Knowing What You Really, Really Want

If you could create one change in your life, or you could have one wish fulfilled, what would it be? Knowing your burning desire is the first and most important step in creating a life that you love. Do you know what you’d do with being granted one wish to know anything, be anything, or do anything?  

I recently asked people at a seminar I was teaching this question. 

Here were a few of their answers:

1. I’d travel around the world for a year—all expenses paid.

2. I’d buy a house with the money I’d have from winning the lottery.

3. I’d wish to live in a continuous state of love and peace.

4. I’d wish that a perfect partner for me would enter my life.

5. I’d instantaneously lose 40 pounds.

Recently, I got totally lost while driving because I was out of cell phone range. I was disheartened to keep driving because I didn’t know if I was headed in the right direction. Finally, I asked at a gas station if I was on the right road. It ends up I wasn’t. I had gone ten miles out of the way. I felt bad for a moment learning I had gone the wrong way, but as I turned around I immediately felt better. At least now I knew how to get on the right road. This taught me you don’t have to wait till you get your wish granted to feel good. Just knowing you’re on the right road is immediately a great feeling.

The good news is that knowing what you’d wish for is the single most important step in having your wish be granted. Even moving slowly in the right direction is a lot better than not knowing what direction to head in. Often, people say to me, “But I don’t know what I really want!”

Well, here are three questions you can ask yourself to get a better idea of what you really, really want:

1. If you suddenly inherited 50 million dollars, what would you do with your time and money?

2. What would you do if you only had six months left to live?

3. What feelings would you hope to experience as a result of spending money or doing the things you’d do with 6 months left to live?

The key here is to be specific. For example, if I had endless wealth, I’d hire more help to take care of business stuff I don’t like to do. That would give me more time to spend in nature, meditation, and with friends and family I love. The feelings I’d hope to get from that would be deep peace, ecstasy, and a feeling of joyous connection. Therefore, what I’m really, really after are the feelings of deep peace, ecstasy and joyous connection. Having money, or being in nature, or meditating, or being with friends is just a method to get to those feelings I want. The problem for many people is that they have very inefficient methods or strategies to get to the feelings they most desire. Often people will work for years to get enough money to go to a beautiful beachside resort—in order to get to a feeling of relaxed peace. But it’s a lot more efficient (and less effort) if you know of a way to get to a feeling of relaxed peacefulness in your daily life—such as through meditation, prayer, or yoga.

So what are the feelings you most desire? Answer those three questions above and you will likely find out. Once you do that, make a list of at least five ways you can get more of those feelings in your life. For example, if you really want more love in your life, you might:

1. Get a dog or cat.

2. Get a book about how to create more intimacy and friends in your life.

3. Express more affection to the people in your life.

4. Schedule quality time to be with the people you care about.

5. Practice acts of kindness with your family, friends, and even strangers.

By having several easily accessible ways to bring more of the feelings you want in your life, you’ll feel more fulfilled. As you feel happier, you’ll also be helping your family and friends to be happier—because happiness is contagious. You need not wait until everything in your life is working out in order to feel good. If you make a list like the one I just suggested, you’ll have a lot of ways to immediately bring the feelings you want into your day to day life.

The Relationship Update Game

I’m writing a book now that details many simple communication “games” for quickly increasing your connection to your partner or a friend. One of my favorites is called The Relationship Update Game.  In a few minutes, this simple method provides friends or romantic partners with a lot of useful information.  It helps to clear out any “cobwebs,” and helps couples start out a new week with a clear, informed, caring slate.

The Relationship Update Game consists of five open ended sentences. Once two people are ready to play, they each take turns completing the sentences of the game.  If the players prefer, they’re welcome to also ask their friend or lover questions during the game so as to get more information.  I’ve seen this game take as little as ten minutes, or as long as half an hour.  It all depends on how much time and curiosity you have. So, without further ado, here are the five open-ended sentences:

  • The best thing that happened to me this week was…
  •  Something I’ve been feeling lately is…
  •  Something I’ve been wanting lately is…
  • Something I’ve been avoiding saying or communicating to you is….
  •  Something I’ve appreciated about you recently is…

Instead of providing you with a transcript of a couple playing this game, I will briefly mention why I specifically chose each of the five open ended sentences used in this exercise.  The game begins with, “The best thing that happened to me this week was…”   I chose this sentence to begin because it’s important to look back and celebrate life’s good moments together.  In fact, research shows that when couples acknowledge and celebrate each other’s victories, it helps to create a lasting bond.  Couples that fail to recognize life’s good moments together end up spending more time arguing with each other.  By completing this open-ended sentence, you automatically create a moment of positive connection with your partner.

The second and third open-ended sentences are geared towards uncovering what each partner is feeling and wanting.  Knowing how you feel and what you want are possibly the two most important pieces of information you can reveal to your partner.   Like a good map, such information discloses to your partner exactly where you’re at and where you want to go.  It also summarizes for yourself where you’re currently at and where you want to go.  Oftentimes, we get so lost in our heads that we forget the power and simplicity of knowing the direction we want to head in. Once you’ve defined where you are and where you want to be, it’s much easier to hit your intended target.

