Friday, July 31, 2009

Choice = Life Enhancing Control

Out and about the other night, doing some fun life enhancing adventuring, I got chatting with a beautiful lady named Phoebe, who stimulated the thoughts and ideas behind this blog entry.

Phoebe is studying to be a Pilates Instructor and combining this with skills and concepts from NLP, which together are a wonderfully integrative and powerful approach to building patterns of wellness, strength, fitness and flexibility into life.

Exercise and Fitness are Life Enhancing

The first distinction that came from my delightful conversing with Phoebe is the insight that the fitter, stronger and more flexible you are, the more resilience and stamina you'll be able to bring to everything you do in life. It's a truly important life strategy! You need to build core strength aligned with flexibility into your body, mind and life. And of course, practices such as Pilates, Dance, Martial Arts, Yoga and other exercise forms are a fun way to do that. By choosing something that is fun and integrative you are more likely to continue exercising as a life practice and an ongoing life journey.

Research on exercise benefits to mind and life

Over 62% of deaths in the western world are caused by heart disease, cancer and stroke. These are known as ‘lifestyle’ diseases. They are largely caused by people’s choices and behaviour. For example, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that in the year 2000, over half a million people died due to the effects of tobacco and alcohol, while another third of a million individuals died from poor diet and physical inactivity. What we see from this is that the leading causes of death and disability in the developed world are SLOW suicide. People are literally killing themselves through bad habits and negative behaviours.

Poor diet, lack of exercise and common addictions destroy your health, your well-being and ultimately your happiness. This is serious and definitely NOT life enhancing!

On the other hand, new research shows that exercise beneficially affects your genes, helps reverse the aging process at a cellular level, gives you more energy, makes you smarter, and can even help you grow new brain cells.

Once you are strong and fit you’ll find that exercise feels fantastic and leaves you feeling energetic and alive. Research has also proven that aerobic exercise can relieve symptoms of mild depression and can be as effective as psychotherapy. Exercise improves memory and increases cognitive function.

For your long-term health and happiness you need to enjoy a balanced mix of different exercise forms. Flexibility and stretching exercises are important to maintain suppleness. Weight-bearing exercise is necessary to maintain bone and muscle density. Aerobic exercise will keep your cardio-vascular system toned and healthy.

I really can’t highlight how important exercise is. It’s vital for your health and happiness.

The Cybernetic Loop

The importance and usefulness of exercise and flexibility is also backed up by the NLP Cybernetic Loop model.

The NLP Cybernetic Loop model encapsulates the understanding that the mind and body are connected in a control loop; that the mind/brain and body interact and affect each other, they are not distinct and separate; that what affects one, affects the other. The Cybernetic Loop is summarised in the diagram below.

What this model shows is that your thinking (your Internal Processing – thoughts, images, ideas) is connected to and both influences and is influenced by your feelings (your Internal State – your emotions). Your feelings in turn are connected to and both influence and are influenced by your physiology (your External Behaviour – your body, breathing, physical state), which in turn is influenced by and influences your thinking, in a loop.

The process of control runs both ways, each of the three components influencing the other.

So for example, whenever you think of something sad or picture something that makes you unhappy or depressed, you will begin to feel the emotions and feelings of sadness and depression, this in turn will cause you to hunch over, to breathe slower and lower in your chest, to tense your muscles. These changes in your physiology will lead to even more negative thinking and feeling which will amplify the negative physiological state and you will spiral into a more and more negative experience or attitude. You can see this in people who are severely depressed, they carry their depression in their stance and posture, they rarely look up, are unlikely to smile or breathe fully and deeply. They will be slow and lethargic, lacking energy and zest.

Alternately, this loop can function in a positive direction as a success spiral. If something positive happens to you, or you access a memory of a positive time or experience in your life, you will start to feel positive feelings and emotions. Your posture will change to being more upright, open, relaxed. Your muscles will relax. Breathing will be much more full and easy, bringing more oxygen to your brain and body. This in turn will support even more positive thoughts and feelings and the spiral will continue, generating positive changes in your mind and body.

