Category Archives: Mindfulness

Courage and Honesty are The Highest Virtues

Created October 8, 2021

Winston Churchill said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.” In other words, if you don’t start from courage, how will you always have the courage to state the truth? How will you always have the courage to be objective, to be fair and just, to be kind, to be giving, to forgive, to trust, and to love? What human virtue does not depend upon courage at its base?

Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha is said to have told his son, “Honesty is the fundamental virtue because a person who would tell lies would also be inclined to fake the other virtues.”

These twin foundations form the base upon which all other aspects of integrity depend.

You might say that Love is the highest virtue, as the Beatles did in the song “All You Need Is Love”, which has the feeling of truth to it, and as an emotional pathway into the universally-desired future world, that song is definitely a tool to use. Music has always been a way to help people reprogram the emotions and mind to attain the Good, and so shall it remain forever.

At the same time, the ability to love depends on trust, and trust depends on courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the quality which makes us capable of dealing with our fear as one input to the equation we are solving.

As one watches one’s own mind – metacognition – with an eye to improving its functioning so as to obtain the desired outcomes from life – metaprogramming – eventually we realize that negative emotion must be used constructively, or else it uses us, owns us, controls us, and keeps us out of the higher states of consciousness – Observer state and Flow state – in which our effectiveness is maximized.

Fear and anger and all other variations on the theme of negative emotion keep us from solving what is causing those exact same emotions!

If we continue to be childlike all our lives, we give in to that down cycle, whereas if we summon our courage and honesty, we pull ourselves out of it and creatively realize the necessary actions, and take those actions with honesty and courage.

The robotical, conditioned, hypnotized, slavish part of the mind will seek to trick us into deviating in little ways, to get us back and keep us in the same old habitual tracks. We must not let even tiny slip-backs occur. Once the door is allowed to open just a crack, momentum makes it harder and harder to prevent it from widening its opening.

If at first, we find this impossibly difficult, there are positive tricks that can get around this. One of them is acting – Stanislavsky’s famous “Method” acting – in which we act so well we become the character we are portraying not only externally but also internally. Stanislavsky meant this only for the stage, a temporary becoming of the character, but in our methods, we apply the same principle to overcome the robot mind’s evasive maneuvers.

Please experience what we are talking about with this short video exercise:

You will become who you want to be by always acting like that person. It may not seem to be totally sincere at first – because of the mental/emotional stains that you have accumulated by unassimilated experiences – but your mind will eventually unravel those knots for you and you will become who you really are without those holdouts.

It will always be truly sincere from the standpoint of your true self – the you that was born – so there is no real dishonesty although you may temporarily feel that such acting is duplicitous. It isn’t. That is the real you, internally divided for the time being, but it’s the side of you to which you cling eternally, not the part of you you’re ashamed of. That’s the real sincerity, although under the strained conditions of accelerated life, it feels like you are lying when you act like the person you want to be – the you that was born, who you truly are.

The mind is the most complicated thing we have. In the current historical period of Acceleritis, our minds have wound themselves up in knots. It takes really clear thinking to unwind our mind’s knots. It takes time to attain really clear thinking. I hope this course, my weekly inputs, shorten the time you need to reach dependable, steady equilibrium in the Observer and Flow states.

Love to all,

Bill

Accept What Has Been and Focus on Action Options

Created September 29, 2021

If something is upsetting you, as soon as you realize you’re not in your best headspace, excuse yourself and go out for a walk or lock yourself in the bathroom or get away from the rest of humanity as best you can for five minutes. Bring something to write with and something to write on just in case. Relax your body as best as you can and take slow deep breaths.

Put your finger on what is bothering you. Then before you get yourself mad or scared or both again, accept that is reality, that situation is what it is, you can’t change the past.

Once you accept that the bothersome scenario is part of reality at least until now, focus on what you can do about it. Don’t expect that to be one quick easy answer that you can immediately cause to happen which will turn the situation around 100% overnight. More likely it will require patience, preparation, waiting for right moments, adapting to changes in your initial plan.