Sentence number four is perhaps the hardest sentence to complete. I chose this sentence because “withholds”– or things that are unsaid–can be like stuff clogging your sink.  Each little “withhold,” like each strand of hair clogging a sink, doesn’t seem like much.  Yet over time, you soon find that your relationship is all blocked up and there’s no flow to it anymore. By revealing withholds on a weekly basis, you prevent these mini-blocks from getting out of hand and interfering with ongoing intimacy. Think of it as a gentle form of relationship cleaning or maintenance.

Finally, the fifth sentence is a great way to end your weekly session with your partner. When you tell your mate what you appreciate about them, it does three beneficial things. First, it makes both you and your partner feel good.  Second, it tells your partner the things they do that really mean a lot to you. Normally, we assume we know what our partner appreciates, but once you’ve played this game a few times, you’ll see that you’re often wrong.  By knowing what your partner most appreciates, it makes it more likely you’ll do those behaviors again.  Lastly, when you tell your partner what you appreciate, it makes it more likely they’ll do those behaviors again.

The Relationship Update Game can also be a great game to play with close friends. In any relationship, it allows you to quickly catch up and create a good foundation for further connection. For couples, I’ve found this game is a great ritual for those with little time, but with a strong desire to connect deeply and intimately with each other. If you try it and it works well for you and your mate, consider coming up with a weekly time that you’ll play it.  I know of many couples that use it as part of their date night, while others use it on Sunday night as a way to complete their week.  Whenever you use it, I think you’ll find it to be a simple but powerful tonic for togetherness. 

How to Heal Your Mind in 30 Seconds  

 

Life is infinitely complex, but the human mind likes things simple.  We like to know who is right and who is wrong, who is good and who is bad.  Of course, life is full of shades of gray, but we rarely see all those shades.  This tendency towards “black or white” thinking was useful way back in our evolutionary past.  Nowadays, it can lead to needless suffering.   A simple antidote for this tendency is the question, “What else could this mean?” imagesWhen stressful situations arise, we tend to get locked into a single (often disempowering) view.  By repeatedly asking yourself (or your partner), “What else could this mean?” you start to see other possibilities.  The bigger your view, the smaller your suffering.

I once heard a friend convey a story that illustrates the power of the question, “What else could this mean?”  While in India, my friend witnessed an arrogant man who cynically walked up to a famous guru and said, “If you’re so wise, why don’t you teach me about the nature of heaven and hell.”  The guru looked up at this arrogant man and said, “Teach you about heaven and hell?  I couldn’t teach you anything.  You’re a cocky, narcissistic jerk. You’re a complete moron; you’re even repulsive to look at.  You don’t have a caring bone in your entire body.  Stop wasting my time and just get out of my sight.”  Well, upon hearing these words, this egotistical man got all red in the face.  He shook with rage, and in a moment of pure hatred, he got ready to punch the guru in the face.  An instant before the man threw his punch, the guru looked him straight in the eye and said, “That’s hell.” The man suddenly realized the guru risked being beaten up just to teach him this lesson about hell.  He unclenched his fist, he took a deep breath, and in profound gratitude bowed to the guru.  And the guru said, “That’s heaven.”

Nancie-Carmichael-photo-of-woman-with-hand-on-heart-300x336What I like about this story is it so clearly describes how we create our own heaven and our own hell by how we see and interpret the events in our life.   The arrogant man in the story first created a moment of pure hell for himself by how he initially interpreted the guru’s comments.  Had he asked himself, “What else could this mean?” he may have realized the guru was teaching him a valuable lesson (which indeed he was).  Or maybe he would have concluded this guru is really just a mean person.  Whatever his new interpretation, it probably would have been more empowering than his thought, “I’m being abused for no good reason.” Indeed, when he finally did reinterpret the guru’s words, it led to a deep feeling of gratitude.

So how can you use this wisdom to improve your life and your relationship?  I thought you’d never ask.  To begin with, you can ask yourself, “What else could this mean?” whenever you’re upset with something in life or something your partner says or does.  Frequently, we interpret what happens in our lives in the worst possible way. This often leads to us getting more upset than is called for. By asking the question, “What else could this mean?” we can be led to look for other—more positive—interpretations of the events in our lives.

Another use of the, “What else could this mean?” question is to ask it of your partner when they’re getting upset at you.  If your partner gets upset at you for misinterpreting something you said, you can always simply tell them that they’re wrong.  Yet, that will rarely soothe their soul.  However, by asking them the question, “What else could this mean?” it challenges them to see things in a different way.  If you and your partner agree to come up with at least two answers to that question whenever it is asked, it can save you a lot of trouble.kiss

A client of mine, Don, relayed a story about how he used this technique to head off a disaster on his honeymoon.  While he was out picking up some food, his wife, Kara, discovered his smartphone had a text message on it. She read the message which read, “How you doing lover boy?  Love and kisses, Chris”  and got livid.  Kara thought to herself, “He’s cheating on me on our honeymoon?!  That bastard!”  By the time Don got back to the hotel, he found his wife packing to leave.  He asked, “What’s going on?” and of course he got lambasted for being a lying, cheating, blank blank blank. Once Don saw the message on his phone, he asked Kara, “What else could this mean?”

