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The Free Will Myth

1135097_49004906webLast 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,

Anthony.

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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

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The Trouble with Goals

 

We love truisms; there is a certain security in something that is true. I once read that the most successful people are in the top three percent of the world’s population, and that the top three percent of said population are goal setters. Therefore, to be in the top three percent and therefore successful you must set goals. Truism. Does that mean that all goal setters are successful? No.

Look, there are ample arguments that you need to set goals, after all you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but some people miss 100% of the shots they do take. It is also said that if you don’t know where you are going then you won’t get there, but what if you don’t really like it when you do? This is the trouble with goals. The reason why I think I want what I want is that I think it will get or do something for me. I want the new car because of how I think I will feel when I have it; the thing is that I have no evidence whatsoever to substantiate that belief. I say I want to be rich, but do I even know what it will be like for me? No.

Goals are often the good being the enemy of the best. I think I know what is best for me, but I really have no idea. One thing is certain, happy people tend to generate more happiness; miserable people tend to perpetuate their misery. Robert Kiyosaki, the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” stated that money does nothing more that magnify who we are, if we are happy then we will be happier, if we are miserable then we will be more miserable. Usually the motivation for setting a goal is that I am feeling one way now and I am aiming for something to make me feel better. In other words it is usually an undesirable life circumstance that inspires us to change our fortune. On the surface there is nothing wrong with it, but what’s to say that we know what will make us happy, especially when we only think it will? If we achieve the goal it will only amplify who we are.

Then there is the issue of the observer effect, the quantum theory that states that expectations affect outcome. Let’s be real, the future does not exist in any other form than possibility, and if something is possible then anything is. So I choose between possibilities with my expectations. I get the future that I expect. Don’t be fooled though, the simple truth is that you are not consciously aware of most of your expectations. Your expectations are formed in the simple way of unconscious association, in other words, what you have experienced you will expect. Even if you consciously decide one thing, you can unconsciously expect another. Ever had the weekend you just knew would be great but then it sucked? Unconscious expectations. So you could set the best goal in the world, but sabotage it with expectations you don’t even know are there. If I set a goal because I feel bad, the chances are that I will produce according to how I am feeling as how I feel determines what I expect.

So here’s what I think, instead of looking at some point in the future I will focus on how I want to feel now and let the universe support that in the best way for me. There is one piece of nifty sabotage that I have picked up in people; they think that if they are happy now it will mean that they are saying they want life to stay as it is. Let’s face it, if I ask if you like your coffee and you say you do (when you don’t) then I will have no reason to change it for you.  Well the universe doesn’t work that way. Have you ever seen a happy garden? It doesn’t stay the way it is, it grows and grows and grows. A happy life has no choice but to grow and get better. Set goals if you must, but only as a direction to head in. Be open to change, be open to something even better coming along, and most of all be happy now.

Want to learn to be happy in the RIGHT NOW…..go to www.imagineif.co.za