Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Time For a Change #20: Memes Can Drive You to a Goal

by William Reed on July 13, 2012

According to Wikipedia, a Meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” The word was coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene (1976). It is based on the Greek word mimeme, the root of the word mimic, and is a play on the word gene, reflecting the process by which ideas spread and reproduce. In French the word mȇme has similar meanings ranging from same to even so.

The concept that ideas spread within a culture is nothing new, but the biological comparison has taken hold and captured the imagination of people in fields from social science to marketing. Once a meme takes hold, it has the power to motivate as well as duplicate. It is the infectious viral quality of memes that gives them such a powerful influence over people.

Another evolutionary biologist and prominent philosopher is Dan Dennett, who spoke about Dangerous Memes at a TED Conference. His talk begins with an ant which has been infected by a parasitic fluke that commandeers its brain, leading it to senseless and suicidal behavior. He says that memes can commandeer the human brain and also produce behavior that makes no sense from the perspective of biological survival. Religious and political memes can be so powerful that to the believer, they are worth dying for. Many people have laid down their lives in the service of an idea.

Urban legends are also memes. Originating as macabre jokes or fabricated tales, they often suggest dire things that can happen without proper precaution. Tourists are drugged and anesthetized, only to wake up with one kidney removed. Stories about contaminated foods or tampering with the water supply seem to contain an element of plausibility, and even though the rumors lack any detail for verification, they spread like wildfire. The Internet makes the spread of ideas easier than ever before.

Although memes have a viral quality in the way that ideas are spread, now even the idea of the meme has taken hold as a meme, and this has spawned meme generating software, which falls somewhere between low grade advertising and digital graffiti. Most of these artificial memes are meaningless, and therefore not likely to go viral unless force-fed by spam mail. Memes are used in marketing, but there are so many competing memes for products and services, that it takes more than a catch phrase to change people’s behavior

Making memes work for you

One book which makes the process very clear is Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It shows the essential ingredients that ensure that an idea will survive and thrive, and why urban legends and bogus schemes often spread effortlessly, while people with worthwhile ideas often struggle to even get the word out. Their acronym for these ingredients is SUCCES: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories. These ingredients are what give ideas virility and the power to motivate people.

Once you understand this you can actually begin to create and cultivate your own memes. Start with your notes and sketches related to your GOALS, and watch your motivation rise and your memes gain power as you communicate them to others.

Memes are usually a combination of verbal and visual elements. The more meaningful they are to other people, the easier they are to remember to to share, the faster they will spread.

Verbal memes can be found in slogans and catch phrases, powerful statements and quotes, parables and stories. Strong memes survive centuries, and get translated into many languages. Weak memes fade in the morning sun.

Visual memes can be found in photos with captions, videos and movies, and duplicatable demonstrations. A wonder source of memes is the site TED.com Ideas Worth Spreading—

Riveting Talks by Remarkable People. Great books can shape your life. Can you name 5 to 10 books which have truly changed your life, without having read you would not be the same person you are today? Great people can have an even more powerful transformational effect, and they are often connected the great books you have read.

Memes are hypnotic, and hence are a powerful way to commandeer the mind for a cause. Not all memes are in your best interest. For that reason it can be useful to know also how to break the spell of a meme. Understanding how memes work can help build your immunity. An excellent book on the power of semantics to create our reality is, Language in Thought and Action, by S.I. Hayakawa and Alan Hayakawa. A book which will help you see how even numbers and graphs can misrepresent reality is, How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff. Propaganda propagates because people succumb to memes without understanding them. Awareness and reflection can make you more conscious of memes before they command your consciousness.

An excellent way to examine a meme is to view it through a Mandala Lens, by analyzing its elements in at least 8 frames rather than just one. A good place to start would be to download the MEME MANDALA summary of this article, and then start looking for ways to use memes to motivate you toward goals and causes of your conscious choice.

