Tag Archives: brain states

Recall the Moments When You Shined

Not for ego gratification, but to be that You on command

We’ve got to start taking daily vacations. Not only is that what life is all about — what it is meant to be every second of every day — but on top of that, we then give far better service to each other.

Emotion is more powerful than Will in the average person today, because of Acceleritis, and the EOP condition it causes, bringing us down from Observer and Flow states where our Will is stronger than our emotions.

Emotion is the body casting its 800-pound vote through a cascade of brain chemicals, resulting in specific neuron energy gains in the amygdala and other brain locales, specific neuron energy reductions in the prefrontal cortex and other places, glandular secretions, and adrenalin. There are so many powerful brainwashing mind control technologies in play that you are typically helpless, in EOP, to do anything but be swayed into whatever those tyrannical electrochemical drivers impose on us.

It’s not at all dissimilar from what happens in the brain from chemicals such as sodium pentathol and more modern/secret drugs used in paramilitary and military interrogations. In the case of emotions the brain’s chemical process doesn’t necessarily get us to tell the truth. What it often does is restore sovereignty of our actions for a time period until we get out of it, to a loop between our limbic system and left brain, which is our “lower self”. Call it the ego. 

You believe your self to be that being.  (I know “your self” is one word, but made into two words it has a different meaning and is a provocative subconscious stimulus to a more empirical mental stance) You unhesitatingly fall back into those positions that are so easy to slide back into. You have those rapid flashes of envy, resentment, fear, etc. that you are so used to you don’t even notice them or consider them abnormal. You say things to your self that if you were listening like you do in the Observer state, you would see you are just wasting time trying to project an image to yourself of your latest achievements, or some other useless folly. You are not showing the noble side of your character.

You are highly unlikely to get flashes of insight, inspiration, happiness, gratitude, or love in EOP. These things are not at home in that state because the brain signatures are very different. The allocation of energy armies across the various parts of the brain is not conducive to these more beneficial and enjoyable experiences. Nor to high performance for your organization, your family, the world in general, your self, or the Universe (the power and brains behind which, some call “God”).

High performance is our obsession at The Human Effectiveness Institute. It is so easy to move the world toward improved decision making. These little tricks are not so hard. They make us feel so good that they fairly quickly take over as our preferred state of being. Challenges can kick us out of that state and in the early going it takes us a while to notice and then work our way back up to Observer/Flow states. With practice, we are kicked out, clear the mechanism, and get back in. Sooner or later we are almost always there, with rare relapses. But from the start, the process just makes us happier.

Don’t you know people who seem to be so mentally strong that they almost always seem happy, positive, never say a bad word about another person? There are more of us every day. It’s happening already. It’s happening all around us. More and more of us practicing random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. Our actions coming from the knowledge that “with all beings and all things we shall be as relatives” (Sioux Indian proverb).

Sure, some of those people are still basically egotistical. It’s a phase. They’ll grow out of it. At least they are enthusiastic about something even if it is their own self.

An upbeat attitude goes a long way to inciting higher performance in one self and others. The affective/emotional is more powerful than the intellect. Negative emotion — even mild background radiation so-used-to-it you forget that it is inherently negative — conditions and entrains weak intellectual strategies/tactics, whereas positive emotion does the opposite to the cognitive faculties.

It’s worth a lot to get your self into a good mood. And where’s the penalty — what’s there to lose? It’s all upside — it feels good — you feel good — and you make others feel good. A total no-brainer.

So how do you get your self to feel good? A daily vacation is a great start.

All it means is you take a break and do whatever you want to do. Create a space away from other people (sometimes that is not necessary but it usually is in the beginning). Then you just do whatever you feel like from second to second. You play. Like a child again. Like who you really are.

Take notes if you feel moved to do so. Only then — no pressure.

If you’re home, empirically seek inner detection as to the feelings evoked in you when you gaze at objects in your home. Best to start with one and stay on it for a minute.

The point of this is in part just being attentive in the moment, slowing down, deceleration from Acceleritis — but it’s also to reconnect with parts of your self that might be buried just beneath the surface. Things that are so familiar to you, you no longer notice how you feel about them. The fact is, you probably love practically everything that is in your life right now. You probably would miss some of the things that you suppose you hate. Maybe I’m wrong but you are the only one who will know, you’re the only observer who can tell what the truth is about your own feelings.

