Category Archives: Creativity

How To Make Everything A Logical Conclusion

Follow The Bouncing Ball

Once I had this friend who had this really overactive imagination. I guess overactive isn’t quite the right term, as I don’t suppose his biochemical neuro activity was any more or less than the next guy. But he had two things that stood out when it came to his imagination. He was very good at verbalizing his thoughts, as they came up, as well as getting on a track, and just keep on going.

I’ve met some people that were absolutely scatterbrained, they’d be talking about the benefits of exercise, and all of a sudden start talking about something that happened to them last weekend, and then remark about how the grocery was having a sale on bananas. All without any logical switch between the two. Of course, in their mind, there is always a logical switch, or at least a neurological connection somehow. You fire up one neuron, and the other neurons that are connected to it get fired up, and then the surrounding ones in turn get fired up, until you have a large enough cluster centered around what your brain thinks is an important idea, or a pertinent memory, and that kicks the verbalizing department into action, and pretty soon your listeners are wondering what planet you’re from.

Most people, when you listen to them, you can sort of see the connection in their ramblings. They’ll be talking about oranges, and then mention their grandfather was an orange farmer, and then tell some story about how they went fishing once one summer with their grandfather, and pretty soon, the story is all over the place, but it’s left a trail of bread crumbs back to the original story or idea.

I remember when I was in college, when we used to sit around in our dorm rooms in an altered state (due to excessive studying, of course), we’d sometimes try and follow our conversation backwards and see how many ideas we could link. “You were talking about this, and that was because he was talking about that, because you said, the other thing, which reminded of his pet when he was a kid…”

It usually didn’t work out so well, as you’d probably already guessed.

But this guy would not only clearly ramble on about his imaginations, but he would do so in such a linear and easy to follow fashion, that it was a kick just to sit back and let watch him go. It got to the point that when he started talking, we’d all kind inwardly smile, and know when to just shut up and enjoy his imagination.

The funny thing was that sometimes he would go off in a positive direction, and other times he would go off in a negative direction. Positive meaning he would start thinking in “best case scenario” terms and the end result would be everybody getting laid like rock stars and getting paid millions of dollars for barely passing a geometry test.

When he would go off on a negative bent, we’d all end up serving a life term on death row in a Mexican prison, figuratively. The funny thing was that he knew full well that we enjoyed listening to him go off on his tangents, and it became kind of like an impromptu performance art. Once he started, he would see how far he would go.

But the interesting thing was that whichever direction he started off in, he would always stay in that direction, either positive or negative. I asked him about it once, and he said that the brain was just like a muscle. Just like you can train your muscles to do certain things, you can train you brain to do certain things.

If you train your muscle to do certain repetitive actions, it becomes unconscious and automatic. If you know how to dribble a basketball, there was a time when you didn’t, and you had to go through the process of learning. Maybe you learned quickly, maybe it took a while. Maybe you had to start by watching the ball, and watching your hand, and you had to be all by yourself, otherwise you’d lose control of the ball, and you’d have to chase it down the street or something.

But after you learned how to dribble without looking at the ball and your hand, you then maybe learned how to walk and dribble at the same time. You could direct where the bouncing ball when without even looking at it. If you kept at it, then you may have been able to move sideways, backwards, even a slow job while keeping the ball under control.

I remember once when I was a kid I spent a couple hours one day learning how to dribble between my legs. I saw somebody on TV do it, and I thought was pretty cool, and I wanted to learn how. After a while, I could dribble back and forth between hands, between my legs, while I was walking, without even looking.

This guy with the amazing skills of imagination said the same is true of your thoughts. If you just let them go wherever they go, they’ll usually end up in a bad place of fear or anxiety, as that’s the way the brain is hard wired from evolution. To always be on the lookout for danger. But if you train your thoughts like you train your self to dribble a basketball, pretty soon, you can direct your thoughts in any direction, and they’ll start going there automatically.

He said that once he learned how to do this, he had great fun just setting a basic intention, and a theme, and then letting his mind do the rest. It would pretty much go in the direction he sent it without having to keep conscious focus on it, like when you are beginning to dribble a basketball.

And if you can learn to direct your thoughts as well as some people can dribble a basketball, there’s no limit to what you can creatively come up with.

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Increase Your Genius

Aha!

The other day I was cleaning out my closet, in preparation for an upcoming move, and I happened across an old book that I hadn’t read for a while. Perhaps it’s because I’m basically a very lazy person, and am always looking for an excuse to take a break during anything that resembles any kind of physical labor, I decided to take a look through the book, as I remember having several “Aha!” moments when I first read it.

I had a friend once tell me she went to a lecture of a prominent mental health professional a few months ago, and he mentioned that there are some leading theories that suggest that the more you have those “Aha!” moments, the less likely you will suffer from any decrease in brain function that is normally associated with aging. Those “Aha!” moments can be tricky to come by, they often times come when you aren’t expecting them.

