Author Archives: Christine Niver

Updating Your Life Plan

Powerful Mind Part 30
Created September 29, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind 29

“Comedian George Carlin once quipped, ‘Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.’” This is a quote from a Gallup report finding that 60% of workers are dissatisfied with the work they are doing.

The pandemic gave us the space we needed to realize that we were not having enough satisfaction out of the life we were living, and a person’s work is central to a person’s life – “Lieber Und Arbeit” (Love And Work) as Freud put it – the two key tentpoles (which in my book You Are The Universe I show is actually the bottom of the Tree Of Life in Kabbalah).

But even before the pandemic many of us already knew that we had placed ourselves in the wrong spot, maybe even the wrong line of work. The education system has not prepared us to know what our true gifts to the world are, the passion work that would keep us in the Flow state more often. For some time I’ve been recommending individualized education, to bring out the best in each of us and know the occupational optimization answers for each of us. Ironic that the Latin word educare means “to draw out” and yet our education systems around the world pound information in rather than draw anything out.

I’ve also written about work study internships for a day starting at very early ages, maybe as early as seven years old, where kids can pick and choose which of the participating companies and departments they would like to try out for a day.

Since the pandemic, tens of millions of people around the world have been contemplating changes in their lives, focused especially around the kind of work they do, and where and how they do it. A big part of it is not the occupation itself but the culture of the company. Too many companies treat employees as expendable cogs and not as partners and allies. If AI were used to enable the whole personnel of a company to insert anonymous or otherwise ideas and suggestions with true protections against repercussions (today’s HR departments promise that but do not deliver it often enough), and if the C suite got continuous AI summaries a maximum of 25 words per hour 9-5, the C suite might realize that the wisdom bubbling up is unbelievably brilliant and right. Global consultant Chaim Oren and I discuss these points in this podcast: How to Thrive in the Age of Crisis which came out today.

Be sure you know what work YOU want to do, and that it isn’t someone else who caused you to believe you wanted that. Then make a plan to get from where you are to that work. Consider the moves carefully so as not to waste the good will you have built up in the field in which you have been working. Don’t leave people in a bad place by abruptly pulling out, take care of the people and company you now serve, as you make your transition. If you do it that way, some of them may help you get to where you want to be. maybe there are ways to intersperse what you now do with elements of what you want to be doing. This is a great testbed for early learning.

This will take time so you mustn’t add to your existing stress by becoming discouraged at how it seems Sisyphean and that you’ll never get there. Here’s the key trick: life is an adventure. You may have lost that sense of adventure before, perhaps long ago and without realizing it. But now that you have taken control of your own life and are steering it toward making your true dreams come true, you must sit back and become grateful for this big second chance you have given yourself, and that however it comes out, you are at least going to enjoy the adventure, the true adventure of your life as it was always meant to be, now that you have the real target in your sights. You are going to enjoy getting there even if you never do get all the way there!

Remind yourself of this every time you feel dissatisfaction returning. Like all negative emotion, that is just an alarm reaction designed to wake you up to some threat vector. Turn off the emotional alarm, thanking it for ringing, and set to learning whatever lesson has to be learned so that the source of that dissatisfaction may be reasonably solved to no longer cause you negativity.

This means that while you are on the adventurous path to your new life, no matter what happens, failure, censure, whatever, it isn’t going to get you down. You are at least pursuing your passion work, that’s what matters, and enjoy each second of the journey by learning from what appear to be signs that you will never attain your dreams. The outcomes are not the point. The pursuit is the point, as long as what you pursue is the highest use of the real you to the species and to the universe, in your own lights.

Remember that what you feel projects out and makes impressions that change the “external” world, so that the more quickly you turn off your own negativity, and keep envisioning (“predreaming”) the life scenario you want, the more likely you are to achieve it all. But beware of the trap of caring too much about the outcomes. Do what you can to obtain the outcomes you want, and let the chips fall where they may, and use negative feedback to refine your methods but not bring you down.

Key #6

Mountain road. Landscape with green field, sunny sky

Be sure of what YOU want and enjoy the journey to your dreams,
without attachment to outcomes.

Dissatisfaction is wrong predreaming, it brings you what you don’t want to happen.

Attachment to outcomes is a misunderstanding. It’s ego. It’s the need to prove yourself to other people, belonging, status/prestige, wealth/success, all those lower motivations that you were conditioned to be needy about. The established psychological principle of Yerkes-Dodson obtains: highest performance comes when there is just the right amount of desire to win, and performance falls off sharply when there is too much attachment to the outcome.

Enjoy the adventure!


Stripping Away Imposed Limitations

Powerful Mind Part 29
Created September 22, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind Part 28.

We have all been brainwashed. It was not done because of any conspiracy. It arose naturally as a result of the original minorities that seized power, the education systems and other structures that bloomed in the environments of those governments, the media the species invented, the economics of media and marketing in the world as it became.

The world we came into, the best intentions of our parents, and our own tabula rasa impressionability, did the rest. Operant conditioning was applied “accidentally”. Our parents wanted to prepare us for life with all its warts and so their advice was designed to help us avoid mistakes they had learned from, painfully. We of course insisted on learning for ourselves. By the time our childhood peers became more influential upon us than our parents had been, most of our behaviors, gestures, facial expressions, comments, likes, dislikes, and tendencies had already been conditioned by family influences including the friends of the family to whom we were exposed.

We were more like little imitative monkeys than we realized. We were generally not cognizant of how what we thought of as our self was being formed by others. Later in life we all realize it to some degree sooner or later. Some of us more than others, upon realizing this insidious process and how it shaped what we thought of as our own thinking, rebelled. Without realizing it perhaps, we repressed anger at our parents for having controlled our belief systems and values to the degree they had. We suddenly valued independent thinking as a thing that had never mattered to us before. Often in the process of trying to differentiate ourselves from those who had influenced our development, we came around to realize years later that the fight against the early conditioning had led a circular path right back to performing along the early ingrained lines anyway.

How can we in reality make a clean permanent break from the brainwashing we endured, and continue to endure each day?

How can we take charge of ourselves, stripping away the external influences, and will we find anything left of ourselves once we have done that? How scary to feel that without all the mimicry programs there might not be a “self left to stand on”? Never fear. You do have a real self under all that. Your dreams and visions and hunches tap into the roots of your individuality even though they may be tainted by external influences too. Which is why it is a good idea to pay attention to your deepest thoughts, feelings, images, memories, and to analyze and understand what they mean, what your non-conscious mind is trying to communicate to your conscious mind.

This is all about you and your life, what you want to do with the blank canvas, which by now has scribbling all over it.

Don’t trash the scribbling because it too has messages that will help you understand yourself. Everything you have done – even things you now regret – is of positive value to you as learning experiences, and you have probably not yet extracted all of the learning you can get out of each experience. Looking back over your life as we did in the previous post – especially the memories that still evoke emotion in you – is for the purpose of extracting the remaining lessons. Once you have fully assimilated an experience that has always made you feel guilty and ashamed, those feelings will no longer have any sting.

Metacognition – studying yourself – can actually unwind emotional blocks and take the sting out of “bad” memories. That is not the only benefit of metacognition, but it’s an important one.

How much have you gotten out of this series of posts so far? One way to look at that is to remember the “wants” that came into your mind when you read the post “What Do You Really Want?” which was posted on September 8, 2023. Hopefully you took notes either on paper or in a device and kept those notes, and if so, you can review them now. In any case, what you can do right now is to repeat the short exercise of writing down the things you want, and even if you have no notes, you can think about how the wants you write down now might have changed since September 8. Your inner processes are not all at the conscious level, so you could be surprised at noticing that certain things you said you wanted a couple of weeks ago now don’t seem as important to the you of now. And maybe other wants have risen higher recently.

Think about this for a moment: which wants do you want to have, and which wants would you rather not have?

There could be things that used to drive you, and caused you painful experiences – these may be wants you don’t want to have any more.

Also, I have found that it helps to throw off desires I have by plumbing the depths of where did I get that want in the first place? Once I discover how a want was planted in me, it makes it all the easier to cast off that want or to dial it down.

One of the most pernicious wants – especially if it becomes a need – is the desire for approval by others. Self-approval is of course a bedrock requirement. If we don’t like ourselves for any reason, we are going to be undermining ourselves, like a scorpion continuously addicted to constantly stinging itself. Why be that way? It’s an insult to the opportunity of life itself. You have to be on your own side. If something is preventing that, it’s a top priority to contemplate that first, and conquer it, no matter what else you might have to give up or dial down.

Whereas self-approval is a good thing, the need for approval from others is very undermining. Catch yourself justifying yourself to others, it is evidence that your need for the approval of others is causing you to act in a pathetic manner. Not everyone around you is sharp enough to see that consciously, but everyone can sense that you are needy without clarifying that into words in their own minds. Do you really want to appear needy to others? Is that really going to help you accomplish what you wish to accomplish in your life? Best to edit out those words that your impulsive default network sends to your tongue to enunciate.

What are you going to accomplish with the remainder of your life? What is your mission, your purpose, your goals? How are you going to deliver the gifts you have been given to the rest of the world. How are you going to leave something behind that will make you feel fulfilled when you breathe your last breath?

Love to all,

The Patterns of Your Life

Powerful Mind Part 28
Created September 15, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind Part 27.

Now that we are embarked on Key #6, which focuses you on a deep dive study of what you really want out of life, it will be helpful and fun for you to look back over your life and see what you can about what you apparently wanted most at different turning points in your adventure.

This is a task best approached in an alone space where you have made yourself temporarily invulnerable to interruption and distraction. Now that you have made the commitment to using your mind in the most powerful ways possible, you’ll find that having a daily alone space is almost essential. If others ask why you need to be alone for 20 or more minutes each day, “meditation” is the simplest explanation, although our forms of meditation in the 12 Keys encompass what in ancient India and around the world forever have been known as meditation, contemplation, and concentration – three forms of applying the mind in very special and important ways.

Neuroscience has identified one of the networks of the brain as the Default Network, which is the type of brain pattern most people use most of the time. It is essentially random chatter, and having observed it in myself, most of my life I have called it Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP), because it avoids deep thinking in favor of following attraction and repulsion impulses. In popular science it is identified with Kahneman’s construct of System1, which Daniel himself admitted might not be an actual system in the brain.

A second real system in the brain (which corresponds somewhat with Kahneman’s System2) is called the Executive Control Network, and it is associated with metacognition and what I call the Observer state. A third is called the Saliency Network, and it is associated with whatever is the most relevant pressing matter to you at the moment, and which will bring on transition to the Executive Control Network in situations in which that will tend to be most useful to dealing with whatever is most salient to you at the moment.

Meditation, contemplation and concentration are modes of cognition that depend mostly on the Executive Control Network. Piaget’s Formal Operational Level is his theoretical stage at which children are able to pick apart problems and systematically pursue and test solutions, and this would appear to be a stage in which the child has begun to regularly employ the Executive Control Network.

Depending upon your physical exercise regimen, it may be possible to combine your alone space with your exercise. This is not always the case because often our mental exercises will work best if you can write down flashes you have, and in some cases doodle something, such as the schematic of your life we are about to describe.

Take a fresh sheet of paper and allow yourself to doodle on it any way you feel like. In this case we are going to be looking back over your life to see what we can infer about what wants motivated you most during certain phases, so you might want to use the pad you are writing on in landscape aspect, so that you have the whole length of the pad for the vector of your life. You might want to add a scale at the bottom showing the ages from birth, and 1 year old, at the left, running up to your present age at the right.

In that framework you will find bubbling up in your mind stuff that would fall somewhere along that trajectory, and you can make an oval with words in it to mark what was going on at a certain age. Before you begin, let’s review the 15 motivations that my own empirical research at RMT (Research Measurement Technologies) has detected in human beings.

The 15 RMT Motivational Types

    1. Security – Feeling safe, rather than insecure; to no longer feel fear
    2. Belonging – Being part of a group; know that one is not alone in the world; to have support
    3. Achievement – A sense of accomplishment; to do something significant in one’s life
    4. Aspiration/Learning – Wanting to know more; to reach a higher level of understanding
    5. Competency – Wanting to be really good at something
    6. Fitness – Wanting to have a strong and attractive, healthy body
    7. Status/Prestige – Recognition from others; consensus validation of one’s own importance
    8. Wealth/Success – Affluence; freedom to spend on whatever one wants; ignore others’ criticism
    9. Heroism/Leadership – Acting heroically anytime; to speak up and take responsibility for situations
    10. Experience/Sex/Good Life/Hedonism/Epicureanism – Wanting interesting and fun experiences; to have a good time, enjoy the best of life, and see the world
    11. Power – Being able to control other people and situations to one’s liking
    12. Love – Wanting to love someone and be loved by the same person
    13. Creativity – Being creative in arts, business, crafts, nonprofits, sciences, technologies, or any field
    14. Self-Knowledge – Knowing oneself — who you are deep inside; mastery of one’s mind and emotions
    15. Self-Transcendence/Service to Humanity/Enlightenment/Spiritual Awakening/Nobility – Making a positive difference in the world; to take care of other people.

Taking my own life as an example, during my pre-school years I can recall incidents suggesting these motivations: Security, Belonging, Achievement, Aspiration/Learning, Competency – the first five on the list – plus Love, Creativity, and Self-Knowledge. My parents put me on stage and after many robotical performances (motivated by a desire for Competency) I experienced the Flow state, which was a turning point in my life. Aspiration/Learning what Flow state was, became a burning desire.

During kindergarten and elementary school I can see in my own memories that Status/Prestige became more important to me than it had been earlier. Power became important because these were the streets of pre-gentrification Brooklyn at a time of bullies, knives, and zipguns.

I spent a lot of time alone, thinking, and observing my own thinking and feeling. I had early thoughts about how I might help fix the world, which in those years had just used atomic bombs for the first time, and I knew this was the biggest future threat. I had the idea to gain power to effect positive change by going to West Point, becoming a General, surviving and winning WWIII, and then being elected President, where I felt I could right the many wrongs I saw, heard about, and read about, implying that I had begun to manifest the motivation of Self-Transcendence (Altruism).

At age 12, with a knife to my throat, I told the kid with the knife “I don’t believe you’re crazy, so I don’t believe you’d cut me, so I’m not scared.” That turned out to work. I feel that Heroism/Leadership was motivating me then, and perhaps earlier.

At the same age I had two out of body experiences and the onset of puberty. As if these were not enough, I also heard a voice in my mind say “I am God and so is everyone else.” This made no sense since I was in my own mind an atheist dedicated to pure science. Experience/Sex/The Good Life bloomed motivationally, I wanted to have a wide range of experiences and see the world.

By 16 I had graduated high school and my father had obtained for me two Congressional recommendations to West Point, but I was a year too young to be admitted. I went to Brooklyn College for a year and joined the Air Force ROTC. Leadership spiked as one of my top motivations for a while. However the ROTC turned me off as regards West Point and so I changed course and studied philosophy and psychology, the two subjects I had thought about every day of my life from my earliest memories. I also began to care about Fitness and got into the best shape of my life.

Graduating and taking the first job offer (Grey Advertising) Wealth/Success leapt up as a priority motivation. Aspiration/Learning and Competency once again became predominant motivations as I sopped up all the lore of marketing and advertising and media as fast as I could.

That’s probably enough about me, to give you an idea of how you can look at your own life through the lens of what motivated you at each stage. This will give you more grist for the mill to figure yourself out today, and where you go from here, what you want out of life now, and how you are going to get it. Enjoy the journey inside!

Love to all,

What Do You Really Want?

Powerful Mind Part 27
Created September 8, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind 26

Strangely this is not something we normally think about. The subject usually rises to our conscious mind only at times of great shock, typically the loss of a loved one, a job, or something else we greatly value. At other times most of us appear to assume that all of that has been decided already, we are “obviously” doing what we want to do with our lives, and so we just go along day to day doing our best, mostly guessing or following the path of least resistance in order to not make things any worse.

The species or at least the intelligentsia has finally admitted that homo sapiens are not rational actors, hence the science of behavioral economics. P.T. Barnum could have told us that a hundred years ago. However, some of us may be more rational than others, and for a rational person, it makes the most sense to stop life for a moment or longer while seriously considering what the real you really wants. How else can a rational person guide his or her decisions on a moment to moment basis?

As soon as one sets to making an objective fact-finding study of oneself, one finds that there are a great number of things that come up as probable wants, including both material and immaterial things. Page 95 of Mind Magic lists these, for example: “You may want money, specific possessions, status, fame, glory, power, accomplishment, respect, a large family, many lovers, to be loved, to be known, to be happy, health, long life, adventure, travel, certain feelings, certain experiences, etc.”

A more abstract list appears in my work on human motivations through Next Century Media, which discovered 265 psychological variables driving television program choice, and RMT (Research MeasurementsTechnologies), which distilled these into 15 life motivations. In Canada where RMT is already integrated with Vividata (“The MRI of Canada”), here is the latest snapshot of how these 15 variables rank across the population of Canada:

Motivational States by Ethnicity-vividata

As you can see, wealth/success is the main driver for most Canadians, but there are differences in motivation ranking by different ethnic subcultures in Canada. Culture is definitely a factor in shaping our individual motivations. However, as this book Powerful Mind being serialized here has often pointed out, we as individuals are much better off to be able to discover what we ourselves deep down really want, and to not automatically go along with all of the ways we have been shaped by outside forces. It’s much better to contemplate our lives to the degree that we can be the ones to decide what we truly want out of life. Aristotle wrote that the un-contemplated life is not worth living. I would say that slightly differently: one is not living the fullest life possible if one is swept along by external forces from beginning to end.

Life situations also affect our motivations. For example, note how important the motivation of “belonging” is to people who recently moved out of their parents’ home, and how important “security” is to people who recently retired. (These measurements are not based on survey questions asking people what motivates them; it is based on what television programs they report watching, and the method has been validated by five independent studies.)

Motivational States by Life Events - vividata

If we look across all of the cultures in our hisandherstory (aka “history”), we see that in many of them, great value was placed on self-transcendence (altruism) e.g. the Zhou Dynasty, self-knowledge e.g. Greece in Socrates’ time, creativity e.g. the Renaissance. When we look at our current culture, the situation is quite different. In the cancel culture of today, idealism in any form is something that causes people to “cringe”. Cynicism and snide remarks are the safe harbor for conversations. Science in recent centuries has assumed that the universe is an accident, therefore the culture does not believe that there is meaning and purpose in life, nor is idealism defensible in objective terms. Authoritarians rise to power by promising to remove all of the causes of fear, similar to the protection racket. In our culture therefore it is less likely that you have chosen to want idealistic things, or if you have, it is because you are exceptional.

Wanting the Approval of Others

One of our most ignoble wants is the approval of others. Hence the high ranking of “belonging” among the 15 motivations. In order to “fit in”, one generally is expected to share the same values, pastimes, and sayings of the group. After a while, individuals forget that they are wearing a mask and start to believe that the mask is really them.

Make a study of yourself. Take your time. Write down notes as the spirit moves you. What do you think you really want most out of life today? Was it always that way? What was your dream when you were very young as to what you would do with your life? Did it change? Why did it change?

Assume that in your own case, there was the “Me That Was Born”, who you really were, before the culture and other people started to shape you. Using all of the access to memories which you still have, what did that person want out of life, and where were the change points along the route to now?

If you look at the list of wants and motivations above you may see that you have always wanted all of these things to some degree but today there may be only a couple of them that really energize you. You may see how running after some of the other things took you off into directions you didn’t enjoy and have now processed past those wants. Or, you may find that nothing seems to matter anymore, it’s all falling short, you need something more, but have no idea what it is.

One clue is to think back about the things that you’ve been good at, and that you enjoyed doing. Those are your gifts to the world. Your Mission is to do those enjoyable things that you do so well so as to make as many people and other living things as happy as possible. If you follow that star it will take you to the Flow state.

My best to all,