Category Archives: Flow State

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

 

Believe In Yourself

Created October 29, 2021

What do those words mean?

The underlying precept is that, even under rare conditions of constant parental attention, life still tends to wound us.

Incidents in which we underperformed abound.

No matter what good we do, somehow, we have a tendency to never forgive ourselves for those times we caused our own eternal shame.

What is it that makes us take the side of the accuser against ourselves?

Conscience.

Freud classified Conscience as a societally-induced phenomenon. “SuperEgo” is the name he gave it.

What I call “The Me That Was Born”, Freud calls the “id”.

What I call “the Robot”, Freud calls the “ego”.

What I call conscience, Freud calls the “SuperEgo”.

In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud intuits deep causal connections between societal change and inner acculturation conditioning, and he calls out the ultimate interference of newer mental/emotional aspects with the original experiencer.

That idea of inner structure where three different centers of power exist has implications that have never been fully explored by later science. The Human Effectiveness Institute has brought this back to light.

If you are beating yourself up on a subconscious level, you are raising huge frictional resistance against your achieving peak experiences.

Try this mind experiment. Take Freud literally for a moment and see if you can actually experience that there are at least those three points of view within YOU.

The YOU that has always been there taking it all in.

The YOU that is your own press agent and protector.

The YOU that is constantly critiquing your performance after the fact and even during action. And especially before action. Just always critiquing you, putting you down, ya got nuthin.

Coming from someone who knows you better than yourself, because it IS yourself, you are strongly affected by it.

It is wounding.

Therefore, you repress it.

That makes it subconscious. The dwelling ground of the suppressed.

But it is your drumbeat. Every breath you take, every step you make. Constantly bringing down your estimate of yourself.

The only way to battle this internal demon is to call upon facts. Your noblest deeds. Your tendency to learn over time, albeit slowly.

You cannot continue to filibuster. You must agree to talk with yourself about the most internally divisive issues that undermine the collective YOU.

Don’t wait for the government to make psychiatric treatment free for everyone. Do it yourself.

One way or the other, don’t get caught in the trap of stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time. You have to be on your own side. Otherwise, you’re just going to spin your wheels and get stuck in the mud.

You do have to forgive yourself. Whatever incidents still cause you to beat yourself up, write the list down, and don’t lose it.

One at a time, when you feel like it and life lets you, just deeply relive the one on the list you feel like attacking at that moment. Give it a whole day or three days or a week, however long it takes, until you totally realize what decisions you made later in life that you made better, because you had been taught that painful lesson at that time.

When you’ve gone through the entire list, you will feel initially drained. When you recover from the strong cathartic, you will be wonderful and feel every bit of it.

Best to all,

Bill

Reopening Your Mind to All Possibilities

Created October 22, 2021

We all have heroes and heroines. That’s a very good thing. But life is complicated, there can be harmful things that come out of good things, and vice versa. The harmful aspect I’m thinking about right at the moment is that we can become violently protective of every single thing our idol ever said.

The idolized person if they were still around would probably wish this inflexibility were not the case, especially if that unbudgeable position were being invoked in his or her name.

We must allow for the possibility that we can see further than the role model could see, because we sit upon their shoulders.

Imagine your role model might be proud of you for thinking for yourself, even it led to a degree of difference from something that person once said.

Each of us is always growing up, and things we said a long time ago might not be something we would bother to defend today.

Science is not a person, and individual scientists may have varying degrees of personal evolution, hence can have biases, but science as a whole has never claimed to have completed its quest and found the explanation for everything, including our existence in the first place. That basic existential question nowadays is labelled “The Hard Question” in physics. It includes the question of why there are laws of nature, because laws imply a lawmaker, order implies a mind of far greater powers than our own, the beautifully-ordered complexity of the universe having come about accidentally, having struck Einstein and many other scientists as hard to believe.

Yet to the average person there is the assumption that science has closed the books on that question, that any sort of great mind or spirit behind and responsible for nature cannot possibly be true.

Science has never declared that. It would be hard to call it science if it were to do that. Science is about objectively searching for truth by means of intuitive hypotheses based on observation and inductive logic, then conducting experiments to isolate variables one at a time so as to verify or eliminate hypotheses based on deductive logic. Without that process, a scientist taking a strong position on a subject is just another biased person stating his or her beliefs. The fact that in one sphere of life s/he is a scientist doesn’t make them an expert on every subject under the sun. The psychological halo effect, however, gives more weight to the words of a person to the degree that they have stood out in any way within their society. Nowadays that even includes the hate heroes polluting the media. Whether famous as a gang leader or a scientist, their words have much more impact than those of the average person.

The Hard Question to physicists is actually a fighting matter for most human beings. Many wars have been fought over such matters. Today some of the energy in the schism derives from people who are ardently loyal to one church, one way of answering The Hard Question. In the U.S. there is an overlap between people who are fighting mad, fiercely patriotic, and devoted to explicit orthodoxy within a specific religion. Even beginning to come close to what intends to be an open-minded consideration of The Hard Question may be offensive to some readers, so I hasten to say that I have no strong revisionist position about any religion, and that my personal hypothesis actually can coexist 100% with every major religion on Earth. (Readers who do not see how that could be possible are invited to get a free sample of my novel The First Son.)

The top physicists – Einstein and Wheeler for example – both allowed for the possibility of a lawmaker behind nature’s laws. Neither of them unfortunately studied consciousness as deeply as they studied physics and mathematics (and as deeply as Einstein studied philosophy). They both realized and used the power of intuition, and if they had been disposed to study psychology as deeply, they could have come to the same hypothesis as mine, that all that exists is a single consciousness, a single lawmaker, and each of us is that entity temporarily self-assigned to one role in the total performance. This view would have satisfied Einstein’s inability to accept and explain the existence of free will, and his rejection of the possibility of a God who could care about individual humans.

You may get a good feeling out of viewing this 2-minute video of a father and daughter having a conversation about the existential question:

Let the real magic of life back into your life. Without adopting any worldview, allow yourself to enjoy the lack of closure on the largest question, and to be awed by the significance of the question: our lives are a mystery. We are in the most important movie that could possibly ever exist. Get used to keeping your mind open until you see what would be considered legal evidence or scientific evidence – which will be rarely. Learn to enjoy (it is admittedly an acquired taste) not feeling 100% certain about anything, so long as you’re able to make decisions effectively, harking to your preferred hypotheses.

If you’d like a ten-minute video explanation of my hypothesis, it’s here.

For a set of wonderful Einstein quotes curated by one of my heroines Yana Lambert please click here.

We don’t need to get negative about any subject so long as we are internally flexible to consider lots of different points of view, while always choosing to do things the way we like, and allowing for the possibility that we are not as separate from each other as we presently look.

You want to be able to land on your feet if it turns out to be that we are all one thing together. It’s scientifically possible. Decisions made with that possibility in mind will work out better for you and everyone, and that is a pre-scientific pragmatic validation of sorts.

Love to all,

Bill

You’ll Know You Are in the Flow State

Created September 17, 2021

You’ll know you’re in the Flow state when your mind sees the futility of saying anything to itself, because words can never tell the whole truth about what you are already sensing and need no words to sense.

When it first happened to me, I was merged with the audience, with my father, the band, the stage, everything was me dancing together and doing itself perfectly as I watched and enjoyed the experience mightily.

Interestingly, the moment was captured by a photographer:       

My mother Sandy was watching from the wings. You can see her to my right where the curtain to backstage is slightly open.

Flow state as first named and described by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has of course been around in the human race since as far back as we go, and we see that animals get into it too, such as when we see squirrels playing 50 feet above the ground jumping confidently from branch to branch. The Flow state is one of the things we love to watch during the Olympics or any TV live sports. Incredibly perfect performances account for a goodly percentage of the most watched and shared Youtube videos.