There will be some things you can do immediately, such as not showing that you are affected by the ongoing troublesome situation. That requires fine acting which you will find that you become good at the more your practice it. That is very disarming to people who may have been trying to get your goat and who revel in your discomfort, if that syndrome is part of your particular focusable challenge at the time.

That’s the devilish thing about negative emotion: it makes you less capable of solving whatever caused the negative emotion. Picture anything or anyone that bugs you as some kind of poisonous animal that stings you with a paralyzing toxin so it can take its time having its way with you. You’ll find that it still bugs you but if you can turn off the warning signal (negative emotion) like an alarm clock, you neutralize the paralyzing toxin, because with your rational mind, courage and determination, you can think more clearly and creatively, and find ways to either befriend the poisonous creature or get it out of your life.

You will be paralyzed and uncreative as long as you continue to not accept the situation, and over and over in your mind and emotions wish it away by dwelling on it without effective thought of solutions.

In light of all that, please experience this 36 second video for a method that will allow you to more quickly get past negative reaction into positive constructive creative action:

 

My father Ned Harvey (the larger person in the picture) was fond of sayings that had impressed him during the course of his life. One was “What cannot be cured, must be endured.” I looked it up and found that it was from a book called The Anatomy of Melancholy by Oxford don Robert Burton in 1621.

Whatever situation you find yourself in I define as “The Given”, in the sense of a mathematical puzzle in which you start from some fundamental empirical data you have gathered and are trying to make sense of. If you can’t press a button and simply turn it off, you have to heroically accept that it is what it is, and get past all whining to a courageous facing of the task of dealing with it. That’s when you fatalistically stand above the crowd and can see the creative possibilities for you to judo the situation, to make the best of it or even to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat by a flash of inspiration that takes the very stuff of the problem and turns it into a great new discovery that can help not only you but others too.

For this, you need to always be on your own side, looking for the positive handle, and rising above your own negativity, defeatism, and melancholy with more ability to do that than the average person. You need to be in touch with your own determination. You need to forgive yourself for anything you may still be punishing yourself for, admitting that you may be the Universe itself expressing itself through you at this outpost in the multiverse, and standing up to life like the champion that you are.

Love to all,

Bill

The Untalking Self

Created August 31, 2021

Did anyone ever say to you “You’ve changed!” We’ve all had that experience. It’s true, we are all constantly changing, very strongly affected by every single thing that we experience. The me you are today is not exactly the same as yesterday’s.

Some aspects of ourselves change very slowly over the years – those attitudes and behaviors which psychologists classify as values, and those classified as character and personality traits – in some people they can last a lifetime without changing at all.

Just as stars have a standard sequence, human beings do too, and it’s pretty well described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (a six stage model), in texts of Ancient India referring to seven chakras, and my own field research at scale which suggests fifteen stages in an individual’s development from a selfish, self-defensive being to a mensch (a person of integrity and honor).

All three of these theories imply that a certain amount of change is to be expected during a person’s life, and that the development for whatever reason seems to suggest teleological design – individuals tend to become more ethical. This may be due to a conscious creator or to species survival mechanisms.

As we change when growing up, suddenly one day for perhaps the first time, we find ourselves thinking about how we are thinking. We might not take special notice of the fact that our inner vocabulary is very similar to the way we talk to our closest friends, not so much similar to the way we talk to our parents or teachers. We are sure to notice how powerfully it runs on by itself in fact it’s impossible to turn off. We might worry for a second about that but then we’ll notice that we are having ideas tumble out one upon another so it’s hard to pay attention to all of it, you have to pick and choose.

You might, as I did, ask myself – without using words in my mind – which of these selves is me? Am I the babbler that is saying all this stuff, or am I the quiet listener hearing it all? I am both, I answered myself. But then which is more representative of the true me? It would have to be the older one – the original one I was before I learned to talk. The Me That Was Born.

How much you’ve changed, one might say to oneself, waking up to the possibility that you are your Untalking Mind, encountering your talking mind. Yes, most changes are for the better, always, but now that you are able to see the difference, you’ll be able to be far more perspicacious in your metacognition. Best to keep journal handy for the rest of your life now. Your life will be full of revelations about yourself you will want to write down and perhaps date.

In the video, the narrator implies that the Robotical Talking Mind has taken over like some dreaded invader (maybe like a “mental Covid”), perhaps raising excess fears, but fear not, the “Robot” image is intended only as a humorous way of thinking about it.

Prepare your children for a joke so they are not alarmed if you show them that video, and then let them explain what they think the video means.

The human race turned a corner when it got to the third and fourth cycles of inventiveness and that’s when our minds got so taken over by the “Robot”.

The first wave was crude facial, oral and sign language. The second was tools including weapons and fire as well as art. Third was written language which triggered inventions of all kinds including mechanical technology. Fourth was electronic technology including atom bombs and media.

Trouble started in that third wave, where weapons got so much better, but we were never so distracted before as we are today here in the fourth wave.

I believe we kick off a fifth wave by taking metacognition/Observer/Flow inside. It will be the first wave to focus on improving us human beings ourselves beyond body building.

Acceleritis is my word for how we got taken over, it’s inforush paralysis and emergency oversimplification procedure (EOP), caused in the human race by the human race, by our blessed gift of inventiveness. We’ve invented ourselves into a corner existentially and psychologically and you dear reader are now part of the noble comeback. We dig ourselves out first psychologically, then existentially. Thanks for being part of the solution!

Best to all,

Bill

Becoming Immediately More Effective

Created August 23, 2021

The aim of reading this article is that it will stimulate your own mind to the degree that you can sense something is happening to you inside, and it will accelerate your own metacognitive programs (the ones you discovered for yourself) to further develop faster.

If it doesn’t work, please let me know.

Probably the most distinguished developmental psychologist of our age, John H. Flavell coined the term “metacognition” to mean the mind considering itself (those were not his words, he said “thinking about thinking, or more formally, cognition about cognition”). He wrote that in 1976.

That same year my manual for metacognition MIND MAGIC came out.

The only thing is, I didn’t know it was a manual for that; I had used the term “Observer state” to describe metacognition in its most practiced and achieved state.

Now that I have belatedly caught up with Dr. Flavell (and blown away by the William James brilliance of his writing) I see how to inject my work into the science of psychology (my minor). Of course, that makes me very happy. Marketing science and data science (specializing in optimization) have been my official sciences and now I have an avenue to potentially funnel my work on consciousness, into psychology. I anticipate synergies with the work of many others, especially neuroscientists who have identified the agencies by which certain qualia (inner subjective experiences) appear in the consciousness, as my work has focused within the qualia, the use of introspection and concentration to come up with “mind tricks” that pragmatically work to improve social interaction, finding one’s passion work, and performing it.

I promised a pre-experience of what it is like to go through the manual.

Let’s start with the quest for peak experience. We all have had them, and some people have them all the time. They are self-evidently desirable states to have more often. That is the aim here. The ultimate purpose of my work.

A map is always helpful when one starts a journey. How do we map the levels of waking consciousness?

  • Maslow posited three states of waking consciousness, the first focused on deficiencies, the second focused on the release of one’s gifts, and a spiritual level he added toward the end of his life
  • Csikszentmihalyi coined the term Flow to characterize the state of perfect action
  • Flavell coined the term “metacognition” to mean the mind’s reflection upon its own behaviors and states
  • If we put this all together on one map, mixed in with my own speculations and empirical findings, it looks like this:

Looking at the righthand bar, metacognition appears to be a precondition of the Observer state, just as the Observer state is a precondition for the Flow state. For example, the program known as the Will within the qualia appears more strongly in the Observer state than in beginner’s level metacognition. The Will is what is required to overrule one’s prior thought. The Observer state is still metacognition, but it is fully developed, especially in terms of the Will.

Metacognition – the practice of thinking about one’s thought processes

Observer state – the temporary or permanent ability to objectively challenge one’s own prior thought or feeling

Flow state – automatic “perfect” performance

There are today many brilliant writers on the subject of metacognition and I hope to meet all of them. In their writings as well as in Dr. Flavell’s, the prefix “meta” is seen preceding other functions of mind as in metamemory, etc. In the table below you will see many of these “metas”.

