Category Archives: Creating Joy

A Time for Love, Forgiveness, and Flow State

Created November 4, 2021

In the prior issue, taking a page from Freud’s id, ego, superego division of consciousness, but altering it to suit my own experience, I defined three places you could be at any given moment:

  1. Seated in the essence of your Self, the experiencer, enjoyer, observer, taking it all in without excessive caring, in a state of high indifference, accepting what is and gleaning whatever pleasure you could get out of it (Freud characterized the id quite differently, more like an animal)
  2. In the current normal state of win/lose consciousness, instantly judging, always comparing to the ideal state and feeling cheated (Ego)
  3. Beating yourself up for some perceived failing (Superego)

In the prior post we provided an exercise to help you discern which state you are in.

Now, to take it a step further, let us reveal that Flow state is when your Self (the #1 state described above) is in control of your entire being.

In my psychological theory, it is the proclivity to spend time in those other two states which is responsible for keeping us, as a race, out of the Flow state.

Come with me at least provisionally and see if it doesn’t help you experience Flow more frequently, including right now as you read this.

Spurn mundane consciousness, the life we have all been living, sucked into such attachment to conditioned target objectives that in today’s multi-challenged world, we are angry and disappointed nearly all the time, because it covers our fear of even more tragic losses ahead.

Choose the mind that is different, that is above the madding crowd, the perspective of a Plato or Aristotle or Buddha or Jesus The Christ.

Whether you “believe in” God or not, the thoughts and words of people like these have come down to us through the ages and continue to sparkle with eminent truth. Let’s take Jesus as their exemplar for the purpose of achieving Flow state as Jesus did.

We call ourselves a Christian country, and seeing the hand touch of Biden on Macron it feels like we are what we say. There is love and shared humanity in that touch, humility in the gesture and kindness in the response. These qualities are not exclusive to any one group of human beings, in my worldview everyone, in their Self (#1 above), reverberates with these loving, forgiving values.

United we stand, divided we fall, has never been more true than today. Forget parties, who did what to whom, let’s forgive it all at once, one big forgiving, and get on with it, working cooperatively to overcome the numerous threats to our existence which we ourselves have created by spending lifetimes in states #2 and #3.

World leaders, readers, I’m not saying to stop what you’re doing, by all means, keep up the great work, just be sure to always do it in the spirit of true love, friendship, and forgiveness, so as to evoke the Flow state in yourself and in all of us. The more of us in the Flow state, the easier it is for the rest of us to get there, because we’re all connected.

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man

is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;

if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe

is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as

well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine

owne were; any mans death diminishes me,

because I am involved in Mankinde;

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

–John Donne

Let’s each of us make ourselves and the people around us happy by staying in loving forgiving Flow all the time. We can do it. It’s just a matter of learning attitude control.

Like in an airplane. The rudder and ailerons are the control surfaces, and we have controls in our hands and feet. Except you are the airplane, and the control surfaces are inside you, you have to learn to use them.

Nothing else, I predict, is going to get the human race out of this befouled nest of our own making. It will be an upsurge in understanding that the solution lies within each one of us, that it isn’t just talk, it’s science.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi just passed away very recently. He coined the term Flow. He proved it was real by training the University of Chicago (where he was head of the psychology department) hockey team to win by inner attitude control. He was an advisor to my nonprofit Human Effectiveness Institute, which puts out this free course in a blog.

Beware of darkness, as George Harrison wrote, don’t let the world get you down, when you sense anything making you feel bad realize that you have slipped into either state 2 or 3, and get back into 1. Don’t make it bad, as the Beatles wrote in Hey Jude. It is what it is. Labelling it bad immediately lowers your effectiveness and your energy level. Don’t label it at all, just let it go and spring back to 1. That is the only thing you ever need to remember.

Let me leave you with a song that is just right for the moment, sing along below.