At first, Kara wouldn’t answer the question, but they had an iron clad agreement that they’d always come up with at least two answers if asked.  Finally she said, “It could mean someone sent a text to the wrong phone number.”  Just this thought calmed her down quite a bit.  Don then asked again, “And what else could it mean?”  His wife answered, “It could mean you have a relative named Chris who is asking how you are doing.”  After that answer, Kara calmed down even more.  By now, Don could explain that Chris was a male friend at work with an irreverent sense of humor.  In fact, Kara had met Chris at their wedding, but hadn’t put it together.  Had it not been for Kara’s agreement to answer, “What else could this mean?,” she probably would have walked out on her own honeymoon.

things-that-make-you-go-hmmmWhen we’re very upset, it’s usually because we’ve come up with a number of negative interpretations for what’s happening.  If our computer breaks down, we think, “I’ll lose all my work.  I’ll lose all my financial statements. I’ll be audited by the IRS and get screwed.”   As we stack these negative thoughts on top of each other, we can get increasingly livid, depressed, or fearful.  The simple antidote to such poisonous thoughts is the simple question, “What else could this mean?”  Of course, you have to be willing to come up with at least a couple of answers—even if you don’t really believe them.  Recently when my computer broke down, I came up with these other interpretations:  it could mean I need a new computer.  It could mean I’m smart to have an icloud backup, and I’m finally getting my money’s worth for paying for it.  It could mean I should print out my most important documents.

The question, “What else could this mean?”  will allow you a little space for new truths to be revealed. When you commit to using this question on yourself, you’re laying the foundation for a quick way to overcome emotional upheaval.  When you commit to using it with a friend or partner, you are forging an agreement to help each other overcome difficulties much more quickly than in the past.  This question helps lay the foundation for a Happy New You.

 

Neuro-hacking For Joy:  3 Amazing New Tools That Can Rock Your World!

 

the-sky-kingdom-sky-kingdom-31490915-640-418My job in life is to help people get high.   The problem is, the word “high” has been co-opted by people who take various drugs.  Yet, I’m talking about getting high without drugs.  I want to help people—that means you—feel joy, ecstasy, and even profound feelings of love simply by tapping into the pharmacy between your own ears. After all, we’ve been told by sages that the “Kingdom of Heaven is within,” so we know it must be possible.  However, up till now, most people haven’t known of easy keys to unlock that Kingdom.  All that is about to change. I recently wrote a book called, “The Technology of Joy: The 101 Best Apps, Gadgets, Tools and Supplements for Feeling More Delight in Your Life.”  (Here’s a link if you want to buy it for $12.95, or $7.99 on Kindle)  Technology of Joy book.

In the book, I review all the best ways to feel great without having to harm your body.  For thousands of years, human beings have tried various ways to tap into states of joy and ecstasy.  From drumming and drugs to meditation and fasting, people have always yearned for something beyond the mechanical nature of ordinary life.  Fortunately, the “technologies” for feeling fantastic have, in recent years, gotten better and better.   Instead of spending hours a day meditating, you can now achieve a similar experience in ten minutes of hacking your way to happiness.  To me, that is what the science of “neuro-hacking” is really all about.imgres

In my quest to find the easiest and best tools for neuro-hacking, I’ve tried virtually everything out there.  My friends generally laugh when they hear me extol the benefits of the latest gadget or supplement I am using.  However, once they actually try out my newest gizmo or pill, they invariably ask, “How much is this and where can I get it?” People are often shocked at how much better the tools for neuro-hacking have become over the last few years.  Of course, people react differently to different tools and substances. That being said, there are three amazing new tools that my friends and I are using that will likely blow your mind.  Let me describe them.

The first “tool” is a supplement called “Qualia.”  Qualia is what is called a “nootropic.”  Nootropics are a class of substances that safely increase energy, focus, and/or mood.   You could say that caffeine is a type of nootropic, yet in a quest for the perfect drug, new nootropics are always coming out.  Over the years, they’ve gotten better.  Of the over 30 different substances I’ve tried, Qualia is hands down the winner.   First of all, it feels great in my body.  It is filled with a lot of different types of brain food that are known to be good for you.  Secondly, it simultaneously increases energy, focus and mood—and I’m not talking a little bit.  If you’ve seen the movie or TV show “Limitless,” you get a sense of what may one day be possible.  Qualia isn’t quite like what you see in the movie, but it’s the closest thing to a “magic pill” that’s out there.

There are downsides to taking Qualia.  First of all, it’s not cheap.  Depending on your body size and sensitivity, you need to take between 3 and 8 pills in the morning.  That can run you between $2 and $5 dollars a day.  That sounds like a lot of money until you discover that it makes you feel fantastic–and you get a lot more done.  For the price of a latte, you can feel and be at your best for an entire day.   While everyone’s body is different and a few people don’t love the stuff, most people are surprised that something that feels this good is actually good for you –and legal!  If you want to save yourself a lot of time and trouble trying out various nootropics, I suggest you begin with the very best and see what it does for you.  Qualia is the Tesla of nootropics, and if you take it for a “test ride,” you’ll be amazed.  You can get a 10% discount on ordering Qualia by using this link: http://neurohacker.com/findinghappiness/?ref=15 and putting in the coupon code: FindingHappiness

A second neuro-hack worth checking out is something called a “Whole Body Vibration machine,” or WBV for short. Ten minutes of WBV equals one hour of conventional weight lifting–leading to increased muscle strength, bone density, flexibility, balance, and weight loss.  These machines have been around for a while, but like all technologies, they have gotten better and less expensive over the years.  Basically, you stand on something that is about two feet square and you turn it on and have it vibrate your entire body for one to ten minutes.