The import of this model to exercise is that to feel good and think well, you need a body and physiology that supports this. You need a healthy body to have a healthy mind. Your health and wellness are vital to living an enhanced life.

Thinking Tool – The Body-Mind Health Spiral

Your mind and body are connected in a loop – thoughts, feelings, beliefs and health influence each other!

Law of Requisite Variety

It's obvious that it is life diminishing to impoverish your world through limited choice and flexibility. Freedom and choice are important values and you want to hold on to them with all your heart.

There is an old Estonian proverb, full of wisdom that says “never leave yourself with only one pair of shoes” because if they get too tight and start to hurt your life can end a painful misery. This maxim or learning tool refers to the idea that if you give away choice and only allow yourself one option in life, and if that option becomes problematic, you’ll end up with a life of unhappiness and misery.

There is a provable mathematical theorem from Cybernetics Systems Theory that supports this. Known as the ‘Law of Requisite Variety’ it suggests that in any system the element that has the most choice, flexibility or requisite variety will be the controlling element. Read that again... "the element that has the most choice, flexibility or requisite variety will be the controlling element".

The corollary to this is that to gain more control in any system, you need to give yourself more choice or flexibility. A simple way to remember this law is:

Choice & Flexibility = Control

Always give yourself more choice and flexibility and never give away your control. As often as possible in life always give yourself more choice (within reason) rather than less, it's life enhancing.

So that's this week's exploration of ideas and strategies for Life Enhancing, bought to you by a stimulating conversation with a very fit, flexible and astute lady. Thank you Phoebe for your input into my blog.

flexible and health filled smiles,

And for those interested, here's a pivotal book about Cybernetics applied to life success, referenced by the developers of NLP and well worth reading:

and here's a highly recommended book on Pilates:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Positive Emotion Words

In one of the organisations I’m currently doing consulting in, we’ve been playing with 'Positive Emotion Theme Days'.

Each day, I randomly select a positive emotion word and then the team I’m working with do their best to enact and live the selected emotion during the work day. It really makes for a much better work environment, is great for team bonding and just plain fun. I’m sure the improved mood and state of the team also carries over into better outcomes and experiences for our clients.

Couple of days ago I was looking through the dictionary for a positive emotion word and after about 40 pages I still hadn’t found one I could use. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried looking through the dictionary for positive emotion words, you might want to try it… but let me tell you, there’s not a lot of them in there!

We have more negative emotion words

In fact, research shows that we have more negative emotion words in our language than we have positive words. We have approximately 50% more words to express negativity than positivity.

I know this, cause I once counted them! Yes, I actually went through the whole Shorter Oxford Dictionary and looked at every word, determined if it was a word that had emotional valence associated with it and then rated it as positive or negative (by a defined rating criteria). The graph below shows my results for each of the letters of the alphabet, indicating how many positive and negative words exist for each letter of the alphabet.

The reason I undertook this research, was that I had heard during an NLP training that we have 50% more negative words than positive words and since words are the tools we use in large measure to construct and filter our experience and reality, having more negative distinctions can lead us into seeing and generating more negative experiences in our subjective world.

This made a lot of sense to me, and I know how powerful words can be and the importance of learning to use language positively and generatively. However, being a scientist by inclination and by training, I decided I had to check these statistics. So, during a period of relatively free time, I counted every word in the dictionary.

I’ll be blogging in future entries about the power of language and how it relates to life enhancing. In today’s entry I wanted to bring to your awareness, the fact that there are more negative words than positive words, in case you didn’t already know, and to remind you that to live an enhanced life you need to track for how you are languaging your world and make sure you shift the balance from negativity to positivity.

A Blinding Flash of the Obvious

I was also motivated to write about this due to a cool BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) that I discovered the other day…

So there I was at work, attempting to find a positive emotion word in the dictionary to use as our theme for the day, and after 40 odd pages of looking I still hadn’t found one. At that point I decided to throw off the old technology, and move to the electronic form. I did a google on 'Positive Emotion Words', in attempt to find a list of positive emotion words I could use.

For a start, there sure don’t seem to be a lot of them on the web… not surprising really given we have less positive emotion words than we have negatives.

Secondly, I came across a couple of lists and blogs talking about emotion words and discussing the insight that there are more negatives than positives. For example, in the blog ‘COPYWRITING KID - From 0 to 100 in whatever it takes…’ the writer decided to make a list of emotion words because of the realization of “how important it is to have a broad vocabulary of emotional words”. In pulling together this list, the blogger soon noticed the following:
“Before I show the list here, I want to share something I noticed… I kind of had
a feeling that most of the words were describing negative emotions, so I then
broke it up for me and listed the positive and negative emotions in separate
lists. The result? 147 words that describe NEGATIVE emotions. 55 that describe
POSITIVE emotions.”

Mostly though, the thing that inspired me to write this blog entry today, was the information I came across on wikepedia when I searched for a ‘positive emotion word list’. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before, just the list of Plutchik’s Primary Human Emotions:

Primary Emotion
  • Anticipation
  • Joy
  • Acceptance
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Anger

Alternately, according to respected psychologist Paul Ekman, this list of primary, basic human emotions can be distilled down to: sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise. These emotions combine in different ways to form other more complex emotions, including compassion, boredom, embarrassment, rage, hunger, etc.

More Primary Negative Emoting

So here I was, trying to find positive emotion words when these lists of primary emotions became starkly juxtaposed against the insight that our vocabulary contains more negative than positive words… and this generated the following BFO -- if you look at the list of primary human emotions above, you’ll note that there are approx. 50% more negative primary emotions than positive emotions.

So damn obvious really… if you do more negative primary emoting — if the human evolved patterning system has a built-in propensity for more negative emoting (probably as a natural survival mechanism to move away from danger and pain quicker and more powerfully than being attracted to food and pleasure) — then the language tools for thinking and processing the world will likely reflect those underlying mechanisms and patterns.

We have 50% more negative emoting words in our language because we are optimized to do 50% more negative emoting. BFO!

Now, what can we learn from this?

For a start, we need to give positivity and positive languaging much more attention, focus, skill and salience in order to overcome the natural tendency and unconscious competency in negative emoting and negative languaging.

We also need to track for negative languaging and the tendency for negative emoting in our environment, our teams, our families, friends and society, and do our best to filter it, shift it and lead it to the more healthier positive form.

It is not generally life enhancing to be wallowing in negativity or using negative and pessimistic languaging. It is much more life enhancing and brings about wonderful self-fulfilling prophecies in life when you celebrate positivity, joy, optimism and generative languaging.

Positive languaging is a very life enhancing skill!

We’ll talk more about the various components and strategies for positive languaging in coming blogs. So stay tuned :-) And in the coming days, perhaps you may enjoy and benefit from doing what our team is doing…

Randomly select positive emotions and use them as a theme for your day.

Try doing a day of ‘Delight’ or a day of ‘Tranquility’. Perhaps you and your friends or colleagues might really get a buzz out of doing a day of ‘Fascination’ or even a day of ‘Excitement’. The other day we did ‘Buoyant’ and it was such a bouncy, bubbly and fun day. Try ‘Positive Emotion Theme Days’ you might find them truly life enhancing.

best wishes and more life enhancing smiles

In case you didn’t get it consciously, we don’t ‘have’ emotions – we ‘do’ emoting! Of course, it typically seems like we have emotions, or more to the point, emotions have us… because we do emoting with unconscious competence and without conscious deciding. The exercise described above is designed to bring to conscious awareness and build skill in choosing and doing emoting.

Choice equals control in life and is incredibly life enhancing :-)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Motorbikes are Life Enhancing

[WARNING: contains adult content, so do NOT read if you are under 18 or easily offended]

I was once asked many years ago, why I love motorbikes so much, and I answered flippantly, 'cause they are life enhancing devices' :)

When I heard myself say that, I thought "yes, what a cool concept, LED - Life Enhancing Devices" and that started me down the track of thinking about and exploring the whole notion of Life Enhancing and what its structure and process is, and how we can add value to our lives and enhance them beyond living a mere mundane, mediocre, 'normal' life.

