Category Archives: Flow State

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

Beware of Your Own Involuntary Reactions

Created March 25, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Treat them as coming from your brutish heritage. Not worthy of humankind today.

Let’s take a simple example. When someone transgresses against you in some way, no matter how subtle or unintended, a part of you is ready to move faster than your self-control, to equalize. Equalization is an instinct hard-wired into our autonomic nervous system.

Gotta strike back. Get even. Make fair. Justice.

Overcoming this hard-wired animal instinct is a sign of being a mensch.

We are grateful for our autonomic system, without it we would have to remember to breathe, digest, and a host of other things that ought well to have been made automatic.

And the higher-order robotics in our brains, far more advanced than the AIs we create today, which observes events and metatags them and creates networks of them enabling free association and cross-fertilization, as well as building up tendencies for and against certain types of stimuli. This latter higher class of internal robotics is what we have to guard against. Because in an accelerated and divisionary culture such as we live in today, these automated internal responses we unreflectively take as our own, are getting us in a lot of trouble.

Considered responses are much more valuable than impulsive kneejerk reactions, however the latter are so deeply ingrained only the most self-controlled among us are able to conceal the manifestation of automatic reactions, let alone stop ourselves from blurting out retorts.

Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel prize for his work on what he calls “Thinking Fast” vs. “Thinking Slow”. In that lens, what I am saying is that thinking slow ought to be leaned upon much more than it is by the average person.

However, the reality is more complicated. If all “thinking fast” is thrown out the window, there goes Flow state out the window too.

Here’s the litmus test. Go with your own flow without overthinking when you sense your own inner peacefulness. If you can detect a kernel of vindictiveness or any hint of negativity, tension or fear in yourself, switch gears into keeping your mouth shut and your body immobile and focus on seeking inner clarity before taking any kind of action. (Obviously this rule does not apply if you or someone nearby are under physical attack at the moment. But that is the only exception to the rule.)

No need to hesitate like Hamlet if on the inside you are totally positive and not nervous. Let yourself flow without self-editing but pay attention to your own hunches so you stop yourself before saying something you got a last second “hit” might not land right. Follow those hunches and analyze it all later.

Involuntary reactions are not expressions of your true self. They are autonomic, conditioned, Pavlovian, robotic, other-directed, conformist not individualistic behaviors. In many cases nowadays they were purposely brainwashed into you. Stop all kneejerks now. At least the ones you can stop (literal kneejerks can be stopped but that requires yogic practice).

Example: you wake up in the morning and find yourself in a bad mood. You’re not really feeling up about the day that is upon you, the events that you’ve committed to, it’s not inspiring. That is one of the involuntary reactions I’m talking about.

Even though this is likely to be accompanied by (and perhaps partially due to) time pressure, take five and focus on attitude adjustment. The day will go much better if you are interested in the challenges and take the time to achieve clarity in advance about your own intentions, reasons for those intentions, feelings about those reasons, and you totally get why today is a day worth turning into a positive turning point, and the gamelike aspects of dealing with the obstacles with your own creativity.

You might find that your negativity reflects a sense of being unprepared. You’ll have to prepare yourself in a very efficient way then. As a general rule you might start preparing yourself for the next day as you put your head on the pillow – that would be the “last minute” in terms of waking up ready to face the day. Best to prepare for the next day a few hours earlier, so you can fall asleep more quickly and deeply.

You could wake up in a bad mood and as you study yourself to discern the cause, you might realize it was your dreams. Take five and guess what the dreams were trying to tell you. Take a totally wild guess out of nowhere. It is quite likely to be accurate. Something you are afraid of happening in the next day or week that could happen at any time. Once you’ve decoded the dream a lot of the negativity will fall off you automatically. Then predream the event actually happening and how you will deal with it if it does happen – what you will say and how you will say it, what if any other actions you will take. This will knock off another large chunk of the bad mood. After that it will be your standup courage and resolve that will take you the rest of the way into a right frame of mind and mood to succeed.

Related post: https://www.humaneffectivenessinstitute.org/billharveyblog/things-we-do-automatically-that-do-us-no-good/

Best to all,

Bill