Monthly Archives: February 2009

Cultivating Ideas can Lead to Greatness

Everywhere you look today you can’t help but find bad news. You’d have to dig pretty deep in order to find something uplifting and inspiring. I don’t know if it’s because there really is a lot of bad things happening, or if reporting bad news is the easiest way to grab your attention in an effort to get you to buy whatever it is that the particular advertisers are trying to get you to buy. They try to get your attention by telling you how bad the economy is so you’ll buy what the advertisers are trying to sell. Somebody is making money. When you think about it, the fact that people go to great lengths to fight for your attention is a supreme compliment. Because your attention is very important resource to advertisers and businesses.

According to most evolutionary biologists, the whole idea of consciousness itself is based on a drive to get resources. Because humans are the most flexible of animals, able to live and flourish under almost any situation and environment, we developed our consciousness many hundreds of thousands if not millions of years ago to  help us to search for resources to use. In the beginning, these resources were simple things, like food and water, and fuel for fire. Later they turned into shelter and animal skins for clothing to keep us warm. And later, we developed complex social skills to be able to exist coherently in larger and larger groups. Finally, a few thousand years after discovering agriculture, humankind began to discover our most precious resource.

Your thoughts. Because, as Napoleon Hill so eloquently drove home in his international best seller, “Think and Grow Rich,” thoughts are things. People had to develop long reaching plans to be able to cultivate large crops and ideas that could feed the multitudes. You had to use your brain for things other than chasing and killing animals for food. You had to build cities, castles, cathedrals. Man learned to create art, and music, and poetry. And the more man created beautiful things with your wonderful human brain, the more society flourished. The thoughts that you think on a daily basis create your reality. When you notice and control your thoughts, you will be able to notice and control your reality. That genius potential of the past that allowed men and women to create magnificent works of art and science and literature, resides in your head. Right here, right now.

And I don’t know if evolutionary biologists ever intend to take their theories to the metaphysical like this, but there it is. Either by design or by creation or by random chance, here you are. With your thoughts that you can learn to control, or let someone else control, whereby you actually give up control. The choice was, is, and always be yours on where to put your attention. On this thought I suggest you begin to notice who is trying to sway your mind. Who is trying to lead your thoughts.

Because in these times of economic crisis, no matter your place in life or your financial level of success or failure, you will never ever lose your most precious resource. Your mind, your thoughts, your imagination, your wonderful creativity with which you can create whatever reality you desire. Now.


Go First

One of the simplest ways to improve your relationships with other people is to go first. And when I say ‘go first,’ I mean in every aspect. Although it is the simplest, it is not the easiest, not by a long shot. But once you understand this concept, it can give you such incredibly wonderful results that you can’t help but to find a way to share this with others.

I remember the first time I went skydiving. I was terrified. I had decided to go with a couple of friends on a whim. It sounded cool at the time. One the ground. But the closer and closer we got, the more and more nervous I got. I was almost hoping to get into an accident on the way to the skydiving place so we wouldn’t be able to jump. I was actually debating with myself how much of an injury I’d accept to get out of skydiving. When we got suited up and prepped, it only got worse. We had to watch a video, and sign a piece of paper basically saying that if we died or were horribly maimed, it wasn’t the operations fault, and we couldn’t sue anybody. And going up in the plane only made it worse. The higher we got, the more sure I was that I would pass out from fear and hopefully wake up safely in the hospital.

It’s weird what happens when you just let go and jump. You can really appreciate the beauty of the sky, the beauty that is always above and around you.  The most surprising thing to me about the experience was how quickly that wall of fear that seemed so big simply disappeared, and yielded to absolute exhilaration. It was something I’d never experienced before, and likely will never experience again. When you start to realize what is on the other side of your fears, you will be amazed at how much you can achieve greater potential. You can see things for what they really are. You can feel things the way their were meant to be felt, not the fearful way that people often imagine things.

And after we landed, and packed our chutes, the buzz kind of wore off, but the memories never will. And we paid extra to get a cool video of us, because their was another guy that jumped with us. And it’s a really great experience when you can watch yourself do something wonderful.

