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The 79th Organ

334551_7761aThere 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 🙂

Anthony.

Need help?….go to www.imagineif.co.za.

Tune in to my weekly radio show – www.blogtalkradio.com/imaginationstation , it’s like this blog on steroids!

 

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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

heart_1289Love 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

Want life change on the go? Listen to “Imagination Station” on Blogtalkradio.com, new shows weekly. Available on iTunes and other podcast sources, you can also download it from www.blogtalkradio.com/imaginationstation

 

The Law of Exchange

577013_43317695aWhen 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 🙂

Anthony.

Need help getting balanced….go to www.imagineif.co.za.

Tune in to my weekly radio show – www.blogtalkradio.com/imaginationstation , it’s like this blog on steroids!

 

The Only Guaranteed Thing

1426637_85746838a There is only one thing you can count on for sure and that is change. Everything else might have a good track record but also might let you down. One thing is for sure, you are either coming out of a change, in a change, or facing change. It seems random, yes, it does seem to just smack you upside the head but what if I told you that every change had a message and that you were the author of change in your life. Hmmm. Some things have happened in my world (not to me personally) that were quite big and I just know that the people involved never saw them coming. We rarely do, ask the Romans. What brings change? It is like a complex cake with many strange ingredients.

There are three kinds of changes that I want to address here, the first is what I call “the great balancing act”. I believe that there is an auto-correction feature built into the universe; some spiritual traditions call it karma. I am sure you have seen the Ying/Yang symbol that comes from China – the circle in two halves, one white, one black. Each half of the circle represents the sides of a mountain with the white half being the sunny side and the black half being the side in shade. This symbol shows that there are two types of energy – passive (the black half) and active (the white half), and that these energies must be in perfect balance. This is where karma comes in, or the auto-correction feature I mentioned earlier. If the balance is shifted in any way then nature steps and restores it. This is done in one of two ways – either by taking something away or by adding something. When we add something to our lives (without allowing it to naturally flow into our lives) then nature takes it away. When we remove or deny something in our lives (that nature has not removed or has not vanished due to decay) then nature moves in and adds something. There must be balance. Desperate acts always result in this change. The relationship we rushed into, the rash purchase, the love we deny ourselves, the job we take without thought, these acts of interference bring the turbulence we call change into our lives. The more we force things the more turbulence we experience. The best way to deal with this is to simply relax and allow life to unfold as it will, acting when we need to act and resting when we need to rest. In other words, we need to actively pursue balance in our lives so that nature won’t need to do it for us. The less you interfere the more peaceful life will be.

The second type of change has to do with what is popularly known as “The Law of Attraction” or “The Law of Vibration”. You know, like attracts like. The basic belief is that if we think about money, money, money, then that is what we will attract. If only it were so. Upwards of 90% of the people who attempt to “use” this law to improve their lives fail to do so. It does work, so why do so many people fail? Because they simply do not really understand the law.  The Law of Attraction works in perfect harmony with the principle of balance stated above and you cannot “attract” something that will unbalance you, nature simply won’t allow it. Why is it that you “feel” unbalanced when something “bad” happens then? Feeling sad is does not necessarily mean that you are off balance. I have heard many people say that “I did not attract this so how did it come?” meaning that they weren’t consciously thinking about it. Here is the truth, and listen closely, this may be the thing that changes your life! How do you feel when that “bad” thing happens? That’s what caused it! But wait a minute, I feel that way now, how could I have caused this thing? Can feelings travel back in time? Glad you asked, and it may be that they can (quantum physics suggests as much) but what you are feeling is what has been triggered by the event, in other words, emotional residue that has yet to be processed, in more other words, symptoms of an existing imbalance. What you have been given is some valuable information, deal with (process) that stuck feeling (and coaching will certainly do it) and you will never experience that event again. You won’t need to. You see, the auto-correction feature of the universe reveals our imbalances to us so that we can sort them out, and it will keep revealing them to us until we do. Instead of wallowing in misery, use the information and make some positive changes in your life. The universe cannot reveal imbalances that are not there, so the “cleaner” you are, the less change of this nature you will experience.