I'm also totally serious about motorbikes being LED's. They truly are!

Subjective LED

Of course, let me acknowledge that motorbikes are a subjective LED, rather than an objective LED (see my earlier blog about this distinction).

They're not for everyone. You have to have a gutsy and adventurous spirit to own and ride one.

You have to love acceleration and wind in your face, and being in the flow and connected more immediately with your environment. On a motorbike, you smell and feel the air in ways you just don't get in a car. Though I will say, that driving a sports car like (say) a Mazda MX5, which is like an open top, sport-driving focused go-cart, is as close as you can get to having a motorbike-like experience, while being tethered to the ground via four wheels rather than two. So count open top sports cars and similar into the category of motorbike-like devices.

Taking you to special places

Motorbikes can also take you places you just can't easily get to on other forms of transport. If you own or ride a trail-bike, then you can cover amazing distances into the forests and bush, flying along the most rugged of tracks, skimming across logs, rocks, ruts and gulleys, jumping high over bumps and sliding delightfully through the berms. The bike becomes an extension of your self. You flow through the land. And you can get from river to mountain top and back again in minutes, compared to hiking or trekking the same tracks in time periods of days. You'd have to do it to know just what I'm talking about. It's a truly amazing and life enhancing experience.

Road-bikes are just as exhilarating and life enhancing. There's a freedom of spirit. An ability to change direction, to stop, start and flow so quickly and effortlessly. At one with your bike, centered in a moving universe of flow. I'm waxing lyrical here I know... but those who have ridden enough to build unconscious competence and to form that fluid connection with their machine, will know what I'm talking about. And for those of you who have never ridden, I'm trying to evoke a sense of the experience, so you can see why I claimed all those years ago that bikes are Life Enhancing Devices.

And even more...

There's so much more I could say about motorbikes and how they add value to your life. I could tell you for example, a somewhat entertaining story about the connection of bikes and fast cars to sexuality. I was doing some consulting for a major Oil company that was a client of mine, when in one of those large corporate open space offices, I noticed one of the Managers had large glossy photos of some really hot cars pinned around his cubicle.

I wandered over, introduced myself and said "Hey, cool cars! Are they yours or just photos of cars you like?"

He responded with, "Yeah, they are cool. They're all mine! I own and drive every one of them."

"Awesome", I replied, "So you are a petrol-head too, just like me?"

"Oh, please" he exclaimed, "I'm no 'petrol-head', I'm a Petro-Sexual!"

Wow, what a concept, what a distinction! A Petro-Sexual!

Now, I have to explain... my friend Garry and I have for years playfully commented to each other that riding trail-bikes is almost a sexual experience, we call it 'surrogate-sex' and reckon that having a bike between your legs, moving gracefully and powerfully, connected as one, in the flow and with all the fun and adrenalin that comes from a great ride, is pretty much 'almost' as good as sex. Now I apologise if this has gotten into 'too much detail' for you and transgressed into personal adult land :) But what the hey, I'm trying to tell it like it is, and share honestly and from the heart, how great motorbikes can be.

So when I heard that guy, working in an Oil Company of all places (what a surprise hey), say the word 'Petro-Sexual', I knew right away that he had encapsulated what Garry and I had been talking about. Bikes, sports cars and similar fast machines are petro-sexual life enhancing devices :)

Over to you

Well, that's a window into my views on how and why I believe motorbikes et al. are LED's and can bring a wondrous refreshment to your life. Riding a bike puts a smile on your dial and an immediate and refreshing attitude adjustment to your life. After a ride, stress just melts away. The need for total focus (in order to survive) and the experience of flow produce what research in Positive Psychology calls the 'broaden and build effect'. It creates emotional, physical and intellectual balance, capital and buffering.

So what are your thoughts on this? Anyone reading this want to add a comment on the affirmative or otherwise? Have you got some examples you'd like to share of how bikes have enhanced your life?

Ride Carefully

I guess I'd like to finish with an important warning from the sponsor: Riding motorbikes is an inherently risky and potentially dangerous activity. Always ride safely and within the speed limit for the conditions. Done properly, riding a motorbike can be a life enhancing experience. Done poorly, it can not only be a life limiting experience, it can kill you!