Of course in everyday life, the payoff is sometimes not as immediate and breathtaking as skydiving, but when you lead, people are bound to follow. And the best way to test out a relationship is to share your feelings first, and see what happens. The biggest tragedy in life is to wait around for somebody to give you permission or tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. When you realize that your life only belongs to you, and you lead it the way you want, you’ll find that the people that follow you will be your strongest supporters.


Feel Your Feelings Free Your Power

There is a guy who lives in my apartment building that I saw a few times when I first moved in.  I’d only seen him a couple of times as he was either entering or exiting his apartment, so I never really got a glimpse of his face. I’d only seen the back of him. And being as how I only recently moved in, I was a little wary of making sure to meet the neighbors under the right circumstances. And sneaking up behind somebody as they were coming home from a long days work isn’t the best way to meet somebody. And from I saw about this guy, I wanted to be careful. They way he was dressed, and the way his hair was cut, and the long single earring he had dangling from his left ear made me slightly cautious. I wanted to be sure and make a good first impression.

First impressions are extremely important. I remember once in a communications class I took in college. They said that a first impression of somebody is made within the first ten seconds of meeting them. One of the reasons they are incredibly important is because not only does it take a huge amount of willpower to overcome a first impression, but most of the time we aren’t even aware of the basic impressions we hold about other people. For the most part, they operate outside of our conscious awareness. We just kind of get a ‘feeling’ when we see a person. We’re not even aware that our incredibly fast brains routinely make hundreds of calculations in a few seconds to summarize all the data around us to give us that ‘feeling.’

Not that feelings aren’t important. They are incredibly important. If you don’t notice your feeings, you can scarcely make a rational decision. If that sounds like a contradiction, consider some experiments done recently on a poor fellow who had the emotional centers of his brain temporarily disabled due to a unique surgical procedure. He was completely unable to make a decision. You’d think with those pesky feelings out of the way, we would all think like Spock-like bulletproof logic, but it just isn’t so. Without feelings, we can’t feel desire, or notice what you want, and use these feelings to make a decision. Just because we aren’t aware of the thousands of incredibly fast circuits in our brain doesn’t mean they aren’t there, or aren’t important. The big secret is to accept all your feelings. Because when you accept and appreciate your feelings, you give yourself permission to access all the wonderful portions of your brain. You get to use your entire intelligence. Imagine what you could do if you could use your whole brain. What could you create?

Of course, the best part of the communications class was the incredible self confidence I was able to develop. It’s amazing what a public speaking class at a community college will do for you. Public speaking is one of the things that I recommend that anyone and everyone learn how to do. It will dramatically change your life for the better.

I did finally meet my neighbor, with his girlfriend, at the local grocery store. He really is a nice guy, who has an innocent smile that never quits. I’m glad I was able to hold back before I made any snap decisions about him.


Increase Confidence and Shed Shyness

I had a friend that used to be really, really shy. Like he wasn’t even able to make eye contact with other people. Not even for a split second. I don’t know if you’ve ever known a friend like that, but it kind of makes it hard to plan to do things. People that are incredibly shy find it difficult to relax over a few beers.  His girlfriend always shared with me how difficult it was when she had work parties,where it was kind of expected to bring your significant other.

I’ve seen a couple of funny youtube videos where people are at Christmas parties, and they are recorded saying things about their boss that they will likely later regret. But they are pretty funny. The thing about those parties, is that you have to behave kind of differently. It’s like you are in a party atmosphere, complete with food, alcohol, and music, but you still have to behave like you are at work. It’s almost as if you are supposed to pretend to have fun. Pretending can be good sometimes, but many people have said that the biggest trouble with telling lie is keeping everything straight.

This book I was reading on evolution was talking about the reason peoples brains became so big. This guy in the book was quoting this other guy who did a bunch of research at this university, along with a team of anthropologists. He said that one of the driving forces in the development of the human brain was the ability to not only detect deception in other people, but to deceive others and ourselves as well. Because you can’t very well catch others in deception of you don’t know hot to imagine what it would be like to be in the other persons shoes who is doing the deceiving. It is all somehow tied into the importance of knowing your place in the social structure. Of course there is no evidence for any of this, but it’s is an interesting theory nonetheless. It’s funny when think about things that you are only beginning to understand. It’s like you have an idea of what is going, but until you play different scenarios in your mind, you really can’t start to appreciate the complexity that is under all human life.