MeditationHead2According to dozens of academic studies: (http://www.fullbodyvibration.com/research.html) WBV machines lead to massive neurological stimulation as your entire body vibrates twenty to fifty times a second.   As your muscles grow stronger, so does your brain and entire neurological system.  This is not a subtle effect.  The first time I tried a WBV machine, I thought my head was going to explode.  Within a minute of being “vibrated,” it felt like I had smoked two joints.  Yet, with repeated use of a WBV machine, I have felt less altered and more energized.  After just a couple of minutes, I feel a soothing sense of chi or life force moving through my body and brain.   I feel fully alive, awake, and alert.  For somewhere between $200 and $600 bucks, a WBV machine can consistently improve your mind, body, health, and happiness.   That’s impressive.  If you want to learn more about WBV machines, go to Vibration Machines. The woman in charge of this website is named Becky.  She’s very helpful if you want more information.

The third and final neuro-hack that can blow your socks off is something called, “The Thync.”  The Thync is a device about the size of a credit card that you place on your forehead for about ten minutes.  Through a Bluetooth connected app on your smartphone, it sends very subtle electrical impulses into your brain.  Why electrical impulses?  Because it has been found that certain electrical signals can lead to increased learning ability, energy, or even euphoric states of consciousness.  This technology, known as “transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation” or tACS for short has been around for a while.  Even the Pentagon has confirmed it as an effective way to increase learning ability and calmness in their soldiers (https://thebrainstimulator.net/research) .   Yet, the Thync is the first aCTS device that has been popularized as a consumer product. It’s like getting a good runner’s high—without the inconvenience of having to leave the couch.  Currently the Thync will run you about $200.

While each of the three neuro-hacks I’ve mentioned are rather impressive on their own, combining them can be truly incredible.  I like to start my mornings by downing four Qualia pills.  Then, I put the Thync on my forehead and stand on my WBV machine for about five minutes.  By the time I’m done with my shower, my brain has gone into overdrive with neurotransmitters that make me feel alert, euphoric, and focused.  Indeed, the synergistic effects of using several neuro-hacks at once is a whole new field to explore.  By using these three hacks at the same time, in just five minutes my well-being is greatly amplified.  I not only feel slightly “high,” I feel balanced, happy, and clear headed in a way that helps me get a lot done.

89683452How do you react to my little morning ritual for feeling fantastic?  Most people who hear of my morning ritual are initially skeptical.  They worry that what I’m doing is “unnatural.”  They fret that technology can have negative consequences.  All true.   Yet, over the years, I’ve noticed such skepticism is quickly overturned when people actually try out the supplements and gadgets I enjoy.  As I mentioned before, as soon as someone experiences a technology that works for them their immediate response is, “How much is this and where can I get one?”  Like a religious convert, they soon become ardent followers of the wonders of neuro-hacking.

It’s hard to say exactly what the future holds, although Steve Jobs was seemingly pretty good at predicting it. In 1972 I had the rare opportunity to be in a computer class with Steve Jobs.  Of course, at the time he was just a nerdy teen and I was four years his junior.  He and I would vie to play tic-tac-toe on a 500 pound “computer” that our high school had recently purchased.  Steve was obsessed with this machine.  One day I asked Steve why he was so fixated on this refrigerator sized computer.  He turned to me and said in an intense manner, “Don’t you see?  This machine is going to change everything! It’s going to change the world!”

At the time, I didn’t see how this refrigerator-sized tic-tac-toe playing machine was going to change the world, but it turns out Steve Jobs was right.  Well, nowadays it may not seem like the latest brain supplement, neuro-stimulator, or mood enhancing machine is going to change the world, but technology has a way of slowly but surely creeping into our lives.   It didn’t take very long for massive computers to get a lot better, smaller, cheaper, and faster—to the point where almost everyone has one.  In a similar way, it will surprise many people how fast the neuro-hacking revolution will sweep the world.   Fortunately, the future is already here for those brave and curious enough to give it a test ride.

Good Grief

grief+therapy+grief+counseling+grief+help  I recently went to a 3-day workshop about grief. As a “happiness guy,” I was not looking forward to grieving for 3 days…but I figured it would be good for me. It was. In Western culture, we avoid grief. We distract ourselves from it, we belittle it, and we have few rituals or support for facing it and getting through it. Thus, I wanted to learn about it. One of the things I learned is that if we avoid or don’t have a safe place to express the grief that arises in our lives, it also shuts down our joy. When we fail to feel the sadness associated with the loss of a job, a relationship, or a friend, we begin to feel numb or lose hope. As we avoid certain emotions, our emotions stop “flowing.” This “stuck energy” can lead to us feeling depressed, tired, or even sick.