 

Love to all,

Bill

Get Together

Song by The Youngbloods

Love is but a song we sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Some may come and some may go
He will surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand, listen
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

I said come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now
Right now
Right now

 

MAKING YOUR LIFE GREAT DESPITE NOT GETTING ALL THE BREAKS

Created July 23, 2021

Forgive me, I must admit I wasn’t thinking of you, my regular readers, when I wrote this. I was writing this to your kids, or grandkids, or more likely to young people you may know who didn’t grow up nourished by your wisdom. Please do pass this along to anyone you know whom you feel could benefit from it, people who are having a hard time. Thanks!

67.7% of people with a net worth of $30 million or more today were not born into rich families. They made it on their own.

More than ever, some people born in poverty are making it. It’s the best time to be alive if you’re an average person without all the breaks. With the internet all of knowledge is available to you.

Now that I’ve gotten your attention by talking about money, let’s be clear that it isn’t the most important goal, it’s just something you need because of the way the world is set up. California is already beginning to move by cautious partial steps toward a guaranteed minimum income for everyone. Someday that may be the way the world works. For now, money is something to take into account in your planning, but it’s not the purpose of your life.

What’s really important is finding and doing your passion work. That also happens to be the way that you will be happier, more fulfilled, and more effective at everything in life. And it may also wind up making you the most money too, although you’d be happier doing your passion work and just getting by as far as money is concerned, than if you end up doing work that is just so-so for you, while making more money, having more one-night stands (which the culture has brainwashed young people to highly value), and owning more trophy things than your crowd.

While they may all continue to go down the other path of impressing others with mundane things, you ought to take the route that will make the most of your life, and of your gifts.

If you don’t think you are gifted, you haven’t made enough of an objective study of yourself. We all have things that we do better than most people. Things that you enjoy doing and which you do well are the clues to what you are alive to do.

Once you have studied yourself enough and have a vague glimmering or a specific idea of what you want to be doing for the rest of your life, then you need to set a first firm direction in life, select the kind of organization or the specific organization you want to work for, or you want to create. You may change course later on or not, but you need a first base to run to.

You just figure out where you could show your skills to the greatest degree, and go there, humbly learn the ropes, then stay humble.

Humility is another side of nobility.

Human collective unconscious probably programs the brain to enable humans to sense noble people. Such people are respected and their opinions sought.

How can you be noble?

Just take responsibility for doing good in every moment.

Be grateful every moment for being alive.

Be kind to everyone.

That’s all it is!

To summarize, you follow your strengths, envisioning the target state, act nobly with kindness.

A few simple rules that will take you to your destination.

Best to all,

Bill

Don’t Work Against Yourself

Created July 16, 2021

The above title seems obvious. “Who would knowingly work against one’s own best interests? Masochists maybe, but no normal person.”

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Practically all of us work against ourselves on a daily basis. The reason we do it is because we don’t realize the power of our own thoughts and feelings to program our behavior in ways that can seriously limit our success.

For example, we may feel and have thoughts about being jealous of another person or persons. As the clock ticks on and we let ourselves stay in that mental/emotional state, we don’t realize the damage we are doing to our self, and so we let it go on, as if there is no cost or consequence involved in spending time that way. The more time goes on without our actively curtailing that state, the more damage it is doing.

Jealousy is defined as “The thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and envy over relative lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a comparator, a rival, or a competitor.”

Every second we allow ourself to dwell in that state we are sending signals to ourself, not only our conscious mind but also our subconscious, not only our left and front brain but also our right brain, not only our cortex but also our limbic system and cerebellum, that we find ourselves to be inadequate (insecurity), fearful, and lesser individuals to those we envy.

Our entire being, our body as well as our mind, get the message. In ways we don’t notice, we project those signals out to the world in our posture, facial and bodily gestures, we are broadcasting our perceived inadequacy to others as well as to our own inner being. If we do this often enough it becomes a self-refueling cycle that mounts and can destroy the achievement of our highest visions for ourself.

