I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride

Love Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

 

Not to get to psychologically geeky on you but when love straightforwardly, without complexities and pride – isn’t that when we experience flow, mindfulness and even universe conspiring to help us . . .

Pablo Neruda  Nobel Prize

Neruda’s work cannot be out of copyright yet.  Does anyone know where this was published and where it is available for sale.? At least we should have links up but if you own the copyright, please advise what you would ike us to do.

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Procrastination, Thoreau, and modern psychologists

I'm not working by quinn.anya via FlickrFeeble attempts to dispel procrastination

I am tired.  I am procrastinating.  I have  a messy confused project on my desk so I switched on the Conservative party conference under the pretext that Hague makes sense and I should listen to the Prime Minister.  I have no idea who was speaking but that time-filling gambit didn’t last long. British politicians SHOUT.  Anything on my desk seems preferable to the assault on my ears.

Procrastination doesn’t work

I thought briefly I had found the fail safe solution to procrastination.  Switch on a party political broadcast.

But within moments, my thoughts had drifted to a book in the other room:  Walden, Henry Thoreau’s classic account of his experiment living frugally in the woods while he studied.

Henry Thoreau and Walden

Thoreau was a principled man, it seems.  In the same breath that he talks of  hoeing beans, he talks of sheltering runaway slaves.  He mentions just as dispassionately about being jailed for not paying his taxes because he refused to pay tax to a government that condoned slavery.

Thoreau and procrastination

Thoreau would have thought less of me for doing work that leads to procrastination.  He believes his experiment for living on almost nothing (rather than steeling himself to live on almost nothing) demonstrates:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws will be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the licence of a higher order of things.

In proportion, as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitde, nor poverty povery, nor weakness weakness.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost: that is where they should be.  Now put foundations under them.”  (p. 280 of the 1927 edition).

Thoreau and self-regulation

I wonder what Thoreau would have thought of modern psychology.  I think he would have despised it.  Yet some of it is helpful.

Peter Gollwitzer’s work on “wish to intent” and “crossing the Rubicon” highlights the phenomenon that Thoreau describes.  When we are “in full flight”, when we are in flow (Cziksentmihalyi), everything suddently becomes very easy.

Roy Baumeister indirectly also confirms Thoreau’s view.  Baumeister shows experimentally that when we have to make a difficult choice, like eating chocolate instead of something less pleasant like radishes, we show less ability to control ourselves on the next task.  This is why, in David Whyte’s words it is important “to leave all other world’s behind us”.  Or the “the antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness”.

When we are tired we need to move toward “the channel in which our life flows”.

A solution to my procrastination

So I am tired.  Allowing myself respite, will help.  Compromising on the quality of that report will not.  Compromise will make me tireder.

Yup, I least I am not fighting distaste.  I have a challenge now; not an annoyance.

A poet tells us how to be goal-oriented AND mindful at the same time

Can we be goal-oriented and mindful at the same time?

Goals and mindfulness are two of the most powerful concepts in contemporary psychology.

No doubt, when we are pursuing a goal, we pay attention to what we are doing.  But at a cost. We also neglect what is going on around us.

When we pursue a goal, we are often “in flow”.  It’s wonderful!  We are fully engaged with what we are doing.

Yet, the surest sign that we are “in flow” is that we run late for the next meeting.  We remember our flow experiences as much for the anger they arouse in other people as the joy we experience when we are fully engrossed in what we are doing!

This post is a cerebral account.  I am trying to understand the issues.

  • How can I be goal-oriented and focused on what is going on around me?
  • How can I pursue goals of the future yet be ‘fully present’.

Poets often solve our conundrums!

The poets have often already asked and answered what we want to know. Today I found a poem from Rainer Marie Rilke: A Walk and I hope it will help me understand how to be goal-oriented and mindful at the same time.

So often when an ideas in psychology is unsatisfactory, western ideas about time seem to be the root cause of the problem. Rilke’s poem recasts the ideas from temporal space to physical space and helps us imagine alternative ways of understanding the world.

Rilke suggests that that when we see a goal “on our horizon”, we draw it into our present. The present and future are merged and there is no difference between them.

When we look at the horizon we are energized to get up and walk.  And motivated perhaps to ignore the glorious flowers right near us.

The world exists because we pay attention to it and it takes its form because of our attention!

Equally, another person standing right next to us is in another world because they are paying attention to different things. They are even on a different time plane because their future changes their present!

The future and the present are not two different places ~ nor is one better than the other

Rilke talks in the poem about the pleasure of dreams.  He is not saying, though, that dreams are better than the present.  He is saying the future and the present are one place.  And whatever we believe about the future, changes the present.  Our dreams change the present moment.

How the future can fix the present

Sometimes, in those moments when we don’t like the present moment, we could look again at our horizon.

When we don’t like the present, before we complain, maybe we could run an exercise of looking at three different horizons?  If one of the versions of the present becomes more enjoyable ~ could we live from there?

Here is Rainer Marie Rilke’s poem, The Walk, translated by Robert Bly.

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,

going far ahead of the road I have begun.

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;

it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,

into something else, which, hardly sensing it,

we already are; a gesture waves us on

answering our own wave…

but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Translated by Robert Bly

Rainer Maria Rilke

PS What is the copyright on this poem and if someone wanted to by a copy, what would they buy? Is there an Amazon link I could add here?

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1001 things we learn from live performers

#1  my career is a journey to find my people

A good performer jumps on stage, looks out at the audience, and thinks, “Here I am!”
A great performer jumps on stage, looks out at the audience, and thinks, “There you are!”

Steve Rapson from Art of the Solo Performer
contributed by DW from Connecticut, USA

and for #2 thru #1001 visit Music Thoughts

 

The opposite of complicated isn’t complex. It is flow!

Complicated vs Complex

I am so chuffed to see my post on Complicatedness and Complexity take off – even if belatedly.

The difference between the complicated and complexity is important.  We love the complex sound of music and are quickly tired of the repetitive noise of a jackhammer.

And complicatedness wears us out in seconds.  Meetings which are run around the manager’s whim leave the rest of us to hang about like spare parts. Not knowing when our delayed flight will resume and not being able to call ahead to rearrange our transport and meetings renders us astonishingly irritable.  Internet banking cluttered with advertising and instructions below the fold don’t allow flow.

The opposite of complicated is flow and we do know how to make flow.

#1 The task must allow us to act autonomously

All the information must be in front of us. We shouldn’t have to open dozens of files, folders and notebooks to find it.  Nor should we have to ask anyone.  Eveything we need should be in front of us and obvious.

#2 The task must give us feedback

As soon as we try the task, it should be clear whether we are doing the right thing.

#3 The task must allow learning.

A toddler persists in putting a square into a round hole until they achieve the insight, quite accidentily, that the shapes and holes match.  We like to learn.  We don’t mind at all.

But we must have time to learn.  Don’t shout at us or time us our while we figure things out.

#4 We must be allowed to finish.

Once we get going, we want to get everything done.  Please don’t interrupt.  Wait!

We also know how to test flow

It’s easy!  We take the group who is likely to do the task and we let them do it.  We watch.  We learn where we have misunderstood their skills, needs and working conditions, and we redesign!

Complicated – how I hate it!

But then I’ve always been a flow junkie!

Let’s bring the light back to our eyes

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Image via Wikipedia

Flow

Until today, I’ve always asked people about ‘flow’, activities which we love so much that we lose track of time.  Every one knows what these are, of course, because we run late and get into trouble!

You should try asking people! It usually takes no more than 5 minutes to get a young person’s eyes to light up with delight as they recall what they love doing.

But then ask how they will make a living and their eyes dull over as they contemplate what worries them most.

How can we find the place where our deep gladness and the world’s hunger meets?

In days gone by, to find that place, we used to join an organization. The transitions between the stages of our lives where quite abrupt. We went to school where we knew people. Then we went to university and college where we started again. Then we did the same when we went to work.

With each change, we could trust the organization to provide the place where our own passions and the world’s needs met.

That’s no longer the case. Our careers have become less a set of “steps in a staircase” and more a trumpet shape as we take our deep gladness and expand it like a daffodil in bloom to ever widening interaction with the world.

I used to think I was quite innovative about honing in so quickly and easily on our experience of flow – the activities that bring the light to our eyes – our deep gladness.

I’m glad I do that. But it is not enough.

I also have to ask

  • Who did you talk to today?
  • What did you do or say that gave you immense pleasure and that was also appreciated by the other person?

It’s around this frontier that we can build a portfolio for a successful career.

Can young people tell me about the place where their deep gladness and the world’s hunger meets?

I must ask them.  What will be the points of recognition?  What is the equivalent of losing track of time?  What body language tells us that we have found this place?

Can anyone help me?

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3 fresh ideas in management

1 Flow

I love flow.  I know some people who think it is great to be in flow, or in the zone, for half-an-hour a day.  I am a flow junkie.  I go for all 24 hours counting a good sleep as good flow.

2 Crossing the Rubicon

But there is something I love more.

That is the rush when you have a crystal clear idea that you know will work and that is, in that instant, so obvious.

What is the name for that?

I know Peter Gollwitzer, the psychologist calls it “crossing the rubicon” – moving from wish to intent.

3 Corporate anthropology

This corporate anthropologist, studies the use of mobile phones by poor people and travels around the world studying the way phones are used.

My questions to you?

Why don’t we study flow a lot more than we do?

Why don’t we study people at work they way this guy studies phones?

Why aren’t we interested in why and when work is blissful and  fun?

Why are aren’t we interested in making jobs as enjoyable as Nokia tries to make its phones?

I could do spend all day trying to make work fun and never get tired of it!!  Could you?  Do you?

Aloha coaching: 3 points for conversations

I have just rediscovered Aloha Coaching and found their post on conversations:

Bronze is earned from listening to our own voice.

Silver is earned from incomplete conversations.

Gold is earned from voices that are struggling to be heard.

And how do we do this?

In addition to aiming for gold: to hear the voice struggling to be heard,

2.  Be patient with silence.

1.  Still our own inner voice

Have you seen Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED lecture on her “stroke of insight”?

Jill is a brain scientist who had a stroke quite young.  She describes what it felt like to lose the left side of her brain which governs our serial processing – our inner voice.  She cries when describes what it was like to be fully aware of the world via the right parallel processing side of her brain.  I think they were tears of wonder (though I am sure it was pretty scary too).

I think implicitly she was advocating the idea that we put far too much emphasis on our left brain, serial processing, “I”, “to do” list brain, and not enough attention to what is happening almost imperceptibly around us.

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho advocates similar idea.  I have found the idea of looking towards the horizon quite useful and particularly of listening to sounds as far as I can hear.

Galba Bright of TuneupyourEQ has been talking about reflection.

In my experience, some people who are very in tune with the world don’t reflect much.  I think that those of us who are have strong serial processors need to make time to relax, reflect and recreate.  In the hurly-burly of the world, we can become increasingly inefficient otherwise.

Does stilling our inner voice reduce our own motivation?

I don’t think so.  Indeed the opposite.  It allows us to hear ourselves too.

Our serial ‘doing’ brain is important.  It is what we use during “flow”, I think.  Maybe a neuro-scientist could comment on that.  When we are in the flow of action, we aren’t listening to anything outside that activity

We need both – action and stillness.

The big dilemma is when we get caught in one or the other!

I am just finishing a sabbatical and have the most awful resistance to getting going again.  I know from experience that the adrenaline high of action will take me away from the peace of reflection, and when I am in that place, I will resist coming down.

Have you experienced anything like that?