In this episode, peak performance expert, Steven Kotler, shares the top 15 things that peak performers know about focus that most people don’t. You’ll discover how to focus, how to improve your focus and concentration spans over time, and how to shortcut your way into paying attention. Steven also clearly describes flow state triggers, goal setting techniques, and other habits you can use to maximize peak performance.
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Spiritual bypassing is one of the biggest problems in new age spirituality today, causing many people to feel stuck in their spiritual awakening and also avoid or delay healing inner wounds. In this video, we’ll go deep into spiritual bypassing so you can avoid the major pitfalls of this detrimental phenomenon.
Here’s what you’ll learn In this video:
Learn why people tend to reactively treat their weirdness as a dangerous liability. Perspectives will be shared on how weirdness is actually one’s greatest asset, serving as a bridge into one’s authenticity. How to take action on finding the courage to say YES! to weirdness will be presented so that more meaning and fulfillment can be encountered by reclaiming the asset of weirdness.
We are often insulated from our environment. In the winter, we warm our homes. In the summer, we cool them. But we may be unintentionally harming our health by not challenging our bodies to deal with the ambient temperature. A panel of experts today explains how we can benefit from cold therapy, offering practical first steps for those who are new to the practice. They also cover the problems with artificial light and the importance of getting more sunlight on our skin. They share how living more in tune with nature, as our ancestors did, can help alleviate a host of health conditions and reinvigorate the body.
The panelists are Dr. Mike T. Nelson, Katie Newman, Thaddeus Owen, Christa Rymal, Heidi Sime, and Nic Zahasky.
So, I'll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event. And she called, and she said, "I'm really struggling with how to write about you on the little flyer." And I thought, "Well, what's the struggle?" And she said, "Well, I saw you speak, and I'm going to call you a researcher, I think, but I'm afraid if I call you a researcher, no one will come, because they'll think you're boring and irrelevant."
And I was like, "Okay." And she said, "But the thing I liked about your talk is you're a storyteller. So I think what I'll do is just call you a storyteller." And of course, the academic, insecure part of me was like, "You're going to call me a what?" And she said, "I'm going to call you a storyteller." And I was like, "Why not 'magic pixie'?"
I was like, "Let me think about this for a second." I tried to call deep on my courage. And I thought, you know, I am a storyteller. I'm a qualitative researcher. I collect stories; that's what I do. And maybe stories are just data with a soul. And maybe I'm just a storyteller. And so I said, "You know what? Why don't you just say I'm a researcher-storyteller." And she went, "Ha ha. There's no such thing."
So I'm a researcher-storyteller, and I'm going to talk to you today -- we're talking about expanding perception -- and so I want to talk to you and tell some stories about a piece of my research that fundamentally expanded my perception and really actually changed the way that I live and love and work and parent.
And this is where my story starts. When I was a young researcher, doctoral student, my first year, I had a research professor who said to us, "Here's the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist." And I thought he was just sweet-talking me. I was like, "Really?" and he was like, "Absolutely." And so you have to understand that I have a bachelor's and a master's in social work, and I was getting my Ph.D. in social work, so my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed in the "life's messy, love it." And I'm more of the, "life's messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a bento box."
And so to think that I had found my way, to found a career that takes me -- really, one of the big sayings in social work is, "Lean into the discomfort of the work." And I'm like, knock discomfort upside the head and move it over and get all A's. That was my mantra. So I was very excited about this. And so I thought, you know what, this is the career for me, because I am interested in some messy topics. But I want to be able to make them not messy. I want to understand them. I want to hack into these things that I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see.
So where I started was with connection. Because, by the time you're a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we're here. It's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it's all about. It doesn't matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice, mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is -- neurobiologically that's how we're wired -- it's why we're here.
So I thought, you know what, I'm going to start with connection. Well, you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things that you do really awesome, and one "opportunity for growth?"
And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right? Well, apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they'll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.
So very quickly -- really about six weeks into this research -- I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn't understand or had never seen. And so I pulled back out of the research and thought, I need to figure out what this is. And it turned out to be shame. And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won't be worthy of connection?
The things I can tell you about it: It's universal; we all have it. The only people who don't experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this "I'm not good enough," -- which, we all know that feeling: "I'm not blank enough. I'm not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough." The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability. This idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.
And you know how I feel about vulnerability. I hate vulnerability. And so I thought, this is my chance to beat it back with my measuring stick. I'm going in, I'm going to figure this stuff out, I'm going to spend a year, I'm going to totally deconstruct shame, I'm going to understand how vulnerability works, and I'm going to outsmart it. So I was ready, and I was really excited. As you know, it's not going to turn out well.
You know this. So, I could tell you a lot about shame, but I'd have to borrow everyone else's time. But here's what I can tell you that it boils down to -- and this may be one of the most important things that I've ever learned in the decade of doing this research.
My one year turned into six years: Thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups. At one point, people were sending me journal pages and sending me their stories -- thousands of pieces of data in six years. And I kind of got a handle on it. I kind of understood, this is what shame is, this is how it works. I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay -- and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness -- that's what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness -- they have a strong sense of love and belonging -- and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if they're good enough.
