I’ve written her many times about the illusory nature of the self. About how we think of our personalities as these fixed, permanent things, when in fact we’re just a string of choices and habits, threaded together by a story we tell ourselves. Many people feel a little disheartened to be described ini this way, but for me, it highlights how limitless our potential for change and growth is at every moment.
One of the most powerful switches I ever made when changing my entire life was switching up my identity.
And while I never did it overnight, I successfully did it in multiple areas:
I changed from a smoker to a non-smoker — and once I did, I stopped thinking of smoking as something to do when I was stressed.
I went from meat-eater to vegetarian (and later to vegan). It literally took meat off the menu for me, so that I didn’t even consider eating it.
I thought of myself as a marathoner. Later, as just someone who exercises regularly to stay fit and healthy. It meant that there was no question I was going to exercise, even if I fell out of it for a bit because of disruptions.
Leo breaks down how he was able to make these changes and even some of the potential pitfalls of changing the way you look at yourself, but there’s no question that taking the opportunity to look at yourself in a new way can be life changing.
September 7, 2020 9:39 am - Steve Peters
It’s a common trope for new meditators. They walk into a meditation class or fire up a guided meditation, and they hear something like this: “Close your eyes, breath deeply, watch your thoughts as they move through your mind without grasping.” But what the heck does this mean? As idyllic as it sounds, thoughts don’t…continue reading on Medium…"What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly."
Sometimes the solution to a problem is so obvious that your brain just stops working. Asking it to continue to look for a solution is frankly an insult to its information processing abilities. This is why it’s sometimes so easy to be wrong whilst being convinced you’re right.
In fact, that’s exactly what happens to the people in this video. They’re approached by a man with a simple three digit sequence (2, 4, 8), and then asked to figure out what rule he is using to generate the sequence. He won’t give them clues to help them get the answer, but they can give him a three digit sequence of their own, and he’ll tell them whether their sequence fits his rule or not.
Like you probably have, they come up with a rule fairly quickly, but it’s not the rule the man has in mind. But what happens next is interesting. Instead of proposing sequences which don’t fit their previous rule, but might give them insight into his, they just keep proposing the sequences that fit their assumption. Even though he’s told them this isn’t correct.
They get stuck on their original idea so completely that they become incapable of looking for a different solution (even though the actual solution is very easy to find). Here’s how he summed it up with the people he approached once they’d figured it out (or given up)..
I was looking for you guys to propose a set of numbers that didn’t follow your rule, and didn’t follow my rule [Ed: I think he meant to say “and might have followed my rule” here]. I was looking for you guys not to try to confirm what you believed…You’re always asking something where you expect the answer to be yes, right? You wanna get the “no” because that’s much more informational for you than the “yes”.
In all kinds of spheres, it’s tempting to stick with the first answer that feels right and defend it rather than putting it aside and looking for others. But as this simple little experiment shows, sometimes that’s the only way to see the other answers that are staring you in the face.
Mankind has put science to use in lots of ways. Science has made us stronger and healthier, it’s taken us to the moon and beyond, it’s given us this chicken/fries/bowl/cup/straw combo. But one could argue that it’s still being underused in the most important pursuit of all; making us happy.
Inc.com brings us a list of 10 keys to happiness. Each is backed by scientific research demonstrating its effectiveness and most are things that you could put into practice today. So what are you waiting for? Although personally, being able to eat chicken and fries whilst drinking my favourite beverage is all the happiness I need.
What is at the centre of consciousness? Where is the thinking, choosing, acting part of ourselves that we call “I”? Our sense of identity is so close, so fundamental, that most people will go their entire lives without even thinking to question it.
But that’s exactly what Exurb1a does in this fascinating (and hilarious) video on the true nature of the self. If you’ve got eight spare minutes, and feel like triggering a quick existential crisis, look no further.
As somebody who grew up with the original Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, I never really had much choice but to love Bill Murray, but it’s reading things like this Rolling Stone piece about him that really underlines why he’s so wonderful. If anybody illustrates the principle of Wu Wei (effortless doing), it’s Bill. Take this story about a promotional film Bill shot:
In 2011, Murray filmed a promotional video for the Trident Academy near Charleston; one of his six sons was a student there. (Murray has been married and divorced twice.) Director David W. Smith was working on the shoot. “He came in hot and a little grumpy,” Smith says. “He was about 30 minutes late, and he complained that there were too many lights. He had a script, but he sat down in the school library and ad-libbed the whole thing. He got all these teddy bears and had a conversation with them. We’re looking at each other – this guy is off-his-face crazy – but there was a method to his madness.”
Murray loosened up as he played basketball with the school’s kids, and stuck around for lunch (his request: a tuna sandwich with no crusts), ultimately signing autographs and taking pictures. Smith recalls, “As the shoot went on, he became more and more like the guy that everyone thinks they know, which I guess is who he actually is.” Smith asked Murray if he would walk down the hall with the crew members so they could make a short film of it. Murray was confused, but he complied – when the camera cut, he kept walking, heading to his car without breaking stride.
The piece is filled with anecdotes about the weird and wonderful life of Bill Murray. He looks like he’s just messing around, but I really think he’s got something figured out.
Consciousness ends at death, right? The lights go out, everything goes black, and whatever happens afterwards, it has noting to do with the lump of grey matter in our heads.
Well, things might not be as clear cut as that. According to a study led by Dr Sam Parnia, Director of Critical Care and Resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of medicine, many people who are clinically dead, still retain awareness of what its happening around them.
This particular study is the largest study ever carried out in the world. It was done in 15 medical centres across the U.S. and Europe. And we studied more than 2000 people who’d gone through this cardiac arrest or process of death, and we did not expect people to have any consciousness or awareness, but intriguingly, up to 40% of people came back, and had had a perception of being aware of what was happening to them, even though they had technically gone beyond the threshold of death.
Only a small percentage of this group (2%) had what Dr Parnia described as “full awareness”, where they could describe everything that was going on around them in a way that could be validated. But the research still has intru=iguing implications for our understanding of consciousness, as it’s possible that the rest of the participants were also aware but simply forgot their experiences as a result of the efforts to resuscitate them, much as we often forget the content of our dreams.
But whatever the case, this is a fascinating reminder that there’s still more to learn about what this consciousness stuff is all about.
September 5, 2020 10:15 am - Steve Peters
You’ve definitely seen this before. A little kid is playing on a bright, sunny day. All is right with the world; the birds are singing, the kid doesn’t have a care in the world, they don’t even know what mortgage payments are yet. Then suddenly, perhaps because they’re so used to being carefree, they forget…continue reading on Medium…
Life is made up of choices.In the moment they seem small, but if we repeat them enough, the effects of these tiny decisions can be massive.
This beautiful little video, without a single word and set to the strains of “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”, follows the life of an ordinary man as he chooses between working hard or slacking off, going to the gym or sitting on the sofa, eating potato chips and coke, or salad and water for breakfast…ok, both of those are weird choices.
The final message of the video is simple.
Small choices become actions.
Actions become habits.
And habits become our way of life.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to put this one on every time I’m tempted to procrastinate by watching YouTube vide…dammit!
September 4, 2020 9:36 am - Steve Peters
There are - obviously - many reasons why we do the things we do, but all of them can be placed into one of four categories: safety, self-esteem, pleasure and “just because”. These categories define what we hope to gain from whatever it is we’re doing and what need it is they’re serving so let’s look at each in…continue reading on Medium…