Category Archives: Mental Optimization

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

Choose Resilience Over Resentment

Created February 11, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey blog.

One reader of last week’s post thanked me and made a special request: write something about resentment and how to deal with it in oneself.

Last week’s post was about the things we do automatically all the time that do us absolutely no good. Things like hating. Resentment is another one of those things that we do that doesn’t help us and in fact hurts us.

The dictionary definition of resentment that I like the most is “Bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly”. Such as having been passed over for promotion, not having been appropriately recognized for one’s accomplishments, standing by red-faced while a sibling receives inordinate parental praise which would have been more applicable to oneself.

Some philosophers of psychology have asserted that resentment is a type. People who fall into this type tend to start early, and become wounded by their perception that they are not getting the love they deserve from one or both parents. Because this came about by a comparison between the ideal conditions and actual ones, the resentful type tends to become idealistic and perfectionistic, as if subconsciously assuming that this will “right the wrong”.

The actual effect of having an invisible script that we carry with us in life, without even realizing that we have such a script, is that it will tend to cause us to experience the negative outcomes which we expect. If we expect to be treated unfairly, we will tend to bring about that undesired outcome. This happens through micro-momentary unconscious signaling.

In other words, by giving in to the automatic ego-emotional reaction of showing resentment, and/or anticipatory resentment, which is automatic, one does not lead to being treated more fairly.

Which is more important – getting treated more fairly more often – or blowing off steam by expressing resentment – or causing oneself psychological harm by repressing resentment so that it operates under the radar. It would seem far better to repair real world situations. This is why we urge people to not operate on autopilot, but to exert conscious observation of what we are doing to ourselves, automatic or otherwise, and take control of our behaviors, moving the matter out of the subconscious and into the conscious. This involves metacognition and self-metaprogramming.

Here are some actions recommended when one senses resentment within oneself.

First, don’t let others see that you feel resentful. Subconsciously we all tend to see resentment as a characteristic of weakness, someone who is “a loser” at least in the situation. Far better to show confidence, awareness of one’s own value, no concern as to what others think of you – whether you are really that strong today or not. By acting like the you that you are aiming at being, you build that muscle until it becomes fully authentic.

Take care to continue to treat kindly the person who marginalized you, even if you have evidence that they are out to get you. That demonstrates your invulnerability, and you actually can cause behavior changes in others by this turning of the other cheek.

Second, take some time to contemplate how you might have set yourself up for being underestimated. Were there any signals you sent, overt or subtle, that could have contributed to becoming under-appreciated?

These strategies are aimed at shifting the basis for your inner life experience away from automatic defensive reactions, to enlightened self-management. This shift is a profound one which very few people ever even attempt. It is a shift very conducive to greater effectiveness and happiness, which is resilient to offending experiences, and leads to creativity and Flow state.

The neurological structures and functions within a human being are pro-survival and are there as default systems when we are not in a state of enlightened self-interest performing rationally and empirically. Unfortunately, during the information acceleration pandemic which has been going on throughout recorded history, we settle into living our entire lives in these robotical fight-flight states. Only a relative handful of us conquer our own autonomic ego reaction instincts. Those that do stand out for their accomplishments and their sagacity.

We can all be that way. There is a simple method to it. It is to stop assuming anything, reset to scratch, and observe carefully everything that goes on in and around you, suspending judgment. Use my book Mind Magic as it makes it even easier. But all you really need is you, observing everything without judging it, and ignoring your own kneejerk reactions. With practice, you will find that you don’t feel the sting as much as you used to when someone intentionally or unintentionally does something that you resent. It becomes irrelevant. So long as you can keep doing your work, achieving your goals, maintaining the desired lifestyle, you can let such events roll off your confident back.

Until you really feel that confidence, by all means project it externally, but most importantly, figure out why you have that lack of confidence in yourself. Have you been Peter-Principled into a job that is not your expertise? Do you want to learn how to do that role with greater confidence? There will be ways you can get the learning you need. Or would you rather be doing some other kind of work?

It’s possible that someone is gunning for you, actively wanting to get you to leave. It comes down to how much you love everything else about the job, and what you really want.

If the moment comes when you are formally invited to leave, focus on what you want to do next, the departure although involuntary might be a really good thing for you in the long run.

Always remember the good things you have done in that job, and keep doing things you’re proud of. Whether or not they are proud of you, you can still be proud of yourself. They are not the measure of you. You yourself are the most qualified to know how good or imperfect you are. Don’t be thrown off by people who are working off of guesswork.

Best to all,

Bill

 

Make It a Clean Break

Created December 27, 2021

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog post.

We’ve been accultured to think of making New Years Resolutions. As a prospective pro-survival mechanism, it’s not a bad one. We slip back into old habits and it’s psychologically handy to have a once-a-year official restart to give us a jolt of extra energy to stick with our resolutions to not let this backsliding continue… this new year and forever after.

It’s refreshing to have a powwow with oneself, list the things worth changing, and vow to have the will power and determination for the rest of your life to stick with your own program all the way.

The first thing that may come up is a confidence-besieging attack presentation of why you are laughable to even think of making resolutions because you can never keep them.

In order to pass this gate, you need to change your judgment of your past history. You’re probably still carrying all the bad feelings about things you did. You still see yourself as having some good moments and some bad moments but not being proud enough of where you have gotten yourself. All of that is just one way of looking at it that you have been stuck in.

You need to pause and erase all those self-judgments and just look at it as if watching the life of another person. That objective view is the Observer state. You will know you are there when all the guilt and self-anger have disappeared and you are really indifferent to what you are looking at. This is reality. All the rest is made up in our minds, and we get stuck in it. The people around us affect us deeply and vice versa and so we reinforce and modify each other’s biased inner views and predispositions. Taking all of us away into a made-up world each culture makes up for itself.

What’s it all about, Alfie? What will be the things you see about yourself possibly needing to change? What will this teach you about your deepest motivations, that you maybe haven’t told yourself about lately on a conscious level?

Once you’ve had this contemplation with yourself, you’ll see your own life in its largest perspective. Where you are headed, what you’ll be striving for in terms of effects on the world and/or on yourself. You’ll see the “Why” in why you exist in this life and not in any other. You’ll know the passion work you want to be doing starting as soon as possible.

Once the new year begins, you will fairly quickly have a moment which feels as if your resolutions aren’t working at all. You will be tempted every time this happens to just forget about all that resolution stuff and live your life. But you’ll know in advance that this is the biggest trap to be well prepared for. Remember that line from a song (“That’s Life”), Pick yourself up and get back in the race.

All of this will be much easier if you’ve been practicing the Observer state already. That state is like a muscle it gets stronger with use. Soon you will astound yourself at how indifferent you are able to be, when alone and in your mind, about things which used to obsess you positively or negatively.

Look at the world and strip away all of the things that you’ve read or heard said, all of the thinking and guesswork and subjectivity, and just look at what is – the facts brought to you by your own senses, your own experiences, your own truthsense.

Maintaining that state of mind for as many seconds of the day as you can come back to it and sustain it despite interruptions and distractions will help you stay the course and carry out your resolutions.

Your sense of humor will also help you get back on the horse each time you fall off. Once you are able to leap back on within a second, you’ll start to have Flow state experiences more regularly.

You’ll know that even in this exalted state, above the level in which most of humanity walks around, a part of your own mind is still babbling even though your body takes actions which you realize are not the actions the babbler was just saying it was going to do, and those actions are obviously the right ones.

In these dis-associative moments, you could have an alarm reaction that you are going crazy and your personality is splitting. Deepen your breathing and wait for the alarm to wind down, just keep watching yourself. What you’ve experienced is what I call The Robot, and which I and many others also call it the Ego.

In my explanation of the Ego, it’s the neuron net we build in our brain as a result of our experiences. Teachers of meditation also refer to it as the “monkey mind”. It’s the loudmouth in our minds, and so we often assume it speaks for our true essence self, the Me That Was Born. The Ego is the source of hierarchical thinking, selfishness, possessiveness, and other predispositional biases which work against ourselves and other’s best interests, leading to violence, inequality, and a shallow degree of freedom.

Free will entails a certain degree of trial and error. Our history shows that we are accelerating in terms of our exploration of our own ideas and their material realization. I call this Acceleritis. It is the master culture in which all of the individual cultures of the planet fit (the vast majority), or being counter to the master culture, adapt or perish.

The Ego becomes most useful and least destructive when an individual reaches true maturity, and thus becomes a mensch. This is the same as spending virtually all one’s time in Observer state, and often in Flow state.

As you look to 2022 and make your plans for it, feel free to make best use of these states of mind suggested here.

Wishing you all the best of everything in 2022!

Love, 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