There was this one youtube video, where a girl that was apparently really drunk started telling her boss off. She said some pretty mean things. And her boss was standing right behind her. She turned around at the end of her tirade, and he said something like “I want to see you in my office first thing on Monday.” But it turned out to be a joke. Everybody was in on it, and it was all staged. Except the drunk part. I’m pretty sure that part was real.

And my friend eventually overcame his shyness with his girlfriend, because she finally coaxed him into attending a few assertiveness workshops together. Not only did he shed his shyness, and develop a really outgoing personality, but their relationship really improved. They’ve been married for six years, I think, with at least a couple of kids last I checked. And a large part of his job involves public speaking, so he really did develop strong confidence, which is always good.


How To Make New Friends Anywhere, Anytime

One of the things I find most fascinating is how quickly you can get to know some people. Most people, it generally takes a while. You need to share experiences, become comfortable enough to talk about things until you can feel you know this person. Maybe you only see them for a little a couple times a day. Maybe you only see them once a week. And then you feel you know them in this particular context, you begin to share other things. Your family, funny stories about your childhood. The teacher you had a crush on in second grade. That thing that your partner or significant other did (and hopefully still does) that drives you insane with desire.

I remember once I was talking to this lady. We’d only been acquainted for a total of about two hours. It was the third time I’d seen her. Either she is a really outgoing person, who is able to feel really comfortable with almost anybody, or she just felt she really trusted me. She started telling me things about her daughter that I thought were kind of personal, but interesting. Nothing too terrible, just typical mother daughter stuff that people talk about sometimes. It’s funny when you feel really comfortable with somebody you’ve first met, so that you can experience.

I remember once I was by myself in a foreign country. And most people didn’t speak much English. I was feeling brave enough to venture out of my hotel room. My hotel was a large international one, and some of the staff spoke English, so I was comfortable enough while in the hotel. But once I left the hotel, it was a totally different ballgame. It was a totally different sport. I started walking around, figuring that I’d be ok, as long as I could make a beeline back to my hotel if I ran into trouble. I saw what looked like a large shopping mall. I decided I’d have a look around, and see if I could find something interesting. Who knows, maybe I would feel brave enough to go and try to buy something.

Suddenly I spotted something interesting. Across the mall, was a guy that looked to be about the same age as me. He was wearing a sweatshirt from my alma mater. Suddenly feeling courageous at the sight of those big black letters which evoked many fond memories, I decided to go and talk to him.
I asked him if he spoke English, and he replied that he did. I asked him about his sweatshirt, and it turns out he graduated the same year as I did! We had an amazing time chatting over a meal at a small restaurant that he showed me where they serve the local cuisine. It was fantastic.

The funny thing was, I would have never have guessed that this person was so interesting, and that we share so many things in common. Had he not been wearing that sweatshirt which immediately caused me to remember good memories and feelings, I never would have been able to develop the courage to go and talk to him. It made me wonder. How many other people am I missing out on meeting simply because I don’t allow myself to feel the feelings that will make a chance meeting turn into a great afternoon?

And it turns out that the lady was preparing me to meet her daughter. She was telling me the bad things about her up front, because she was planning on introducing me later. I guess her strategy was to respect me enough to give me a fair idea of her. Because when I finally did meet her, she was absolutely stunning. Had I not heard the stories about her from her mother, I might have fallen into the trap of thinking, merely because of her looks, that she was a stunning angel devoid of any human frailties. As it turns out, she wasn’t my type, and I wasn’t hers, so everything worked out.

I think a great idea when meeting new people is to always look for similarities. Because we are more alike than we are different, you can’t go wrong, and you’ll always be able to make new friends wherever you go.


The Blue Birds of Happiness

Once upon a time there was a little bird. He was blue, but he wasn’t a bluebird. He was one of those birds that you didn’t exactly know what category to put him in. His name was Charlie. One day he was hanging out with his bird friends. They had already found all the worms that they had planned to eat for the day, and it wasn’t mating or nesting season, so they really didn’t have to do much except just kind of hang out and chirp about this and that. There were six in all, they were all starting to get bored. They were past adolescence, but they still had sufficient energy so that they weren’t content just to sit and do nothing.