You’ll be watching some TV show about something, and it will remind you of something that happened a couple days earlier, something that you now see in a different light, or a new understanding. That new understanding, that feeling of making a neural connection that wasn’t there before, is where that “Aha!” feeling comes from, or so I’ve heard.

It’s like when you’ve driven to your favorite restaurant across town, and you have to go through all kinds of huge intersections where you are always stuck waiting, then one day by accident you find some small back road that is almost devoid of lights or stop signs, giving you a straight shot. There’s a new connection between you and your favorite food.

Sometimes those “Aha!” moments can be cultivated, like when you are learning a new language, and you take a break and watch a TV or movie that’s in your target language. What used to sound like gibberish, now is peppered with words that you can sort of understand, and instead of guessing what they are talking based on their body language and facial expressions, you can now sort of verify with the words here and there that you understand.

Or when you’re reading some long novel with many different characters and a fairly convoluted plot, then when you get close to the end the loose ends start to tie themselves up in nice understandable chunks of reckoning.

“Aha! So that’s what he meant!”

“Aha! So that’s why he hid the ice cream!”

“Aha! So that’s why she rejected his proposal! I get it now!”

And so on.

When you get a particularly dense string of “Aha!” moments then your brain is really juiced. Which is maybe why I decided to sit down and have a look through that book.

The book, in case you’re wondering, is The Einstein Factor, By Win Wenger. You can check it out on Amazon, or there’s plenty of info at his website.

But the book is chalk full of exercises to give your brain a thorough workout, and several of them have been clinically proven to actually raise your I.Q. One of the most famous is called “Image Streaming.” I tried this for the first time at a seminar I went to on Photoreading.

Image Streaming is when you close your eyes, and just describe the imagery that is in your head, whatever it is. No matte what you are doing, the brain is constantly feeding you images. The unconscious never stops. It’s best to do this with a friend, or at least to describe the image stream into a tape recorder. Otherwise you’re likely to fall asleep.

For every hour of image streaming, you’ll raise your I.Q. one point. Now if you try this, it can seem near impossible to keep this up for five minutes, let alone an hour. But just like any other practice, the more you do it, the easier it gets. And if you only did it ten minutes a day, six days a week. That would be one I.Q. point increase per week. If you took two weeks off every year, you’d increase your I.Q. fifty points a year by only doing this simple exercise ten minutes a day.

There’s plenty of other simple exercises you can do in that cool book. One of them is called “Borrowed Genius.” In this particular exercise (or hallucination, as that seems to be a more appropriate term) you think about a problem.

You imagine somebody that you are pretty sure could solve your problem. You get your friend or your tape recorder ready, and close your eyes. You start to describe your problem in as much detail as possible, and while you are doing so you slowly walk up behind the person you imagine could easily solve your problem.

Then you come up behind them, and quickly switch heads. Yep, you read that right, you switch heads with them. (See why this is best called a hallucination?) And as soon as you plot their head down on your shoulders, you immediately start jabbering away at your best guess to the solution to your problem. The reason you need a friend, or in this case a tape recorder might be better, is that you’ll get several great ideas, several of those “Aha!” moments, but since your jabbering away with some other persons head, when you switch back to your own head you might forget what you just said.

Another trick is called “Over The Wall.” Same concept, instead of walking up behind somebody and stealing their head (or borrowing it) you imagine that there is this big wall, and just on the other side is the solution to your problem. You walk up to the wall slowly, describing your problem in as much detail as possible, and leap up to the top of the wall, and immediately, and as fast as you can, and in as much detail as you can, describe what you see on the other side.

Again, make sure you have a trusted friend (who can take notes really fast) or a tape recorder, or your voice recorder on your computer.

I highly recommend the book, “The Einstein Factor,” or at the very least have a look at Win Wenger’s website. There’s tons of great info there on how to explode your genius and creativity.

Have fun.

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Success with NLP

Visualize Yourself To Victory

How To Change The Playing Field In Your Favor

I remember once, a long time ago, way back when I was in Junior High school, I was playing golf with a couple of friends after school. There was one hole that I always had trouble with. The first 80 yards or so, you had to hit your ball over part of a lake. The part of the lake that you had to hit over ended on the left edge of where the fairway would be, and to the right it only got bigger. Being a habitual slicer, I usually sliced off to the right, and into the water.

In order to get over the water hazard, I only had to hit a normal shot. My normal shot didn’t start to fade until about fifty to a hundred yards or so, which gave me enough distance to get over the water if I could ever hit a normal shot. My problem was that on that particular hole, I never hit a normal shot. My drive was rarely more then ten yards or so off the ground and sliced a lot earlier and more pronounced than normal, sending my ball straight into the large area of the lake.

From a pure physics standpoint this is easy to understand. If you flinch even slightly in the direction of lifting your head to see where the ball went, you’ll hit the ball just a little bit higher than normal, giving you less height, and in my case, more slice, as I twisted the club head just a little bit more than I normally would have.

