Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I’m lost… I’m helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in. It’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault, I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

Poem by Portia Nelson from her book “There is a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery”

Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Last weekend I watched Seven Spiritual Laws of Success film and would like to give you a snapshot of what I learned. General movie description:

“Spiritual author and speaker Deepak Chopra shares his insights on creating success and abundance in this inspiring testimonial based on his best-selling book and featuring new music from Olivia Newton-John. Personal stories of challenge and triumph from Newton-John and actor-director Bill Duke punctuate Chopra’s teachings of his seven edicts for those wanting to experience life to its fullest potential”.

First of all, what is success? Success is expansion of our happiness. The seven laws are:

1. Pure Law of Potentiality – emerge into uncertainty; when you unground yourself, you will see all new possibilities you didn’t see before.

2. Giving and Receiving Gift – you should be open to connect to the world of opportunities via giving or receiving.

3. Law of Action – you have to make action that feels good to you and in accordance with the laws of nature/not against.

4. Law of Least Effort – your action should be unforced, natural, elegant. When you struggle with the moment, then you struggle with the Universe, that created it. Dont’ blame anyone. Accept it. Imagine what do you want it to be. Be open. Observe and allow, be creative. Every so-called tormentor will become your teacher, because you will convert adversity in a positive experience.

5. Law of Intention and Desire. All want healthy body, be happy, loving relationships, deep meaning and purpose and peace. We need to set intention of what we want. Let plans that we create in our minds unfold in reality.

6. Law of Detachment. Surrender and create positive environment. When you are not obsessed with the outcome but just keep working toward your goals, you will get to the point of “Aha” and nothing will stop you.

7. Law of Dahma – purpose in life. People find it in different things: for one person – it is service to others, the another – creativity, for some – different thing every day. You find it when you follow your inner directions…

Flourish Book Summary

Martin Seligman revised his authentic happiness theory, which was based on positive emotions, engagement and meaning. New theory of flourishing is built upon positive emotions, accomplishment, positive relationship, meaning and engagement, which all constitute the foundation of positive psychology. Each element contributes to well-being, but doesn’t not define well-being.

Aristotle thought that all human action was to achieve happiness, Nietxsche – get power, Freud – avoid anxiety, Thales -everything is water, Seligman – wellbeing.

The main reasons for revision are:

  1. The dominant popular connotation of happiness is related to cheerful mood, but not all people strive to be cheerful.
  2. Life satisfaction holds too privileged a place in measurement of happiness. It turns out that life satisfaction does not take into account how much meaning we have or how engaged we are with the people we love or how engaged we are in our work. Life satisfaction essentially measures cheerful mood, so it is not entitled to a central place in wellbeing theory, that aims to be more than a happiology.
  3. Positive emotion, engagement and meaning do not exhaust the elements that people choose for their own sake. What you choose must serve no other master. Senia (Seligman’s student) asserted that many people live to achieve, just for achievement sake.

Relationship, meaning and accomplishment have both objective and subjective components: not just how you feel about your relationship, but how these people feel about you, not just your sense of meaning (you could be deluded), but the degree to which you actually serve something larger than you are, not just your pride in what you have done, but whether you actually met your goals, and where this goals stand in their impact on the people you care about and on the world.

If people cared about not only their own happiness, but happiness of others, which would be part of their objective wellbeing, we would not have greedy financial executives, who are responsible for recent financial downturn. It comes to ethics versus your own values. Seligman says that happiness, like GDP, is inadequate in measuring wellbeing. It is a subjective target.

The most interesting things I learned from the book:

Styles of responding: from active constructive, passive constructive, passive destructive to active destructive. Practice writing down your own response for the next time you have to interact with others and analyze it, create an active constructive one. Then use it. You just need to make it a habit.

Losada effect: you should have 3 times more positive thoughts than negative. To achieve it, use positive psychology techniques, including Love letter, gratitude journal, etc. Find your signature strengths and set goals, or invent activities to practice them, write about your experience.

Reasons why optimists are less vulnerable to disease: Optimists take action and have healthier lifestyles. Optimists believe that their actions matter, whereas pessimist believe they are helpless and nothing they do will matter. Optimists try while pessimist lapse into passive helplessness. Optimist use more social support. Optimists have a better response to repeated stress. Become an optimist!

Variety of programs are designed and already being used to help people balance their life with flow, meaning and pleasantries. Original Penn Resiliency program is one of them. It was later modified to work for school children (The Geelong Grammar School Project). It would be great if all schools offered it. Special program was created for US Army soldiers: Comprehensive soldier training/fitness; Global Assessment tool (GAT) has four sections: Emotional fitness module, Social fitness, Family fitness, Spiritual fitness, and the main component of the program is Turning trauma into growth.