We owe it to ourselves to have at least a vague notion of the gifts we have which should determine the kind of work we want to do in the world. And armed with this compass, vague as it may be, to not allow any vagaries of mental habits to delay or destroy our chances of reaching the actualization of those dreams.

Once we form a notion of the direction, that must be the means by which we discipline ourselves to actualize, every second of every day. To do otherwise is to potential casually throw our lives away, and any time we spend in such a mode, is sending signals to our entire being that we don’t believe in our own gifts, we’re just going through the motions but are pretty sure it’s never going to pan out. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and not just because we are sending giveaway “tells” of our own lack of self-belief.

Any negative thought or feeling means you are not in your clearest state. If you were in the Flow state you obviously wouldn’t be thinking at all, just acting in total internal external synchrony. If you were in the Observer state you would be able to see that your negative thoughts are the opposite of constructive and that you are wasting time, you should thank your negative feelings for causing you to detect and focus on the solution of some real world problem, and then immediately get on to analyzing and coming up with the best plan of action so that such negative feelings at some point in the future will not arise at all.

If for example jealousy is internally detected, the first question is “If I could trade lives with that person, would I?” That usually brings the jealousy into a clearer context in which you can think about what you might do differently in order to have the things the envied person has without having to become them in any way, since you are likely to like yourself better, and not want the full package of that person’s entire life, you just envy certain things they have, like more money. This turns a fruitless and self-defeating morbid period of thinking and feeling time into a constructive Observer state higher clarity use of time that leads to test actions. A far better way of running your life, more creative, not petty, which makes your mind, resolve, and self-confidence stronger, your ability to achieve stronger. It gets you what you want if you never give up. You are not using your energy against itself.

The optimal moods are gratitude and kindness. Negative moods automatically give more power to the things that hurt you. Cultivate only positive use of your time and nothing can stand in your way.

Love to all,

Bill

Belonging, Unity, and the Future of the USA

Created May 28, 2021

Belonging (a sense of social acceptance) is one of the 15 Motivations uncovered by the scientific* work I have been doing for the past 30 years or so.

Belonging is the most complex of the 15 Motivations in the sense that it contains more variations within it. It contains 25 Need States, such as Nationalism and Levity, and 220 of the 265 DriverTagsTM, each of which is a highly specific state of mind. It’s possible that Belonging is a hard-wired instinct, at the core of our nature as social animals, perhaps one of the survival characteristics that has caused homo sapiens (and other species) to be able to still be standing.

That’s why it hurts so much to be cast out of your belonging group. Like in the case of Liz Cheney, for example.

Although political parties were not mentioned in the US Constitution, 20 years later they sprung up and were bolted onto the constitutional system called the USA. Whether the political parties have done more good than harm is still a matter of debate. But one thing they have definitely supplied is the opportunity for belonging, something we all need. This would explain why 59% (Gallup) of Americans today belong to one of the two parties.

As the need for a sense of belonging is a constant, it’s possible that getting this mood-enhancing brain “drug” from political parties has become more important in recent decades as the power of the family might have declined, with children caring more about belonging to their peer group than their family, happening at earlier and earlier ages (hypothesis).

Religion for sure has lost a lot of its hold as a means for transmitting a sense of belonging.

Race has possibly become elevated as a means for generating the sense of belonging, as in the case of white supremacists.

Hypothesis: as the sense of belonging has deprecated from its traditional sources, that created an urgency of need which increased the emotional connection of party membership as a self-identifier.

Rhetoric is the art and potentially science of using words so as to cause people to believe them, whether they are true or not. Rhetoric existed before the media, but then the media became a means for applying extremely powerful rhetoric. Hitler used this in the case of cinema and other media. Today’s internet and social media are analogous to the atomic bomb version of rhetoric.

During the Greatest Generation’s watch, it would have been spectacularly unsuccessful to try to use rhetoric to pull the wool over people’s eyes to the extent that is happening today. I see it as having reached a point of mass hysteria.

Today it would probably entrain belief in the minds of at least ten million Americans if QAnon added another story that all fish can fly. Their fish minds have been taken over by devices used by the Democratic party obtained from pedophilic socialist aliens. They won’t let you see them fly, they only do it when you aren’t looking. But some day, there will be skies filled with dangerous fish swooping down on American patriots to wipe them out.

When you look at the strength of the need for a sense of belonging, how the traditional sources of this have been petering out, how political parties have always known that a populist charismatic leader is the thing to have, and then layer in the mind-bending power of the media (wait for artificial reality media to add to this brew), it’s possible to understand better what is going on today around the world not just in America.

It only took four years to push the USA back into its share of world power position (a measure of the perception of all people in the world) to pre-WWII levels.

Now as we attempt to restore ourselves to what we were there are also wild behaviors happening outside the US which we ourselves caused during those four years, not to mention a potentially genocidal mutating pandemic and an “edge city” environmental situation.

It certainly is a good time to pull together and figure things out by focusing objectively with high performing teamwork and enlisting more help from rich people to make the world the heavenly place it can be. We can actually do it.

Not the best time to have to reach 60% majority vote before we can go to the toilet. The filibuster has been rationalized as preventing “the tyranny of the majority” and “preventing action that has not been fully thought out”. The Founders did not lock in the need for a 60% majority in passing bills, so despite being some of the greatest pragmatic geniuses in history, these considerations somehow did not occur to them? More likely they did consider such things and left it to the voting outcome whether razor thin or unanimous to settle legislative issues.

To people whose careers are in government, it’s easy to see why filibuster might appeal to them. It gives power to stop legislation if one is in the minority. Think of how harmful this would be within a corporation. That’s how harmful it is in government, especially under the emergency conditions we are now faced with. Yet because a politician knows that it’s likely that half his or her career life will be spent as the minority, filibuster will be a floor under how bad one can feel. We non-politicians have no such swaddling cloths in our lives, we make our own successes and failures, we have no special entitlements that keep our control of others high when we have not earned that by majority vote of the people or by our individual performance in the eyes of our employers/clients/customers/users.

Unity is more than belonging, it is a highly desirable condition in which people work together toward common goals. That’s what we meant when we called ourselves the United States of America.

Unity has always been a strength of the Republican party, they are able to band together as a voting block (sic) whereas Democrats in the past have always been all over the lot in the diversity of their thinking. But today the Republican penchant for unity is allowing 4251 people who at best represent only about 14% of eligible voters in the US to impede the rest of us – polls showing that more than 60% of Americans like what the present administration is doing – from getting things done at the federal level, but even more dangerously are taking advantage of the powers which the Founders gave the State level.

Unless we the people speak up loudly enough, the future of America is that a number of States representing a minority of the population will drive out non-white people and many important businesses, who will migrate to the States where non-whites are offered equal opportunity and a sense of belonging.

Internally divided, we will still stand, but will not be the country we could be if we had unity restored.

Our degree of perceived vulnerability with a civil cold war will be exaggerated in the eyes of One Man Rulers abroad. They will come after us. It will not be heavenly at all.

That scenario must not be allowed. The only way to stop it is to use all your own social media efforts to put a stop to the self-destructive urges we have collectively been entertaining. Participate in polls, speak your mind, when the referendums come participate in them too.

Do not add to the problem by hating the 34 million of us who disagree, or the One Man Rulers of other countries, or any group or individual. Hate has no constructive outcomes. Hate erodes Reason. We need our ability to think clearly to rise to the top and to drive all of our behaviors. We need our emotions to be courageous enough to rise above fear and hate and to leave our minds open to win/win unity where dissenting voices are respected and included. Everyone must be included or we will never escape the downward spiraling cycle of divisiveness.

My best to all,

Bill

*When I say “scientific” what I mean is observing patterns in data, forming hypotheses from that, and then testing those hypotheses by means of controlled experiments, with the intention of discovering new and useful truths. The data I have used relates to the content that millions of anonymized individuals choose to consume on television and the Internet as measured by set top boxes and log files. This body of knowledge is meant to complement and inform the psychology systems (link to relevant example emanating from centuries of science using other data types.