The funny thing is that I lifted my head because I was unconsciously worried about slicing into the lake. And because I lifted my head, I sliced into the lake. My unconscious actions, (e.g. lifting my head up and turning the club head more than normal,) which were based on my fears, actually caused my fears to come true, rather than preventing them.

From a structural standpoint, it went like this: I had this fear about an outcome based on a planned action. My anxiety going into the action changed the action slightly, and became the direct cause of my fears coming true.

In this particular case, it was one off shot, so to speak. I hit it in the water; walked about halfway up the fairway, about even where my ball went into the lake (next to all my other balls) dropped a ball, took a penalty and went on my way. This was a one-time event, which in the end only increased my score by two. The rest of the course was wide and open, so I could slice all over the place and be OK.

Naturally, every time I teed up on that particular hole, I remembered all the other slices into he water, which of course increased my anxiety, and made it much more likely to repeat the error. But only being a golf game, and only being in Junior high school, I figured that was normal. Until my friend shared with me a powerful secret that I still use today, and you can to, to break out whatever rut you happened to be in.

This problem, often called a self fulfilling prophecy, can present itself in many ways, and the feedback loop can be much more debilitating that a couple of strokes on an afternoon golf game.

Suppose you are a single guy, and you see a girl you like. You walk up to her, introduce yourself, and she blows you off. Happens all the time right? Only next time you walk up to a girl, you remember the last one that blew you off, and it makes our approach less effective. You are nervous, can’t hold eye contact, and basically come across as kind of creepy. This makes you get rejected even more harshly, which in turns makes approaching another girl too scary to even contemplate. You have effectively locked yourself into a vicious circle of defeat, by using your worst possible past in order to hallucinate a likely outcome. The likely outcome terrifies you so much; it cripples your behavior, and virtually guarantees itself.

Another example. You go ask your boss for a raise. He turns you down. You become depressed, and your motivation to work hard decreases slightly, which in turn decreases your productivity a little bit. Next time you ask for a raise, your boss is even less likely to give you one, based on your productivity. If you get locked into this horrible tailspin, you may very well find yourself on the list of people who are expendable when budget cuts are mentioned.

One of the insidious things about these self-defeating cycles is that it is incredibly easy to blame others for your predicament. The guy who is approaching girls can blame women for being stuck up and not having the ability to see his true worth. Maybe they think he’s too short, or doesn’t make enough money. This can lead to a belief that all women are shallow and materialistic

The guy who never gets a raise can blame his boss, the economy, his coworkers for talking about him when he’s not around, and so on.

As difficult as it sounds, only when you take responsibility for your lot in life do you have a shot at bootstrapping yourself up and out of any vicious cycle of defeat you may find yourself in. Even though that often times others are culpable, some bosses do play favorites, and many people, both men and women, are shallow and materialistic, that doesn’t help you a bit. You can’t change the world, but you can change how you interpret it and react to it. That is completely in your control.

So one day, just as I was teeing up, my friend, says “Hey wait, before you hit, just close your eyes and pretend there is nothing but a huge patch of green grass in front of you.” I tried it, and it worked. I don’t think I ever hit another ball in the water after that.

The funny thing is that he didn’t tell me to visualize my ball bouncing on the other side of the lake, like most sports psychologists would have you do, or visualize how I’d feel when I hit it over the water. The advice my friend told me was to imagine the playing field, the course, was physically different than it really was. By imagining a different playing field, my actions changed automatically.

It’s so easy to argue until we’re blue in the face that “the playing field isn’t equal” and that others have advantages and opportunities that we don’t have. But what if you could simply hallucinate a more helpful playing field, and allow your actions to naturally respond to your hallucination?

What if before approaching some cute girl in a bookstore, instead of going through the difficult procedure of imagining a positive outcome, and planning his various openers, he simply imagined that all girls were irresistibly attracted to his type? There’s no rule that says your imaginations have to be true or accurate, only that they lead to behaviors that get you what you want.

And what if the guy in the office imagined he was the boss’s nephew, or that he’d pulled him out of a burning care a week earlier, or something else as ludicrous? Sure, it’s completely false, but what if it works?

Something to think about next time you’re gearing up to imagine yourself into a positive outcome.

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Deepen Your Relationships And Skyrocket Your Creativity

Feed Your Brain

There’s this Starbucks that I like to go to on the weekends. In order to get there, I have to take a train, and a streetcar. From the station near my apartment to the main station downtown is seven minutes. From the streetcar stop to the stop just in front of Starbucks is about 8 minutes. If I hurry, I usually get off the train, leave the station, cross the big street and catch the streetcar in about three minutes. From my apartment to the station is about two minutes.

So If I time it right, leaving my apartment just in time to catch the train, and going from the train station to the streetcar stop without issue, my door to door time from my apartment to Starbucks is about twenty minutes. Not bad considering my apartment is located in an area that could easily be considered the boonies, as there are several large fields and open areas, and Starbucks is smack in the middle of downtown, surrounded by high rise buildings.