As the Paradigm Shifts #S: Sacrifice

by Rosie Kuhn on August 30, 2011

I grew up in Michigan in a large Catholic Family in the 50’s and 60’s. I was taught that sacrifice was the price you paid to get into heaven. In service to this I let go of my wants, needs, thoughts and feelings. What I was left with when I hit my 30’s was pretty much an empty shell of a being and became, to some extent robotic – exclusively looking outside myself for commands for me to follow. I was terrified to think, feel or act on my own volition. Having never been given a copy of the blue prints or the How To Manual for being me, I had no idea what course to steer to get to my true north. Over decades I taught myself how to listen to my internal wisdom and practiced checking inside myself, retracing my steps (from before I could even walk) to rediscover my fullest expression of myself.

In the name of Heaven we make incredible sacrifices. The question is – what is Heaven? More importantly in the context of this series, what is Heaven to you? How will you know when you’ve arrived?

Given that we are talking most specifically about spirituality in the business, I suspect that each one of us has maneuvered into our current roles and positions because to some degree we are wanting to create heaven on Earth, especially when it involves the fact that we spend at least one third of our lives in this environment. What have you sacrificed in order to be where you are right now, in this moment? What I’m really wanting to know is – have you sacrificed the right things in order to have what you currently have? Rarely do I use the word right, so I’m obviously on the way to making a point!

On Tuesday, I spoke to the San Francisco Professional Career Network. These individuals are in the process of once again becoming gainfully employed, however many of them are up against some very stiff resistance (the R word, remember?). Not much different than many of us, they experienced rejection, trauma, abuse, neglect and humiliation in their previous work environment, and as they move in the direction of employment, something stops them. What stops them, and appropriately so, is the memory of what they’ve previously sacrificed for what they thought would provide stability, a role that contributed to the growth and development of their company, as well as a sense of personal and professional fulfillment. They are now having to choose to choose what to choose in service to what it is they want. This time they have the opportunity to choose what to sacrifice from a more conscious perspective.

Everyone has to make the choice to sacrifice that which they are willing to sacrifice: Health, family, personal fulfillment, creativity, integrity, financial stability, trauma, stress, abuse – each of us has our price.

I’m suggesting that maybe what we’ve sacrificed isn’t worth the price. This is a huge spiritual issue for those who have come to believe that financial stability will create happiness. The current global economic circumstances are indicating that, that may be an inaccurate assumption. The wounding that has occurred – that we’ve allowed to occur for the sake of financial viability for many has cost them their lives, their families and their dignity. I don’t think this is working very well – do you?

I’m guessing that when searching your internal database you’ll un-conceal regrets and lost dreams that were sacrificed for what at that time seemed like the appropriate or only choice to be made. All of us have these regrets and losses, yet until we come face to face with them and the emotional well of powerless and hopeless that has never been mined we will continually repeat the circumstance – just different environments and we’ll never allow our essential self to guide us to our fullest expression.

It makes sense to me that many of those individuals in the San Francisco Professional Career Network are balking at returning to the corporate environment. It makes sense to me that they are no longer willing to sacrifice their souls for the almighty paycheck.

Not all work environments are dysfunctional but the fact of the matter is that too many are dysfunctional. My belief is that because most of us were raised in families where dysfunction played a huge role in how we come to see ourselves, how we value and treat our selves and how we choose to choose what we choose, we can’t help but create environments that reflect the same.

I believe that each of us has come to this planet to fulfill a very specific life purpose. My job is to support people in choosing to choose to live into that purpose – fearlessly. This conversation definitely includes the question “What get’s sacrificed?” It also allows evidence to speak for itself; “Has it worked so far to give up what is most essential to your BEING and to you living your LIFE PURPOSE?”

This line of questions emphatically points to the dilemma and what we do in this dilemma. The dilemma is a choice-point where most of us choose to choose NOT to choose, thus experiencing a quality of life that feels stuck, lost, paralyzed, trapped, confused, depressed. SIGH! I know of no one who is allowed the “get out of jail free card” and doesn’t have to actually choose when facing the inevitable choice-point: Now or later – it’s up to you!

