Law of Attraction

Don’t think of a white polar bear.

Now, in your mind’s eye, do not picture a white polar bear.

How did you do?

If you are like most people, you pictured a white polar bear. This is an example of why only thinking about what you don’t want doesn’t work.

Deciding what you don’t want is easy. Be aware, recognize this. Then, choose something that you do want. Allow this positive potential be the fuel of focus.

Like a hiker walking up the mountain, rather than focusing on the bushes and trees and where not to walk, do focus on the trail ahead…

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Growth Mindset

It is in the nature of a plant to grow.

When a plant is healthy, it grows. When a plant is not healthy, it will tend to shrivel up. Generally, we can see a tendency for things to get better or things to get worse. You’ve seen this in your plants!

Similarly, it is in our nature to grow. Outwardly, our bodies are done growing at about 20. (Except perhaps our noses and ears!). Inwardly, it is our choice to grow, stay stunted, or to decline. This growing inside doesn’t ever stop. It exists over the entire lifetime.

Carol Dwek, a Stanford Professor of Psychology, first coined the term, “growth mindset”. As compared to “fixed mindset”. In growth mindset, intelligence or smarts are not fixed traits that we are born with; rather, through continued effort, we develop these skills. We can get smarter through effort.

Dwek’s observations in students are corroborated with findings in neurobiology. Neuroplasticity, the ability for the brain to change over time, occurs when we use our brains in a particular way. Neurons that wire together, fire together; that is, we can wire or unwire regions of our brains to influence our response to events. And to get smarter.

The implications for these findings are important, especially for relatively affluent humans. If you are reading this, you are one of them.

We have a choice in how to direct our lives. We have the ability to be aware, and to direct our intentions, thoughts, words, and actions in a way that is enriching to our lives and others. Or not.

To put it simply, growth mindset and neuroplasticity are not just ideas. They are a way of life that is in line with what we observe in nature: just look at the plants and trees – when they are growing, they are thriving.

The difference is for us: we have to purposefully chose to cultivate the conditions for growth mindset. And work on it every single day. Just as a gardener tends to a garden, we need to tend to our minds. Then, one day, we flower.

And then we flower again…and again…

Healing versus Growing

You break an ankle. You need to rest and heal the injury. Perhaps you need physical therapy or at home exercises. Obviously, your physical body needs to heal before you can play soccer again!

Similarly, you get into an argument with a loved one. You need to rest and heal the injury. Perhaps you need to talk things through to come to a common ground. Obviously, your emotional body needs to heal before you can move on with the relationship.

What are the consequences of ignoring a broken ankle? The answer is obvious.

However, we don’t often think of the consequences of not healing injury to the emotional body. We don’t necessarily know that we are even injured.

In this case, ignorance is not bliss.

We need to heal before we can grow.

Eating and Computer

There is no such thing as “multi-tasking”. We can actually only do one thing at a time.

Take eating porridge and computer work, for example. Practically speaking, you need to look at the bowl of food, pick up the spoon, take a few bites, and then return the spoon to the bowl. Then, you would start reading the email. After a few lines, you are ready for more food. Again, you have to locate the bowl of food by looking at it….

Thus, you are actually alternating attention between one task and another.

Each task, completed on its own, has a flow. When you alternate between each task, the flow is broken up, resulting in a fragmented approach to life.

Eating and Texting

What did you eat for your last meal?

Can you remember the flavors, the colors, the presentation of the food? Can you remember how you felt during the meal? Eating is part of our lives, after all. What do we remember about our meals?

John Kabat Zinn describes mindfulness as paying attention in the present moment, on purpose, non-judgmentally. When we pay attention to our food, we tune into our lives. Rather than food being a means to a nutritional end, eating can be a part an actual felt experience.

So put down your cell phone and dial into your meal time experience. Get curious about the feel of the food in your mouth. The texture, taste, aroma. You can appreciate this food that nourishes your senses now. And you can appreciate that this food nourishes your body for the long term.

By relaxing into the eating experience, we are relaxing into our lives. In this way, we can look back on yesterday….and remember what we ate….with enthusiasm. If we can, why not maximize the wealth of our life experience through our approach our food?

Flowering

What is the highest expression of beauty in a flowering plant? The flowering, of course.