Coming back is a complete different system. From Starbucks back to the main station is about a 30-minute walk, if I take my time, and 20 minutes if I huff it. Huffing it isn’t all that exciting, so I usually leave at least thirty minutes before I want to catch the train. Between Starbucks and the main station is this long, covered, no cars allowed shopping arcade, with all kinds of stores ranging from casinos and video game centers to comic book stores to bars and café’s.

One think I like to do is to waste time in a controlled manner. Obviously, if I lose track of time, and I only have twenty minutes or so, I don’t have time to stop and window shop, or flirt with whatever girls I may see. I have to walk in a straight line, looking straight ahead, with my mind on the time.

But when I leave earlier, I can afford to wander around like a pinball, bouncing back and forth across the road from shop to shop. A kind of planned time of no plans, or planned spontaneity, if you will. I know what time I need to leave, I know what time I need to arrive at the main station, but I have zero plans for what I will do in between. Only that I will slowly move from point A to point B with out any predetermined path.

I was reading this book on relationships once. Actually it was a book on communication in general, but the particular section I was reading was on relationships. One of the complaints that many people have when their relationship gets passed the “honeymoon” stage is that it gets boring and predictable. While certainly not the only cause, being bored in a relationship is reason enough for some to turn an eye elsewhere for excitement.

One thing that the book suggested was to have some planned spontaneity. Many couples, especially couples with kids, recognize the importance of having “date night” where they do something that they used to do before they settled down and have kids. Unfortunately, many times this “date night” is the same boring, predictable thing that they do again and again, like see a movie, or go out to dinner. While it’s good to get away from the kids once in a while, if you are moving out of one boring and predictable situation into another, it sometimes doesn’t really help out that much.

What this book suggested was planning some kind of activity where you don’t know what is going to happen next. You know you’ll leave the house at 6, and come home at 10, but if you can structure your “date night” so that you don’t really know what’s going to happen, it can have a much more positive effect on your relationship. Of course many people are afraid to try this, as they fear they will fall into the “I dunno, what do you want to do?” trap where they oscillate back and forth for two hours before settling on something just to settle on something.

But what this particular book recommended was to purpose give yourself a starting point and an ending point, and a specified amount of time to travel from one end to the other, or in a loop as the case may be. Like up and down a boardwalk, or around a mall you’ve never been to, or through an area of downtown you’ve never been to at night.

The rationale behind these ideas is that the human mind is set up to always crave new experiences. We learn more of our behaviors by either modeling others and trial and error. If the brain wasn’t set up to always crave new experiences, it would be impossible to learn anything. That’s why movies, TV shows, books, and even gossip is so popular. It’s like candy for the brain. If we don’t involve ourselves in new experiences, the brain starts to crave artificially created ones.

And one powerful way to create a relationship, or to strengthen an existing one is to experience new things together. If you think of all the strong friendships you’ve forged throughout your life, it was likely through a common, and new experience. School, clubs, work, armed forces are all places that we naturally form life long friendships, in large part because we share a common and new experience, the emphasis being on the new.

There’s a reason you don’t become friends with that guy you bump into at the donut shop (or wherever) every morning. While buying your morning donut is a common experience, it isn’t new, so that bond isn’t created.

If you can structure new experiences with somebody you’re already in a relationship with, it can have a profound effect. The more new and unique, exciting and emotionally stimulating the experience is, the deeper the bond will be.

While wandering around downtown might not seem that new and exciting, you can do it in a different way, or go a different direction, or even make it a point to try a new restaurant every week. That way you can get into the mindset of exploring something new together, rather than just getting away together.

And even if you’re not in a relationship, doing something new and interesting where you play it by ear for just a little bit can also have a positive impact on your creativity and perspective. Something to think about next time you’re deciding what to do on a Saturday night.

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Is Your Brain Stuck?

How To Make All Things New

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about language. He is a fellow teacher, and we were discussing the best way that children learn. There are those that believe there is a small window of opportunity, about three or four years, where a kid’s brain is especially compliant and flexible, and that they can learn pretty much anything. After that, teaching them something new is much more difficult and complex. Some say that during this time period, much of a child’s outlook on life will be determined, their beliefs, ideas, beliefs about their own capabilities and other core mental components will be pretty much set.

Then there are those that believe that it only appears that way, because during this time period of a kid’s life, they aren’t really expected to do anything except soak up information. They are supposed to hold down a job, or pass any university entrance exams, or even do any household chores. It is because kids are given a free pass that they can devote their whole lives to learning different things and ideas. This particular school of thought holds that if you took any adult, at any age, and put them in the same environment, and they would produce the same amount of learning.

This of course would require they have all their needs taken care of, and don’t need to produce anything whatsoever, and any failure is met by complete acceptance and encouragement by those around them. Like just being a kid.

