Category Archives: Choice

Your Potential Is Enormous – You Are Legion

Remember Who You Are

Once there was this guy who lived in the sewer. He didn’t really mind living in the sewer, as it allowed him to live a life free from the worries of most day-to-day frustrations and anxieties. He didn’t have much money, but he didn’t really need anything.

This particular sewer that he lived in wasn’t really a sewer, per se, it was a large stretch of pipe that led out to a river, which was about a mile from the ocean. Up the river were a couple of industrial plants, and had been built specifically so they could dump their toxic industrial waste in the river. The factories had been built well before any EPA rules had specifically forbid the dumping of sewage into the river, but one has to wonder about the foresight of somebody that would base part of their business plan on the ability to continually pollute a natural resource.

This particular pipe had also been built to dump raw sewage directly into the river, but the same laws which precluded the plant to dump toxic waste into the river also precluded the local town to figure out another way to deal with their waste.

So as it stood, the large pipe, which was about a half a mile long, hadn’t been used in several years, and had dried considerably. There were a few storm drains that led into he pipe, and the central character of this story had lived in the sewer long enough, and had learned to read the weather well enough to prepare for the rise in water.

The area where this all took place didn’t see much rainfall, well below average, so this guy didn’t have to worry about his home flooding too often. And since he learned long ago to stay away from the bottle, he wasn’t in any danger of passing out and waking up floating out in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Contrary to what you’d expect, he was a pretty together bum, and put a good deal of thought into planning for the future. His future.

Our tale begins when he was out a night scavenging for food. He knew which were the good spots, which restaurants had decent leftovers in their dumpster. This was getting harder and harder, as many restaurants participated in programs that shared their food with the needy. Somebody from the local soup kitchen would come around and collect the leftovers, every night, so it was getting harder and harder for him to find unused food portions in the dumpsters.

You may be thinking that he could easily go straight to the source, the food kitchens themselves, but he learned that nothing was free. They all had their own philosophy and ideas about how a homeless man should be living his life. After about a week of free food, they grew comfortable enough with him to try and “counsel” him, and help him to “find a job,” so he could get a “decent place to live.”

As soon as they started in on that kind of helpful advice, he quickly found himself scavenging for his own food again, and heading back to his underground sanctuary.

As he was dumpster diving behind the Nigerian delicatessen (they were fairly new in town, and hadn’t been convinced by the local charity to give their leftover food yet) and found quite a bit of bread and cheese that were only a few days past their expiration date. Being a firm believer that expiration dates were only a recommendation, and not a hard and fast rule, he realized he hit the jackpot.

He went back home, and made himself a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches. If you’re wondering how a bum living in an abandoned underground sewer can make grilled cheese sandwiches, don’t fret. He had quite a setup, an area with a bed, and a couple of mattresses. A barbecue, and a few pots and pans that he used occasionally to cook with. He wasn’t your stereotypical bum that cooked an open can of beans on the fire. He had done a lot of work to make his home livable and comfortable. And the most interesting part was how quickly he could move everything about the water line at a moments notice.

But after he’d eaten a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, he started feeling funny. Not, “I ate some bad food,” funny, but funny, funny. Not normal, funny. Something is really wrong with reality, funny. He started to see double, and his mouth and lips began to swell. He tried to sleep it off, but no use.

When he woke up in the next morning, his lips and tongue had returned to their normal size but his mind was completely frazzled. He still could think the same thoughts that he used to think, at least that’s what he remembered thinking when he woke up, but the thoughts he used to connect to things were different. Things that used to cause him fear now caused him to feel peaceful and tranquil. Those things that he never gave a second thought to now terrified him beyond measure.

Like when you are sitting there looking at this, and all of a sudden you feel you’ve been misled, or you’ve allowed yourself to be misled, and you are finally seeing things for the first time. You may look around and see the same things, but they take on completely different meaning. As if you are finally starting to realize what it’s really all about.

He decided to go back to the source and see if they could help. He would never have considered even making eye contact with the owner of a restaurant whose dumpster he had violated the night before, but today it just seemed like the natural thing to do.

He made his way back to the Nigerian delicatessen, and was surprised when they seemed to be expecting him.

“How are you old friend? You have finally come home!” A very large man said to him in heavily accented English when he walked in the front.

Old friend? Wasn’t this a new restaurant?

He found himself returning the embrace, first a little tentatively, and then slowly with more and more willingness.

“Please, tell us what you have learned here.” The large man asked him.

While he didn’t really understand the question, he found himself answering. And his answers astonished him. Not just their content, but the way in which they seemed to be coming from another person that he was watching across the room. Slowly but surely, this objective viewpoint slowly melted back into a subjective experience as he finally remembered everything. Who he was, where he came from, and what he had learned over the years. It felt good. Really good.

He was home again. It was time for the next phase. And it felt wonderful.

To be continued….


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The Mystery Behind Cause And Effect

What’s The Meaning Behind That?

I remember several years ago I was driving down the freeway, in a hurry to get someplace. I forget where, so obviously it couldn’t have been very important. I was zipping in and out of traffic, checking for cops behind me every few minutes. Just as I was about to shift over to the lane to my left, a car on the other side of my destination lane merged in, without a signal, without checking, without any obvious sign of recognition that there were other cars on the road.

Furious, I waited until he (at this point I was assuming it was a he) was ahead of me enough so that I could pull in behind him. My plan was to tailgate him for a while, and then pull up along side of him and give him the finger. I tailgated for a couple of minutes, but my rising blood pressure and anger didn’t allow me the patience to torment him long enough, so I pulled quickly up along side to tell him/show him what was what.

Things suddenly changed when I saw who it was.

I remember reading about a strange legal case that happened a while ago. This guy was sitting at one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook in front of you Teppan style. The chef was doing his culinary acrobatics, and one thing led to another, and he tossed a piece of something to the patron sitting there, who was supposed to catch it in his mouth. They had had some dialogue going on, so it wasn’t an out of the blue toss to an unsuspecting customer. The guy snapped his head bad to catch the food, but damaged his neck, due to some extremely strange combination of angles and such. Something that would be nearly impossible to reproduce.

Nevertheless, the poor guy had to be taken to the hospital, and required a couple of surgeries to fix what had happened. The first surgery went OK, they sent him home, but later on he had to go back for another surgery. During his hospital stay after the second surgery, he contracted some kind of infection, and died.

The family tried (unsuccessfully) to sue the restaurant, as they started the whole chain of events that caused his ultimate death. The courts didn’t agree, because there were so many things that happened in between the first event, and his death, that it wouldn’t be reasonable to hold the restaurant responsible.

Then there was that guy who assassinated President Garfield, at least according to the courts. Garfield was getting on a train, and this guy Guiteau shot him a couple times in the back. They weren’t fatal shots; they didn’t hit any major organs. They took him home and his goofball doctors went to work. I say goofball because if in those days (1881) there medical methods were a bit out there. Had they treated him according to standard medical procedures in the day, he may have lived. Instead they did things like check his wounds with dirty hands (despite other doctors having already learned the necessity of antiseptics), they fed him through a rectal tube rather than through his mouth. Almost three months later he died.

At the trial, Guiteau said, “I didn’t kill him, I only shot him. His doctors killed him.” But they hanged him anyway.

Scientists tell us that our brains have evolved a very simple method for determining cause and effect. There are usually several intermediate steps that we overlook when we assume A causes B. It’s usually more like A causes A1, which has an effect on A2, which when combined with A3, has a reinforcing effect on A1, which in turn makes B possible, but not until C has been notified and called into action.

But all we humans see is A, and then B, and assume that A causes B.

They’ve done plenty of experiments on monkeys and babies to see what kind of assumptions we make about cause and effect. The results indicate that we seem to have a pre wired circuitry to assume cause and effect between certain objects. They’ll take a knife, and an apple, and show them to a baby (or a monkey), and then move them behind a screen. Then they’ll show some movement behind the screen, and lift up the screen to show the apple cut in half. This doesn’t get much of a reaction, as it seems to be expected.

Then they’ll take a knife and an apple, but when they lift the screen, they’ll be a balloon or something else completely unexpected. Usually the babies (or the monkeys) stare at this for much longer, as if they are trying to figure out what in the heck just happened.

There’s a whole branch of psychology dedicated to train people to uncouple unhelpful assumptions about cause and effect. We see somebody, they do something, we get angry. We then say that they “caused” our anger. But did they really? Or was it our reaction to our assumption about the meaning of the situation? We say “hi,” and somebody doesn’t return the “hi.” An event. We must give meaning to the event. Their not saying “hi” means they don’t like us. So we must react to that event. Our reaction to them not liking us is hurt feelings. So we react to that. We get angry, how dare they treat us like that. We may utter “asshole!” under our breath.

But what if they just didn’t hear us? What if they were in the middle of some complicated thought, and returning the “hi” would have ruined everything? What if they really thought they said “hi” but their throat was stuck or something?

Our brains are pre wired to survive in an environment that didn’t allow for second-guessing and various alternatives. We had to read the environment, and react quickly, or die. But we don’t have to do that any longer. Since we live in a modern society where we don’t have to hunt for our food, and their aren’t tigers roaming around trying to kill us, we can relax and choose our responses, instead of mindlessly reacting as if we were still cave people. It may take some time, but once you start to practice responding instead of reacting, you’ll notice you have a lot more power and control over your emotions, and it will soon be impossible for anybody to “push your buttons.”

So just as I was about to extend my finger, I saw that it was an old priest at my church that I attended at the time. This guy was about 80 years old, and couldn’t hurt a fly. He was such a gentle old man, that he was guy I went to whenever I used to go to confession. He was always so sympathetic understanding, no matter how horrible I thought my sins were.

Thoroughly ashamed that I had such vicious anger for such a gentle old man, I slowed down, and drove more carefully, and more like a normal human, after that.


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How To Stay Focused For Automatic Success


Once a long time ago I took a drive with a friend of mine. We started in Los Angeles, and our only goal was to make it to some city in New Jersey within a certain amount of time. I think it was something like five days. That’s about three thousand miles over five or six days, which is a lot of driving each day.

We had the route planned out, and our destination was clear enough, and the math was all figured out. Our basic plan was to wake up at six every morning, and start driving. We didn’t even figure on mileage per day, we just figured if we drove for twelve hours a day, with a minimum of stopping, we’d make it in time.

Sounds like a good plan, right? Only there was one thing we neglected to take into consideration. While this small detail didn’t affect the overall outcome of the trip, it made it a little bit more troublesome than we’d anticipated.

I had a friend once that really enjoyed math, and so he majored in math in university. He never really knew what he was going to do, he only knew that he liked math. He ended up being a high school teacher, but for a while he was a bit worried. When he graduated, he started looking through the want ads, and going to job seminars, and even went as far as to sign himself up with a few headhunters.

The thing about a degree in math is that by itself, it’s not all the applicable to very many industries. If you studied some kind of applied math like statistics, or actuarial science, you can do pretty well for yourself. I remember even reading several years ago about some huge ranking a major newspaper did on different jobs, using all kinds of factors like salary, working conditions, opportunities for advancement, etc. And an Actuary was ranked number one.

But my friend didn’t study any applications, just basic math theory. I think they called it foundations. Most people who focused on that aspect of math usually went on to get their PhD’s or something. Which was why my friend was a bit worried.

He figured just by doing something that he liked, that would be enough. Luckily, he really enjoys his teaching job, and he graduated when there was a severe shortage of math teachers in the public schools, so he could pretty much choose any school he wanted. But had he majored in something like history, or art or something, he wouldn’t have been nearly as lucky.

My other friend was much more specific. He studied a specific branch of electrical engineering. And when he was only halfway through university he already had talked to several different companies, and knew exactly what kind of people they hired, and what kinds of extra curricular backgrounds they liked for their fresh graduates. Needless to say, he was much more focused, and when he graduated he already had several offers lined up. And they were all for quite a bit of money. That must have been a pretty good feeling at graduation ceremony.

I went to this seminar once on goal setting. It was one of those local things they have every now and then down at the learning annex. This guy was saying that there are two kinds of goals. There are directional goals, and milestone goals. He said the directional goals are like walking toward the horizon. You will always walk in the same direction, but no matter how far you go, the horizon will always be a fixed location way off in front of you.

So long as you pick a point off in the distance, you’ll keep walking in the same direction. But if you only have a directional goal, it’s easy to get discourage, as you will never seem to make any progress. It’s tough to stay focused through will power alone.

On the other hand, there are milestone goals. Like if you pick something specific, and you know exactly what will happen when you achieve. Not only will you have something solid to look forward to, but you’ll also have evidence that you’ll collect along the way.

But if you only have a bunch of milestone goals, you could very well end up walking in a circle, so to speak. Each time you achieve your goal, you could pick another one, but if may take you back toward where you started. It’s easy to fall into a trap of oscillating back and forth between two extremes.

The best is to have a combination of the two. When you choose a solid directional goal, and several milestone goals that are lined up in the same direction, it would be like walking toward the horizon, and achieving several significant goals every so often along. These will be enough to keep you motivated and keep you going, and the horizon will always be there beckoning you to keep going. If you keep this up, pretty soon you’ll be accomplishing some pretty fantastic stuff, as they will tend to increase in size along the way.

The easiest way is to pick something way off in the distance, and then work your way backwards until you have several small pieces of achievements laid out in front of you just waiting for to start walking along your path and scoop them up along the way.

The funny thing that happened to us on the way to New Jersey was we’d get to six or seven at night, and figure we’d done enough driving. So we decide to stop for the night, only to look on our map and find that the next town wasn’t for another hundred miles or so. And when you’ve been driving for twelve hours, and you’re about ready for a cheeseburger and a couple beers, and a soft bed, another hundred miles is a long way.

But at least it was a hundred miles in the right direction. I’d hate to imagine what it would be like to realize we made a mistake and had to turn back for a hundred miles. That would be devastating.


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Goal Achieving Machine

You Are Hunter

I was sorting through this old stack of books I have, in order to see which ones I want to keep, and which ones I want to get rid of. I’m getting ready to move in a few days, and I don’t want to bring too much extra junk with me.

I found this interesting book I bought a couple years ago called “Why Men Don’t Listen And Why Women Can’t Read Maps,” by Barbara And Allan Pease. I remembered reading it and was amazed at some of the cool things I learned. It was basically the differences that exist between men and women, differences that go far beyond basic plumbing.

It all stems from our evolutionary past. While men would be out hunting every day, women would take care of the cave. And taking of the cave meant keeping all the kids together, protecting them from predators, and finding whatever edible roots and other foods they could find.

Humans existed this way for hundreds of thousands of years. We’ve only been living in agricultural based societies for about ten thousand years or so, so we are still carrying around our basic programming and wiring.

One of the ways that manifests itself today is how we communicate. Women had to learn to communicate on many different levels at the same time, while men never evolved such a skill. Since women were taking care of kids, they developed an ability to read facial expressions much better than men. An interesting study, which was cited in the above book, showed this pretty convincingly. They showed a bunch of women a bunch of kids’ faces, and then had them guess at their mood. The women came up with several different descriptions, and combinations thereof. The men, on the other hand, either said “happy,” “sad,” or “angry.”

Another interesting thing was how our respective vision evolved. Since men were out hanging all the time, males developed vision that was really good at seeing things far off in the distance, but crappy at seeing things up close in our peripheral vision. Women, on the other hand, have much better peripheral vision, but not such great vision for looking at things off in the distance. That’s why sometimes men can’t see things that are literally right in front of them, to the exasperation of their partners or spouses.

That’s another reason why men rubber neck so much when we’re at the mall, and we see something in our peripheral vision that may or may not be an attractive female. We actually have to turn our heads in her direction to see. Women, on the other hand, are capable of checking out every guy in the place, including evaluating their fashion sense, without even moving their eyeballs.

There are tons of other really interesting and eye opening (get it?) revelations in that book. If you are at all interested in scientifically recognized differences between men and women (many of them politically incorrect), I highly recommend that book.

One thing that struck me was that in our evolutionary past, it seems that humans spent their days in two different “modes” of operation. Hunting, and resting. The whole day, if you were a man, was spent out hunting and finding food. Once the sun started to set, you’d head back to the cave and stare into the fire for a few hours, and then sleep. If you were a woman, the day was spent foraging around looking for things to eat, and watching over the kids. When it became dark, and nocturnal predators came out, it was time to head back to the cave, and keep everybody safe for the night.

It seems that even in our modern society, we can break down our activities along those lines. We are either hunting, or trying to achieve some goal, or resting, or recovering, or taking a break until we can get back in the game and go after the prize, whatever that may be.

It seems that humans were built specifically to hunt, or seek. Resting isn’t nearly as rewarding unless it’s after we’ve achieved some goal. If you’ve read Psycho Cybernetics, then you know that Dr. Maltz compares the human mind to a self-correcting missile. Choose a target, fire away, and correct your course based on the feedback you get.

The interesting thing is that no matter what you do, it will always be directed at some goal. For many people, that goal is chosen by somebody else. Your boss, your company, your commanding officer if you are in the military.

Of course, as in the cave example, these goals can frequently overlap. Many times our main goal is to get enough resources so that we can effectively rest and recuperate when we need to, so that we can get out and achieve more goals.

If you are going after a goal that’s not really your choice, this can quickly seem like a vicious circle. You go to work go make money to pay for your house and your necessities so you can get enough rest every night in order to go to work so you an make money to pay for your house etc etc.

These can seem like a relentless treadmill if you are always making money for somebody else. But when you take the time to choose a goal that is really important to you, and you make consistent progress, there’s not much that feels better.

It would seem that the human mind was designed to feel enormous pleasure to see a goal on the horizon, chase after it, track it down, and kill it. We were built to hunt, built to achieve.

Of course, it can be difficult to hunt completely for yourself. Even in our past we had to form groups and alliances and sometimes give our efforts to the achievements of others. Getting to the point in life where most of your efforts are toward your own personal goals and choices can take a lifetime of effort. But if you only start small, choose small goals that are important to you, and only you, you can slowly build on your successes. And once you get a taste of the kill, there’s no going back.

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Are You Afraid Of Committment?

Right, Or Left?

I remember when I was a kid I played little league basketball. I pretty much sucked at it, which is why I only played once. We played on these courts with short baskets, or low baskets. I think maybe they were eight feet, but I’m not sure. I’m much better at playing horse. One of my problems was that I was too easy to fake out. Some guy would come dribbling down the court, and fake left, and I could immediately commit, and put all my weight on my right foot as I shifted to where I thought he was going.

After his quick fake left (my right) he would then go right, opposite to where I had committed my body weight, easily going around me. I would be left standing there, looking foolish. No matter how good an offensive player, a defender never looks good getting faked out like that.

Much later I remember playing a game of flag football, as an adult. It wasn’t a big game, just a bunch of weekend warriors out to have a good time. I think we had a case of beer on the game or something. I was on defense, on the line. We were playing some kind of zone defense in front, and man to man in back, I think. I’m not sure how to describe it in football technical terms.

I think I was supposed to count two alligators or something, and then rush in to the QB and try to grab his flags. But on this particular play, something felt odd. For some reason, and to this day I have no idea why, I didn’t rush in. I was about to step in but something stopped me. The offense pulled this double reverse, and the guy who ended up with the ball came running right at me. Had I rushed in like I was supposed to, I would have gotten faked out, and he would have made quite a substantial gain. But when he did come running at me, I was still dazed, trying to figure out why I was still standing there. I grabbed his flag, and they ended up losing a yard or two.

After the play, a teammate come up and congratulated me.
“You read that pretty good!” He said, clapping me on the back.

I had no idea what he was talking about. Read what? Read how? Later that night, it finally hit me what he was talking about. It was if I was some kind of experienced lineman, and could instinctively read the intentions of the offense, and react accordingly. But football is another sport I only played once or twice as a kid. I had no idea what was going on. So why did I just stand there?

I remember reading some article on some website regarding commitment in relationships. It was written by a guy, and he was saying that men are actually more prone to commit than women. I think maybe his girlfriend just dumped him, so perhaps he was a bit biased. Obviously, if you are a guy, and you are after a girl, and you are into her much more than she is into you, it’s easy to see that you could think that guys commit more readily than girls.

Likewise, if you are a girl, and you are into a guy much more than he is into you, it could be easy to convince yourself that guys just can’t commit.

The harsh truth may be that guys, and girls are both perfectly capable of commitment, just not to you (whoever you are), at least right now.

But what is commitment? What is it really?

When you go to the grocery store, and you want to buy one apple, (say you only have a dollar) you have to choose on above all the rest. So when you choose one, you are at the same time forever saying no to all the rest. If you are really really hungry, then it wouldn’t really matter that much. You’d grab any old apple that wasn’t bruised up and didn’t appear to be half eaten by worms.

But if you were using the apple in a special recipe, later that night say, you’d be much more picky. You wouldn’t be overwhelmed by hunger and in a hurry to choose. You’d take your time, and find the best one out of all of them. You’d likely pick up a few, inspect them, and then put them back. (In case you’re a fan of Murphy’s Law, when you go to the store to buy one apple, it will always be the one on the bottom).

Whenever you commit to one thing, you are saying “no” to everything else. It’s kind of hard to say “no” to something unless you know what you are saying “no” to.

I remember once I was at traffic school. One of those places you have to go to in order to avoid an increase in insurance. The teacher was an ex cop, and was telling us stories about pulling people over. He said once he flashed his sirens, and one guy pulled over. When he walked up to the guy’s window, he asked the cop why he chose him. There were plenty of other people speeding, so why did he have to choose him.

“I just flashed my lights, and you were the only one that stopped.” Was the cop’s response. Kind of funny, but that is most people’s strategy for making decisions. Make a little bit of an effort, usually the minimum amount required, and they take whatever comes to them.

Guy walks into a bar (what is this, a joke?) and he falls in love with the first girl that smiles at him. Girl graduates from college, sends out twenty résumés, and takes the first job offer she gets.

What’s you’re strategy? Do you take the first offer that comes? Or do you wait, and take your time to decide? Turning down an offer, any offer that seems decent can be extremely difficult. I’ve taken jobs before, because they were the only one I thought I could get at the time. Then later when people asked me why I chose that job, it felt embarrassing to say, “It was the only choice I had.”

If we could look into the future, and see all the opportunities that come our way on a daily basis, maybe we won’t be so prone to commit to soon, and get faked out like I did on the basketball court. Maybe it’s best to just trust our guts, hang back and see what develops.


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Beware Of Infinite Loops


That’s what she wanted. She had been waiting for me for almost two hours, when I came wandering up. Where was I? Why didn’t I call? How could I do this to her, didn’t I know that she felt like a fool standing there all alone like that for so long? What must people think about her?

Calm down, I told her. We’ll get to the bottom of this. I showed her the text she’d sent me last night, and showed her my watch. Not an “in your face” kind of thing, but a gentle “here’s is the evidence that you may be incorrect” kind of thing.

Maybe that wasn’t the right course of action. Now she was angry that I was late, had been stewing about it for two hours, and just found out that it was he fault. Still needing somebody to blame, she tried to ask me why I didn’t call to confirm, to send a text back reminding her of the time.

Seeing as how I was totally innocent, it took a lot of willpower not to throw some snappy zingers in her face. I waited until she was finished.

“Well, it’s three O’clock, and we’re here. What do you want to do?” I asked, more than half hoping she’d stomp off in anger. This didn’t have the makings of a pleasant afternoon together.

“Whatever. I don’t care.” She said coolly. I had learned a long time ago, (albeit through several slow and painful lessons) that hoping somebody would change their attitude by telling you didn’t like it was useless at best.

I figured I’d give her one more shot, and a chance to save some face.

“Well, the movie starts in thirty minutes. Should I buy one ticket, or two?” I asked as calmly as possible, keeping myself completely open for either answer.

I was reading this book once that was talking about emotions. The guy was saying that humans have this strange way of thinking. We have thoughts, and then thoughts about those thoughts. And thoughts about those thoughts. And every step of the way, we have an emotional reaction to the thoughts.

They used to think that emotions get in the way of thinking, and decision-making. That emotions are completely separate from logic. It used to be generally accepted that if you were more like Spock, you’d be able to make much better choices and decisions, and wouldn’t be swayed by powerful emotions like anger, embarrassment, guilt, or lust.

By some brain surgeons decided to do an experiment. They were doing surgery on this guy. They were removing a tumor, and in order to get to it, they had to cut through several areas of his brain they thought were responsible for emotional thinking. This was only a temporary part of the surgery. They figured as long as they were in there tinkering around, they would test this logic-emotional theory.

Since brain surgery only requires general anesthetic (there aren’t any pain sensors in the brain) the guy could be awake, and responsive to questions. They figured they’d ask him some logic-based questions, starting with easy ones, and then getting to more and more complicated ones. Ones that most people have a hard time answering because of their moral and ethical considerations, like if you are in a boat and you only have on life preserver, who do you save, the President (who is opposite of your political party) or your favorite pet (or some other emotionally convoluted question).

These doctors had theorized that since this guy’s emotional circuitry would be temporarily disconnected, he’d be like Spock, and spit out purely logical answers.
But what they found was the opposite. Without emotional input, he couldn’t even make the most basic decisions. Without the emotional juice fueling the options, they seemed to him like a question of preference between a banana, and six. Later he said he couldn’t even begin to know how to answer the questions given him.

This, of course, sent neuroscientists into a tizzy, as it gave some great insight into the human decision making process. Of course, this was only one single case, and they can’t very well go off messing with peoples heads and disconnecting their emotions just to see what would happen.

But it does make sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Humans evolved to make decisions for a reason, not to pass the time through idle philosophical discussions. Pain or pleasure, safety or danger, simplicity or complexity, these are all emotionally fueled ideas that power all of our decisions.

But according to that book I mentioned before (Mind Lines by Dr. Hall) we get into trouble when our emotions are based on judgments not on reality, but on our interpretation of reality. Someone cuts you off in traffic, and you make a judgment about that. You assume they are a jerk. Then you have a reaction to your judgment of them being jerk. Then you feel a certain way about that. Within a few seconds, you get angry at feeling guilty for being judgmental about some guy you assumed was a jerk that cut you off in traffic.

So when she had been standing there for two hours, getting angrier and angrier at me for being late, it didn’t matter one bit to her that it was her mistake. Of course, when I posed my question to her, it invoked the power of commitment and consistency. (See Cialdini, Influence, Science and Practice). She’d been waiting for two hours, she wasn’t likely to just up and leave five minutes after I finally showed up. (Finally according to her frame.)

