Category Archives: Creating Joy

The Quest for Peak Experiences

Created December 4th, 2020

Abraham Maslow described peak experiences as “sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, with an awareness of ultimate truth and the unity of all things.”

Have you had such experiences? Even if it doesn’t exactly fit Maslow’s definition, can you select one experience that might have been the best moment of your life so far? If you can, relive it now as best you can. It might help to close your eyes and take your time to let the memory fully form.

One of the reasons why Maslow thought so much about “self-actualization” as he called it, is because of the link he intuited between being a self-actualized person, and having larger numbers of peak experiences.

It wasn’t just his intuition, he himself was aware of how over the course of his life he graduated from being driven by the things that drive the mass of humanity – such as insecurity, the need to belong, money, lack of self-esteem, the desire to be held in high esteem by others – to a state in which those things were no longer important (because he had them all), and he was doing the work he loved and adding to the science of psychology each day. He had become self-actualized – understanding his own individuality and his gifts, and was expressing them every day, having the time of his life, replete with frequent peak experiences. His work in those years was an effortless mission to share these things with other people, so that they too could experience what he was experiencing, but in each case centered around the individual’s own personal potentials.

Owing to my parents having me perform on stage starting when I was four, I had peak experiences very early in life, and they caused me to become fascinated with my own consciousness and its various states. This became the through-line of my life. I wanted to learn how to bring these peak experiences about, and once I found some ways that worked, I kept a “scientific” journal of the methods that worked. Later I would write MIND MAGIC to share some of these methods life had taught me, quite a few of which I had identified before I was twelve, although my understanding of them continued to grow day by day. (The book is free during the pandemic at the preceding link.)

I thought of those peak experiences rather differently than Maslow. To me, what was remarkable about the experiences was not that feeling of well-being and unity, but the fact that my stage performances were doing themselves at a level of expertise which I had never experienced before. Later, studying both philosophy and psychology at the college where Abe had been head of the psychology department (Brooklyn College), although loving Maslow’s work, the connection between his and my models of experience did not strike me. By contrast, many years later, when I discovered the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, head of the psychology department at Chicago University, and his term “Flow state”, I had a peak experience and a thrill of recognition that my lifelong project wasn’t something that only happened to me.

Recently, a social science colleague of mine, Judy Langer, invited me to give a Zoom class on Maslow at The Center for Learning & Living in Manhattan. It gave me an opportunity to ruminate for the class on how my own self-taught methods and ideas related to both Abe’s and Mihaly’s work (I never had the privilege of meeting Abe, but did have that honor in Mihaly’s case, and he agreed to be an advisor to my nonprofit The Human Effectiveness Institute).

Here is the slide that I used:

This slide tells you how I view the work of Maslow, Mihaly and myself, and how we are all describing the same things, but organizing our data differently.

In my way of looking at things, introspection with concentration – you can also call it meditation – is what gets us into the Observer state and then into the Flow state. I believe Maslow grouped the Observer and Flow state experiences into what he called peak experiences.

To all three of us, normal waking consciousness is a state in which our behavior and our sense of experience is highly dominated by outside forces, we are trying to fit in, be accepted, get along, move up, and do not feel disposed to much self-examination. When we do notice our inner experience it is largely one of anxiety to one degree or another, unable to break away from what negative events could befall us.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs postulated that we would be obsessed by a given need until it was satisfied, at which point we became obsessed with a slightly “higher” need. We move up from being dominated by insecurity to being driven by a need to feel that we belong, and once having achieved that, it was self-esteem and the esteem of others that caused our behavior and our experience of life.

This series of posts will continue and the aim ultimately is to provide a condensed set of recommendations aimed at freeing you, the reader, from the conditioned motivators in your subconscious, so that you can enjoy more peak experiences, become self-actualized (if you are not already), and then self-transcendent, in a steady state of Flow and peak experience where what happens to everyone around you is more motivating than what happens to you, because you are already complete and feeling the unity.

I think of this series of posts which start here as “On the Road to Flow”. In the next post I will unpack the slide above.

