Seeking happiness seems to be the thing to do. These are the messages all around us: Go on this holiday to be happy. Eat this food to be happy. Get this job to be happy. Have the perfect family life to be happy. The research would say we’re wired to go towards pleasure and away from pain and therefore we should seek a life with maximum happiness. But could this be an over-worked concept that isn’t serving us?
Deep down we hear an echo of who we really are. It’s not the one we’ve been pretending to be and its not the one we’re afraid we are. Until we start the journey back to who we really are we will continue to suffer.
All that’s ever going on is we’re having a full 4D experience of the power of Thought. Every single moment of every day.
You’ll be familiar with search engines and algorithms in tech work. When you search for a new sofa suddenly new sofa adverts pop up everywhere on every social media channel, on every search engine page. Showing you what you need.
How comparing from the perspective of the self brings nothing of benefit.
This phrase, “mine’s better than yours”, usually brings to mind a child’s voice, in my head a boastful, whiny voice, combined with the thought of the house, the car, the job, the clothes. All the material stuff that’s chased, believing it brings the contentment we seek.
For thousands of years we’ve gradually separated ourselves form nature, believing we’re better than it. We need to wake up.
The image above is from David Attenborough’s latest production on Netflix, highlighting the brilliance of nature in all its wonderful glory.
Language is limited. It can’t not be when words are limited, thought-created concepts and, without realising it, we are using language that keeps us stuck in separation. Even when our words point to truth, we don’t even know we’re doing it so the impact is lost.
Keep reading over on Medium...
I’ve started writing on Medium. Jump over there to follow me if you’d like. And I’ll keep posting intros to those pieces here too so you can see what might be of interest.
This piece is about how we’re all looking in the wrong place to find our best selves, and the security and freedom we seek.
On 14th March this year it’s the first LearnConnectDo event of 2019 as these events run into their 4th year now! Wow.
“These are always thought-provoking and useful sessions!”CH, previous delegate.
Huge thanks to everyone who has attended, facilitated and helped us along the way – including PKF Cooper Parry who kindly sponsor us by letting us use their amazing workspace for every event.
Now compare that to the definition of emotional intelligence:
“the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s)”
When you were in flow, to what extent were you doing any of the things in that definition?
My guess would be not very much, if at all, and certainly not consciously. Not with intellectual effort.
This is because when we’re in our natural state, we don’t need strategies and tactics. We don’t need breathing and centring, or visualisations of the best version of us, or mantras about listening to understand not to reply.
And this is because, in our natural “flow state”, we aren’t paying attention to the thinking going on in our heads. We’re not grabbing hold of thoughts and believing them. We’re not analysing why someone’s said what they said, or why we ourselves are getting frustrated by something, and crucially we’re not trying to manage ourselves out of an emotional response we think we shouldn’t be having in that moment. We’re keeping our intellectual, egoic, personal thinking out of the way and we’re accessing a much deeper space of wisdom and intuition.
Why aren’t we in flow more?
For years we’ve been teaching people (me included until recently) that we need to intellectually manage what’s going on for us emotionally. That we need to use our brain muscle to fix ourselves, that we need to practice and repeat to build new habits and new neural pathways, all so we can be better versions of ourselves more of the time because we’ve been led to believe there’s some version of us which is not good enough and not acceptable to society right now.
The trouble is, the application of our intellectual capabilities to these emotional management tasks, takes valuable energy away from our ability to generate fresh new thoughts and ideas in any moment, from our ability to listen and hear others, from our ability to connect and collaborate.
Remember that flow state? All those things just happened naturally there because you weren’t stuck, caught, or getting tangled in your thinking. And I’m not saying that in flow everything is about positivity and full agreement, with permanent grins on everyone’s faces – but you and others will have felt able to express any frustration or concerns without it seeming like a big deal. In fact the complete opposite. Any such insights will have been gratefully received and discussed, leading to an even better way forward.
So if we’re not “managing” our state through emotional intelligence tactics, how do we get to this state of flow more of the time?
We understand how our human system really works.
What we’ve been doing with emotional intelligence is explore:
the “what” – the content of our thoughts, labelling the emotions we’re feeling,
the “why” – what’s triggered you to get to that response. Often then examined to be re-framed or replaced with a more helpful thought.
This different approach understands the “how” of our underlying system. Think of making a car go. There is no benefit in commenting on the shape or design of the bodywork (the “what”). And there’s also no benefit in polishing the paintwork to a high shine to make it look nicer (the “why”). Neither of these approaches is going to get the car going. You must first understand “how” all the parts of the engine work and fit together to make the thing move forward.
The exact same here.
So how does our system work?
There are two areas where we can see the system working the way it always has and always will.
I was with a Board team last week who were talking about change. How it takes courage and can be hard because we’re having to lose something of us to adopt something new or move to something different.
This is true but only when we attach to our personal thoughts
When we attach to our personal thoughts it’s like putting square wheels on a racing car. We clunk along. Sometimes stopping all together, unable to move forward. Certainly not able to quickly change direction when needed. But we believe in these wheels, we created them. Even if “horrible” or “negative” there’s a familiarity about them that brings comfort. We know where we are. We’ve adapted ourselves to drive with these wheels, forgetting how things used to be before we had them.
Then we start to consider maybe this isn’t ideal. Maybe I would benefit from a smoother ride. Normally we start working hard to change the wheels. Intellectually analysing how they were fitted, what they are made of. But some of the bolts seem stuck. Or maybe there’s a square wheel we subconsciously like the look of so we find a justifiable reason not to change it.
Now we’re driving with 2 square and 2 round wheels. Better but not exactly a smooth ride. Then you meet someone who glides on round wheels. You’re fascinated & slightly freaked out by their difference. It reminds you of glimmers in your life when you’ve glided, when smooth wheels suddenly appeared and for that short while you enjoyed it! Thinking it must have been what you were doing at the time that created that feeling, you repeat the activity, repeating the external conditions to create the smooth-ride magic as often as you can.
Maybe you didn’t realise that you brushed off the truth of what was going on because it seemed so simple and we all know simple doesn’t win kudos prizes.
The truth is that round wheels are our natural state. Round wheels are what we are born with. We just acquired the square as we grew up & blindly followed the square-creating rules of the world. Once we really see the truth of how the square are created, moment-to-moment, and what they really mean, then our attachment to them drops away with a natural ease and we slip into the round. The natural place we fall back to. Our innate state of clarity, wisdom and wellbeing. From here we glide round the corners, speed along the straights and rediscover a life of richness and fulfilment. All the while connected to our innate brilliance.
If you’re curious to learn more, this is what we’re going to be exploring through LearnConnctDo this year. The thread that’s going to weave through all the sessions.
We’re starting on 14th March* with an introduction to the psychological understanding that underpins this smooth-wheel place. The Eventbrite will be up very soon on this page – if you don’t want to miss it jump on the mailing list by getting in touch with me here. As last year, all ticket profits will be going to Twenty:Twenty as we continue our partnership with this wonderful charity. Thank you to PKF for continuing to host us so we can maximise how much we donate.
*3-6pm at PKF Cooper Parry’s East Mids offices (near East Mids Airport).