Sunday, November 22, 2009

Life Enhancing Dreams

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”

Without dreams
, what is life?

Our dreams and desires create our life. They lead us to our goals and outcomes and ultimately inspire us to create the life we live. At least they do when we put life enhancing actions to our dreams.

“The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.”

There’s so much that’s important to explore and understand here. So let’s dig deeper…

Dreaming Big Dreams

Dreams come from your heart’s desire. They’re motivated by your values and strengths. What is important to you? What do you value? The first step in dreaming big and inspiring dreams is to work out and get clear on your values.

You know we have a fully functioning brain in our heart – a ‘heart-brain’. Neuroscience has recently discovered that we actually have a functioning system of neural tissue consisting of over 40,000 neurons in our heart. This heart-brain connects to our head-brain and other body systems and integrates information and sends messages out across our mind and body.

There is wisdom in your heart – in your heart-brain. Your heart is the seat of your desires and many of your emotions. Learn to tune into its signals and messages. Trust your heart. Ask it:

“what will make me happy and fulfilled?”

and then listen and look for the answers it provides. It will tell and show you your dreams and yearnings. And as it does, write them up on a Dreamlist. Create a list of all the things you dream about and want – a list of what’s important and inspires you. Make a collage of photos and pictures from magazines of these things. Make it beautiful. Put it up on the wall as a poster of dreams.

Notice also whether the things you’re dreaming about are based on ‘shoulds’ versus ‘desires’. Society, family and culture fill your head with generalisations and stereotypes about what’s right and what you ‘should’ want and do in your life. Some of these ‘shoulds’ are useful, but some are restrictive and will dampen and minimise your life - they are life denying rather than life enhancing.

Question all your rules, beliefs and ‘shoulds’. Make sure your dreamlist is truly filled with what you want for your life, with what will motivate and inspire you. Remember it’s the life you lead – it’s your life and you might want to dream BIG and amazing dreams and then lead yourself in achieving them.

Dreams versus Outcomes

Here’s an important distinction: dreams are not outcomes.

Yes, that’s right, there’s a huge difference between dreams and outcomes. Dreams are those things that you desire and would love to have or do in your life. But making dreams into reality takes time, effort, money and resources. Not all dreams can come true.

For a start, some dreams are incompatible with others. I’d love to spend my life traveling the world, not living in any one place, just wandering like a gypsy from experience to experience. I’d also love to live quietly and peacefully on a mountain retreat. Living and meditating in a cave, living an austere and transcendent existence. But then, I also dream of living in a city like Tokyo or London, filled with people and life and adventure and stimulus. I can’t live all three dreams at once. They don’t match. And of course, your dreams don’t have to match. They don’t have to be sensible. That’s what outcomes are for.

You need to begin by prioritising your dreamlist. Given the time limited lifetime we have and given the cost/risk/benefits involved in achieving your various dreams, which dreams would you most like to live first? What is the one dream you’d choose if you could only choose one? What would the next one be? What sequence do you want to achieve your dreams in? Prioritise your list.

Now, let’s talk about outcomes. Outcomes are those things that you are actively working towards achieving in your life. They’re the goals, plans and results that you’re making happen in your life. Outcomes set directions that you action. And according to NLP, for success in life you need to set well-formed outcomes. A well-formed outcome is one that:

  • Is positive, worded positively and says what you want rather than what you don’t want.
  • Is specific and behaviourally measurable – you can see, hear and feel what it would be like to have achieved the outcome.
  • Is self-initiating and self-maintaining – only relies on yourself, not on others.
  • Is supported by positive beliefs.
  • Is ecological – has no negative consequences to you or the people you relate with or the systems in which you live.
  • Is sufficiently resourced – you have all the resources, money, time and skills you need to achieve the outcome.
  • Doesn’t have anything that can prevent it – it’s physically possible and you can overcome any obstacles.
  • Is linked to and motivated by a clear purpose and set of values.

You see, the way to work with dreams and outcomes is to keep dreaming big dreams, making a prioritised list of them and then when you are ready, moving your dreams one at a time into becoming clear and well-formed outcomes.

Once you have set an outcome, use the NLP Success Formula to make the outcome happen. Remember, the Success Formula is:

  1. Clearly know your Outcome – know exactly what you want and ensure your outcome is well-formed, that it’s positive, achievable, believable and ecological.
  2. Take positive Action – congruently and wholeheartedly take action to achieve your outcome.
  3. Learn from Feedback – use your sensory acuity to determine if your actions are moving you closer or further away from your outcome. There’s no such thing as failure, just great feedback, cause if what you are doing is not moving you closer to your outcome then you need to perform the next step –
  4. Flexibility – change and adjust your behaviour (step 2) till you move closer to your outcome.

To know which dreams to make into outcomes do a cost/risk/benefit analysis of each dream at the top of your list. Grab a piece of paper and put 3 columns on it, then list each of the Costs, Risks and Benefits that the dream entails. Note that costs include more than money – there are costs in time, effort and the loss of other things that achieving the dream will cost you. Note also the distinction between ‘risk’ and ‘risky’. Some things are risky – that is, they involve risk that cannot be mitigated or controlled. Other experiences have associated risks, but these can be controlled.

For example, rock climbing using a rope and protection has an element of risk that is controlled by how much protection you use and how well you place it. Free climbing with no rope, no partner and no protection is risky. You just don’t know what is going to happen and have no mitigation against accidents and harm. If a rock dislodges and causes you to fall or be knocked unconscious then you suffer the fatal results. If you used a rope and protection to control the risk, an accident will merely leave you dangling from the rope and able to be lowered so you can climb another day. It’s important to ensure that your dreams are not risky before you move them to outcomes.

Once you’ve analysed the cost/risk/benefits of your dreams you can decide which ones are worthwhile turning into outcomes. Then think them through clearly to ensure they are well-formed and redesign them or fine-tune them until they are. Now you’re ready to take action. And that’s where being gutsy comes in.

Doing Gutsy'ness

Just like we have a brain in our heart, we also have a brain in our gut – it’s called the ‘enteric brain’, and consists of a functioning neural system of over 100 Millions neurons that thinks and communicates with the other brains in our body and head.

Being ‘gutsy - doing gutsy'ness - involves aligning your gut with your heart and your head. The gut-brain is attuned to fear and danger and is used to evaluate and prepare for risk. It’s also the seat of courage, strength and determination.

To help yourself do ‘gutsy'ness’ – to have the courage to make your dreams into outcomes and then live them – you can use your heart-brain to talk to your enteric-brain and get all of your brains aligned.

You do this by thinking of times and situations in which you’ve been positive, strong and courageous. Fill your heart with positive, strong and loving feelings. Amplify and centre those feelings. Breathe them into your heart and chest. Then when you are really feeling the positive heart feelings, move them slowly down into your gut. You’ll experience an amazing flow of strength and motivation in the pit of your stomach, across your torso. Some people feel it as a warmth or a tingling or an uplifting sense of positive courage.

This is how you build courage in yourself. It’s how you flood your life with the passion and strength to live your dreams. Hold your dreams on high. Make them into compelling and inspiring outcomes. Align your head, heart and gut. And move yourself forward into an enhanced life of loving and fulfillment.

Invest in your Self

It is the life you lead! So lead it well. Invest in enhancing your life and your future. Build up your knowledge and skills. Determine your strengths and then build on them. Focus your life. Gain as many and as varied experiences as you can. Educate yourself. The more you invest in your self and your life, the more you’ll be able to live life enhancing dreams. Life is a wondrous adventure and there is nothing like living an amazing dream to create an amazing future now.

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

Wishing you awesome, life enhancing dreams!
smiles, Grant

And here's some great books to help you dream BIG dreams and put them into action...

"Live Your Dreams... Let Reality Catch Up helps you discover who you are, what really motivates you and provides you with the knowledge and tools for you to choose what you want in life."

21 Days To Creating Your Dream Life

"This empowering book shows how changing the way a person thinks can radically transform their life; it is an excellent guide to help get anyone on the path to creating success and abundance. It is a step-by-step inspirational guide with real life examples to leave a powerful and lasting impact in the readers mind. It takes the reader through the necessary steps to start changing their thoughts and beliefs so they can achieve their dream life. You will learn more about how your perceptions control everything you see and hear, while providing useful life tools to create a better life."

You Can If You Think You Can: Rebound From Adversity And Follow Your Dreams

"Our true worth comes not from what others may think or say about us, but from what we believe about ourselves. Hope, encouragement, motivation and practical strategies to overcome adversity, rebuild self-esteem and fulfill one’s most cherished Dream goals is what this book is all about. It will change your attitude and change your life."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Experiencing the World

We live and experience the world through our 5 senses – indeed, we make ‘sense’ of the world through them. The more distinctions and exquisite awareness we can make through our senses the more life enhancingly we can live. Sense-uality is your ability to use your senses, to revel in them, to embrace them and the world through each and every one of your senses.

Western society has a love-hate relationship with sensuality. At one extreme, it is denigrated and seen as a selfish, frivolous waste of time. At the other extreme, the rich and famous invest incredible amounts of time, money and resources indulging in stimulating their senses and sensuality. They pamper themselves, and the rest of us look on with envy.

So what’s this all about?

Why is there such guilt and conditioning around sensuality?

Sensuality is linked strongly to pleasure. It’s also linked to sexuality. There is a fine line between sensuality and sexuality. Stimulating your senses brings you alive. It expands your awareness. It enhances your life. It allows you to connect with the world, with other people and with various parts of your own multi-mind.
Unfortunately, the Judaeo-Christian philosophy that the western world is mired in, sees sexuality and therefore sensuality as evil and sinful. This is a paradigm of coercion and control that is more about ensuring people live programmed lives in obeisance of the central authority of the church and those in political power. It is opposed to personal freedom, to personal understanding and does not encourage free thinking or the questioning of the rules and social moirés.

When you love your life sensationally, you realise and desire more freedom, choice and personal power. It’s your life, so live it well and live it in your own way. Find and follow your own destiny, not the proscribed behaviours of a societally controlled existence.

One of the keys to living a great and enhanced life is therefore to embrace your sensuality. Develop each of your senses and your ability and experience and explore the world through them. Increase your awareness to make distinctions with every sense. Let go and relax into your senses. Reprogram your habitual ways of using (or limiting) your sensing of the world – your sensuality – by doing adventures that stimulate your senses. Really celebrate and revel in your senses and sensuality. Look for what is sensuous and accept it into your life.

Of course, control and balance is vital for wondrous living. So ensure that your sensuality is balanced and grounded. Stimulate your life but don’t over-stimulate. Find the bliss-point, the sweet spot that adds value to your life’ing rather than takes away. A glass of great wine can really add to a delicious meal; a flagon of wine indulged beyond sensibility will leave you hung-over and degraded with no memory of the meal it was consumed with.

Surround yourself with beauty. Listen to uplifting music. Use aromatherapy and incense to scent your life with wonderful fragrances. Light scented candles of an evening to combine the delight of flickering ambient light with the stimulation of perfume. Step away from family rules and stereotypes to find new ways to evoke your senses. Art, photography, food, clothing, fantasy – love your self in new ways, pamper and pleasure your world with new experiences. Let go of any societally conditioned feelings of guilt about sensuality and instead embrace a life enhancing attitude of being proactive and explorative with your senses.

Your sensuality is a deep expression of your joy in being your self. So open your self to the world, accept your body through your senses and be life enhancingly ‘sensible’. You really only ever experience the world through each of your senses, so enhance your life more sensationally and you’ll gain a sense of self you could only otherwise dream about.

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

Sensationally yours,

Grant :-)

Some sensational reading you may enjoy:

“A meditation on sensory experience that weaves personal experiences with history, science, philosophy and theology for a wide-ranging approach to our centuries-old but undissipated curiosity about the origins of pain and pleasure…. An erudite work.”

Come to Your Senses is a unique approach that can change your life. These simple techniques may even save your life!”

“In Meta-Magick, Philip Farber combines traditional ritual sensibilities with contemporary concepts of neuro-linguistics.”

“Professor Lingis shows how new conceptions of sensation, sensibility, sensuality, and susceptibility enable us to discover the intelligibility of our sensuous environment.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Loving your mind

"The key to success is to focus our mind on things we desire not things we fear."
Brian Tracy

As I've said in a previous blog entry, television, newspapers and the media exist to make money. They do this by focusing on FUDGE – Fear, Uncertainty, Disaster, Greed and Envy – in order to grab your attention and influence you both through editorial and advertising. They take existing negative values and amplify them.

Because of evolved processes and mechanisms in the neural patterning system of the brain, we are strongly attentive to danger and negative stimuli. The media makes use of these processes and mechanisms to garner your awareness and attention. They celebrate fear and failure. Good news is NO news. Papers are filled with disaster and despair.

The Research is in...

There is a huge body of research showing the influence of television and video on human behaviour. The preponderance of evidence from more than 3,000 research studies over two decades shows that violence portrayed in the media influences the attitudes and behaviour of those who watch it.

Television is filled with violence and aggression. For example, an American Psychological Association report on television showed that by the time the average child leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed at least 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 other assorted acts of violence on television.

This is not something you would subject your loving self to when you give yourself the gift of life enhancing!

We become what we focus on...

We become what we focus on, and we’re influenced by the messages and environment around us. Television sends a mixed bag of messages, the majority of which are negative and filled with stereotypes of selfishness, greed, demeaning sexuality and shallow values. Are these the messages you want to imprint in your unconscious mind? No!

The great personal development motivator Zig Zigler says that we are all:
SNIOP – Susceptible to the Negative Influences of Other People”.
We are social beings and our brains are optimised for tracking and responding to the behaviours and social messages of others.

Television and the media present distorted views of others; they show us either the worst of human behaviour to which we either become desensitised or have our innate ‘out-group’ fears amplified, or they show us the very small percentage of special, ‘beautiful’ people – ultra-thin fashion models or ultra-rich greed models.

None of these are healthy messages for your mind. None of these are healthy messages for life enhancing.

I stopped following the media...

I well remember the day I decided to stop buying and reading newspapers. I was doing my Masters degree in Applied Physics. A National newspaper had decided to report on the research being done by our group. The reporter came and interviewed us all. This would be a minor article that would be printed in the back half of the paper – not earth-shattering news, more a general interest section.

We eagerly awaited the following day’s paper to see our small piece of fame. What a surprise we got. Almost nothing in the article was correct. We had been misquoted, the facts were wrong, the article was a load of rubbish. “Wow”, I thought, “How can they have gotten something so simple and so un-political, so wrong?” There was no benefit or purpose in how inaccurate the piece was. This was not something that had political or monetary motivation.

It was then I realised, that if something so trivial was so badly distorted, what was happening with the more important stories – the ones that carried social importance and influence? How were they being distorted and misreported?

Read something more useful instead...

I decided that in future I’d use my time to read a varied selection of non-fiction books and non-fiction magazines like ‘New Scientist’ to gain the important information about what was happening in the world. Society changes through the impact of science and technology. I would be better served learning about the coming advances that would change our world, rather than reading inaccurate and biased editorial from media designed to amplify FUDGE and serve the interests of power groups and money-lords.

What's your choice?

It’s up to you. How do you want to invest your time? Who do you want to be influenced by? What sort of influences – positive or negative – do you want in your life? Choose carefully.

In this massively changing and accelerating world, where information is bombarding and coming at you faster than you can filter it, do you want to carefully choose the media that’s sending messages throughout your mind and life? I sure do!

Living an enhanced and enhancing life means giving yourself the gift of positive influence. Loving yourself and supporting yourself means being careful of what information you allow yourself to be bombarded with. Stay away from television and newspapers – there are much better ways to learn about the world and learn about and create your wondrous and enhanced life.

Loving Your Mind... Loving Learning and Knowledge

Knowledge and choice give you more power and control in your life. You gain knowledge through reading. Reading brings the thoughts and ideas of other minds into your life. It’s an incredible way to absorb vicarious experience. Think about it. Most books, even fiction books, represent months and sometimes years of work and distillation of ideas and thoughts by another human being.

People write books because they have something to say or share. In a couple of hours reading you can experience what another person took a lifetime to accumulate and learn. Books and reading are an amazing way to quickly live aspects of another person’s life, to absorb some of their experience and wisdom.

Reading also increases your vocabulary. And research has shown that people’s perception of intelligence is correlated strongly with vocabulary. The larger your vocabulary, the more you will be perceived as intelligent by other people. This can be important because it has also been shown that income is linked to the perceptions of others. The take home message here is that reading can actually lead to more opportunities in life, a higher income and ultimately a better life.

Read often!

So read widely and read often. Go on an Accelerated Reading course. Learn to read swiftly and with increased memory and retention. Once you’ve mastered the skill of accelerated reading you’ll find that reading is immense fun. It takes you into a ‘zone’ of flow, where the words disappear and instead the ideas and images go straight from the page into your brain and mind.

It feels fantastic and the research from Positive Psychology shows that this experience of flow actually creates lasting positive spirals of creativity, clarity of thinking and emotional resilience. How cool is that? Reading is not only fun, it’s actually good for your mind and body!

Value reading

So make time to read in your life. Make it a positive habit. Pick up a book, a novel or a highly valued magazine, rather than turn on the idiot box television or video. Be thoughtful and selective in your reading. Stretch yourself.

You’ll be grateful to yourself for loving and supporting your brain and mind more wondrously. See yourself as a great reader and make it a permanent and proud part of your identity and life.

Now that is life enhancing!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

O-priming your life

In the field of General Semantics, there is a linguistic technique called ‘E-prime’ that involves using English in a way that excludes the use of the verb ‘to be’ and its various forms.

The idea underlying this suggests that the ‘is’ of identity and the ‘is’ of attribution can lead to unsane thinking and consequent behaviour. For example, if you say “I am stupid” you are linking the process of stupidity to your identity, rather than expressing the behaviour as one of many skills or traits that you do. This can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies that maintain an unconscious competency of doing stupidity at all levels of your life.

Since language influences perception, the use of E-prime encourages the careful choice of verbs and meanings. E-prime can also lead to a less dogmatic style of expression and reduce the possibility of misunderstanding and conflict. I'll talk more about E-prime in a future blog entry. Today, I want to introduce you to a concept and skill called O-priming that I've been exploring.

Grasping, Desire and Ownership

The ancient philosophy of Buddhism maintains that the nature of the universe is impermanence and that consequently much suffering stems from attachment and grasping. The need for ownership and attachment can lead to unhappiness.

As the Buddha propounded in the discourse on the Four Noble Truths:
due to contact there is feeling;
due to feeling there is attachment;
due to attachment there is grasping;
due to grasping there is suffering;
suffering has ignorance-obscuration as its root cause;

There is a way out of suffering, which is to eliminate attachment and desire.

The Materialist Imperative

"We've been raised to compete, to want more! More! More! It's a way of life. It's about greed.”
Sandy Duncan

We have a long evolutionary history of hunter-gathering and an instinctual predisposition towards ownership. We love owning and gathering things. It’s the materialist imperative. We desire things: houses, cars, boats, clothes, toys and all the entrapments and enchantments of bling.

It’s also the ownership trap! Because everything you own, owns a small piece of you, and the more you own, the more it owns you. Remember this!

The psychology of ownership is fascinating and understanding it is crucial to overcoming patterns of attachment, desire and greed.

The psychology of ownership

Ownership changes perceptions. Research by Social Psychologists has shown that once a person owns an item they place higher perceived value on it than on an identical item they do not own.

Stop and think about this. The mere fact of owning something increases how much you value it!

Ownership is also linked to Loss Aversion. The research shows that people prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Indeed, some studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful psychologically, as gains.

So once you own something, it really does start to own you emotionally and psychologically. You become attached to it and form a relationship with it. It takes up your time, thought, energy and life.

Marketers are well aware of these traits and use them to manipulate you. Partial ownership confers similar effects on perceptions, so they encourage free 30 day trials and money back guarantees, knowing that the majority of people will grow attached to the item and not return it. Similarly, in on-line auctions, people start feeling they own the item even before the auction has completed and so drive the price higher than they would pay if they’d bought it from a shop.

Sure, owning stuff is useful. Where would we be if we owned nothing? Probably still swinging in the jungle and living from hand to mouth.

The problem occurs when we own too many things; when we get stuck in the greed of the ownership trap – of wanting more and more and more. And this problem is even more insidious when we 'own' ideas, when we grow attached to concepts, beliefs and ideologies.

Greed is a verb

Let’s get one thing sorted right away. Greed and attachment are verbs. They're processes. We often talk about greed as if it’s a noun, an object, a thing. However, people don’t ‘have’ greed. They ‘do’ greed – more accurately, they do greeding. Same with attaching. It’s an active process, a skill, an unconscious competency.

The behaviours of greeding and attaching occur naturally, use primitive biological survival circuits of the brain and body and are in large part instinctually driven. That’s why they're so insidious. Research shows that greeding is linked to hunger and sexuality, so it can be very powerful.

But the main point is that it’s a process that can be controlled and moderated. It's a skill that has counter skills that can be used to constrain and control these unconscious behaviours. Learning to notice and control the thoughts and languaging that supports greeding and attaching is one of these key skills.


So to summarise: Everything you ‘own’ owns a piece of you, and that ownership, attaching and grasping can cost you dearly. Nothing lasts forever and everything is always in a state of flux and change. So grasping, attaching and ownership are insidious enemies to life enhancing happiness and can lead to much suffering.

Based on these deep insights from the ancient wisdom of buddhism and modern psychology, and following on from the neuro-semantic concept of E-prime, I have created the technique of ‘O-priming’.

O-priming involves the use of English in a way that excludes the use of the verbs, adjectives and predicates of ownership and attachment – especially in the case of ownership of intangible experiences. O-priming is effectively the use of english without the use of the verb ‘to have’ and other linguistic presuppositions of ownership.

O-prime is a semantic tool that helps you notice and filter for processes of attaching and ownership that can impoverish your model of the world, your experience, thinking and ultimately your behaviours. O-priming also encourages denominalising - shifting nominalised nouns (disguised verbs) back into their active verb form.

For example, if you say “I have an understanding of General Semantics” then you are indicating ownership. You are saying you ‘have’ understanding.

This suggests a grasping and need for understanding and nominalises the process of understanding into an object that you own. However, understanding is a process that can change with time, experience and knowledge.

If you feel you ‘have’ an understanding of General Semantics and then someone shows you your current understanding is not complete, how do you feel? There’s every possibility you may feel threatened since ‘your’ ownership and ‘your’ understanding is about to be ‘lost’.

Contrast this with the O-prime version that replaces ownership with process – that shifts “I have understanding” to “I do understanding”.

With O-prime, you could more accurately say “I feel I do understanding of General Semantics very well”. Or perhaps you may express it as “General Semantics is something I understand well” [though this would not be e-primed :-)].

These O-primed ways of thinking and communicating remove the semantic presuppositions of ownership and grasping.

Practical O'Priming

Removing all forms of ownership expression from your language is not really practical and not what is suggested. The key message of this deeper understanding is to note that the language of ownership can at times be pernicious and lead to unsane thinking and behaviour.

Instead, use O-prime appropriately to allow yourself to gain more choice and control over how you are modelling your world. Where useful, track for and replace the language of ownership in how you communicate and express your experiences so that the language you use supports your outcomes. This is much more life enhancing.

Stop grasping after permanence and allow yourself to flexibly flow with the ongoing processes of change. Every opportunity you can, refuse to be sucked into the ownership trap. Notice and adjust your languaging to support a more sane and life enhancing way of thinking and living.

Some Examples of Ownership Predicates

Presuppositions of ownership are indicated by words such as:

- All forms of the verb 'to have' e.g. Have, had, will have
- Get, got, own, buy, rent, contract, pay etc.
- My, mine, yours, theirs etc.
- Grasp, grab, catch, hold, take, possess, keep etc.
- Create, establish, build, make etc.

Do wording powerfully and in a way that supports enhancing your life and the lives of those you care about!

Life enhancing best wishing,

And here's some Life Enhancing reading for you: