guard_the_time

 

Door. Door. Door.

Wherever you go, there is a door.
To open. To close. Or to go through.
Sometimes to pass by too.

You can hit the door.
You can break the door.
Or you can pretend that there is no door.

The door is however there, whether you like it or not.

There is a path leading to the Door. There is the Door. There is a path behind the Door.

There is the Old World. There is The Door. There is the New World.

Door is the threshold experience

There are three actions you can take at the Door:

Action #1

You can patiently wait at the Door in hope it will be opened for you. You believe that there is somebody behind the Door who will know when you want to enter.

It may happen of course, but it is unlikely. Such a passive waiting will put you at the mercy of external circumstances, which is ineffective, to say at least. It may take a long time before the Door opens or perhaps it will never happen.

(Digression: Note however that active waiting is a different story. It is a process in which you make yourself familiar with the Door and gain understanding what the Door is about. In such a process you consciously prepare yourself for what awaits for you behind the Door. In other words, you make yourself ready to enter.)

Action #2

You can turn back and investigate tricks or ways to get to the world behind the Door. Perhaps there is a way through a window from outside, a hidden corridor from the other side, or another door. Finding a shortcut or roundabout may work well in some cases, but in the majority of cases, the Door is there for you. On purpose.

It is your Door and there is something for you to learn from the experience of going through this Door. If you neglect the Door, skip it or replace it with another door, chances are high that you will come back to the same door. It may be the same door but it may also be another door with the same purpose.

Action # 3

You can approach the Door, go through it and step confidently on the path that will show before you. This is of course not necessarily easy but the most beneficial approach. Why? The door is a door on your path so going through it will only enrich your life experience and help you to grow faster.

***

So, if you think about the action at the Door, make yourself ready to go through it.

Doors are everywhere

You wake up in the morning and you enter the conscious world. Door.
You get up and leave your room. Door.
You enter the bathroom. Door.
You leave the bathroom. Door.
You enter the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Door.
You open/close the fridge. Door.
You go and wake up kids. Door.

Door. Door. Door.

You leave for work in the morning. Door.
You enter your car or a bus. Door.
You arrive at your work. Door. Door. Door.
And then you go to other rooms, meeting places or buildings. And you pass doors.

Doors. Doors. Doors.

You enter cafes, cars, buses, trams, rooms, buildings or lifts. Doors.

Doors. Doors. Doors.

Then you return home. Door. Door.
And there are more doors. Doors. Doors.
You enter the bathroom. Door.
You come to your bedroom. Door.
And you fall asleep and enter the dream world. Door.

The final Door.

Door is a metaphor

Door is a metaphor for any threshold experience.

Door is a moment in which you hit the water surface at the swimming pool on a hot day, after you jumped. There is this sharp, deeply penetrating experience of cold water overwhelming your body. And there is the world of magical floating in the water.

Door is your first driving lesson that will lead you towards a new independence. It is the moment in which you start the engine, hold the wheel and feel the car move. You drive it!

Door is the decision to start volunteering as a helper with handicapped children. And there is this amazing moment when you open yourself to communicate through means you have never thought were possible.

Door is the conversation you will have with your beloved one to tell her that your relation has come to an end. And there is this moment in which you can both reflect on the greatness of the relation and depart in peace.

Door is the meeting with your boss to tell him that you are quitting your job to start own business. And this is the moment in which you finally grasp that there is no way to live by setting to lower standards that you want to live.

Door is the talk with your parents to tell them you are leaving home for a job abroad. And this is the moment in which you open up for new experiences.

Yes, door is the threshold.

Three steps of consciousness

You make your preparations in the Old World for what awaits you behind the Door. The Door is a sharp moment of self-consciousness where the learnings from the Old World and the hopes and ambitions for the New World meet and entangle.

At the Door you are already in the process leading from the past to the future, from ideas to actions or from actions to tangible results.

The Door is the crossing point and it matters now how you enter the New World. You can use the Door as the moment of summoning your confidence and remembering your intent for what awaits you behind the Door.

And the story about the Door is an excuse to tell you that there are three basic steps in consciousness. Preparation before the Door, the threshold experience at the Door and the embracing of the path the begins on the other side of the Door.

