“Garret Kramer has overturned much of the conventional wisdom about coaching and performance.”
—Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author, To Sell Is Human, Drive, and A Whole New Mind
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A FRESH TAKE ON THE INBORN CHARACTERISTIC OF RESILIENCE
Most people are convinced that the key to rising above a perceived problem is to think about it, analyze all angles, and try hard to solve it. But the fact is: Problems in the world are mounting. War, famine, and strife exist at alarming rates. Not to mention that the level of respect within our
A FRESH TAKE ON THE INBORN CHARACTERISTIC OF RESILIENCE
Most people are convinced that the key to rising above a perceived problem is to think about it, analyze all angles, and try hard to solve it. But the fact is: Problems in the world are mounting. War, famine, and strife exist at alarming rates. Not to mention that the level of respect within our families and communities seems to be fraying.
Simply put, our behavior is not up to par these days; it is spiraling downward. Why? We’re not connecting the dots. In the arenas of psychology, teaching, coaching, and parenting, we’re using behavioral strategies to boost inner levels of clarity and consciousness—to no avail.
So, if focusing on behavior isn’t working, what will?
The Path of No Resistance provides a brand-new look at how human beings really overcome adversity. Along the way, Garret Kramer reveals the astonishing truth about what creates our troubles in the first place. And what we already know, deep down, that allows us to prosper in spite of any circumstance or situation.
Offering an array of examples, Kramer demonstrates that resilience and contentment are—in principle—innate to everyone. He insists that calculated self-help methods are not the answer, and explains why insight, not intellect, is what fuels our ability to excel and give back to others.
THE MOST ESSENTIAL DISCOVERY OF YOUR LIFETIME
While driving through Vermont, I passed a flashing police sign that read: "Stay alert. There have been forty-seven deaths on Vermont highways so far in 2012." My question to you is, will this warning lead to fewer crashes or more?
In a November 2012 issue of Sports Illustrated, Michael Bamberger discussed mental health issues in sports in a column titled "Emotional Rescue." I read it with interest. In the column, Bamberger asserts that professional athletes who are victims of panic attacks, drug addictions, and OCD "put a human face on mental health issues too often ignored." He does not, however, suggest what should be done about these issues. Nor does he talk about this alarming trend: The number of people, including athletes, who struggle with mental health issues appears to be growing every day.
These struggles are the reason for The Path of No Resistance.
Now, before you tell me that mental health issues in athletics, and elsewhere, have always been prevalent but less publicized, consider this: Virtually every professional sports organization in the world today has mental-conditioning coaches or sports psychologists on staff. And in individual sports such as golf and tennis, athletes have the same services at their beck and call. Likewise, off the field in our high schools, bullying cases are on the rise in spite of the fact that nearly every high school in the United States now employs specialists dedicated to reining in bullying.
The question is, why?
Why, with all the self-help resources on hand today (including a self-help market over saturated with books and videos), are these psychological issues not improving?
The answer has to do with the training and methodology of therapists, counselors, and self-help experts — not only today but throughout the history of psychology. For the most part, mental coaches and psychologists are trained to examine behavior, judge behavior, and then offer ways to fix behavior. Their methods include psychological techniques, relaxation practices, motivational tools, hypnosis, exercise, medication, positive thinking, and/or codes of conduct. All to no avail. Focusing on behavior (doing something) in order to improve behavior is simply not helping people find long-term peace of mind — much less helping them live lives of resilience, harmony, productivity, and excellence.
So what will help?
That question is at the heart of this book.
But before we plunge in, I want to tell you about the far-reaching insights of two people: William James, the man considered to be the father of modern psychology, and Sydney Banks, with whom James would have loved to work.
THE INNER WISDOM OF JAMES AND BANKS
William James published his most prominent work, The Principles of Psychology, in 1890. In it, he likened the confounded state of psychology to the bewildered state of physics before Galileo came along and introduced many of the scientific theories that became accepted as truth. Although most people thought that his work in psychology was groundbreaking, James considered it somewhat deficient and only exploratory because, while he knew they must exist, he hadn't discovered the causal laws that would allow for the prediction and influence of mental life. He claimed, "Such knowledge, realized on a grand scale, would be an achievement compared with which the control of the rest of physical nature would be relatively insignificant." James even compared the importance of this future achievement to the discovery of fire.
Simply stated, James knew that analyzing behavior and trying to change it, ultimately, would not help people. To him, finding the universal principles (the causal laws) that govern behavior was the key to changing behavior.
These principles are precisely what an ordinary man, a welder from Canada named Sydney Banks, was fortunate enough to discover over forty years ago: the principles of mind, consciousness, and thought. And Syd spent a good portion of his life sharing and teaching these innate principles. As a result, thousands of people, including me, my clients, readers, and audiences, have benefited from knowing that each of us experiences a thought-created reality — not a circumstance-created reality. So the answer to an apparent mental health issue is not found in behavior specific to that issue. The answer is found in the degree to which a person understands the innocence of thought, how thoughts are brought to life by one's level of consciousness, and the inner workings of the human mind.
To Syd, as it was to James, digging into the details of psychological issues in order to help someone wasn't only irrelevant, but also detrimental. As you will see in this book, analyzing psychological issues requires thought, and thought is what creates issues.
To explain one's low feelings, then, Syd pointed people inward toward thought and how the mind functions, not outward toward circumstance. He found that without effort people became more peaceful, loving, and successful when they grasped that their psychological perspective was constantly changing and that this perspective determined their impressions about life. What happened in life did not determine their psychological perspective.
Syd's vision was unmistakable: to take psychology back to where it began, to the study of mind, soul, and spirit. Yet, while those of us who learned from Syd have made inroads into sharing his vision, millions of people continue to suffer at the hands of a mainstream mental health establishment that ignores and even resists these basic teachings. At the very least, two roadblocks exist today that prevent Syd's discovery from helping more people:
For many in the field of therapy, and for many who need help, it seems too simple that a person's mental health can be explained by his or her understanding of the principles of mind, consciousness, and thought — or the connection between thinking and feelings — as opposed to delving into one's past, present circumstances, or behavior.
It's not as commercially profitable to point people inward to the fact that the human mind is designed to default to tranquility without effort. Money is made by providing external strategies, mental techniques, motivational speeches, and supposed quick behavioral fixes that prey on the insecurities of those who are suffering. I'm not saying that self-help experts who offer these approaches are knowingly offering faulty solutions. I'm saying that since most experts themselves don't understand how the mind works, they fall victim to their own errant thinking and insecurities, just as their clients do.
The turbulent state of affairs of the world in which we live, I believe, proves that William James was dead on. Until we look to the psychological principles behind behavior, and not to behavior itself, we will continue to use therapeutic strategies that, as James said, are "relatively insignificant."
Just as James feared at the turn of the twentieth century, today people are still looking in the wrong place for psychological relief — so an excess of turmoil, strife, and conflict abounds.
BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS: CAUSE AND EFFECT
Here's an example of how focusing on behavior plays out today. It's from the sports world, like many of my examples, but examples like this can be found in all walks of life. Because of a rash of off-the-field incidents (DWI arrests, gun usage, domestic violence, etc.) in the early 2000s, the National Football League established Player Protect, a twenty-four-hour car and security service for players to call whenever they find themselves in threatening situations. Plus, before their careers even begin, the NFL puts rookies through days of training designed to point out all the pitfalls and temptations rampant in professional sports.
But even with these behavioral programs in place, many professional football players still can't avoid trouble. Do you know why?
Before I get to the answer, here's one explanation we often hear: "Pro athletes feel entitled, invincible; they're just selfish." Indeed, many people insist that life in pro sports has the ability to make someone arrogant, egotistical, or even paranoid.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As you'll see in this book, the belief that something on the outside can somehow regulate a person on the inside is why behavioral policies exist in pro sports, and elsewhere — and why they do nothing but worsen the behaviors they're meant to guard against.
Remember the Vermont highway sign? The sign implicitly suggests that driving on a highway can lower your level of consciousness or psychological perspective. It cautions to "stay alert," if you don't want to become another victim!
The overlooked reason that this type of behavioral warning makes you more prone to an accident, not less, is that reading the sign introduces worrisome thoughts. And an excess of thought is what makes people less conscious. It's the same for behavioral policies in the NFL. They mistakenly warn players that life in the league has the ability to affect their mind-set. These policies give the players more to think about, thus lowering their consciousness and increasing the chances for poor behavior.
By contrast, Sydney Banks argued that a person's experience (driving on the highway or playing pro sports) has no ability to regulate one's psychological perspective. He maintained that it works the opposite way: A person's psychological perspective creates one's experience. So when a person's thinking and mind-set are clear, righteous behaviors follow. When they are cluttered, not so much. All human beings are subject to varying levels of mental well-being; these levels are the cause of our outlook on life — not the effect.
What happens when one comes to terms with this fundamental wisdom? Pretty much what Syd predicted, and exactly what happened to me many years ago: As it becomes obvious that a person's thinking and mind-set are what creates his or her turmoil — not life in the NFL or any other circumstance — it also becomes illogical to look outside for excuses or relief. Again, since human beings don't see clearly from low mental states, if we act from these states (including trying to fix ourselves), we stumble.
Consider this as we go further: Once people learn to distrust their thinking when they feel insecure, agitated, or egotistical, and once they understand that these feelings are not a cause for alarm, they will no longer seek refuge in the band-aid of delinquent behavior. This is the path of no resistance that William James and Sydney Banks envisioned. Human beings intuitively understand how to move through their own jumbled thoughts, but they will always fail if fault is placed on external events or circumstances.
PERFORMANCE AND THE PRINCIPLE OF THOUGHT
Let's now turn our attention away from behavior and in the direction that Sydney Banks knew was appropriate and true: toward thought. And by "thought," I don't mean what you think about; I mean the principle of thought. (I'll make this distinction a few times in this chapter.)
According to Syd, the link between the circumstances of a person's life and his or her level of failure, success, happiness, or misery is found in his or her thinking. I agree. What I've observed and grown to understand is that people who know that their sensory experiences are created via their own thinking consistently overcome and thrive. People who attribute their sensory experiences to the world around them — their clients, boss, coworkers, competitors, money, or home life — don't.
Now, at this juncture, I realize that this might seem like a broad and even unusual statement. But just for the moment, be open to what I'm about to say: All human beings form their perceptions from the inside-out. Our thoughts generate our feelings; our feelings generate our moods. If people don't see that this dynamic is always at work, they'll have little choice but to attach their emotions to their past, present, or future circumstances.
As an illustration, if a first-year medical resident dislikes her boss at the hospital, it will appear to her that she has only two alternatives: change hospitals or suffer. And why not? She believes her boss is ruining her experience at the hospital. But the moment the resident sees that her dissatisfaction is created via her own thinking, and not because of her boss, other options for her future take shape.
Here's another way to view it: Knowing that your feelings are created via your thinking, not from your circumstances, triggers your free will to perceive any troubling life situation differently — or not. So it's essential to recognize that your thinking is random, neutral, and variable.
You heard me correctly. I get that it appears as if your thinking is tied to your circumstances, but this book's contention is that your thinking — everyone's thinking — is pretty much up for grabs. Truth is, the more you grasp this aspect of the principle of thought, the less prone you'll be to connect your thinking and feelings to unmanageable life events (resulting in excellence). The less you grasp it, the more prone you'll be to insist that your thinking and feelings are connected to these events (resulting in malfunction).
That's why, upon quiet reflection, our young doctor will see that she doesn't always resent her boss. When her thinking is in knots (and her feelings and mood are low), her perception of the world around her, including her boss, suffers. Yet when her thinking is free and flowing (and her feelings and mood are high), she might not agree with her boss's decisions, but she'll appreciate his perspective nevertheless. He's not such a bad guy after all, she might say.
If you're puzzled about the principle of thought right now, no worries. These simple formulas regarding our medical resident and her boss should make some sense:
resident's boss + resident's thinking = perception of boss
resident's boss + resident's new thinking = different perception of boss
Now this understanding frees performers in any field. Knowing that their thinking establishes their outlook prevents people from playing victim to any outside force. The basketball player who understands the principle of thought and its connection to feelings and moods, for instance, knows better than to try to fix negative thoughts when he's preparing to take a free-throw shot and feels nervous. It's his random, neutral, and variable thinking at that moment — not the free throw — that produces the nervous feeling. So when these negative thoughts occur, the player stays on task and shoots anyway. He does not wage war with his current mind-set and sink even lower.
The solution to any performance issue or stumbling block, then, can be traced back to the paradigm I revealed earlier: People live in the feeling of their thinking, not in the feeling of their circumstances (their boss or a free throw). This means that the reason for, and the way to cure, a low mood or mind-set will never be found in the world around you. Answers will only be found from within you. Understanding the principle of thought is what allows answers to spontaneously occur.
* * *
As this new and surprising perspective on thought begins to roll around in your head (gently, I hope), you might find the following three thought-related reminders helpful. They'll point you away from blaming life for your struggles and direct you inward toward your natural functioning and instincts:
You're never feeling your circumstances. You're always feeling your thinking, which, independent of your circumstances, is constantly in flux. This explains why a circumstance can look troubling one moment and okay the next.
Negative thoughts are innocent — and powerless — unless you turn them into something that must be shunned, dealt with, or fixed.
Just get on with it: Shoot the basketball! As we'll discuss, if you move forward in spite of your thinking, your mind-set is on its way to clearing up all by itself. Answers to whatever life has in store will then become obvious.
THE SECRET LIES IN THOUGHT
Please don't worry if this talk about the principle of thought seems a little slippery. The truth is that our thoughts are slippery little suckers. We can be humming along, enjoying life to the fullest, when suddenly we find ourselves stuck on, and brooding about, some haphazard thought. What are we supposed to do then? Try a mental technique? Launch a positive-thinking strategy? If you read Stillpower, you know I'm not about to suggest any direction (such as a technique or strategy) that robs you of your free will.
Instead, let me ask you this: Why do you suppose young children seldom get hung up on their thinking? They don't hold grudges, they're open and inventive, and momentary upsets are quickly replaced with marvel and joy — without doing or fixing anything. Simply put, youngsters seem to own some sort of secret to resilience, inspiration, and happiness that most adults lack.
But what is the secret? And how do we get in on the act? The secret is that children possess, and are closer to, an inherent understanding about the powerlessness of their own thinking. And while we adults have the same understanding (you can't lose it), layers and layers of misinformation over the years have covered it up without our even realizing it.
Excerpted from The Path of No Resistace by Garret Kramer. Copyright © 2015 Garret Kramer. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
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.
GARRET KRAMER is also the author of Stillpower and the founder of Inner Sports. His inside-out paradigm for performance excellence has transformed the way players, coaches, pro teams, and even parents view the athletic journey. A consultant, speaker, and columnist, Kramer has been featured in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. He lives in New Vernon, New Jersey, with his family.
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Garret's work isn't simply for athletes who want a new take on sports psychology but for any human being who wants to uncover how their experience of life is simply a reflection of their own mind. This understanding has the power to reconnect you with the life that you are and cut through anything that limits you. Analyzing your past, positive thinking, reframing your thinking and all traditional methods of psychology utilize outside-in models that have consistently proven themselves to be deeply flawed. Garret is among the very best teachers of The Three Principles of psychology model that consistently achieves remarkable results. I'm an intense runner but not a competitive athlete in any way I run purely for personal enjoyment. I came to Garret's work nearly two years ago after being brought to my knees by some of the darkest circumstances conceivable... Stillpower and The Path of No Resistance have been absolutely essential reading for me in coming to understand how each of us create our own experience of life independent of any circumstance. Moreover, I had the good fortune to be able to speak with Garret and can tell you he is one of those rare individuals who fully walk their talk... Get this book and allow it to reconnect you with the most fundamental and powerful aspect of your mind.