Last week in Johannesburg, South Africa, just up the road from where I live, there was a road rage incident. A driver and a motorcyclist lost their cool and had a shoot out, leaving one in hospital and one dead. It amazes the calm people that angry people don’t ask “What am I expecting when I pull this trigger?” It made me realise that free will does not exist. All of your choices, behaviours, beliefs, and values are not yours to choose. Every decision, from who you vote for, what you wear, who you are friends with, to who you marry, is not yours. I know what you are thinking, you are pretty convinced that you have the freedom to choose, and indeed you do, but you still aren’t the one making the choice. The bad choices you made weren’t yours, but neither were the good. You should feel no shame and take no credit.
How can I make such a ridiculous sounding statement? Because, like the two men who had the shootout, and certainly would never have “chosen” to do what they did, everything happens within a context. The truth is that nothing happens in a vacuum, and you are inseparable from your environment. Still to say that your choices are not really your own is to suggest that you are a puppet, a glorified robot.
Let’s take a closer look, a simple (for some) decision, what to wear today. You stand at your wardrobe and think about it. The choice is yours, so you think, but when you consider all the influencing factors you realise that it really isn’t. What are the influencers? What you are going to do that day, what you personally prefer (which has the entire history of your life behind it), who will be seeing you, who you will be seeing, what has been said to you, what you have worn before that got attention, and so the list goes on. Change any one of those influences and you will make a different choice.
Consider that red shirt that you love to wear because it suits you, what if someone said it looked ugly on you, would you make a different choice? Probably. So it goes for all the choices you make, your ego based fears are possibly the biggest influencer. That person you marry – is he just like your father? Does she feel like a safe choice? Does she have your tastes? Is he accepted by your friends and family? There are boxes that must get ticked, but change a box and the choice changes.
The entire history of the world happened the way it did so that you would make the choices you make. This is what makes religion (not spirituality) such a strange thing, your religion is chosen for you, if you consider what your parents do, what you have been taught, what your friends do, what will get you the most acceptance, you realise that there really wasn’t much of a choice at all. This is the thing though, our choices are usually those that we think will give us the most shine, get us the most acceptance, or on the other hand, the ones that will keep us safe, another way of putting this is that we do what we do to either get pleasure or to avoid pain. Even these motivations are wholly dependant on history – our experience and what we have been taught.
Think of each decision and behaviour as the outcome of complex theorems, or the result of a computer program, then you realise that your decision making process is not as free as you once thought. The chances are that if the variables stay the same, then you will make the same choice. So you are where you are by design, as a result of your history and programming, but you are far from helpless to do anything about it.
This is why prisons fail though, why drug addicts relapse, why children stay unruly, and why your own attempts at behaviour modification always fail. So many personal development things fail because they are an attempt to fix the result and not the programming or environment that causes the result.
So how do you fix things? Well here is where your free will comes into play, forget trying to change decisions or behaviour right now,if you try to do that I will guarantee that you will hear yourself saying, “I never meant to say/do that!” You need to realise that your decisions and behaviour are a response to, and a result of environment and influence. so in order to change things you need to focus on feeling good. By feeling good I am referring to that, “all is right with world, I am at peace” feeling. I am not talking about a hedonistic “If it feels good then do it” way of living, but a way of living that seeks for balance. Eating to support life, exercising to support life, pursuing spirituality to support life, relating to others in a life supporting way.
The way you feel when you make life affirming choices results in the kind of “good feeling” that I am talking about here. Hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure for pleasure’s sake) ironically is not life affirming, but rather seeks to avoid that which is life affirming. Hedonism is a direct response to the pain of life itself, an attempt to distract oneself or an attempt to just rip the tops of the weeds off leaving the roots intact.
When you make life affirming choices in all you do (choices that build and don’t destroy), you face the cause of the pain head on, you tackle the roots. In other words choices that increase health in all aspects of life, this will lead to a feeling of wellbeing, when this is your context, the content must follow. Surely one of the most life affirming choices you can make will be to surrender that which is cause you so much “death”?
You cannot fix the self, as the one doing the fixing is the very self that needs fixing, but what you can do is surrender the obstacles to this wellbeing. I will teach more about raising consciousness in posts to come, raising consciousness is about changing the context which will change the content, so forget about behaviour modification and the like, it might work in the very short term but not in the long term. You will be amazed at how quickly your behaviour and decisions change as you change the context (internal and external context).
Here’s to raising consciousness,
It is safe to assume that if you are reading this, and by virtue of the fact that you subscribed in the first place, you are interested in personal development. Perhaps for some of you that is putting it lightly, for some of you is it more like “Stop the bus! I want to get off!” Allow me to shed some light as to why most of you are feeling the urge to evolve.
Most of you, as I calibrated (if you want to know what that means then I encourage you to buy Dr David Hawkins amazing book – Power vs Force), are on consciousness level 125 – desire. What this basically means is that you will tend to view God as the one who has it all but is denying it from you. In other words, pray all you want, it ain’t gonna happen! Your view of life is that is it mostly disappointing, if there is a good life then it is avoiding you. The primary emotion that you are experiencing is anxiety, and the life process you will be experiencing is enslavement. In other words, you feel like you are missing out, stressed out, and trapped.
