The Red Pill – a Mindset

Thoughts both positive and negative affect our expectations, choices, actions and ultimately our results.

At the very least, when you are thinking negatively about something you are not thinking about solutions or planning for success. But more likely is the case that negative thoughts lead to a spiral of other negative thoughts. You may not even recognize them as negative because they are only marginally unpleasant and don’t cause a strong reaction for you.

Any thought that makes you feel bad can be considered negative. Some that jump to mind include fear, threat, exclusion, nervousness, apprehension, sadness, being misunderstood, confusion, timidness, jealousy, inadequacy, self doubt, denial, hatred, dishonesty, boredom etc.

 

What if you could take a pill that would cause an alarm bell to ring in your head every time you formulate a negative thought? It would allow you to recognize when you have negative thoughts and stop them instinctively. You would likely change the things you spend your time thinking about and ultimately guide yourself to more productive actions and achieve better results.

Obviously this pill doesn’t really exist but as a thought experiment you can imagine that it does and as you go through your day, every time you feel unpleasant, ring an alarm in your head as loud as you can. I have been holding this idea for a few days and noticed that it has stuck with me and has some measurable results so far. You should give it a try too.

This will do several things for you:

  • Firstly it will stop you from continuing to draw out negative thoughts preventing you from spending your time on them.
  • It will also show you the situations, places and activities in your life that are triggers for negativity and you could recognize when they happen and make changes to your environment to avoid them.
  • Most significantly it will force you to shift your life direction towards getting the things, people and experiences in your life that would be completely fulfilling. Can you imagine what those things would be and what that would feel like? If you’re not already there now It should feel exhilarating and possibly uncomfortable if it’s far outside of your comfort zone and you can visualize it with enough detail.

Now Imagine that this pill is real and you just took two. Try visualizing it working for you and every time you have a thought that is negative, fear, boredom, sadness, futility, jealousy, discomfort, pain, ring the bell and focus on changing your thoughts. For the next seven days this pill will ring after each negative thought.

Use the prospect of a much more fulfilling life inspire you to put in the extra energy it takes to be consistent with this thought experiment over one week. If it can become something that you want to have in your life then thinking about the outcome you want to achieve will give you the motivation to follow through. If you can’t hold the idea one hundred percent of the time thats ok just pick it back up when you remember. Make post-it notes or make a reminder with pen on your hand where you will see it.

 

How would you rate the things in your life? Use a scale of one to ten, where ten is the maximum happiness you can feel about something and one is the worst imaginable. Some categories to think about: health and physical well being, career satisfaction, wealth and finances, relationships and friendships, contributions, experiences etc. If you rate anything less than ten think about what would have to change and how it would feel to actually have those things in your life that you would rate tens.

After visualizing this pill affecting your life for a few days you might notice that as you imagine experiencing the things you initially rated as ten are actually not the best that you can achieve. Though the repeated process of seeing a new goal and achieving it often a new even better goal for you will appear. If you fully applied this to your life you could end up stepping outside of your current comfort zone. You might find yourself quitting your job, starting a business, moving to a new city, finding new friends and enjoy new relationships. You could end up living a completely new and totally different life.

 

If the pill was real It might have such a drastic effect on your life that if you were to look at your future self you might feel discomfort or shock. If you had an outside source pushing you to overcome blocks in all areas of your life twenty four seven, you might feel like you’re riding the top of a rocket ship going faster than you can handle. You might end up giving up the things in your life you currently consider important and have an attachment to. These things may not be a part of the life of the version of you that is fully satisfied. You might lose some of your friends, your job, your relationship partner and find yourself in a completely different city, have a different career or life purpose. It’s good to put this into perspective and balance it with with the alternative of going with your current course and continuing to get what you have now.

With this pill would you continue to plug away at a job you don’t love all the while an alarm is going off in your head? What if instead you thought about getting a new job that makes you fully happy or transforming the one you have now into something new. Can you imagine what it would feel like to be completely satisfied in every area of your life? The idea is something I hadn’t ever fully imagined in vivid detail up to this point. What realistically is stopping you from making that life real?

 

What would your life look like in a week, month or a year from now. You might have to work through it slowly because it’s hard to anticipate how changes now will affect your decisions later on.

What interactions in your relationships now are not congruent with complete fulfilment? What would it look like if you made decisions that were motivated by positivity and excitement rather than fear or compromise.

Would you work to become more financially independent and secure for your future.

Would you start public speaking, or performances at work or for fun?

Do you have a fear of speaking in public? What if all of the thoughts in your life that lead you to the decisions that keep you from being more bold and free in front of large groups could be turned off?

Would you change your living conditions by moving to a new home? Would it be cleaner, or have a new colour, furniture, lights or artwork?

Would you pick up new hobbies like sky diving, base jumping, motorcycle racing?

Would you spend more time in nature, walking or other recreational activities. Or would you travel the world to see new sights and experiencing other cultures?

 

Self sabotage can prevent us from fully realizing the changes we work towards. I recall a few personal experiences of involuntary discomfort when good things have happened to me. They were totally irrational responses and not at all what I would have expected my reaction to be.