Kind of like when you have a particular busy week at work, and you are looking forward to the weekend. Then the weekend comes, and after the relief of having no more work for the time being wears off, you kind of get bored. That happened to me once. I decided to go to the movies, like I do, but when I got there I realized there wasn’t anything playing that I wanted to see. I don’t do that very often, it’s just that on that particular afternoon I was fairly bored. So deep down, i sort of realized that just the drive to the movie theater was better than wasting a fine Saturday afternoon happy that I didn’t have to work. I could be happy I didn’t have to work anyplace, no reason to stay at home right.

I think it’s fascinating the way your mind works like that. Like when you make a decision, you think that consider all the options. Then something happens and throws a monkey wrench into your plans. Then you find out that you made a mistake in planning that somehow took into account the sudden appearance of Mr. Murphy. Like your mind was able to look into the future and plan for all possibilities without you even knowing it. Sometimes I think your unconscious is a lot smarter than you realize. And when you allow yourself to really trust your unconscious, and allow it to help yourself do things, you will be amazed when you find out how incredibly powerful it is. Sometimes I’ll be wandering around my house muttering to myself “I can’t find my keys, I can’t find my keys, I can’t find my keys,” and I’m sure you realize that never works. It’s only when I switch (unconsciously of course) to muttering “where are my keys? where are my keys?” do they suddenly appear, as if by magic.  Other times I just lose my place, and forget things.

So when I realized there was nothing playing at the movie theater I wanted to see, I started wandering around. I happened into bookstore, and I saw a book I had been looking for. Of course I bought it, and enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s like my brain was telling me to go buy this book, but it was tricking me into thinking I was going to see a movie. Like my unconscious knows how to keep me motivated. Otherwise I’d forget what I was after.

So the birds decided to head on over to the new neighbors house. They had just build a gorgeous birdbath. And the birds had just suddenly remembered that they had forgotten it was there. And everybody lived happily ever after.


The Ancient Power of Idle Gossip

One of the things that I find really fascinating about talking to as many people as I do on a daily basis is that despite how anxious or chaotic their lives are, or how many things they have on their plates, they can always find time to talk about seemingly inconsequential things. I say seemingly inconsequential only because it appears that way on the surface. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that peoples day to day lives, as reflected in their conversations are rather mundane. The more you think about this, the more you can’t help but realize that language itself is one of the most least understood yet most fascinating things that you can begin to understand.

I was reading this book on evolutionary psychology. Some of it was kind of out there. Because of course, despite the commonly held belief that evolution is a scientific fact, it is still largely an unproven theory that people mistakenly believe as fact simply because it is accepted as such. It’s amazing when you study the history of scientific belief.  There are wild things that people believed that seem foolish in retrospect, but when you consider that it really wasn’t too long ago that most scientists believed the world was flat, you can’t help but to take currently held ‘truths’ with a grain of salt.

The purpose of language, for example, is a hotly contested topic among evolutionary biologists. Some believe that the same forces that drove spoken language in humans are the of the same reason that chimps groom each other. Both are thought to server the purpose of a way to determine where people are with respect to the current social hierarchy. According to that theory, the purpose of language is for gossip, to determine who is doing what with who and for what reason. While that may not be the specific reason, it is no stretch to look around and see that idle gossip is strongly compelling to most people.

One of the questions I get emailed to me the most often from people who read this blog on a regular basis is where I get all my ideas from. Although I admit that some people claim that I make this up as I go along, if you read some of my earlier posts, you’ll find that I have been interested in human development and maximizing my own achievement for quite some time now. When you think about it, communicating is a lot more complicated that just idle gossip, even if the surface structure of the conversation only seems to be concerned with daily events and relationships. Your individual history, your beliefs about the world, and your outlook on your own future all play a huge, unconscious role in shaping the language that you use. When you decide let go and release any fears that you may have, you can really begin to communicate more congruently. And when you do that, you can’t help but to be breath of fresh air to all who you come in contact with. One of the ways to become fully human is to stop looking for somebody that has the answers, and simply be that person that can help others find their own answers within.

Of course, there are many other theories of the origins of language. God made us the way we are, complete with our language ability. Or God had hand in guiding our evolution, so he was there helping us out along the way. Or if you don’t believe in God, there are other, more scientifically believable theories. Ancient tribes needed to communicate with each other so they could collectively remember where the dangerous animals lived. They had to communicate in order to organize effective hunting parties. They had to communicate well to plan for the coming winter.