The third type of change I want to discuss is one that you cannot do anything about ever! Here in South Africa we are on the verge of Spring (sorry if you are in the North), what I always notice about this time of year (as we face the changing of the seasons) is that the warmth seems to come in waves….warms up…cold front…warms up….cold front. Yesterday it was warm, today it is cold and rainy. It seems that change on a major scale does not come all at once, it comes in gradually increasing waves. This seems to be a pattern in nature as well, the tide doesn’t come in all at once, and since we are a part of nature the same thing happens in our lives. The trick is to see the pattern and not treat the waves as signs of you moving backwards but moving forwards. Drug rehabilitation rarely works all in one go, there are relapses in the forward movement, as there is in any forward movement. Remember this, relapsing is not relapsing, it is nothing more than what a cold front is to the coming spring. Its not that you are returning to old behaviour but that you are layering the new behaviour and adapting to the change. What you find is that the “new reality” starts to last longer than the periods of “old reality” until “new reality” is all there is. Fighting the old or the new will not help you here, it will only make the inevitable uncomfortable. Nature has shown us that there must always be change, constant movement, without it things die. Embrace it, accept it, welcome it. You might not understand this change as it happens, but in time, and with the benefit of hindsight, you will see that you were moving forward and growing, and becoming who you are meant to be.

One thing that is certain about change in its various forms is that perspective on what is happening is difficult to get when the change is happening to you. Sometimes emotional judgements are all we are capable of, so it helps to begin a practice of meditation as this will train you to create space and be able to observe what is happening more objectively and then respond rather than react. Of course, I would always recommend the help of a good coach to enable you to develop inner “technology” that will make you a change wizard.

The only guaranteed thing is change, what isn’t guaranteed however, is that you will handle it in the best way.

Yours, in this ever changing world,

Anthony.

 

Me, myself, and I, and I, and I

383193_9453I have long suspected that I have multiple personality disorder. Put me in a room full of people and I get shy, put me on a stage and I perform. I am calm in traffic, but impatient when my PC drags. Call it what you will, I am a different person in different contexts. Wierd. I am wrong about one thing though, it isn’t a disorder.

The fact is that we all have multiple personalities. We flow effortlessly from personality to personality as the situation requires, the only time it becomes a disorder is when that flow gets disrupted and we get our personalities confused. You would not be the person you are at work when you are with your kids right? You would be the person you are with your girlfriend/boyfriend when you are with your parents right? Surely this is just the same person choosing different behaviours? Perhaps, but when you understand personality you will see that a rose is not a rose when it is a daffodil.

Personality is nothing more than the unique product of a number of beliefs and values working together. Like the ingredients of a cake they produce the yummy end result, but change an ingredient and you no longer have the same cake. The reason why you are a different person in different circumstances is because you are accessing a different set of beliefs and values to match that environment, you pick the beliefs and values that will produce the kind of behaviour that you think will be the most appropriate. The fact that you sometimes produce the wrong behaviour is not a symptom of a disorder, but rather a sign that you need to keep learning.

Personality, in other words, is nothing more than what happens as a result of learning to cope. It always has a goal, personality is designed to get you something. Think about, you crack a joke, why? You pass an opinion, why? You hold your tongue, why? Personality is a strategy designed with a specific outcome in mind. Think of you computer, it has many programs that are all different, you wouldn’t say that any of them are the same program, yet all a program is is code arranged in a certain way to produce a certain result.

There is a lot of freedom in accepting that your personalities are nothing more than programming designed to get a certain result. It means that if you can learn to design a personality then you can pick one that will get you the results you want. This raises an interesting question, if you are not your personality, then who are you?  For now it is suffice to say that “you” are the one who can observe all your personalities. Try this, take a step back (mentally) and watch the stream of thoughts flowing through your mind, now you are getting closer to the real you. So personality is actually nothing more than a coat you wear, and you can change it at will (although it is mostly done unconsciously). Try something else now, pretend to be happy for a second, go on, try it. Smile, stretch, throw your head back. Now pretend to be cross, knit your eyebrows, fold your arms, growl. You just changed clothes and it was that easy.

Ok, so I know that you simply react in a circumstance, it’s not like you consciously choose to behave a certain way. What starts out as a reaction, if repeated enough times, becomes unconscious behaviour. The same also applies if you choose to respond in a certain way in a circumstance, if you repeat that response a few times, it will become unconscious behaviour. Reacting is basically a fear response, it is fight or flight in action. A life of reaction results in undesirable behaviours. Responding on the other hand, is stopping and thinking and choosing your behaviour – and choosing means choosing the best possible ones. If a certain behaviour doesn’t work, you choose another, and another, until you find one that does. This is how a brilliant personality is formed.