Your reality is how it is because of the consciousness level you are on, as your life will reflect your consciousness level. It is really good news, as it means that there is hope and change is a reality. SO how do you change your life? There is the way you have been trying to do it, and there is the way you don’t want to do it.
Most of the work you have been doing to change your life has been that of the ego, and as you will have discovered, it hasn’t brought any lasting sense of happiness or fulfilment. The ego has this crazy idea that inner happiness comes from the outside, so it sets you off on a mission to try and achieve this happiness by rearranging the pieces, like arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.You may feel a bit better but you are still sinking.
So it seems that happiness will come when you fix yourself, but fixing yourself is very hard work and largely unsuccessful. Even most life coaching fails over time because it focusses on making the ego more comfortable within you, and when you challenge the ego it strikes back and you find yourself right back where you started.
Trying to fix yourself and circumstances is like trying to lift yourself by your shoelaces, and I know so many of you have tried to fix things, perhaps seen counselors, a psychologist, or even a life coach, and none of them have helped. I know lots of you have read books that promised so much, and tried the “law of attraction”, perhaps made dream boards, used affirmations, and so many other things. I bet you saw some progress but over time found yourself back where you were. Is this you?
What you have been trying to do is the equivalent of “lifting ships”. If everyone who read this blog got together and we all went to the harbour and tried to lift a ship we still couldn’t do it. Trying to fix our lives by working with the content just can’t be done, because if the context of your life stays the same the content will too. You will find yourself constantly putting out fires.
Since it is the content that causes so much trouble people rarely think that the context is where the problem lies. Think about it, plant a seed and try to force it to grow on your terms, it won’t happen, but provide an environment where growth can happen and it does. Think of your consciousness level as the container and the “stuff” of your life as the content, as it says in the Bible, “you can’t put new wine in an old wineskin,” so trying to get better content in the same old container just won’t happen. Einstein put it this way, “You can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that caused it,” so in order to change your life, you need to change the environment it is happening in.
No, you can lift a ship (fix the content), but you can raise the level of the ocean and then lift all the ships. So the key to changing your life is in raising your consciousness. As your consciousness level rises, so does your experience, or rather, perception, of reality.
So how do you raise your consciousness level? There are two simple ways, and you need to do both: Sacrifice and love. People think sacrifice means giving up what they like – living a painful life in order to experience spiritual good, but this is not so. Sacrifice in this case means consistently surrendering everything to the Higher Power, knowing that you don’t know it all, that you need outside help, and that you are not smart enough to know what is best. You surrender what is causing you pain so that you might know peace, and you surrender that which is making you happy so that you can experience what is even better. It is unconditional, and it means leaving things up to the Higher Power. The job here is not to try to fix yourself, but to surrender yourself. You surrender it by intending to do so, “I surrender this to….” and then you quit worrying about it, or wrestling with it.
Then there is love, you love everyone and everything as though it was yourself. You quit judging and criticising and you start loving. You accept that everyone is doing the best they can even if you don’t like it, and you treat everyone like royalty. You will be amazed at the result. I practice this myself, and I get the best service and so many free gifts wherever I go. You don’t do it for that reason though, you do it because it is who you really are.
Essentially it means allowing the rain to fall where it will and seeing everyone as divine beings and not in terms of their standing in society or behaviour.
When you consider how you have been programmed to live, it is not hard to understand why we struggle in life in terms of consciousness levels. Most people judge, criticise, and blame other people, and they allow their reality to dictate who they are instead of the other way around. It is the difference between living from the inside out or from the outside in. It’s the difference between embracing the world, or pushing it away.
It is a handful of people who make a quality decision to change their lives, and commit to that ideal. I take my hat off to the small percentage that does that and sticks with it. In my coaching practice I have clients who commit and see it through, and clients who give up early on for whatever reason, and go back to the life they know. There is always a valid excuse, be it time or money or just plain old “naafiness”. If you don’t know what NAAFI means, it is simply a state of “Ambition and F**kall interest”. The thing is about excuses is that they are lies wrapped up in reasons.
Let me break some news to you, you are going to fight to stay in that comfort zone that you are stuck in, no matter how badly you want to get out. Comfort zones are always comfortable after a fashion, and here is why: There is a little almond-shaped collection of neurons in the brain called the Amygdala which has the purpose of managing and maintaining your comfort zones. A comfort zone is nothing more than a condition you have accepted as normal in your life, and the Amygdala is there to ensure that you stay within what is “normal” because “normal” is predictable, and predictable is safe, supposedly. When you start to move out of your comfort zone your Amygdala goes to work and orders you body to release hormones that make you feel all kinds of bad, and following those feelings come the rationales that it would indeed be better to just simply go back to what is “normal”, and you are seemingly powerless to do anything about it. In fact, the Amygdala succeeds in making your comfort zone look good and preferable to change.
Change is simple, but it isn’t easy, and that is why so few people do it. We are forgetful creatures, and it is so easy (thanks to the Amygdala) to just forget that you are in a bad place. “It’s not so bad after all,” you tell yourself right before you fall back asleep. This is why it is the rare individual that breaks free and shines, while the rest of the population calls them special, admires them, and goes on sleeping.
If you think this brief stint on earth is simply “A job, a car, a house, a grave,” then you are mistaken. There is nothing wrong if you want just that, but it is a tragic waste. Still it is your choice, stay asleep or wake up.
So where are you now? In his book “Power vs Force” Dr David Hawkins states that there are 17 levels of consciousness, ranging from shame to enlightenment, here is the list from bottom to top:
Personal power only makes an appearance at level 9 – courage. It is my experience that a great majority of people are somewhere between levels 1 and 8 inclusive. Hawkins confirms in his book that upwards of 85% of the world’s population is below level 9 and than any meaningful human satisfaction cannot even commence until level 10 where personal power (or self confidence) begins to emerge. It’s no wonder then that people stuck between 1 and 8 inclusively can’t change their lives; there is no power to do so.
When a client comes to me, they are usually stuck on one of the lower levers, and coaching helps them to move to level 10 – neutrality, this is where the client becomes flexible and non-judgemental towards life. Once personal power makes an appearance the client starts to become their own coach, once the client reaches level 11, then my role as their coach becomes supportive and the client is now their own life coach.
If the client quits before then, and it is quite easy to do so, they will likely just go back to where they were before they made the decision to change their lives (the place where the problem wasn’t yet too painful) until the pain of existence increases and they feel the call to move again.
You can move yourself forward though, and at least get to a place where you let yourself be helped, and stick with it! Recognise that all the junk that you are experiencing is symptomatic of lower level consciousness, it offers you an opportunity because once you recognise that dissonance, that experience of what you don’t want, then you can declare what is it that you do want, and if you don’t know what that is then just say the opposite of what it is that you don’t want. Make a commitment to yourself that you are ready to do whatever it takes, write your desire and your commitment down – “I declare that I no longer want………What I want is………And I am prepared to do what it takes to get there!” Of course, there is no guarantee that you will stick to it; in fact you might not, so it will take a few more moments of recognising the dissonance and declaration. I would strongly recommend coaching, but that is only for people who really want to change their lives and that isn’t you, is it?
Here is to waking up!
What do you believe about life? I mean, what is it to you? How does it work, in your opinion? I think there would be as many answers as there are people, as your belief would be a mix of what you have been taught and what you have experienced (as a result of what you have been taught). If life has somehow been working out for you, you won’t question your beliefs, but if, like most people, it has been rather hard then you will be one of those looking around and saying “What happened?”
So what is life to you? Is it just an endless stream of bad luck and disasters (that you have no control over) that merciless pummel you daily? Is it just a boring humdrum of mundane events peppered with the occasional bright day or bad time? Or do things seem to go your way and you think of yourself as “lucky”? Isn’t it interesting how we are all on the same planet, we all breathe the same air, we all have the same opportunities (whether you believe that or not), yet we all have different experiences of life? What gives?
If you are not happy with the way things are, and this has been going on for some time, then perhaps you have embarked on a journey to discover “how” to really change things. If you have gotten lost in the sea of information that is out there then you won’t be the first, or the last. What a lot of people end up with is a bunch of stuff that they have tried, but with little or no results and a feeling that nothing seems to work. It does work, and has worked for somebody in some way, but why not for you?
Do you have a radio? Of course you do, you tune it to the station you want. If you have the right frequency you get satisfaction, if not, you get static or some other station playing music that makes your ears bleed. The Toltec Indians of North America have a belief that technology is an exterior representation of what we are capable of, so you are the radio, your thoughts are the tuner, your unconscious expectation is the frequency, and your reality is the sound you get from the radio.
You might have heard this analogy before, it is frequently used as a “Law of Attraction” teaching, but I believe the “Law of Attraction” is a misnomer. “Law of Vibration” is more accurate. You don’t attract anything to you, just like a radio, you tune into a reality where what you want exists. The process can test you though, and most people give up long before they achieve what they are focussed on. Why is it so easy to lose hope and give in though? Because people don’t understand that it is their “unconscious expectation” that does the creating. How many times have you consciously expected something and gotten a different result? Quite often I would wager, but were you aware that you were unconsciously expecting a different result? This is my point: An unconscious expectation is an expectation that you do not know that you have, an expectation that you are not consciously aware of. It sounds a bit nuts, but this is how you are protected from yourself. Imagine if everything you consciously expected happened to you, it would be a disaster.
It is only those beliefs that are tested and found to be “true” over time that become unconscious expectations, and this makes conscious creation a tough job. It means that you need to “rehearse” the new belief, the thing you want to create in your life, until it becomes an unconscious expectation. You do this by entering into a meditative state and experiencing it as though it was already done. How long does it take? I don’t think anyone can answer this, only that when it becomes a natural thing to you and the next logical step is that thing manifesting – in other words, when it becomes an unconscious expectation. It will take as long as it takes, and this is where most people trip up.
Everything you currently believe without question is something you have rehearsed in this way, it was easy because you had the support of your environment, and the people around you believed the same thing and drilled it into you. When you begin the work of conscious creation you often don’t have the same support structure. It is easy to lose hope and give up. You have to find a way to keep yourself in the game, and that could mean changing who you hang out with, and starting some good habits. Of course life coaching is great for this; you get support from a trained supporter, but even then it is still up to you.
The goal is to keep feeling good, and this will take a lot of self awareness. Your emotions are your guidance system when it comes to the “law of attraction”, they tell you what you are focussed on. Remember it is your consistent focus that becomes your unconscious expectation and if you are feeling “bad” most of the time, it means that you are focussed on what you don’t want most of the time. Is it any wonder your life is the way it is?
This not to say that you will have to focus on what you want for a long time, your life is a mirror to your unconscious expectations, so as you start to change, so does your life. It doesn’t wait until you have arrived, it mirrors your journey.
It takes 17 seconds for a thought to start attracting like thoughts, and 68 seconds for those thoughts to start the creation process. Most people can’t hold a thought for 17 seconds, it takes real work, but this should give you a clue as to where to start. Getting good support helps tremendously, we all benefit from encouragement and the occasional kick up the behind.
Before you start on any of those goals or resolutions for 2014, get your focus right.
Here is to an amazing year,
The discussion went like this: “Imagine if we all live as if we were God, wouldn’t that make the world a much better place?” to which the well-meaning religious zealot replied, “That’s the most ridiculous question I have ever heard. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin all thought they were God and look at the damage they did.” Now, putting the judgment aside, I would say that both people are right in this discussion, but for different reasons.
There is a huge difference between the statements “I am God!” and “I am, God”. Now on paper it is just a simple case of comma placement, but the difference between these two statements is that one proclaims “I am superior to everyone else so I will set myself above all men,” and the other proclaims, “I am one with my creator, therefore I have the power to love and serve all men who are my equals, brothers, sisters, and one with the creator too.” The religious man’s concerns are valid, when the ego sets itself up as God then disaster follows. Why? Because the ego’s sole motivation is fear, and what it does it never does for the benefit of mankind but for self-preservation alone. A dictator might start out with good intentions, but in the end he does what he does not to make his people’s world a better place, but his own.
Why is the other person right though? Because what he is talking about is living a spirit-based life. The spirit knows no fear and is not corrupted in any way at all. The spirit is that part of us that is God, so living as if we were God would be to live from a place that is pure and loving. It all sounds wonderful though, but it does sound like it is something that only has a place in religious practice, but to believe that would be a mistake. The lie of the ego is that living from the spirit has no place in a secular society, nor does it have a place in our work sphere. As a result of this very little is taught about what living from the spirit would look like, or even how you would go about doing it, and it has been relegated to the ranks of the “warm fuzzy” and “mystical”.
There is nothing particularly cosy about living from the spirit, but there is also nothing that is as rewarding. We do so much in an attempt to find fulfillment, and nothing seems to really work. The only key that fits this lock is living from the spirit, since it is at the core of your purpose as a human being you are not going to live your purpose unless you learn to live from the spirit. Many have tried the opposite and failed.
The myth is that living from the spirit means taking a vow of poverty, wearing sackcloth, and meditating on a mountain for hours a day. Yes, that is one way to do it, but there are many, many, many other ways. As a wise guru once said, “Some people choose the easy way to reach enlightenment, they sit on a mountain and meditate. Others choose the more difficult path, they get married and have kids.” The truth is that you need to pick the spirit centered live that is going to work for you. I can however give you some practical tips on how you can start doing it right now in the place you are in.
I have decided to focus my coaching on helping people rediscover and live from their spirits, but so many people reject the idea outright. Why? Because they have been burned by religion, which is sad because religion has little to with spirituality. Religion can introduce you to spirituality, but it isn’t spirituality itself. Man made rules with the fear of punishment as a lurking threat is not the true face of spirituality. Spirituality, in essence, is a personal journey of discovery where one progressively sheds the ego and rediscovers the forgotten divinity that exists in us all. You can only ever be given guidelines to follow, but your personal spirituality will be yours alone. Your own brand. You are a unique individual, why should your spirituality be any different?
Are you really happy? Truly content? Absolutely at peace? Or are these things something that you are still pursuing? The world of ego is a place of fear, and is wanting of these things. They cannot be found in that world. Even if you get a taste of them, there is still a sense of quiet desperation that lurks underneath. The world of spirit is your true home, and that is the place of all fulfillment and abundance. Now this is not a call to religion, to become a this or a that. It is a call to acknowledge that there is much more to this universe than your physical senses can experience, and that you are indeed a part of something great and are not separate from it.
Your greatest teachers on the spiritual path are going to be everyone around you. You can learn to love the hard to love and forgive the unforgivable, be kind to those who least deserve it and patient with the infuriating. To say that the spiritual way has no place in the workplace is to miss the greatest place of learning and the best place to practice it. So where do you start? Right where you are. It is a journey of rediscovery, of returning to the wonder of childhood, and finding out that the universe is about play, not work.
I think one of the most powerful pieces of advice if you want to discover the power of spirituality and move away from the awful grip of ego comes from that amazing poet Rumi, “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” The path to spirituality begins here.
You can be religious without being spiritual, and you can be spiritual without being religious. It is about living an authentic life that embraces the true wonder of what it means to be alive. How easy it is to forget that in this difficult world though.
Shall we begin?
There are 78 organs in the body, that’s what medical science tells us. Today I want to tell you about the 79th. The trouble with medical science is that much of it is based on Newtonian physics, that is to say that the human body is a machine and it is separate from the environment that is in. There is you and then there is everything, and everyone, else “out there”. It is strongly suggested that there is no real connection between you and what’s “out there”. Thankfully not all science agrees with this, and the rest of science is slowly catching up. Spiritual traditions have long taught that there is no “out there”, and that may in fact be true.
How do you know what is “out there”? How do you know what your reality is all about? How do you get to experience it? What you “see” is information in the form of light entering the eyes and then being passed on to the brain for processing. What you “hear” is sound entering the ears and the getting passed on to the brain for processing. What you “smell” is particles coming in through the nose and then being passed on to the brain for processing. What you “taste” is particles coming into contact with the tongue and then being passed on to the brain for processing. What you “feel” is contact with the skin being passed on to the brain for processing. Basically it all happens in the brain. We call the result of all of this processing “perception”. “Out there” is actually all happening “in here” so to speak. Your experience of reality is nothing more than perception, and it all happens in the brain. It is next to impossible to prove that what is “out there” is really “out there”. It is possible to hallucinate, to imagine, to dream, in such vivid ways that it is believed to be “out there”. I can only take your word for it that you really exist, but I cannot prove it beyond reasonable doubt. My entire experience of you is nothing more than what my brain is processing, you are really just “in my head” so to speak.
Two people can experience the same thing in different ways. One person can love chocolate ice cream, the other prefers vanilla. Your perceptions are truly unique, they are what makes you “you”. Perceptions are made up of your beliefs and get developed over time, they are capable of change and are constantly evolving. If perceptions are the product of our beliefs and reality is determined by those perceptions then reality must perfectly match our beliefs. If those beliefs are changed then reality must change as well. I propose that the the working of our perceptions make up what I call the 79th organ.
Imagine for a moment that reality, as you know it, is an organ in your body. I could assume a number of things from this. Like any other organ in your body your reality can be healthy or sick. Your reality can be affected by the health of the rest of your body. Your reality has certain requirements if it is to be healthy. Your reality also serves a vital function that is crucial to the wellbeing of the rest of your system. Your reality contains so much information but it will require you to slow down and stop in order to learn from it. Like zipping down a highway you miss so much that you drive past, but being in the passenger seat in a slow moving vehicle makes you go “Wow, I never saw that before.” I have a wonderful metaphor that will help you understand just how your reality is simply a part of you and not really separate from you.
You are reading this blog on some sort of computer right? What you see on the screen is not the computer, but a representation of what is going on in the computer. If you had to look at the raw data it wouldn’t make any sense to you at all, it would look like this 1011011000111010110101101….except in electrical form. Yet on the screen you can see information about the health of the computer and you can even use the information given there to diagnose and fix the computer. So it is with your reality, it is a representation of your personal energy presented to you in a form/s you can understand. Or, should understand. The trouble is that we have been taught that reality is separate from us and outside of our control. We have been taught to fear it, and rely on it for our happiness. In truth, you have learned to serve your reality, when reality should actually be serving you.
Reality is information. It is there to serve you and lead you to a life of well being. The trick is learning how you use that information. When you get an error message on a computer then it is either a problem that can be fixed in the software (on the screen) or it is a hardware issue (a physical repair). This means that reality will give you information that will lead you to change your beliefs or change your lifestyle. There are changes that will specifically affect the way you think and changes that will have a specific impact on your physical body. We can look at this another way as well. Driving is all about safety and peace, but there are things that can alert us when this is not so. Perhaps there is a light on the dashboard that tells you that you need petrol or oil, or the car is overheating. Perhaps the traffic is bad on the route you are taking and you need to go a different way. Basically, you will either need to work on an internal matter or change something externally.
In life you will be faced with all kinds of situations, you can either choose to use this information to improve your life, or you can be a victim and cry foul. Guess which one will serve you better? If you choose to use the information then you will always have one of two choices: work internally or change something externally. Here is an example: Your boss is always irritable with you. Most people would complain and grumble, but if you use that information then you could do something like this:
Is my boss irritable with me or is he irritable with everyone? If it is everyone then he may have problems I don’t know about and I can choose to not let it affect me and show some understanding. Let’s face it, we all go through stuff and behave badly sometimes, that’s not to excuse bad behaviour but a little tolerance for the human condition please. If he is just irritable with me, then I either need to fix my behaviour or I need to fix something in the situation – perhaps confront the boss or get a new job.
Sounds incredible simple doesn’t it? We do you know how to change a belief or fix a behaviour? Do you know how to constructively confront someone? Do you have the courage to quit your job? It may just open up a world of learning for you.
