Flexible Focus #49: The eight frames of life: Personal

by William Reed on April 14, 2011

The Mandala Mirror

In the Mandala view, it is in the Personal frame of life that you meet yourself and address your personal issues. This is a space for reflection, but of a particular kind, and this is where the Mandala Chart provides a unique perspective.

We spend a lot of time interacting with the things and people outside of us. We need to spend some time as well exploring the world within.

Reflection is deep thinking. Looking deep into the reflection, rather than just at the surface of the mirror. This is a space for clarity and insight, not for melancholy or self-importance. You meet yourself in the mirror, the person that has been with you from the beginning and will be with you until the end.

You may think you know yourself pretty well by now, but ask yourself deeper questions concerning your mission and core message, and you will understand the need for deeper reflection to discover your living legacy. Your personal happiness is related in part to the time you spend in front of this Mandala Mirror, and what you do about it as a result.

The Mandala Mirror is quite different from the mirror of Narcissus, the proud and self-admiring hunter of Greek mythology, who died for being unable to leave his own reflection in the water. The Greek roots of the word Narcissus mean sleep or numbness, a far cry from the clarity of self-knowledge.

Personal Growth

Personal is an adjective. It works best when it modifies a noun, such as personal growth, personal development, personal happiness.

Personal development is about helping yourself to change in positive ways. Many books have been written in the self-help genre, but one author, Tom Butler-Bowdon, has undertaken a remarkable project which took ten years to complete, in which he read, reviewed, and summarized the essence of 50 classic books, from ancient to modern, in each of five categories. He published these in a series: 50 Self-Help Classics, 50 Success Classics, 50 Spiritual Classics, 50 Psychology Classics, and 50 Prosperity Classics.

What kind of a perspective does such a massive project give you? His selection spans world religions, cultures, philosophies, and even centuries of time. Each classic book is summarized, culling out the key points, including comments to put the author and the book in the context of why it was written. Each review includes a list of books which were influenced by that classic or share a similar view. Certainly a great deal of reflection went into the 50 classics project, and the author takes you on a reflective journey through the books of its leading lights.

Tom Butler-Bowdon spoke at the Speakers for Business Showcase 2011, at which he discussed the perspective this project gave him on such important topics as motivation and personal growth. In this talk he says he learned through this project that real personal transformation and lasting change is far more likely to come through the disciplined application of the strategies revealed in these works, rather than the emotional enthusiasm espoused by many motivational speakers in this field.

You can download a 50 Classsics PDF Mandala Chart showing the covers of his books and website which I created as an overview of his work.

Make a Wish List

The Personal frame of the Mandala Chart does not need to be used exclusively for deep reflection. It can also be used for constructive daydreaming, positive thinking, and image training to improve your condition or performance.

This is perhaps one of the most enjoyable uses of the Mandala Chart, because you get to use your imagination in the service of making yourself a better person, and living a better life. This is best achieved of course by helping and improving the lives of others. There is no happiness in hedonistic self-absorption.

But rather than drifting in fantasy, it is best to capture your wishes on a list. The Mandala Chart helps you organize your list into categories, and focus on implementation as well. Your wishes might be related to improvements in your character, behavior, or performance. The discipline of gradual improvement and repetition is also important. You don’t just wave a magic wand and expect your wish to come true.

Because presumably you will wish for things that you want, the element of pleasure and anticipation can lend just enough to incubate your wishes until they hatch. Then you can cultivate and nurture them as they grow. This is where dreams come true.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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