A documentary came out recently that nicely demonstrated this point. “Kumare” is about a young man who decides to grow a beard and pretend to be a Guru, and then film the journey. He “pretends” to be the best possible version of himself (actually not really a version, a whole different personality). The results was that he gained followers, he changed lives, and most of all, he changed himself in the process. It makes a powerful statement about the choices you make and stick with (behaviour wise). I dare you to try it, think of the best possible version of yourself and pretend to be that person. Every time you look in the mirror, decide to be someone you really like and admire. It’s not easy, so just try it a little here and little there. You will be astounded with the results. Actually you probably won’t even notice them, real change is like that, it happens quietly over time.

It’s all in your mind! http://www.imagineif.co.za

 

The Strength of the Weak Tie

1215912_73521777aWatching 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

Hide and Seek

910278_47990856aI am working through a book by a spiritual teacher called Gangaji, in this book she tells of how she went to India to study under a guru as she was desperate to find peace. She asked the guru what she should do and he asked her if she was ready to do nothing, this perplexed her and she again asked what she should do, again he said “nothing”. She was to let go of all of her strategies and plans and just face herself in the rawest way possible. I must admit, this stumped me for a while, and like so many spiritual lessons it was something I just had to catch for myself. What strategies? What plans? And then it occurred to, how much do I do in order to hide from naked reality and raw emotion, and how much time do I spend doing it? The answer to both questions is “A lot.”

Let me define what I mean by “hiding”, in this context it means anything you do to numb or distract yourself from the present moment. Why would you want to hide from the present moment? Well here is where it gets a bit crazy, it is when you have nothing to do that you start to think about all the things that scare you silly; bills that need to be paid, conflict that is looming, kids that need new shoes, etc. So you get busy doing something, anything you can do that will get your mind off these things. Hiding. What you have yet to realise is that it is only when you do nothing and simply face reality as it is, and accept it as it is, that it starts to change. Another way to look at it is that your reality is nothing more than a mirror image of what is going on inside of you, so if you ignore reality then reality will ignore you and remain unchanged. To continue with this mirror analogy, does it feel like your circumstances are your enemy? That is because you treat them so by hiding from them, what would happen if you accepted your circumstances with a feeling of love and gratitude? You would experience love and gratitude in your reality.

I will be the first to admit that all of this seems incredibly counter-intuitive. If there is a bear in my garden my instinct is to run like mad, not to put on a pot of tea and ask it about its day, so it is understandable that you want to just get busy hiding from all the pain in your life. Until you realise that the bear is in your garden because you put it there! I think of it as being like going to a restaurant, if the waiter asked you what you wanted and you said “anything”, then there would be an excellent chance that you would be upset with what he brings and the next time you would simply ignore him and then simply go hungry. Until you learn to smile at the waiter and find new and better ways to find out what you really want and then ask for it, you will go hungry.

It is pain than causes you to hide, as the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy”. So if reality bites you find increasingly more effective ways to hide, after all, if it bites once it can bite again. When reality bites though, it uses your teeth.

So what does hiding look like? What are some of the things people do to hide? Is it a coincidence that hiding behaviours are also “addictive” behaviours? Lets see: TV, internet (social media), pornography, drinking, drugs, work (that’s right, I said work), shopping, sleeping, charity work – and that’s just to name a few. What can you add to this list? You will note that seemingly “good” deeds can be used to help you hide, and that makes it all the more easier, after all, you are doing a good deed.

Thinking about it, it occurred to me that I couldn’t name one successful and happy person who got there by spending all of his/her time hiding from reality. They all seemed to be fully present in their lives and faced up to their realities, but with an almost insane optimism. This is not to say that they didn’t face challenges, I am sure they did, but they faced them, they didn’t hide from them.

Stress is what we call the fear response that makes us want to run and hide, but accepting reality as it is and allowing it to simply unfold as it will is a tremendously peaceful thing to do. As Peter O’Toole said in the classic “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” So learning to be fully present in the moment, accepting reality as it is, and not minding that it sometimes hurts, is the key to life transformation. The question is, will you come out of hiding long enough to realise that? Do you even realise that you are in fact hiding? While it may feel better to be in hiding, and downright terrifying to face reality, you need to realise that hiding only serves to perpetuate the circumstances you are running from. Standing in the sun beats freezing in the shadows any day, so recognize your hiding strategies and start making the shift today!!!

For some pretty life changing stuff, tune into Zeronaughts Radio

www.blogtalkradio.com/zeronaughts

 

The Real You

1401872_76470167aDid you know that the part of you that causes all the trouble is not the real you? The majority of the western population is having an identity crisis. All those bad behaviours, that troubling personality, those habits and those things you wished you could change are not the real you.

Would you like to meet the real you? It’s easy, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Do it again, and focus on the feeling of the air flowing in and out of your nose. Do it a few more times and this time also notice the rising and falling of your chest and belly while you breathe. Carry on like this for a few more breaths and this time also notice what is going on in the rest of your body. Very soon you will reach a place of “no thought” (which is actually the meaning of the word “meditate”), in this silence you meet the real you. The real you IS the silence.

You are the flame, not the candle or the glass behind which it sits, but the flame. People will judge the flame by the glass through which they view it, but if the glass is scratched or dirty, or even the “wrong” colour, it still isn’t the flame.  So you get judged from the outside by people who don’t like the glass, and then you judge yourself from the inside for the same reason. A flame’s purpose is to glow, to illuminate and give warmth; the glass’s purpose is to let the flame do just that. When you live as the glass and not the flame, you block its fire.

So what is the flame and what is the glass? The flame is the eternal energy that is the real you, your higher self, your divine spark, your “I am”ness. The glass is that part of you that experiences “reality” (the reality you have created for yourself) – in other words, your body and your ego. In truth, even though we have made it all that matters, it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you are big or small, if you are perfect or flawed, or if you are a certain colour – your body is merely a container. The real you is none of these things, but when you are living from fear and judgement (afraid of what people think of you and in turn judging others), then you are living as the container and not the flame within. You can never be happy living as the container, the container will never be perfect, and more than this, it is impermanent – it will grow old and eventually reach the end of its usefulness. Entire industries have grown to trillion dollar status by getting us to be obsessed with containers, but the grand irony is that containers are best served by living as the flame and not the container. As one client put it, “I forgot about losing weight, and discovered one day that it had gone.”

Then there is the ego. It’s quite something to find out one day that you are indeed NOT your ego. Ego shifts and changes, and you are not the person you were when you were five, nor are you the person you will be when you are ninety. The ego is no more “you” than the operating system is the computer. Your current ego is just the latest version of Windows, the glass that either allows or blocks the real you. In truth, your personality is just a complex mix of judgements and prejudices and just like the body, it is impermanent. When the body dies, the ego goes with it.

People who live from their egos need a lot of coping skills if they are to survive. The ego is always fighting for survival, and as long as you are afraid and feeling bad, then it is alive and well. If you live as your ego then yours will be a world where you fight for acceptance and deal with self image issues. The ego is always trying to fix things, but the flame just lets things unfold as they will. The ego wants to be right, the flame is peace. The ego sees everything as a potential threat and drives you to be on the defensive, the flame just sees the natural flow of things.

You can choose to let your doing flow from your ego or your flame, and that will be the difference between reacting in fear and responding in love. The amazing thing is that the more you live from the flame, the easier it becomes to do so. The trick is to find out what will work for you – the goal is “no thought” but the route is up to you.  There are a myriad of tools and techniques out there – one of which is my very own meditation program (which I will give you access to if you ask). A simple pointer – if it is fear then it is the ego, if it is love (and peace) then it is the flame.

Tune in to Zeronaughts Radio for some life changing advice – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/zeronaughts

The Way of the Open Hand

460785_99015676aI reckon that if you had to read every self-help book that dealt specifically with the Law of Attraction you would never run out of reading material. The amount of money that has been made peddling this universal Law is truly staggering. I think there are a few main reasons why people are so hungry to learn all they can about this simple Law:

1. They want to demystify it. Because it doesn’t seem to be working for them they figure that there must be more to learn, not realising that there really isn’t but there is a small change to be made.

2. They want more control over lives and they think that the Law of Attraction will give them that.  Yes and no, it does and it doesn’t  What it does do is serve your alignment with your higher self, what it doesn’t do is serve ego.

3. It has been marketed so well. The commercialisation of the Law of Attraction is right up there with what cigarettes and booze can do for your lifestyle. While it can attract anything into your life, the moment your motivation for wanting is because you don’t have then you will be attracting more lack.

In my opinion there is one simple key to attracting more of what you want into your life, and it’s something that I see little of, and when I do see it, it’s not what you think it is. Giving. There is only one route to effortless power and wealth and it is what I call “The Way of the Open Hand”.

True giving is a real let down to the ego. The ego wants to give, wants to be applauded for giving, and then wants something in return. Win, win, WIN baby! This type of giving is the reason why generosity has been given such a bad rap, when you give like this you end up disappointed and with even less than you started out with. In fact, the Bible puts it this way in Matthew 6:2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth; they have received all the reward they will ever get.”

I can personally attest to the fact that giving is the key to the Law of Attraction, but the secret to it lies in knowing the difference between giving and trading. Here are my personal rules for giving:

1. You don’t give to get. This is called trading, and if you are trading under the guise of giving then you shouldn’t really expect anything anyway. Trading in this way has lack as its motivation; you give to get back what you think you are lacking in. What you get back when you trade in this way is more lack.

2. Don’t give in order to look good to other people. Again, this is trading. The ego is playing the “Hey, look at me! Aren’t I awesome!” game and as the scripture I quoted earlier stated – you have just gotten all the reward you are going to get. The heart of giving this way is lack; you do it because you want to look good in other people’s eyes, and you might for a moment or two, but you will go right back to feeling worthless. Do your giving anonymously.  One thing I like to do is to pay for stranger’s meals in restaurants without them knowing it. It’s not always possible to remain anonymous, but if you can be anonymous then do it that way. Underplay it and avoid attention, make sure that there is nothing (or as little as possible) in it for your ego.

3. Do not judge your gift by the receiver. By this I mean don’t look at a homeless person and not give because “They will only spend it on booze,” or to another person because “They look wealthy enough,” or for any other judgemental reason. If the universe were to judge you as worthy or unworthy to receive by the same standards you use then you would never ever get anything. You have no idea what your gift is going to do in that person’s life. Perhaps their need is physical, perhaps it is emotional, you just don’t know and you really don’t have any idea what your kindness could mean. Perhaps that person has called out to God for help and you are the answer. Who knows? Just give.

4. Don’t play the “I didn’t feel led to give” game. This applies to Christians mainly, the popular thought is that God will tell you where and when to give so if He doesn’t then you are off the hook. God loves cheerful giver, and this is just so begrudging. Besides God told you decide in your own heart to do it (2 Corinthians 9:7). If this is your excuse, then it is just that, an excuse (a lie wrapped up in a reason). You don’t want to give and you are looking for an unarguable reason not to. Giving should be spontaneous and joyful.

5. Don’t give from your lack. “I don’t have enough” may be a valid reason to give less, but it isn’t a valid reason to give nothing. You are abundance, live like it. Living from a place of lack brings more lack, and trust me you always have something to give – it’s important that you give, not how much.

6. Don’t limit your giving. It’s not just about money; people need all kinds of things – smiles, hugs, phone calls, encouragement, a cup of tea etc. If you have it then you can give it.

7. Be grateful for what you have, it makes it easier to share it.

A hand that is open to give is also open to receive. I believe that the universe is constantly looking for channels through which it can express love and abundance. When you open yourself to being a giver you avail yourself to the universe to be such a channel, and you will see such love and abundance flow through your life. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

www.imagineif.co.za

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An Instrument of Peace

1397321_41985058aThe key to true happiness in any relationship lies in being a giver. To complain about giving but not receiving anything in return is called trading, not giving. Too many people make their giving conditional on what they receive, but to give with that attitude is to give from a place of lack. The thing with trading is that happiness hinges on getting a return. So when you don’t…misery.

When you realise that you are a complete person on your own, and reject the myth of needing someone else to complete you, then you realise that you don’t need anything from anyone but are free to give.  I love the Prayer of St Francis that begins with “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace”, if you make this your desire in your relationships, to be at peace with yourself and to bring peace to others, then you optimise your life for positive growth.

It is obvious that if you have failed to learn how to meet your own needs that you will look to someone else to do it, but this does not mean that they are able to. You are responsible for your own needs; it is not the purpose of a relationship to meet them. I believe that a relationship’s purpose is to serve as a mirror and show you where you need to grow and change; the rougher the edge, the tougher the lesson. Trying to change your partner so that you feel better won’t work, changing yourself so that you can be at peace in the situation will. Your environment is a response to you, so change yourself and you will change your environment. Inner turmoil is reflected as turmoil in your environment, inner peace is reflected as all things peaceful in your environment.

Your struggle is not with your partner, it is with yourself, to bring yourself to peace and let that peace transform your reality. A person at peace is a true giver; a person who is needy is a trader. A peaceful person lives in abundance, a needy person lives in need. What will you be?

 

Real change, real easy. www.imagineif.co.za