Tag Archives: Personal Progress

Balance Scales

Work Life Balance – Week 27

Work Life Balance is a popular topic these days as baby boomers age and echo boomers reach mid-career. Balance is an interesting word.

Physically, a balance (think “Scales of Justice,” interestingly misnamed) is a device of comparison. To use a balance, one compares a known weight with the unknown weight of another object. If the two objects weigh the same, they are said to be “in balance.” A simple laboratory scale is a form of balance with variable weights. Other scales do not “balance” at all. They measure weight by comparing compression and/or expansion of a spring or other such object.

Athletically, balance is demonstrated when one is able to navigate a narrow object, as with a balance beam, a women’s gymnastics apparatus. Another familiar example is a successful tightrope walker.

A less prosaic example of balance is in a field sobriety test where a law enforcement officer may test the balance of a driver suspected of driving under the influence of an intoxicant.

Many people want “more” work life balance. In fact, literally examined, everyone has a balance between work and “life.” One may not like the nature of that balance, but there’s still an existing balance. The question becomes how to change that balance.

Each of us has two contrasting voices inside, one saying “go,” while the other says, “stop.” Whether or not there is an objective God or an objective Devil, there are still within each of us the contrasting voices. A comic may illustrate this with an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, but the truth remains. No wonder the “new thought” writers like Charles Haanel opined that God and the Devil are subjective rather than objective.

What came to me recently was to compare the two voices to the two trays of a balance. This comparison allowed me to see, as in real life, how little pressure it takes to change the balance. I can put my “thumb” on the scale and change the balance any time I like.

Thus, if my life seems overbalanced towards work, I can put my thumb on the leisure tray and change the balance with very little effort. Even a thought may be sufficient.

For more deeply ingrained and intractable situations, I may need to alter the predominant thought giving rise to the situation. When the thought is changed, the situation naturally changes, seemingly of its own accord.

How about you? Do you like your life’s current balance? Try putting your “thumb” on the “scale” and see what happens.

Thank you, as always, for joining me on the journey of a transforming life.

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Mt Rainier

Addicted to Projection – Week 19

Are you more in love with your potential or your excuses?  For me, the answer too long was the latter.  That was a consequence of addiction, addiction to projecting my excuses onto the people around me.

This was part of the blueprint that was keeping me small and stuck in my previous reality.  That reality was far short of my dreams, and, more to the point, far short of my potential.

A few examples may help you understand me.  You can liken these to yourself if they fit.

Most of us understand the Law of Attraction to state that we attract what we inherently are.  (E.g., Haanel, paragraph 19-17.)  As I thought myself to “be” prosperous, and I could see that I wasn’t, I projected my own (I know now) weakness onto my wife.

That’s three logic errors for the price of one:  externalizing the cause of my reality, projecting my weakness onto my wife, and denying the reality of my own mental state.

All you married folks will realize that the logic errors are just the tip of the error iceberg.  The larger portion of the problem is denial, blame, lack of progress, poor economic results (at least in comparison to perceived ability), and destruction of trust and emotional intimacy.  Not a pretty picture, especially when that wasn’t the only weakness I projected onto my wife.  That she stayed with me is a testament to her strength and her commitment to her covenants with God.

Our society offers two choices for celebration: ability or disability.  This being the season of the Winter Olympics, celebration of ability is almost constantly before us.  Every political season gives us cause, if we want it, to celebrate disability.  Part of my insanity, as mentioned in previous posts, was coming from a “less than” box, where I believed myself to be less than others.

As a consequence, part of me liked the idea of being celebrated for being disabled.  My affliction with depression was at least partially disabling.  Whoo hoo!  I’m disabled.  Wait!  I don’t want to live on disability income, so I can’t really go there.  Nor do I want to live dependent on frequently ineffective mental health meds with terrible side effects. That wouldn’t do at all.

I always perceived myself to be a good student.  After all, you really can’t gain entrance into law school nor pass a bar or CPA exam without being a good student.  That’s all good, as far as it goes.  What about the “weightier matters”?  I was great academically in formal education.  I could remember, assimilate, synthesize, analyze, and logic through others’ problems.  What about my own?

“Knowledge does not apply itself,” says Haanel repeatedly in his Masterkey System.  And, so, I was left with a logical conundrum.  I believed Haanel (and many others writing similarly), and I had a firm grasp of the text.  And, yet, at least through 2013, I still didn’t like my results.  Two choices immediately appeared: blame the teacher, or admit my failings as a student.

Up until recently, I blamed the teacher.  I can see that now.  I disclaimed responsibility for my ability as a student, largely as part of my larger “externalization” of success.  All the books, tapes, programs and systems offered me “magic” that would transform me via external influence into the person I felt I could become.  And I projected my weaknesses and failings onto the teachers.

Fortunately, persistence is a virtue, and it can be learned.  My basic personality helped.  I was always too stubborn to give up.  I am always ready to wake up to a new day and try again.

Why? I can’t tell you.  I suppose I’m like a mountaineer.  “Why did you climb the mountain?” asks the reporter.  “Because it was there,” replies the outdoorsman.  He had a motivation different from the reporter, and such will really forever remain foreign to the spectator or critic.

Through the grace of God I always had before me a vision of who I could be, and that was far beyond my current state.  The mountain of my potential lay constantly before me, and I could not give up until I found a way to summit that peak.

Hence, I celebrate each day’s progress, each day’s chance to renew the upward journey.  Today I found a new insight: that I have been more addicted to my excuses than to my vision.

When I combine that knowledge with the conviction that the power of success is within me, I gain strength, and I gain compassion.  I also gain motivation to continue the upward climb, because I know many coming after me will need my example to give them strength to continue their own climb.

Join me, won’t you?

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Voyage of Discovery – Week 13

Life is a voyage of discovery.  Every day we resume the voyage, headed towards our destination, and we set the sails.  We may not pick the wind or the height of the seas, but we set the sails, and we hold the rudder.

And what do we discover?

Every day, we discover whether we’re ready or not ready for the goals and objectives we’ve chosen.

Because, as is has been so profoundly stated, it’s not the wind, but the set of the sails that determines where our ship will go.

My experiences this month may offer a good illustration.  I’d set an ambitious professional goal.  When I set it, I thought it reasonable and achievable, though stretching.  I didn’t count on mutiny from within.

You see, the master key mastermind alliance is preparing me to unfold into my best self, and my progress so far had me believing I was ready for a big step forward.

One of the conditions I thought past is depression, specifically the bipolar variety.  By the grace of God, I’d happened onto a 3-element regime that eliminates, or so I’d thought, all the physiological causes of my bipolar depression symptoms.

And yet, over the past 3 weeks, I experienced, 3 or 4 days per week, depression symptoms ranging from mild to moderate to almost severe.

And, then, yesterday, a breakthrough.  The week 13 webinar talked about the lengths to which some of the mental crew will go to keep the ship of life on the old course.  And outright mutiny is not beyond the pale.

I was simultaneously stunned and elated.  Because I knew then the truth.  The mind cannot effectively discern the difference between a vividly imagined event and a real one.  Charles Haanel’s words from Lesson 2, paragraph 14, Lesson 3, paragraph 4, Lesson 4, paragraph 4, Lesson 5, paragraph 8, Lesson 7, paragraph 23, etc. came ringing back.  Health is the real truth; illness is an illusion created by inferior thought.

Just as one is never again fooled after understanding a magician’s trick, my conscious mind was suddenly liberated from the bondage of the illusion of depression.  I had laid a solid, scientific foundation for mental health.  Therefore, the appearance of depression had to be an illusion contrived by my subconscious mind running the old blueprint!  And a vivid illusion it was, too!

The bad news for this month is I wasn’t ready for the destination for which I thought I’d set the course.  The good news is I now have better sense than to fall for the same trick twice.

So, my sails are once again trimmed to profit from the wind, and my rudder is set with an eye clearly fixed on the land of promise.  I didn’t die trying, and I have strength for the next leg of the journey.  As Mandino says, slightly edited, surely one tack at a time is not too difficult.

Are you troubled by the one step forward, two steps back phenomenon?  Take heart.  As you press on, you’ll find ways to keep moving forward, thus eliminating any tendency to retrogress.   Teachers, guides and mentors are all around you, just waiting for you to be ready.

Remember, life is a journey of discovery.  If you aren’t ready today for progress, tomorrow’s a new day.  Mandino gives us good advice in scroll 3.  Forget the day that is past, and focus on today, because, after all, today is the best day of your life.

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Silence & Stimulation – Week 10

I love Charles Haanel’s invitation to gain power by going into the silence, into the stillness or, in other words, to meditate.  The invitation is interesting because weakness, in Haanel’s words, comes from “nothing.”  Therefore, silence and stillness, which yield power, are something rather than nothing.

This is easiest for me to apprehend by comparing stillness to simulation.

Stimulation is all around us, but some of us wire ourselves up to need inappropriate stimulation.  Others of us cater to “meaningless” stimulation (e.g., TV playing constantly as a substitute for white noise) because true stillness or silence is unbearable.  For some of us, even a few moments of silence is too much “alone time.”

Brain Chemistry & Addiction

We learn from reliable sources that our inner world is an interesting mix of thought, emotion, belief, action, results, and evaluation.  It is said that by 5 years of age, the dominant programs of our lives are already firmly established.  And changing those programs from the outside-in by attempting behavioral modification is all but futile.  If you get more than 6 months of modified behavior, you’re well above average.

It is now known that the cycle above referenced (thought-emotion-belief-action-result-evaluation) has a neurological component that floods our bodies with a cascade of brain-based endocrine chemicals during the cycle of any habitual experience.  Hence the addictive power of nicotine, cocaine, gambling, pornography and anger, which are common, negatively perceived examples.  On the positively perceived side, we get similar results from regular exercise, meditation, prayer, service and accomplishment.

No matter what our habits, our bodies become accustomed to the related brain chemical cascade, and that familiarity, over time, in essence becomes an addiction.  As Alcoholics Anonymous so poignantly teaches, addiction is a spiritual disorder, and attempting to conquer addiction by behavior modification alone is an exercise in futility.

Addiction Recovery

Still, every dark cloud has a silver lining.  Or, as Napoleon Hill gleaned from Charles Haanel, every adversity carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.  My life was blessed with a noxious, harmful stimulation addiction as part of a larger problem.  I know well that the path of recovery passes through a spiritual vale of tears, at the end of which we burst forth into the sunshine of a new life.

My experience with Haanel’s Master Key System has led me back down the same path as I have been brought face to face with the more generic form of my addiction: stimulation.  All that you need know about me in this context is that recourse to stimulation was a defense mechanism of the infantile mind reacting to the energetic ravages of depression.  For, as with most who are similarly afflicted, depression sapped me of the energy needed to address the task-oriented needs of my life.  Stimulation seemed a natural defense in that it lent energy today by borrowing against future reserves.  (Insane, I know, but that’s addiction for you.)

One habitual, left-over behavior, even of late, was to turn part of my attention, sometimes even during a worship service, to an electronic device.  Electronic devices with screens stimulate the reticular cortex, triggering a variety of brain chemicals.  For me, these closely mirrored the cascade created by the more negative addiction for which I sought recovery.

I became aware of this similarity recently in the process of writing, reciting and implementing a new blueprint for my life.  Over several weeks (weeks 6-8 of the Master Key System), it became obvious that the good work I was doing with the Master Key System and its exercises was being undermined and partially nullified by excess stimulation from electronic devices.

In case you haven’t discerned this by now, there are good reasons electronic devices are popular, and convenience isn’t the only one.

Silence and Detoxification

With any chemical addiction, a detoxification process is essential to recovery.  Only by allowing the body to purge itself of the harmful, addictive chemicals can one come to a new place of beginning.

With a stimulus addiction, Haanel’s invitation to seek stillness and silence is particularly appropriate.  There are huge benefits to acclimating to silence.  For me, the primary benefit is enhanced spiritual communion.  Haanel points out in week 10’s lesson that thought, which can only be focused in silence, is the nexus point between our physical world and the spiritual world.

This is a direct analog to the physical world, where minerals can only be enlivened by the intervention of life via the root systems of plants and other like methods.  Likewise, our physical form can only be spiritually enlivened by inviting contact with the Infinite (God, our Heavenly Father, in my conception) by pondering positive, productive thought while being silent.  Haanel likens this to an electrical circuit where Infinite Intelligence is the positive pole and thought is the negative pole.  Without that polarity, there is no circuit.

Silence promotes or invites polarity because it creates a void space into which inspiration (or spiritual knowledge) can flow.  It provides a canvas upon which creative thought can be painted.  We are not responsible for the material manifestation process, but we are responsible for creating the space (i.e., the void) in which the manifestation can unfold.

And, as we create new habits by changing our dominant thoughts, a new, hopefully more positive, chemical addiction takes hold.  And when it does, manifestation of the new, related reality quickly follows.

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