Sunday, September 26, 2010

Satiating the Hunger of Greed

In this post I want to share with you a simple yet powerful and life enhancing technique based on NLP and Positive Psychology for overcoming greeding patterns and thereby ‘wealthing your life’.

Pattern interrupting greeding
Since greed utilises many of the same biological circuits as sexuality and hunger, you can satiate these primitive mechanisms by sending messages to your heart-brain and gut-brain to quell them. Remember also that positive emotions undo and inoculate against negative emotions and that gratitude and appreciation overcome greed.

The following technique uses heart-breathing and creative feeling to pattern interrupt the process of greeding.

Interrupt patterns of greed by:

  • Recall an act of kindness you did for someone. Feel pleasure in having performed it. As you remember this experience fully, focus on breathing your feelings of love, caring and appreciation into your heart.
  • As you are feeling deep and strong feelings of positivity, love, kindness and generosity in and around your heart, begin to expand and move these kind and loving feelings up into your head and down into your stomach and gut region. You can even send them lower into your groin region.
  • Continue to breathe in feelings of love and kindness and spread and expand them throughout your body, with specific awareness to deep in your gut.
  • Talk to your heart and gut-brains and tell them they are satiated. Reassure them they are well and that your life is filled with a wealth of happiness. Tell them you are satiated and replete.

You’ll find this technique is very powerful and can stop selfishness and greed in its tracks.

Practice it. Greeding comes from parts of your primitive multi-mind attempting to gain more and more because they have not received the message that you have achieved your outcomes and enough is now enough. By sending appropriate messages to your unconscious mind via your heart-brain and enteric-brain, you bring your system back into balance and stop the vicious cycle of patterns of greeding.

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

life enhancing thoughts and smiles,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bliss Pointing

As researchers in psycho-physics know, almost all human processes and behaviours have a ‘bliss point’. Indeed, sensory satisfaction is largely driven by the bliss point phenomenon. What is a bliss point? It’s the optimum sensation or experience that results when the level of a constituent is ‘just right’ – neither too low nor too high. Our physiology is evolved to search for and maximise these bliss points.

For example, with sweet foods our palate is optimised for a certain level of sweetness. Too little sugar and the dessert tastes bland, too much sugar and it tastes sickly.

Similarly, there are optimum levels for brightness and other forms of sensory stimulation.

The import of this for understanding and overcoming life denying greed involves finding and maintaining the bliss points in your life.

The challenge...

You see, the challenge is that the human nervous system is built around the use of hormones and receptors to control and communicate within the system. Our body continually adjusts the amount of these chemicals and the number of receptors based on our ongoing experience.

Let’s look at an example. There is an optimal bliss point level for the amount of endogenous opiate (endorphin) receptors in our tissues. These are used in the control and signalling of pain and pleasure. However, when a person floods their body and brain with an opiate like the drug heroin, over time the body down regulates the amount of endogenous opiate that is produced and the number of receptors that respond to it.

In other words, the system attempts to maintain the evolved bliss point for internal opiates. Then when the person tries to give up the drug, they find themselves in terrible withdrawals, in massive pain and heightened response to normal stimuli. Even the slightest touch becomes painful, because their body can no longer produce sufficient endorphins to control the pain signals.

During the addiction phase, it takes more and more of the drug to produce the high, as the body continues to down-regulate the response to maintain the bliss point – the point of optimal opiate response. During the withdrawal phase, it takes many weeks or months for the body to regrow the receptors and the ability to produce and respond to internal opiates, as it once again attempts to maintain the bliss point.

Do bliss pointing!

The “take home” message about bliss pointing, is that to maintain optimal enjoyment from any experience in life, you need to carefully manage not to flood your system. If you have too much of anything, you will overflow the inbuilt bliss point and your body will down-regulate its response. You need to give everything a rest. Moderation in all things is the key.

You will only be able to maintain the life enhancing bliss point of happiness in your life if you carefully manage your behaviours and experiences so that you never continuously over-do or continuously over-indulge. Your wonderful brain/mind/body is like a garden, the plants need just the right amount of water and nutrients; too much or too little and the plants wilt and suffer.

So track for the bliss points in your life and carefully manage and maintain them. Remember: use moderation in all areas of your life. Your ongoing happiness depends upon it.

Thinking Tools – Moderating your Life
Moderation in ALL things!

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

optimal thoughts and life enhancing wishes

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Overcoming the Hedonic Treadmill

"The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have.”
Lin Yutang

There is a tendency in our lives to adapt to the prevailing conditions and for things, no matter how distorted or extreme to become ‘normal’ before long. Research has found that people who have either experienced incredibly positive events such as winning the lottery, and people who have experienced extremely negative events such as becoming blind or quadriplegic, have an initial positive or negative response respectively, then within less than a year largely revert to their normal levels of happiness. The joy and sadness of good and bad events tends to fade with time.

On the Hedonic Treadmill

In the field of Positive Psychology, this effect is called the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’ and it’s particularly germane to the subject of greed and wealth. Research on the hedonic treadmill has shown that as a person makes more money, their expectations and desires typically rise, resulting in no permanent gain in happiness.

Part of the process of greeding is the belief that the satiation of a desire will lead to ongoing positive feelings and experiences. But, as the research on the hedonic treadmill suggests, the initial positive response to satiating your desires will be fleeting. Before long, your feelings and levels of happiness will return to the norm, leaving you back on the treadmill. You’ll then need to increase your wants and desires and continue questing for more.

Unless you do something differently, over time you’ll end up stuck on this tiresome hedonic treadmill of greed and all it will ultimately achieve is leaving you feeling no better than before and with a constant unsatisfied need for more and more. As you can imagine, this is not particularly life enhancing... 

Shift your focus

The hedonic treadmill effect is particularly applicable to happiness based on pleasure.

Remember, research in Positive Psychology has shown there are three components to a happy life – pleasure, engagement and meaning. The antidote to the hedonic treadmill is to shift your focus from pleasure to a greater focus on engagement and meaning. By living a life filled with purpose and meaning and focusing on helping others you’ll experience a life that is deeply satisfying and doesn’t rely on an ongoing greed for pleasure and surface enjoyment.

Also, stop basing happiness on external objects and possessions. Instead, look to your own inner resources and competencies to generate joy and happiness in your life and the life of others. Watch out for patterns of greeding and hedonic treadmill effects in your life, and avoid them as the true life denying enemies they really are.

Success Strategy – 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 the hedonic treadmill. When practiced for as little as an hour per week, Loving Kindness Meditation can enhance positive emotions and buffer against negative emotions such as greed, 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. 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.

True Inner Wealth

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. Now that is true life enhancing inner wealth!

peace and life enhancing thoughts,

And here is Dr Fredrickson's book on her research for those who want to learn more:

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research to Release Your Inner Optimist and Thrive

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Producing vs Consuming

“Earn a dollar, spend 80cents... happiness!
Earn a dollar, spend $1.20... misery!!!

In this weeks post, we continue exploring ideas and distinctions on ‘wealthing your life’ - how to create true wealth, joy and life enhancing happiness. Remember, the key with wealthing your life is to bypass the greed for mere money and instead build skills and strategies into your life for creating life enhancing wealth.

Let me share another story from my life...

Many years ago I worked with a fellow consultant who was constantly broke. Though he earned hundreds of dollars an hour, he had no money in the bank and no investments or assets to his name. His problem was he consumed more than he produced! He would waste his money on expensive meals, pointless and costly toys and high priced rental accommodation. Everything was hired, leased or rented. We called him ‘gadget boy’ because he always had to have the latest gadget or technology on the market and as soon as it was a few months old he would give it away to someone else.

He owned no real wealth of any sort and his outgoings were equal to or larger than his income. He often lived on a buffer of credit card debt while he waited for his next payment to arrive. I would occasionally have to loan him money just so he could eat a meal with me or fill his car with fuel. What a crazy life!

While he literally had a 6 figure income every year, he was one of the poorest people I know.

Thankfully, my father taught me from an early age the vital importance of producing more than I consume. He gave me the powerful thinking tool of the insight that ‘It’s not your incomings – it’s your outgoings’ that are crucial for generating wealth and living a great life. You see, you can earn a relatively modest income and be wealthier than my friend described above.

All you have to do is ensure that your expenses are much less than your income, and save the wealth that you thereby generate. Use that wealth to create investments and assets that in turn generate more income. Make your wealth work for you. Before long you’ll find you are rich in freedom and choice with a healthy buffer of wealth to support you no matter what happens in life – you’ll be financially free. It’s quite simple, maximise your incomings, minimise your outgoings and save the difference. Invest wisely and your wealth will steadily grow.

Thinking Tool – Produce more than you Consume

It’s not your incomings – it’s your outgoings!

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

to your life enhancing success,