Tag Archives: Consciousness

The Role of Feelings in Decision Making

Updated August 7, 2020

During this time it’s easy to harbor negative feelings almost continuously, but it only makes things worse for ourselves and our loved ones. Negative feelings not only bring us down, medical evidence shows they also weaken our immune system, making us more prone to disease, and they distract our cognitive concentration, thereby reducing our effectiveness. This is also a time in which consistently making clearheaded decisions is more important than ever before, to protect those we love including ourselves.

Bad feelings can also serve a positive function — as an alarm system to quickly get us to pay attention to a problem. Ironically, if bad feelings continue unabated while we are grappling with a problem on a rational level, it will take longer to solve the problem because we are stuck in a cycle of negativity. Most of us have experienced this cycle.

Are you more driven by thoughts or feelings

Are we generally more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts?

Freud established that thoughts are more likely to be rationalized in support of feelings, rather than our being able to use our thoughts to control our feelings. And yet, how valuable it is to be able to do just that — to have the mental self-discipline to focus our thoughts effectively even when our feelings are in an uproar?

Feelings are urges that arise within us, within our minds and within our bodies. Feelings are experiences, states of consciousness resulting from our motivations, sentiments, preferences or desires. These terms all really mean the same thing: what we value, what we want, what we are trying to get, what we want to avoid.

Feelings are how we respond internally to outer and inner events, based on what we are trying to get and avoid, and how current events can help or threaten our desired outcomes.

We feel positive if current events appear to favor our targeted outcomes, and we feel negative if events seem to be heading away from what we want to have happen.

Positive feelings are valued universally. There’s no argument: we all like them, and would like to have more of them!

Generally speaking, feelings are also a manifestation of our motivations colliding with the external world. What would we feel if we had no motivations?

You can discover this by meditating. While there are many meditation techniques, all of them have a mind/gut mirror effect of showing us what our motivations really are, where they have gotten us, and why we have each of our experiences. Through practicing meditation we can achieve this objectivity, turning off certain motivations at least for the moment and seeing what that feels like. What visions of future possibilities arise now that X motivation is gone?

The perspective we gain through meditation can give us a unique vantage point on our feelings and our motivations. Meditation helps us consider deeply our own feelings and their consequences in the world. It also generates positive feelings, so it’s good for our overall health and well-being. Practicing meditation and becoming aware of the role our feelings and motivations play in our lives allows us to better understand the value of both in our decision making process.

My best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-07-14 10:41:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are you balancing activity and stillness?

Updated July 17, 2020

If we are always pushing toward our goals, we are inadvertently setting ourselves back from reaching them. I know that many of you are nowadays in back to back Zooms almost all day, which means that in the remaining time you are besieged by emails, texts, calls, Linked-In, and actual deadline work on top of all that. The opportunity to take a breather and let your mind relax can wind up being postponed until evening. That isn’t conducive to optimal performance.

There is a stage in the creative process in which it is wise to turn away from the challenge and do other things, for it is during this turned-away phase that the Aha! moment comes.

not creating may be essential to creativity

Certain batteries get recharged when we take ourselves temporarily off the wheel that is always driving us. This can happen when we are entertained — on our screen devices, reading, watching stage or other performances, spectator sports, vacations, making love, being with family and/or friends.

The subtlest batteries, however, only get recharged when we are alone with ourselves. This can take the form of sitting meditation but it doesn’t have to. We can be alone in nature, alone at home, alone on an airplane, anywhere. As long as we are not working down the TO DO list, there is a greater chance that we will slip into the Observer state (the precursor to Flow state) effortlessly.

To help bring on Observer state — a mindset in which you are able to simultaneously observe and analyze your emotional reactions to situations somewhat impassively — this works for me:

  • Look more closely at the place from which thoughts/feelings arise.
  • Don’t add to what you observe inwardly/outwardly, i.e. stop interpreting everything.

If we spend too much time doing, our conscious mind will block the functioning of our subconscious mind, and we’ll interfere with the stream of consciousness. If we spend too much time not doing, we will under-actualize our own goals. The movement associated with creative energy is a good thing, but stillness in body and mind is also valuable.

Balancing movement and stillness is optimal for maximizing effectiveness toward all our goals in life for love, creativity, and ultimately spiritual fullness, intuitively knowing and feeling connected with all beings and all things.

Strive to achieve the right balance between times spent doing versus time spent not doing.

L’chaim! (Hebrew toast “to life”)

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at MediaVillage.com. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-06-16 14:04:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What Is Your Summum Bonum?

Updated May 15th, 2020

We all have a bit more flextime than we are used to now in the stay-at-home world, and that inevitably leads to more reflection than we normally get to do. It’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of the pandemic. Having the natural will, energy, and opportunity to be self-reflective and philosophical is one of the greatest gifts in the world. Aristotle famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Philosophy (the word means “the love of knowing”) gets a harsh rap nowadays from at least one of our most televised and otherwise charming scientists. Personally, I still find philosophy to be relevant in today’s scientific world, and invite you to philosophize yourself now that we are all in this situation together yet apart. Philosophy is a way of thinking clear-headedly about things, and reaches into dark crevices ahead of the data science accumulates, seeing things where science has grown blind spots not intrinsic to the scientific method, and in fact contrary to the openminded spirit of the philosophy of science.

As a philosophy major I learned to say “The Highest Good” in Latin: Summum Bonum, but long before, even as a toddler, I had begun thinking about the same subject, vaguely noting that my inarticulate intuition could not accept anything I was told as an absolute, even from those two beloved gods Ned and Sandy (my parents). Without innate acceptance of authority as absolute, I was required to develop my own ideas.

Live in line with your higher good.

Before receiving my degree I had developed my own “philosophy”, ideas that had jumbled natively in my mind before formal study. When I contemplated Summum Bonum, I decided to choose aesthetics as my touchstone to determine what for me would be The Highest Good. “With or without God, what did I intuit/feel/decide to be the most beautiful way to handle each moment? And which would be a more beautiful universe — the one with or without God?”  That’s how I decided which hypotheses I would base my life upon.

This was my rational mind at work, yet my intuition was really leading my thought process. My definition of intuition is the ability to sense what is going on, to make connections and put things together, sometimes leaping wildly across intervening logical steps. Sometimes someone asks me why I did something and it takes a while to provide an adequate answer because I was driven by my intuition more than pure rational reasoning. In Jung’s four functions of consciousness (thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition), I’m an intuitionist, among other “-ists”.

Being a pragmatist at heart, The Highest Good to me is the best conscious approach to any situation, which I see as love — omnidirectional, unconditional, and nonattached love*. Such love creates the greatest long-term happiness for the greatest number, which I find to be the most philosophically beautiful approach.

What is The Highest Good to you?

Best to all,

Bill

*Nonattached love means accepting the losability of the things one is fond of, and thus being free from addictive dependence upon the objects of our affection.

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

Originally posted 2015-04-07 12:59:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Win/Win Principle

Updated April 17, 2020

As we are cloistered now, it’s a perfect time for reconsidering everything. As I sit outside watching the river flow by, my mind relaxes and goes to unexpected places. I watch it fly… and I muse at what it chooses to remember right now, things from the distant past… why those things, I wonder. Today it muses:

So many writers have impressed me with at least one thing, if not everything, they have written. Shakespeare, William James, Robert A. Heinlein, the list goes on. One writer whose real life as a British secret agent caused him to create a bizarre false identity by which most of the public knows him, Aleister Crowley for example in Liber Aleph makes the point that there are no rules, just principles to balance in every given situation. Yet just a few principles come closest to being rules that they should probably be applied in virtually every circumstance. Pondering this, it occurs to me that Win/Win is such an important principle it comes near the top of the list if not at the very top.

Your View of Reality

The intention and actuality of only making agreements that will benefit all parties is the essence of the Win/Win principle. It ideally permeates to the minutest level of each almost invisible tacit agreement going on every second of our social interactions. In my cosmology we are all holograms of the One Consciousness or more precisely facets of the one Conscious Hologram, so it follows logically that we would do unto others as we would do unto a reflection of our very own self. This is truly enlightened self-interest. It is then the most palpable form of omnidirectional unconditional love. Even in a humanistic materialistic worldview such as some of my best friends have, the Win/Win principle follows logically from their chosen noble stance. My lifetime favorite writer F. Scott Fitzgerald notes in The Beautiful and Damned that such a stance is even more meaningful if it is taken with no moral imperative to do so.

Maintaining the Win/Win intention is not always easy. It’s hardest perhaps when we believe we have a score to settle with someone. We want them to lose so they learn a lesson and they stop behaving the way they are. Take for example two Win/Lose players I met years ago. Mr. Z humiliated Ms. Y in front of others. I had a feeling and said to another onlooker later, “She is going to find a way to get even someday.” Sometime later there followed an unrelated Lose/Lose lawsuit, set in motion by a quiet remark from Ms. Y to her boss, which ended with both Ms. Y and Mr. Z being negatively affected.

The Biblical directive, “Let vengeance be mine”, gives us permission to not carry the burden of corrective punishment, absolving us from that task and enabling us to continue to act for the ultimate Win/Win even with folks who have harmed us. More good is ultimately achieved by this strategy than by any other. We benefit more long-term and often short-term, even when dealing with the most recalcitrant adversary. It comes down, as so many things do, to searching for a more creative solution. We then make it possible to achieve a Win/Win outcome even when up against a Win/Lose “opponent”.

It is a glorious fact of existence that each of us is a far more powerful player on the stage of this world than we ever suspect based on appearances. Words or even facial expressions can escalate things disproportionately. Win/Win as a deep-seated attitude in all situations is not only the best way to “win” — achieving the most benefit for all and therefore doing the most good in the world — it is also the best protection against forgetting our own principles even in a careless or tired moment.

Best to all,

Bill

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

Originally posted 2015-03-03 11:31:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Data Mining Your Own Intuition — Revisited

Updated on April 3rd, 2020

Intuitions often come to us when we are in entirely new situations, as we all are in today, so this post may have special relevance to all of us.

Have you ever had an intuition?

You are the HEARER of your Thoughts

Intuition is when an idea pops into your head fully formed without being preceded by a step-by- step logical chain. These intuitions may come to you with “cognitive elements” usually in the form of a feeling. You understand the meaning of your thoughts and what it is you are saying to yourself, without having heard words spelling it out. Although often there may be no image that you can see in your mind, in heightened states of consciousness you may be able to see an image tied to this intuition.

These ideas flash into our mind and usually flash right out again unless we have a strong and abiding mental intention to pay attention to and remember their content. Without such conscious intention, we probably won’t even notice these fleeting intuitions. They are a subtle guidance system that does not speak loudly in our mind.

Dan Goleman points out that at least some of these feelings — the ones we call “gut feelings” — are called that because we sense they are somehow coming from our gut, which is accurate because the part of the brain from which these intuitions come (the basal ganglia) is also associated with the nerve connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal system. These intuitions are really the net guidance stored from our experiences in the form of summary action implications that tell us the way we are going either worked or failed in the past.

By contrast, the ego voices that dominate most of our mind at most times are loud, strident and salient. These ego voices are the thoughts, inner dialog, and feelings that are linked to our base motivations. We are pulled around by our negative fears and anger reactions to events around us when we feel our livelihoods and social standing are at stake and sense at any moment something can be taken away from us. The ego is also stressed out due to Acceleritis™ (Information Overload), thus exacerbating its own predisposition to worry.

As a result of this inner competition for attention and the fact that most of our attention at nearly all times is cast outwards not inwards, we don’t even catch these intuitions in the first place.

If we do catch the intuition, it is generally not heeded because of the jumble of subsequent louder thoughts giving us impulses to verbally fight, complain, argue, dismiss, or otherwise rain on whatever it was that somebody just said that may have triggered the intuition.

How to Use Your Intuition More Effectively

This is a testable hypothesis — try this:

Start a program of paying attention to your own hunches and look for them to arise. When they do, put off the other business that seems so important to the ego and everyday mind, and focus on what your intuition just told you. Make sure you remember the content by either writing it down or forming a keyword, key phrase or key image that will serve as a retrieval mechanism to bring back the whole content of the idea.

Then at an appropriate time in whatever is happening, tentatively see if the application of that intuitive idea seems to contribute anything to the situation taking place around you. Do this instead of — or at least before — offering the people around you any of the subsequent jumble of thoughts that came after the intuition.

On the other hand, you might see what the intuition is and realize that although triggered by the current situation, it really applies to another situation. Then wait to tentatively apply the hunch until you are in the other situation. In this case also resist the tendency to edit that first flash — though using diplomatic language is always a good idea so long as you do not distort the original idea.

Sometimes the intuition gives us not the right strategy but rather a strategy that although wrong will lead to the right answer, one that might not be reached other than through considering this wrong answer. Socrates appeared to know this — he flowed with his intuitions yet by phrasing the ideas as questions he protected himself against error.

Most often our mental process is to speed past the intuitive event and come up with some other strategy for dealing with the present situation. If we even retain memory of the hunch, our tendency is to later edit and “improve” upon it, which often has the opposite effect. Based on my experience, stick with the way it appeared in the beginning — the odds favor this being the successful course of action.

Best to all,

Bill

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

Originally posted 2017-08-31 09:27:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rising Above Negativity

Original post November 17, 2015

Most of us assume there is nothing we can do about negative emotions — they come as they will, and we must just suffer through them. However, we all know someone we’ve seen rise above these feelings. With the world facing so many unprecedented challenges, it is vital that we increase our ability to rise to the occasion and surmount negative feelings.

Rise Above Negative Feelings

It’s difficult if not impossible to overcome negative feelings while remaining in our everyday “waking” state of consciousness. We can say, “I am going to put those emotions aside and get down to the business at hand”, but many of us don’t seem to have the willpower to do it. The trick is to rise out of the “waking” state of consciousness and move into the Observer state, where we are able to more easily turn off unproductive feelings.

The first step is to turn down all distractions. Create an alone space where you can’t be interrupted, where you can’t hear voices in the next room, where there isn’t a TV or some other device playing, where you’re not under time pressure. Have writing tools handy, or a sound recorder. Begin to try to understand why you are in a negative state. Be patient and wait. Once your mind knows you are focused on just one thing, which is to diagnose why you feel the way you do, it will soon start to give up answers to the question. They may be obvious or not-so-obvious. You may find yourself writing down the not-so-obvious aspects or simple phrases that are now suddenly more revealing and meaningful than you expected, which cast new light or simply state things you already knew but in much sharper and more useful language than you had access to before.

What you are doing is called contemplation.  You are flying higher, getting above the weather, so whatever weather disturbance or turbulence you experience must be rejected. Put aside whatever feeling or thought is familiar, like you have been there before. Reject ordinary thinking and feeling. Say to yourself, “That’s not constructive, it’s not getting me anywhere, and it doesn’t lead to a solution. I need something NEW.”

Strip it away as it arises and see what is underneath.

Where is it coming from?

Where did the whole pattern start?

What did I want that led me to this negative mindset?

What is really happening?

What is IT trying to teach me?

How can this situation possibly be something that can make me better and stronger?

Get creative. Generate out-of-the-box ideas. Visualize what someone you look up to would do. Come up with ideas that will not engender resistance, where you go with the flow and not against it. In Taoism it is called getting into the rhythm of the Tao, linking into the underlying force of the universe.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village.

Originally posted 2015-11-17 10:06:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter