Author Archives: Andrew Wolfson

The Two Future Scenarios We Must Choose Between

Created May 13, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

One of these scenarios is very easy to visualize. It’s the downside scenario of war. We’ve seen the way this works and are extremely familiar with it. We can picture it, including sitting under a mushroom cloud ourselves, something I’ve been visualizing all my life.

The upside scenario is not nearly as easy to visualize. We as a race have not expressed much about that scenario. We seem morbidly attracted to dwelling upon the negative.

And yet we seemed to be making some progress there for a while.

In 2003, the late Mark W. Zacher, a pioneer in the study of global governance, wrote a paper published by Cambridge University Press called “The Territorial Integrity Norm: International Boundaries and the Use of Force”. In it, he cited nearly 100 academic authors in establishing his case that “coercive territorial revisionism” was on the decline since the end of WWII. Many of the scholars he referenced indeed painted the same picture.

Alas, today we see that this relatively halcyon period appears to have come to an end. WWII-size battles reducing beautiful cities to rubble in Europe are now happening again. Do we have to go back into the old game? Is it built into us that there will never be an end to people fighting for ground?

In the development of species, the hardwired instinct for territoriality behavior goes back at least as far as the first reptiles and perhaps even further back. But humanity, possessed of more obvious intellectual credentials than other Earth species, in discovering what instincts are, could use its brains to conquer instincts – or can we?

Why is it that Putin and his supporters feel the urgent need to own more land when they already are such a massive piece of geography? Opinions in the press suggest that he is driven to re-establish the U.S.S.R. And why would that be what drives him? Why would he not set equally lofty goals for leading the human race into space, or building larger particle accelerators than the west, or some other goal that is more original? The goal of simply taking over the neighborhood goes way back, it’s imitative behavior, it may make us remember a person in history but not necessarily in a positive way. It’s been done before. Why not show off by doing something new?

Why would China place such importance on taking back Taiwan which had previously been called Formosa? There are so many other things for China to do, and they are already doing most of them, and doing well at them. If the specter of war were swept off the table China should be among the most confident and hopeful nations on Earth. Why bother with adding another small swath of land to their country? When one takes land by force it’s only a matter of time before someone else is there attacking you to take that land back. It’s almost guaranteed to become a perpetual motion machine keeping war in the lives of your descendants for many generations if not forever.

The human race has so many better things to do rather than return to the old bullying game. It’s gotten so old. First, we have to bring the pandemic down to permanent containment, which implies far-reaching progress in being able to anticipate the directions mutations could take, and getting the jump on them before they go there. Then we have to bring everyone up to par in quality of life. Then we have to bring education up to an unprecedented level that is individualized to each person’s gifts and aspirations, lifelong education that starts in the home from birth and lasts throughout the individual’s lifetime. The list goes on and on after that, so many things to do to make us all feel a sense of purpose, of meaning.

Underneath everything else all of us are driven by a search for meaning. We didn’t make it any easier for ourselves when we made it unhip to allow for the possibility of God. Even in a world that avoids God like the devil, a person can still live a meaningful life by simply bringing her/his gifts out for the enjoyment of others. Putin and Xi each have huge canvases on which they are free to paint beautiful pictures the world can adore, why settle for the bad guy role, even if lies and censorship can make people keep their mouths shut? Why is that the way that Putin and Xi can make themselves the happiest?

If we didn’t have such a rich roster of activities into which we could happily throw ourselves, then maybe I could understand playing the war game, but that game has worn thin its welcome. We’ve had a good run since the end of WWII – not without enough violence for anyone with a taste for that stuff – but staying away from major wars. Why break the winning spree now? Just because they can? I suspect that is the real explanation.

But no one’s hands are clean. The rest of us have not done enough to paint the picture of what life could be like if there is world cooperation on the broadest scale. Dystopias have more drama in them, and more opportunity for action scenes, while utopias are easy to put down because cynicism is hip. So few if any utopian movies or television series or novels. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” came as close to a utopian vision of a united Earth culture as we’ve seen on television. Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1933) was a novel and then a movie which showed how a sequestered culture could live in harmony (the story of mythical Shangri-La).

When Joe Biden was elected, I wrote a series of fictional stories here in Pebbles in which Joe reached out to Vlad and Jinping and detailed how cooperation could be attained and how lovely that would be for everybody, with me hoping that was in his plans. My c dream soon collapsed, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. If we don’t detail the upside scenario we will continue to slide down into this downside scenario we’ve been stuck on for too long. Someday soon we may never again have the option of revisiting this upside visualization opportunity, there may not be a someday if we don’t start now.

Love to all,

Bill

You Can Revolutionize Your Thinking

Created May 6, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

What good would that do you? It would give you a whole new vista on your choices in life. You stand to lose nothing by trying it. If you love everything about your life already, I’d say stand pat. Otherwise, here’s how to revolutionize your thinking.

Disadvantages of conventional thought processing

  • Tends to create ruts which can go on for a lifetime
  • You tend to ignore inner sixth sense trying to warn you or give you just the right words to use in a conversation
  • The awe and electricity of the way life can feel – the zest – trickles off
  • The Flow state (Zone) experience doesn’t happen to you as often as you’d like

One level deeper – the technical flaws in conventional thought processing that make it the most self-limiting are:

  1. You too often fly into following whatever your inner impulse seems to be at the moment 
  2. You are not paying attention to your subtle guidance system – your intuition – so that valuable ideas you need remain “subconscious”

Let’s take these two things one at a time. 

Going with your ego flow (better stop doing it!)

What’s so wrong about going with whatever you feel at the moment? Isn’t that what Flow is all about?

No. That’s not Flow state, it’s the momentum of ego, the built-up viral load of all unassimilated experiences, the robot, the predictable persona that masks as the real you even to you. You may tell yourself it’s Flow state but unless it meets the following description, it’s not, it’s your ego overclaiming as usual.

Flow state is about your ego disappearing, you feeling as if The Force is moving you, your actions are perfect, there is no sense of self versus other, there is no attachment to outcome, you are enjoying yourself, your mind is moving much faster than events.

In Flow state – while it lasts – and especially as you are starting to slip out of it – you will have some terrific thoughts, and then you will actively add afterthoughts that are your ego trying to keep up with your intuition, and the thought packets will not have labels on them to allow you to easily separate the imitative ego from the Flow-inspired giant thought of a moment earlier. Learning the trick of being especially skeptical of follow-up thoughts will help you stay in the Flow state.

Leaving the special case of Flow state aside for a moment, in the non-Flow state most people are in most of the time, it’s a terrible strategy to act on every impulse, or even to take ownership of every thought and feeling you have as being something you totally believe in. Many thoughts we have are autonomic nervous system tapes playing in our heads, reinforced by how often we have played those tapes before. If we do not watch ourselves like hawks, we will stay in the same place for a lifetime, stuck at a certain level.

Not all of your thoughts (and feelings) are equally smart. Most are automatic involuntary reactions like the mental version of kneejerks.

Learn to suspend judgment about each thought and especially each feeling that you have. Pay more attention to the feelings that come upon you suddenly, especially the negative ones, and do not tolerate the immediate giving in to feeling deflated. Pause. Return to neutral. Study what has just happened. Diagnose what caused it. Question why you should allow yourself to not to choose joy right now, in every now. Resist these automatic impulses, do not cave to them instantly anymore. Discriminate carefully before movement and before acceptance of a specific negative mood. Refuse to continue to be a manipulatable creature of habit. Start your life over with a clean slate. Forgive yourself and everyone else for all of history to date and start over in each moment. There is nothing to be gained from carrying along the wounds of the past other than understanding the point of the lessons they taught you so you can apply those lessons going forward.

Making your subconscious conscious

Daniel Kahneman has given us a new linguistic tool that helps in describing The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) methods: Kahneman’s System 1 is thinking fast and System 2 is thinking slow, as he describes them. We see subdivisions in his two Systems which we’ll go into in future columns but for now let’s use his apt descriptions another way. Your subconscious can get through to your conscious when you are in System 1, but not doing anything. You might be meditating or just sitting around or walking in the woods, but you are not trying to figure anything out. 

