Sunday, May 02, 2010

A 30 Day Exercise

When I'm drivin' in my car

And a man comes on the radio

He's tellin' me more and more

About some useless information

Supposed to fire my imagination

- M Jagger / K Richards

The research and evidence is strong. External suggestion as well as auto-suggestion affect your results and your well being, e.g. the words and works of Napoleon Hill, Dr. Dean Edell, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, George Leonard, Marcus Aurelius, Lawrence Gonzales, James Allen, John Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., etc., etc., etc.

The February Allied Ronin e-newsletter topic was Don’t Lose Your Attractiveness by being dragged down into the trap of negative thinking. The article was inspired by communication I was engaged in for over a month as friends, clients and associates related how they were struggling with and bemoaning an economy in turmoil. “How could I have missed this!” – “Where did I go wrong!” – “What am I going to do!?” February’s article urged: (a) we need to own up to where we are; yet (b) not overindulge ourselves with self-doubt and/or worry lest we destroy the very attractiveness that creates the healthy foundations and relationships upon which constructive results depend.

A preponderance of fear-based advertising and communication pervades the TV, radio and print medium. My opinion, yes, though I think it’s safely accurate. No new news here. But I believe we are numb, anesthetized to just how prevalent this is. Haven’t noticed? Perhaps it’s time you did. Why? Because, ideas that journey past the outer ear do impact you and me in real and tangible ways. Until and unless we notice this, our senses will dull, as will our thinking and our capacity to act with a clear and discerning mind.

Whether the radius of your world is measured by the distance between where you stand and the nearest traffic sign, or some spot on the other side of the globe, what you hear, see and feel generate perspectives and creative capacities that are then walked into and called “reality”. Our perspectives perpetuate to such an extent that we no longer view them as perspectives – rather, we begin to view them as truths. Every so often we should stop, look, listen and take stock of the subtle ideas we are being fed by others. Then we ought take action, including owning up to past perspectives that were mistaken or held in error.

Many (me too) consider themselves students of the mind-body connection, or the mind-wallet-bank account connection, or the mind-relationship connection. At some point in our lives we started tuning in to what our thinking was actually being barraged by. We listened to a talking head, or watched a video, e.g. The Secret, and latched onto the notion that, as my old teacher used to say, “To Think Is To Create.” Then most run off to try to push-think hopes and dreams into material stuff. But in the doing so, we rarely discipline ourselves to attend (i.e. pay attention) to the radio or TV, or the images in ads, or the political spin masters as they weave paragraphs laden with doublespeak and shoddy premised foundations. Rare is the person disciplined enough to notice his or her own resultant self talk! If for no other reason than this a meditation practice is important.

Whether you consider yourself an ardent student or just a dabbler in this regard, you probably have a degree of understanding that outside thought and suggestion affects your grey matter. Yes? But, just because our technologies (computers, google & Yahoo, twitter, etc.) add seeming ease to life does not relieve us of the responsibility and accountability to guard the thinking mind. Advertisers know that subtle shifts in image and tone affects the buying public. News media (TV, radio, print, online) know that the pictures and words that confront you will color your perspective. CNN will show you one image of a smiling politician, while FOX News shows a growling image of the same politician (and vice versa) … both images used to report the identical event but shaping a different story. Why? Because it’s not the news they are selling, it’s something else. Doubt it? Then why so much money spent monthly on political campaigns after the elections are over? --- and on advertising the reason you should buy a certain burger, attend a particular brand name church this weekend, scent to your skin with this one oh sooo good and chug that brew at the party?

Case in point: almost every politician says, “I’m against negative campaigning!” Yet negative campaigning (i.e. fear-based selling) continues decade after decade. How come? Maybe we’ve just normalized to it. Perhaps we’re even comforted by it. Like a frog in the proverbial water-slowly-coming-to-boil we’ve been swimming in “it’s just the way things are” and we no longer recognize the water is there, let alone the temperature rising. Kind of like smelling foot odor as the tennis shoes come off after a game. Then the smell goes away. Except, the smell doesn’t go away. But our discerning mind sure does.

And another: I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard radio talk show hosts rant and rave about a particular injustice, only break away for ads that promotes the very injustice or notion the host is hammering against. What’s going on? Show business, that’s what.