I suppose the moral of the story is that whenever you come up to someone that has been building layer upon layer of emotions, it may be a good idea to simply give them an either/or option, take a step back and see what happens.

At the very least, it can be fun to watch.

To find out other secrets of the mind to easily maximize your success, click on the link below:

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

How To Rewrite Your History

What Is Your Reference Point?

I remember this story I read once in a book on communication. The story goes like this:

And old guy was sitting at edge of a small town out in the old west. He saw a horse and wagon, pulling a family of four. They stopped, and greeted the stranger.

“So, tell me, how are the people in this town?” They asked.
“Well, how were the people in your old town?” The stranger replied.
“Oh, they were pretty nice. Friendly, always willing to lend a hand.
The stranger smiled.
“Well, that sounds like the people in this town.” He said. The family thanked him and rode past toward there new home.

A few minutes later he saw another horse and wagon, pulling another family. They two were moving into town.
“So, tell me, how are the people in this town?” They asked.
“Well, how were the people in your old town,” the stranger replied.
“Oh, not so good. Always sticking their noses in where they didn’t belong, gossiping, always waiting for you to make a mistake so they could take advantage of you.”
“Hmm.” The stranger said, shaking his head.
“I’m afraid you’ll find people in this town the same way.” They thanked him, and rode toward their new home.

There’s a powerful method of goal setting, or rather goal getting, called the solutions focus. In it, you take whatever goal you are aiming at, and periodically do an inventory of what you’ve done so far. You rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, ten meaning your goal has already been achieved, and you are enjoying the results, while one is you haven’t even started yet.

Whatever number you give yourself, then you ask yourself why that number, and not a lower number. Even if you gave yourself a 1.5 rather than a 1, ask yourself why. This forces you to come up with all the positive things you’ve done recently that have moved you toward your goal.

The next step is to figure out what small steps you cold take to get you from a 1.5 to 2.

This is called the solutions focus because you force yourself to focus on what you are doing right, rather than what is standing in your way.

In the story above, the family that found the previous town filled with happy friendly people were likely to find the same in the new town, not because an objective measurement would show their previous town as filled with happy, smiling people but because they were the kind of people that seemed to find the good in others.

The second family, by comparison, even though they were going to the same town, would likely find only pettiness and unfriendliness, because that is what they look for. If you look for crap, that’s all you’ll find. But if you look for treasure, you’ll likely find that as well.

There are plenty of good metaphors and stories that illustrate this point.

There’s also a pretty good exercise to give yourself a lot more resources that you think you have. Here’s how.

Think of a skill you’d like to develop, or one that you don’t think that you have. Then relax a bit, put yourself into a comfortable position, and take an inventory of your life history, and look for any evidence of when you’ve already exhibited this skill you are aiming to develop.

For example, if you want to become a good public speaker, just find all the times in your history that you spoke in front of others. Any time since you can remember from your earliest childhood memories are fine. And any public communication is fine. Yelling, screaming, singing, any time you spoke out in public and effectively got any point across.

Now whenever you think to the future, and any potential public speaking engagements you may be involved in, force your mind to those times in the past when you’ve already done what you are planning to do. When you do this enough times, your brain will start to see public speaking as something that’s normal and natural for you, and not something that is strange and terrifying, as it is for most people.

Like it or not, your past does influence your future. But there are so many ways to interpret your past, so many different memories and events that you were part of, that you can literally take any event, and spin it any way you like to support any future you’d like to create. Of course, there are some limits. For example, I’d have hard time finding some past experience that supported my goal of being able to slam dunk a basketball. It just ain’t gonna happen. But I would be able to vastly improve my outside shooting, my free throws, and any other part of the game that wasn’t wholly dependent on my height and my vertical jumping capability.

As much as we’d like to believe, we aren’t psychic. We can’t predict the future. But we can make reasonable assumptions on how things are going to turn out based on what happened in the past. And when you can choose which part of your past to reference, and how to interpret it, you give yourself a lot more flexibility.

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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Lunar or Solar?

Change Perspective

The other day I was talking to one of my neighbors, one of them that I don’t talk to very often. It seems that there is a local festival happening this weekend, and she was trying to explain its significance. Something to do with the lunar New Year. Every year the lunar New Year comes at a different time, and the length of winter is thought to be dependent on the arrival of this day.

It got me thinking about the overlapping of the two calendars, the solar and the lunar. The seasons are based on the earth’s rotation around the sun, and the lunar New Year is based obviously on the moon. The revolution of the moon around the earth has nothing to do with the revolution of the earth around the sun. They are two completely different physical systems, although they are nested. The moon/earth system is nested within the earth/sun system.

When you take the larger scale of time, based on the seasons and the sun, and compare it to the smaller system, it can seem entirely random. Some years the lunar New Year comes early, while other years it comes later. And over the years, humans have developed a rich mythology to describe the relationship between the two.

Of course, from an external and much longer perspective, they are simply two oscillating systems, one inside the other, and behave according to fairly simple physical laws. But within the system, you have all these stories and mythologies about dragons and spirits and whether or not you’re going to have a good crop based on how much moon you can see at a certain time of night.

Being able to switch in and out of an objective/subjective experience is beneficial helpful and a lot of fun. If humans were always stuck inside the subjective experience, of watching the moon dance across the sky, we would never have evolved past human sacrifices to ensure the crops would grow every year.

Advances in science continue to give us an objective, outside perspective so we can do away with hoping and praying to the gods, and to not only understand our natural environment, but to decipher it and plan accordingly. It makes life a lot easier if you know it’s going to rain with a certain degree of expectation.

On a personal level, this can be just as useful, but it can prove to be a little bit more difficult. If we look at our behavior from an objective viewpoint, some of our behavior that gets us into trouble can be pretty obvious. But it can be hard to do that. It’s very easy to stay within our own subjective experience and only see things as they show up in our own experience, without planning how to react.

One model in NLP is the ability to switch between the objective and subjective experience. One exercise I did at a seminar was particularly eye opening. It can help greatly if you ever feel yourself getting sucked into an argument that you suspect might not end well.

The exercise goes like this. You can do this with a willing partner, or completely covert.

While talking to somebody, try switching in and out of your “self.” During the conversation, imagine that you are above the both of you, and objectively watching the discussion, as if you are watching a debate between two unknown candidates on TV. Then switch into the other persons perspective, and watch yourself talking, and take the opposing viewpoint. Then switch back to an objective viewpoint, and then switch back into your own viewpoint.

This can be tricky and confusing to say the least, so it’s best to try this with a conversation that will allow for several pauses while you collect your thinking. Don’t do this while talking to your boss, or an important client at work.

It can be particularly useful to free yourself from a subjective viewpoint that isn’t as supportive as you think it is. You may even get a better perspective, and a few different ideas.

The more you practice this, the better you’ll get at it. I’ve known several sales people who perfected this technique, and were able to change their approach with clients during a conversation that resulted in them getting a sale, where before they wouldn’t have been able to.

They report that when they switched into their clients viewpoint, they got some ideas on how to better present their product or services, as well as some interesting insights into how to overcome some objections, many times even before they came up.

I’m sure you can think of many different areas where it would be good to be able to flip in and out of your own subjective experience. Try this and have fun.

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Powerful Metaphysics

Powerful Metaphysics

Integration of Parts

Come Together

I remember once I went to see a movie a while back with this girl I was dating. It was this particularly large multi plex with around thirty screens or so. When we went, we didn’t really have any specific movie that we wanted to see, just that we’d decided to see a movie. Talk about information overload. It took us almost half an hour to decide what to see. Even if I’d been there by myself, I would have likely taken me a while.

It reminded me of another time, one particularly long day at work. As soon as I got home, I decided I wanted fast food. A big bag of greasy, fatty, fast food. I didn’t eat lunch, it was Friday night, and all I wanted to do was gorge myself before falling asleep, most likely in front of the TV. So I jumped back in my car, and drove through my residential neighborhood until I came to the main road. Decision time. Turn right for big chain tacos or burgers, turn left for a couple smaller, but just as greasy and fatty, taco, burrito, and burger shops.

I must have sat there for about ten minutes trying to decide. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. You have a general idea of what you want, but can’t decide on the specifics. Part of you wants to go this way, and another part of you wants to go the other way.

This can be frustrating when it comes to small things like fast food and movie choices, and you can’t really mess up by choosing one over the other. It’s not like I was going to go into a tailspin of depression if I got halfway through my burger and decided I really would rather have gotten a sack of tacos instead.

But what about bigger issues? What happens when you are conflicted on really important stuff? Or what happens if the choices are between action, and inaction, such as applying for a job, or asking out girl? What then?

Luckily, there’s a helpful NLP procedure that can get to the bottom of this. Imagine a discussion between a business owner, and a union leader. The business owner wants the cheapest labor, for the cheapest product, for the maximum profit. The union leader wants the most wages and benefits, for the least amount of work. If the business leader has his way, he’d pay everybody ten cents an hour, with zero benefits. If the union leader had his way, the blue-collar line workers would earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, with massive benefits and vacation time.

So what do they do? Both need each other, so they can’t really just walk away. They negotiate. They find solutions that will satisfy both their needs. Sometimes this takes a while, but usually, they eventually come to an agreement that will satisfy both parties. They workers might have to give up their dental plan, while the business owner might have to accept a higher cost of doing business, and therefore a smaller profit.

How about on a personal level? There’s a theory, or an idea, that people are made up of different metaphorical parts. So when you say that a part of you wants to eat tacos, and another part wants to eat burgers, that is actually an accurate description of what is going on.

And to resolve internal conflicts, you go about it the same way as a business negotiation. The cool part about this is most of the negotiating takes places unconsciously. All you have to do is set up the meeting between your parts.

The name of this procedure is called Integration of Parts. I know, creative, huh?

Here’s how you do it. Think of an internal conflict. Any conflict where you have an idea that one part wants to do this, and the other part wants to do that. Got it? Ok, good.

Now sit down someplace quiet, and someplace where there aren’t a lot of people. This looks a little bit strange for the uninitiated. Make sure to read through this a couple times so you really understand this. That way it will be easier to do later on.

OK. Sit down, take a deep breath. You are going to be talking to your different parts. For the example, I’ll use waking up early to exercise. Part of me wants to wake up early to exercise, while the other part wants to sleep in.

So I ask the part that wants to exercise if he’d like to come out for a bit. Wait for an internal “yes” or “no,” whatever that may be. I put that part in my right hand. Then I describe that part in as much detail as possible. Color, texture, weight, thickness, etc. Then I ask that part, what’s important about getting up early to exercise? Health. Ok. Then I ask him what’s important about that? Live longer. OK. Maybe one more. What’s important about that? Enjoy life more. OK, good. So I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of not only what that part looks and feels like, but what’s important to him. (Or it or however you want to refer to it/him/her).