Most people at most times when they are not in any activity requiring focus are daydreaming or letting their minds go anywhere they might based on free association. That’s one way to use System 1 but it won’t lead to revolutionizing your thinking process. The other way to use these times of taking a break is to simply observe your own mind as it were someone else’s. Don’t let it catch you up into any of its dramas. This is surprisingly hard to do the first hundred times you try it, but it starts to get easier after the first session if you keep it up. Question every thought, even if it is a thought you consider to be one of your most important values.

But don’t encourage yourself to debate each item at the time, jot it down in a log of your experiences for later inner debate, and as soon as possible return to taking a vacation from thinking, or to use the technical term, meditating. This is the state most conducive to detecting your normally-subconscious thoughts and feelings.

This brief article attempts to summarize my entire book Mind Magic in fewer than a thousand words. It obviously leaves a lot out, but I hope it helps.

Love to all,

Bill

Kiss & Make Up

Created April 29, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Where this is all going at the moment is taking us backward about a century and has the earmarks of possibly ending all life on Earth. If you have great weapons lying around, eventually you use them. Particularly in a climate riven by hate, rushed by complexity, and distracted by messageweight.

The lostness of the despiritualized world causes every one of us to harbor an inner backbeat of inadequacy. It’s hard to go from there to Flow state. Although disseminating information and positive emotive content that are essentially Flow state lessons, is our job at The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI), we may not have enough time for that to work out.

Short of the Flow state for all, in the interim until we get to the latter altitude, let’s settle for Kiss & Make Up.

Although our bodies grew large, we are still babies, apparently in our terrible twos. We use grander language and have learned to wave our arms better, but our tantrums are still tantrums.

Presupposing no real change in consciousness effectiveness, even in our present babyish ways we can certainly understand when a party has gone wrong, how we all blame each other when it does, and there is not going to be a happy ending, our Moms are already getting into the fight, the free for all is turning scary and going nowhere but more widespread to the whole neighborhood. We all know how this movie ends, like several Hitlers taking half the world with sophisticated propaganda (that’s what has been going on for a few years already) and then starting on the other half with thermo, bio, and chemical weapons.

Going back to that earlier point about pandemic sense of inadequacy. Although we all have it, some of us have more of it than others. The cultures which become aggressive are the ones who feel inferior, and the only way they can think of to overcome that state is to blame and attack someone else. This is an extreme state of the ego.

Then as they become aggressive, the nicer people in the world (the ones with a lower dose of inadequacy bias) obviously tend to lose their tempers. You know how that works when you are feeling inadequate, people yelling at you are the perfect trigger to go into unstoppable rage. Again, a warped neuronal network has evolved called an ego, which cannot accept any blame. The spiral is self-accelerating downward. You yell at me and I yell at you.

The message our parents tried to teach us in such situations is to Kiss & Make Up.

Easy to say, but hard to do quickly on a global level. Where do you start? It’s a roller coaster, and everyone tells you to act tough, no one really wants to seem like we’re afraid of some other nation or even a horde of them. How do you walk the tightrope between condemnation and collaboration, can it really be done?

The purpose of my quartet of articles was to demonstrate, in a fictional way, a path to take us back into empathetic communication, where we first actually change ourselves profoundly so that we want to be friends with Putin et al. The articles depict a series of conversations between Biden, Putin, and Xi, with Biden initiating an attempted Kiss & Make Up.

Look, we’re one species. We have to stick together against all the other species in the universe with whom we may soon be in contact (not to mention against the viruses), as the billionaires take us into space. If an alien showed up on your doorstep, you’d be ready to hug every member of the other party that you currently hate, and Putin too. We’re all brothers and sisters. We’ve been out of sorts with each other for too long now. It’s time to Kiss & Make Up.

If you can’t find the words, for inspiration go to the quartet of articles. They will give you ideas relating to your estranged family and friends.

