- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
The Art and Science of Make-Believe
"'There's no use trying,' said Alice: 'one can't believe impossible things.' 'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'" - from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
The Lion and the Fox
A man was walking through the woods outside his home one day when he came across a hungry fox who seemed to be at death's door. Because he was a kind man, he thought to bring it some food, but before he could go back to his home, he heard a fearsome roar and hid behind a tree. In seconds, a mountain lion appeared, dragging the carcass of its freshly caught prey. The lion ate its fill and then wandered off, leaving the remains for the grateful fox.
The man was overwhelmed by this example of an abundant and benevolent universeand decided that he wouldn't return to his home or his job. Instead of working hard to provide for himself, he would follow the example of the fox and allow the universe to provide for him.
Needless to say, the fox wandered off, and as days turned to weeks, the man himself was hungry and at death's door. Despite his best efforts to retain his faith, he was becoming desperate. In a rare moment of inner quiet, he heard the still, small voice of his own wisdom: "Why have you sought to emulate the fox instead of the lion?"
With that, the man returned home and ate his fill.
* * *
The Power of Make-Believe
I began acting when I was 6 years old; at the age of 12, I played Hamlet. But the experience that really launched my quest for understanding the human psyche didn't come until I was 15. I was playing Pepe, one of the Puerto Rican gang members, in a youth-theater production of West Side Story.
Now there's a musical number fairly early on in the show called "Dance at the Gym." And this was the first chance we Puerto Ricans really got to strut our stuff. The choreography was sexy, very Latin, and noisy-lots of shouting of "Ay, Caramba" and "Chee, Chee, Chee" and other approximations of what a bunch of small-town white kids imagined Puerto Rican gang members would say.
This was my favorite part of the show, and this particular night we really got into it. We danced until the sweat was pouring, and the lights were hot and the girls were hot and the music was hot and it felt like the whole theater was burning up.
We were all riding that passion and feeling those really intense feelings, and then we got into the scene called the Rumble. Well, we'd done this dozens of times before. The Americans taunted us; we taunted them; there was a lot of macho dancing (this time with switchblades); and in the end, Bernardo stabbed Riff and we all ran like hell. Only this time, something different happened.
One of the American gang members, a big blond guy named Snowball, was looking at me, and he started calling out, "Ay, Caramba" and "Chee, Chee, Chee," and making fun of the way we'd been dancing in the previous scene. And all of a sudden I went from hot to furious. Not pretend, not acting-genuinely furious.
Now I don't know if you've ever been made fun of for your race, appearance, gender, or sexuality, but I was so filled with anger at that moment that I wanted to leap across the stage and kill him.
Fortunately for both of us, there was a curious part of me that was observing the whole scene and offered up some useful counterarguments. First, I'm not Puerto Rican. Second, the actor playing Snowball was actually a good friend I hung out with offstage. Third, we weren't on the mean streets of New York City-we were in a theater in a small town in Massachusetts, doing a play in front of a few hundred people.
Yet the anger I felt when the person he was pretending to be insulted the person I was pretending to be was red-hot and real.
What I came to realize that night is that if you "make believe" something long enough (like being a Puerto Rican gang member), it becomes real to you-you begin to think and feel and act as if it's really true. Otherwise I would never have been upset about being teased for being Puerto Rican. (Let's face it, assuming you're not one, if someone called you a "stupid tuna fish" you probably wouldn't take it personally.)
What do you believe right now? Take a few moments to finish these "sentence starters" for yourself. You can do this in your head, but I strongly encourage you to jot down your answers in the space below. That's because they're likely to have changed so radically by the time we've finished our time together that you won't remember them later.
Life is ...
I am ...
People are ...
Money is ...
The most important thing to know about
happiness is ...
Now, however you've finished those sentences -positive or negative, thought-through or impulsive, heartfelt or not-is simply an insight into how you currently see the world. Hopefully, you chose to answer honestly, knowing that no one but you need ever see your answers.
Look again at your answers. Do they feel "right" to you? Can you think of lots of evidence and examples to back them up?
The secret we'll be exploring in this session underpins everything else we'll be doing together, because it explains why we see what we see, hear what we hear, feel what we feel, and do what we do. It's a secret that has been talked about in many eras and many traditions from around the world and is "secret" not because no one wants you to know it, but because it's so difficult to talk about-like trying to explain the concept of water to a fish.
The secret is that we each live in our own separate reality. This isn't some kind of an esoteric theory, but a physiological fact. Our brains filter information through the five senses, then make representations of that information inside our minds. We then experience these representations, first as thoughts and then as emotions. But as we represent the information in our minds, certain bits of the data are inevitably deleted, distorted, and generalized. And since we all delete, distort, and generalize that information slightly differently, we all have slightly (or sometimes completely) different perceptions of what is going on around us.
In other words, the way we think determines what we see, hear, and feel, regardless of what's actually going on around us in the world. Or, to put it slightly differently, there's what happens, and there's what we think about what happens. And what makes this important is that the lion's share of our decisions, feelings, and actions in life will be based on our thoughts, not the objective facts.
This is neither a new idea nor one associated with any particular field of study. In quantum physics, the uncertainty principle says that we can never study anything objectively because "the observer always influences the observed." Psychologists talk about "the Pygmalion effect," and linguists say, "The map is not the territory." Shakespeare wrote that "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so," and the Bible says, "For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Perhaps my favorite way of thinking about this secret comes from one of my early mentors, author and supercoach Serge Kahili King. He describes the principle of thought like this:
The world is what you think it is.
While at first glance this may seem like an innocuous idea, its implications are far-reaching. If the world is what you think it is, then life becomes one giant self-fulfilling prophecy. Your expectations create your experience, and if anything happens that confounds your expectations, you will most likely find a way of explaining it away or fitting it into your existing worldview. And any attempt you might make to "prove" your theories about the world objectively will never gain universal acceptance, because you're creating that world through your thinking in one way, and other people are creating it through their thinking in another.
If this all seems much too heady for a book about having more happiness, ease, and success in your life, here's a simple experiment to experience this phenomenon for yourself:
1. Get a piece of paper and a pen. 2. Now, take 30 seconds to look around you and make a list of everything you can see that's green. (Do this before you move on to Step 3.) 3. When you've completed your list, put down your pen. As soon as you finish reading this sentence, close your eyes and make a list of everything around you that's brown.
Now, if you actually took the minute or so it takes to do this experiment, you will have had a direct experience of the effect what you hold in your mind has on what you experience in the world. If you're still a bit befuddled, all you need to remember is this:
You'll always tend to see whatever it is you're looking for.
Everything you'll be learning in our time together is based on the fact that you're creating your experience of everything in your life through the way that you think about it. If you're having a wonderful experience, well done-you're creating that experience from the raw material of your life. If you're having a horrible experience, well, well done-you're creating that, and it can begin to change at any moment. Because once you really begin to understand how your thoughts create your "reality," you'll no longer be a victim of the process.
Plato's Cave for a New Millennium
Imagine you're sitting in a theater watching a scary movie. The movie is well made, and you get caught up in it to the point where you physically shrink back into your seat when the pretty girl heads down the dark stairway with an old flashlight whose batteries mysteriously stop working as soon as she hears a strange creaking sound from the farthest, darkest corner of the basement. As the music builds toward a crescendo and you just know a monster is going to burst forth at any moment ... someone's cell phone goes off, repeatedly playing the opening bars of that pop song you can never get out of your head no matter how hard you try.
From this moment forward, regardless of how gripped you've been by the movie, it will be difficult to get back into it in the same way.
Now let's watch another movie together. This is a movie about you. It's filled with problems and obstacles and triumphs and tragedies. It's a movie where you see yourself failing to achieve what you want to achieve, being dragged down again and again by your tragic personal history, or succeeding against the odds and triumphing in the end. It's a movie about how difficult it is to find true love, or how lucky you are to have found it for yourself; how men and women are sinners or saints; and how people always mean well or stab you in the back every time. Whether you're stuck in a cubicle or living large in a corner office, working from home or not working at all, this is the movie of your life-for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.
This time, instead of a cell phone going off, I'm going to ask you to turn your attention away from the screen and come with me back up into the projection booth. But before we do that, let's talk a little bit about the principles of creation.
The Principles of Creation
Any painter, in order to become more effective at creating art, needs to understand the basic principles of painting-color, texture, perspective, and line. Of course, simply understanding them will probably not cause your next painting to be a universally acclaimed masterpiece, but it will make it far more likely that your work will become better and better and you'll find more and more joy in its creation.
In the same way, if you want to be more effective at creating your life, it's important to understand the principles behind that creation.
In order to create any experience, three elements need to be present:
1. Energy. Without some sort of raw material to create from, there can be no creation. Fortunately for us, physicists have already demonstrated that everything we can see, hear, feel, taste, or touch is made up of the same source energy. Rocks are made up of the same energy as sound, and both are made up of the same energy as you and me.
Long before Einstein ever realized that E = [mc.sup.2], philosophers theorized about the underlying nature of the universe, prophets talked about everything being a part of God, and mystics meditated on all things emerging from the primordial soup.
Regardless of whether you use scientific or spiritual language to describe it, this energy is the source and substance of all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.
2. Consciousness. What allows us to make differentiations between ourselves and others in this "spiritual soup" is our individual consciousness-the ability we all have to experience our own separate version of the unchanging whole. Without light, we wouldn't be able to experience the beauty of a sunset (or even a picture of a sunset); without sound, we couldn't hear the birds twittering in the morning or our friends twittering in the next room. In the same way, it is our consciousness-literally our ability to be consciously aware of something-that allows us to experience whatever it is we're experiencing in our lives.
3. Thought. If source energy is the paint, thought is the paintbrush. Our life is the canvas, and our consciousness is what allows us to appreciate the painting. Because different thoughts come in and out of our heads throughout the day, our experience is continually changing. But because we tend to focus on the same limited range of thoughts throughout the day, there is a sense of cohesive reality to our experience.
Of course, just because a thought pops into your head doesn't mean it will immediately manifest in your life. (If it did, there would be more deaths by roller coasters going off their tracks, people falling from very high places, and heads exploding due to stress than any other cause.) That's because in and of themselves, thoughts have no power. It's only when you invest your own energy and consciousness into them that they begin to become real. A thought without your personal investment is no more powerful than a tea bag without boiling water. It's only after you add the water that the tea begins to infuse and create the flavor, and it's only after you add your agreement and energy to a thought that it begins to impact your life.
What makes thoughts appear to be so powerful is that the more we invest our energy into them, the more "real" they start to feel.
(This is why positive thinking so often backfire-sit energizes negative thoughts by making them into "things" that must be avoided. Simply noticing your negative thoughts arising and allowing them to fade away will nearly always work better than bringing in the thought police to try to control them.)
So to review, there are three things necessary in order to experience anything:
1. There needs to be a ground of being-I'm calling that energy, but you could just as easily call it "spirit" or "source," or even "Jethro," and it would work just the same. 2. There needs to be a creative force-in this case, thought. 3. There needs to be a way of experiencing and understanding all that is happening-our current level of consciousness.
Our formula is now clear:
Energy + Consciousness + Thought = Creation
Let's go back to the projection booth....
Whatever is happening on the screen is your experience of life. What's being projected onto that screen will appear real to you to the extent that it fits with the movie you're used to seeing.
The projector is your consciousness-it simply shines the bright white light of awareness on whatever is projected in front of it. If that light isn't on (i.e., if you're "unconscious"), you'll have no awareness of and no direct experience of your thoughts.
Each reel of film running in front of the projector is made up of your thoughts. If you have scary thoughts, you'll see scary things on the screen of your experience and experience scary feelings; if you're projecting romantic thoughts, you'll see romantic things on the screen and tend to feel romantic feelings in your heart. Comedies will usually make you laugh and tragedies make you cry-that's just the way things work.
Excerpted from Supercoach by Michael Neill Copyright © 2009 by Michael Neill. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted June 12, 2010
The tagline for Supercoach by Michael Neill boasts: "If Superman needed a coach, he'd hired Michael Neill." After reading and reflecting on Supercoach, I would tend to agree. Supercoach is a concise and informative framework for getting the most out of life.
Each chapter in Supercoach riffs on one of Neill's "Top Ten Secrets." The secrets, paraphrased, are:
. The world is what you think it is.
. Well-being is not the fruit of something you do -- it comes from within.
. There's nowhere for you to get to - you're just here.
. What you decide will never impact you as how you handle the consequences.
. Every emotion you experience is a direct to a thought.
. You don't have to do anything.
. You create other people by how you listen to them.
. You can ask for anything when you make it ok for them to say no.
. Financial security comes from the ability to procure it[money] when desired.
. There is never a good reason not to hope.
While many of the secrets are neither unknown nor new, they can have a profound impact if truly comprehended. For instance, instead of being stuck in decision-making paralysis for fear of making the wrong decision, what if a decision simply becomes a choice that is almost always reversible? Looking at it from this perspective removes much of the angst associated with decision-making.
In addition, Supercoach imparts information in a fun and entertaining manner. Neill sprinkles his writing with clever anecdotes and witty suggestions. I laughed out loud at the suggestion to order a pizza at a Chinese restaurant (to learn how to make a seemingly unreasonable request). I'm sure if one can do this one has truly "gotten" the lesson's meaning, but it leaves me in stitches visualizing the confusion such a request would cause.
Supercoach is a terrific resource for living a fuller and more meaningful life!
Publisher: Hay House (March 15, 2010), 200 pages.
Advance Review Copy Provided Courtesy of the Publisher.
Posted October 7, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted December 6, 2011
No text was provided for this review.