There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging. That's it. They believe they're worthy. And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we're not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better. So what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.
What do these people have in common? I have a slight office supply addiction, but that's another talk. So I had a manila folder, and I had a Sharpie, and I was like, what am I going to call this research? And the first words that came to my mind were "whole-hearted." These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data. In fact, I did it first in a four-day, very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled the interviews, the stories, pulled the incidents. What's the theme? What's the pattern? My husband left town with the kids because I always go into this Jackson Pollock crazy thing, where I'm just writing and in my researcher mode.
And so here's what I found. What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute. Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language -- it's from the Latin word "cor," meaning "heart" -- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and -- this was the hard part -- as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.
The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating -- as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, "I love you" first ... the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees ... the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They're willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.
I personally thought it was betrayal. I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research, where our job -- you know, the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena for the explicit reason to control and predict. And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown --
-- which actually looked more like this.
And it did.
I call it a breakdown; my therapist calls it a spiritual awakening.
A spiritual awakening sounds better than breakdown, but I assure you, it was a breakdown. And I had to put my data away and go find a therapist. Let me tell you something: you know who you are when you call your friends and say, "I think I need to see somebody. Do you have any recommendations?" Because about five of my friends were like, "Wooo, I wouldn't want to be your therapist."
I was like, "What does that mean?" And they're like, "I'm just saying, you know. Don't bring your measuring stick."
I was like, "Okay." So I found a therapist. My first meeting with her, Diana -- I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down. And she said, "How are you?" And I said, "I'm great. I'm okay." She said, "What's going on?" And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good.
And so I said, "Here's the thing, I'm struggling." And she said, "What's the struggle?" And I said, "Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help." And I said, "But here's the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit."
"I just need some strategies."
Thank you. So she goes like this.
And then I said, "It's bad, right?" And she said, "It's neither good nor bad."
"It just is what it is." And I said, "Oh my God, this is going to suck."
And it did, and it didn't. And it took about a year. And you know how there are people that, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it. A: that's not me, and B: I don't even hang out with people like that.
For me, it was a yearlong street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.
And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what we are doing with vulnerability. Why do we struggle with it so much? Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability?
So this is what I learned. We numb vulnerability -- when we're waiting for the call. It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says, "How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?" And within an hour and a half, I had 150 responses. Because I wanted to know what's out there. Having to ask my husband for help because I'm sick, and we're newly married; initiating sex with my husband; initiating sex with my wife; being turned down; asking someone out; waiting for the doctor to call back; getting laid off; laying off people. This is the world we live in. We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.
And I think there's evidence -- and it's not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it's a huge cause -- We are the most in-debt ... obese ... addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is -- and I learned this from the research -- that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff. Here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment. I don't want to feel these. I'm going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.
I don't want to feel these. And I know that's knowing laughter. I hack into your lives for a living. God.
You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then, we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.
One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb. And it doesn't just have to be addiction. The other thing we do is we make everything that's uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. "I'm right, you're wrong. Shut up." That's it. Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There's no discourse anymore. There's no conversation. There's just blame. You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort. We perfect. If there's anyone who wants their life to look like this, it would be me, but it doesn't work. Because what we do is we take fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks.
Which just, I hope in 100 years, people will look back and go, "Wow."
And we perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They're hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, "Look at her, she's perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect -- make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh." That's not our job. Our job is to look and say, "You know what? You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." That's our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we'll end the problems, I think, that we see today. We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate -- whether it's a bailout, an oil spill ... a recall. We pretend like what we're doing doesn't have a huge impact on other people. I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo, people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say ... "We're sorry. We'll fix it."
But there's another way, and I'll leave you with this. This is what I have found: To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen ... to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee -- and that's really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that's excruciatingly difficult -- to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, "Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?" just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, "I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive." And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough" ... then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.
That's all I have. Thank you
Rhonda: Hello, everyone. Today my guest is Dr. Satchin Panda, who is a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, where he studies the body's internal circadian clock, what regulates their circadian clock, and in turn, how this affects a wide variety of processes including our metabolism, our sleeping patterns, and how active we are, and so much more.
Satchin, considering that every single living organism on the planet Earth has this internal biological clock, their circadian clock, can you explain to people who've never heard what a circadian clock is, what it is and why it's so important?
Satchin: Yes, so all lives on this planet evolve under a rotating Earth. So that means for 12 hours, approximately 12 hours they had access to light and for another 12 hours they were in darkness. So, that environment, that changing environment put a tremendous pressure for them to come up with a timing mechanism so that they can anticipate when it's going to be evening or when it's going to be morning so that they can time their activity and sleep accordingly. So that's why almost every organism on this planet have this internal clock that help them anticipate time.
And why this is important is if you think about a diurnal organism, an animal that's active during the daytime, the animal has to anticipate when evening is going to come so that he can rush back to the cave or somewhere, some hiding place. So similarly, just before the dawn, this animal has to wake up before even light hits, and then go out and get the first grub. So that's why there is this tremendous pressure to have this biological clock or internal timing to essentially anticipate what is going to happen.
So for most people, we know when we go to bed, maybe after six to eight hours, we wake up. So our clock actually tells us, "Yes, it's going to be morning. Get up now." So similarly, almost every part of our body has clocks that help us to anticipate when the food is gonna come or when we are supposed to run, when we are supposed to take rest. So, what we are learning is almost every organ in our body has a clock and it helps this organ to be at peak performance, peak activity, at certain time of the day, and then to rest and rejuvenate at the other time of the day.
Rhonda: So, is this internal biological clock, the circadian clock, it's not something that we're just immediately born with, right? It's not something that just...
Satchin: Yes. So when we are born, we, kind of…when babies are born, they actually don't have this daily 24 hours rhythm in activity or sleep. They don't to bed for six or seven hours. So what we suspect is although they have a clock, those clocks are not wired together. And at the same time, babies also need a lot of food, because that's their growth phase. So, during the first maybe four to six months, the babies wake up in every three to four hours, cry, eat a little bit, and go back to sleep, and then wake up again, and do that.
Then after 8 to 12 weeks, they actually begin to have some kind of consolidated sleep. So they go to sleep and wake up at the right time, wake up after a few hours, but it's not tied to light-dark cycle. So they kind of drift. So that's the phase many parents may not notice because we now live in a very artificial environment, but that's the time when there is a clock but it's not tied to outside light and dark cycle. So around six months of age, that's when the whole development process and the clock is functional, it's tied to light-dark cycle, it's wired properly, so the babies go to bed, hopefully, in the evening and then sleep for nine to ten hours, wake up. So when we are born we do have clocks, but they are not connected together until about four to six months of age.
Rhonda: Oh, interesting. And you mentioned...so there's, there's clocks in all of our organs and there's different…your work, you've done a lot of research on what regulates these different clocks.
Rhonda: There's a master regulator clock, and there's other clocks in different organs. Maybe you can explain. I read somewhere that something between 10% to 15% of the entire protein-coding human genome is actually regulated by these circadian clocks, and anywhere between around, like, 40% to 50% of those genes are actually involved in metabolism.
Rhonda: So, there's, there's a wide variety of processes that are regulated by these clocks.
Rhonda: Maybe can you explain a little bit about the central master clock and...
Rhonda: ...what regulates that?
Satchin: [laughs] Yeah. So this is a field of study that is actually not driven by a disease but pure curiosity. So for a long time, people thought that there might be a master clock in the brain because we always connect circadian clock to sleep-wake cycle. And fortunately, there was actually a master clock. And in fact, almost 40, 45 years ago, people who are working on different parts of the brain…because at that time, 40 years ago, people thought that different parts of the brain regulate different behavior. So they are defined like cubic millimeter area of brain that regulates something.
So we're systemically taking out parts of the brain in mouse, rodents, and different larger rodents, and then figure out that when they hit this small part of the brain called suprachiasmatic nucleus, so that means we know that our eyes send optic nerves that crisscross and there is a part of the brain called optic chiasma, so it's above the optic chiasma. So that's why suprachiasmatic nucleus. So that's...
Rhonda: Say that 10 times fast. [laughs]
Satchin: Yes [laughs]. Suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, it's composed of around, say, 100,000 neurons, I guess, in humans, really small, maybe one millimeter by one millimeter. That's the size of this brain part. If you remove that brain part in a hamster, then this hamster doesn't, will not have any sense of time and go to sleep at random time and will wake up after two or three hours and it continues. But what is most exciting is if we take SCN from another hamster and transplant, it's like a brain transplant experiment, then this hamster will get all the rhythms back.
That's the earliest example of neural transplant transferring behavior from one animal to another animal. And that essentially established that there is part of the brain that accesses master circadian oscillator or circadian clock because it orchestrates this daily rhythm in waking up and going to sleep. And just imagine, only when we are awake, we eat, or we exercise. So that's why all other organs related to eating, for example, our gut, our liver, our fat, all of them are driven by this feeding behavior. Similarly, our muscle is driven by when we run. So that's how the SCN acts as the master circadian oscillator. So if we damage the SCN then we lose all circadian rhythm.
So what happens in some of the neurodegenerative disease, like very advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease dementia, if the SCN, this part of the brain is affected, then people lose their sense of time in terms of when they go to bed or when they stay awake. So this presents slowly, they turn into a state where they don't have a sense of day or night. They stay awake throughout the night and may be sleepy throughout the day. So that's why this master clock is so much important for our health.
Rhonda: And that might also have a feed-forward loop because then, you know, if your master clock is thrown off and you're awake when you're supposed to be sleeping and sleeping when you're supposed to be awake, that's also been shown to affect hippocampus and long-term potentiation. So, you know, you've got this, sort of feed-forward loop. But specifically with regards to the, the master clock, light is what regulates this master.
1. Increases Alertness
Due to the sudden change in temperature, our bodies naturally go into a state of initial shock and our breathing patterns can be uncomfortable, or we even hyper ventilate. However with deep breathing, in response to our body’s shock not only helps to keep us warm, but it also increases our overall oxygen intake. As a result, we'll get a natural dose of energy for the day.
2. Improves Hair and Skin
When it comes to hair and skin, cold showers can be highly beneficial and are one of the most natural ways to maintain your appearance. The reason for this is hot water actually dries out our skin, as it strips the skin of its natural oils that prevent it from drying out and crackles or wrinkles appearing. Cold water on the other hand actually tighten pores, which prevent them from getting clogged and prevent dirt from getting in.
3. Stimulates Weight Loss
One of the lesser known facts about cold showers is they can aid weight loss. This is because the human body contains two types of fat tissue, white and brown fat. White fat accumulates when we consume more calories than our body needs to function. Brown fat is considered a healthy fat, which is used to generate heat to keep our bodies warm and is activated when our bodies are exposed to extreme cold.
4. Improves Immunity and Circulation
Cold water can improve circulation by encouraging blood to surround our organs, which can then help combat some problems of the skin and heart. As cold water hits the body, it's ability to get blood circulating leads the arteries to more efficiently pump blood, therefore boosting our overall heart health.
5. Eases Stress
One of the greatest benefits of cold showers is they can ease stress. By jumping into the shower without letting it heat up, you can help promote hardening, increasing your tolerance to stress and even disease.
6. Relieves Depression
Cold showers can ease stress and this in turn has been shown to relieve depression symptoms due to the intense impact of cold receptors in the skin. This activity sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which in response produces an antidepressive effect and boosts moods, acting as a pick-me-up.
7. Speeds Up Muscle Soreness and Recovery
Researchers have observed there is some evidence that cold-water immersion reduces muscle soreness at 24, 48, 72 and even at 96 hours after exercise compared with 'passive' treatment (Bleakley, 2012).
Bleakley C, McDonough S, Gardner E, Baxter G David, Hopkins J Ty, Davison G W. (2012). Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD008262. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008262.pub2. Retrieved 23 March 2020, from https://www.cochrane.org/CD008262/MUSKINJ_cold-water-immersion-for-preventing-and-treating-muscle-soreness-after-exercise
We have all at one point in life worked to turn attempts into accomplishments.
Perhaps it was best illustrated in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda provides instruction to Luke Skywalker in how to use the Force. The scene is composed of Luke's spaceship entrenched in the bog, and Yoda asks Luke to remove it using only his mind.
While Luke had success in moving rocks with the Force, he believes it is impossible to move his spaceship. Yoda explains that Luke must unlearn what he has learned, and that moving his spaceship is only different in his mind. Luke says that he will "give it a try."
Yoda responds, "No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."
What is the difference? Why does it matter?
What does it mean to try? "Try" can be defined as, to make an attempt or effort to do something.
But how is that different than doing? "Do" can be defined as, to perform a particular task. Doing is taking action; execution.
What does it look like to try? If I were to ask you to try to shake my hand, how would you respond? If you shake my hand, that is doing. If you don't shake my hand, that is not doing. Trying is somewhere in the middle between doing and not doing, where effort and energy is wasted on an event that ends up unaccomplished.
It is one thing to say you like to try new things, but it very different than trying to succeed. The word "try" is, more or less, a filler word that does not imply anything is accomplished. Trying is a weak, watered down version of doing (or not doing). When people say they will try something, and fail, they typically feel better, but using the word actually attracts the behavior that leads to failure. Trying has become a loophole, a way out of committing without actually saying no. A problem with trying to do something, rather than doing something, is that it has become an excuse for why we didn't achieve the outcome we desired in advance. There is emotional heaviness associated with trying.
Trying is essentially effort without results, and there is a reason we try. Trying is also considered rationalization, and it is a defense mechanism used when things do not go as expected to protect the ego for the inevitable reality of failure.
Either decide to do it or don't do it, whatever it is. If you don't want to do something, that is fine, don't do it. But don't pretend that trying is the same this as doing. If you going to try to do something, you might as well as say you will not do it.
What is it that you are trying?
It seems like a trivial difference, but trying is completely different that doing. It is better to do than to try to do.
Quit Trying, Start Doing
Here are some suggestions to stop trying things, and begin doing things:
The more you try, the more separation you create between you and whatever it is that you are desiring to accomplish. So when it comes to trying or doing, always choose doing. Escape the try-mentality. Now is time to give up trying and start doing.
John Assaraf is a successful serial entrepreneur with 5 multi-million dollar companies to his name. He is also a New York Times bestselling author, a behavioral & mindset expert. He’s also been interviewed by Larry King, Ellen and Anderson Cooper. In this interview, he talks about:
How to Achieve Your Goals
As you have probably already realized, setting goals is the easy part. Taking the necessary action and consistently following through is the part that most people struggle with. This brings up a common issue for most people when it comes to change. We think we need to know more, but knowledge is rarely the problem. We've got enough "know how" already.
The real problem is that most people are unable to consistently adhere to the behaviors that can lead to success. Often times, people end up getting the same results they are used to. Even worse, instead of acknowledging that we fell back into old habits, we become victims and tell ourselves, "I didn't try hard enough," or ,"It wasn't my fault," leading us to repeat the vicious cycle over and over again. We are creatures of habit, so I have been here too.
What you need to consider to tip the scale in your favor has to do with the subconscious mind. Everything you do has to pass through the subconscious mind to make sure that you do not experience cognitive dissonance. Consequently, the subconscious mind is an important player when making decisions. However, if your conscious and subconscious minds are not aligned, your subconscious mind will tend to take the cake. For example, you may have the ambition to transform your life to achieve the goals of your dreams, but your innerself will say "No thanks, I'd rather stay comfortable."
The 6 Obstacles to Success
What is it exactly that is holding you back in your subconscious mind? Turns out, there are six main obstacles to success: fear, excess stress, limiting beliefs, negative mindset, lack of emotional control, and disempowering habits. Here is a brief overview of each.
Obstacle 1: Fear
From an evolutionary perspective, the brain is primarily hardwired to keep you safe and alive. A sensitive structure known as the amygdala is constantly active evaluating every perception as a friend or foe.
This system operates below your conscious awareness, and for many this system signals the alarm every time is perceives a threat, real or imaginary, external or internal. Even if you are to consciously consider that the odds of a threat aren't in the favor of danger, say being attacked by a shark, your brain is likely to jump to conclusions towards the most improbable threats.
Whenever the alarm is signaled, and it is frequently, the subconscious mind will do what it takes to bring you back to the zone of comfort. Whether you perceive a real or imaginary snake, a spectrum of stress neurotransmitters flood your brain and body in an effort to keep you safe.
These real or imaginary perceptions can destroy your optimism and desire to take action or make improvements. For example, you may continue to work a dead-end job rather than search for a job of your dreams. Or you may look the other direction when an captivating person enters your space for fear of being rejected rather than being emotionally available. Or if you do begin to make progress toward achieving your goals, it's likely you will sabotage yourself with chronic, impulsive, automatic triggered fears. Researchers, such as Dr. Srini Pillay, have discovered that there are more than twenty-five types of fears that can throw you off from achieving your goals, if not completely stop you. By learning to recognize these obstacles when they arise, you can learn to turn your fears into fuel.
Obstacle 2: Excess Stress
Anytime you feel worried, anxious, scared, or depleted, a stress response in the form of a cascade of neurochemicals is sent out from your brain to your body, leading to host of debilitating effects. Stress can diminish your ability to learn new skills; disable your motivation; provoke restlessness therefore interfering with sleep; and cloud your brain's executive functioning.
Moreover, stress can inhibit your creativity, leaving you less able to see new opportunities, create novel ideas, and to access your innate brilliance. (This is where meditation comes in - stress less to accomplish more.) But like most things, it's not all or nothing, and there exists a balance. A healthy amount of stress is necessary to keep you aroused, excited, and motivated.
Obstacle 3: Limiting Beliefs
Beliefs are the lenses that you view the world and your experiences through, therefore they filter and color everything you think, say, and do. Beliefs are simply reinforced neural patterns that are based on memories, personal experiences, and old paradigms.
What you believe to be to true in your life determines your self-image and sense of self-worth. If your external reality doesn't match your internal map of your sense of self-worth, a disconnect between your subconscious and conscious mind manifests, also known as cognitive dissonance, which often leads to unconscious self-sabotage to bring you back into alignment.
Limiting beliefs can create habitual patterns, often interfering with your ability to see yourself, your community, and the world in novel, creative and empowering ways. Until you change your limiting beliefs, you will keep repeating the destructive patterns that hold you back.
Obstacle 4: Negative Mindset
We have all experienced negative or pessimistic attitudes. This is a safety mechanism of the brain to be aware of danger before jumping into action. From an evolutionary perspective, being skeptical, indecisive, and negative can be a valuable trait because it can help prevent impetuously indulging in risky behaviors. This safety mechanism reminds you to take extra caution when spending money or talking to the special someone you barely know.
Conversely, if you begin to ruminate on all the possible negative potentialities, fear and anxiety can take control, transforming you from the optimist that is the natural state of healthy brain functioning into an entrenched "Negative Nancy" generating excess stress, further disrupting your brain's executive functioning. Once again, balance is key.
Obstacle 5: Lack of Emotional Control
Emotions are neither good or bad, positive or negative, regardless of whether they feel pleasant or unpleasant - they are merely signals that are triggered at the subconscious level. Nearly all organisms, from single-celled paramecium to Homo sapiens move away from pain and toward pleasure. The key is to be aware of our feelings without judgement and to learn how to manage them better.
Obstacle 6: Disempowering Habits
You are the product of your thoughts, feelings and actions. Humans are creatures of habits, and our autopilot patterns define who we are. By definition habits are tendencies that are easy to repeat and challenging to change.
From an evolutionary perspective, the brain creates habits to conserve energy. It is easier to automatically carry our familiar tasks without thinking about them than it is to reinvent the wheel. But habits can be empowering, such as moving your body five times a week, or reading forty-five minutes each day, or saving 10 percent of paycheck for savings.
On the other hand, disempowering habits - many of which were planted in your childhood - are largely destructive and sabotaging. The wrong habits can stop you from creating new solutions to life's problems. Instead, they can create cognitive bias blinding you from truth.
Aligning Your Two Minds
Your subconscious mind is a powerful and permanent part of you. Therefore, if you want to recruit the power of your subconscious mind to help you reach your goals, it's best to learn to live with it and align it with what you truly want by transforming these potential obstacles into opportunities for growth.
Your fears can become fuel for change instead of holding you back.
Your stress can become a powerful tool for building your resilience and creativity instead of burning you out.
Your beliefs can become powerful stories and anchors that inspire you instead of keeping you stuck in a rut.
Your mindset can become a lens for seeing possibility and opportunity all around you instead of making you miserable and cynical.
Your emotions can become significant signals relaying your subconscious status instead of uncontrollable reactions.
Your habits can become rituals that bring you closer to your goals instead of automatic disempowering cycles.
These six obstacles are concealed both above and below our conscious awareness. Until we learn to increase our mindfulness and observe with evaluating, we may achieve some of our goals, but not our highest potential.
Assaraf, J. (2018). Innercise. Cardiff, CA: Waterside Press.
Academically speaking, happiness is really a meaningless term because you can't really measure happiness. However, you can measure life satisfaction. You can ask people on a scale of one to ten, thinking of their life as a whole, how would they place their happiness. If you get enough people you can start to aggregate out subjectivity and approach objectivity. People only remember about two percent of their life, so asking them to think of their life of a whole is not much data. But people can pretty much remember the last 24 hours. So, if you ask them to recall the last 24 hours how much they smiled, laughed, felt stress, etc., you can get a pretty good idea of their daily emotions or their experienced happiness.
And then there's a question about purpose: "Do you use your strength to do what you do best every day?" And then if you ask a number of other questions about demographics, about age, gender, ethnicity, what your values are, what you do with your day, and you use this clever little statistical trick called a regression analysis, you can start to find out what correlates with happiness.
For the purposes of the book, Blue Zones of Happiness, in a National Geographic article Dan Buettner asked these huge databases to tell him where in the world life satisfaction is highest, daily emotions are highest, and purpose is highest. So, you can learn some things from data, but often to really understand it you have to go there.
It turns out the area with the highest life's of satisfaction is Asia. The happiest place, very counter-intuitively, is the island nation of Singapore. 27 miles long, 247 shopping malls, but it has one of the highest GDPs in the world. GDP is important for us at a certain point and one of the highest life expectancies in the world. In the 1960s it was basically a fishing village.
But what you have here are five million people very ethnically diverse, Indians, Malay and Han Chinese that live in near perfect harmony. And the reason they do is because it was very planned. Lee Kuan Yew the Prime Minister there made sure that almost everybody in the entire country owns their own house. And in these high-rise housing communities, every building reflects the ethnic diversity of the entire country. So, you have no ghettos for the Malay, or no ghettos for the Indian, or gated communities for the Chinese. The kids go to school together, it's very safe and secure. Very tough laws there. If you're a man and you commit a violent crime, there's a chance that you'll be beaten, they it call caning. If you're caught with more than a half an ounce of opioids you get the death penalty.
The other side of that coin is they don't have an opioid crisis there so nobody is dying of overdoses or the crimes that come out of it, and your children or a woman can walk any place in Singapore day or night and not have to worry about being accosted.
And actually you know there's sort of an inverse relationship between freedom and security. Actually, security is more highly correlated with life satisfaction than freedom is.
In this mindfulness session with Bernie Clark you will learn how to watch your own mind; to follow the coming and going of thoughts without getting attached to them or caught up in the drama that our thoughts create.
Dandelion, also known as "tooth of the lion", for its leaves striking resemblance to a lion's teeth. This thought to be prevalent weed is actually a tenacious, highly nutritious medicinal plant. Commonly known for its composite flower head, dandelion is edible from petal to root. Despite rampant attempts to annihilate with pesticides, dandelion thrives returning year after year from farm field, garden beds to beside freeways and gutters, there is no stopping these distinct golden flowers each spring. Resilient as they are, there are medicinal reasons to benefit from dandelion.
Dandelion greens and roots can be harvested almost all times of year whether or not the plant has gone to flower. The best time to harvest would be when they are young, fresher and less bitter. This would be in the rapid early spring of dandelions leaves first emergence. Look for lighter green and more tender leaves. At this time there is less sun exposure because it is still low in the sky and days are shorter. Therefore, locations providing less sun stimulation for the dandelion to produce less bitter leaves and root. Roots have are suggested to be best harvested in early spring when they still young and have yet to produce spring bitters to feed their growing leaves and flowers. Waiting too long to harvest roots will cause woody and bitter flavors. When choosing a location to harvest, it is important to take into factor the growth period of dandelion. If there is slow growth, this is due to the lack of moisture this plant was provided and/or contributed to a lack of growth-promoting nutrients (i.e. nitrogen). This will go stagnant in the plants body and bake in the sun causing bitterness. Therefore, spring rains, well-moisturized soil, nonfreezing temperatures and healthy energy storage contribute to explosive spring growth. Look for locations that show these distinctions. Rich soil, abundant moisture, lack of competition, and shade are the most important factors when harvesting. Dandelion seem to grow best in shaded areas by tall plants, rock features, topography and other natural features. Flowers and seeds of dandelion grow in the spring in many stages until taking seed. After spring's massive flowering, dandelion continues to grow sporadically throughout the rest of the year with a small upsurge of blooming flowers in the fall. Bitterness may be in contribution to too much sun, slow growth and root energy storage. Dandelion root can be dug from the ground cautiously, washed well and dried, cooked (below 110 F) or dehydrated. If you are not harvesting the entire plant and want only the leaves, cut a couple inches above the base. Be aware dandelion will have milky juices that will bleed from cuts made. To avoid leakage one can cut the stems off and store wrapped up to avoid leaf stain. Rinse the greens and root if collected both prior to consumption testing to be sure the flavor is to bitterness-liking. Soaking in an cold water for 5-10 minutes will perk up leafy dandelion greens. When storing a pyrex bowl, or bag will aid wilting. Greens can be stored for up to a week. The heart will need to be immediately to wash for dirt and soaked 5-10 minutes in cold water to leech milky juices. Flower, buds and stems are stored in the same manner as conventional bought flowers, in cold water and supported in a vase.
So wide-spread, abundant and hardy there is hardly a reason to plant it. Dandelion a cold-loving plant that enjoys moist soil, full of sun. Dandelion commonly is known to emerge in a well-watered garden or area in the spring or autumn, especially for the flowers around the months of April or May. Overtime dandelion will grow more and longer leaves, and sends down a taproot that thicken with age. Therefore, the moister the conditions the more leafage and larger, and deeper root dandelion will surmount in its second stage of development (flowering). As a perennial, dandelion can survive for two or more winters with an occasion late winter, early spring bloom depending on the climate conditions. Despite this capability, dandelion photosynthesizes energy to buildup a storehouse of energy in the roots to support flower and growth. As a winter-tolerant plant, dandelion decreases sugar and increases alcohol content to survive the cold. This is a preventive measure that protects damage in the cells from potential freezing. When winter passes above ground dandelion leafage begins to grow rapidly using up the stored energy from the taproot. The dandelion plant generally is proportional to the root. Cultivation provides great sources of food for our local pollinators (i.e. bees!).
Dandelion has six edible parts: leaves, flower buds, upper bud stem, flowers, heart and roots. Commonly dried dandelion root is great in decoctions as tea or in tinctures as a blood purifier, mild diuretic and laxative. Roasted dandelion root is a simple way to enhance a coffee-like flavor without the caffeine from the root and enjoy in a decoction with other herbs (i.e. burdock, chicory). The root is also commonly used in vegetable broths, stir-fries, rice, pickeling recipes and mung bean porridge. Leaves can be eaten raw, sauteéd, cooked, steamed or boiled depending on preference. Fresh leaves are often found in zesty pestos paired with a variety of other fresh herbs (i.e. chickweed, chicory greens, endive greens, cilantro, parsley, etc). Dandelion heart can be eaten raw, boiled, sauteéd or baked. Flowers, buds and stems can be harvested to eat as garnishes raw, in salad and sandwiches. However, flowers must be eaten within 3 hours before wilting. Petals are enjoyed cooked, boiled, in soup, raw in salads, syrups and wine. Generally removed from the bud sprinkled on dishes. Once petals are boiled they are less flavorful and more of a leafy green taste. Buds are delicate and are best least processed, such as raw, pickled or cooked with greens.
medicinal uses of dandelion
Dandelion has a long history of being used by practitioners as a digestive aid that stimulates bile secretion, cleanse the liver out from toxins, is a blood purifier, and helps with insulin management. The root clears obstruction in the spleen, pancreas, gall bladder, and kidneys. Both the leaf and root are mild diuretics with laxative effects. In Chinese medicine the root is recognized for balancing the liver and pancreatic enzymes by stimulating digestion, assimilation and elimination. This is specific for treating hypoglycemia when combined with other herbs (i.e. ginseng, ginger, huckleberry lf). The root is considered a nutritive in its ability to decreases blood pressure and supplying minerals in treating anemia and diuretic affects by encouraging sodium elimination in the urine. The dried leaf is commonly taken in the form of tea for fluid retention, cystitis, nephritis, weight loss and hepatitis. The root and leaf offer a range of vitamins and trace minerals. Such as, the bitter leaves contain more iron and calcium than the root, but the sweeter yellow flowers contain carotenoids like lutein. The greens provide high amounts of vitamin K known to strengthen bones and potential role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease limiting neural damage in the brain. The leafy greens requirement of vitamin A (antioxidant carotenoid) is suggested to be good for the skin, mucous membranes and vision. High in inulin and pectin (soluble fibers) they tend to help satiate the body assisting weight control and optimize cholesterol levels. Also, the greens contain vitamin C, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Further nutrients found present include folate, phosphorus, copper, and is packed with flavonoids, such as carotene-ß, carotene-α, lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin. These suggest consumption of dandelion rich may help the human body protect from lung and oral cavity cancer (Vitamin C and flavonoids [carotene]), while zeaxanthin may help protect the retina from harmful UV rays. The leaves have a greater affinity for the kidneys and/or bladder as a diuretic (action that makes one pee), whereas roots focus more on the liver (detoxification increasing bile production and excretion). Unlike synthetic diuretics dandelion contains high amounts of potassium and is able to replenish itself when lost during elimination. The flowers and stalks contain a milk latex that if applied diligently several times a day over the course of two to three weeks will rid of unwanted warts. Dandelions liver-supportive properties aid digestion, relieve constipation, improve fat digestion and absorption, improve skin issues, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and fresh roots are known to relieve allergies as a natural antihistamine. Fresh dandelion makes great additions in various edible arrangements, as dry dandelion pairs well in tea, tinctures, herbal pills or capsules or infused vinegar.
Gladstar, Rosemary. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2012.
Grove, Maria Noël. Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2016.
Kallas, John. Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2010.
Mackinnon, Pojar. Revised Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Auburn, Washington: Lone Pine Publishing, 2014.
Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 1998.
5 min. prep time
30 min. cook time
12 (pieces) servings
30-45 min. prep time
Nut Butter Filling:
Belief. It is the same element or factor which causes people to be cured through mental healing; enables others to climb the ladder of success and gets phenomenal results for all who accept it. Why belief is a miracle worker is something that cannot be satisfactorily explained, but have no doubt about it there's genuine magic in believing.
Thought attracts that upon which it is directed. Our fearful thoughts are just as creative or just as magnetic and attracting troubles to us as are the constructive and positive ones and attracting positive results.
While thoughts do create and exercise control far beyond any limits yet known to man, they create only according to their pitch, intensity, emotional quality, depth of feeling, or vibratory plane. In other words, comparable to the wavelength and wattage of a radio station, thoughts have a creative or controlling force in the exact ratio of their constancy, intensity, and power. While many explanations have been offered, no one knows whether the thought is a form of electrical energy or something else yet to be defined.
Sigmund Freud, the famous Austrian psychoanalyst, brought the world's attention to the hypothesis that there was a powerful force within us; an unenumerated part of the mind separate from the conscious mind constantly at work molding our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Others have called this division of our mental existence the soul. Some call it the super-ego, the inner power, the super consciousness, the unconscious, the subconscious, and various other names. It isn't an organ or so-called physical matter such as we know the brain to be. The ancients often referred to it as the spirit. Paracelsus called it will. Some have referred to it as conscience, the creator, or that small voice. Others called it intelligence and have asserted that it is a part of the supreme intelligence to which we are all linked.
No matter what its named, it is recognized as the essence of life and the limits of its powers are unknown. It never sleeps. It comes to our support in times of great trouble. It warns us of impending danger. Often it aids us in what seems impossible. It guides us in many ways and when properly employed performs so-called miracles.
Perhaps the most effective method of bringing the subconscious into practical action is through the process of making mental pictures using the imagination - perfecting an image of the thing or situation as you would have it exist in physical for. This is usually referred to as visualization. However, before this visualization can work you must really believe your vision can happen.
The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy, says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar. And happiness, he suggests, is born from gratitude. An inspiring lesson in slowing down, looking where you're going, and above all, being grateful.
Socrates once said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." On the other hand, if all you are doing is examining, it's fair to say that you are not truly living your life purpose.
Have you determined your life purpose? What are you passionate about? Many people spend their entire lives searching for an answer for this question, but it doesn't have to take a lifetime. We are all on this journey together to find more meaning in our life, and many often struggle along this path. You can begin to intentionally live your life in a matter of 5 minutes by honestly answering 5 simple questions:
When you honestly answer all of these questions, and put it all together, you can begin to understand your life purpose. Despite the catchy headline, it is best to give this some time, it's your life purpose - start with 5 minutes, then progress to a couple hours per week.
Remember that we are each unique - we each have a unique way of seeing the world. If you are still struggling to find your purpose, start with what brings you joy in life. Ask yourself what you would love to do to provide service to others, because service is what matters most.
10 min. prep time
10-12 min. cook time
30-45 min. prep time
3 day prep time
15-20 min. cook time
Gamma Waves for Focus, Concentration, Memory - Monaural Beats
5-10 min. prep time
15-20 min. cook time
savory optional additions:
sweet optional additions:
This portal contains research, news, information, observations, and ideas at the level of self in an effort to address lifestyle applications.