It’s amazing the different theories that they come up with over time. Which is really fascinating. The more they begin to develop ways and machines that can peak inside our brains to see exactly how they work, they will begin to come up with even more abstract and wonderful ideas. And coming up with abstract and wonderful ideas is a fantastic sign of our humanity, which is alwasy driven to learn new things. 

I’m not saying you should keep all this in mind next time your are talking about who is dating who, or who is thinking of breaking up with who. I think a better idea would just be to become aware that there is a level of complexity that is just below the surface of the everyday sentences and nouns and verbs that people throw at each other without much thought, and to let these ideas come up whenever you are ready to think about them.


Dropping Frogs Can Lead to Changing Beliefs

I was reading an article in the paper the other day about a small town in the midwest that experienced a very strange phenomenon. One fine during the summer, or perhaps the spring, it started raining frogs. It happened in the fifties, and it was a small town, so there is absolutely no evidence that this actually took place. Some say it was a hoax. Others think it was due to an extremely unlikely confluence of meteorological events pulled the frogs out of a lake them through some strange quirk of air pressure and deposited them on the unsuspecting town inhabitants. Others claim that it was mass hypnosis. Mass hypnosis is a strange thing when you think about it, because there have been many documented accounts of mass hypnosis. Some of them easy to understand, some unexplainable like the falling frogs.

I was reminded of this story when I recently saw a movie where a guy fell in love with a prosthetic doll. At first people thought he was completely nuts, but then slowly, as they realized he had deeper problems, decided that the best course of action would be to help the poor guy. At first he was the but of jokes behind his back. I’m sure you can imagine the jokes that would circulate should you show up at a party with a fake person and in all seriousness claim her as your girlfriend. One of the most fascinating things about the movie was how the townspeople slowly started to get sucked into his reality. Because he believed so completely that this rubber doll was a real person that he had real conversations, (and even a couple of arguments with,) the townspeople slowly started becoming involved in his obvious break from reality.

This is an example of when you have a really strong, congruent frame of reality. If you walk through life holding a strong set of beliefs in your head, others will believe them as well if the beliefs held tightly enough. It matters not if they are true or not. The key is when you choose a belief, to make sure to choose helpful ones, and act one hundred percent that they are actually true. When you do that, people will only follow your lead. Imagine some people in the world that have really strong beliefs, and act on them. Suppose you could have a strong belief that you are incredibly attractive to the opposite sex? Suppose that you held a belief that money is easy to come by? Suppose you were to hold a belief that you were able to learn new things easily and quickly? How easy would your life be then? What other beliefs can you come up with that once you believe them, others will as well? How easily can you imagine your life when you switch out old beliefs, and switch in new ones that support you and what you want to create better things in life?

So as the movie went on, the main character decided, most likely subconsciously, that he learned what he needed from his relationship with girlfriend, and imagined a deadly disease for her. So she could die, and clear the way for him to start to build relationships with real people. I think there are several important lessons in this movie, not the least of which is how powerful your mind is to create the life that you want, by almost any means necessary. Even enlisting the help of the entire town in some incredible group self induced hypnosis. That is pretty powerful stuff.

And as far as group hypnosis, sometimes called ‘mass hysteria,’ there are different kinds. Their are the organic kinds, like the raining frogs, and certain episodes of dancing hysteria, and laughing hysteria. Then there is created mass hysteria, although the creation of mass hysteria is not always the intent, as what happened in the famous Orson Wells “War of The Worlds” incident, where everybody thought we were under attack by Martians. Personally, I’d prefer some falling frogs. Unless of course they were Martians disguised as falling frogs.


Share the Communicating Power of Experience

I have a friend that is several years older than me. I like to hang out with him, if only to listen to his stories. He is a great story teller. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting somebody, so that when you listen to this person, you can just sit there for hours and hours listening to this persons go on and on about this and that. Most of the stories this guy tells are from his own experience. But other ones are from other people that he himself has heard stories from. Because he has lived such a long a full life, he never runs out of stuff to say.

