Sunday, February 1, 2009

I've Moved!

I've converted my blog to a wordpress platform, and you'll find my blog at

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reclaim Your Dreams (Before the Price Goes Up!)

Just a quick note:

Fellow Contrarian blogger and regular writer for the well-known Zen Habits blog, Jonathan Mead, from Illuminated Mind, is selling his ebook, Reclaim Your Dreams, at the special launch price for only a few more days. As of 31 Jan, the price will be what you'd normally pay for an ebook - 40% more. So if you're keen to get it, get it now quickly before the price goes up! Check it out here.

It's a great little book, with some very inspiring ideas and, as a blogger, he's got a nice, straightforward style of writing. I particularly like the threads of Jonathan's "uncommon wisdom" that run through the book, where he brings in ideas that typically spring from Eastern philosophies, rather than popular Western self-help traditions. While you're there, check out Jonathan's blog and subscribe to his RSS - there's loads of value in there, and you don't have to pay a thing for it, and he's hatching plenty more cool stuff that you'll want to be first to know about.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to Quit Fighting Yourself & Make the Changes You Want

Do you feel like you want to change your life, but find that everytime you start making changes, you get in your own way and sabotage your own efforts. Do you feel like you want change and fear change at the same time, so you get stuck and don't move forward at all? Don't worry, you're not crazy or broken - your mind-body system is working exactly as it's meant to. When you understand how it works, instead of trying to use willpower to fight your natural tendencies, you can use your natural tendencies to take you to where you want to be. This is how we work:

We like what’s familiar, because familiarity is easier. Familiarity enables us to process and make meaning of reality much more quickly. Familiarity is also safer - processing the meaning of reality more quickly, means we can respond to reality more quickly, which is sometimes necessary for survival. And we’ve all heard the saying, “better the devil you know than the one you don’t know.” Because we like familiarity, we’re drawn to stick with it and bring more of it into our lives. And have an automatic tendency to resist or avoid anything unfamiliar.

This is great if you love the life you’re familiar with. But if there’s anything you don’t love about your life, changing it is probably going to mean bringing something unfamiliar into your life. Remember that we automatically resist anything unfamiliar... so how can you stop fighting yourself and leverage the way you’re naturally designed, to make the changes you want to make? Well, before you try bringing them into your life, you can get familiar with the new things you want to have, do and be. That way, they’ll be familiar, and you won’t resist them - in fact, you’ll naturally draw them into your life.

How do I get familiar with the new things I want to bring into my life? Whatever you’re focusing on in your mind is what you’re getting familiar with. So if you want to get familiar with something different, start focusing on it in your imagination, before you even start working on bringing it into your reality. That way, by the time you start bringing it into your reality, it’ll feel totally comfortable, like a sense of coming home.

In our busy, information-saturated lives, the ability to control what you focus on is possibly the most powerful skill that you can master. We have stuff going on that distracts us and demands our attention all the time, and it can be really difficult at times to manage or change what we’re focusing on. What you’re focusing on is what you’re getting familiar with - and what you’re going to bring more of into your life. So here are some tips on how you can take back control of your attention and focus your mind on the stuff you want to bring into your life:

  • Reduce your sources of distraction. Tim Ferris, author of the Best-selling book, “The 4 Hour Work Week,” talks about limiting incoming channels of information. Unsubscribe from the mailing lists and RSS feeds that don’t really add value. Switch off your email alerts and check email only twice a day. Block off time in your diary and close your office door, put your phone on voicemail and let your colleagues know not to interrupt you unless it’s genuinely an emergency. Don’t subscribe to those services that let you get notifications by sms on your mobile, and limit your TV intake or quit TV altogether.

  • Introduce anchors to remind you what you want to be focusing on. You can create reminders that will help to distract you from focusing on the stuff that tends to automatically pull your attention. Create sms or email alerts that remind you what's important to you. Put up pictures around your workspace of the experiences you want to bring into your life. Subscribe to blogs that are talking about the stuff you want to get familiar with. Write statements of the beliefs you want to be familiar with and place these where you’ll see them regularly.

  • Hang out with people who are focusing on what you want to focus on. Possibly the most powerful pull on our attention comes from other people. In our attempts to connect with other people, our natural tendency is to focus on the stuff that other people we’re interacting with are focusing on. Also, we tend to find people who already think like us, and hang out with them, and then we reinforce those familiar ways of thinking for each other. If you want to bring new experiences into your life, start hanging out with people who are already familiar with those experiences - because that’s what they’ll be focusing on. Because focus is so contagious, make sure you hang out with people who are focusing on what you want to focus on.