What is the highest expression of beauty in a human being? Happiness, of course.

A flowering plant may endure many insults throughout its life: not enough water, too much water, the same for nutrients, trauma from insects or disease. Yet the blue print for the plant still remains the same: for that of growth and flowering. Inherent in its nature is to flower. If the gardener tends well to the conditions for the needs of the plant, then growth and flowering naturally occurs.

Similarly for humans, our blueprint is set for happiness and self actualization. So have courage, and face the mosquitos, trauma and dis-ease of your life with grace. These things are all part of the path, just as they are for any plant or animal. Tend to the conditions for your happiness and the rest will take care of itself.

Maybe happiness isn’t on the other side of today. Perhaps your bad mood is simply a case of dehydration. In that case, go pour yourself a glass of water 🙂

Our human ancestry

According to archaeological data, the human species has existed for 200,000 years. By comparison, the industrial revolution occurred around 200 years ago. The culture that has emerged post-industrial revolution – that we are now a part of – represents merely 0.1% of our time as a human species.

As you could imagine, so much has changed since our hunting and gathering days.

Really, pause and consider this point: that the way we live now is starkly different than our hunting and gathering days.

Unlike humans, animals don’t have existential questions. Animals simply exist, and do what is needed. When they are tired, they rest. When they are hungry, they eat, if they are so lucky to find a meal. And this is how we likely lived as well, for the large majority of our evolutionary history: simply and close to nature. We probably didn’t question ourselves, we just lived.

We’ve been born into a  strange time where the technologies and the energetic pace of this cultural flow has reduced our connection to the earth. So it’s not really far fetched that the “back to the land movement” is occurring. It’s not just a fad or a phase. It’s an inherent yearning of the human spirit to live in a way that is natural, in a way that we have done for the vast majority of our existence as a species.

Go play in the forest, on a beach, or by a stream….and see for yourself how it makes you feel.

Rainbows

Without rain, you can’t see rainbows.

Rainbows are a meeting of the sun and the rain. Without dark, there is no appreciation of light. The rainbow teaches us that in addition to the great tapestry of our lives with all of it’s sorrow and sweetness, there are miracles.

These miracles are the times when we let go, and surprisingly, things work out. These miracles are beyond the field of right and wrong.

Just as you can never plan for a rainbow to appear, you can never plan for a miracle to happen.

The time for miracles ripens on it’s own accord, like a fruit on a tree. Just do the work that’s needed to cultivate the fruit, then let be. The tree has it’s own energy. Do your part, then let be.

Flow

When the river flows into a depression in the ground, it fills it up, overflows and continues flowing downstream. When the river reaches a big stone boulder in it’s course, it splits into two, flows around either side of the boulder and rejoins itself on the other side.

And then, it keeps on flowing. 

Be like the river.

Hurricane

For the first time in 22 years, Hawaii was on alert for a category 1 hurricane. Typically, hurricanes would downgrade to a tropical storm, especially on the Big Island, where the high pressure system would be broken up by the mountain terrain. However, this time, the hurricane warning stayed put. Here in Hilo, we battened down the hatches: windows were taped, covered with a big “X” to prevent glass from shattering inwards. Everyone in our household prepared their head lamps, including spare batteries. In case of the water being cut off, the bath tub was filled so that we could use it for flushing the toilet, washing our dishes, or washing ourselves. At Walmart, the whole section of water was sold out by the time we arrived. We resorted to coconut water and gatorade and stocked up on junky and cheap food that satisfied the simple need for calories if we were without power to cook our healthful and fresh food. At home, we filled large containers full of water. 

For a couple of days, we heard the latest updates and talked about the storm. We were all in anticipation of what was to come. One of us was excited, another was worried, and yet another was somewhat indifferent. 

Before the storm, it was eerily calm. We were primed for some action and ready to access our headlamps if needed. But only the rains came that evening to our area. 

We found out the following day that the hurricane was down graded to a tropical storm. All this preparation and anticipation, and the reality of the situation was quite different then the actuality of the situation. Better to plan for the worst and hope for the best, I suppose. But what happens if in planning for the worst that our state of mind is frantic? Can we plan and complete the actions that need to be completed without frenzy? If the plans need to be completed anyways, how about completing them with happiness and ease?