Nothing is ever wasted in nature, not a single thing. Everything is used for growth and well being. Since you are a part of nature it would serve you well to live like this too. Most people sleep their way through life and miss what their reality is teaching them, and then they get stuck and wonder what has happened. When you understand that reality is there to serve your highest good, no matter how terrible you think something is, then you can stop reacting, slow down, and pay attention to what is being communicated. You are only ever where your decisions have taken you. Wake up, accept the help being offered, and start paying attention. Your life awaits.
Keep the shiny side up 🙂
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Love has been given a bad name, it’s not love’s fault as love didn’t do any of what love has been accused of doing. It’s more a case of mistaken identity. If it looks like love, sounds like love, feels like love, and smells like love, then it must be love right? Trouble is, it still isn’t love. We have confused love with neuropeptides, and put the cart before the horse.
Remember that I mentioned last week that the “Law of Attraction” is a group of laws working together to produce a result? I also said that knowing the laws is one thing, how to work with them is another. Love is the thing that makes it all work, so if you don’t understand love, then you have a problem. Before I tell you what love is, lets look at what love isn’t.
How do you know you love someone or something? The answer would seem simple, because of how you feel. We have even coined the phrases “to fall in or out of love”, and we can declare that the spark is gone, we don’t feel the same way anymore, or we get tingles, feel light headed or as some doomed lover once declared we feel like “the king of the world”. Euphoric and goose bumpy equals in love, miserable or indifferent equals out of love. You will hear songs about how he still gets goosebumps ten years later when he sees her, or how he is like a pill that makes her ill. Some guys will scale mountains or swim oceans, some girls get restraining orders. Mostly its starts out warm and fuzzy and ends up with complaints that the romance has died. Sounds like I am talking about the rise and fall of love, but I am not. None of this is describing love anymore than the feeling of contentment describes the pizza I just ate. Love is not a feeling. Love sometimes results in a feeling, and often it doesn’t.
Still think that the feeling is love? I don’t blame you. TV says it is, the radio says it is, the magazine says it is, the gift shops makes a fortune on Valentines Day saying that it is. Feelings are powerful things, they can start wars and unite nations, but here is why love isn’t a feeling: It can so easily go away. Look closer at what a feeling really is and you will wonder how we could reduce love to such a basic biological response. First of all let’s refine our definition. When we are talking about feeling love, we are really talking about an emotion. The feeling is how the emotion makes itself known to you. Let’s take happiness for example, the emotion you call love and the emotion of happiness both have their source in the Limbic System, without going into too much detail, happiness is nothing more than neuropeptides that get released in response to a thought and connect to the trillions of cells in your body, resulting in the feeling. That feeling you call love is essentially the same thing, except that it is a cocktail of hormones and peptides that converge to produce a powerful effect. What you call love is nothing more than a naturally occurring and highly addictive cocktail the works within the body to elevate mood and inspire irrational behaviour. It is nature’s way to fool you into procreating. The love between a parent and child is nothing more than a supremely powerful instinct, some parents don’t have it.
It might take a little while for the shock to wear off, the truth is you have been crowning an impostor. You have based the health of your relationships on the presence or absence of a feeling that ironically is not designed to last, certainly not in the way you experience it at the start of a relationship. You have also allowed yourself to base your sense of self worth on the presence or absence of this feeling.
So what is love then? God is love. Ok, that might not fly with you, so let me explain. If you want to know what love is, then you will need to buy a plane ticket and fly to South America, trek deep into the Amazon Jungle and find a place that has not been interfered with and just watch for a season or two. If you can’t do this, here is what you will notice: Effortless abundance. This is achieved by an unseen force that manages the balance of the ecosystem: Something dies, something is born, something hunts, something flies, something is poisonous, something is edible, sometimes the rain falls, sometimes it doesn’t. All of these seemingly random acts occur so that there might be balance – so that there might be abundance. Love is the force that works to maintain the balance that results in abundance.
Understanding this is crucial to repairing the mess we make in our lives. When we choose fear instead of love we start interfering in our own lives. We do this by forcing things. We rush into relationships, we take out bank loans, we drive too fast, we push our kids too hard, we strive for the things we think we want, we look for distractions instead of engaging with our world. Fear leads us to believe that relationships must always feel good, that there must always be plenty, that our kids must do as we say, and that working hard is the right way to get what we want. Fear makes us want to be in control.
Love doesn’t work that way. To choose love instead of fear is to let go of control and accept that everything that happens in your life, whether you like it or not, is designed to restore or manage the balance of your life, and that is the only natural way to a life of abundance. Wow is that ever easier said than done though? To the ego, letting go of control is tantamount to suicide. Have you ever tried just allowing the pieces to fall where they will and accepting it? It means that sometimes you will feel bad, and that’s ok. Love moves us through the feelings, this is why we have things like forgiveness – feelings are not designed to be lived in, but moved through.