Three steps of consciousness: Preparation. The Door. New Path.

Observe these three steps and practise them with intent.

Be awake when you walk through a door. Pay attention. Focus. Embrace the path that opens up.

***

Top photo courtesy Jose Luis Mieza Photography,  available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr. The image in the text shows a painting of the remarkable Chester cathedral. I made it some years ago when a number of paintings were collected there.

***

 

 

 

 

 

  • Are you the one who despises intuition, or are you the one who respects it?
  • Are you the one who thinks intuition is a word coined to cover the criterion-free and otherwise arbitrary decisions?
  • Are you the one who neglects the power of intuition in favor of a rational thought? The thought can be explained in the end, right?
  • Or, on the contrary, are you the one who believes that intuition is a mystical revelation for a chosen few?

Nothing more wrong than any of the above.

Intuition is not more than you think it is. It is much more! Much, much more.

Let me explain.

Are you the one who dwells in analysis? If so, perhaps you don’t pay sufficient respect to intuition. Perhaps you think intuition is run by emotional triggers, or it is a woo-woo phenomenon of emotionally unbalanced people. While it is true that

  • intuition may lead you astray (when undeveloped), and
  • it does not follow a rational conclusion of a detailed analysis,

intuition offers a unique approach to a more effective and satisfying living. And this is good enough to start using it.

Intuition is available to you and me at any time. It is not a magical power offered to a few individuals. It is a skill of a conscious person.

Intuition is a point of inner knowing, your inner knowing that happens now, in this very moment. Intuition is a creative workshop, a meeting place in which your consciousness is an artist who creates a new insight by blending knowledge, perception and feelings. It  is a new phenomenon arising by a higher level combination of a rational thought and emotion. In an active process of knowing.

This intuitive act is about delivering something new, similarly as you create a new color, green, by mixing blue and yellow in proportion, or as hydrogen and oxygen molecules are connected to create water. Such combinations have qualities that are way beyond the qualities of the ingredients themselves.

Key understanding

Being more practical: the idea behind intuition is threefold.

  1. First, it is your powerful subconscious mind that is able to process an amazing amount of information and read your senses and emotions. All without you being able to describe it.
  2. Secondly, it heavily relies on the non-verbalized tacit knowledge. It is the know-how that is built by experience and your own understanding and models of these experiences.
  3. Thirdly, there is a conscious spark. Call it imagination, inspiration, God’s guidance or wisdom in a moment. It is the spark, the joyful observer in you that combines the tacit knowledge and emotion into an insight.

So, the key understanding is this. Intuition is largely about … pattern recognition.

Yes, indeed. Intuition relies on a sophisticated pattern recognition system thanks to which you are able to evaluate both external and internal cues, perceive non-verbalized unspoken information, recognize patterns, discriminate between typicalities and anomalies and draw a conclusion in an instant.

Consequently, your intuition is usually lame when you enter a new field or encounter a new idea. It develops with learning, experience and reflection. What is means is that intuition can be trained.  It is great news, isn’t it? Because you can take a conscious effort in developing it.

Developing intuition

TRAINING
As any pattern recognition system intuition can be trained by examples. These are events, learning points and experiences. What you need are examples of standard situations and examples of outliers, atypical cases or anomalies. And as explained in the posts about learning accurate concepts and generalization, you need many more outliers and atypical examples than the typical ones in order to refine your concepts well. Your exposure to a variety of cases, analyzed or experienced, forms your data. Your inner understanding and the building of mental models are your generalizations.

Hence, the richer and wilder the experience and the better the understanding, the greatest your intuition (can be). And the other way around. The poorer your experience, the worse your intuition.

In other words: intuition sucks when you have not laid your foundation well: the data of experiences and the learned generalizations from  your reflection. So, yes, intuition may lead you to poor choices in the beginning, but it greatly improves with experience. With training, it leads to effective and fast choices. And of a high quality.

TESTING
Intuition heavily relies on spotting the patterns and an instantaneous evaluation of such internal and external cues. It communicates with you with a bodily emotion, such as the feeling of “this is right” or “this is to be done”. How you feel it in your body is your personal experience. You may simply know the answer or direction, imagine it, hear it or even sense it. You may have a gut feeling about it. You may feel expansion in your body or a feeling of congruence.

TRUST
How do you recognize that the feeling comes from your intuition? You recognize it because it guides you toward knowing in a moment and being in integrity with yourself. There is no fear, no rush but a state of calmness in which you clearly see, sense or know what to choose. It takes practice to tell the difference between intuition and other contributions such as ego, rational mind or emotional mind.

The only way to learn is by following intuition (or what it seems as intuition), see the results and learn from feedback. You need to trust.

Experts rely on intuition

Experts collect and ensemble patterns to quickly make sense of what is happening. Note that these patterns are not facts, neither rules, nor procedures. They are constructs built from knowledge, abstract prototypes and intuits derived from all the experiences the experts have lived through and heard about.

Professionals in any field rely on intuition. While standard situations can usually be covered by a set of procedures and rules, any deviation from the typicality asks for much more. And this is an every day experience for all of us. What we learn from leaflets, protocols and books has to be evaluated and refined by experience. Oftentimes, there is a gap between theory (written knowledge) and practice. Practice and experience lead to the development of your personal inner knowing.

And this is what makes the difference between mediocre and passionate. Between average and professional. Between boring and interesting. It is the use of intuition. As simple as that.

The learning point

In summary, what you need to understand is that an intuitive act happens in a given moment. It draws from learned concepts, generalizations and experiences. It is where your rational thinking and detailed analysis serve their roles – to form the mental models. Once these models are formed, they provide a model base for an intuition to act. Perception, senses and the emotional feeling provide the ‘green’ light  for the direction to choose. This intuitive knowing is painted in a moment from learned experience, recognized patterns and your feeling and judgement about the situation.

The good news is this. Your intuition is fed by experience, reflection and understanding. The richer your experience in a given subject, the better your intuition can be. The more you apply it, the stronger it becomes.

In the chaos and floods of information, intuition is not merely a tool. It becomes a necessity for making informative decisions and living your life fully.

Don’t let it slip your attention.

Your intuition is at work. Train it. Test it. Master it.

***

The image above is by my friend David.

hope

I am nostalgic at times and it is happening right now.

I observe how fast our world changes. Daily.
I observe how stability is an illusion. Daily.
I observe how fickle our economy is. Daily.

Time of transformation

This all reminds me about the transformation years back in Poland, when Poland was to become free. These were the times of illusion of stability, brotherhood and equality. Life seemed peaceful at a surface but it was boiling and steaming underneath. There was a huge desperation for the freedom of expression, freedom of choice and freedom of being.

Even as a child and a teenager I could sense tension, unease and delusion. The parody of various layers in life was ever present. I felt uneasy. I had a strong impression of more important things beneath the surface yet I could not grasp them.

In the late 80′ the change was in the air. The raise of consciousness was in your breath. You could nearly touch it. It was to come.

In the times like this, music helps you to express what seems inexpressible: fears, hopes and expectations. Music helps because it touches you in simple words, tunes or metaphors. Music can be like a sword piercing you fast and deep, straight to your essence of being. It is shocking sometimes but overall, if in effect, you go through a catharsis. You are purified. The emotions are acknowledged and released. There is a flow.

In the times of fears, you only whisper what you believe. Or you keep silent. You are afraid to speak too loud about transformations, as if somebody will overhear it and push things away. You want to touch these intensive feelings in yourself, but you are afraid to face them as if they may not become the reality. Music makes it happen.

One of the songs that kept me hopeful as a teenager was “Don’t give up” by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. It is written at time of a high unemployment in Britain and the unstable economy in the country. It is about fears and hopes, lack of work, being a looser and rejections. But the message is universal and it is strong:

There is a place where we belong.

There is a place for us to evolve and become who we really are.
There is a place for us to live and work, to develop, to cherish, to contribute and to grow.
And this place is a place of friends. Of deep connections.

We can create this place.

And I have played this song back for the last few days. Kate’s vocal is fantastic. Listen to it.

 

Don’t Give Up

in this proud land we grew up strong
we were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

 

no fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I’ve changed my face, I’ve changed my name
but no one wants you when you lose

 

don’t give up
‘cos you have friends
don’t give up
you’re not beaten yet
don’t give up
I know you can make it good

 

though I saw it all around
never thought I could be affected
thought that we’d be the last to go
it is so strange the way things turn

 

drove the night toward my home
the place that I was born, on the lakeside
as daylight broke, I saw the earth
the trees had burned down to the ground

 

don’t give up
you still have us
don’t give up
we don’t need much of anything
don’t give up
’cause somewhere there’s a place
where we belong

 

rest your head
you worry too much
it’s going to be alright
when times get rough
you can fall back on us
don’t give up
please don’t give up

 

‘got to walk out of here
I can’t take anymore
going to stand on that bridge
keep my eyes down below
whatever may come
and whatever may go
that river’s flowing
that river’s flowing

 

moved on to another town
tried hard to settle down
for every job, so many men
so many men no-one needs

 

don’t give up
’cause you have friends
don’t give up
you’re not the only one
don’t give up
no reason to be ashamed
don’t give up
you still have us
don’t give up now
we’re proud of who you are
don’t give up
you know it’s never been easy
don’t give up
’cause I believe there’s the a place
there’s a place where we belong

 

The double message

What is really curious about this song is the title, “Don’t give up”, which becomes the repeated phrase or the motto. Interestingly, we know that our subconsciousness has difficulty to process the don’ts. (Check out a great explanation by Paul on why negativity turns your subconscious mind against you.) Basically, in order to imagine the lack of something (the don’t) we have to first imagine the exact thing we should avoid. This comes back to the famous “Don’t think about pink elephants!”. Of course you need to think of pink elephants before you can start thinking about everything else. This is the basic knowledge of NLP, i.e. neurolinguistic programming in which values, beliefs and the use of language determine the quality of our lives. Learn more if this is new for you.

So, actually when we keep repeating this very message “don’t give up” in the song, our subconsciousness reads like “give up” , “give up”, “give up”. This means “stop or  “cease making an effort”.

Despite that the song had a very positive effect on me. I felt energized, accepted and powerful. I was a believer in the transformations to happen.

How is this possible despite the negativity statement (don’t)? There are two important observations.

1. Being non-native

If you are a non-native English speaker like me, “giving up” with the added word “up” is not naturally perceived as a phrasal verb with the meaning it conveys. “Giving up” sounds cheerful and positive thanks to the little word “up”. This combination of words suggests progress or improvement. And at first the meaning that one reads in it is of “submissing” [your problem/challenge] “up” [i.e. high to God or a higher authority] [with the faith that it is going to be solved]. So, even though my subconsciousness gets imprinted with “giving up”, I perceive it as a positive message.

2. The hope of letting go

On the other hand, another effect comes into a play. When you keep fighting for freedom or you work very hard to solve an important problem, you get tense, overdo it and become fixated on a single path to the solution. The problem becomes then like a hunted nightmare.

At such times, the right way is to stop actively participating in the problem; the smartest choice is to give up. What happens is that you relax and stop forcing things to happen in a limited view you have. You need to leave some freedom and handle uncertainty to allow more space for things to sort themselves out. This is especially important when you did the initial work and the time is ready. Giving up is then about honoring your own feelings, accepting what is and letting go (and letting God take care of events).

And there was indeed the time in Poland when the ground was fertile, the season was right and there was raining. We stopped to fight for a moment. We let things happen and a miracle has occurred. It was a prepared miracle, of course, nevertheless it comes back to the basic principle:

“Focus intensively (prepare the ground) and let go.”

I find it pretty cool. Despite the message my subconsciousness “should” have perceived about giving up and loosing hope, the message has become double powerful. All thanks to my non-nativeness.

On the emotional level, the words sounded positive and energized me, while on the logical level I saw it was OK to stop the fight and let things go. I was reassured that there was a place for me. A place where I am accepted, appreciated and where I belong.

There is a place to live in a freedom of choice.

Yes, I’ve created it!

What about you?

***

Photo courtesy Cobalt123, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

increase intelligence by concept learning

Let’s  look at some basic questions, which are nevertheless insightful:

  • How enthusiastic are you about learning?
  • How flexible are you?
  • How do you keep up with the fast pace of our changing world?

Whatever your answers to the questions above I hope you recognize the importance of intelligence. It helps you to tackle problems more effectively. It facilities a life of growth. It makes difficult choices easier.

Would you like to increase intelligence?

I bet your answer is “yes”.

There is a simple practice you can install in your mind: creating accurate and up-to-date concepts about the surrounding world. By concepts we understand mental representations of an object, idea, activity, living creature or phenomenon. Whatever we see, hear, feel or encounter in our lives, goes through mental processes of our brains.

For instance, when we learn what an apple is, we learn a concept of a class of apples in the from of a mental representation of the encountered apples  or an abstract idea of an apple.

We are people of the patterns

We are people of the patterns. We create patterns in our lives, art, work and products. Whatever we do it bears the very characteristic of our whole being. It’s hardly possible, even if at all, for you to create something that is completely not like you. Try it. And report to me if you are successful, because I will find it extremely interesting ;).

I challenge you to write a genuine piece of text that is perceived not like yours. Try to cook a meal which is not like yours. Try to make a design that is completely dissimilar with your previous designs. Try to continuously speak or walk in ways that are 100% alien to you. Try to make something creative that is completely different from who you are. Even attempting this feels weird.

The reason is that at any moment we are attracted to specific ideas or concepts that we live by. These are specific patterns. They permeate our whole being including consciousness, feelings and thoughts.

These drive our actions. When we act, take decisions, make judgements or create something, we derive them from our internal resources. Whatever the output, it is going to bear the watermark patterns of who we are.

Because patterns are so prevalent in our lives, we are very efficient at finding patterns and recognizing traits. Finding patterns relies on noticing the differences and perceiving similarities. We learn concepts, classes or categories after having observed the patterns.

Classification / categorization is essential

A class or category is a group or collection of objects, things, events or experiences that have something in common; there is an underlying similarity.

In this light, any given object or experience is a representative of its class. At the same time any given object may belong to multiple classes, nested or not. For instance, there is a class of oaks which is a subclass of leafy trees, which is a subclass of trees.  Or, there is a class of bananas and there is a class of fruits that you like which includes ripe bananas (but not unripe ones).

Without classes or categories, every object and every experience would be novel, interesting and puzzling. No doubt, this would lead you to a thrilling life of ever fresh experiences, yet without understanding and learning. You would not be able to organize your experiences into meaningful ways.

As a result, you would not be able to tell whether something is a carrot, chair or car, or whether it is useful or friendly. You would not be able to survive.

Have you ever observed how a small child learns to recognize an object?

There are two levels to it: unconscious and conscious classes of experience. Before using a language, a very small child forms unconscious classes of objects or experience. He basically goes through a certain experience and recognizes when something similar happens again. This informal grouping relies on some observable similarity.

An example is a child experiencing an enormous joy in a repetition of a certain play; I bet you’ve seen these situations many times. A child may be laughing when you play with him his version of hide and seek (covering his face with a cloth and asking “Where is  Joe?” and then uncovering and saying with surprise “Oh, there he is!”), over and over again. Even after 20 times the child may still be in the same hilarious laugh as after the 1st time. He recognizes from the first movement what it is going to happen and anticipation makes it great.

In the conscious forming of classes, language plays a role, or more specifically, naming. The whole process begins with a child being interested in the chosen object. He finds this object appealing to his senses, so he interacts with it. And he usually plays with the object in all possible ways. He asks for its name. Naming is essential for learning a concept, because a name labels the class, hence it is identified with the class.

Without the name we miss our reference. The name serves therefore as a handle of a bag. It points to or indicates a group of objects or experiences which are in the bag. At the same time, naming assigns an object or experience to a given class.

The child usually collects sensory experiences and explores the object by touch, taste, sound and smell. He interacts with it in multiple ways. It allows him to create an idea of the object, before a concept is learnt. Later he sees another object of the same kind and explores it even more. Then the next example comes. And some more.

What is interesting is that a few examples are often sufficient for a child to build a good-enough, or sometimes even detailed, concept of the object. If a child is really attracted to this object, he begins to recognize objects from the same category. He is actively noticing them in the world around and happily pointing to them at any occasion. For instance, given a few examples of (playing) balls, a child is able to recognize a previously unseen ball. And you know that it is possible even if the features of a ball such as a size, color or material are totally new.

In the days or weeks to come, a child will further refine the concept of a ball. This is the time he will study (i.e. explore) more examples of balls. Hopefully, such a set includes less typical balls as well. These are important for inspecting the boundary cases. What is even more important are the negative examples, i.e. examples which do not belong to the class. Again, a special focus is put on these negative examples which resemble the object of interest in some way, but are not the object.

For instance, a child may see an orange and recognize it as a ball. If you reply that the object is not a ball but an orange (a different name, hence a different class), a child will be prompted to reformulate his concept of a ball, respectively. When he is pointed out to differences, he will learn the essential discrimination about ball-like objects which are not balls.

The effective concept learning takes place in the presence of both uncommon and negative examples. Borderline cases from both sides of the class are crucial for a good formulation of the concept.

Abstraction

Although the example of a ball sounds simple, the same steps take place for learning the concepts behind more complicated things such as dogs, cars, flowers, airplanes, or particular meals, as well as activities such as cooking, running or playing. What is remarkable, is the step in which a child takes the concept to an abstract level by becoming to know what is the essence of the object or concept. I believe such an abstraction is the basis for our fast intelligent recognition skill that we so much rely on in daily life.

For instance, when my toddler was exploring the world around, attracted to airplanes flying above, he only started to recognize them when he was able to name them. He learned the concept well.

Recently, he has surprised me by the following. In the garden he found two wood planks of different lengths. He put them across, kept them in this alignment in his hand above his head and started to run around the garden. While doing so, he was making humming noises and joyfully shouting that there was an airplane flying.

I understood he made an important step. He was able to bring the understanding of what an airplane was to the next level in which he saw its basic essence. He was able to emphasize a few features essential for an object to be considered as a plane: a particular shape, noise and movement in the air. This is the skill of abstraction applied to in a creative way.

You learn concepts from examples

If you observe others and yourself, and explore of how we learn, you will discover that we learn concepts or classes from examples. Moreover, in an ideal scenario, we actually follow the process described above. And what is more, we are able to learn them from a few examples only, usually three to five. Just ask yourself:

  • How many times do you need to hear your friend speaking in order to recognize her voice?
  • How many examples do you need to be to tell whether a cathedral is gothic or not?
  • How many examples do you need to recognize an impressionist painting?
  • How many coffees do you need to smell or drink in order to learn what a cappuccino is?
  • How many passionate people do you need to interact with in order to recognize a passionate one?

A few examples are often enough. Of course, it does not necessarily mean that you will make no errors when a recognition should occur. There may be difficult borderline cases, changed circumstances, previously unseen mixtures of objects or other situations which may lead us to a wrong assignment. But a few examples are sufficient to get an idea behind the concept. However, you will need many more examples especially near the border cases in order to refine the concept well for arbitrarily difficult examples.

For instance, you may need to hear your friend speaking when he is ill in order to better recognize his voice over the phone in arbitrary circumstances. You may also need many more examples in order to recognize particular sub-cases of the given classes.

Whatever the case, remember to collect a wide spectrum of examples from the class as well as from outside of the class. Otherwise, your concept would either be too narrow or too wide. What you want is a well-formulated, tight (but not too tight) concept, because it will facilitate your learning.

Well-learned concepts increase intelligence

There is no doubt about it. Remember, any concept you hold, whether it is about concrete objects in the world, scientific discoveries, your skill or experiences, it is your building block for the synergistic working of other concepts.  It has a direct influence on the quality (read: happiness, joy, fulfillment) of your life.

For example, the concept you have learned about computers links to your ability of using them effectively or not, or the concept you created about love has a huge impact on the way you create your relationships.

The more factual representation of your concept, the better it serves you to build other concepts and make intelligent choices. The better your concepts, the better your ability to plan and act accordingly. Both recognition and prediction directly rely on the goodness and accuracy of concepts you have created.

Well-learned concepts and well-learned classes are formulated based on all examples (or experiences) with the emphasis on uncommon situations or outliers.

Take your time to inspect your most important concepts about yourself and life.

Learn them anew.

Practical strategy

How do you practically implement the learning of accurate concepts? It’s simple. I will summarize it below:

  1. You learn concepts from examples.
  2. The quality and representativeness of the examples/experiences you use for concept learning is essential.
  3. If you learn a new concept, choose your examples wisely. You need examples that cover a wide range of situations and boundary cases. You will often need as little as 3-5 typical examples and a variable number of boundary examples.
  4. Be open and willing to reformulate your concept when you notice an example that is different, strange or otherwise appealing. What you want is a tight description but wide enough to accommodate what is the gist of the concept.
  5. If you have a concept formulated (e.g. about entrepreneurship, working-out, cars, kids, faith, money, Rembrandt paintings, mountaineering, buying houses etc), inspect which examples or experiences you used to create it. Remove outdated examples that no longer serve you and use more recent examples. Mentally re-crete your concept again by finding patterns, similarities and differences, between the examples you collected. Just think about it and get new insights.
  6. Do it with every new concept you learn.

***

The image above shows a quilt by Inge Duin. See www.ingeduin.nl for more details.

***

Learning and generalization posts:

stop_complaining

Chronic complaining is a draining habit. It tires the one who complaints and the others who act as listeners. It kills joy and serves no growth. How sad it is!

If you want to live a life of joy and become complainant-free, there are two strategies you need to implement in your life. The first one is a long-term strategy. In this strategy you address the roots of the problem by working on your own consciousness.

Long-term strategy: the conscious YOU

To my understanding there are four main causes behind repetitive complaining. These are

  • self-perpetuated negativity
  • unhealthy self-esteem
  • lack of self-efficacy, and
  • unfulfilled needs.

You may have an issue with one of them or all of them. In any case, you need to take the responsibility for all these aspects in your life. At the moment, you may start by working on building six pillars of self-esteem. The topics of defeating negativity, building self-efficacy and addressing unfulfilled needs will be covered sometime in the future.

Short-term strategy: accept or act

While you may need to wait some time before you observe effects of the long-term strategy and noticeable changes in yourself, there are direct actions that you need to take every day. These actions form a short-term strategy and need to be implemented over and over so that a new habit can be put in place.

If you are unhappy about a given situation, event or behavior you have two choices:

  1. you EITHER accept the situation as it is and adjust yourself and circumstances to handle it better OR
  2. you take an action and keep taking actions (if necessary) in order to change the things you are unhappy about.

How-to: stop before you start

You have to make a deal with yourself to stop complaining and act in one of the two scenarios above (note that acceptance is also an action). First, you need to ask your consciousness to make you aware when you complain. You want to catch the early moment when you start complaining. You can simply do it by creating a mental request to yourself in which you ask your consciousness observer to make it loud to you. You ask for an additional sign such as an image of lightning in your head or a sudden feeling of very cold water. Whatever the signal it should be strong enough to make you shake and notice it in an instant.

When you notice own complaining, STOP immediately. Pause for a second and ask yourself whether you are willing to take action to change the things you are unhappy about. This is something we can evaluate internally very fast, simply because it touches upon our desires to act. If yes, brainstorm proactively (with yourself or the help of others) what can be done and how to improve the case. If not, make a decision to accept the situation.

Face the truth and ask yourself how to adapt and make the best of the circumstances you are in. Acceptance may take some time, and it is okey. Take all the time you need.

Be firm and don’t subscribe to self-pity. Stick to action and plan a reward for yourself when you are successful. Give yourself a treat or buy a massage when you transform complaining into action. Build a hierarchy of sensible rewards to keep yourself motivated. It’s important.

In the evenings, practice the feeling of gratitude for five things or events you experienced during a day. Write it down for a more profound effect.

Follow for 21 days. And your new habit of gratitude will be formed.

And complaining?

Hmmm….

What is complaining???

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Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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