Many times he’ll be talking about the war he was in. He was drafted, and once he realized what was going to happen to him, he decided that he was going to make the best of things. So he decided that being a communications officer was his best bet. He didn’t think being a medic was such a great idea, as he said medics have to walk around with a target painted on their back. He said a communications officer was best, because communication is important. And if you are carrying around with you one of the best resources, you are treated with a great deal of respect.

I can remember a class I took once in communications, just for fun. It wasn’t a public communications, which is public speaking. I hadn’t yet learned how easy it was to be comfortable while speaking to a large group of people. I was still in my beginning stages of learning how to communicate well on a one to one basis. Those of you who have been keeping up and like to read my blog on a regular basis will know what I’m talking about. Developing skills in communicating is one of the best skills you can develop. Being able to communicate congruently with power and confidence can be one of the most important things that you can learn in life. The class was a real eye opener for me. I learned about different communication styles that people have, different media through which you can communicate. And most important of all, the simple truth that you can’t not communicate. So it pays to be aware of the message that you are sending. Regardless if you know it or not, people are receiving you, loud and clear.

One of the most interesting things I learned from him was how to throw a grenade. It’s not like in the movies, where you can just chuck it and duck behind a bush or something. Because the pieces that come off it when it explodes go much further than you can throw it. So you need to make sure to stay out of the way when whatever you put out comes back. Whenever you decide to throw out something harmful, you’d better watch out, because it usually comes back a lot stronger than you threw it. It pays to be careful. Of course, my friend is wise enough to only tell stories that took place during basic training, where nobody died. War itself is a horrible thing, and should be talked about in polite, social conversation, when absolutely necessary.

I strongly recommend becoming friends with somebody that has a lot of experience. Not only because it’s fun to share your experience with others, it’s also just as fun to hear them as well. And who could disagree that we could always use more sharing in this world?


Reading for Pleasure

So you’re sitting there, reading this, wondering how you got here. You may be wondering whether or not you can find this useful, or you may be wondering if you will find this interesting. I know the feeling. You start to do this, and wonder how much you are going to get out of it. Sometimes you find benefit, sometimes you don’t. It can be a metaphor for life, if you think about it. You wonder exactly what it is you’re doing, and if you can really find this useful. Many others that regularly read this blog, like you, have been able to find really cool stuff here. Like book reviews.

I have a friend who works at a bookstore. He doesn’t really make that much money. In fact it makes barely above minimum wage. Despite the less than stellar pay, he is able to find it really interesting. He just loves to read. He finds it fascinating looking through all the books, arranging them on the shelves, picking up the ones people leave on the table when they are sitting around drinking coffee. (I love doing that.) He says just picking up the books and reading the backs as he is returning them to the shelves is the second best part of the job. He has this cart that he wheels around, and he takes his time, so he can read this and that. And he finds some really fascinating things that he didn’t even know existed. Cookbooks, exercise books, photography books. It’s absolutely incredible the amount of information you can find in a book store. And like I said, that’s not even the best part.

I actually met him a few weeks ago after he finished working. We met in the cafe section, and there happened to be a Toastmasters group that was meeting. And this guy gave a speech about goals. He was talking about setting goals, and how you need to make sure you know what is really important when choosing the things that you want to make come true in life. He said that it starts by thinking of something, now, that you want to achieve in life. Something really nice that you want to achieve. And when you think of that, you can ask yourself, what’s important about that? What is really important about having that thing that you want to achieve? And when you really start to imagine what is important about that, you can really begin to imagine how nice it will be when achieve that. And as you read this, you  might be able to do that yourself. I don’t know if you are able think of that now while you read this, but you can really find value in this, because doing this can help you achieve many things in life.

So after the guy finished his speech, my friend told me the absolute best part of working at a bookstore. He gets to talk to all kinds of different people each day. Especially when they come in to his shop, but they aren’t sure exactly what they want. He can help them make a decision, find something that they can really enjoy. And then he takes them and guides them to where the book is, and shows them how to choose from many options, so they can be sure that this is what they really want, and they can be really happy that they’ve chosen this. And since my friend is single, and half of the customers are females, well, you get the idea.

Which is what many people find when they read this blog on a regular basis. Because I like to write on so many different subjects, you can find many things here to read and enjoy. And reading things that you can enjoy is one of the greatest pleasures in life.