It’s easy to imagine this being the case. Imagine going off to some foreign language camp. You are subjected to the new language twenty-four hours a day. You don’t have to worry about doing anything, not even learning the language in a “school” type environment. You are in a place where there are others around you, going about their business, learning the language, and every time you use it correctly you are given smiles and praise. And if you mess up, there are no negative repercussions. And all you have to do is eat, sleep and play, and follow other people around and try and pick up the language they are speaking.

If you’ve seen the movie “The Last Samurai,” that’s kind of what happened to the character played by Tom Cruise. For the first few months, he wasn’t expected to do anything except wander around and try to fit in as best he could, so naturally he picked up the language fairly quickly.

Those that argue against this idea will say that the brain changes somehow, and that after a certain age, usually around seven or so, the brain is pretty much frozen. You try to teach an adult a foreign language, and they’ll be studying for years and years and still not get it right.

I’m sure you could make equal arguments for each case. The problem with things like this is that you can’t really do proper scientific studies, as that would be out of the question. You could scarcely get any funding for an experiment that would take several adults and put them into a situation where they would be like Tom Cruise’s character for a year or so. And you couldn’t take a kid out of his or her natural upbringing and subject them to different ideas at the whim of an experimenter.

Human studies like this can only be done in retrospect, with naturally occurring events that weren’t planned by any scientist. Which of course makes it easy to “prove” any theory simply by looking for the right data to support it.

My friend tends to believe in the biological view, that the brain physically changes at a certain age, making it much harder to learn new things, as we get older. I tend to think that it is more of an environmental issue, at least more so that his idea gives credit to.

I’ve known people that have come to the United States as teenagers, not speaking a word of English, and successfully learned accent free English in a couple of years, simply by immersing themselves in language learning above all else. I’ve also known people that have been in the United States for ten years or more and can barely speak English.

The Jesuits used to say that if you gave them a child, they would make him a solider of Christ for life by the time he was seven. This was clearly a belief in the biological model of learning, that after a certain age, the brain is closed off to new ideas and ways to look at the world.

But the past is filled with individuals who, through late in life conversions, changed the course of history through simply taking on new ideas. Saul, Mohammad, and Malcolm X are just three individuals who come to mind who experienced late in life conversions, or inspirations that changed the course of history. Of course, one could argue that each of these received “divine” help, and that the brains of normal individuals, which are not exposed to these divine interventions, don’t qualify for late in life learning.

Various social experiments show time and time again that as humans age, choices and habits become less and less flexible, but what is causing what? Does aging cause inflexibility, or does inflexibility cause aging?

Personally, I’m off the believe that it’s never too late to learn something new, and that you really can teach an old dog new tricks. So long as you put yourself in an environment that is conducive to learning, the sky’s the limit to the things you can put into your brain.

Of course this gets harder and harder as we get older, and pick up more and more responsibilities and restraints on our time. But that only means you need to get more creative with how you look at the same things every day.

One trick is to spend a few minutes every day looking at normal, every day objects, and specifically giving them names that don’t fit. For example, look at a book and call it a frog, and then look at your shoe, and call it a taxi. If you do this a few minutes every day, with ten or twenty objects, you’ll be building lots of new neural pathways in your that can give the same old boring stuff you see every day a new perspective. Many people report that after doing this mind experiment for a couple weeks, the world begins to look a lot more brighter and more interesting, just like when you were a kid and you got a new toy.

And if you can look at the same stuff every day the same way a kid looks at a new toy, you’re doing pretty good.

Evolution Of A Coffee Shop

When Is A Punch Just A Punch?

So the other day I was waiting for my coffee order. It was at this small shop that had just opened and I suspected they were still ironing out all the bugs so to speak. They seemed to have quite a few different coffee selections, and while my particular order wasn’t all that complicated, I could understand how somebody, especially somebody in high school trying to make a couple extra dollars on the weekend, could easily become overwhelmed at both the complexity of the equipment and the throngs of curious crowds trying to squeeze their way into this ingeniously located attractor of customers.

“What is the difference?” I heard a voice behind me ask. Since the place was packed, I assumed the voice, or rather the voice’s owner, was speaking to somebody else.
“Really, what’s the difference?” I turned to see this person was talking to. He was looking right at me.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“When you learn something, and when you know something already?”
I had to shake my head to make sure I heard him right.
“Huh?” Was the best I could do.
“That girl,” he said, motioning to the about to lose it girl who was struggling to keep up with the orders.
“In a few weeks, she’ll be able to do all this while talking on her cell phone to one of her boyfriends without any problems.”
“Um…”
“So what’s the difference?”

Now if this guy had been some smelly homeless person, I would have written this exchange off as some kind of random run in with a word salad generator. But he guy was clean-shaven, and dressed in clothes that he didn’t get from the good will. So I tried as hard as I could to figure out what in the world he was getting at.

I was reading this interesting article, or essay I guess, by Richard Dawkins, or maybe some other guy, the other day. He was talking about how genes have this uncanny ability to work together to give the illusion that we have genes for every specific action that is possible. Like I have a gene that makes me love chocolate ice cream, or I have a gene that makes me suck at fractions.

The example he gave was basketball. Some people are really good at basketball, and some people, like me, (actually many people like me) have no business being anywhere except in the bleachers at a basketball court.

But some people are naturally gifted basketball players. Which may lead some to believe that there is some type of “basketball” gene. As if two parents that were superb basketball players would automatically have kids that were superior at basketball.

But obviously, there was never any evolutionary selector for basketball. There certainly was for throwing rocks at moving animals, and being able to jump over ditches if you were being chased by a tiger, or being able to chase after a wounded zebra for a couple kilometers, or being tall enough to reach the good stuff that nobody else can reach. Only recently have these random genes been collectively beneficial in certain people who are good at basketball.

The point of this article is that one of the reasons, or at least one of the possible reasons, according to evolutionary biologists for humans’ dominance on the planet is our versatility. Humans have lived in all different kinds of environments from houses built out of ice to house built on the sides of cliffs.

The conjecture by this particular essayist is that we humans have such a versatile pool of genes to pull from that they can combine to form many useful skills in many useful environments.

One mistake people make is that humans have less instincts that so called lower animals, and more learning power. Lower animals have instincts built in so they are pretty much good to go after a few weeks. Human don’t have so many instincts, so it takes us a while to figure things out.

But more and more scientists are starting to agree that humans have both much more learning capacity than lower animals, and many more instincts. It is that combination that gives us our edge. To be able actually learn new things, until we can perform them as if they are second nature, or an instinct. We actually have the capacity to learn more instincts, so to speak.

Bruce Lee once remarked that before you learn Jeet Kun Do, a punch is just a punch. You throw it without thinking. Maybe it will hit its target, maybe it won’t. But when you start to study martial arts, a punch becomes a complex combination of intention, balance, breath and focus, and directed energy. After learn to master these different elements, and can do so without thinking, a punch is again, just a punch. But it is an altogether different, and much more powerful and deadly punch.

So I finally asked the guy, “What exactly do you mean?”

“When you come back in two weeks, she’ll me making coffee like a pro. If you compare her then, to somebody who is just naturally good at making coffee, how would you be able to tell the difference?”

“Hmm. I suppose you wouldn’t.”

“Exactly.” He said. Just then both our coffees were ready, and we both went our separate ways.

Abundance Or Scarcity, Independence Or Dependence?

Which Mind Set Do You Have – Rich Or Poor?

The other day I was talking to my neighbor. She was telling me about all the stress her kids are giving her. Not bad stress, just normal mom stress. Her youngest just entered junior high school, and her oldest is a junior in high school. I don’t remember what age the middle one is, but she is somewhere in between.
They are all girls, and they are all very pretty. They get a lot of attention from the boys at school.

My neighbor is of the opinion that girls should be able to make it in the world on their own without having to rely on their looks. Here in Japan that is still kind of a not so popular idea. Many girls today are still taught from a very early age that if you were pretty and feminine you can expect to get a decent husband. Being a housewife is still a dream for many girls here.

Which is exactly why my neighbor is concerned. Her daughters are all pretty smart, they consistently do very well on standardized tests, which are pretty much the norm here. If you can’t do well on tests, it’s hard to succeed here.

Getting into a university here is much harder than the west. But once you are in, it’s fairly easy. College life here is fairly relaxed. Most people focus on getting into a good university starting around junior high school, or even sooner. Many top high schools here have strict entrance examinations. Many people consider public schools here to be substandard. If you can’t get into a good private high school, then you are going to have a second rate career, and a second rate life.

There are many who think that children getting into a good high school or university, especially one of the top universities, is nothing more than a status symbol for the parents. Many of my friends have noted that parents whose children are in good universities are very quick to point this out to their friends (whose kids are in “lesser” universities.) Of course, not everyone is like that.

Progress is bit slow here in that regard, but there still is progress. When my neighbor was in high school, most girls aspired to go to “finishing schools” for lack of a better term.

These were schools that girls from upper class families went to learn proper etiquette, and traditional Japanese customs like flower arranging and the proper wearing of a kimono. All in the hopes of attracting a potential wealthy husband.

It has been said that Japan lags behind the west by twenty years or so when it comes to things like human rights and equal opportunities. It seems that more and more couples here are facing the harsh reality that in order to raise a family, both parents have to work.

There was a “golden” time in the United States after World War II where families could easily survive on one income. That was when they made TV shows like “Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” “Happy Days,” and all those other shows from the fifties where dad went to work and mom was a happy homemaker. Most economists agree, and are backed by a lot of data, that that was just a temporary set of conditions that made it easy to survive on one income. Most of the time before that, and most of the time since, and likely for any foreseeable future, it’s going to take two incomes to support a family.

Not to say that situation might never happen again, but it’s better to realize that good times that are based only on a coincidental confluence of events never last. The best times are the ones you create yourself, based on a thorough understanding of the environment in which you live, and you skills to maximize that environment.

I heard an interesting quote the other day that the difference between rich people and poor people is that while poor people look for problems and excuses, rich people are always on the lookout for opportunities.

Poor people are always worried about the economy, while rich people are only concerned with their own economy that they can control. While its nice to live during times of low inflation, low interest rates, double digit yearly stock market returns, it’s never a good idea to depend on them.

Those that tend to be rich figure out a way to make things work for them regardless of the general economic conditions.

Which is why I think my neighbors daughters will be ok. Whenever I’ve spoken with them, they seem to be able to be flexible in their thinking, and focus always on their ultimate objectives, regardless of the meager expectations that society puts on them. They seem to have pretty good expectations of themselves, which no doubt, will carry them a long way.

How To Explode Your Creativity

Re Discover Your Inner Genius

Have you ever been really curious about something, I mean like really insatiably curious? Like maybe when you were a kid, and it was a couple days before Christmas, and you saw a big box under the tree, and you couldn’t help but to wonder what exactly was inside this?

Or maybe your birthday was coming up, and you could tell the people around you were behaving kind of strange, like they were planning something really big, but were trying their hardest to pretend that everything was normal?

Curiosity is a huge driver for discovery and self-growth. Of course sometimes it can be dangerous, which is why the expression “curiosity killed the cat” somehow made its way into our collective unconscious.

But is curiosity really that bad? Curiosity was the spark that caused Edison to try and try again until he found a filament that worked in the light bulb. Curiosity is what sparked the Wright brothers to keep at it until they reached success.

When we are kids, we are insatiably curious, about every single thing. We want to touch, feel, look at taste everything around us. Whenever I see kid on the train, they are always looking around at all the people, out the window at the passing scenery with a look of complete astonishment and wonder.

The adults, on the other hand, almost always have their heads down, as if they are terrified of making contact with another human. They usually have their heads buried in a book, or staring intently at their cell phones, as if they are anxiously waiting for the results of the World Series or something.

Why does that curiosity stifling expression about the cat make it’s way into our consciousness? Why, or how, do we learn that it’s dangerous to want to explore and find out about new things?
If you have kids, you know the reason. At first it’s cute when a little kids running around checking things out. But if you are a normal adult, and aren’t financially well off enough to sit and play with your kid all day, you’ve got other things to do. And like any normal adult, you love your kid and would be horrified if he or she came into any sort of harm.

So the natural response then, is to chastise and admonish kids whenever they start to behave in a way that may prove to be dangerous, or messy, or cause problems.

Don’t touch that!

Put that down!

Don’t put that in your mouth!

Clean that up!

While this may be making our lives more convenient as adults, it is killing our kid’s creativity. Buckminster Fuller once said that every single person is born a genius, but 99.99% of us are de-geniused by the time we grow up.

The point here is not to let your kids run amuck and create all kinds of damage that you, as the adult, will have to fix. There likely isn’t any better way, unless you are super rich, and have no hobbies, or any other interests other than following your kid around all day and fostering their creative genius.

No, the point here is for you reading this to reach inside and find that insatiable curiosity that you gave up on long ago as too dangerous, too embarrassing, or to scary to express, for fear of incurring the wrath of the adults around you.

You are the adult now, and you can choose to listen to those who may criticize you, or you can choose to ignore them. You can reach inside to that little kid that still lives deep in your unconscious and let them know it’s safe to pick things up and examine them. It’s safe to look at things in different ways; it’s safe to explore your world.

New and better ideas, even those that work are not always accepted at first. Some are outright rejected, and can take time before they build momentum. Many a creative genius gives up all too soon simply because the rewards aren’t immediate and immense.

Sure, for every ten new ideas you come up with, 9 of them might suck. But that one out of ten will make it all worthwhile. Progress is not made by people sitting around waiting for others to figure stuff out. Progress is made by those willing to take risks and to try new things.

When most people get the wisp of a new, creative idea in their heads, it is quickly silenced by fears of “what if it doesn’t work,” or “what if I fail?” or even “that’s stupid.”

The secret is to train yourself to think like President John F. Kennedy, and not ask yourself “what if it doesn’t work,” but instead to courageously ask yourself

“What if it does work?”

And let your creative genius run wild with the possibilities.

How To Propel Your Creativity To Superhuman Levels

Have you ever wondered why some people are always good at coming up with fresh new ideas? Somebody gets an idea, everybody agrees that it sounds really cool, maybe it even makes them some, or a lot of money.

Maybe it’s somebody you know, or maybe it is a company that has taken a couple of seemingly obvious ideas, and by putting them together makes some incredible new product that everybody is raving about and can’t buy enough of.

Meanwhile, you are sitting back thinking, “Wait, isn’t that just a combination of this thing and that other thing that have been around, for, like, ever?”