Overview of Positive Psychology Training (14 sessions): Identify your strengths and illustrate how they are used in your life. You can complete VIA questionnaire online to identify character strengths. Start a blessing journal, in which you write, every night, three good things that happened that day. Understand the role of good and bad memories in maintaining depression/unhappiness. Write about feelings of anger and bitterness and how they feed your depression. Write a forgiveness letter describing a transgression and related emotions and pledges to forgive the transgressor (only if appropriate) but don’t not deliver the letter. Write a gratitude letter to someone you never properly thanked for and deliver it in person. Understand terms satisficers and maximizers, find ways to increase satisficing and devise a personal satisficing plan. Use optimistic style – to see bad events as temporary, changeable and local. Recognize character strengths of significant others, ask family members take VIA questionnaire online and then draw a tree that includes the character strengths of all members of the family. Learn savoring as a technique to increase the intensity and duration of positive emotion. Give the gift of time by doing something that requires a fair amount of time and calls on your character strengths. Make sure you know how to have full life integrating pleasure, engagement and meaning.

Martin Seligman went to his 50th school reunion and gave two pieces of advice to his former classmates:

  1. Be future oriented, not dwell on the past, work for your ideals.
  2. Exercise.

Philosophy Works (Class One)

Today I learned about Philosophy Works organization. Here is what their website says:

“Throughout history schools have arisen to make the eternal wisdom available to those seeking the ultimate truth about themselves, the creation, and the Creator. Whatever the outer form, the core philosophical tenets are the same: discover the ultimate divinity of the human soul; appreciate the ‘unity in diversity’ and recognize that self-knowledge is the ultimate purpose of a human life.

Schools in this tradition include that of Hermes Trismegistus in ancient Egypt, Plato’s Academy in Athens, Marsilio Ficino’s Renaissance Academy in Florence and the American transcendental movement inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the United States.

The School of Practical Philosophy stands in this tradition. The aim is to offer students the inspiration and systematic guidance needed to enjoy fuller, richer and more productive lives; to evolve the spiritual aspect of their beings; and to serve society to the best of their abilities.”

I enrolled into Philosophy Works 10 class introduction course, and today was our first session called The wisdom within.12 people attended. They also have another session on Wednesday evenings, which is more popular.

To be wise we need to learn stillness and observance. We need to step out of the race , become still within and achieve moments of clarity, to take a larger view of the world. Stillness leads to self-discovery. True wisdom is simple. It could be done by going beyond appearances to the essence.

Plato declared 4 virtues –wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. Wisdom is already within us, wisdom is innate to the being. As it is not about thinking but being. Being in present moment is enriching. Giving attention to the world around is a form of love.

“Wisdom is the knowledge to enable life to be lived truly and happily.”

“Happy is the man or woman, who finds wisdom… for wisdom is worth more than silver, greater than gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you desire cannot compare to her.” Proverb.

“To be a philosopher is not to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live accordingly to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically but practically. “ Henry David Thoreau, Walden.” 1854

We learned about several exercises:

  1. To have cards with 10 virtues and at the end of the day to go through them and ask yourself: which ones did I practice today?
  2. In difficult situations or moments of anger, hesitation ask yourself: What would a wise man/woman do?
  3. And the last one I especially liked. When mind is connected to the senses, it is alive. When we did this exercise, I felt connectedness to the world.

Instructions(from a handout):

Let the body find a balanced, upright and comfortable posture from which it need not move…

Become aware of where you are now…

Be aware of any expectations or concerns that maybe present in the mind or the heart…

Now, let them go…

Fall still and come to rest within…

Be aware of the touch of your feet on the ground…

The weight of the body on the chair…

Be aware of the gentle pressure of the clothes on the skin…

And the play of air on the face and hands…

If the eyes are open, let them receive color and form without any comment…

Taste…

Smell…

Be aware of the breath as it enters and leaves the body…

Be fully present, here now,

Now be aware of hearing…

Allow sounds be received and let them rise and fall without comment or judgment of any kind.

Let the hearing run right out of the furthest and gentlest sounds, embracing all.

Now simply rest in this great awareness for a few moments.

What is a Human Being?

Recently I discovered Acropolis, a non-profit organization which was founded in 1957. It has centers in 45 countries around the world. Acropolis presents an updated version of traditional knowledge, a holistic form of education which, like classical humanism, links Sciences, Arts, Religions and Philosophies in a comparative way and tries to discover, through research, the laws governing Nature and the Human Being.

Acropolis Boston, a local branch, promotes the rediscovery of the most useful aspects of all cultures and civilizations. Acropolis Boston is a modern day School of Philosophy inspired by the great classical philosophical traditions of the East and West. Their goal is to help individuals realize their potential, better themselves and the world around them. Individuals will be able to:

Explore classical wisdom that is applicable in the modern world.

Awaken their inner sense of adventure.

Develop a deeper understanding of themselves, others and the universe.

The first course in the program of studies is Applied Wisdom of the East and West, a 8-week adventure through Ancient Egypt, Plato, reincarnation, karma, Socrates, Buddha, Marcus Aurelius, and other topics.

Last week I attended the first class in this course:

Timeless and Universal Philosophy
Philosophy: Love of wisdom. The value of philosophy for science, politics, religion and art. What is the nature of human being? The seven principles in nature and man. The inner Nature of the Soul.

Here are my notes:

“What am I?” is more important than “Who am I”?

In the West, the nature of human was describe as trinity of Body, Mind/Soul and Spirit. It later was revised as duality of material and spiritual, mortal and immortal or constant struggle between bad and good. That separation happened due to Aristotle.

In the East, The seven –fold constitution of the Human being was constructed:

Material – Physical(food, sleep, reproduce), Energy(activity), Emotions and Intellect.

Spiritual – Intelligence, Intuition and Will.

We can hear all seven voices when we meditate. Consciousness operates on all levels, but more dense on lower levels and subtle on higher levels, so that it becomes subconscious on higher levels.

Soul is the upper five levels. Free will is the ability to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints, even if our choices contradict other levels of our nature/needs.

The most important thing mentioned was that we identify as our weakest link. For example, “I’m hungry”, so I would identify as my physical nature, or “I’m not learning anything new at my work” would be identifying as my intellectual nature. So we get stuck in the buckets of needs if we don’t have balance. And if our needs don’t get satisfied long-term, we identify ourselves as those needs, example, “I’m a malnourished person” or “I’m stupid”.

Interesting quotes from the class: Saying is “to die in vain”, but more important question is “do we live in vain”?

To air is human. To forgive is divine and to repeat is diabolic (not to learn from your mistakes).

We come from somewhere and are going somewhere. Main premise of all religions and philosophies is that our natural state is being happy, enthusiastic (with Gods), and to be alive and create a better world.

Future classes will cover: Ethics – harmony with ourselves, Sociopolitics – harmony with others, Philosophy of history – harmony within time and space.

A Butterfly’s Lesson

”One day, a small opening appeared in a cocoon; a man sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then, it seems to stop making any progress.

It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could not go any further. So the man decided to help the butterfly: he took a pair of scissors and opened the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily.

But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would open, enlarge and expand, to be able to support the butterfly’s body, and become firm.

Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and his goodwill did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. Never been able to fly.

I asked for Strength… and I was given difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for Wisdom… and I was given problems to solve.

I asked for prosperity… and I was given a brain and brawn to work.

I asked for Courage….. and I was given obstacles to overcome.

I asked for Love… and I was given troubled people to help.

I asked for Favors… and I was given Opportunities.

“I received nothing I wanted… but I received EVERYTHING I needed.”

Live life without fear, confront all obstacles and know that you can overcome them.

~Author Unknown

The Law of Attraction in Action

Deanna Davis has a good book with practical tips and tools on how to apply the Law of Attraction to our life.

In her interpretation of the law the main steps are:

1.Choose your state

2.State your intention

3.Take inspired action

Choose your state – consciously decide how you want to feel emotionally and where you want to direct your attention. Take consistent steps to regularly create a favorable emotional state.

Techniques:

Beyond Polyanna

Thanks! A lot! (explain why and what happened today, episode that made you feel grateful, recount why this was important to you)

Gratitude exercise (Counting your blessings, Gratitude journaling, Gratitude letter, Wealth walk, The power shower, Abundance practices)

Spacemakers (release negative thoughts and replace with positive thoughts)

Peace of mind meditation, Emotional freedom technique (EFT), Sedona (The invitation)

Set your intention – sift through your references and possibilities to determine what you want to experience in your life. Make a decision to think and act in a way that will create the outcome that you want. Than focus again on choosing your state to align yourself with that intention.

Intention creates the blueprint from which you can build your life. You are the key instrument in identifying, setting, and acting on your intention. Unless you make decision that things will be different, they most decidedly wont’ be.

You need to make a decision to move your desire from the landscape of your mind into the realm of reality.

There is a realm of preferences and possibilities, you need to know your preferences and examine possibilities. Preferences are just a matter of what we like, what we appreciate, and what we’d like to experience even more of. Your ability to effectively explore the possibilities related to your preferences is directly proportional to your ability to maintain a beginner’s mind.

Expectations often precede experience. Intention is steeped in certainty – it is a decision to manifest something meaningful in your life. The decision comes from a sense of hope and eagerness, and is centered in certainty that want you want is not only possible, not only probable, but inevitable.

Techniques:

You are here and hierarchy of needs worksheet

Sifting strategies: I desire worksheet, shopping cart, mind movie

Affirmations, Vision boards and Believing is seeing exercise (meditation)

Take inspired action– from a place of calm and silence, ask yourself, “What is my next best step?” and act on it immediately with joy and energy. Once again, choose your state and provide momentum for your inspired action and to prepare you to move on to your next intention.

It emerges from a series of five simple steps: quieting your mind, asking simple questions about next steps, taking initiative in the form of immediate action, gaining momentum with consistent progress and reflecting on and building on that progress to sustain continued success. Release your resistance. Silence your mind and take small steps.

In order to move forward in life, you need to take inspired action consistently. You have to be willing to shift your focus from what you have seen in the past and what is in front of you now if you want to see the beautiful vistas that are waiting for you just beyond the horizon.

Techniques:

All about the ask (What is my next step?)

Proof of progress (catalogue and evidence your accomplishments)

Two S – supercharge (create structure/systems and support)

Rhyming reminders (Tweak of the week, Go with the flow, Snuggle the struggle)

The Secret and The Law of Attraction

There are several books on the law of attraction and I want to give you a quick comparison of two approaches.
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne:

Three steps are:
1. Ask
2. Believe that you receive it and feel good
3. Receive

You must know exactly what you want and ask for it.
Sounds easy, but it may not be. Your conscious and subconscious minds are filled with wants, desires, and fears. What you want needs to be exact. You cannot just think that you want to be rich. You must have a tangible goal, such as “I want to sell 20 copies of my new book in 10 days”. Make sure that your actions follow your thoughts. You cannot just think of selling the books, you must actually have a book that you are proud of and that people will want to buy.

You must believe that what you want is already yours.
This creates positive energy. If you can visualize the action as having already happened this will complete an important part of the process.

You must be in a state of mind to receive.
Energy flows where energy goes. We are one, we are all connected, part of one energy field, one creative source. It is absolute perfection. Divine mind is the one and only reality.
Negative thoughts are the cause of fear. Competition is the example of separation, there is enough for everyone, no limits.
Become a creative mind. Whether you think you can or you can’t do something either way you are right. There is a law of supply, of infinite supply. And Universe is a supplier of everything.
You are not your past, you have all the power within you. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. So what are you going to do now? Chose now.

The Law of Attraction by Abraham- Jerry and Esther Hicks:
There are three main laws:
1. The law of attraction – you attract your thoughts
2. The law of deliberate creation – visualize what you want to receive intentionally
3. The law of allowing – allow others and yourself receive what they and you want

There are three main steps in the Law of Attraction:
1. Identify your desire
2. Give your desire attention
3. Allow
Affirmations from Abraham:
I want perfect health
I want prosperity
I want great relationships
I am wanting to attract those who are in harmony with me – physical and non- physical
I am growth seeking being
I am healthy
I am happy
I am prosperous
I am interacting with those who are in harmony
I am full of joy

And my favorite affirmations from “The help” movie:

I am smart

I am kind

I am important

Highlights of The Law of Attraction by Abraham

“You measure success in trophies, but from our perspective the positive emotion that you feel is the greatest measure of success. As you want something and achieve it, you also achieve a new prospective from which you will want. The things that satisfied you before, will not likely satisfy you for very long, because you are inherently grand seeking, you can’t remain in the same place and have growth also. The way you feel is your indicator, let your emotions will be your guide. They are the most wonderful guidance systems.

We see the majority spend the most of their life seeking for set of rules against which they can measure their life experience, looking outside themselves for those who would tell them what is right or wrong. While they have within themselves a guidance system that is so sophisticated, intricate, precise, appropriate, system that can analyze in an instant everything that they are wanting to be from total perspective, from current physical conscious perspective and everything that is taking place around them in the current environment and offer them an emotion to let them know the appropriateness of whatever that is happening. The appropriate of every thought, word, every interaction, such a wonderful guidance system, not utilized, but by a few of you. It is our reason for interacting with you to acquaint you with the total you so that you may begin utilizing that broader, fuller, wiser, all knowing perspective, so that you may use God force from within for the creating.

Why you are here and how to be with what you have intended, each of you from your non-physical perspective before you emerged into this physical expression of life intended to have growth, and you intended to access this guidance system from within to assist you in your growth, and we have come forth to remind you that it exists and to teach or offer you a process. There is great love here.

Here is an exercise that will assist you in your deliberate creating. Take three separate pieces of paper, and at the top of each page write one thing that you want, now take your first paper and beneath the subject of what you are wanting, write these are the reason that I want these. Write whatever comes to you mind, whatever flows naturally, do not try to force it. And when nothing more comes, you are complete for now. Turn the paper over and begin writing at the top of the paper, these are the reasons that I believe that I will have these that I want. The first side of the paper is enhancing what you are wanting. The first side of the equation. The second side of the paper is enhancing your belief that you will have it. And as you have written why you want what you want and why you know that you will have that you want, you have set force and now expecting and therefore will receive the subject of your wanting.

All that is necessary is that you are wanting and keep expecting until you have it and it will be yours. Select only three things that you are wanting. For there will be more power of focus. Eventually when you understand the process, you will be able to simultaneously create in many directions. Before you will experience something in your physical life experience you must first give thought to it. Your thought is the invitation and without it it will not come. We are encouraging intentional deciding of what is wanted and intentionally giving thought to those things that are wanted, while you are intentionally not giving thought to those things that are not wanted. And in suggesting this we encourage that you set force some time in every day where you sit and intentionally bring together thoughts into a sort of vision of what you are wanting in your life experience, we have been referring to this time as your work shop for deliberate creating.

If we were to say go now and begin to envision yourself in the life experience that you are wanting, many of you would have a difficult time doing that, for you have not been intentionally collecting the data, in which to work upon in your workshop. By collecting data what we are encouraging is that every day as you are getting out of bed, you set forth intention that no matter what you are doing this day, no matter who interact with to today, you will let your dominant intention to be to look for things that you like, whatever it is that you see, if you are intending to look for things that you like then you will be effectively and deliberately collecting the data. Tomorrow, when you decide to take 15-20 min to go to your workshop which is the place where all deliberate creating begins. You can bring together the combinations of that data to begin envision yourself in your life as you want to be.

We have told you that your thoughts are magnetic. But we are wanting to add a point of clarification here, that while every thought has creative potential that the thoughts that do not have great emotion at the same time are not bringing in to your experience with any sort of speed the subject of your thoughts. That what you are emotional about those thoughts are quickly manifesting into your physical experience. The emotion that you feel is your communication letting you know that you have now accessed the power of the Universe. That power from the Universe comes forth when you are clearest in your thought.”

Hüzün in Istanbul

“Hüzün happens when we invest too much in worldly pleasures and material gain. If you hadn’t involved yourself so deeply in this transitory world, you wouldn’t care so much about worldly losses. Hüzün is a spiritual anguish we feel because we can not be close enough to Allah, because we can not do enough for Allah in this world. Hüzün is also when someone has no interest in worldly possessions, but suffers from grief, emptiness and inadequacy because he can never be close enough to Allah. He suffers because he has not suffered enough. Hüzün is in high esteem.

Nothing came to fill the spiritual void. Everyone talks openly about math, success at school, soccer and having fun, but not basic questions of existence – love, compassion, religion, the meaning of life, jealousy, hatred (in trembling confusion and painful solitude). The distance between us (the author and very rich and stupid) was not quite as great as I thought: giving painting to museum or following their passions and living timid mediocre lives. My father wanted to warn me of life of unhappiness I was heading to. A recipe to keep small disaster from me: quick adventure (imagine other Orhan), escape into my second world, paint, fall into a disaster of my own, pick a fight with my brother or count ships.

The main thing I learned at school was not enough to accept the facts of life but you had to be dazzled by their beauty too.

Why I liked painting:

1. Pleasure to draw because it allowed to create miracles everyone appreciated. Get love and praise from others.

2. Escape into another better world.

3. Smell and tools and doing.

4. Create a better world, where you are happy (and perhaps others).

If I prepared to be as bad as I could be I’d be able to paint whenever I liked. Comfort I took in defeat, the damage, the bruises, but then I thought that one day I would do something great.

I forgot the world and played about with my melancholy, its darkness would begin to fade away (when he wrote). Father said that the best thing that a person could do was to live by his own lights – money could never be the object, but if happiness depended on it, it could be a means to that end.

It seemed to me that while we would never find answers to these fundamental questions, it was good for us to ask them anyway, that the happiness and meaning resided in places we would never find and perhaps did not wish to find, but the pursuit (answers, pleasure, emotional depth) mattered no less than the attainment, the asking as important like memories plucked from dreams.”

My favorite parts from “Istanbul” by Orhan Pamuk.

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