As I have said before, you can only grow when you are balanced. If your life is spent catching up, you will never get ahead. So if you are always pushing yourself off balance, then how do you expect to enjoy the abundance that comes from balance? But then how do you achieve balance? You stop interfering and controlling, you take a deep breath and a step back, and you accept life as it is. I might as well be saying, “Put a gun to your head and pull the trigger”, it’s really that hard. So you have to make it easy, start small, do it in scenarios that aren’t too painful, and build from there. You have had a lifetime of interfering and controlling, it’s all you know and you certainly are encouraged to continue doing this by society.
So living a life of love will really be going against the flow for you, but enjoying the fruit of it is worth it. Compassion, joy, peace, generosity, beauty, kindness, all these and more are the results of living a life of love. Examples abound: Jesus Christ, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Richard Branson, the list goes on. These are all people who in their own way “Let go and let God”. I know you may be thinking, “No thanks, it’s not for me!” So how is your way working for you?
Remember, it’s ALL in your mind! www.imagineif.co.za
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When people first heard about “The Law of Attraction” it began a new era for the self help industry, books like “The Secret” became the “must reads” and people started discussing Quantum Physics at the dinner table (though I am sure they didn’t know it at the time). Here, finally, was an explanation, an understanding of how the world worked, and it made sense! It was logical; if you tune a radio to a certain frequency then you “attract” a certain radio show, tune your personal “vibration” (how you feel) to a certain frequency and you attract matching frequencies (circumstances and material things). What’s more, the books abound with testimonies from all the people who have used these principles and achieved the wondrous, but the truth is that about 98% of the people who tried changing their lives through using the principles outlined in these books failed to do so and now believe the Law of Attraction is rubbish. I tried it myself and it also didn’t work for me but deep down I knew that something was missing from the whole thing. What I came to realise after a few years of trying and trying is that the Law of Attraction is just a term used to describe the result of many other laws working together in harmony, and that leaving one out ruins the whole thing, much like leaving out an ingredient would ruin a cake. The truth is that if the Law of Attraction isn’t working for you then you are leaving out an ingredient. What about those people whose testimonies are featured in the books? Well, firstly, you aren’t getting the full picture, or secondly, they are the lucky few who managed to get the ingredients right. I have yet to read a book about this topic that gives the whole recipe, either ingredients are withheld or the authors simply don’t know themselves.
I am not claiming to know it all myself, I am still trying to figure it all out, but I have learned some things along the way. It’s like I am sitting with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and I am trying to figure out the 11 herbs and spices from taste. In my last blog I mention one of them, and I think this is a very important one, “The Law of Balance” which suggests that the universe operates in a way that maintains balance and won’t do anything to create imbalance, unless that imbalance serves to restore balance over time. Another one of them is what I call “The Law of Exchange” which simply states that “in any interaction or relationship there needs to be an equal (either perceptual or factual) exchange of value or the interaction or relationship will collapse.” This law is violated all the time in the western world and boy do we pay for that, the recent recession was a result of this law being violated.
Imagine, if you will, a man walking a tightrope and holding a long pole horizontally to help him balance. One side of the pole is called “input”, and the other side of the pole is called “output”. If there is more on one side that the other then the poor man is going to lose his balance and fall to a certain death. The problem for most individuals and businesses is that they are unable to achieve this balance (for whatever reason) and then end up dying a hard death, and as I mentioned last time, the universe needs there to balance before there can be growth. When it comes to “The Law of Exchange” you are solely responsible for achieving and maintaining balance.
So what does it all mean? Basically it means that there needs to be as much coming in as there is going out. This can take many forms. First a question: How do you know when a business is about to go under? The answer is simple – when the prices go up and the portions go down (in size or quality). This is easiest to see in a restaurant and I have yet to see it work out differently, either the restaurant closes or gets new management. Think of what might be happening to the man on the tightrope in this scenario. Why does this happen though? Fear. Inflation goes up, the cost of consumables goes up, and that initially means less money for the business. I suppose the most natural response from the perspective of fear is to lower the quality or portion size and then bump the prices, and that works for a little while too. Now think about what you would do in this scenario: I sell you a pack of five oranges today for 50 cents an orange, you feel this is good value for money. Next week you come back to me to discover that I am selling only four oranges but at 70 cents an orange. You might buy the oranges the second time around, but you would feel cheated and either buy from someone else or not buy at all. Now imagine instead that when you came back I sold the five-pack for 45 cents an orange, most people would buy two packs and tell their friends. You see what the business who lowers the quality or portion size and bumps up the prices fails to realise is that the loss in customer revenue will be greater than the loss they would feel if they simply kept the prices and quality the same. Business owners might not agree with me, but the ones that had to close would.
This does apply to you as an individual, as you are prone to making two mistakes. Either you are the one paying more for less, or you are the one accepting less for what you give. Back to our tightrope walker, he understands the importance of balance. What you put out must be equal in value to what you get back in. You should be in a job where you are paid what you are worth; you should be in an equal relationship. When times get tough people do one of two things, they either increase what they give and lower what they expect in return, or they give less and expect more in return. Are you in a situation where you are getting more than you are giving, or giving more than you are getting? There is trouble ahead.
What about altruism? The act of selfless giving? It doesn’t really exist, not even for Mother Teresa, there still needs to be a return of equal value on what you give. Please note that I said a return of “equal value”. There are two types of value, perceived and actual, and they are both equally valuable. Say you come across an old lady who needs help crossing the road, you help her and you feel pretty good about doing it. You have just received perceived value. Say you charge her five bucks to help her (as if you would) you would receive actual value for helping her. Based on the situation you know that the old woman can’t afford to pay you, so instead of leaving her to struggle you decide that feeling good about helping her is enough reward. The act falls in line with the “Law of Exchange”. But does your job? Some people don’t get paid much for what they do, but they are deeply fulfilled and love what they do, their job falls in line with the “Law of Exchange”.
If you are unhappy in life it may just that you are violating this law. Some people do it all the time, they give and give and give, or they take and take and take. I have yet to meet someone who lives that way and is happy about it. From the smallest interaction, to the largest, make sure that you obey the “Law of Exchange”. Happy is the person that gives more actual values and receives perceived value for it.
Keep the shiny side up 🙂
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Watching people is a hobby of mine; it amazes me how people drift through life pretending to be isolated individuals. We keep to ourselves, have few friends, and hide behind the walls that we think are keeping us safe. Ask any individual if he/she wants to be successful and the answer will invariably be “YES!” How about you? Do you want to be successful in any small or large way? If you answered in the negative then you can close this document now and go and get your pulse checked. To love life is to want to succeed according to your own definition of success.
Wanting to be successful doesn’t always lead to being successful though, as I am sure you are finding out. So what is it that makes some people succeed and others stay put? Lots of reasons I am sure but one thing that certainly makes a huge difference is what sociologist Mark Granovetter called “The strength of weak ties”. As pointed out by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point” it’s not the close relationships that lead us to success but the weak ties we form with people as we go through life.
Weak ties? Let me give you a personal example. When the time came for me to upgrade my phone I wanted to downgrade my account and still get the phone I wanted for “free”. No problem there. The provider I chose didn’t have stock so I went to the competition that did – no problem. I have learnt to form weak ties so I got chatting to the sales rep, asked her name and where she was from ,cracked a joke or two, and when the process did hit a snag (something that I was supposed to do myself) she was only too happy to get on the phone and sort it out. To top it off she waived the charge for a new sim card and said “You are a nice customer.” Everywhere I go I get great service. Why? I form weak ties.
Here is another example from Gladwell’s book,
“In his classic 1974 study Getting a Job, Granovetter looked at several hundred professional and technical workers from the Boston suburb of Newton, interviewing them in some detail on their employment history. He found that 56 percent of those he talked to found their job through a personal connection. Another 18.8 percent used formal means—advertisements, headhunters—and roughly 20 percent applied directly. This much is not surprising; the best way to get in the door is through a personal contact. But, curiously, Granovetter found that of those personal connections, the majority were “weak ties.” Of those who used a contact to find a job, only 16.7 percent saw that contact “often”—as they would if the contact were a good friend—and 55.6 percent saw their contact only “occasionally.” Twenty eight percent saw the contact “rarely.” People weren’t getting their jobs through their friends. They were getting them through their acquaintances.”
The world revolves around weak ties, and the person who learns to forge them inherits it. That’s how it seems to me. For some people it’s a walk in the park, smiling at and chatting to strangers is easy, but for others it requires significant change. It’s a change in an area that scares most people to death. Public speaking ranked 6 out of the top ten fears in a study released by Discovery Health; it’s up there with snakes and getting buried alive. For the same reason we are terrified of talking to strangers.
Change is necessary if you want to be successful. There is a systems law called the “law of requisite variety” which states “the sub system within a system with the greatest flexibility of behaviour will control the system”, forming weak ties is skill that can be learned. The more you learn the greater your influence. Learning this one simple skill will give you an unfair advantage, almost nobody does it. I do advise starting small, you are, after all, dealing with your comfort zone. Try asking the person you are dealing with their name, comment about the weather to a stranger in a queue, or get some personal information, like a birthday, from a colleague you never speak to then give them a card on their birthday, in such ways are weak ties forged. You will be amazed how everyone treats you better when you start doing this.
You will generally find that very successful people have a few close friends but lots of acquaintances, the opposite is true for not so successful people – they have a few strong ties but few if no weak ties. This is what the whole idea of network marketing is about. Those who succeed are those who understand that it is about making weak ties and not about sales. It is the difference between making one sale and making a hundred. You might not sell to the person with whom you make the weak tie, but you might end up selling to the 100 people they know.
Let’s face it, life is about network marketing and the product is you. Spend less time trying to sell “yourself” and start buying into other people in small ways. That would be like getting your money to work for you instead of you working for your money.
Forming weak ties makes you memorable. So few people do it that it really makes you stand out. I get a wave every time I walk past the mobile phone store and I know that if I ever need help with my contract I will get fantastic service. What is amazing is that I know people who deal with the same store and say that the service there is lousy, I just say “Speak to so and so and tell her that I sent you”. The strength of the weak tie.
Why not visit me on my site ww.imagineif.co.za or tune into my weekly radio show on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/zeronaughts