, driving a 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. Again, the need for Mindfulness has never been greater.

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. Now that we’ve defined the term, we’ll stop initial-capping it.

Attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This is in sharp distinction from normative behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open. This normative attention strategy virtually eliminates the ability to understand one’s own motivations in the moment, causing actions to be controlled by ego drives that are counterproductive to efficacy. When one is mindful, there is a predictive feedback loop allowing one to suppress actions that are merely self-serving and do not consider the needs and probable responses of others.

Mindfulness also makes one more observant externally, improving what fighter pilots call situational awareness. Our theory of Holosentience postulates a shift into a higher state of consciousness as a result of persistent mindfulness. We call this the Observer state, and it is from this state that the mind-body can launch into Flow state or the Zone, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.

It takes “attentional” effort to be mindful and thus to reach the Observer state and the Zone.

Mindfulness and solution orientation (overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution, otherwise known as Positive Thinking) combine to form the core of the Human Effectiveness Institute’s psychotechnology — the recommended set of methodologies to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of one’s life.

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. 

Humanism and the Conscious Universe: Impacts on Decision Making

Volume 3, Issue 15

In our last post we began to clarify the main themes of this blog and their inter-relationships. Ultimately our purpose is to help you make better decisions and to spend more time in the more effective states of consciousness where better decision making happens automatically. How does our Theory of the Conscious Universe help you achieve that?

Motivations are the drivers of all decisions. You don’t know what decision to make until you have a goal, objective, desired end state, or whatever name you wish to put on it. Your view of reality itself is what shapes your motivations. Therein lays the primal linkage between a worldview and decision making.

On the surface, the motivations are similar between two individuals, one of whom is a dedicated Humanist, and one of whom lives and experiences the Conscious Universe. Both have the highest ethical standards as regards human beings. Both are capable of holding the nose of their ethics and pulling the trigger on a Hitler or Bin Laden. So why not leave Humanists as they are, and leave out the idea of a Conscious Universe? Would that not be a more Occam’s Razor elegant solution to improving decision making?

After all, this Conscious Universe stuff is sure to turn some people off, seeming to be religion. Religious people who feel brand exclusivity for their beliefs are most certainly going to be wary of our theory. So why create barriers to the acceptance of the Human Effectiveness Institute toolware (improving decision making, optimizing consciousness, and enabling Observer state and the Zone or Flow state) that can be of great benefit to everyone (regardless of their religious beliefs)?

Our theory of the Conscious Universe is not religion, by the way, as it does not extol faith but is instead predictive and testable, i.e. a scientific theory that we are all one software-driven entity. Our recommendation is to believe nothing but to keep one’s mind open to everything not ruled out by science.

Let’s face it: it’s already pretty bold, without sufficient academic credentials (mere degree in philosophy, lifetime of applied social science i.e. media research), to put forth a theory that explains the ego as a sub-sentience that takes over the self, and to offer toolware that enables the real self to take back over, creating a state of Holosentience where the whole self is working together in the higher states of consciousness, Observer state and ultimately Flow state. This is the basis for our nonprofit work in improving decision making. Interestingly, the toolware appears to work, according to letters from more than 2000 Mind Magic readers.

It is even more daring to claim that a condition of Acceleritis has existed since cave paintings and written language caused a shift 6000 years ago into Piaget’s Formal Operational level for the human race. Inventiveness has run wild, causing information overload defined as the number of question-producing sensory impressions (proposed metric: P300 waves received by the average human per day.

Why then not leave it at that rather than go further and expound a theory of reality? Do we know no bounds?

There are two reasons why it’s worth opening Pandora’s Box. One is that in the hunt for truth, one cannot be shy. If a person stumbles upon something that seems worth saying, it should be said, and not held back out of timidity. It’s better to be shown that one is wrong than to choke back one’s deepest intuitions.

The other reason is purely practical.  We are attempting to improve decision making in a world that is racing through a thicket of complexity. The fact is, the Humanist and one who is consciously living in the Conscious Universe do not act identically in all circumstances. There is for one thing a huge gap in the way they respectively make use of their intuition or hunches — both being the same thing. More on this in our 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.