Many of us (or the companies that employ our time and talents) have spent sizeable amounts on workshops, courses, lectures, videos, books and audio programs calling us to our attend to our thinking. But what practices do we put in place and return to on a regular basis for our well being after the course or seminar or lecture is over?

For the sake of clarity, I’m not necessarily addressing wellbeing as physical health and wealth, though wellbeing in those domains is important. I’m addressing the wellbeing of the emotion and spirit, and the well being national consciousness and global awareness.

So, with the above as background grist, here’s an exercise (or practice) to engage in for the next 30 days, with full knowledge that something will come your way to distract you from hanging in there with this. If you are willing to take on this simple exercise, I recommend you give it a fair shot for the full 30-day duration.

Here are the tools to use for the exercise:

(1) a pen or pencil,

(2) a small pocketsize notebook,

(3) a brain (yours) and a degree of alertness,

(4) a willingness to pay attention to what is going on around you: the conversations; the TV; the songs, ads and talk on radio; the pictures, symbols and words in print and internet medium strung together to convince of a point of view OR worse yet something that some one say YOU NEED, that you didn’t know beforehand that YOU NEEDED!

The exercise.

Stay alert, pay attention and note each communication or piece of rhetoric that meets your eyes and/or ears that is either fear-based, guilt-based, greed-based, or entitlement-based --- or any combination of the four. It doesn’t matter if these come in the form of advertisement, political commentary (regardless the brand name of the espousing political party), religious conviction (no matter the brand name of the espousing church), etc. At this stage the source doesn’t matter. What does matter is: (1) pay attention, (2) take note, and (3) ask at least these three questions: “What is being said, fed, sold or told?” “Why this?” “Who, besides myself, stands to benefit if I am convinced or agree with what I am hearing and/or what is being implied?” Listen to it all. Look at what you record. Sift through it at the end of the day. Look for patterns.

Pay attention to what you are being told by others that “YOU WANT” or that “YOU NEED” – especially in advertisements - that you didn’t know YOU actually WANTed or that YOU actually NEEDed prior to the suggestion that was so generously offered in double or triple doses by advertisers, talking heads, politicians and/or the oh-so-righteous. It may sound something like this: “What the American People want is (blah, blah, blah) ” OR “Surely you know, truly smart people understand the need for (yatta, yatta, yatta)” OR “What that teacher really meant way back then was (this and that, this and that, all translated to fit today’s context – a context non-existent way back then)

In some ways, this exercise may become a rather humorous. You might find yourself laughing in a few days. You might even catch yourself talking to the radio or TV, “Heck, I didn’t know I needed that.” Then again, you might find yourself switching to another station or channel, or just turning the darn thing (or person) off.

Return to the list of names that opened this article, particularly Napoleon Hill. He finished his research for Think and Grow Rich in 1927, then published the manuscript ten years later. He didn’t invent what he wrote about, he reported on it. As I recall, and I’m willing to be wrong, he promoted the idea of SERVICE, and that this (service) was the result of FINDING something that OTHERS (not self) TRULY NEED and then HONESTLY going about FILLING THAT NEED so that those OTHERS would and could BENEFIT. I don’t recall him writing that service resulted from creating or inventing an imagined need and then convincing others that the thing created was in fact something that had to be filled so that the person who imagined it could benefit. Again, I could be mistaken, so I’ll go back and take another look at the book. But, this I will say – it is disturbing just how many programs, products and so-called “services” exist today that say they are based on Hill’s work and yet they operate with darn near the sole intent of filling their own need. And here I’m including some that exist in my field of the human potential, leadership education and team effectiveness. Self-help spun in a different direction, i.e. which “self” are we talking about being helped?

Back to the above offered exercise. I don’t think anyone needs to do it. Consider it as simply what it is – an exercise. You’ll benefit, I’m confident, by touching on something important to you. I honestly believe it will be enlightening, ear and eye opening, especially if preconceptions and past certainties are set aside. From it you may find, over the next thirty days, possibilities forgotten or overlooked, accompanied by renewed strength to take action. Inspect, account and discern what is flowing into your consciousness that is being promoted by someone else’s self-serving motivation.

When I'm watchin' my TV

And a man comes on to tell me

How white my shirts can be

But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke

The same cigarettes as me

I can't get no, oh no no no

Hey hey hey, that's what I say

I can't get no satisfaction

- M Jagger / K Richards

No comments: