Saturday, February 23, 2013

Micromanaging the Universe

I once read an interview with Deepak Chopra in which he said that generally people spend their lives in activity and rarely, if ever, take time out for contemplation, or to simply be in their own presence, unaffected by outside distractions. We are, he concluded, not human beings, but human doings.

Lately I've been realizing how much I am a human doing. My secret (sometimes even to me) ambition is to micromanage the universe. In thinking about the source of this urge, I traced it to the fight/flight instinct.

It stems from the most primitive part of our brain, sometimes called the reptilian brain. However, what makes us different from the reptiles is that they had a more accurate perception of danger. They didn't spend most of their time fighting or fleeing.

We humans expose ourselves much more to what looks like danger. In addition to what we hear and see on news programs, other forms of media can affect us.

I was watching a program on the Internet today when a commercial came on. It advertised a TV series about a serial killer. Featured in the clip were bodies, gunfire, and blood. Anyone who watches this program will be treated to many more multisensory prods that tell the undiscriminating primitive brain that it's in danger. This kind of sensory input encourages us to see threats everywhere and magnify or misread ordinary occurrences.


I had written the first part of this blog when I had to go for a dental appointment. (Now, that is a true threat.) On my way there, I saw a car parked in my lane. It had probably broken down, and all I thought was that I would be late for my appointment. Enter road rage.

A truck pulled up behind me, blocking my view of the next lane. Then the driver got out, causing even further obstruction of my view. Magnify road rage. Then, to my surprise (and chagrin), I saw that he was directing traffic so that drivers in my lane could safely move to the other lane.

That emphasized to me that my insistence on doing could cause me to see a threat where none exists. When I came home, I made a list of the reasons why DOING is so important to me.

I'm nervous if I don't DO.
I get scared if I don't DO.
I'm afraid to BE.
They'll sneak up on me.
They'll DO.
And I'll be DONE.
I'm not worthy if I don't DO.

Then I made some notes in favor of BEING.

When I am BEING,
I'm allowing intuitions and insights to flow in.
I'm opening the door to inner creativity.
I'm receiving guidance about how and when to DO.

When I'm scared, angry, or in other ways dancing to the tune of the primitive brain, I can never find a creative solution to any problem. It's in that place of BEING that creativity flourishes. BEING conserves our mental and emotional energy and allows it to flow in the direction of a creative solution.

If you need a reminder to just be, consider doing one of the following:

If a cat is in your life, study it. Cats have the art of being down. If that cat jumps into your lap, relax into the experience, paying special attention to its purring (which may be the best tranquilizer around).

Squirrels and birds also offer opportunities for observation. They are both known to sit on branches for extended periods of time in apparent contemplation.

Basically, if you watch any animal long enough, you will find that it's a master of being.

Another of my preferred routes to being is to listen to one of my favorite Beatles songs.

Let It Be v=RdopMqrftXs

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Sale

The Valentine’s DayE-Book SaleToday's hottest ebooks are on sale under $5 from Feb 14-16 only! Mystery, romance, young adult - there's something for everyone ...

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Check out the Indie Book Festival's Valentine E-book Sale!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Crush Your Creativity:
Say "I Don't Know."

In my last post I described "knowing" as a way to close the door to new ideas that take you into the unknown. In this scenario, saying "I don't know" can open that door—if saying it stimulates you to shake up your certainty and to explore.

However, saying, "I don't know" in different situations can keep you on the wrong side of a closed door.

Children know how to work this response.

"How did your floor get all wet?"

"I don't know."

"Why is your sister crying?"

"I don't know."

This is also called lying, and often when we say we don't know, we're lying to ourselves. Maybe not often, maybe even always.

"I don't know" closes and locks the door especially if it has a definite and final sound. It sounds like this: "I don't know (and I never will). If you listen carefully, you may discover that "I don't know" really means, "I don't want to know" (and I have my reasons).

"How can you solve this problem?"

"I don't know." And I don't want to know, because I've learned to live with this problem. If I solve it, I KNOW that a new problem will arise, and I won't know how to live with it.

Or "If I know the answer, I'm going to have to act on it, and that might mean doing something uncomfortable."

Here's an example from my own life. Social media generally intimidates me. I have made a promise to myself to master their mysteries, but each new attempt can leave me feeling helpless.


Recently I realized why I didn't want to know. Being at least semi-reclusive, the idea of networking sounded like going to a huge party where one knows nobody and circulating aimlessly with a drink in hand or paying excessive attention to the food. That was the best-case scenario.

Here's the worst case. To launch my poor, vulnerable self into the vast sea of social networking felt like swimming in an ocean infested with sharks, piranhas, barracudas, and, quite possibly, poisonous eels. (Yes, all you nice people.) I might make social mistakes, violate rules, and attract attention I didn't want, or have other yet-unimagined disasters occur.

I don't say that this discovery instantly solved my social phobia. It did, however, free me from the idea that I was just stupid because I didn't know what a hash tag was. It meant that, rather than being ruled by a hidden fear, I could bring that fear out into the open and dust it off and decide whether I wanted to keep it.

What matters at this stage is that I have choices. That feels a lot more powerful than saying "I don't know" and bumping my head into a brick wall or closed door.

Getting out of the "I don't know" rut sometimes has to be accomplished in stages.

Stage One may be simply listening for the familiar sound of "I don't know." This can sometimes halt automatic behavior.

Stage Two may be asking yourself why you don't know and why you don't want to know, as I did about social media.

Stage Three involves a shift. Say to yourself, "I don't know, but I can." "I don't know, but I can find out." "Even though I haven't wanted to know, I might be a little curious." "Even though I haven't wanted to know, it might be fun to see what happens if I found out."

Maybe it would be.