So ride safe and ride to ride another day!

wishing you much Living In Full Enhancing!,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Forgiveness: For-giving is Life Enhancing

After reading my Life Enhancing blog, a friend of mine contacted me with the following comments:

Hi Grant,

There was a segment on 60 Minutes last Sunday 'Road to
' which really blew me away. I don't usually watch 60min but saw the story about a man whose 18 year old son had been murdered during a robbery 14 years ago. The father, Ken Marslew, decided to deal with his hate and anger by helping the man who drove the getaway car, organised the robbery, but didn't actually pull the trigger. He is helping this man who pleaded guilty and served 14 years in jail. They are going to work together to make the World a better place.

If you didn't see it go to their website. Ray Martin interviewed him, and it's an
unbelievably Life Enhancing story and worth blogging about.

I was planning to blog about Forgiveness as a Life Enhancing Skill at some stage over the coming months, but prompted by my friend Janine's email, and after watching the video of the 60 Minutes segment online, and being very inspired by the story, I decided to bring the timeframe forward and blog about it now.

Why focus on forgiveness?
The wisdom of forgiveness is highlighted in almost all spiritual traditions and more recently, research from a number of fields is backing up the usefulness and importance of practicing forgiveness. For example, both Buddhist philosophy and recent scientific research from the new field of Positive Psychology have shown that compassion, forgiveness and loving kindness are key components to happiness. The evidence is in - Practicing forgiveness is an important daily activity for living a happy, fulfilled and enhanced life.


And of course, there’s no such thing as ‘forgiveness’ – it’s a nominalisation (a disguised verb) for the ongoing process of forgiving. You don’t ‘have’ forgiveness for yourself or someone, you do forgiving of them. It’s an active process.

So how do you do forgiving? Well, it comes from the heart.

Did you know we have more than one brain? We actually have 3 brains in our body (which I'll be blogging on in more detail over coming months). Recent research has found that as well as a head brain, we actually have fully functioning ‘brains’ filled with neural tissue in our hearts and our guts – a heart (cardiac) brain and an enteric (gut) brain.

So expressions like “follow the wisdom of your heart” and “listen to your gut instinct” are quite accurate and deep neuro-linguistic reflections of our unconscious knowing of the existence of these distributed brain functions. It’s wonderful how complex and powerful our mind/body’s really are!

So coming up in this blog entry, I'll share a technique that uses the power of the heart-brain and gut-brain to help overcome anger and instead do forgiving.

But before that, let's take a moment to look at the details of some of the research findings from Positive Psychology.

"Forgiveness is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. If you can’t learn to forgive, you can forget about achieving true success in your life.”(Dr. Wayne Dyer)

Forgiveness is a powerful emotion!

Forgiving is a powerful emotion. When practiced, it floods the body with soothing and healing neuro-hormones and stimulates postive emotions and positive states of being.

The research from Positive Psychology has shown that people who forgive are healthier and happier than those who hold grudges. In one Stanford University experiment, people who learned and practiced forgiveness reported fewer backaches, headaches, muscle pains, stomach upsets and other common physical signs of stress compared to a control group. They also reported higher levels of optimism, hope and self-confidence. Showing forgiveness really is both good for you and good for your happiness and peace of mind.

The converse is also true. People who focus on anger, injustice and who feel they have been treated unfairly suffer from a higher risk of heart disease. A study of 8,000 people by researchers at the University College London found that those with a profound sense of injustice had a 55% higher chance of suffering serious heart disease. Researchers found that the focus on injustice and unfairness engendered negative emotions that lead to biochemical changes in the body.

An inability or unwillingness to forgive has also been found to be associated with persistent rumination and dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on. When you are angry, resentful and bitter you are only hurting yourself. So it’s important for your mental health and important for your physical health that you forgive.

The take home message – focus on forgiving, your long-term health depends on it.

Healing the heart
The key is that forgiveness is about healing yourself and letting go of any negative responses and burden. The main thing to note is that the process of forgiving is vital for building positivity and healing in your own life.