During the workshop, I focused on various losses in my life. It was hard for me to sit with these feelings. There were a lot of tears. Yet, I’m glad I did it. I left the workshop feeling like certain things that had been bothering me on a subconscious level are now behind me. Having faced these demons, I can now let go of them. I feel lighter, like my body has been cleansed by the process.

Life contains loss. Since our culture doesn’t have many rituals for honoring all the losses we go through, we need to make up these rituals on our own—or look to other cultural traditions. If you look at the word “spiritual,” it really consists of two words—“spirit” and “ritual.” I believe we have to create our own rituals for letting go of hopes, dreams, friendships and even mates that no longer are part of our lives.

How do you deal with loss, sadness, and grief? Do you avoid such things? Do you wallow in them? Neither of those options are very healthy. Ideally, our job is to recognize the losses we have suffered, feel them, and create a place and process where we can be able to let them go as best we can. There’s no one simple formula for doing this. Everyone grieves differently. Yet, the first step is to realize that part of being a human being is to understand there is a lot of loss everyone goes through. It is natural. Avoidance is not a successful “grief strategy.” Seeking professional help (counselors, therapists, even books about grief) can certainly be of help. Or perhaps you can create you own grief ritual.

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One thing I’ve done since the workshop is to end each night by answering two simple questions. The first question is: “What am I sad about?” I allow myself to feel whatever arises, and to emotionally recognize and “digest” this feeling of loss. The second question I ask is, “What can I feel grateful for?” As I focus on this question and the people or situations I feel grateful for, it helps me to recognize that—despite life’s many pains, there is always something good going on.

Happiness arises when we can feel our full range of feelings without getting stuck in any of them. By allowing yourself to feel sadness and loss, you may well find yourself feeling more contentment and joy.

Joy Hacking and the Future of Happiness

I popped the pink pill into my mouth and waited for the expected feelings of ecstasy.  No, the pill wasn’t the drug XTC, but rather a legal and safe alternative. Then I put on my trans-cranial stimulation device, known as the Thync, and waited to see what happened. Wow! After five minutes, it felt like my brain was flooding me with endorphins. Finally, I placed the scalp stimulator known as the Tingler on my head. When I did this, an orgasmic wave of intense pleasure rippled through my entire body. After a few minutes of this frenzied euphoria, I took off the devices and went about my day. Having just been catapulted into sweet ecstasy, my day became both incredibly productive and happy.

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This is not a future scenario. This is how I like to start my mornings. Nowadays, there are new and improved ways to feel good—even ecstatic—that most people don’t know anything about.  In an age when depression is rampant and dangerous drug use is epidemic, amazing new ways to feel peaceful, euphoric, and just plain happy are popping up all over the place. However, people miss out on these amazing methods because they simply don’t know about them. From safe drugs to “happy apps,” to high tech brain stimulation devices, a whole new world of ways to feel good is blossoming.

We live in an age where everything is shifting and accelerating.   Yet, most people still pursue an ancient path for finding happiness.  Their formula for being happy is to try to control all the external events and people in their lives to be exactly the way they want.  This is a tiresome activity at best, and there are always some events and people that we can’t control.
However, there is a new model for finding more joy and peace of mind: find it within your self.  Of course, this is a not a new idea.  Everyone from the Buddha to Jesus has said that heaven can be found within, but now there are cutting edge and more efficient ways to tap into this magical kingdom.

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About a year ago I was invited to talk to Google employees about “The Future of Happiness.”  I described new ways to control their minds and emotions that were more effective than trying to be happy by controlling all the events in their life.  The reaction was intense.  Everyone wanted to know what some of these innovative ways to “hack happiness” were, and
how they could get them.  That led me to write a book on the subject. In my research I learned that different things work for different people. For example, there are a lot of supplements known as “cognitive enhancers” that can dramatically increase your focus, energy, and mood.
Yet, you have to try out many of them in order to find the one or two that really rock your world.   I also learned that people define happiness in unique ways.  Some people want a gadget that increases their pleasure, while other folks want a tool that improves their relationships or makes them feel totally peaceful.

Because I’m a junkie for joy, I’m continually trying the latest thing. As with all technologies, “inner” tech keeps getting better  In fact, I’ve found that some of the apps and gizmos I’ve tried helped train me to reach higher states of consciousness more easily.  For example, I’ve found I can easily access feelings of bliss now that I’ve felt such things while using
meditation apps or my Thync neuro-stimulator.  When a supplement, gadget, or app can help you learn to access your own joy more efficiently, I think that’s a really good thing.

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It’s hard to say exactly what the future holds, though Steve Jobs was seemingly pretty good at predicting it. In 1972 I had the rare opportunity to be in a computer class with Steve Jobs.  Of course, at the time he was just a nerdy teen and I was four years his junior.  He and I would vie to play Tic-tac-toe on a 500 pound “computer” that our High School had recently
purchased.  Steve was obsessed with this machine.  One day I asked Steve why he was so fixated on this refrigerator sized computer.  He turned to me and said in an intense manner, “Don’t you see?  This machine is going to change everything! It’s going to change the world!”
It turns out Steve Jobs was right.  Well, nowadays it may not seem like the latest brain supplement, neuro-stimulator, or mood enhancing app is going to change the world, but technology has a way of slowly but surely creeping into our lives.

In fact, I believe our ways of finding happiness, peace, and even love are all being updated by advancing technology.  This “technology of joy” will only accelerate until the entire way we pursue happiness is transformed in the next few years. While some of these gadgets or tools can cost hundreds of dollars, I list more than thirty of them in my book that cost less than a latte.  Currently, many of these apps, supplements and gadgets are pretty unknown, but soon
that will change. As science fiction writer William Gibson once said, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.”  By investing a little time and money in this blossoming field, you can find a few things that are remarkable and mind-blowing.  In a world where we’re all too busy and distracted, more effective ways to tap into the peace, joy and love
within can be a truly wonderful thing.

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Deepening the Love with Your Partner

open-your-heartI have a question for you: for $500 could you make your partner feel upset in under one minute?  Most people answer an emphatic “Yes!”  To accomplish this, you would probably bring up some event, person, or question that invariably irritates your partner.   We even have a term for this–“pushing my buttons.”   When someone pushes our buttons, it is commonly accepted we have no choice but to get upset.  Over time, our partner usually learns where all our “buttons” are.  While “pushing my buttons” signifies a way our partner can easily make us upset, we have no phrase for the opposite effect–when our mate does something that invariably makes us feel loving.  We could call it “pushing my love buttons,” but there’s no poetry in a phrase like that.  I prefer to call it  “charming my heart.”  When someone “charms” us, it’s as if they have cast a spell of enchantment over our heart.  A wonderful way to experience more love in your relationship is to learn of  “automatic” ways to charm your partner’s heart.  When your partner feels fully loved by you, guess how they’ll treat you?  Soon, you’ll both be charming each other’s heart in an upward spiral that leads all the way to heaven.  Ahhh, how sweet it can be!

In my book Communication Miracles For Couples, I talk about how it’s necessary to realize each person has different rules or laws as to what true love is.   Case in point: many years
ago I was with a girlfriend I’ll call Bonnie.  I was giving her a nice shoulder massage when she
suddenly blurted out, “Would you cut that out!”   Totally caught off guard, I said “Cut what out?”She annoyingly stated, “You’re always massaging me, you’re always touching me, why do you have to be so grabby?”  It was true–I frequently massaged her.  So I said to her, “I do that to show you how much I care about you.”  She quickly responded, “Well, I don’t feel very loved. After all, you never tell me you love me.”  She was right again; I never actually said the words “I love you” to her, although she frequently said such things to me. Bonnie and I had a long discussion about this episode and we finally realized what had been going on.

While I was growing up, whenever I was being spanked or punished, my parents would say, “We’re doing this because we love you.”  Therefore, the words “I love you” had a negative connotation to me. I figured,talk is cheap.  The way to really show a woman you love her is to touch her in pleasant ways.  That was my “rule” of how real love should be expressed.   On the other hand, while Bonnie was growing up, she had an uncle who frequently gave her massages.  One day, this uncle sexually molested her.  Therefore, she took my massages as being a precursor of impending doom.   We both thought we were expressing love to each other, when in fact we were unconsciously pushing each other’s buttons!

The way we tend to express love to another person is, in most cases, the way in which we
would like to receive it.  I gave Bonnie massages because that’s what makes me feel loved.  Even if a gorilla gave me a massage, I’d feel totally loved.  Bonnie frequently told me she loved me because that’s what she wanted to hear.  When people are unaware of their partner’s preferred ways of feeling loved, they end up expending a lot of energy that goes unappreciated.   Yet by knowing exactly what helps your partner feel safe and loved, it becomes infinitely easier to create intimacy on a consistent basis.

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There is a simple exercise you can do with your partner to find out how best to “charm their heart.”   Have him or her become comfortable in a chair, and then say the following:  “Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and begin to think of a specific time you felt really loved by me.  Remember that time as clearly as you can.  Remember where we were, what we were doing, and exactly what happened that let you know I really loved you.”  Give your partner a minute or so to fully re-experience such a moment.  Then proceed, “What was most important in letting you know I fully loved you?  Was it something I said, or the way I looked at you, the way I touched you, or something else?  What exactly helped you to know that I really loved you?”  Listen carefully to what your partner says, because the answer(s) to this question can transform your relationship.

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By knowing how your own heart is charmed, you can reveal this important information to your partner.  Try the previous exercise on yourself, or have your partner read it to you.  You may be surprised to discover exactly what your partner does that creates a warm feeling of safety and love in you.  Once your mate knows how to help you feel loved, they can more easily and consistently show you they care.    Every time you charm your partner’s heart, you’re making a “loving deposit” in to your “shared love account.”  Your shared love account is like a bank balance you share together.  When things are going well, there’s a lot of love put into “savings.” When both of you consistently make deposits into your shared account, you feel abundantly in love.  It’s much easier to handle problems when there’s an abundance of love in your love account.  Therefore, make frequent deposits of love in your relationship account by charming your partner’s heart.   Remember to do the little actions that make a big difference in how your partner feels. It will immediately help both of you feel wonderfully intimate, and when problems arise, you’ll have plenty of love “banked” to help you ride out the storm.