 

Re-Evaluating Our Foundational Beliefs

Created April 30th, 2021

*Thank you Mr. President for a balanced and meticulously thought out approach at a time when others are losing their heads. In addition to my donations I’ve attempted to send you helpful ideas. Here are the links to the articles that hopefully someone on the staff can review, assess, and do whatever is decided with.*

Philosophy is the practice of re-evaluating our foundational beliefs.

The practice of philosophy has diminished from ancient days to now.

The one place where philosophy has not gone away – in fact, where it dominates all human life on the planet today – is economics.

Economic “theory” makes it sound like economics is a science now. It is not nor has it ever been a science. It is a collection of clashing philosophies. (My recommendation as to how to make it a science.)

Why do I say that economics dominates all human life today? What is the subject matter causing the schism in America today? It is all about money. And, of course it is all about power. Is the money important because it gets you to power? Or is the power important because it gets you to money?

It is the latter.

Money is the one thing in the world that provides an individual with freedom (assuming that individual lives in a democracy).

Power is not the thing most people wish for, because it would bring with it responsibility. Most people will be happy if they have enough money and can spend their time doing things they love doing – usually involving churning out some passion work outputs that delight other people too.

This is not to obscure individual differences. Thankfully each of us is unique. My work has established that there are fifteen motivations and that each person is driven by a specific set of these, whose relative importance to the individual shifts over time.

The world’s oldest and longest manuscript, the Mahabharata, establishes four things that are worth obtaining from life: pleasure, wealth, virtue, and enlightenment.

The fact that economics dominates the world today shows that we have as a race lost sight of things we knew long ago. There is an amazing imbalance away from the other three “Highest Goods”. It’s all just about wealth now.

And yet, behind the propaganda used by believers in one economic philosophy over another, the people who originally made up these economic philosophies were not as depicted in the propaganda.

“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” – Adam Smith

Adam Smith believed that the free hand of the market – the sum of actions of ordinary people and commercial enterprises and everyone else except governments – would lead eventually (he did not specify how long it might take) to an equilibrium satisfactory to all, and to growth and the elimination of poverty.

He lived at a time (1723-1790) when governments imposed protectionistic laws in a system called “Mercantilism” which maximized the wealth within a country by keeping out foreign competition. The same line of thinking linking the fortunes of countries and governments with those of companies and businesspeople was the context that spawned the British East India Company in 1600. Thus, Mercantilism was one of the spirals in the double helix with Colonialism/Imperialism. Go out and trade but exploit the others you trade with outside our country, bring their wealth back here, do not create win/win deals.

If you read Adam Smith – his own writings – you will see that his view of Laissez Faire and the Free Invisible Hand of the Market was intended to supplant Mercantilism as the dominant world economic system.

He did not offer any vision of the complicated world economic system we have today, nor any solutions for the kinds of challenges we are now facing.

He never once used the word “Capitalism”.

He was a genius and also owned considerable common sense. He wrote from his own moral compass and view of the world, he was a philosopher not an economist, he did not deal in data science, nor attempt to compile statistics to reach and prove his conclusions.

He was constantly making one foundational assumption, based on his accurate assessment that humans are social creatures: that all of us feel empathy for others, and therefore we would operate (eventually, as a result of growing up, education, experience) from enlightened self-interest. Meaning the realization that one will tend to be unhappy no matter how rich one gets, if one observes others suffering. He assumed that eventually everyone would be that way naturally – naturally altruistic, not egoistic– transcending 100% selfishness. Therefore, the rich would give to and train the poor, and we would all live happily ever after. In this optimistic view he may even have been influenced by his mentor and great friend David Hume.

In the 231 years since his demise, we have not achieved universal altruism. I like to think that the percentage of altruists in the population has increased as a percentage of total population in that time. However, I have no data to support that. And the evidence of the last four years would seem to make the notion ludicrous.

Today, Americans have become so enmeshed in fantasy beliefs that we have formed warring camps along current party lines.

Adam Smith and David Hume and Tom Paine and the Founding Fathers of America were right. We do all want the same things, and we all feel conscience and empathy for others – but to differing degrees.

That sympathy is clouded by the dominant concern over money. One group is vociferous about bringing about reasonable sharing, citing the lack of evident utility of having excess wealth. The other group shoots them down with slogans based on twisted versions of Adam Smith. But underneath all the well-stated arguments of spokespeople for the two viewpoints, it all comes down to money. Haves and Havenots. It is no different at the foundation than it has been since the rise of Capitalism and Socialism. Like pirates scrambling for a gold coin on the deck of a pitching ship.

My sympathy for the poor is pretty obvious in my writing, however I am also sympathetic to hard working people irked by the idea of paying high taxes, sometimes almost a third of which goes to supporting people who do not work. In the short term this welfare state approach is the least bad solution, but in the long run we need to shift to training (see pages 6-7 at the link) those people to be able to support themselves, and not just because it would lower our taxes. Someone who lives off the dole will not tend to have high self-esteem, will not have found their calling, will miss out on having passion work to do each day, will rarely if ever experience the Flow state.

Joe Biden and his colleagues would be wise to use the media to educate the public to the roots of present events, so individuals can choose more wisely, separated from merely loquacious rhetoric.

Rancor is a sign of irrationality.

Blessings upon us all,

Bill

Feeling Happy

Created March 19, 2021

The Pursuit of Happiness. It’s one of our inalienable rights.

But do we exercise it enough?

What percent of our thoughts does happiness get?

Before Covid, probably our own happiness did not get much of our attention at all on the average day.

Since Covid, I hear from my friends that the constant video calls are keeping them busier than ever, and I’m certainly experiencing that myself. That might mean that we are giving even less thought to happiness, our own and that of others.

Those of us on the front lines, still moving around outside the home, may have even less time to self-contemplate. Although there are times in everyone’s day that can be stolen moments, when the priorities are remembered.

The trick is not just to remember to think creatively about how to make oneself and others happy. It’s also, even more importantly, to simply remember to be happy.

Not that we all can turn that off and on like a switch. Most of us have little talent for switching over to being happy. But with practice, like with everything, it actually is something that all of us can learn to do.

The way it works with me is:

  1. First, I create a minute or two of alone space. No one can interrupt or distract me. That may require slipping away and locking oneself in a bathroom.
  2. Long slow breaths help establish a certain calmness.
  3. I’m prepared to take notes with pad and pen in pocket. Just in case I get a flow of inspiration.
  4. Am I happy? If not, why not, what activity can I undertake when I rejoin the world that I’d rather be doing, and can I put off what else I’ve been doing, and if so, to when? I’ve written here before about the importance of working on what you feel like working on at the moment – it’s conducive to Flow state, on top of making yourself happy.
  5. I put on a smile to help others and leave my hideout.

You might find other ways to switch yourself to the happy channel. If there are seriously painful things going on, that’s a whole different situation. Still requiring creativity, alone space to focus. The only constructive question is always What can I do about it? You can’t control the outcome of certain painful situations but you can identify where you can exert creative effort to make a positive difference. Sometimes the only thing you can control is the impression you make on others, showing how a mensch can stand up to anything, supporting others, still able to have an apropos type of smile on your face, calm and working toward the good every moment.

All of us can be refreshed and reinvigorated by a daily dose of a few minutes’ contemplation on our happiness. Or the whole day, it’s the one thing worth double-tasking. While you go about your day, remember that you are responsible to yourself to enjoy every moment of the gift of life.

Bring able to keep that criterion within every moment is one of the most important priorities of life.

It might seem selfish but on a practical basis it is not. Your being happy will actually make people around you happier than they would be if you are unhappy instead.

All my best,

Bill