Welcome to the club. It has been said many times by many people that nothing under the sun is new. Everything is merely re-packaged, re-shaped, remarketed in a new and unique angle.

I was at a seminar once for different writers and publishers in the self help industry. There was a speaker who was in charge of new products for a huge, well-known, multi million dollars a year distributor of self-help products. They didn’t produce any products; merely they packaged and sold them.

His advice? Anything you create only needs to be ten percent different or “better” than anything else that is on the market. You absolutely do not need to create anything from scratch. Just take whatever is out there, and make it a little bit better, or different, or put a different spin or angle on it.

On the one hand, that might say something about the gullibility of us humans. On the other hand, it provides a seemingly limitless opportunity of ideas that will get you lots of props, attention, and perhaps money if you market your idea right.

So how do you create the ability to do this? I’ll show you. There is one simple, but kind of weird trick that will help you to virtually explode your creativity and make connections between things that others have not noticed before.

Here’s the trick. You look at an ordinary object, like a book for example. But instead of saying “book,” you say something else entirely. And try to make your temporary “label” as different as possible. Different color, different category, different use. So don’t say “magazine,” or “information.” Say something like “elephant,” or “airplane.”

Do this for three or four objects in a row, and you’ll notice your brain is having a hard time. What you are doing is forcing your brain to create new neural connections where none exist. Whenever you can think of something easily, your brain is using pre-existing neural pathways. By forcing your brain to make new ones, you are creating the framework for massive creativity.

Make sure to make your new “labels” as different from each other as possible as well. Meaning don’t look at a book, chair, and a desk and say “car, boat, airplane.” Because all your new labels are in the same category, it doesn’t give your brain much of a workout.

When you do this every day for five minutes or so, you’ll soon notice a huge explosion in the way you look at reality. You’ll start making connections that no other people can see, and it will only be a matter of time before you come up with that million dollar idea that everybody will absolutely have to get their hands on.

How To Quickly Skyrocket Your Creativity To Genius Levels

If you’ve ever felt the need for a sudden burst, of creativity, then this article is for you. I’ll show you how you can dig through the seemingly limitless resources in your mind to come up with such wildly creative ideas people will think you are a naturally gifted genius.

Scientists are always being surprised by the complexities and depth of the human mind. Just as they are beginning to scratch the surface, they continue to be amazed at the sheer processing power of the brain. If all the computers of the world were connected together, and tasked with “thinking” about one singular problem, they wouldn’t come close to the power of one human brain.

The structure of the human brain is thought to be of a lattice structure, with nodes connecting to several nodes, each of which are connected to several other nodes. What this does is create a structure where one “thought” or memory stored at one node has a seemingly infinite connection to every other “thought” or memory through the connection of only a couple other nodes.

Similar in nature to the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, which states that every human on earth is connected to every other human through no less than six people. For example, you know somebody, that knows somebody, that has met the Pope. And the Pope, of course, has met most of the world’s leaders. You therefore have about three or four degrees of separation between all of the world’s leaders.

The brain works in a similar fashion. One thought or memory is connected to several others directly, which in turn is connected to several others. Pretty soon every thought can easily be connected to every other thought through only three or four nodes.

When you can harness this idea towards creative thought, you can virtually become genius. The key is to focus on your outcome, and let your mind roam until you find a solution. With practice, you’ll be able to do this within a few seconds, silently, and come up with a solution to almost any problem on the spot. This works great for brainstorming sessions at work.

The way to get started is to simply practice letting your mind wander. One simple way is to create an ABC list of several different items, with each list constrained to a specific category. For example, one list may be of musical instruments, starting with each letter of the alphabet. (Don’t worry; you can cheat if you need to.) For example A = “A guitar”, B= “Bongo drums”, C = “Clarinet,” and so on.

Another list may be food. So A is apple, B is banana, C is Candy, etc.

Once you have your lists, just pick a letter, and start writing about anything that comes to mind regarding whatever to item’s you’ve selected. It might feel strange and clunky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. It’s best to use some kind of word processor, and just type away without concern for spelling or grammar.

If you do this for five minutes a day, you’ll be giving your brain a tremendous workout, and will be strengthening your lateral thinking ability. Once you get the hang of it, you can start problem solving. Simply choose one word that describes your problem, and use the first letter of that word to select items from your various ABC lists. Then just start free associating, starting with whatever items you’ve chosen.

You’ll be amazed how quickly you will come up with a solution to your problem seemingly out of nowhere. The trick is to be open and not censor yourself. When you get that “aha” feeling, you know you’ve arrived.

For example, let’s say you work at a manufacturing company, and you are having a problem with shipping. So you choose S, and look at your two ABC lists, and choose Saxophone, and Sandwich. (S instrument, and S food). Just start brainstorming away, using the two S words as your seeds, and see where you brain takes you. Just keep associating, and follow along wherever your brain takes you, and you’ll have a solution in no time.

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