The Technology of Bliss – Cognitive Enhancers

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The term “cognitive enhancer”  or “nootropics” denotes any supplement that has the potential to increase mental alertness, intelligence, focus, and/or clarity of mind.  If you ever saw the movie or TV show “Limitless,” you can understand the possibilities inherent in such a product.  Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world—partly because it makes you more mentally alert with a minimum of negative side effects.  Yet, nowadays there are many cognitive enhancing supplements you can buy at your health food store or online.  All you need is some money, some time to explore, and an open mind.

First the bad news.  I will make many recommendations in this blog, but you should know that people react very differently to many of these supplements.  I suggest that, when possible, you buy and try a very small amount of any of these pills and see what effect they have on you.  Only by trying them out will you know exactly what they do for you.  In addition, people vary a lot in terms of the amount of each drug or supplement that is the right dose for them.  Case in point:  when I drink coffee (which is rare), a full cup sends me on a wild productivity and emotional roller coaster for about 12 hours.  On the other hand, some people drink 5 cups a day and barely register any effect.   In general, start out conservatively and then if nothing happens, you can always take more.

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Now the good news.  There’s many great, safe, and legal cognitive enhancers to choose from.  I’ll mention several of my favorites, along with web sites where you can purchase them. Yet, since there are so many, I suggest you google “cognitive enhancers” or go to the websites I suggest and do some research on your own.  There are two cognitive enhancers in the “racetam” class I especially like.  One is called “Aniracetam,” and the other is called “Pramiracetam.”  Aniracetam is shorter acting, but maybe better at improving one’s mood, whereas Pramiracetam is longer acting, and more powerful when it comes to creating mental focus.  You can buy both of these on many websites, including www.absorbyourhealth.com   It’s best to try a small amount of each to see which one you might like better.   A good guide to learn more about these supplements is the website: www.smarternootropics.com  Once there, click on the free “The Complete Guide to Nootropics.”

As I mentioned before, people react differently to these pills.  While they are considered safe, some people don’t feel them right away.  Especially with Pramiracetam, you may have to take it for up to a week to feel its full effect.  There is also some evidence that their effect is increased if taken in conjunction with 300 to 600 mg of  CDP choline, or an Omega 3 supplement.  I’ve enjoyed both.  I find I can really focus better with either of them, and they can often help get me into “the zone” where my mind is both quiet and clear.  Try them if you have the money and see what they can do for you.

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Next, I want to discuss the wonders of Adrafinil.  Adrafinil is a supplement that turns into Modafinil once injested in your body.  Modafinil is a prescription medication the army uses to keep soldiers incredibly alert and focused for long periods of time. Adrafinil is non-presription, but also works quite well.  My personal experience with both of these pills is rather intense.  If I want to stay focused and alert for 12 hours, I take a half dose Modafini, or 300 mg of Adrafinil.   If I want to simply be at my best throughout the day, I might take a quarter of the regular dose.  Taking a supplement called Phenibut (250 to 500 mg) can be a nice addition to Adrafinil.  When I needed to write 30 pages in a day for a book I was doing, I found that taking some Adrafinil and Phenibut made the job easy—and I had a great time doing it.  Adrafinil is available for sale online, but don’t take it more than once or twice a week

If cost is a big factor for you, you can get supplements such as phosphatidyl choline or DMAE at Vitacost.com for very little money. My experience with these pills is that they are more subtle than the other things I’ve mentioned.  However, both of these products are considered to be perfectly safe long term, and have been shown to have cognitive enhancing abilities if taken regularly.  By the way, I have no financial arrangement with any of the companies I recommend.   My motivation in recommending certain online sites is simply to help you gain more information and/or find these products at a reliable and inexpensive source. 

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Finally, I want to recommend the site www.webnutrients.com.   This site has many innovative products of the cognitive and mood enhancing type that you can easily purchase.  In fact, by filling out their online questionnaire, you can have your pills tailor made to meet your exact needs and desires.  They have something called “Happy Caps” that indeed affect your mind and mood, something called “Real NZT” that’s a wild mental ride, and my favorite, a cap called “Focus,” that both gives me focus and blisses me out.   If you’re interested in the field of cognitive enhancing pills, this site is worth checking out.  Yet, know that you will have to go through a trial and error period to know what dosage and what pills work best for you.  

If money is not a major limiting factor for you, there’s some new stuff always coming out that many consider the “Cadillac” of cognitive enhancers and dementia preventers.   The web site: http://ForrestHealth.com has a lot of the latest and greatest brain supplements.  I would recommend Brain Vital and Brain Vibrant Supreme, but Phos Cal 900, or Energy 1 and Energy 2 sprays are also worth checking out.

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Lastly, I’ll talk about an old favorite—caffeine.  The biggest problem with caffeine is the tendency towards developing a quick tolerance.  Yet, if you know of other options for energy and focus beyond a cup of coffee, you can vary your supplementation so you don’t develop such a quick tolerance for caffeine.  If caffeine can make you jittery, consider downing your coffee or energy drink with a supplement known as L-theanine.  A lot of people report that the combo of caffeine and 200 mg of L-theanine is a nice, smooth, energetic ride without the caffeine crash at the end.

Rather than give you a thorough data dump of all the cognitive enhancers out there, my aim has been to introduce you to this fast developing and exciting field.   Hopefully the information I supplied here is enough to give you a direction and starting point.  Yet, if these pills intrigue you, start by buying a small amount and see how it goes for you.  You can even “mix and match” until you find a combination that seems to really suit your needs. Once you find some pills that seem to have a truly positive effect on your mood and focus, and are also devoid of negative side effects, you got a friend for life.

 

Let Your Heart Shine!

openheartRecently I’ve been taking a class in what’s called “Non-Violent Communication.” If you don’t know what that is, it’s a way of communicating that involves giving empathy, as well as a way of trying to understand your partner’s feelings and needs. If you agree we’re partly on the planet to learn how to love, then learning how to communicate compassionately is one of the premier tools to help us achieve this lofty goal. In the class, I’ve learned a lot about how to use words to open up my own and other’s hearts. Here are a couple of highlights:

First, I have a deepening realization that we’re all just trying to get the same needs and desires fulfilled. We all want to feel understood; we all want to be respected, approved of, and loved.   Yet, we sometimes go about getting these needs met in ineffective or even self-destructive ways. When we learn to communicate better, it opens up the possibility of giving and receiving love more easily (and frequently).Feelings

Secondly, I’ve seen that people (including myself) really, really want empathy. Empathy is defined as “the understanding of another’s feelings.” People don’t want to be fixed, analyzed, or classified. They want their feelings heard and even emotionally shared with the people they care about.

 

Recently, my wife shared with me her feelings about a situation that was giving her trouble. Normally, I might suggest what she should do to remedy the situation, or how she should change her own attitude and behavior. Instead, I bit my lip and just listened. I imagined how I would feel if dealing with a similar situation. In fact, I started to tear up as I began to feel her pain.   I held her hand and continued to listen. When the urge came to tell her what to do, I instead just stayed with what she was feeling. Finally, her pain seemed to dissipate and she told me, “Thank you for your help. I really feel so much better.”

Couple-7Later that evening my wife told me how she planned to handle the situation that was troubling her in a different way. It ends up it was exactly in line with what I had wanted her to do—but never expressed. Instead of giving her “the answer,” she came up with it herself.   Having come up with it herself, she was much more likely to act on it than if I had told her what to do.

How is your ability to communicate with the people you care about? I once wrote a bestselling book called “Communication Miracles for Couples,” but I’m finding there is still so much more to learn and practice. We can always get better at expressing our vulnerable truth and listening empathically to those we care about. Good communication takes a lot of practice.. In this day and age of high stress and little time, it’s more important than ever that we learn to communicate in compassionate and heartfelt ways.

 

 

Moving with the Stream of Life

the-strid-8Recently, a friend of mine (who happens to be a beautiful, funny, and all around amazing gal) invited me to a Bikram Yoga class.  In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a rather difficult type of yoga done in a room that’s 105 degrees.  In other words, it’s a form of self-torture.  Yet, as part of my philosophy of always being willing to try new stuff, I went to the class.  I must have lost 10 pounds in sweat during the one-hour class.  However, after the torture was done, I felt fabulous.   In fact, now I’m a regular…and the benefits to my body are already very clear.

The reason I’m sharing this story is to talk about the importance of trying new stuff.  As we get older, it’s easy to fall into routines, ruts, and grooves. Unfortunately, the only difference between a groove and a grave is a couple of feet!   Taking the chance to try a new hobby, a new spiritual practice, or even a new type of food allows you to grow and change at an accelerated rate.  Had I not tried that first yoga class, I would have potentially missed out on a valuable new addition to my life.

Where in your life have you fallen into comfortable routines that no longer serve you?  Perhaps in your job, your marriage, or in how you take care of your body?   I believe people are like sharks—if they’re not moving forward, they’re slowly dying.  Therefore, it’s critical that we occasionally re-evaluate our routines and see if they are still working for us.  It’s also important that we periodically try out new stuff just to see if it might be a valuable addition to our lives.

On a related note, yesterday I ran into a friend at a store in town. I had not seen this friend in a couple of months.  I asked her how she was doing, and it was clear she was doing very poorly.  The church she had been going to for twenty years was slowly shunning her.  She was miserable.   I asked her, “Why don’t you try some other church?  After all, the purpose of a church is to help you find inner peace.”  She responded, “I couldn’t do that; I’ve been going to this church for over twenty years.”

My friend was making a classic mistake.  She was holding onto a past that wasn’t working for her because she was afraid to embrace an unknown future.  Yet, I believe our first commitment needs to be to finding peace, joy, and love—not to continuing with jobs, churches, or outdated beliefs that no longer serve us.  This can be challenging to do, but the alternative is to stay with a comfortable but ultimately deadening past.

So, I encourage you to be willing to try new stuff this week.  Look at the various areas of your life and ask, “Is this still working for me, or is it time for a change?”  If it seems like it could be valuable to try something new, then take action—even if it’s just a small action.  Life is always asking us to move forward.   It’s best to be willing to move with the ever-moving stream of Life…