I don’t wish this moment on anyone, however, the inevitability of it is what it is. I can’t convince or cajole you to take me seriously. I only encourage you to feel into your heart and soul and reveal, discover and acknowledge your own evidence, your own truth and your own wisdom to know what is yours to do.

Enjoy the exploration!

As the Paradigm Shifts #F: Fear

by Rosie Kuhn on May 18, 2011

The current paradigm within which we are deeply rooted and that is ingrained in every cell of our body is cultivated solely around fear-based thinking. Research shows that 70% of our thoughts are precipitated from fear. Imagine that! How did we come to reside in such an environment permeated with a pervasive and automatic trigger to think fear-based thoughts? Is there another way? Do we have a choice in the matter?

In the previous blog I distinguished essence-based thinking from fear-based thinking. We have a knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are something far beyond the fear-based reality within which we are immersed. At the same time, there is a field or paradigm that corrupts this knowing fragmenting it into millions of tiny particles that then reflects back to us in mere instances the brilliance and radiant beings that we are.

History of war and persecution for thinking and being different than what is prescribed by political and religious dogma reminds us that we are not immune to the horrible things that human beings can do to one another. We remember and imagine what it has been like to be subjected to such treatment. And, the same time we may be living it, unconscious of the pervasiveness of it within our everyday life.

Notice Your Thoughts

Imagine heading to work. You in your car, on the train or bus and you’re sensing some anxiety, resistance or something that isn’t peaceful. If you were to just notice for a moments the thoughts running through your mind that is the catalyst for these feelings, what would you notice? If researchers are right and 70% of what you are thinking is negative and fear-based, what environment are you creating inside your head as you prepare to engage with the work, the people and the environment? Are these thoughts and bodily sensations preparing you for a day of peaceful, fun and creative interactions, or are they preparing you to do battle with yourself and everything that confronts you? Are these thoughts memories of what occurred in the past? Are they worries about what may unfold, or are you thinking about what you might say or would like to say to someone who is really bugging you?

So much of what is occurring in our brains are random firings of impulses that have become habitual in nature. Honestly, we have no clue as to how many programs are running concurrently in our brain. Some of them are essential and some of them are just a form of masturbation, stimulating endorphin and adrenaline that make us feel good about ourselves, and at the same time allow us to distract ourselves from feeling bad about ourselves.

Say STOP!

As long as we are in this game of focusing on maintaining what we’ve gained, avoiding loss of any sort, and ignoring the choice-making process that keeps us playing the same strategies over and over again, winning will never be the outcome. It isn’t even a possibility because we’ve limited our capacity to think beyond the fear-based paradigm.

Einstein’s words come to mind.

“We can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them”.

There’s a practice I’ve been working with for years. When I catch myself thinking thoughts that are not serving my essence-self, which desires peace, clarity of purpose and fulfillment, I just say STOP! A couple of curious things showed up when I first started this practice. First, that part of me that wanted to think all of the “what if’s and shoulda’s and coulda’s; it didn’t stop. It went right on blabbering. Much like an unruly child, my mind had learned it didn’t need to respond to my demand that it stop. I had to become more insistent before it would even consider listening to me. And…

I realized too that when that unruly part of me stopped creating thoughts that contributed to, well essentially nothing, what showed up was fear. I found myself fearful of not having fear-based thoughts! I experienced a great deal of fear when I insisted my mind take a break. I didn’t know who I was when I stopped thinking.

Questions to Ask Yourself

In the workplace, we are constantly bombarded with circumstances that require an incredible amount of attention. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the degree of quality you are bringing and is it in alignment with what you are wanting for yourself and your business?
  • Is fearful, anxious, antagonistic or resistance the foundation upon which you want your actions to come from when engaged with customers, clients and all of those with whom you interact?
  • What commitment is underlying this come-from?

