Changing Your Perspective

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While I have never reviewed a book before, this one, Personality Isn’t Permanent, by Benjamin Hardy is a gem that belongs in everyone’s library. Too many times I hear statements like, ‘I’d like that, but this is just how I am,’ and ‘I’m too old to change.’ We tend to think that we are stuck in our path because of our past, who we think we are, and now, we’re unwilling to make changes to create the life we really would like to have. Pressure from friends, family and society herds us into believing that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear because, well, you are how you are! Right?

When I first came across Ben Hardy about four years ago in an online article that he published, I knew that I had found a fellow traveler with similar beliefs, ideas and approaches to living. At the time he was a PhD student in psychology, was the most read contributor on Medium and had just published a book Slipstream; Time Hacking. I was impressed that he used solid science as well as his own experience to support the idea that a change in perspective can change how we view and use the same 1440 minutes that everyone gets each day. I later read Willpower Doesn’t Work, 2018, in which he writes about the need to pull one’s environment and practices into play to create the life one chooses. Willpower alone is not enough to create sustained change in our lives.

Last month, his newest book, Personality Isn’t Permanent was released to immediate best seller status. This book doesn’t disappoint. This book’s 271 pages is jamb-packed with insights and examples of how we can change the limited views we have of ourselves and open up to creating the life we want to live. Examples of include a man who became a Harvard fellow after being in prison for 14 years, another who quit smoking by changing his environment and even Hardy’s own wife who suffered abuse during her first marriage, yet managed to use past trauma to help her to grow and become the woman she always wished to be. If these people were able to overcome the odds and change how they relate to themselves and the world around them, then it must be possible for others to do so as well. We can overcome the tragedies and traumas in our past. We can seek out the self limiting beliefs that keep us trapped. We can make major changes in our lives by changing our perspectives on how we see our world.

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At the core of the book is the belief that many of us maintain that by the time we are twenty, our personality is fixed and can no longer be altered. It goes along with the belief that at the same age, our bodies can produce no more brain cells than what we have then. Fry your brain cells, and they won’t be replaced. Take a personality test at 21 and you know what you will be like for the rest of your life. None of these beliefs is true. Your brain will continue to produce new neurons and develop new pathways for as long as we live.

It’s my belief that if one person can make radical changes in her life, then others can do the same. I know from my own struggles with alcoholism that it is possible. While at one time I couldn’t see my life without alcohol, I now can’t imagine every wanting it as part of my life ever again. If I could do that in one part of my life, why not in other parts?

Ben’s book is easy to read and, he gives practical suggestions on how to apply the solutions that he puts forward to change you and your personality. Each chapter offers questions and exercises to assist the reader in taking the next step forward Indeed, the book merits at least a second read and could be used as a personal development course text.

You are not stuck. You are not your past. Change your perspective and you will see how your history can become the inspiration for a brighter future. You don’t need to be known as that ‘moody’ person, or the ‘jerk who’s got a chip on his shoulder’. I am not ‘stuck’ with who I am. I can make changes and create the life experience that I have always wanted. My personality is not permanent.

Buy any of Ben’s books through Amazon

Check out his blog on Medium.com

(This is an unsolicited, and unremunerated review.)

Goals Don’t Matter!

Ya, you’re right. What I just wrote goes against so much of what is common in the personal growth industry. I think every writer of this genre has a section of their work dedicated to setting goals and reviewing them. Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Wayne Dyer and Benjamin Hardy have all written and talked about the need to decide upon and head for our goals. And I agree with them. It is important to pursue our goals. However, what the goal is, I am discovering, really doesn’t matter.

You see, when I decide upon a goal, say reaching the summit of a mountain, I challenge myself. There are many ways of meeting that challenge. I can try to go straight up, in a beeline, to the summit. That, depending upon the mountain and my experience, will take the least amount of time, and it’s also the riskiest way to get to the top, especially if I’m new at it. I could go around and around the mountain, each time spiraling slightly above where I had hiked before. That’s probably the longest way, needing the least amount of experience required to make it to the summit. I may combine the two methods. Perhaps I can study the methods of those who have gone before. There are many ways to the summit.

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The ‘how’ of reaching my goal, for me, is what it is all about. If I am an experienced climber, then I will take the more challenging route. I believe that it’s the challenge of the goal that pulls us forward. It forces us to use our talents, extend our limits, push ourselves out of our comfort zone to aspire to new things that really matters. The real work? That happens in the ascent.

It is the path that I take, the errors that I correct, the struggles I fight and the anguish that I emote that makes achieving a goal worthwhile. If I was able to make it up one rock-face, I know I have the ability to scale the next one. The wind and the cold vie with focus and endurance, trying to throw me off of the climb. And even if I don’t reach the top for whatever reason, I have created a new experience, new or sharpened skills, and improved self-confidence all at my ready to take onto the next goal. Getting to the top really doesn’t matter. It is what I learn along the way that enlivens me.

I believe that it is important to make worthy goals for ourselves. They are what lead us forward, force us to think in different ways and put us into situations which challenge everything we think we know about ourselves and the world. A worthy goal will pull me along. It will force me to leave behind parts of myself that are no longer valid. It will lead me to a newer version of myself. I achieve this by the process of getting to the goal, not because I achieve the goal. And at the end, once I have reached the summit, it’s usually anticlimactic. “What’s next?” I ask myself.

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So make yourself some goals in life. Work hard to achieve them. And once you get to the top of the mountain, take the time to reflect on what it took to get you there. Enjoy the experience but know that after you get there, you have to make your way down, the next part of the journey toward your next worthy goal. Life happens on the way up to the top of the mountain, not on summit. Nature shows us: growth happens in the valley, not on the mountain top. As with life, so it is with our goals; it really is the journey that counts, not the destination.

And remember, if I really only want to see the view from the top, I can always hire a helicopter.

Opening the Mind

I am using a good deal of my time during this enforced lock-down to read books, watch videos and write about growing as an individual and as a society. Lately I have discovered London Real, with Brian Rose who interviews a wide range of contemporary people on interesting, often controversial topics. A video lecture given by Graham Hancock led on to other videos and then his book, ‘America Before’. Various articles available through Medium.com, TED talks, ideas on minimalism and stoicism all became fodder for my investigations. Really, I feel like I am giving myself a crash course in living and life. And I am loving it.

There are so many philosophies, ideologies and theories floating around in today’s world. I could spend the rest of my life studying them and applying them to myself and my life. However, as I have gone through these past three months of investigation, I have noticed that while there are many differences, they are, really, all facets of the same gem we call life. The river flows over many different beds and at many different speeds, and though it is ever changing, it is the same river and no one part of it can define it completely.

The theory of Consciousness has been at the core of my investigations. Science is moving away from the theory that consciousness is ‘local’ as in, consciousness is located in our brain. Rather, from psychology to quantum physics, we are being shown, through logic and experiment, that our brain is more like a television receiver than a computer, and that it is constantly interacting with some sort of Consciousness. Some refer to it as the ‘morphic field’, ‘field of probabilities’, ‘unified field’ or simply, ‘the field’. Our thoughts and ideas, as they spring from this field, flood our receiving brain. We either capture them and use them or we dismiss them and, like a dream remembered upon awakening, they fade into oblivion.

Books like ‘The Secret’ and ‘Becoming Supernatural’, talk about taping into this field. Napoleon Hill’s 1937 classic ‘Think and Grow Rich’, though using different terminology, talks about this ‘field’. Spiritual literature speaks of the ‘realm of the spirit’ or of God. And I believe that they are all taking about the same thing. The idea, in many modes of expression, has been around going back to the ancients. There is nothing new here, but it seems that since the 18th century, science beat out spirituality with the notion that humans are the pinnacle of evolution and consciousness became confined to the body. We don’t need any god; science will provide the answers we need. It’s only in the past 40 years that there’s been some serious study as to the source of the Big C of consciousness.

Plato & Aristotle take a walk.

While it may seem like this is a battle between evolutionists and creationists, I assure you it is not. The discussion has come full circle as accredited scientists are demonstrating that there are things that cannot be explained alone by consciousness localized only in the brain. Einstein poked at the idea but when it came to a force that he couldn’t understand yet, he referred to it as ‘spooky action at a distance.’

Probably the greatest lesson that I have learned in the last three months is that I don’t know much, and that there are a lot that humans understand neither themselves nor our universe. Meanwhile, it is fun to explore new ideas and theories and not be tied by definitions that I was taught well, a lot of years ago. You might enjoy the movie ‘What the {%&@$#} Do We Know’, available on YouTube. It is a good jumping off point to going down the proverbial rabbit hole of new discoveries. Or if you wish, a short, easy to follow explanation of the famous ‘Double-Slit Experiment.’

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 There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy…Hamlet

I heard a friend say that by the end of this whole Covid 19 thing we will end up at Drunks, Chunks or Hunks; the choice is our own. A Netflix binge is okay once in a while, but I prefer more active thinking and learning. Who knows what we might learn or down which rabbit hole it might lead? All it takes is an open mind!