Next, I ask if the part that wants to sleep in wants to come out. Make sure to keep holding the first in your right palm, don’t drop him!

I got through the same procedure with the part in my left hand, the part that wants to sleep in. First describe it, and then start asking the questions. Be sure to go slow, as these parts can sometimes be shy.

What’s important about sleeping in? It feels good. What’s important about feeling good? It makes me happy. And what’s important about feeling happy? I can enjoy life more.


Both parts want the same thing, but they have two separate strategies to get there. Now for the integration.

Talk to them both at the same time. Explain to them that they both have the same things in mind. (Now you know why you should do this alone!)

Since they both really want the same thing, ask them if they’d like to join forces. To get together to make a new part, and have much more resources to get their goals met. If they say yes, then slowly allow your hands to come together, both palms up, both holding the parts. Slowly merge the two parts together as one palm slips under the other. Once the new part is formed, slowly bring it to your chest, and take a deep slow breath as you press the new part into your heart.

Take a few slow breaths, and allow the newly formed part to work out its new place.

That’s all you need to do consciously. Pay attention to your intuition over the next couple of days. You’ll likely come up with some ideas that seem totally obvious now about what to do regarding sleeping in or getting up early to exercise.

This is just one powerful “procedure” of NLP. To learn many more, that can have profound effects on your life, click on the banner below. There is no limit to the uses of NLP to improve your life, relationships, and finances.

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

The Long And Storied History Of The Turtle And The Ostrich


Once there were these two friends, a turtle and an ostrich. Now, people aren’t aware of the close relationship between turtles and ostriches, because they don’t go around advertising their mutual endeavors. They are the kind of people that like to quietly get things done behind the scenes without drawing too much attention to themselves.

It wasn’t always that way. They used to advertise and let everybody know whenever they would embark on a mutually beneficial endeavor, or at least an endeavor that they hoped would turned out to be a win win situation.

But the coconut incident changed everything. That was a watershed incident, that proved to near disastrous for them. Had it not been for the intervention of the rabbit community, they would have split long ago, and could have perhaps evolved to become bitter and mortal enemies. Of course, that’s not the way I turned out.

There was this great big coconut tree, in the middle of the jungle. The turtles have long know to use the shells of the coconuts to decorate the inside of their homes, while the ostriches have long used the coconut meat as source of energy, for both short bursts and long term lasting energy.

As they were hanging out next to the coconut tree one day, the ostrich and the turtle noticed each other. After a few minutes of cautiously eyeballing each other, they finally approached one another. When they discovered that they wanted different parts of the coconut, they struck a deal. The ostrich, with its long neck, would push the trunk of the coconut tree, and the turtle, with its deep digging ability, would dig underneath the tree and gnaw away at the roots.

After they hammered out their agreement, they were very proud of themselves. Up until that point, there hadn’t been any cross species agreement of any animals. They went back home, and bragged to all their neighbors of their negotiation skills. What they saw the next day shocked them.

There was a crowd of other animals gathered around the tree. Some were looking on with curiosity, some were gossiping about how an ostrich could stoop so low as to work with a turtle. Still others were wondering why the turtle would share what was rightfully theirs with somebody as silly as an ostrich, who is prone to stick his head in the sand whenever trouble comes around.

Pretty soon the turtle and the ostrich couldn’t concentrate on the task. All the attention started to create frustration and anxiety. What if the other was secretly trying to con the other? What if this whole thing was a trick to make the other look bad in front of all these people?

It didn’t take long for both the ostrich and the turtle to focus more on watching their respective backs than doing the job that they had agreed upon. Pretty soon, the work came to a stand still, and the turtle and ostrich confronted each other.

You are trying to steal from me!

No! You are trying to steal from me!

There was almost a war between the two societies.

Turtle vs. Ostrich.

The other animals were quickly taking up sides. This threatened the very peace of the jungle. Just as they were about to come to blows, the rabbit stepped in. Actually, several rabbits stepped in. They had yet to choose sides.

They took both the turtle and the ostrich to a secret location, where they engaged in dialogue. There, a funny thing happened. Once the turtle and the ostrich were removed from the gossiping crowd, they remembered their purpose. They remembered what they had set out to do.

Just to make sure, the rabbit asked each one, in turn, and in great detail, what they were after. He asked the ostrich to describe just how he wanted to use the long burning carbohydrates of the coconut meat. He asked the turtle, in great detail, just how he was going to use the unique structure of the coconut shell to decorate his house. After much discussion, the turtle and the ostrich found themselves giving each other helpful advice on how to use their respective part of the coconut.

Then the rabbit spoke.

“Why did you forget what you were after? Why did you let a crowd of people whom you do not even know, change the focus of your intention? Are you so concerned with their opinion of you, that you would forsake your own desires for their approval? Do you not realize that it is their own lack of conviction, their own weakness in not choosing their own paths, which gives them the need to find pleasure in the hopes that you would fail?”

Both the turtle and the ostrich laughed.

Before long the turtle and the ostrich were busily back at work, and before long, they had the coconut tree toppled, and their bounty was great. After separating out the meat from the shell, they both returned back to their respective communities.

Soon after, they had a feast to celebrate their successive partnership, and vowed to always work together whenever the opportunity presented itself. And strangely enough, other jungle animals started doing the same.

And that is how all the animals of the jungle learned to work together.