The Four Phases

Principle, purpose, design and control – the four “phases”of truth – are the building blocks of the physical world. Everything in nature, our bodies, minds and hearts included, was crafted in accordance with these fundamental elements. Nature, be it at the hand of Providence or natural selection, is the tangible, physical expression of truth.

The truth in expression invariably provides the most elegant solution for the extension of control into a specific level of function. As such, that which is built according to the truth is always beautiful, efficient and as simple as possible. Why are the intricacies of the natural world and more specifically the human body so fascinating to man? For the simple reason that they are built according to the principles of truth. The truth is spellbinding because our existence is made possible by virtue of the certainty and ubiquity of its laws.

Health, whether physical, mental or emotional, is the state wherein a particular design, be it a cell, tissue, organ or system, extends control optimally, allowing for ongoing harmonious development. Disturbances in the regularity of life, that is in the expression of control by virtue of design, are what we call sickness or disease.

Such disturbances come in two forms: excesses or “hyper” conditions or deficiencies or “hypo” conditions. In either case, the flow of our life force, or that which animates the matrix of truth of which we are composed, is diminished or restricted. When this occurs, the body and mind (or perhaps the vital energy which animates both) employ a variety of responses more varied and certainly more intelligently crafted than a medieval knight’s arsenal.

These corrective or rebalancing strategies are what we call “symptoms.” The symptoms displayed represent the body and mind’s best attempt at protecting or healing itself when under the influence of stressors, both physical and energetic or emotional. Symptoms, as most systems of medicine recognize, are not the problem; instead, they are evidence that the body or mind are working hard to restore health.

Common symptoms, like fever, inflammation, diarrhea, coughing and even symptoms like high blood pressure and headaches are an encouraging sign, pointing the afflicted individual and the intelligent physician in the direction of the remedy.

How the symptoms and the underlying disease are approached is partly what defines one system of medicine from another. The timing and nature of the interventions made is another factor. The various systems now in use were developed in distinctive geographic regions around the world, providing yet another distinguishing factor. More on that tomorrow!

Mislabeled, Misbranded and Misunderstood

Aaron Johnson in "Kick-Ass"

You have no doubt heard the stereotypes about the members of Generations X and Y, the large majority of them negative, condescending and mean-spirited. “They are lazy, undisciplined and unprofessional.” Or perhaps “they are self-absorbed, incapable of making decisions and unmotivated.”

While I am sure that many younger people fit the stereotype, many that I have met – and hired – do not. I, myself, have yet to attain the lofty age of forty and I cannot recall a single time when I was labeled as not having a work ethic. Not one to take offense or personal umbrage at prejudiced opinions, I am careful to make sure that I don’t adopt the jaded or limiting views of others, no matter how things appear on the surface, but I am eager to discover exceptions to apparently inescapable labels.

My generation (Gen X) and those who came after (the nefarious and notorious Millennials formerly known as Gen Y) are a different breed. We don’t work, think or act like previous generations and we are often misunderstood and mislabeled (as is true with many ADD/ADHD diagnoses). We have grown up in a period of unprecedented prosperity, where reality was stretched and bent by millions of people who were given the tools to live beyond their means, a state of mind that quickly became the new “normal.”

As I mentioned I have hired many Gen Xers and Millennials as I find them to be some of the most creative, passionate, devoted and praise-worthy people around. They haven’t yet become jaded by life in the big world and as a result, they continue to think and dream big. What they lack in experience is often counter-balanced by zeal and where they are unrealistic, they are amenable if not hungry for words of wisdom to help them navigate the circuitous path called life.

That said, you must learn to speak their language. These generations are much more dependent – for better or for worse – on praise to spur on development. They are not as likely to take a basic set of directions and run with them and may require a bit more hand-holding than members of previous generations would have. Instead of criticizing them for these proclivities or as some may claim, peccadilloes, embrace, nourish and creatively enfold them. Constant criticism only drives them deeper in their shell.

In my experience, so doing does not result in the encouragement of dilettantism, neither does it create namby-pamby workers who would be better off in a nursery school than the work place, in fact, it does quite the opposite. It creates superheroes! Some of my best, most productive, most creative and still after all that most promising staff are under forty and I refuse to let stereotypes arbitrarily limit what we can do as an organization.

Why choose “business as usual” when business can be redefined for the better? If my enthusiasm and optimism is only due to my youth and inexperience I will stand corrected…but in the meantime, let us continue to press onward and upward, both young and young at heart!

The victorious life begins with successful attitude

I came across three rules today that provide effective guidance for a productive life:

Rule #1: Success is an option.

Rule #2: Failure to accomplish a goal is a last resort.

Rule #3: Failure to give your very best is never an option.

