The human potential movement has existed for several decades, and in many ways is an alternative name for self-improvement. The urge to improve oneself exists naturally in everyone, unless outside forces like poverty damp it down. But the human potential movement is far more ambitious. It aims to open up a vast area of unexplored potential.
I argue in a new book titledMetahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potentialthat the true foundation of human potential is infinite. At first that seems like a drastic overreach. Everyone experiences personal limitations that stop far, far short of the infinite. But let me make the case by first turning the whole premise of self-improvement on its head.
The typical way that human potential is approached starts with the limited individual and seeks to lessen these limitations. There’s a school of thought that believes in achieving a 10% increase in happiness, which is seen as a major step. The notion is that happiness is so difficult to understand that any improvement would have to be small. In an area like IQ, the goal is even smaller, because intelligence is accepted among experts to be fixed, budging very little from childhood. A third example is creativity, which would seem to allow for enormous improvement, but finding out what makes creative people creative has proved to be a frustrating and baffling business.
In U.S. history books, well-known philanthropists such as Carnegie and Rockefeller are described as generous and charitable. They donated part of their great wealth to good causes such as building schools and libraries. However, what is often overlooked in this version of history is that the very basis of their philanthropy was inequality. Their fortunes were built on the backs of working people, whose labor and minimal wages allowed those at the top to accumulate large amounts of money, which they used to build mansions for themselves filled with extravagant possessions. They gave a portion of their money to good causes. Meanwhile, those who were the actual source of their wealth often could barely afford to feed themselves and their families. This scenario continues today.
The path next to our home opens up to unlimited hiking, biking and horse riding trails. It also leads the way to a stone bench that is situated on a saddle between two peaks. I have fallen in love with both the trail and the mystical meeting place. It is here that I connect with family, friends, spirits and always Mother Earth. Or maybe, it is here that I stop and really open up.
I leave my house by 8:00 in the morning, this is when the temperatures are only in the high 80’s. Durning the weekdays I might see a couple people, usually I encounter no one. Most of the path is a mild climb with dirt and sharp rocks. It is not until you choose a trail that climbs to one of the peaks, that you get steep terrain. Even the mountain bikers have to get off and carry their bikes on parts of the technical trail. Everyone I meet is happy and enjoying the sun and the expansive feeling. Or maybe, my happiness is just being reflected back😊
There I was recently, my mind darting in different directions about projects in process, frazzled about little tasks backing up, uneasy about a tax record from 2010 we couldn’t find, feeling irritated about being irritable, hurrying to get to work, body keyed up, internal sense of pressure. Not freaked out, not running from an attacker, not suffering a grievous loss, my own troubles tiny in comparison to those of so many others – but still, the needle on my personal stress-o-meter was pegged in the Red Zone.
Then that quiet background knowing in all of us nudged me to cool down, dial back, de-frazzle, take a breath, exhale slowly, repeat, start getting a sense of center, exhale again, slow the thoughts down, pick one thought of alrightness or goodness and stay with it, exhaling worry about the future, coming into this moment, just sensations, calming, mind getting clearer, focusing on what I’ll do this day and knowing that’s all I can do, the body sense of settling down yet again sinking in to make it one bit easier to settle down the next time. Leaving the Red Zone, not all the way to Green, more like Yellow, but no longer even Orange. Whew.
Kids aren’t the only ones who need to play, adults need regular playtime, too.
Earlier this year, my wife and I spent a month living in a beachfront house in Maui, Hawaii. We had done the same thing last year and went back this year because it was such an amazingly fun and bonding experience for us.
Every morning, I got up early and did my regularmeditationand yoga or qigong routine. Then I ate breakfast and spent two hours writing.
After that, the rest of the day was devoted to playtime.
My wife and I went swimming, snorkeling, sailing, and hiking. We relaxed on the beach and enjoyed some incredible meals at some great restaurants. And we spent our evenings reading, socializing with friends, playing Scrabble, listening to music, and watching our favorite TV shows.
How do you try to avoid the painful feelings caused by others and events, and what is the result?
We all learned many way of avoiding the existential pain of life when we were growing up, because we could not manage feeling it when we were little. Now, as adults, most people continue to protect in the ways they learned, even though today, adults, we can learn to manage our core pain through Inner Bonding.
Most of our core pain comes from others being unloving to us or to themselves, disconnecting from us and from themselves. We all desire connection with those important to us, and we naturally feel these deeper painful feelings, especially when someone important to us disconnects from us with their own protections – their anger, blame, withdrawal, and so on.
Lately many of my conversations with friends have been around just how stressed out everyone is. More than normal. Anxiety. Fear. Depression. Uncertainty. All seem to be rampant.
My theory is that we all have our “usual” mishigosh to deal with and now, with all the troubles in the world, we’re also feeling the collective angst in the field.
One of the ways I manage myself is with a simple, easy to do, and fast technique known as EFT Tapping. I suggest you give it a try, here’s a link to a free 5 minute video from my genius friend Nick Ortner.
I LOVE sharing my mantra: BUILD WEALTH FROM THE INSIDE OUT!
Think about how empowering that is. When you build wealth from the inside out, you are building your financial future from a place of strength. It means you are making sure that your values, needs, goals, and desires are the driving force behind the choices you make with your money.
But how do you make that happen? Below, are three tips to start healing financially. But you have to take into account not only your financial life and how you manage your money, but also your work life, your family life, and your personal life.
Let’s look at, say, your personal life and your physical being.
It’s essential to find balance in our personal life, and that includes taking care of our bodies and minds. And I find a surefire way to both calm my mind and keep my body strong is to get out in nature. Few things are more healing for me than taking long walks along Lake Michigan near where I live.
I’m also fascinated by a rising movement called Forest Bathing. It’s been practiced for years in Japan and is now embraced in England. Even the Duchess of Cambridge has based her garden on it. (Cheerio, y’all!) Forest bathing encourages participants to slow down and feel present. It’s about allowing nature’s calming scents and sights to dissolve issues and inspire peace and calm.
Take the time to get back in tune with yourself in nature. Find a large park or head to a forest preserve. Get into that harmonic lifestyle so that you can live more in the present moment and release more of your past to create the future you really truly desire.
Let’s focus on the three steps to financial healing.
“If the path you are on doesn't lead you deeper into yourself, it's not the right path.” – Lalah Delia
I've Been Thinking...
I’m all for getting back into the post-Labor Day swing of things, so long as it’s not the same swing that I was in before my break. (And, to be honest, I hope Congress feels the same way, because none of us want them to swing back into business as usual — especially when it comes to critical life and death issues like gun reform.)
My pre-break life was harried and hurried. I felt more distracted than present. I had more “should’s” on my calendar than “want to’s.”
More often than not, I felt like I was running in place. I was doing way too much, all while feeling like I was either not doing enough or wondering whether I was doing anything at all.
Breaking a pattern is never easy, but I’m determined not to go back to the way I was. I’m determined to move forward with focus, ease and this new feeling of calmness that has eluded me most, if not all, of my life.
At our current level of consciousness, as different emotional energy states come into us, they define and shape our interaction with each moment. Seeing this, we identify with each state, thinking it is who we are. For example, when anger comes through us, we believe “I am angry.”
But the fact of the matter is, there is no such self. Not really. There are only these states of energy and the fleeting sense of self produced as each one surfaces. If it’s a negative state we fight and resist it. If it’s a pleasing one, we embrace it. In either case we believe we’re acting for ourselves, from ourselves, and that we’re unique for our experience.
Then in a heartbeat, because that momentary state isn’t really ours and only washes through, the minute its nature has moved on, so does the sense of self we had derived from it. Now a whole new and unwanted feeling floods in, leaving us asking ourselves, “Hey, I seem to be missing something here. Where did my life — my sense of self — just go?”
If you had the choice, would you rather be smarter than you are or more aware? Go a step further. If a wizard came to you and said you could be either the smartest person in the world or the most aware, which would you choose?
It’s a symptom of the times, I think, that most people would choose to be smarter. We live in a world based on technology, wealth, and entrepreneurship. You have to be smart to succeed in those areas, and if you feel you are only average in intelligence, you are not likely to expect enormous success. The argument for being more aware is rarely made, yet by far choosing to be more aware is the better choice—and unlike IQ, you can increase your awareness.
I made this the theme of a new book,Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, so let me encapsulate the argument. Being smart, even very, very smart, doesn’t immunize you from living unconsciously. An unconscious life is driven by habits, fixed beliefs, second-hand opinions, social pressure, peer-group values, and old conditioning. To realize this, and then to escape its grip, requires awareness, not IQ.
Few other places in the world offer a unique blend of rich history and culture and in such an immensely beautiful setting like Italy does. With the array of endless encounters of historic sites and experiencing la dolce vita, the sweet life, as you wander through markets and taste the local cuisine; we can think of no other place better suited for a spiritual journey like Italy.
We’re usually aware of our own suffering, which – broadly defined – includes the whole range of physical and mental discomfort, from mild headache or anxiety to the agony of bone cancer or the anguish of losing a child. (Certainly, there is more to life than suffering, including great joy and fulfillment; that said, we’ll sustain a single focus here.)
But seeing the suffering in others: that’s not so common. All the news and pictures of disaster, murder, and grief that bombard us each day can ironically numb us to suffering in our own country and across the planet. Close to home, it’s easy to tune out or simply miss the stress and strain, unease and anger, in the people we work, live – even sleep – with.
I’ve known this world in all its splendor and breakage for a lifetime. Or has it been a moment, the blink of some cosmic eye that let’s anyone still enough see the script of history all at once. I only know that when the forces of life and I move too fast, we author violence. When we stop and open, we discover a softness at the center of all things that gives rise to a music of acceptance. Very few things evoke this soft equanimity, which feels like a violin exhausting itself at the center of a symphony when the composer has spent his creative storm and is wondering if there’s anything left to say. Every day, the things we love sprout and emerge, or break and wither, as the vine grows quietly up the wall toward the light. Perhaps this is all we can hope for. The other day, we watched a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, it’s wings still wet. It had to wait for its wings to dry before it could flutter its way into life. Perhaps loving ourselves and each other and life itself is how we dry and open our wings.
Throughout our lifetimes we unconsciously internalize certain agreements that fulfill other people's expectations of us. Maybe your 3rd grade teacher said you weren't good at math. Or you have a recording in your head of your father exalting the achievements of doctors and lawyers, so you thought you had to be one.
As a kid you had a radar system working full-time making sure you fit in, don't color outside the lines, get attention but not too much ... shine but not too bright ... don't embarrass yourself, don't fall down, don't miss the ball ...
By the time you reach your 20's you're shrouded in so many self-imposed rules, expectations from your parents, extended family, society, school, and largely from yourself to the point where you don’t truly know who you are, what you want, or what will make you happy.
These agreements tacitly become the bondage that keeps you from being you. Old agreements are often the cords that keep people tied to jobs, relationships, and ways of being that are unfulfilling.
I just finished speaking at the Colours of Ostrava music festival in the Czech Republic, am now headed into the Amazon rain forest, and then in September to Omega in Upstate New York to facilitate an experiential workshop: “Soaring with the Jaguar: Shapeshifting with Plants into a Better World.”
Question: What do these three seemingly different venues share in common?
Answer: They empower us to raise our consciousness, to steer our space station Earth to the future we want.
When I was a Peace Corps volunteer deep in the Amazon in the late 1960s, Ayahuasca saved my life – and forever changed it. Today, shamans, plants, musicians and speakers at many different forums inspire us to change our lives. A large part of the message involves honoring our connections with nature and to being good Earth stewards.
The ego has a thousand goals. Are they really yours?
The fast-track Western world reveres productivity, measured by what we “get done.” But I invite you to consider becoming undone, letting go of ill-fitting self-definitions, freeing yourself from beliefs and patterns, becoming naked, available, and present to your present life. The Universe wants to talk to you. Do you want to listen?
Sometimes you have to stop scoring points in the life you have in order to win at the life you desire. A Course in Miracles teaches, that “the vision of one world will cost you the vision of another.” Albert Einstein said the same thing: “You cannot solve the problem at the level of the problem.” Are you so busy maintaining the structures of your existing life, that you can’t hear when Great Love is calling your name?
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra
How are you? I hope that you were able to take some time away this summer to rest, reflect, and recharge.
My August break abruptly began with a death in my family. It was sudden and heartbreaking, and it stopped everyone and everything in its tracks.
As I flew back to LA after the funeral that was held for my cousin’s 22-year-old-daughter, I thought a lot about the fragility of life. I thought about the suddenness of death, and how it upends us in different ways.
When I got home, I looked at my calendar and, for the first time all year, it was clear. I breathed into the emptiness and didn’t allow it to make me feel empty, invisible, or irrelevant.
Before my August break, people asked me, “Maria, aren’t you worried about losing your momentum on social media, with your Sunday Paper, and with NBC?”
“Yes and no,” I replied. “I’m sure I’ll lose some momentum, but I’m certain that what I’ll gain in return will be more meaningful and more profound.”
In the moment you find yourself stressed, tense, worried, irritable, or angry -- when you find yourself in a negative state, thinking about what to do about your negativity -- all you have to do to break free is realize that you're in the wrong place. Don't think about what to do with where you are. Admit to yourself you're in the wrong place, and then...just don't go there.
You may, at any moment that you wish, become aware of yourself sufficiently enough to know where you are inwardly. When you find yourself living a resentment over again, all you have to do is see that you're surrounded by thoughts and feelings that were produced by your resistance to a remembered event. That's all you have to do. Who made you remember what you now wish hadn't happened to you? Who made you picture the person you resent? Who brought up the failure from your past? Who did any of that in the moment you're sitting by yourself, or driving in your car, or eating your cup of coffee.
Stress and Self confidence, do they relate to each other at some level. Yes of course they do. A healthy level of self confidence is very essential for a successful life. In order to stay away from the throes of stress, I would definitely recommend, a strong dose of self confidence.
It is important to one's emotional and physical health as well. Whenever we look at a person, well turned up, exuding confidence, a sudden rush of energy and admiration goes through our system.
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