Many years ago on a Christmas morning my girlfriend at the time gave me a freaking iMac computer. She knew I wanted one to start a small business. The business was my big passion and the old computer I had at the time wasn’t cutting it. When I opened the box and saw the computer I literally felt a surge of panic and adrenaline, in that order. That thing was expensive and money was tight, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I thought to myself I really have to make this business work to return the favor. It was nice to know someone trusted in me enough to make that investment though. I recall reflecting on my reaction and appreciating that if I was to achieve every other goal in my life then I would probably feel very different about it in reality from how I imagine it.

The second instance was when I was younger, a very beautiful girl passing on the street smiled and waved at me. I was so taken back that I couldn’t even respond. Now that I think back on it I can say to myself as it smack my forehead: stupid, stupid, stupid. I want relationships with new people and I realized that there are mental blocks in social situations that jump up unless I work through them.

What I find interesting about these two situations is that my reaction was something I wouldn’t have expected, it was involuntary and occurred in a split second. These types of reactions are based on a large set of collective memories, beliefs and habits. While the reaction was only momentary I recognize that the reasons for it occurring are also affecting my thoughts and decisions through the day all of the time. Subconsciously they affect what I think about, and decide to pursue at a very low level.

Become comfortable with the idea of living a congruent life with positive thoughts. This will help prevent situations where split second reactions work against you and allow you to seize the moment. Become comfortable holding the mindset you imagine the most successful version of yourself would have.

This will help in many situations. Maybe it’s a business relationship and your natural reactions give other parties confidence in you. Maybe it’s a social setting and the only way you meet an important new connection is by recognizing the opportunity and acting before it’s gone.

 

In some situations we can find ourselves stuck in negative behaviour because of bad habits. Habits can be tricky to change but there are some strategies that can make it easier.

Change things up and make automatic actions require conscious control so you can more easily evaluate if you want to continue. Smokers quitting will do this by using the opposite hand. All of the automatic motions of pulling out a cigarette, lighting, holding it now require conscious effort because it’s an uncommon set of motions like writing a letter with your non dormant hand. While that is happening you have the opportunity to say to yourself, do I really want to be smoking this?

You may need to remove certain actors from your environment. If it’s tv you can move it to another room or get rid of it entirely. If it’s a person you may need to set up boundaries. If it’s your living environment you may need to rearrange furniture or paint to make it feel different.

Another approach is to use overwhelming force far beyond what you expect is reasonable. Then even if you fall short there is enough leftover effort to still get the job done.

 

After holding onto this thought experiment for the past few days I found that it actually had a surprising effect. Because it’s not a real pill I missed a lot of negative thoughts and my behaviour isn’t always one hundred percent affected by this. The excitement from the possibility that everything in my life could be changed if I had the courage to act makes it easy to retain the experiment. The first tangible result is this blog. I have been thinking about writing it for years but only now have I started.

If you spend your life thinking and feeling negatively it doesn’t really matter how many goals you achieve, great friends you have or millions of dollars you have in a bank account. None of that can change the enjoyment of your life. The only way to do that is to decide in each moment what thoughts you want to hold.

Personal Development Blog Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to share some of the life lessons that I have learned over the years as well as those of others that I found useful. I will be writing new entries as I work through personal goals.

One of the more interesting subjects for me in personal development is finding the things, ideas and lifestyle traits that bring the most happiness. I see in others and myself blocks or bad habits that keep us from having a better life. It can be easy to get lost in routine and forget what truly makes us fulfilled but when you see a glimpse of it you know there is no substitute.

The direction you take in life makes just as much difference to where you end up as how hard you work at it. If you achieve all of your goals only to discover afterwards that you would actually have been happier doing something else, then I would like to know that now instead of later. So this is what I’m interested in, learning new skills that move me closer to my goals, faster and also becoming more clear about who I am and where I want to go.

If we are capable of achieving happiness then why not just do that? Of course it’s not easy. When it is easy it’s great but there is always a part of ourselves that wants to explore new uncharted areas. Making big changes requires a big step outside of our comfort zone.

Some of the topics that I will write about include work and a fulfilling way to earn an income, relationships with friends partners and meeting new people, hobbies/recreation and enjoying life just to start this list.

A big influence on me has been the work of a guy named Steve Pavlina, who has a blog at http://stevepavlina.com. Steve’s blog has a huge collection of free articles and in one of them talks about this idea of subjective reality as a perspective on life. This article had such a big impact on me that I named this site based on it.

Steve explains that it is important to understand the nature of reality accurately because it allows us to achieve better results with increased happiness and less wasted effort. If we have false beliefs about the way the world works we could unknowingly walk into conflict or counteract our own efforts without even knowing it. A lot of the beliefs we hold are layered on top of others and affect us subconsciously so they can be pervasive and difficult to identify.

In a quest to understand reality accurately we have to evaluate everything and consider that what we think we know might not actually be so. What can we say we know about reality for certain? Starting with the basics I know for certain that I am aware and conscious. Some people might say that the universe is deterministic and what you think of as free will is just an illusion and everything happens because of predestined causality of physics and brain chemistry. You will have to make up your own mind but even if that were the case you still have the experience of being a conscious thinking being and the experience itself is what I am referring to.

Now that I have established that consciousness is real what can we say about all of the physical things on this planet including the ground we walk on, our bodies that get us around, other people we meet, the food we eat and everything else we have ever touched, tasted, smelled or seen? That all must exist as a physical reality right? after all it’s always been there. But what if it’s not. What if all physical objects only exist when you’re experiencing them and disappear when you’re not. How would you know. You can’t possibly, without stepping outside of your own consciousness, something that doesn’t even make sense as a concept.

A common perspective of an objective reality is that things exist independently of you and will continue to exist with or without you. But that is an assumption I can’t accept as a given if I have to be honest with myself.

Subjective reality can be summarized by the idea that only consciousness exists, that you who is reading this are that consciousness and that everything you experience is a reflection of your thoughts.

If you can entertain the idea that this might be a more accurate way of describing how the world works, then you can open up your receptivity to new results and experiment with life with curiosity and wonder.

When was the last time you experienced something you believed to be impossible. Never? Is that because impossible things never happen or is it because the mechanism that forms the fundamental nature of reality only shows you what you believe.

What if someone told you that the way you think about the world changes the way you experience it in a physical way. Would you dismiss them because you think that can’t be possible or would you say to yourself the only way to find out is to try it for yourself and experience it from the inside out.

Subjective reality is a perspective, it doesn’t necessarily mean that objects don’t exist but it does make you take a hard look at everything in your life and rationally evaluate things will all available information. It also allows you to explore new areas of your life based on results outside of any boundaries of social convention.

I will be writing later on about some experiences that I have had relating to this. The world is an amazing place without any obvious limits to its variety and detail. It can be very good and very bad and that entirely depends on how you think.

The way I found Steve Pavlina and a particular article on his ideas of subjective reality was meaningful to me because it marked a major transition point in my life. After starting on a journey of learning and exploring new ideas my goals and motivations changed and I experienced many new things I couldn’t possibly have imagined were possible before.

I was driving to work about a decade ago and thinking to myself that I want to know the truth about the universe first and foremost regardless of how unpleasant the result might make me feel. For example what happens when we die? does our consciousness cease to exist or does something else happen? There are many stories and explanations for one or the other but at this moment in my car I remember a distinct focus putting top priority on finding truth first and accepting the result.

If you feel uncomfortable about the possible results of something you are investigating it can subtly or overtly alter the way you approach and commit. If the thought of an afterlife is ridiculous to you how thoroughly are you going to research accounts of it? If the idea of life ending with your body makes you uncomfortable how likely are you to research the works of scientists that study the brain? Afterlife is just an example to illustrate how the fear of an outcome alters our actions, choices and interests.

I remember feeling a little bit uncomfortable with the idea but I put a lot of energy into it as if to say to myself that I am going to follow through and make a commitment to searching and accepting what I found not knowing if I would ever find anything. Later that day on lunch break I was surfing the internet and came across Steve’s blog and it blew me away. I really liked his thinking and the ideas he described because they were practical, common sense but non traditional, seemed to be effective and I could see how I would apply it to my life. I couldn’t get enough and read everything I could from his site.

Synchronicity hits. The next day I was driving into work with a coworker and as I entered the building I was ready to walk over to a security panel to enter my code and disable the alarm. Each employee had a unique code to arm and disarm the system. Before I get within five meters of the alarm it beeps to signal it’s not armed after being triggered by the front door closing. Later the bosses came in and I said casually that the way the alarm wasn’t set last night because it wasn’t armed. The boss left and came back into the room five minutes later to say the log shows my code was used to disarm the system at the time I did in fact arrive. My co-worker is my witness that I never touched that panel and I did check the space to confirm that I was the first one in that day. Impossible, I took that as the universe saying hello. The fact that it was a secured door had some symbolism to me and that marked the beginning of some experiences on a journey to date that have been amazing.

You may be thinking, thats retarded, you’re wrong, it was a glitch, or you should get your head checked. That is why I described this subjective reality idea thingy earlier. How do you know it didn’t happen? In the end all anyone has is their experience of reality. The only thing that exists is your awareness, so play with the universe and see what happens. Some people may be familiar with the concept of synchronicity. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea and think it’s wrong I have a challenge and an accompanying prize for you. Can you prove the universe is objective or subjective? Nope, so instead of saying that synchronicity can’t happen the best you could possibly do is say maybe it happens? If you say it’s impossible without proving it that is the same in my mind as saying it definitely works because of magical fairy dust without proving it. If you can prove to me that synchronicity doesn’t exist or that the universe is objective, i.e. things exist independently of you then I will give you a prize.
Obviously this is meant in jest and no one believing in an objective reality would want to prove such a thing. It is just meant to make you think about things in a different way. That being said if you can convince me otherwise I really will give you a prize and a good one too.