We should all have one of these….


This is a great idea.  If only we could get it miniaturised and slide it into our hippocampus and wire it up to our limbic system.  Bingo!  Instant sunshine every day…

http://www.psfk.com/2012/10/happiness-machine-internet-printer.html

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Five things that people regret on their deathbeds


Later on this year I plan to write a blog article on death, fear of it and coping with it.

However, for those of you who wonder what regrets you might have when your turn comes take a look at this brief article on the five greatest regrets express by people with only a few days of life left.

After reading the article, take a few moments to consider how, armed with that knowledge and insight, you might change your own life to avoid having the same regrets.

http://m.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying?cat=lifeandstyle&type=article

Beware what you say to children…


Imagine that you are 6 months old and are in charge of the world’s most sophisticated supercomputer.  You have to programme it so that it can move, think, communicate and understand the world in all its complexity.  It needs to recognise voices and places, cross roads safely, drive cars, write poetry and music, do complex calculations, know where it is in time and space, experience emotions, interact with other supercomputers and make decisions on a multiplicity of things.   How would you go about it?

The ultra-efficient human brain is estimated to have 100 billion neurons and at least 100 trillion synapses.  Internal communications happen at incredible speeds as it processes different streams and types of data simultaneous, so that you always know where you are, what you are doing and what your next action is going to be every millisecond of every day.  It’s a miracle that we function at all.

Yet nature leaves the programming of this fantastically complex computer to babies and young children!   Babies go through the mechanical part of their learning in well-known stages – recognising faces, learning to crawl, walk, run, hop on one leg and so on. As their brains develop, so does the capacity for language – learning to speak, building a vocabulary, recognising words, reading – and for numbers and calculation.  They also develop a sense of place – cot, rooms, house, street, school etc.

To keep track of this mass of data they create maps in specialised areas of their brains and unless there is interference from a viral infection or genetic or physical damage, these processes continue right through their lives.

However, one of these mapping areas is created and set quite early in life – it’s the part which gives us our view of the world and our place in it.  It is created from a combination of direct experience and what we are told by other people, especially parents and authority figures like priests and teachers.

So, if I am six and I am told by a priest that I am going to hell, that will be put into my map of the world and I will be fearful of that belief until someone who I trust more than the priest tells me different.  If a parent tells me repeatedly that I am stupid, then I will grow up with that belief.  I won’t try to understand things which I find difficult because there’s no point – I’ve been told I’m stupid, I believe that I’m stupid,  so it’s a waste of energy to try.  And so a cycle of self-defeating behaviours begins at a very early age.

A child has no other reference point other than what they are told, so they are extremely vulnerable to deliberate or unintentional implanting of  ideas and beliefs.  These ideas will then continue throughout childhood and into adulthood, affecting self-esteem, relationships, work, creativity and everything to do with their ability to achieve their full potential as well-rounded individuals.

And it’s not just young children who are vulnerable.  Those in early teenage years are equally at risk.  This year alone I have seen one good-looking, highly intelligent under-achiever who has convinced himself that he needs to have his jaw shortened because he was told by a class mate when he was 13 years old  that his jaw protruded.  It doesn’t.  But he now suffers body dysmorphia, and sees a protruding jaw that isn’t there every time he looks in a mirror.  Now in his early 20’s he’s determined to find a plastic surgeon who will agree to saw his jaw in half and move it back a few millimetres so that these wounding words from a 13-year-old child (which he replays hundreds of times a day in his head) can be exorcised from his mind.

I’ve also dealt successfully with an attractive girl who had been told as a young teenager that she was too ugly for anyone to love her.  Again, those words impacted so strongly on her inner world map that she suffered anxiety and depression right through her 20’s.  When I first saw her she was dressed in a baggy grey track suit and her body language was one of hiding and not wanting to be noticed.  Three sessions later she bounced into my consulting grinning widely having bought a bright pink dress and feeling on top of the world. She said that people had noticed how much happier she seemed and how things at work which she’d found depressing had suddenly started to improve for the better.  All because we had redrawn that part of her internal mind map which contained her view about herself, the way she looks and the way in which she then relates to the world.  Simply replacing it with a true picture of how she really is.

So, consider what you say to children.  If they do something stupid, they need to be corrected.  But pushing a wire coat hanger into a lit electric fire is “a stupid thing to do” but it doesn’t make the child stupid.  Similarly, continuously praising a child is almost as bad as being continuously critical.  Being critical makes them feel they will always fail; continuous praise makes them believe that they can never fail.  Either is an unrealistic model of the world to present to a child and gives them unrealistic expectations of life.

So, if you come across people who seem to be overly negative or have no enthusiasm for life or who give up before they begin, just consider how they view themselves.  Don’t judge them as lazy or stupid.  Perhaps their internal map of the world is distorted through no fault of their own.

Explaining the mechanism behind hypnosis


Almost everyone can be hypnotised if they want to be. And it can be a very fast process. I used to take up to twenty minutes to take someone into a trance, I now do it in 2-3 minutes and then just deepen it to the level I want.

Some recent research reported in New Scientist…

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/nstv/2011/10/one-word-technique-produces-first-physical-evidence-of-hypnosis.html

… demonstrates how a subject can go into an instant state of hypnosis and then identifies the parts of the brain responsible for inducing and maintaining this state.

The article sadly makes no mention of how much training was needed to achieve this – presumably because the main point of focus for the research was the identification of the areas of the brain which are switched and those which are switched off during hypnosis.

Th findings of this work reinforce my own view that hypnosis is more a meditative state than a sleep state and that as long as the subject wants to hold it, they can continue to function in daily life.

It is important to understand that they are not Zombies or acting wierdly, but just choosing to remove themselves from distractions and emotional involvement in the present, so that they can focus on the task in hand.

Take a look at the link and let me know what you think

Food for Thought


I saw this YouTube clip over the weekend.  Wearing my cynical ex-ad man hat, I though it was a very nicely produced schmaltzy film pleading for understanding of US troops written from the point of view of their loved ones and ignoring the fact that to many of the people of the country’s they are currently engage in, they have the appearance of intimidating, threatening robocops.

However, on reflection, isn’t the message of this film just about what we all truly want for ourselves and from our families?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ervaMPt4Ha0