Mind Magic chapters, now that I can look at them through the lens of metacognition, can be classified as follows (I suggest a glance down the righthand column, then skipping the table for later contemplation). In the table, the word “challenge” always means to challenge oneself, inside.

The journey goes something like this for the reader:

A – I must have been in some sense hypnotized to have allowed myself to assume it’s OK for me to be living this desperate life

B – Living in this racing age, it’s understandable that as a soft babe I was certain to be awed into going along with all this and have never woken up since

1 – Since I obviously have to take control of my own life now, there’s no going back, I need some hints as to how to navigate, and the first thing I have to do is to avoid jumping to conclusions too soon, I have to check myself constantly

2 – Why did I just do that? I hurt someone’s feelings and I feel like an ass. What makes me act that way, I must locate the program, and fix it so my programmed mind stops doing that to me

3 – I sound like a broken record. Why am I always playing tapes of old stories or whatnot? I must find the root of that behavior and fix it so I can act anew every moment, from where I am in the now, not imitating my own past behavior

4 – I can save time by just doing my best and learning from my mistakes without making it personal, it’s pathetic how I good boy bad boy myself what a waste of time and how ignobly embarrassing

5 – Yes but what do I really want out of life? Is that what I really want? Am I potentially very good at that? What is the evidence for that? Ahah! I have found my dream again

6 – Taking in what is going on, situational awareness, studying people, keeping mind open

7 – Staying focused through complexity by revolving attention, maintaining many streams of thought at once

8 – Not rushing in prematurely but waiting for the foreseen to happen in the dance, nor hesitating past the right moment

9 – Dis-identifying with the contents of one’s own mind so as to be able to re-decide whether or not one wants to continue to wear each of those particular attitudes/beliefs

10 – I can actually look more closely at my thoughts arising, first there is a fleeting image or memory of some sort, followed by a feeling either good or bad, and then snatches of words I am saying to myself

11 – Why must I entertain negative feelings? Isn’t that like purposely wounding myself? I must creatively transmute negative feelings into positive action, without hesitation as soon as I sense negative feelings, stop knifing myself as soon as possible

12 – If I identify with all I perceive, I wind up nurturing other people and myself into the bargain, what an improvement over the selfish way I lived until now, not taking responsibility for others

Outroduction – A vicarious sample of what it feels like to be in the state exhorted by this manual

If you put this article into practice without needing the manual, I shall be extremely pleased. Reading more examples of these general principles helps when you are trying to embody new behaviors, which is why I wrote MIND MAGIC, feel free to go either way, please just get to be in the Observer state for as much of the time as possible, and into Flow as often as possible.

The present world situation requires it of all of us to be at our highest performing best. It might be the only way out, and the gift to us from the Universe, that She, Nature, is forcing us to find, by threatening to collapse our world around us, and we did it to ourselves by not using our heads.

In this case the end gift of higher mind may actually justify the scary means.

Best to all,

Bill

 

Don’t Work Against Yourself

Created July 16, 2021

The above title seems obvious. “Who would knowingly work against one’s own best interests? Masochists maybe, but no normal person.”

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Practically all of us work against ourselves on a daily basis. The reason we do it is because we don’t realize the power of our own thoughts and feelings to program our behavior in ways that can seriously limit our success.

For example, we may feel and have thoughts about being jealous of another person or persons. As the clock ticks on and we let ourselves stay in that mental/emotional state, we don’t realize the damage we are doing to our self, and so we let it go on, as if there is no cost or consequence involved in spending time that way. The more time goes on without our actively curtailing that state, the more damage it is doing.

Jealousy is defined as “The thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and envy over relative lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a comparator, a rival, or a competitor.”

Every second we allow ourself to dwell in that state we are sending signals to ourself, not only our conscious mind but also our subconscious, not only our left and front brain but also our right brain, not only our cortex but also our limbic system and cerebellum, that we find ourselves to be inadequate (insecurity), fearful, and lesser individuals to those we envy.

Our entire being, our body as well as our mind, get the message. In ways we don’t notice, we project those signals out to the world in our posture, facial and bodily gestures, we are broadcasting our perceived inadequacy to others as well as to our own inner being. If we do this often enough it becomes a self-refueling cycle that mounts and can destroy the achievement of our highest visions for ourself.

We owe it to ourselves to have at least a vague notion of the gifts we have which should determine the kind of work we want to do in the world. And armed with this compass, vague as it may be, to not allow any vagaries of mental habits to delay or destroy our chances of reaching the actualization of those dreams.

Once we form a notion of the direction, that must be the means by which we discipline ourselves to actualize, every second of every day. To do otherwise is to potential casually throw our lives away, and any time we spend in such a mode, is sending signals to our entire being that we don’t believe in our own gifts, we’re just going through the motions but are pretty sure it’s never going to pan out. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and not just because we are sending giveaway “tells” of our own lack of self-belief.

Any negative thought or feeling means you are not in your clearest state. If you were in the Flow state you obviously wouldn’t be thinking at all, just acting in total internal external synchrony. If you were in the Observer state you would be able to see that your negative thoughts are the opposite of constructive and that you are wasting time, you should thank your negative feelings for causing you to detect and focus on the solution of some real world problem, and then immediately get on to analyzing and coming up with the best plan of action so that such negative feelings at some point in the future will not arise at all.

If for example jealousy is internally detected, the first question is “If I could trade lives with that person, would I?” That usually brings the jealousy into a clearer context in which you can think about what you might do differently in order to have the things the envied person has without having to become them in any way, since you are likely to like yourself better, and not want the full package of that person’s entire life, you just envy certain things they have, like more money. This turns a fruitless and self-defeating morbid period of thinking and feeling time into a constructive Observer state higher clarity use of time that leads to test actions. A far better way of running your life, more creative, not petty, which makes your mind, resolve, and self-confidence stronger, your ability to achieve stronger. It gets you what you want if you never give up. You are not using your energy against itself.

The optimal moods are gratitude and kindness. Negative moods automatically give more power to the things that hurt you. Cultivate only positive use of your time and nothing can stand in your way.

Love to all,

Bill

Belonging, Unity, and the Future of the USA

Created May 28, 2021

Belonging (a sense of social acceptance) is one of the 15 Motivations uncovered by the scientific* work I have been doing for the past 30 years or so.

Belonging is the most complex of the 15 Motivations in the sense that it contains more variations within it. It contains 25 Need States, such as Nationalism and Levity, and 220 of the 265 DriverTagsTM, each of which is a highly specific state of mind. It’s possible that Belonging is a hard-wired instinct, at the core of our nature as social animals, perhaps one of the survival characteristics that has caused homo sapiens (and other species) to be able to still be standing.

That’s why it hurts so much to be cast out of your belonging group. Like in the case of Liz Cheney, for example.

Although political parties were not mentioned in the US Constitution, 20 years later they sprung up and were bolted onto the constitutional system called the USA. Whether the political parties have done more good than harm is still a matter of debate. But one thing they have definitely supplied is the opportunity for belonging, something we all need. This would explain why 59% (Gallup) of Americans today belong to one of the two parties.

As the need for a sense of belonging is a constant, it’s possible that getting this mood-enhancing brain “drug” from political parties has become more important in recent decades as the power of the family might have declined, with children caring more about belonging to their peer group than their family, happening at earlier and earlier ages (hypothesis).

Religion for sure has lost a lot of its hold as a means for transmitting a sense of belonging.

Race has possibly become elevated as a means for generating the sense of belonging, as in the case of white supremacists.

Hypothesis: as the sense of belonging has deprecated from its traditional sources, that created an urgency of need which increased the emotional connection of party membership as a self-identifier.

Rhetoric is the art and potentially science of using words so as to cause people to believe them, whether they are true or not. Rhetoric existed before the media, but then the media became a means for applying extremely powerful rhetoric. Hitler used this in the case of cinema and other media. Today’s internet and social media are analogous to the atomic bomb version of rhetoric.

During the Greatest Generation’s watch, it would have been spectacularly unsuccessful to try to use rhetoric to pull the wool over people’s eyes to the extent that is happening today. I see it as having reached a point of mass hysteria.