Aside from the articles, here’s an outline of how you might start to think about it:

  1.  Start with former friends and family members with whom you had a political falling out. Why does each one think the way she or he does? You know these people well, you can intuit the right answers. And why by contrast do you think the way you do? 
  2. What are the underlying differences – make a list.
  3. What is something you can say positively about the other’s positions, which you also feel is true.
  4. Then you be the first to apologize for the way you handled the situation and how it made it all the worse. 
  5. They will tend to apologize back if you’ve been authentic and displayed courageous willingness to show vulnerability.
  6. That’s when you hug or Kiss & Make Up.

Let’s make a note to all get this done before Memorial Day, so we can have another Summer Of Love.

Love to all,

Bill

Don’t Overthink Stuff, Nor Act on Every Impulse

Created April 21, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Flow state is what the human race needs more of. It is super competency, the opposite of what we witness all around us every second nowadays.

Flow state is that condition in which an individual is doing everything perfectly. Which is why I referred to it as super competency.

Some of the other characteristics of Flow state are:

  • The individual has the sense that things are doing themselves
  • It feels like play
  • There is no fear of failure

The public is only vaguely aware of Flow state. Even those who know the state exists do not realize its significance in the context of the current collapse of civilizational institutions. Very few people recognize that widespread Flow state can be achieved and that this can restore robust forward progress toward a cooperative peaceful world.

If this were part of the public narrative, given that almost everyone now agrees that the human race is not in a good place, a lot more action would be taken quickly, like at the speed with which the Covid vaccines were developed.

But can we really get masses of people to change dramatically in time? Yes. 

It’s not as daunting as it seems. Individuals can learn simple principles of action and apply those principles to filter their own impulses before action – and to accurately sense when to not filter them at all.

The existence of this higher state of consciousness is scientifically well established. Neuroscientists have been studying its brain signature for decades. There are many studies with some degree of agreement and the work is progressing.

But we don’t need to wait until science knows Flow state inside and out. That is beside the point. The point is we know how to train people to increase time spent in Flow state and the world needs us all to receive that training right now. Much of the needed training is contained in my book Mind Magic.  I wrote it in hopes of training everyone to get into it more often (maintaining it continuously is very rare). I’ll share a few key takeaways here today.

Flow state happens with authentic non-edited natural response. However, if one takes a black and white oversimplistic approach to getting into the Flow state by going with their every natural inclination, what will happen is generally not Flow state but rapid alternation between egotistical behavior and flashes of Flow state, in which more moments go to ego.

What rule of action can we follow that will allow us to release into Flow, yet prevent us from wishful thinking that we are in Flow when we are not?

You get into Flow state when you are adept at the mechanical behaviors involved and are faced with a challenge situation that is matched closely with your skills but allows for no letting down of your guard.

In a conversation where you are not threatened or nervous you are likely to get into Flow state if you are discussing something you have studied deeply or you are trying to help another person with no thought of personal gain.

The simplest rule for managing your own behavior second to second is to be authentic without thinking about making yourself look good or achieving business aims or any goal other than giving the best of yourself at every moment regardless of the outcomes.

Before you can release yourself to just be you, you must feel unattached to outcomes. Then you get let go and be your self and you will feel the Flow gear engage. It will feel wonderful and you will be doing good in the world. You will be making a positive difference not just in your own interest but in everyone’s. You will be building trust that will develop strong relationships and enable you to do more good each day.

When you are not in Flow you do need to edit your impulses. They often come from ego and will not have long term success. They will not be inspired and will not inspire others. As a general rule you should assume the need to edit your own impulses except at times when you feel positive and letting yourself Flow with your natural impulses is the right thing to do. 

However, we can instantly fall out of Flow because we become overconfident and ego quickly slips back in. Knowing this you can monitor impulses even during Flow to prevent yourself from falling out by simply not acting on certain impulses of which you are uncertain. That slight uncertainty is enough of a clue in Flow to keep your mouth shut and your mind open.

Love to all,

Bill