For me, I come from anxious, worried and disempowered when I’m committed to staying in an old story of a helpless, powerless, victim. I have to ask myself frequently; am I really committed to that story? I then have to give myself an alternative – that to which I know I’m committed – empowered, engaged and empowering of others.

Yes, I too sit in the dilemma of what to choose – my fear based commitments or my essence-based commitments. More effortlessly than ever before, I’m able to take action in alignment with my choice to grow myself and my work from my essence-based truth.

Shifting the Paradigm

Shifting our paradigm requires each of us to be willing to perceive our reality through lenses that reflect the positive attributes of our reality, making that the 70% of our thinking process. This in itself would make such an incredibly profound contribution to our work environment, not to mention to our family, friends and the world at large.

Consider being curious about your thoughts and emotions. Notice that your emotions are just energy that is generated by your thoughts. Shift your thoughts and your emotional state will shift immediately. I know it’s a lot to ask, however, I believe you are ready to step into the question. Enjoy the journey!

Think for the Future

by Guy Ralfe on September 29, 2009

thought-and-art-the-thinker1Have you noticed how on occasions you may have done something and it occupies your mind for days wondering what the outcome will be? It continues to consume your thought when you are at an unrelated place doing something else. Have you noticed how your body tenses in response to the thoughts of situations you are not in? All these are reactions to thoughts you are not in a position to act  to rectify or change. Often these are related to actions and situations that are in the past.

All this does is rob us of valuable limited energy and time we have to think, which in turn reduces our ability to act and take care of what really matters to us.

I was recently back in South Africa with my laptop and thought it would be a good idea to catch up on my e-information habit after 10 days of abstinence.  I was told that where we were staying had a high speed broadband internet connection and I couldn’t wait to get on (with) it. So I connected my laptop and then the world seemed to stop… everything just seemed to take forever.

It felt like someone had sold me out on a dial-up camouflaged as broadband, but the speeds were 300/800kb. My analytical mind persisted… the next thought was: “Maybe speed is just relative to what you are used to”. For those on dial-up it would have felt very fast, where as my 5/15Mb home connection made it feel ridiculously slow. I began to ask myself how do they work with this connection, this must be costing so much in productivity?

As I got more and more frustrated with the experience I started to turn off all the ancillary messengers, auto update and other background tasks running on my computer. It took a while but slowly it began to feel like the connection was representational of what I had become accustomed to in the USA. It wasn’t the connection that was the issue but how I used it that made the difference!

I like to think of our brain as being a bit like an internet connection, we are given a set amount of bandwidth that we can utilize at any given time, but we decide how we utilize this bandwidth and that is where the power of our judgment comes into play. For most of us, I speculate, we do not even think about the consequences of our thoughts, it just happens much like we breathe and our heart keeps pumping. Making the best use of our brain’s bandwidth is critical to ensure we make effective actions, which is what ultimately determines our future.

Here are some actions to help manage these bandwidth thieves:

  1. Start to notice when you are being gripped by these interrupting thoughts – particularly those beyond your control, relate to situations that have already occurred or will have little consequence on your future.
  2. Make an assessment of the impact on your future – spend a short time, no more than 15 minutes, concluding what you should have done or will do in a particular outcome. If it has no impact on your future then be at peace with your decision, close the thought and agree with yourself this is what it is. If it does have an impact on your future then it is a thought you need to act on. You need to find help if you cannot resolve it yourself.
  3. The next time the thought enters your head – you revert to your conclusion from step above. Do not reevaluate your conclusion as that is just adding fuel to the fire and ultimately utilizes more unnecessary thought.
  4. Be at peace with yourself and your decisions – it is highly unlikely others are affected the way you perceive the situation. Do not worry, worrying has never solved a situation to date only action has!

Think of your brain as a pipe through which you have to pour water, the more water through the pipe (representing active thought to produce action) the more effective you will be in your life. Do not let residue build up in the pipe that slows the flow of thoughts, especially when this residue produces no actions towards your future.

Make every thought count, keep thinking about the future!