My best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

 

Seeing the Miracles in Life

Updated November 25, 2020

Be grateful for all the miracles in your life.

Isn’t it wonderful that we set aside a national holiday just for giving thanks?

And we have SO much to be thankful for. The Center Held. America came to its senses. The election is finally over. Half of us are unhappy with its outcome, but we are on the road to recovery now on every front and we shall overcome. It’s a Miracle! The miracle we call “the American system”, once again showing that it is forever working, we just had to give it time.

Prayer works.

Interparty and sub-party differences will go on probably forever but not with the same degree of lethality.  As we cooperate together more and more now, those old habits of respect and civility will return, like getting back on a bicycle after all those years. Aisles will be crossed. The good deeds of rivals will be graciously acknowledged with gallant chivalry as the standards were set by the inspired Founders and by the wise Abe Lincoln.

Sometimes the miracles in our lives are more obvious than at other times. While the world is always miraculous, sometimes we see the miracle and sometimes we don’t.

Babies, kittens, flowers, stars, the moon, the ocean, mountains, trees, falling in love together, family, friendships — these are among the more obvious miracles.

We’re often unaware of the improbability of certain events that occur in our lives. Not being statisticians, we don’t realize how long the odds are of these events happening and we just go along, taking it all for granted, feeling that if it is happening it can’t be miraculous, it must all be mundane.

By tuning out our appreciation for experiencing all that is life, we may be radiating very little gratitude for all of the miracles in our lives. The Universe may respond by turning the dial on the lesson machine so that it bumps us a bit more roughly to get our attention, since we seem to be missing the polite subtle hints.

How can we feel gratitude at times that are trying us to the breaking point? By comparing the situation to one even worse. What if we had never existed at all? The Universe has created us, we are alive — is this not justification for gratitude?

All mystery schools and religions teach acquiescence, trust and gratitude as three sides to the same coin — the acceptance of what is. In Islam, it is called the Will of Allah. In Taoism it is called getting into the rhythm of the Tao, linking into the underlying force of the universe. The word religion itself comes from the Latin religare, meaning to link up. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit, meaning to yoke up, like yoking an ox to a cart.

Let’s all practice replacing negative emotion with positive emotion — which means remembering what we have to be grateful for and what we have to look forward to and be excited about. There may be challenging (even heartbreaking) trials ahead but we need to welcome them as opportunities to show what we’re really made of and how we can rise to the challenges individually and together.

If you don’t already do this every day, take some time to count your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you much personal experiencing of the miracle you
are 
in, and much personal experiencing of the miracle you are.


Grateful written by John Bucchino, performed
by Ann Hampton Callaway and John Bucchino.


Gratefully,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-11-24 12:16:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

To the People of the World

Created November 13, 2020

I am an American. I also consider myself a citizen of Earth, and a member of the Human Race club.

From my point of view, we have been spending too much time competing for political power to get done any of the immense things that we HAVE TO get done.

And then when somebody wins power, the other major party blocks getting anything done.

And the voters then seem to forget who actually tried to get something done, and who spent all their time blocking it.

This might not be worth discussing if everything was going to take care of itself because we are already in utopia.

However, there are not one but six tidal wave problems coming at us from all directions which all of us have to solve together, one way or another, with or without cooperating with each other, or we won’t be around anymore. They are also getting worse the longer we fool around. And we make each one of them worse by refusing to cooperate with each other.

  1. Pandemic
  2. American Schism
  3. World Debt
  4. Environment (and future pandemics if deforestation continues)
  5. International Envy
  6. Half of us might not find work (robotics)

We’ve seen from the pandemic that it doesn’t work as well when each State comes up with its own way of doing things. The bigger the problem, the more important wide scale cooperation is.

I recommend that the next time you read about any politician making a statement about anything other than one of these six problems, you ignore it, and let them know where you want them to refocus their attention.

Please let me know if my list is too short.

For manageability I grouped related challenges together, for example racial/ethnic/gender/all-inclusive equality is really at the core of problem #2.

“International Envy” groups together the threats from other nations, terrorist organizations, and all of the vendettas lingering from the distant and/or recent past.

It is easy to predict that we will be more efficient and faster about turning the tide on these threats the more we can work together.

I recommend the next time you read about any politician making a negative statement about anybody, you ignore it, and let them know where you want them to put their energies instead of this endless backbiting.

I recommend that you stop sending and mentioning in social media or in any venue “the backbiting channel” which has become the top-rated audience draw of all time. The computers will notice that and stop depending on it for the maximum audience draw that it has recently become.

I predict you will also, then, sleep better.

There are ways we can use our wonderful media to share constructive innovative ideas with one another. What we really need is for officials to start to practice the modes of creativity and to use each other’s ideas without caring about who gets the credit so much. I depict such media being used in a crisis similar to ours in a science fiction novel PANDEMONIUM: Live To All Devices (hope you will read the free sample available through the link).

Some time ago, two U.S. presidents and two dozen other well-known top US officials responded supportively to my idea that INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION can channel people into the specializations that perfectly match their inner purpose and skills, with corporations and work study programs meshing with the process from the earliest grades. Recently a friend in Germany told me that those ideas had taken hold over there.

Adults also need individualized education now if they are out of regular school but also out of regular work – or want to be in a different field.

We seem to have a ready workforce of life coaches who could be organized to help those out of school for whom life is not working out as joyfully as it could be if they were doing work that they loved. They would then be more likely to get into Flow state, where they could make more money, but even without the money would at least be doing what they were born to be good at.

Once totally successful, welfare and other transfer payments would dwindle to virtually nothingness. Individualized Education is the kind of work we ought to be doing in the 21st Century.

That’s only one innovative approach worth exploring and work on from both sides of the aisle together. There will be a panoply of exciting new ideas unleashed from the combination of crowdsourcing and a nonpartisan lens.

Let’s make political parties invisible for a while, can we?

When Japan was in the process of taking over China, with one city falling after the next, even more than US aid the ability of the Chinese Civil War combatants to temporarily unite was what pushed Japan off the mainland.

Can you imagine what will happen if we don’t stop it now and return to the normal we were used to for 200 years? We could be fighting WWIII in the streets and on the hills of America, first with each other, and then when other countries come over to help one side, it will be like the early days of America when Brits, French, Germans, and others were here fighting, except it’s more likely to be other superpowers and rogue nations. That’s the current direction we are pushing ourselves in by dividing the house so that it cannot stand.

Proof or not, the unbelievable intensity and extremity of it makes it hard to believe that a lot of it is not being caused by foreign powers.

Each of us can’t expect other people to take this advice while each of us keep dishing the dirt. We have to change ourselves first. Friends will read our silences or hear our remarks and understand that we have dropped out of the cycle of hate. The more of us do that, the more of them will do it, until there is no more them.

There never was a Them, it’s always been just US.

May The Center Hold,

God Bless America and each of you,

Bill

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If You Aren’t Enjoying Your Self, Something’s Wrong, Especially Now!

Originally posted February 3, 2015

Life must still be enjoyed second to second, otherwise what’s the point of wellness and longevity? The advice below stands despite and especially during the pandemic.

Assume that if you are in a bad mood or feel a negative physical symptom, this is a direct internal communication to you. Your subconscious is trying to tell you something! This is an autonomic alarm system we all have.

If for example your current activities are not in alignment with your goals, or if you have set a goal that is not in alignment with your core values, parts of your mind will try to bring this to your conscious attention any way they can, and often the signaling will involve feelings of distress or something not quite right.

Maybe it starts out one day as a bad mood you don’t even realize you are in, and then escalate as the signal strength is gradually increased in an attempt to finally get your attention. If this persists long enough it can turn into physical symptoms. It is all about communication — in this case, internal communication.

taken by Martin Noren

The highest priority then is to decode the message and thereby reverse the emotional or physical quandary. Don’t get lost in the suffering and forget to decipher first, ahead of anything else. Act as if you deserve to be happy at all times, whatever the circumstances.

Getting lost in the suffering is what most of us do at most times, and this is a life-threatening waste of time. It also blocks your quality. There’s no point in soldiering on in a bad mood because whatever you do in that state will not be in the range of high quality / high effectiveness. Better to let the work fall even farther behind while you figure out what is bugging you and dispel it by taking the action required.

How can you find your way into Flow State?

One of the primary characteristics of Flow state (aka the Zone) is that the individual is doing something s/he loves to do, fully immersed in the playing of that game as a game, without over-motivation to win or over-concern of failure — and above all that, free of attachment. This mood is a clue that you are in the process of moving into higher effectiveness, you just go with the flow, enjoying it — and if you don’t distract yourself by subtly gloating over it, you go all the way into the Zone.

If something is bringing you down, that is going to block the Zone. Set aside your work, get yourself somewhere where you are uninterruptible, and see inside yourself to detect the source of the bad mood or sick feeling.

Are you attached to something that you fear not getting? Or are you attached to something not happening that some part of you expects will be happening anyway? What could it be?

You might find that taking notes helps, especially if you let the pen just write, without editing, because different neuron clusters become engaged when you go from just pondering to also writing notes. Shifting modalities like this is like sweeping a searchlight around inside your psyche.

Another way to shift modalities and bring different neurons into play is to turn aside from actively thinking about the question and instead just cultivate emptiness inside while paying sharp attention. This is a powerful shift of neurons, known to many writers. For example, adman James Webb Young’s 1960 classic A Technique For Producing Ideas speaks about a need to set aside all thought about a project after studying and thinking deeply about it, and sure enough flashes of inspiration will appear out of nowhere (usually within three days in this writer’s experience, frequently within hours nowadays after decades of practice).

A more common experience we’ve all had is when trying to think of a word or name. It is on the tip of our tongue and we keep trying the same file drawer in our mind, certain that with enough effort we will remember it. But we don’t remember it until we give up and then it easily pops into our head a short while later. Same principle.

You deserve to be happy.

Remain open to the existence of all possibilities where you have not proven — with evidence that would stand up in court and to scientific public scrutiny — that some possibility does not in fact exist. Do not tolerate bad moods or sickly symptoms in oneself without seeking out the root causes and taking effective action to remove those causes.

Banish negativity as ineffective time-wasting! Rechannel your energy into a stimulus to discern the root sources — and then plan and implement effective actions to remove those root causes of the negativity. And remember to respect yourself and everyone and everything else. Disrespect blocks solutions and creates new problems.

Our purpose steadfastly remains to improve the creative effectiveness of our readers thus improving decision making. Test this method over the next week or lifetime and see if it works for you. There is no downside risk in the test — it can only help you, or at the worst change nothing.

Best to all,

Bill

Read my media blog “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers.  Read my latest media post.

Originally posted 2015-02-03 15:23:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What Is Humor?

Volume 3, Issue 50

Like life itself, and consciousness, love, oneness, even Flow state, and so many other things we take for granted just because of long familiarity, have you ever stopped to wonder what is this weird sound-and-breath spasm thing we do sometimes? Laughing, I mean. What is that?

Feelings are one of the best clues to meaning. The meaning of any moment is most easily extracted from our feelings at that moment and in retrospect. Moreso than logical analytics alone.

(Side Note: The mind/body/spirit is in Flow state when all the detector and effector functionality is optimized together, feelings and intuition and analytics and perceptions and actions are not abstracted from one another, and inside/outside subject and object are one flowing process. A Oneness Singularity.)

What are the feelings associated with this bizarre phenomenon we take for granted? Laughing, that is.

We are pleased when we laugh, it’s fun, and it is an expression of at least momentary happiness, even if we do it ruefully during a negative feeling context.

Sometimes laughter is joy expressing itself bubbly and uncontainable, as when a child takes off on his first flight on a sled.

Humor is the intentional or unintentional causation of laughter. Of course the standup learns that sometimes it is the intention to create laughter without the fact of it.

Once we discovered that we liked this involuntary spasm (as we like orgasm, another preferred spasm, whereas we dislike and fear most spasms we experience) we began to purposely try to evoke it as much as possible under whatever circumstances befall us.