A useful strategy for practicing forgiveness is to use your heart-mind to focus on forgiveness and to hold the feelings of forgiveness in your heart. As highlighted above, neuroscience has discovered that we have a heart-brain – a small functioning brain containing around 40,000 neurons in our heart. This heart brain connects and communicates with the head-brain and gut brain and validates the idea of the wisdom of the heart. Your heart-brain learns from experience and from practice. So by concentrating on and holding feelings of forgiving in your heart you can gradually and gently build up your skills and unconscious competence at doing forgiving. It’s an important process that will allow you to live more healthily, happily and with joy in your heart and life.

Letting Go

We all make mistakes. No one, and I mean no one is perfect! Indeed, ‘perfection’ doesn’t exist in the world. It is an ideal. From physics we know that we live in an entropic universe. What this means is that everything we do ultimately creates more disorder in the universe. Even the creation of order actually produces more disorder. For example, an air-conditioner cools the air in a room, thus reducing the entropy of the air. However, the heat involved in operating the air-conditioner always makes a bigger contribution to the entropy of the environment than the decrease of the entropy of the air. So the overall entropy in the universe increases from the operation of the air-conditioner.

So there can never be something that is perfect. Everything is in a constant state of change and everything is impermanent. That’s the nature of the universe we live in. By attempting to be perfect and blaming, disappointing or angering yourself when you or the people around you don’t live up to some ideal is both un-sane and counterproductive.

It’s time to let go of anger, of old regrets, of blame and recrimination. When you love your self and your life deeply and wondrously you let go of these negative emotions – of negative emoting. Trust yourself. Support yourself. Forgive yourself. For-give to your self. You deserve loving kindness. Calmly abide the trials and vicissitudes of life. Nothing's perfect, no one’s perfect, we all continue to learn and try to find our way in this wonderful but imperfect world. So relax, think ‘calm abiding’ and let go of any fearing, angering or blaming that you have been doing in the past now.

For-giving to yourself!
Some people think forgiveness is a sign of weakness. Those who’ve studied it can tell you without qualification that forgiveness is a sign of strength. It takes strength of purpose to choose to practice forgiveness. Especially in the face of anger and bitterness. Take a look at the 60 Minutes segment mentioned above. It took and continues to take immense guts and strength for Ken Marslew, the father of the murdered boy, to let go of the anger and bitterness, and instead embrace life and attempt to make a positive difference from what has happened.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning wrongful behaviour, excusing thoughtlessness, or forcing reconciliation with the offender. Forgiving is not the same as condoning. Forgiving is done for yourself. To heal and support yourself. It’s a gift of happiness and peace of mind that you give yourself. It’s about letting go of anger and resenting. It’s about moving out from under the emotional burden of bitterness and liberating yourself from negative feelings of hurting or angering.

As described in the research from Positive Psychology, an inability or unwillingness to do forgiving has been found to be associated with persistent rumination and dwelling on revenge, whereas forgiving allows you to move on. When you are angry, resentful and bitter you are only hurting yourself. So it’s important for your mental health and important for your physical health that you forgive.

Another important thing to note is the distinction between the inner experience of forgiving and the public expression of it. They need not both be performed to gain the health and happiness benefits of forgiving. The research suggests it can be sufficient to practice ‘silent’ forgiving in the form of a softened and more sympathetic heart. This can be useful when the aggressor does not earn or merit the forgiveness.

Remember, forgiving is about healing yourself and letting go the negative responses and burden. In cases where the aggressor has apologised and made redress, a public expression of forgiveness can be appropriate and can support building better and more healthy relationships. It’s up to you to decide what’s appropriate for your own outcomes and happiness. The main thing to note is the inner process of forgiving is vital for building positivity and healing in your own life.

How do you DO forgiving?