  • Take time to relax yourself and do some concentrated day-dreaming, focusing on what you want to bring into your life. You already know how to do this, except most of us are day-dreaming about stuff that could go wrong, imagining the disasterous ends in great detail, and getting ourselves familiar with alot of experiences that we don’t want. Take back control of your attention and focus on imagining having the experiences you want already, and how your life will be different as a result. Imagine how you’ll feel. Dream up all the multi-sensory detail. The more detailed you are in your day-dreaming, the more familiar you’ll be with the changes you’re dreaming about - and the more smoothly you’ll start bringing them into your life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Focus Series: How to Get What You Want By Imagining You Already Have It

Last week, I explained how the Manifestation System works to create the results that you’re currently getting. The core first step in any change is to take responsibility, by believing that you create your results. Understanding the manifestation system, leads you to a few other core principles of change that you’ll be able to apply, to get the changes you want:

Experience is not reality.
For me, the most important principle that the manifestation strategy shows us is that OUR EXPERIENCE IS NOT OUR REALITY. This photograph of me and my sister, Sue, on a rollercoaster ride a few years ago does a great job of illustrating this principle.

We’re both interacting with exactly the same reality, but we’re having a VERY different experience - and this is obvious in our facial expressions. She has a huge smile and I have my eyes closed and a terrified grimace. In order for us to respond to reality, we interpret our sensory experiences (what we’re seeing, hearing, touching, smelling) and we tell ourselves a story about what those sensory experiences mean. It’s our INTERPRETATION of reality (the second step in the manifestation strategy) that creates our experience of reality. Clearly Sue told herself a much happier story about the rollercoaster ride than I did!

You’ll find that you’re much more able to set your Manifestation Strategy onto Active Mode, challenge your limiting stories and choose more useful stories that support you getting the outcomes you want, if you recognise that often your stories aren’t an accurate interpretation of reality.

Interpreting reality in a different way changes your experience of it.
Because we usually assume that our experience IS reality, we normally focus our energies on trying to change reality. But reality is complex and often we don’t have much control over it (especially when we’re trying to change it from an inaccurate perspective of reality!), so the ability to change the meaning we give reality is often more useful, and more achievable, than attempting to change reality itself. An important paradox in all of this is that the person who has the greatest ability to change the meaning they give reality (and as a result has more flexibility in how they respond emotionally and behaviourally) will have the greatest influence and impact on reality. Makes sense, doesn’t it? As they say, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.” You’re much more likely to change your reality if you’re willing to try something different.
So how can you use these principles to change your life?
  • Think of a situation in your life that you’re finding difficult.
  • Write down what results you want in that situation.
  • Print out a copy of the Manifestation System, to use as a worksheet. Write the difficult situation next to the heading, “filtered reality.”
  • Now ask yourself, “What are the stories I’m telling myself about that situation?” Write these down next to the heading, “story about the meaning of reality.” Then ask yourself, “What would I have to be believing, in order to believe these stories?” Write those down too.
  • Next, ask yourself, “How do I feel when I think those thoughts or believe those stories?” Write your emotions down next to the heading, “Emotional Reaction.”
  • Then ask yourself, “How do I behave then, when I’m feeling that way?” Write this down next to the heading, “Behavioural Response.”
  • Now consider what results are caused by your behaviour. How does it impact on relationships? How do other people react to you then? What other external results do you get? Write these down next to the heading, “Results.”
  • Have a look at the manifestation system and notice how you’re creating a cycle, in which the results you don’t want are growing.
  • Go back to the page where you wrote what you want instead. Print out another copy of the manifestation system, and write these results at the top of the system, next to the heading, “Filtered Reality.”
  • Now ask yourself, “If I already had those results, what story would I tell myself?” “And, What would I have to be believing, in order to believe these stories?” Write that all down next to the heading, “Story about the meaning of reality.”
  • Then ask yourself, “How would I feel, if I believed those stories?” Write that down next to the heading, “Emotional Reaction.”
  • And then, “How would I behave, if I felt that way?” Write that down next to the heading, “Behavioural Reaction.”
  • Finally, ask yourself what results that’s likely to get you... In all likelihood, these results will get you much closer to where you want to be. Now go out and start practicing thinking, feeling and behaving that way, and notice how much more effectively this brings you the results you want.
This is the basic principle behind the idea that Law of Attraction fans preach - that if you start living as if you already have it, you’ll attract the things you want into your life. I’ve said before that I don’t really buy into the whole Law of Attraction theory. For me, rather than believing that my thoughts literally attract things, this is one way that I can see how the “living as if” philosophy could be incredibly powerful in creating the results you want. Besides, “living as if” feels much better - and, at the end of the day, it’s not the material stuff or achievements that we want. It’s the good feelings right now that we all want. And you can have those anytime you want.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Focus Series: How to Use Your Manifestation System to Get the Life You Want

You already know how to create the results you want. You’re creating results all the time. You have a powerful manifestation system that’s creating the life you currently have, and that system works perfectly well... to create the life you currently have. You’re extremely powerful. Every thought you have sets off a chain of reactions, starting within you, and extending out into the physical world through your behaviour, impacting on relationships and circumstances around you, to create the results you currently have. If you aren’t entirely thrilled with the results you’re getting, here’s how you use your powerful manifestation system to change your results.

How we create our results: The MANIFESTATION SYSTEM:
Alot of people are familiar with "the Law of Attraction" and the idea that our thoughts create our reality, but there's a wide variety of opinions about HOW this happens. If you feel like the Law of Attraction is over-simplified, pseudo-scientific bumpf, sugar-coated and wrapped in American kitch, then I invite you to consider this alternative model, which is based on the theories of Daniel Goleman. In our daily lives, we have a constant stream of information (reality) coming at us. We can’t pay attention to all of it all of the time (at least not consciously) - it’s just too much. So we filter reality and we only pay conscious attention to some of it, and ignore the rest. We then tell ourselves a story about what reality means, in order to understand it, and so that we can start creating an appropriate response. The story we tell ourselves about reality causes a physiological and emotional reaction inside of us, which then informs our behavioural response. Of course, our behavioural response is what creates our results, and our results provide the fodder for our future reality... and the cycle continues. This is how you created your current results.

There are two ways that we can run our manifestation system: Default Mode or Active Mode.

1. Default Mode: Your mind can’t NOT process and respond. It’s running the manifestation system all the time. The manifestation system is most efficient - and therefore most powerful, when running on Default Mode, and most of our results are created through the Default Mode Manifestation Strategy. We’d be terribly slow mentally and physically, if this wasn’t the case - which would be very dangerous, from a survival point of view. The Default Mode is more efficient because we’re not stopping to consider our options and the implications of those options when we’re filtering and making meaning of reality. While this allows us to respond more quickly, it also increases the risk that we’ll get some “bugs” and inaccuracies in the information we put into the manifestation system, and that could prevent us from getting the results we want. If you’re not feeling powerful, and you’re not getting the results you want, and you feel like your life is running you, then you’re running your manifestation system on Default Mode and have some bugs in the system. In order to de-bug and re-program your manifestation system so that you bring different results into your life, you need to switch your manifestation system from Default to Active Mode.

2. Active Mode: When you’re running the manifestation system on Active Mode, you stop and decide what outcome you want, so that you give your mind clear, consistent instructions to pay attention to the parts of reality that will support you getting the results you want, rather than having your attention grabbed by the familiar and scary parts of reality. When you’re running on Active Mode, you’re aware of the stories you’re using to give meaning to reality, and choosing stories that support you to create the feelings and behaviour that will get you the results that you ultimately want.

The manifestation system ALWAYS works, but your results depend on the parts of reality you pay attention to and the stories you tell yourself about reality. If you’re not entirely happy with the life you’ve created for yourself thus far, here’s how you can use the manifestation system to change your results:

  • Ask yourself, “What results do I want?”
  • Ask yourself, “What results am I currently getting?” Go to the Manifestation System flow-chart and write those results next to “Filtered reality”, at the top of the flow-chart.
  • Now ask yourself, “How to I feel about those results?” And write those feelings next to “Physiological and emotional reaction” on the flow-chart.
  • Now ask yourself, “What stories am I telling myself (about my results), that cause me to feel that way?” Write those stories next to “Story about the meaning of reality” on the flow-chart.
  • Next, ask yourself, “How do I behave when I feel that way?” Write that down next to “Behavioural response” on the flow-chart.
  • Finally, ask yourself, “When I behave that way, what results do I get? How do other people respond to me? How does that affect our relationship, and the potential future results in this relationship?” Write these answers next to “Results” on the flow-chart.

At this point, you’ll probably notice a strong correlation between your last answer that you wrote next to “Results” and your first answer, which you wrote next to “Filtered reality,” Your reaction to your results is keeping you in a cycle, where you’re re-creating the results you don’t want. Changing your results is all about noticing how you’re thinking: changing what you’re focusing on and what meaning you’re making of that.

Now that you’ve switched your manifestation system to Active Mode, you can change what you’re focusing on, by asking yourself, “Are there any results that I want, that I’m already getting, which I hadn’t noticed until now?” Then ask yourself, “What would I need to tell myself about my current results, to generate the feelings and behaviour that would support me getting more of the results I want?” Then, to start to become familiar with your new stories, ask yourself, “What evidence am I already noticing that tells me that these stories are true?” Look for at least 3 pieces of evidence. Then post your new stories somewhere where you’ll see them and be reminded of them. Some people like to get into a habit of reading their new stories at the beginning and end of each day. Finally, come up with 3 behaviours that somebody believing your new stories would be likely to use, and commit to practicing those 3 behaviours over the next few weeks.

Once you’ve “de-bugged” and “re-programmed” your manifestation system, you’ll probably find that you need to run the manifestation system on Active Mode, stopping to consciously choose useful stories, to make that way of thinking familiar. Once it’s familiar, your new stories will become your Default Mode, and you’ll not only get the results you want, but you’ll get them more efficiently.