Laughter and orgasm may be related in ways we don’t know yet.

My dry cleaner is a comedian. Everything he says is intended to make you laugh. At least it makes him laugh, which is definitely a healthy thing. Good spasms are healthy spasms.

In the case of humor, sometimes our laughter expresses relief. The butt of the joke is being ridiculed, and since we are not the one getting the ridicule, we are relieved. Yet ridiculousness, related to ridicule, appears to be at the center of all humor.

When I have fallen from Observer state, I often get back up by realizing that if I can’t see the humor in the situation, I have clearly lost perspective. “These are the jokes,” I remind myself.

Enjoy this moment. And now this one.

Be prepared to laugh.

If you’re already smiling, you’re already prepared.

Wishing you laugh-filled days and nights,

Bill

PS – Top copywriter and genius Ed Ney of Young & Rubicam fame has moved on to the next classroom. Read his speeches and yours will be even better than they’ve been. Like Erwin Ephron, Ed used short pithy memorable sentences packed with meaning and impact, condensed intelligence and insight. Much to unpack. Rhythmic to the mind. Ed had been a reader of this blog. Treasured like all of you. So long, Ed, see ya. Somewhere somewhen down the long and winding.

Watch for my new book, You Are the Universe. Imagine That, coming in February.

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.

Cultivating Your Own Enjoyment

Volume 3, Issue 46

The sky has never been a sharper blue before, it seems, as I stand in the subzero temperature looking at the frozen river. The hopping birds flocking the feeders seem at home in the snow, even sitting in it. Multiply layered and not cold at all I sense my own enjoyment and completeness, at rest-ness. Nothing tugs me away into action. Nothing seems to need doing at the moment for the completion of the Universe’s Mission. The warmth of the heart flows outward encompassing all things, all beings in its love. High warmth within record cold.

The reason it is not selfish for you to cultivate your own enjoyment is that you will give better service that way. Whomever you serve will get the most value from you when you are having a good time, because that is what potentiates the Flow state.

To nurture and develop your own enjoyment so that it stays with you more of the time and eventually always, it will help to schedule daily alone space. The thing about your alone space is that no one can get to you, so you are free to do anything you really want to do.

If there is a very long project you want to turn to, don’t be put off by the fact that you won’t be able to get very far in the 20 minutes or whatever time you have realistically been able to eke out of your day, diking back the ocean of obligations. You may get much further than you thought possible in terms of flashes of a high-level framework. These enjoyable Flow experiences then function as super-powerful rehearsal as you will at some point in the future get into the detailed work, as powerfully as if you spent hours in practice in a normal mundane level of everyday consciousness.

Whatever it is you really want to do, note that. As an observation like “Hmm, I apparently really like to do X.” The cumulative effect of those objective observations of fact about yourself will be valuable even if seemingly Captain Obvious at the outset.

Note if there is absolutely nothing you feel like doing. Is it that there is nothing in your life you consider fun, or is it simply not something you can do alone with yourself in 20 minutes? If you can’t do “it” now, you can daydream about “it” now. Those daydreams can become more than daydreams, they can help program your life with more of “it” because they are rehearsals — these revelries program your very cells, those cute little biocomputers in the massively parallel array of computers constituting the material substrate of our self.

Just finding out what “it” is, is a very valuable use of time. You need to move toward doing what you love the most all of the time, even if you only achieve a fraction of that movement in your lifetime, given Acceleritis and the money system. In utopia we would not have to meet money deadlines hence not have to accept labors unconducive to our enjoyment. We are working toward building that utopia for our heirs, some future generation that finally has free energy and matter in such profusion as to support what Aristotle meant by leisure for every person on the planet.

Meanwhile, back to 2014 Earth. Daydreaming about small moves you can realistically make toward more enjoyment in your life is a good use of time in your alone spaces.

More next week about why we need more enjoyment and how we can get it.

Here’s to more fun for all of us in 2014! Best to all,

Bill

PS: See me on TV today – follow me on Twitter and look at my tweet today.

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.