When you’re on vacation, you want to be in bliss. It’s the whole point, so why not do little experiments that are fun and are part of checking out your feelings, in order to make sure they are in bliss — and if not, you get them there.

You aren’t in a hurry when you’re on your daily vacation. You won’t accomplish the vacation objective fully if you are conscious of how soon you have to get back to work and thus trying to cram in the fun, still speeding, still in the clutches of Acceleritis.

A personal experience as an example. I was taking a vacation alone at home on a Saturday, my day for most of my weekly nonprofit work and writing. I always feel great on the Sabbath as a result of it being a vacation day for me.

So I happen to be in my closet and my eye falls on a particular shirt. I feel a wave of love wash over me. I love that shirt. It is like a human being to me or a pet — I feel such tangible love for it. I realize that wherever I look I am still feeling love. It’s not just the shirt. I love all of this. I love life. It feels like it’s been this way continuously for as long as I can remember, although that’s not quite the case. Yet the way I feel at this moment is that I’ve always loved everything and how could it possibly be otherwise. I feel like I am looking at the Universe the way God would — the way God does.

I am back in the original consciousness in terms of the affective dimension, although not omniscient not omnipotent. I think of God then and a wave of gratitude comes over me — reverence too but mostly gratitude. What a great game you/I/we created. I love this game!

When I go back to work it is not because the vacation ended but rather it’s what I really want to do. A flood of ideas later validated by experience rush me so fast I have to write in my own shorthand, leaving out letters.

Start giving your self these daily vacations, please. And during vacation whenever you feel like it, jot down the times you were at your best in this lifetime, whatever times you shone mightily like the Sun. There is a richness of positive emotion at these times, and it’s good to bask in that feel-good-ness, to remember what it feels like rather than to bask is ego-glory. Capture it as an Observer not wallowing in ego about these events. Scientific detachment. Objective honesty with your self. Record the facts as a scientist in your diary or journal or whatever note keeping system you have for these vacation journeys.

Go back and look at this “Possible Flow State” record whenever you feel like it.

The point is to deeply realize without blockage or limitation that you can do this again. You can be that you on command.

In fact there is no scientific reason why you cannot live in Flow state virtually all the time. You might need a five-year ramp to get there and along the way there may be more Flow experiences each month, which you can record in your objective log.

It’s not just to pump your self up. It’s to manifest more Flow and Observer state in your life, so you enjoy life more but particularly so you can give high performance in your work and your love life and your life in general.

This I wish for you! And you can do it with no help from anyone. And it is not effort-laden work because it is vacation. So please, start now!

Love to all,


Optimizing the value of feelings in decision making

What are feelings? How are feelings optimized?

Besides the input from the five physical senses, human consciousness receives feelings. Upcoming posts will offer experiments focused on this input stream, which you can conduct yourself. These experiments will establish whether you can achieve measurable improvements in your own effectiveness stemming from better channeling or processing of feelings-type information.

To prepare for the experiments, let’s contemplate: what are feelings?
 Here you can contemplate this question if you wish, or just go on.
The Orion Nebula

Feelings are urges that arise to sensibility within us, within our minds and within our bodies. Feelings are experiences, states of consciousness resulting from motivations, sentiments, preferences or desires. These terms all really mean the same thing: motivations, what we value, what we want, what we are trying to get, what we want to avoid.

Feelings are the way we respond internally to external and internal phenomena, based on what we are trying to get and avoid, and how current events can help or threaten our desired outcomes.

Therefore feelings generally come in two valences, positive or negative. The feelings are positive if current events appear to favor our targeted outcomes, and they are negative if events seem to be heading away from what we want to have happen.

Positive feelings are valued universally in themselves. We don’t need to argue in favor of them, we all like them, and would like to have them all the time.

Negative feelings not only make us feel bad (by definition), they lower our immune system thus making us more prone to disease, and they distract our cognitive concentration thereby reducing our effectiveness. These bad feelings can also serve a positive function as an alarm system to get our attention to the problem fast. Ironically, if the bad feelings continue while one is grappling with the problem on a rational level, it will take longer to solve the problem.

