Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night – the Summary

Leave a comment

So, What Do You Have?
• There is a real, physical, sensation which accompanies change. Fear and anxiety may result when you are not aware of what is occurring.
• People are able to habituate. This frees the conscious mind for creative pursuits.
• Habits of activity, thinking, and feeling are created. Habits can be positive, negative, good, or bad. The process is neutral.
• Patterns are the cyclical events which are driven by the collected habits over time. Patterns may be difficult to notice at first—similar to not seeing the forest for the trees.
• Managing fear results in a positive experience. It’s true. Learning how to manage fear, even if not overcoming it, enhances self confidence. Fear never completely exits your life, for no other reason than there are always shadowy corners in life, and you don’t know what’s on the other side. It’s a great motivator.
• Expectations are created when thinking habits meld with feeling habits over time. Expectations are extremely powerful. In a battle of what one expects versus what one desires, expectation wins.
• People are created free and instinctively resist being forced to do something. The more free a person, the greater the sense of identity. The greater the sense of identity, the greater the demand for freedom. Sadly, the converse is also true.
• Words are important. Using the correct word, when you speak and think to yourself, is vital to avoid creating unnecessary internal conflicts. You listen and respond to your own thoughts. Become your “best friend” and not your “worst enemy.”
• Time will pass. Use it, it’s your friend. A part of human growth and development is to look back in time and assess your life. Perspective.
• If you know what is important, the rest is simple.
• Simple does not equal easy.

Useful Tools in your Personal TOOL BOX:

• HANDS. When in doubt, clasp your hands one way, then the other. It’s a good reminder that much discomfort and unease is a result of some re-arrangement, or change in your life.
• The Problem is not the Solution. If the problem never seems to go away, or if nothing really changes despite your hard work, then mentally step back and see if you are, in fact, wanting the problem to stop being a problem. Especially if the problem is a person.
• An irrational idea, passionately held, is still an irrational idea. Use this tool often. Are you demanding that people, or the world, get its act together in order for you to feel good? This is a path to insane behavior.
• Do I want to wreck my neighbor’s car? A handy thought to use whenever you feel angry or resentful. What do you want? Happiness for you, or for others to suffer? The two are not synonymous. Your energy should benefit you, not the S.O.B.s out there.

There are a number of ideas that go well with sticky notes on your refrigerator, computer monitor, or other special places:

• Habituation occurs whether you are aware or not.
• Stubborn is not a virtue.
• Don’t break a habit; replace it.
• Words mean things.
• The freedom of the word “choose.”
• Good Grief—using the spiral of time for healing.
• An irrational idea, passionately held, can cause weird behavior.
• Strong emotions are associated with memory. Forget about being able to forget.
• Perspective—cause and effect and delayed gratification.
• Don’t try, do something. Or don’t do it.
• Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste.
• Worry feeds on indecision.

Tried and True

Don’t discount the rich cultural history and wisdom that has been passed along as adages. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel of knowledge.

• Humans are creatures of habit.
• Birds of a feather really do flock together.
• You really can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
• A stitch in time saves nine.
• Making a mountain out of a mole hill.

The Bottom Line: Power.

The concepts and tools presented in this book can help you develop a greater sense of personal freedom and confidence. This is achieved by learning to become more aware of what you think, how you feel, and what you are doing right now. You may have developed a habit of not paying attention to these matters.

Your power to change is in this moment. Time won’t back up for you. It will not skip forward so you can see the results of today’s decisions and behavior. Of course you can devote your time and energy in those attempts. But why?

Nobody says that you must continue living with habits and patterns that no longer work for you. You have the power to choose what you do. The only obstacle to gaining more control over your life may be a reluctance to invest the time and energy to make a change. Perception is reality.

In every situation, at any instant, you can ask three questions:

• What am I thinking, right now?
• How am I feeling, right now?
• What am I doing, right now?

Once those are answered, ask three more questions:

• Am I thinking the way I want to think?
• Am I feeling the way I want to feel?
• Am I acting the way I want to act?

If the answer to any of the above is no, don’t fret. Right now, this moment, you have the power and the ability to change the thought. Change the feeling, or at least manage the way you respond to the feeling. Change the behavior, or at least stop acting in a way you do not like. You can do something to manage your life.

You can practice asking those questions several times a day. It’s okay to leave yourself sticky notes. It’s not necessary to rely on your memory to do this, because much of that is already a habit. Use reminders in whatever manner works for you. The important thing is to do it.

The only way to get rid of an unwanted habit is to replace it with another one. You simply can’t jerk a habit out of your experience— nature abhors a vacuum! That’s the same thing as “trying to break” a habit. Unproductive habits need to be replaced. There is no shortcut. Once you are aware of the habituated activity you can, at that instant, replace it. The new action won’t stick immediately, of course, it’s not yet a habit. But with practice and persistence, it will.

If the idea of replacing a habit is a little scary, then use another term. Supplant means for one thing to gradually take the place of another. Supplant is a gentle process. No sudden shocks, no dramatic shifts, just quiet, steady, consistent work, with a minimal of “Hands” type of discomfort. If you are prone to break habits, you may wish to supplant them. Don’t want to supplant them? Supersede them. Supersede means to set aside something obsolete and replace it with something new. Use that word and style if it works for you.

Life is a great adventure for those who choose to participate.


Complain? Who? Me?

Leave a comment

(Notes from a talk delivered July 3, 2011)

Several years go Unity Minister Will Bowen and members of his Kansas City congregation began a 21 day challenge to change personal thinking and perceptions by not complaining. It caught on – the purple bracelet.

The 21 day challenge is simple – become aware of how often you complain about something or someone and decide, at that moment, to re-state the thought. The purple bracelet is a reminder to do that. After doing that for about three weeks, it becomes habituated and instances of complaining, gossiping, grousing and bitchin’ are greatly reduced.

But why bother? Maybe it feels good to give someone an earful of what’s wrong with them, or discuss behind the scenes how something could be run better. Feeling “good” is relative. What feeling “good” for someone who usually feels depressed is not the same “good” feeling for someone who usually feels optimistic. Yet the “good” feeling is better, preferred, over the usual, or base, feeling. So, keep that in mind when you hear me talk about “feeling good” – I’m not talking about a euphoric Joy (but I could be) I’m talking about feeling better – good – than the usual state. Feeling “good” is relative to each person.

Your grandmother got it right: If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. That’s quite different from “if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit next to me.” (Hint: Both are the Law of Attraction in action.)

The intent to go through the day without complaining is not some saccharine, airy-fairy, crystal gazing, popcorn psychology, goodie-goodie thinking. It is a very real shift in perception, interpretation, and expression that results in a more satisfying day-to-day experience. Remember that Charles and Myrtle Fillmore described Unity as “practical Christianity” – meaning that the teachings of Jesus were practical, down-to-earth, ways of living a more satisfying Life by becoming aware of your thinking.

There are two fundamental belief systems at play here. One is the belief that thinking/thought is an evolutionary response to a separate, three dimensional universe. In effect, the world is something out there and dangerous and only through struggle with it can we survive. The other belief is that the energy we recognize as “thought” is universal, and creates what our senses interpret as a separate, 3-dimensional universe and world. And, because we do think, we can participate in the creation.

It’s not a matter of right or wrong, both beliefs are true, in the sense that belief determines perception, which guides decisions. If a person believes that life is a struggle against a harsh world “out there”, then that world does exist for that person. They may believe that they must struggle to achieve anything or struggle to be worthy of feeling good, or something like that.

For someone who believes that the world is a reflection of thoughts/thinking and by changing thinking the experience changes, than world exists for that person. A belief is not fixed, it changes. The thought process is always evolving. The “Complaint Free” concept is a philosophical change for many.

Everything begins as a thought – a creative impulse of something desired. That thought attracts similar thoughts (thoughts are energy vibrations) and assembles the materials and actions to manifest the desire. Remember that energy and matter are one and the same: E=MC².  Thought is energy, thus thought can express as matter (if you want to look at it that way.) How this creative energy is defined is always evolving. I suspect that in the not too distant future this source energy will be recognized as a quantum Consciousness.

You create your experience every day. You really do. In fact, you’re so good at it, that you’re not aware you’re doing it. For instance, let’s say you’ve decided one day to go out for lunch, or maybe dinner. You thought about what you’d like to eat, where you’d like to eat it, who’d you like to join you, when you’d like to do it, and then you brought together how to get to the restaurant, how you’d pay for the meal, and so forth. You create your experience every day.

What Complaint Free suggests is taking that creation to a higher (more comfortable and fun) level. And it’s based on the Law of Attraction. The Law is inescapable – that which is like unto itself attracts, or gathers. That’s why we have elements – an atom of gold gathers atoms with the same structure. The same with molecules, herds, flocks and the person saying “if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit by me.”

High and low, it’s the same law, the same process. Remember, we’re so good at using the law that we’re often unaware we’re doing it. As for complaining, there’s a very good reason for reducing the time and energy devoted to examining what is “wrong” with other people, circumstances, situations, and your own self. Simply put, it is not possible to feel Good and feel “bad” at the same time. People usually do not “complain” when feeling good. Chronic complainers seldom feel good, or enjoy themselves.

Now, which came first? Feeling bad, then complaining? Or, Complaining, then feeling bad? Let’s look at the way clinical trials are designed for research for a clue.

Before a medicine or health practice is made available to the public it undergoes “clinical trials” or tests, to verify that it is effective and does what is claimed. In a clinical trial a group of similar people are recruited – same demographics, same diagnosis if the trial is for a means of treating a disease or disorder, and so forth. This group is then divided into three sub-groups: The intervention group – these people will actually be given the medicine or treatment. The non-intervention group – these people are not given the medicine or treatment but instead a placebo, the infamous “sugar pill.” Otherwise, they go through the same process at the intervention group. The final group is a control group and nothing is done with them.

At the end of the trial period everyone is measured to see what impact the medicine or treatment had. A successful trial (for the makers of the medicine or treatment) is when a statistically significant number of the intervention group show improvements and reduction of symptoms, and the other two groups show little or no change.

The nagging little issue that never goes away is the number of people in the group given the placebo who get better. That percentage is sometimes as high as those in the treatment group. For these people their improved health was not due to the “medicine” or treatment, but their expectation that the medicine would help them. It’s called the Placebo Effect. It’s well known, but because it’s hard to measure and determine cause/effect, at least to science, it’s not given prominence. Oh, some of the control group folks may show improvement, but they likely got distracted with something enjoyable and didn’t pay much attention to the trial.

Now, if merely thinking that you’ll get better by taking a new medicine, which in fact is only a sugar pill, can make you healthier, well, why not make that a regular practice?

A change in thinking and expectation affects your health. Nothing in your Life experience is more directly influenced by thinking than the body.
Rev. Bowen begins his book, “A Complaint Free World” with the story of a man who had headaches at work. He’d come home each evening and complain to his wife about his bad headaches, the bad day at work, and so on. After a while he realized that complaining about his headaches to his wife wasn’t making them go away, so he stopped talking about them. It slowly dawned on him, later, that he no longer had the headaches.

It’s irrelevant which came first – the dis-ease or the complaining. The only variable you have immediate control over is your thought, right this moment. You can think about something else. It costs nothing to change your thinking. You don’t have to have permission to change your thinking. Nobody else can do your thinking for you (nor can you think for someone else!) What wonderful power we have.

One of the first things I hear when discussing complaint free is the statement “but if I don’t complain, how will anything get better?” The person thinks that no-complaints = tolerating bad things/people/situations. Absolutely not. People who manage to reduce complaining actually become better problem solvers when the problem is fact based. An observation of something is a fact: “Waiter, this steak is cold.” A complaint personalizes the observation and adds internal elements: “How dare the waiter bring me cold steak!” The mis-prepared steak becomes a deliberate attack on the person.

The solution to a fact of cold steak is to notify the waiter of the problem and ask that the meat be heated. For the complainer, the waiter is now an adversary and the status of the steak becomes a test of wills. That steak may or may not get heated, or worse.

This personalizing is easily noticed in driving. You know, when that @!Q@!$!!! deliberately cuts you off in traffic, or deliberately pokes along knowing that you’ll catch the red light, or, well you know the scenarios. Is the other driver deliberately attacking you? Perhaps. More likely the driver is distracted and unaware of your presence. But if you interpret the fact as an attack on you, the dynamics change and no longer is it about car maneuvers. Are you going to be able to get the other driver to change his/her lousy driving habits?

Can you ever make someone do something to satisfy you? Can you ever make someone change? Can someone make you do something you don’t want to in order to please them? Can someone make you change?

The answer, of course, is no. But you can spend your entire life trying to make someone act right, or whatever. And you can play cops and robbers with those attempting to make you conform to their standards. The only thing anybody has control over is their own thinking, and thus their own decisions, and thus their own actions. That’s just the way it is.

Becoming complaint free is not about other people, circumstances and conditions. It is about you and how you interpret and thus respond to what you see/hear/smell/touch and sense around you. Personalizing observations attaches your sense of well-being to the actions and behaviors of others and to conditions beyond your control.

Theologian Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr is believed to have first written a form of a prayer that in some form had been around for a while. This is what he wrote:

“O God and Heavenly Father,
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

It’s popularly called “The Serenity Prayer” and it is the essence of Complaint Free – change what can be changed and turn loose of attempting to control what can’t be controlled.

“But George,” I hear, “If I don’t complain about it, then all those SOB’s will get away with it.”

That’s a big concern – the wicked going un-punished, whether the wickedness consists of a crime, or insult, or “getting away with theft”, or, the list is endless, actually. Back to the Serenity Prayer!

This in an ancient concern, and it has been continually addressed. For example:
Leviticus 19:18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”

Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

King James Bible Matthew 5:39
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

King James Bible Romans 12:19
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

The Law of Attraction ensures that everyone “accounts” for the nature of their thinking – which means their decisions and actions. In effect, “Let Go and Let God.” Certainly that’s what the biblical references state. It’s another way of saying give your attention to what you desire.
Complaining focuses on what you do not want in your experience, yet by thinking about what you do not want you actually bring more of the what you do not want into your experience. That’s the Law.

Oh, and about that irritating person who seems to be the source of so much of your trouble and discomfort – do you want to be like this person and live his/her experience? if not, then you don’t have to align your thinking with theirs. Afterall, you’ve got a full time job simply enjoying who you are, where you are, and what you are experiencing. Ah, now, that’s good.