Countless human beings have lived out their lives never believing that success was an option for them. What about you? Do you make room for the possibility of success at the onset of every new undertaking or do you find yourself planning an exit strategy before you take the first step?

The victorious life begins with successful attitude. The starting point for cultivating a resilient successful attitude is found in the statement: “Life will never give me anything that is larger than my ability to handle it successfully.” Put this one on your bathroom mirror and take it with you in your heart so that when the time comes, you can prove it.

When you come to the point that you realize you are not powerless in relation to the world you center, you have taken the first step to a victorious life. You may have some catching up to do, as an accumulation of failures does tend to make for a lumpy rug under what could have been solid footing, but you can only start where you are.

The refusal to start where you are causes many failures and delayed starts. Faced with an opportunity or a challenge you might say “I wish things were a little different” or “If only I had such-and-such this I could get started,” but so doing will cause unnecessary and unhelpful delays, putting you immediately behind the eight ball.

Start with what you have, exercise your imagination regularly and be creative in your use of resources. The first step to using resources wisely is identifying what resources are available to you. I enjoy watching survival shows like Man vs. Wild and Dual Survival as they demonstrate how to identify – especially in dangerous and restrictive circumstances – the resources available to you.

Check out this link for a quick idea of how to assess your resources:

Now that works in the aftermath of a hurricane, but how do you do this in your personal or professional life? It’s easy. Follow these steps:

1. Get your resources “out on the table.” Make a mental list, compose a written inventory or spread your resources out on a table if you can, without initially making value judgments. Take time to deliberately enumerate the resources – both tangible and intangible – that you presently have at your disposal.

2. Consider the big picture. What is the framework of the challenge or opportunity you’re considering? What are you trying to accomplish? What are the basic parameters?

3. Identify and discard limiting assumptions. Brainstorm on limiting assumptions you or the others you’re involved with on a project may hold that are preventing forward movement. Discard them permanently. Don’t look back.

4. Ask yourself “How would this look were I to rearrange the resources available to me in relation to this goal?” Be creative. Don’t discard any ideas at this point.

5. Test you ideas. Pick what appear to be the best ideas on the surface and test them. Elicit peer reviews. Get feedback from clients, family or friends. Pick the ideas apart. Refine them in the refiner’s fire.

6. Implement. If you’ve moved through the creative process outlined here you will known when the time is right to put your ideas into action.

7. Review. Don’t forget to analyze how effective your ideas were. Gather data over time, don’t jump to conclusions, but don’t also let things drag on. Cut your losses if necessary. Invest further if that appears the prudent course.

Distraction or Mindfulness: It’s up to you.

While sitting in the airport lounge the other day I took a mental tally of the number of people in virtual conversations (via laptop, mobile phone, text, etc.) versus those engaged in actual conversation.  To my surprise the ratio was nearly 6:1 in favor of the virtual communicators!

The technological advances of our era have multiplied our ability to communicate with people both near and far. When I was younger I remember how excited I would be if a friend or a relative sent an aerogram from Europe that was received two weeks later. Nowadays people are quick to complain if they can’t reach you within five seconds of thinking about calling or email you. My how times have changed!

Despite all of these marvelous inventions that have the potential to improve our awareness of the world around us, it seems to me that mindfulness as a skill is becoming less commonly practiced as time marches along. Mindfulness is described as “the process of learning to become more aware of our circumstances” and recent studies have shown that developing the capacity for mindfulness is directly related to wellbeing.

A recent study of 155 fourteen and fifteen year old boys performed by the University of Cambridge demonstrated that mindfulness training not only improved mental health and wellbeing, they also discovered that the more the subjects practiced, the greater the effects!

The Cambridge experiment took students in six classes through mindfulness training that helped the students to pay more attention to their experience in the present moment, without making judgments about it. Professor Felicia Huppert of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge noted: “Another significant aspect of this study is that adolescents who suffered from higher levels of anxiety were the ones who benefitted most from the training.”

Much of what Western psychologists use in mindfulness training was inherited from Buddhist practices developed centuries ago. Buddhists see mindfulness as a critical factor in the path to liberation and enlightenment.

The study of mindfulness is fascinating. According to a paper entitled “Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition” by Bishop et al, psychological “mindfulness” has two parts. “The first component [of mindfulness] involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment. The second component involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance.”

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. I found an excellent introductory article on how to increase your mindfulness written by Elizabeth Scott, M.S. entitled “Mindfulness Exercises – Everyday Mindfulness Exercises for Stress Relief.” I would highly encourage you to try one or two of the suggestions in the article.

If you are not careful, the technological tools now at hand will result in you being more distracted and less mindful than if you didn’t have access to them. The tools are neutral, it’s what you do with them that makes them beneficial or detrimental. It’s your call.