When a problem arises and is sensed partially by the bad feelings within oneself, alerting us to focus on the challenge, it’s easy to say, “Turn off the alarm and get on with solving the problem.” However, it is not so easy because of attachment and Acceleritis.

Acceleritis, the unending acceleration of information entering the human brain each day, simply overloads the average human being’s capacity to do effective mental work of any kind. One kind of mental work we are supposed to get better at as we truly mature and “grow up” and become a “mensch” is to be able to sanely and in a balanced way take our feelings into account in our actions, without being stampeded or reduced to hand-wringing by those feelings. Acceleritis therefore also escalates the power of other mental subsystems that push in the direction of closure, black-and-white thinking, snap decisions, self-consistency and self-imitation — anything to simplify. Complexity is tacitly perceived as the main threat and pain causer. Acceleritis therefore lays many of us low with attachment — if Acceleritis were not present, we would actually have the mental and emotional maturity to cope with the situation without attachment.

What then is attachment?
Here you can contemplate this question if you wish, or just go on.
Whirlpool Galaxy
Attachment is the excessive dependency on something. It is actually love carried too far. You love something so much (a wonderful thing) you cannot do without it, and so you fall prey to fear of losing it, and this distracts the mind so that Observer state and Flow state are impossible. Your mind tends instead — in the Acceleritis-induced state of Emergency Operating Procedure (EOP) — to go around in circles wallowing in the fear of loss or the sense of loss, or the anger and bitterness related to the loss or threatened loss, or the hopeless defeated depression of having lost it with no hope of regaining it. No useful mental work is achieved, no problem solving, no creative new leaps rising to meet the challenge sideways, as would occur in the higher states of effectiveness, namely, the Observer and Flow states.

As discussed in earlier posts, these effectiveness states are posited to be real physical states in the brain, differentiated from one another in measurable ways. Our Theory of Holosentience is based on the hypothesis that the primary dimension determining the state of the brain and consciousness is the degree of harmony among functional areas of the brain (inhabiting our entire sentience at once) — wherein thoughts, feelings, motivations, and the other aspects of self achieve a synchronous integrity in both the experientially measurable consciousness domain as well as the scientifically measurable biometric material domain.

This brings us back to feelings. Feelings have always been less studied and talked about than thoughts. Descartes did not say “I feel, therefore I exist.”

The word feeling originally may have related (Wikipedia says) to the sense of touch, and then its meaning expanded to include the ineffable internal sense that brings us more bits (information) than the five physical senses in terms of the way it affects our actions.

What evidence is there that we are generally more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts? Freud established that thoughts are more likely to be rationalized in support of feelings, rather than people being able to use their thoughts to control their feelings. And yet, how valuable it is to be able to do just that — to have the mental self-discipline to focus one’s thoughts effectively even when one’s feelings are in an uproar.

In a nutshell, feelings are a manifestation of our motivations colliding with the external world. What feeling would we have if we had no motivations?

Here you can contemplate this question if you wish, or just go on.
Cassiopeia Galaxy

You can actually discover this for yourself, by meditating. While there are many specific methodologies for meditation, all of them have this mind/gut mirror effect of showing you what your own motivations really are, where they have gotten you, and why you have each experience you ever have. You can also achieve such objectivity that you can, as it were, turn off certain motivations for the moment and see what that feels like — what visions of future possibilities arise now that X motivation is gone, how are you breathing, how do you feel?

This gaining of perspective through meditation makes you feel good. In other words, it not only helps you inspect deeply your own feelings and their consequences in the world, it also generates a feeling, and a very good one.

What is that very, very sweet feeling? Is it happiness? Is it ecstasy? Yes, it’s all those things and more. Then what is it?

It’s love. A word that provokes instant uneasiness all round. It’s a word that makes us all feel silly. The guy has lost it. You don’t talk about such things. Verboten. Just for family talk, not public talk. What an interesting word to have such an effect.

The F-bomb has become popular in meetings with both males and females, at least in certain businesses I have moved through in the last decade. It is more acceptable than the word “love” in such venues.