How do you do loving kindness and forgiving? Well, it’s really quite easy. Start with yourself. Create and hold feelings of forgiving and loving in your heart and then apply them to the situation or context that you feel needs forgiving. Start by thinking of memories or experiences that fill your heart with loving kindness, with compassion and forgiveness. Then really focus on those feelings, amplify the heartfelt sense of forgiving. Get in touch with these warm loving feelings. Build them up and out and around your heart and body. As you breathe in and out, feel them expand and grow, till your whole chest, your whole torso, your whole body is filled with deep feelings of loving kindness. Make sure you expand them from your heart to your gut. Deep inside your torso and stomach. This will send important messages from your cardiac brain to your enteric brain; from your heart brain to your gut brain.

Now start to think of the person or the situation or behaviour that needs and wants forgiving. Continue to breathe and amplify the heart and gut feelings of forgiving and compassion as you recall the situation. This focuses your heart and gut brains on loving feelings and allows them to learn and apply forgiving to the situation.

Say the words:
I do forgiving, I feel forgiving, I am forgiving. I forgive everyone and everything. I forgive myself completely. I forgive the world and people for not being perfect. I am a worthwhile person who deserves loving, kindness and support. I forgive everyone and everything.
Say these over and over, with warm, loving tonalities. Hug yourself both physically and in your imagination. And all the while keep breathing love and forgiveness into your heart and mind and life.

Do all this for a number of minutes, and then repeat it again for at least 3 to 5 times. Each time you practice the ‘doing’ of forgiving and compassion you’ll find it gets stronger and easier. Your heart and gut brains will learn and remember.

And also remember, forgiveness is not something you have, it’s a process you do. So continue to do it often. One really useful idea is to do a quick form of this every night before you go to sleep. When you rest your head on the pillow, give yourself a metaphorical hug and tell yourself that you forgive yourself and you forgive the world and that you love yourself and the world and really build and feel the loving kindness in your heart. Then spread this feeling of forgiving and loving kindness out into the world, and apply it to anyone who has caused you pain, loss or hurt. It’s a great way to love, nurture and enhance your life and generate more happiness and joy in your world.

You can also practice forgiving by doing the buddhist technique of Loving Kindness Mediation.

Loving Kindness Meditation

Research by Positive Psychologist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has shown that the practice of the Buddhist technique of Loving Kindness Meditation can mitigate the effects of negative emotion. When practiced for as little as an hour per week, Loving Kindness Mediation can enhance positive emotions and buffer against negative emotions such as anger, fear and envy.

Loving Kindness Meditation is a meditational practice in which you send out thoughts and feelings of love, kindness and well-being to all sentient beings. It involves 4 phases, with each phase lasting approximately 5 minutes each. The meditation can be done as a visualisation in which you imagine and feel a sphere of love and light around yourself and then radiate it out from yourself. It can also be done as a verbal exercise in which you repeat phrases or mantras while remembering and recalling positive memories of love and kindness.
  1. The practice begins by focussing on developing a loving acceptance of your self. This is the first phase. Fill yourself with thoughts, feelings and images of love, caring and acceptance. Repeat words like “I love and care for myself. I deserve happiness, health and love.” Visualise yourself filled with a radiant ball of love centered round your heart and radiating throughout your body and your life. Do this for 5 minutes.
  2. The second phase involves meditating on loving kindness for someone you already care about and love. This could be a close friend, a parent, a lover, a mentor, teacher or benefactor. Concentrate on sending them feelings and messages of loving kindness. Visualise the light of your loving kindness and compassion spreading from your heart out to them, surrounding and filling them and their life.
  3. In the next phase, you shift your visualisation and meditation to someone you are neutral to, perhaps a stranger or an acquaintance. Do this for 5 minutes also, before moving on to phase 4.
  4. The final phase is more challenging. In this phase you focus on sending loving kindness to people that you dislike or who have been difficult or hostile towards you. Feel and imagine enveloping them in compassion, forgiveness and kindness. You can also spread your thoughts of loving kindness out to all beings in the world, encompassing all sentient creatures, all people.
You will find that this meditation exercise feels fantastic and has a lasting effect that stays with you for many, many hours. Indeed, Dr. Fredrickson’s research shows that the more you practice the meditation the longer the effect lasts and spreads across the contexts of your life, generating emotional and psychological resources that support ongoing happiness and success.
"Forgiveness is not an emotion, it's a decision.”(Randall Worley)

Forgiveness and Kindness

So I hope I've convinced you that forgiveness and forgiving is a Life Enhancing Skill that increases happiness and is well worth actively practicing. Living with a spirit and attitude of forgiving is a proven strategy for overcoming the enemies to happiness of anger and retribution and enhancing your health, your life and the lives of those you care about.

Next time someone does something that pisses you off, do the kind thing to yourself and forgive them. Let it go. You’ll not only be kind to both them and yourself, more importantly you’ll be giving yourself the gift of the positive emotions that kindness brings. And remember, as the famous American humorist Josh Billings said “There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness”.

Finally, as Ken Marslew, than man interviewed by Ray Martin in the 60 Minutes segment says:

"There is a better way to deal with this stuff".

Want to learn more, get a copy of my book: Avoiding the Enemies to HAPPINESS!

Do forgiving, it's Life Enhancing!
smiles and best wishes,

Here's some links to info on Loving Kindness Meditation:

Here's some interesting info about the enteric and heart brains and techniques for communicating and working with them:

And here's some books, based on scientifically validated findings, that you might find useful for increasing your life enhancing skills in forgiving:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Enhancing Life with NLP

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

I've been studying, teaching and running workshops on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) for over 20 years. In my experience and deeply from my heart, I can tell you that NLP provides a powerful and life enhancing set of tools, skills, attitudes and understandings. That's a big claim, isn't it? So why do I say it?

For over 25 years, NLP has been one of the fastest growing developments in applied psychotherapy. It is a technology of achievement and excellence, derived from studying how experts in different fields obtain their outstanding results. NLP provides models for human communication, learning and behavioral competence.

Science Digest reported that NLP: “could be the most important synthesis of knowledge about human communication to emerge since the explosion of humanistic psychology... It may be the ultimate behavioural engineering tool”.

NLP provides a set of models, skills and techniques for thinking and acting effectively in the world, through which you can quickly and powerfully change, adopt or eliminate behaviours in yourself and others.

In my experience...

In my experience of over 30 years of in-depth studying of everything from formal psychology through to mystical philosophy, I have found NLP to be the most profound body of knowledge there is about human process. NLP is practical and pragmatic. It works! And it is increasingly supported by research in the fields of psychology, positive psychology and neuro-science. Yet NLP is still ahead of the curve compared to many of these fields.

Personally, I find NLP to be a life enhancing body of knowledge and set of behavioral skills. I can't recommend it glowingly or highly enough! It has made a huge difference to my life. For example, using NLP principles and techniques I've developed a field called 'LifeDesign' which I use to create a wonderful life by design rather than by accident. I've taught other people LifeDesign and they've equally achieved wonderful results. I'll describe the process of LifeDesign in more detail in a coming blog entry. However, the point I want to make here, is that without the ideas and skills of NLP it would have been unlikely that I would have created the LifeDesign process. So NLP has truly made a difference to my life and the lives of others.

Learning more

For those who are interested in learning more, I suggest you stick your toes in the water and grab a couple of books. Once you get a feel and an idea for the power of NLP, then you'll want to do some courses with a reputable trainer. In addition, there's always resources available on the web.

And of course, continue to read this blog, as I'll be sharing ideas and concepts based on NLP and Positive Psychology for doing Life Enhancing :)

Recommended NLP Books

Here's my list of 'must read' NLP books, ordered in the approx. sequence I recommend they be read in:

Frogs into Princes - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

Using Your Brain For a Change - Richard Bandler

Reframing: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

Trance-Formations: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis

The Structure of Magic: A Book About Language and Therapy - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

The Structure of Magic II: A Book About Communication and Change - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People - Joseph O'Connor and John Seymour

Persuasion Engineering - Richard Bandler and Joseph La Valle

Grab one or two and have a read. See if NLP makes sense and adds value to your life. Let me know what you think. I truly believe that NLP is Life Enhancing and that if you give it a go, you'll find it opens your mind and attitude to amazing ways of experiencing the world.

Want to learn more, get a copy of my book: Avoiding the Enemies to HAPPINESS!

many great wishes and smiles,