Today it would probably entrain belief in the minds of at least ten million Americans if QAnon added another story that all fish can fly. Their fish minds have been taken over by devices used by the Democratic party obtained from pedophilic socialist aliens. They won’t let you see them fly, they only do it when you aren’t looking. But some day, there will be skies filled with dangerous fish swooping down on American patriots to wipe them out.

When you look at the strength of the need for a sense of belonging, how the traditional sources of this have been petering out, how political parties have always known that a populist charismatic leader is the thing to have, and then layer in the mind-bending power of the media (wait for artificial reality media to add to this brew), it’s possible to understand better what is going on today around the world not just in America.

It only took four years to push the USA back into its share of world power position (a measure of the perception of all people in the world) to pre-WWII levels.

Now as we attempt to restore ourselves to what we were there are also wild behaviors happening outside the US which we ourselves caused during those four years, not to mention a potentially genocidal mutating pandemic and an “edge city” environmental situation.

It certainly is a good time to pull together and figure things out by focusing objectively with high performing teamwork and enlisting more help from rich people to make the world the heavenly place it can be. We can actually do it.

Not the best time to have to reach 60% majority vote before we can go to the toilet. The filibuster has been rationalized as preventing “the tyranny of the majority” and “preventing action that has not been fully thought out”. The Founders did not lock in the need for a 60% majority in passing bills, so despite being some of the greatest pragmatic geniuses in history, these considerations somehow did not occur to them? More likely they did consider such things and left it to the voting outcome whether razor thin or unanimous to settle legislative issues.

To people whose careers are in government, it’s easy to see why filibuster might appeal to them. It gives power to stop legislation if one is in the minority. Think of how harmful this would be within a corporation. That’s how harmful it is in government, especially under the emergency conditions we are now faced with. Yet because a politician knows that it’s likely that half his or her career life will be spent as the minority, filibuster will be a floor under how bad one can feel. We non-politicians have no such swaddling cloths in our lives, we make our own successes and failures, we have no special entitlements that keep our control of others high when we have not earned that by majority vote of the people or by our individual performance in the eyes of our employers/clients/customers/users.

Unity is more than belonging, it is a highly desirable condition in which people work together toward common goals. That’s what we meant when we called ourselves the United States of America.

Unity has always been a strength of the Republican party, they are able to band together as a voting block (sic) whereas Democrats in the past have always been all over the lot in the diversity of their thinking. But today the Republican penchant for unity is allowing 4251 people who at best represent only about 14% of eligible voters in the US to impede the rest of us – polls showing that more than 60% of Americans like what the present administration is doing – from getting things done at the federal level, but even more dangerously are taking advantage of the powers which the Founders gave the State level.

Unless we the people speak up loudly enough, the future of America is that a number of States representing a minority of the population will drive out non-white people and many important businesses, who will migrate to the States where non-whites are offered equal opportunity and a sense of belonging.

Internally divided, we will still stand, but will not be the country we could be if we had unity restored.

Our degree of perceived vulnerability with a civil cold war will be exaggerated in the eyes of One Man Rulers abroad. They will come after us. It will not be heavenly at all.

That scenario must not be allowed. The only way to stop it is to use all your own social media efforts to put a stop to the self-destructive urges we have collectively been entertaining. Participate in polls, speak your mind, when the referendums come participate in them too.

Do not add to the problem by hating the 34 million of us who disagree, or the One Man Rulers of other countries, or any group or individual. Hate has no constructive outcomes. Hate erodes Reason. We need our ability to think clearly to rise to the top and to drive all of our behaviors. We need our emotions to be courageous enough to rise above fear and hate and to leave our minds open to win/win unity where dissenting voices are respected and included. Everyone must be included or we will never escape the downward spiraling cycle of divisiveness.

My best to all,

Bill

*When I say “scientific” what I mean is observing patterns in data, forming hypotheses from that, and then testing those hypotheses by means of controlled experiments, with the intention of discovering new and useful truths. The data I have used relates to the content that millions of anonymized individuals choose to consume on television and the Internet as measured by set top boxes and log files. This body of knowledge is meant to complement and inform the psychology systems (link to relevant example emanating from centuries of science using other data types.