As Mihaly (he had been an advisor to The Human Effectiveness Institute) spelled out, the Flow state happens when one is not emotionally attached to (dependent on) winning, but is simply playing for fun.

Echoing the Buddha’s exhortation to attain nonattachment. This is not just coincidence. Buddha was one of the many saints in history who knew of the higher states of consciousness as real phenomena, and compassionately spent their lives trying to get as many people as possible to take the idea seriously.

We have never needed more for people to go inside and take themselves over. And it has never been less likely that we can accomplish this at the mass level at which sanity is needed quickly.

I link sanity and the higher states of consciousness – Observer state and Flow state – on purpose. All around us today we see high degrees of irrational behavior, in the U.S. higher than ever seen before in my lifetime at least. Psychology as a nascent science has never drawn a bright line where sanity ends and insanity begins. Neurotic behavior is not as extreme as psychotic behavior, and people in public office can apparently stay in office no matter how far from rationality (enlightened self-interest) they stray, as long as we can write them off as neurotics and not psychotics. We forgive neuroticism because we acknowledge to ourselves in moments of clarity that we ourselves and possibly everyone has some degree of neuroticism.

Attachment is certainly one of the driving factors in neuroticism. People become irrationally attached to something while they are young and impressionable and then it becomes so much a part of who they think they are that it can become invisible to themselves, even as it causes obsessive compulsive, paranoic, manic depressive, and even schizophrenic behavior. Belonging is a deep motivation, so is power, so is social acceptance, and any of these and more are among the mechanisms which take away our Flow state and our Observer state and turn us into Devoted Followers.

Attachment is the main blocker of our feeling the innate joy of being alive. Theoretically, like those nearly-flying squirrels, just the fun of all the things we can choose to do each moment by being alive should make us incredibly grateful and happy. It’s all a creative game. It’s the most exciting movie of all: LIFE. Yet count the long faces as one walks down any street.

A part of us inside is purposely blocking joy. It is attachment. It is saying: “No I won’t let you feel joy because I want X and I may not get it!” Please let this 87-second video experience flow into your open mind:

Once you have found the hidden switch of your Will, you will have the determination to not waste time working against your own best interests, such as by wallowing in shame, guilt, fear, anger, blame, hate, or any other alarm system. Those systems, like an alarm clock, have a very valid function, and they call our attention to something that we need to deal with intelligently, and like an alarm clock, it is not intelligent to proceed without turning them off first. We must use these negative feelings exactly like an alarm clock. They have called your attention to a real-world challenge you have. Okay, how are you going to solve it? What is it in your realistic power that you can actually DO to win in the situation? It isn’t by wallowing in the alarm clock.

Be on your own side. Get to the solution stage and don’t get stuck in the problem recognition stage. This is enlightened self-interest. This is sanity. This is rationality.

Help your children learn this trick. Show them the video. Get themselves to take their own side using their intelligence and their courage to face the world’s challenges as creative challenges. Get them to see the potential fun in looking at everything that bugs them, that new way. Constructively. Not pausing to take potshots at others, wallowing in blame or other excuses. Teach them to take responsibility not only for themselves but for the people around them. Make it better, tell them. Like the lyric in the Beatles’ song “Hey Jude” – “Take a sad song and make it better.”

Tell them about the Flow state. They will like that part. They will make that part of their bucket list. Remind them not to get attached to getting into the Flow state, because that will block it. Just take each moment as an opportunity to make things better and to enjoy the fun of every challenge. Then Flow will come on its own.

My best to all, Bill

It’s Never Too Late

Created September 10, 2021

The most constructive aspect of the pandemic is that it drove us inside. Not just inside our own homes, but inside our own selves.

We hadn’t had an opportunity to do that in ages. Not to that degree.

On vacations, there are so many new diverting experiences to enjoy, we tend not to spend too much vacation time introspectively, which could have given us a life changing experience.

But Covid gave us the time and place and for many of us it has already happened. I know a few people whose lives have changed for the better – as a result of being closeted away for long time periods with the same situation. They have decided to make a major life change in favor of the kind of work they have always really wanted to do.

Being cloistered away is really a wonderful way to catch up on life. If you use some of the remaining pandemic time to go inside and reconsider your life, you will have the satisfaction of having “judoed” (made the best use of) a bad situation. Gotten some good out of it.

Too bad we are having to pay such a high price for this introspective opportunity. But let’s stay focused on what is constructive.

My hunch is that someday all of us can work at our passion work. If everyone in the world was doing the work they enjoy the most, they would be much less likely to spend their time hating, arguing, faulting, blaming, killing, cancelling, or in any other ways hurting each other.

I could easily be wrong but I’m linking today’s rough world with individual frustration as one originating cause. Add on top of that the pandemic, negative media, negative politics, weather change, it’s making all of us more frequently peevish and testy.

Most likely individual frustration is just one of many psychological factors causing us to pollute ourselves and each other and the environment with such endless negativity. Attachment to belonging to groups we have become deeply identified with, is one such factor. But again, let’s stay focused on where we can see opportunities for positive change, rather than dwelling on the hardness of today’s situation. Dwelling on the mess is a herd compulsion and in a warped way it even brings us all together on some level. But it is a downward spiral and not conducive to finding ways out. It’s wasting time rather than getting to the solutions, not a good idea in emergency situations.

The people I know who are changing follow a pattern so far. They are leaving good paying jobs that are the same every day and risking penury to try to do something they would really like to do.

Maybe we should all have done it from the start, but don’t get to thinking that it’s too late, you should have made your move in your 20s, right out of school, and instead you took a job that gave you a sense of security and a journey to all wonders ahead. In retrospect, that was probably the right first step, a reconnaissance in force, and then steering toward your own vision, your own mission, your own dream.

Maybe we all start out that way. Perfectly justifiable decision at the time. And maybe what we’ve been doing up until now hasn’t been so bad and we really enjoy it too, just that we are even more motivated by other interests.

Without Covid, maybe we would go on that way without any strong enough reason to change.

Covid gave us all a good strong enough reason to change.

Change isn’t easy. But it can be easy. You just have to find that hidden switch inside.

That applies not only to changing your life’s work, but to making any changes that will make you happier. It’s hard to change because just saying you will change in some specific way does not have much impact on the complex programs which determine your behavior. The switch you have to find in yourself is not made of words at all.

The hidden switch that enables you to become fully self-actualized lies somewhere deep inside you, behind, underneath, between you and the words in your head. You can get in touch with your Self, which is deeper inside you than the words going through your mind. Your Self is much more than your verbal mind, your Self is all of you, like an ocean, and the words are just ripples on the ocean’s surface.

Your feelings and even your body can give you insights that you won’t always get from the words in your mind. The hidden switch is in there, in that wordless part of you, and the reason it’s hidden is because most of you is the subconscious. Things going on inside of you that you are likely to notice in your conscious mind are the things that became obsessive to you early in life and just got more and more locked in after that. You tend to ignore a vast number of other clues each day. Your subconscious is trying to signal you and this can show up in many ways, often something you say without thinking first which causes upsets. Only introspection with concentration can lead you to that hidden switch where you have power to take control of your Self.

One thing about the hidden switch that is not mysterious is that it involves the Will. Your ability to be firm in matters important to you, even firm with yourself, self-disciplined, able to keep your word to yourself. When you’ve flipped that hidden switch there will be no division between the words in your head and your feelings, you will understand yourself and be able to articulate great truths about yourself to yourself. Best to write those down in your journal. You will have Will and your vows will be unshakeable.

It’s never too late to start to live what Aristotle called the examined life. He famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That might be a bit hyperbolic but is, in my experience, much more true than false.

Once you do find the switch, it may or may not change your life’s work. You may already be in the line of work you love. What finding the switch will always do is to make you more effective at whatever you do in life, because identifying yourself with your total experience and not just with what you tell yourself in words in your inner dialog will lead you into the higher states of consciousness – Observer state and Flow state.

If you would like to speed up this free course, here’s a link to more free videos we will be discussing in future blog posts. The book mentioned in the video above, Mind Magic, is our most powerful tool so far developed by The Human Effectiveness Institute, and is inexpensive, try a free Kindle sample. Your own meditation and contemplation are free and can get you to the same results although may take longer. Please use all of these free and paid-for experiences you like, and stay on the path to self-actualization, you will never regret it.

I’ll leave you with my love and a song.

Best to all,
Bill

The Untalking Self

Created August 31, 2021

Did anyone ever say to you “You’ve changed!” We’ve all had that experience. It’s true, we are all constantly changing, very strongly affected by every single thing that we experience. The me you are today is not exactly the same as yesterday’s.

Some aspects of ourselves change very slowly over the years – those attitudes and behaviors which psychologists classify as values, and those classified as character and personality traits – in some people they can last a lifetime without changing at all.

Just as stars have a standard sequence, human beings do too, and it’s pretty well described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (a six stage model), in texts of Ancient India referring to seven chakras, and my own field research at scale which suggests fifteen stages in an individual’s development from a selfish, self-defensive being to a mensch (a person of integrity and honor).

All three of these theories imply that a certain amount of change is to be expected during a person’s life, and that the development for whatever reason seems to suggest teleological design – individuals tend to become more ethical. This may be due to a conscious creator or to species survival mechanisms.

As we change when growing up, suddenly one day for perhaps the first time, we find ourselves thinking about how we are thinking. We might not take special notice of the fact that our inner vocabulary is very similar to the way we talk to our closest friends, not so much similar to the way we talk to our parents or teachers. We are sure to notice how powerfully it runs on by itself in fact it’s impossible to turn off. We might worry for a second about that but then we’ll notice that we are having ideas tumble out one upon another so it’s hard to pay attention to all of it, you have to pick and choose.

You might, as I did, ask myself – without using words in my mind – which of these selves is me? Am I the babbler that is saying all this stuff, or am I the quiet listener hearing it all? I am both, I answered myself. But then which is more representative of the true me? It would have to be the older one – the original one I was before I learned to talk. The Me That Was Born.

How much you’ve changed, one might say to oneself, waking up to the possibility that you are your Untalking Mind, encountering your talking mind. Yes, most changes are for the better, always, but now that you are able to see the difference, you’ll be able to be far more perspicacious in your metacognition. Best to keep journal handy for the rest of your life now. Your life will be full of revelations about yourself you will want to write down and perhaps date.

In the video, the narrator implies that the Robotical Talking Mind has taken over like some dreaded invader (maybe like a “mental Covid”), perhaps raising excess fears, but fear not, the “Robot” image is intended only as a humorous way of thinking about it.

Prepare your children for a joke so they are not alarmed if you show them that video, and then let them explain what they think the video means.

The human race turned a corner when it got to the third and fourth cycles of inventiveness and that’s when our minds got so taken over by the “Robot”.

The first wave was crude facial, oral and sign language. The second was tools including weapons and fire as well as art. Third was written language which triggered inventions of all kinds including mechanical technology. Fourth was electronic technology including atom bombs and media.

Trouble started in that third wave, where weapons got so much better, but we were never so distracted before as we are today here in the fourth wave.

I believe we kick off a fifth wave by taking metacognition/Observer/Flow inside. It will be the first wave to focus on improving us human beings ourselves beyond body building.

Acceleritis is my word for how we got taken over, it’s inforush paralysis and emergency oversimplification procedure (EOP), caused in the human race by the human race, by our blessed gift of inventiveness. We’ve invented ourselves into a corner existentially and psychologically and you dear reader are now part of the noble comeback. We dig ourselves out first psychologically, then existentially. Thanks for being part of the solution!

Best to all,

Bill