Keeping it Real?

 

mannequin-head         Photo: Mannequin Head by Peter Griffin 

Our connection to the outside world is governed by our senses. The human brain can process as much as 400 billion bits of information a second, but we are consciously aware of only about 2,000 bits a second. This means we filter out most of our ‘reality’.

The data we’re left with, is what our brain considers to be important. The information it thinks we need to thrive and survive. But our brain takes shortcuts based on generalisations. What was once important to us stays there unless new connections render the old ones obsolete.

Over time, we establish thought patterns and beliefs that determine how we expect ‘reality’ to behave. Anything confirming that view is allowed through, but conflicting information is generally disregarded. Constant conditioning.

But we don’t have to keep the same modes of thinking. It’s possible to consciously reset some of our filters.

For instance, if you tend to look on the negative side of things, you can make a deliberate practice of not worrying about things beyond your control. Stuff happens! Your challenge is to make your situation better, whatever your starting point.

Try and look for solutions rather than being stuck with your problems. Find a few things to be grateful for each day. Sometimes this can be tough, but if you’re reading this post, you’re probably more affluent than most people in the world.

For a few minutes, you can ‘live in the now’, focusing on your senses and nothing else. It can give you a chance to choose a better version of your own reality. Why not give it a try?

Life Lessons from an All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant

indian-food Photo: Indian Food by Jm Verastigue

 

Last night, together with my wife and a couple of friends, I had a meal in an All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant. In the UK, it’s not that common to have an all-you-can-eat-buffet, outside of breakfast or lunch-time specials.

It was a huge Pan-Asian restaurant, and there were sections for Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese and many more types of food. Even British-style fish and chips (maybe that’s what the ‘Pan’ part meant!)

The selection seemed almost infinite. And when one food tray was starting to run low, it was soon replaced with a full one. A small army of staff kept everything running smoothly. As soon as you had emptied your plate, it was whisked away, and you were free to help yourself to another, and fill it with whatever you wished.

Not being used to the idea, it was very tempting to overdo it. And I did. Each time I went back for another helping, I thought, I’ve got to get my money’s worth!

By the end of our two hour table reservation, I was completely stuffed, to the point of being uncomfortable. But why?

Apart from the obvious answer being ‘Greed’, a part of me must still be focusing on a ‘lack’ mentality. That I’ve got to ‘get it while I can’, and if I don’t it will be taken away from me. Instead of stopping when I was comfortably full, I had to take more than my fair share.

And yet, like Universal Supply, I knew my own supply of food wasn’t going to run out. There was clearly more than enough to go around. And me taking whatever I wanted wouldn’t result in someone else going without.

Maybe I should go there more often, until finally I ‘get it’! Or maybe I should make more of an effort to ‘get it’ in practice, rather than just in theory.

Sometimes, ‘self-help’ and ‘helping yourself’ can mean the same thing.

Law of Attraction or Law of Perception?

magnet-illustration Magnet Illustration by K Whiteford

You may have changed your car and noticed soon afterwards that you see a lot more of the same vehicle on the roads. It’s nice to be a trendsetter! But deep down, we know something else is happening. It’s actually that we’re noticing the cars that look like ours a lot more, rather than an actual increase. This is known as observational selection bias.

Now, what if the Law of Attraction was us actually noticing the things that we focus on, rather than attracting the things we focus on?

Instead of the Universe having rearranged itself to do our bidding, what if our changed perception can now see opportunities that were not clear to us before, despite always being present?

If we cultivate the sort of positive outlook that finds us ready to take advantage of our circumstances, do we really need to wait for the Cosmos to align in our favour?

There does seem to be an implicit question of faith with the LOA. If you’re not getting the results that the gurus get, do you believe strongly enough? Are you being positive enough? Maybe their latest book or audio program will help to boost your belief. These products can give you a short-term positivity boost, but in my experience, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. I know, because I’ve bought many of them myself.

It’s neither possible nor desirable to think positively all the time. Imagine being chased by a wild animal and not bothering to run, because you believe ‘It will all work out fine, in the end.’ I still think that we each hold the key to our own destiny, but I now accept that Life will always have uncertainties. Maybe that’s why we signed up in the first place.

Whatever our life circumstances, we can still choose how we view them and how we react to them. That is about us changing how we see ourselves, and our world.

Don’t Go Without, Go Within

the-candle Photo: The Candle by Bobbi Jones Jones

“The peace we need is always present, it’s just that

 we have forgotten where it is and how to find it.”

Clare Wilde.

It’s taken me a while to figure it out, but I’ve found that looking for external solutions to every problem just doesn’t work.

I’ve always thought of myself as being ‘Spiritual’ rather than ‘Religious’ and have never become formally attached to any such group. I’ve never accepted the “one size fits all” approach, where someone tells you they have all the knowledge you need. And you shouldn’t question their message or look elsewhere for answers, if it doesn’t make sense to you.  I like to have the freedom to accept or reject beliefs and philosophies, using my own reasoning and intuition.

And yet over the years, I’ve found myself wanting the “quick fix” that seems to be on offer with a self-help author’s latest title. No matter that I bought their last one, thoroughly digested it… And moved on to the next. I still have the books, CDs and DVDs to prove it!

Rather than just reading the material, I hoped that the latest book would be “The One” that gave me enlightenment, and solved all my problems. Or rather gave me all the tools I needed to do that. Isn’t that what Spiritual and Self Help books are supposed to do?

But they too have a “one size fits all” approach – suggesting that the solutions to Life’s problems can be contained neatly into a book, or Ten Step Programme or Nine CD set. And although their last book implied that this was ‘all you need to know’, they now have distilled their message into an even more perfect ‘must-read’.

It’s not helped by the fact that there is a huge industry that has developed out of the Self-Improvement and Motivational field. Which is not a bad thing in itself. But it seems that authors often try and out-do each other with ever more amazing claims of what their programme or system can do for you. Sometimes it’s really just a book, but calling it a “programme” or “system” gives it a bit more ‘holistic’ credibility.

I’m sure there is benefit to be had in learning and absorbing new approaches, and different perspectives. So I’m going to carry on reading and listening to motivational material. But instead of asking the author of the next book to give me Life’s solutions, I’ll look within. That’s where I believe I will find the answers I need. And where they were all along.

Design for Life

Trees Photo: Sakura Trees by Petr Kratochvil

 

It’s been another hot summer’s day. Walking along a tree-lined pathway, it occurred to me that in nature, things effortlessly follow their own blueprint. I’m sure that trees don’t doubt their ability to grow tall and strong. A stalk of grass probably doesn’t compare itself to a neighbour.

Do we have our own “Design”? I think if we’re guided by our intuition, we know when something feels right. But we don’t have to follow it, and often Life gets in the way to drown out our inner voice.

We have the ability to rewrite our plans, over and over – which can be a blessing or a curse. Having the freedom to create our own life, means that if the doubts creep in, we can end up settling for less than our best. 

It’s an obvious statement, but Life is all about Creation. I used to believe that we have to take whatever Life throws at us. I now see that we actively co-create our experience together with Life. We are deeply involved in the process, every second of every day. Whether we’re aware of it or not.

Surely, we have a responsibility to ourselves to find what lights us up, and pursue it, to the extent that we can. Even if it remains a hobby, rather than a career. But more than that, if we lift ourselves up, we pass the benefits on to those around us, and subconsciously give them permission to do the same.

So, you know what to do… Find your talent. And shine your light.