Beyond getting the author in hot water, what is love?
Here you can contemplate this question if you wish, or just go on.
Pink sheer heart shape, computer generated fractal abstract background
It is the master feeling, the one all the others come from. Love is white light whereas each feeling is a color.

Love is the residue that is left when motivations are tuned down into conscious perspective, in light of an open-minded empirical philosophy of demanding proof for everything, dropping every bit of information one has heard onto a trial workboard in the consciousness storage bin, and taking it offline in terms of decision making. This is the perspective of yoga. Zen. Meditation. Contemplation. Focused singlepointed attention. A way of life for millions of people today and throughout human history. These multi-strands of movements see themselves as part of a whole, although to those outside they seem like a bunch of cults that are all different. They are all the same in achieving perspective, distance from motivations that the bodymind otherwise assumes are immutable, non-negotiable. These methods are among those crystallized into simple steps in our book Freeing Creative Effectiveness.

Why does love remain when one has achieved objective distance from one’s motivations? What evidence do we have for that assertion, and what explanation do we have for it?

As an individual my only evidence for any assertion here are my own experiences. Every time through meditation I clear away the built-in locked-in powerful sway of my own motivations, I discover that I am content, every tiny aspect of what I am experiencing is enjoyable and interesting, I simply love it, all of it, I love myself, and everyone. Others have reported similar experiences, enough so that I know I am not an isolated case. In the next post we will offer a meditative experiment whereby this may also happen to you.

Why should it be so? Why should we feel love when we are not being driven this way and that by irresistible motivations?

In my cosmological Theory of the Conscious Universe (TOTCU) we are all dubs of the master consciousness, like MP3 copies of a master recording of a song, each of us a microcosm of the whole universal consciousness. When we rise above the petty motivations that seem so all-important to us in our daily lives down here on this one planet, we partake of the carrier wave motivation we share with the master consciousness, the one that is always there under all the other motivations, from which they draw their power. Love that is omnidirectional is the wellspring, the source from which we splinter off love of money, love of power, love of sex, love of the idea of getting that big job, and so on. All other motivations are modulations of love. So when the splinter motivations are quieted, the background radiation that differentiates itself into these “local” motivations becomes visible. This is how I explain it to myself, that I have this omnidirectional love experience whenever I am centered and immune to the compulsions to protect and seize what I feel I must have.

Acceleritis makes it very difficult for me to communicate this so that it is widely credible, because Acceleritis works against the stopping of the momentum of the mini-mind —so it seems ridiculous to assert that we already have an abundance of love without having to get anything we don’t already have. And yet, if you allow the possibility of a universal consciousness of which we are all a part, what motivation would it have to be doing this universe if it did not love the doing of a universe as a game in itself, the master game, the master art form, the ultimate form of self-discovery.

Acceleritis makes it much easier to deal with information overload by focusing on differences and categorization into buckets mostly on a single continuum from good to bad. This goes on constantly below our conscious awareness. Making automated decisions that are often the wrong ones. This leads to all sorts of feelings, many of them bad. Clouding over the master feeling that exists already, unbrokenly from beginning to end. It is there underneath all this debris. It comes out when we clear off the rubble.

Now that we’ve explored “feelings”, the next post will describe an experiment you can carry out yourself on the optimization of feelings.

Best to all



PS – Humorously, Wikipedia says that feelings are the conscious subjective experience of emotion. This is funny because psychology defines emotion as the aspect of feeling that can be measured in the body, such as glandular secretions, muscle tensions, breathing rate, brainwaves, perspiration, etc., and you could just as easily say that feelings cause emotions as you could say emotions cause feelings. The leftover behaviorist psychology way of looking at it would be to make emotions more important — in fact 100% important, with feelings relegated to the trash bin of mind as epiphenomenon, a sound track that actually has no control of what the body is doing.

Such behaviorist Pavlovian thinking is now almost a century out of date, yet remnants of that thinking still creep into the generally excellent Wikipedia (which needs our donations incidentally to stay alive, and someone should tip them off to using advertising to support themselves, doing it in a PBS-like manner to the side all the way down from top to bottom, with true sponsorship tonality). Behaviorist ideas permeated so much of our thinking as a culture when they held reign that growing up we each got a dose of such ideas in the background conversations of adults we overheard. This is where we got the idea that we can just let the mind and body do their thing the way we always do and the way other people do, without any stopping to check out what the hell these operational action decisions are being based on.


The Bill Harvey newsletter is back

Many of you will remember and may have subscribed to the newsletter I wrote from 1979 to 2000, which predicted many of today’s media/technology trends:  reality TV, audiences creating media, the proliferation of interactive screens, addressable commercials (1979), passive portable peoplemeters (1979), the privacy principles of full disclosure/consumer choice/anonymity before they became the ANA/AAAA/ARF CASIE Principles, forecast (1980) the 30-point share drop (90 to 60) for the big 3 networks 1980-1990, and coined the terms clickstream and clickthrough.

For the first few years the newsletter came out twice a month and was called MEDIA SCIENCE NEWSLETTER. J. Walter Thompson was the first subscriber. During that period we made some of our riskiest projections, including penetration levels for basic and pay cable and every other form of the New Electronic Media. Then Viacom chief Jewels Haimovitz reminded me years later how accurate those projections turned out to be. The press referred to me as a media futurist. The late and beloved reporter Ben Bodec tracked my progress in Media Decisions.

In those early days we were still very turned on by the idea of media optimization. After successfully conducting many optimizations across all media at Interpublic however we gradually became more and more interested in optimizing more than just the eyeball exposure of media. How about optimizing the whole marketing budget? Against Sales, not eyeballs?

I had seen the early marketing mix modeling work Herb Krugman did at Interpublic, and saw that if you could automate that, run it backwards, and quantify the objective function – ROI or Consumer Lifetime Value or stock price or whatever – you could find a way to collect or estimate all the data you needed, and optimize the whole shebang.

At that point in time the name of the newsletter changed to THE MARKETING PULSE. We brought to light important studies by Motivac in France, suggesting that passive peoplemeters were ready for rollout – shortly before Percy rolled them out in the US ahead of Arbitron. We revealed important findings that the press had ignored, such as Leslie Woods and Walter Reichel’s measurement of the effect of Recency on actual sales. We became more interested in sales measurement, consulted for ScanAmerica and analyzed its sales lift findings relative to TV in the pages of the newsletter. We reported that IRI had found incremental TV to be ROI-positive twice as often as incremental promotion – 40% of the time vs. 20%.

Some of you may recall that 30 years ago I founded a nonprofit organization, the Human Effectiveness Institute, with the aim of improving decision making by optimization of thought. THEI put out a book which was rewritten this century as FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS.

The book became used as a course text at 35 universities including NYU and UCLA. On behalf of THEI I’ve provided workshops around the book to futurist groups within government and spoken about it at the World Future Society annual conference, on television and radio, on a panel with Bucky Fuller, and at West Point.

The idea of the “book” is that it breaks form with bookness, and by shattering expectations creates a mood conducive to mental optimization. The content is all about mental optimization and the resulting better decisions – decisions that work better in the real world. THEI is the publisher of this blog and therefore the topics of my new newsletter/blog will range far beyond media to include the important questions of the day, all of which rest on a foundational need for better decision making:

  • How does the US regain its competitive lead on the world market?
  • If times ahead will reduce actual spending power for most people, what less obvious changes will result?
  • Is it possible to put back even more meaning into our lives?
  • How do brands actually bond best with consumers?

The newsletter/blog will however stop referring to people as consumers, because that lens is counterproductive to the relationship brands wish to have with people.

Of course the topics you’d expect will always be covered:

  • How will cultural changes change the media and vice versa?
  • Different media create different measurable brain states
  • Programming gaps to be filled
  • Forecasts of changes in the media landscape
  • Nontraditional, experiential, and social marketing – best and worst practices – and what’s to come
  • At the cutting edge of marketing/media research
  • The optimization of effectiveness
  • Recommendations

I hope you’ll tell our mutual friends that the BH newsletter is back, or anyone you think might be interested in reading my “crazy” ideas again.  Thanks!

All the best, Bill