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Category: Critical Thinking Page 1 of 2

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Leadership for a Divided Nation

Are there personal traits that someone might have that can bring us, Americans, closer?  For some stupid reason we have as a nation behaved like rivals.  Our public discourse has been coarsening and it has lowered the threshold for acting out, being rude, being unkind.  Is that who we are deep inside or are we more evolved, or are we both?  We can choose by deciding which one we feed.  If it only takes a bully pulpit for someone to expose us for who we really are, then we need to be very careful who we give the bully pulpit.

We have become gullible.  If we identify as red then we more easily believe the negative we hear and read about the blue and the positive about the red.  The blue have the same gullibility.

We have become all or nothing politically and while The United States of America is the world’s most dominant economic and military power with the best hospitals and universities, and with its cultural imprint spanning the world, led in large part by its popular culture expressed in music, movies and television, other countries are happier and healthier.

Ranking of the Top 10 Countries in the World, Best Countries Report, U.S. News & World Report based on being seen as a stable and safe society in which individuals can develop and prosper, and is open, fair and equitable:

1. Canada
2. Japan
3. Germany
4. Switzerland
5. Australia
6. United States
7. New Zealand
8. United Kingdom
9. Sweden
10. Netherlands

So, who is going to bring us together and stop the petty bickering that ignores so much that we have in common and want?  Let’s look at traits.

People sitting in a circle while holding hands


The next several paragraphs were inspired by articles from Sharon Begley’s Science Journal that appeared weekly in WSJ years ago.

We apparently are changed by the groups we are in. By the way, Republican and Democratic Parties are groups.  Change groups or leave a group and we change.

In study after study, social psychologists have shown that it is the group with which we identify, not individual personality that often determines behavior.  We begin to see what the group sees and stop seeing some of the things that we were seeing.

But, and this is a big but, pull us out of a group and we will have more nuance, flexibility, and doubt.  We are not so sure anymore as individuals outside of our group, whereas in a group we are convinced of what we are saying and doing.  The group we join is very important.  That group could be friends, it could be our employer, it could be our church, or it could be the virtual prison more and more of us seem to be finding ourselves in.  In either case, it doesn’t change with age—young or old, we are influenced by our group.

Psychology experiments show how disturbingly easy it is to manipulate people into committing atrocities.  Groups inculcate a sense of belonging and hence obligation to a group.

So, if we want to change, we can join a group, but we better fit in.  Do we like the people we work with and for?  Has our spouse ever said to us that we seem different, that we have changed, and that there is an aspect of us they don’t like that they didn’t realize was there?  Maybe, our jobs are changing us.  Which way?  Look for the formal and informal leaders and see if others are mimicking them.  Are we becoming more assertive or bossier?  Are we becoming more tolerant or judgmental?   Are we becoming more patient and calm or more restless and rude?  Are we becoming conforming or less conforming?  Do we see more of the big picture or just our own perspective?  Are we becoming more humble or is ego sprouting its wings.

Businesses have sent employees to seminars and workshops and schools in an effort to help them become better employees.  Businesses, in hopes of salvaging employees, send them to anger management or harassment counseling hoping these people can change.  Supervisors are sent to supervision school and people skills schools.  People read self help books and get counseling hoping to be better parents or deal with life situations.

Attending a conference can inspire someone to want to act differently and they might for a little while but their habits and instincts will prevail again.  Using the conscious mind to try to create permanent change is a slow process and rewards are needed to reinforce the new behavior.  Can we really expect to have those rewards as they are needed?

I think the best place to begin the process of change is through nutrition.  If we don’t have the discipline to eat smarter why would we have it to change our habits. Eating healthy or healthier not only improves mental and physical energy it demonstrates a willingness to do what we know is best for us.  It is easy to pick up a book and learn what foods are healthy and which are not, but do we and do we change what we eat as a result of what we learn?  I am not talking about fad diets; I am talking about eating good foods and stop eating bad foods.  If we can’t change the way we eat, can we expect to change the way we think and behave?

Let’s think about brain food because our brain uses 40 percent of our energy and for our brain to grow and improve, our nutrition has to improve.  The brain is largely composed of fatty tissue.  The fats we eat are the fats that will become important structures in our brain.  They are not broken down and reassembled for specific uses like proteins and carbohydrates are.  The quality of the fats in our diet will directly affect the quality of the cell membranes in the brain.

There are two essential fats our bodies require but cannot manufacture; they must be obtained through our diets.  These fats are called omega-6 and omega-3.  Most of our tissues have more omega-6 fats than omega-3.  The ratio is often about four-to-one, the brain being a distinct exception where the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in brain tissue is one-to-one.

The average American diet provides twenty times more omega-6 than omega-3 fats.  Most of us do not take in an optimal amount of omega-3 fats unless we eat fish regularly.  Omega-3 fats are quite flexible and are ideally suited for brain cell membranes.

The fats to avoid are the highly processed fats, hydrogenated fats, and fats that are heated to high temperatures in processing or in frying.  These fats have a structural rigidity that is most undesirable for use in brain cell membranes.  They also promote free radical damage of cell membranes.

Alright, enough about diet.  Permanent change will come about when we release what is in our subconscious minds, feed our brains with better thoughts and more peaceful music and movies, and starve our brains from coarse or violent acts and thoughts.  Our brains can change.

Here is a brainteaser:  Turn the incorrect Roman-numeral equation XI + I = X, made out of 10 match sticks, into a correct one by moving as few sticks as possible.

Solving a problem like the one above creatively requires us to resist conventional assumptions and approaches and examine a problem from a different perspective.  The plod and plug approach would have us move one of the sticks to get X + I = XI.  But the minimum number of sticks we need to move is zero.  Turn the paper upside down and XI + I = X becomes X = I + IX.

The brain waves generated by the two approaches are different.  In volunteers who found the creative zero stick solution there was an abrupt change in brain wave frequency and location of brain activity before the solution hit them.  The fact that they changed right before the volunteers hit upon a creative solution suggests that the brain was escaping from conventional thought patterns.

Insight and creativity begin when we break out of the thinking rut we are in and restructure the problem in a new way.  The information in the problem is seen in a new light, so people rotate the sticks in the Roman numeral equation—a spatial solution to what seemed like a numerical problem.  This is the essence of creative thinking.

A critical part of insightful solutions, but not of plodding ones, is that they require us to bring together distant associations.  One brain region seems particularly important for that.  This area seems to draw together distantly related information and probably lets people see connections that had eluded them.

Find a word that can form a compound with “sauce,” “pine,” and “crab.”  You can try to solve this noncreatively, thinking of everything that goes with crab and then trying them all on the pine, for instance.  Or you might find a solution through pure insight.  Stare at the words until an answer pops into your head.

If “apple” popped into your head there probably was a spike in the activity in a particular part of your brain just before the answer “apple” came to you, suggesting your brain was bringing together far-flung concepts.

In some cases of sudden insight another part of the brain becomes active perhaps directing the brain away from dead ends and onto creative paths and at the same time perhaps is involved in suppressing thoughts that characterize the mental rut that keeps us from an insightful solution.

There are times that our brains go into calm mode all by themselves and answers just pop into our heads.  We may be in the morning shower still waking up and just going through the motions of washing ourselves, enjoying the warm water and all of a sudden new ideas come to us out of nowhere.  We can develop more of these times and we can expect to solve difficult problems during these times.  The more we expect answers to come to us the more will come.  So, we need to let our conscious minds work hard at figuring out a problem or finding an answer, the harder we work our conscious minds the better, and then let it go and expect an answer to come to us perhaps when we least expect it.

Our brain will change to help us become what we choose to be.  If we choose to be violent, our brain will respond by changing in ways that make us more violent and coarse.  If we choose a life of compassion and kindness, our brains will respond by helping us manifest those qualities.  This is easier said than done because it is hard to act as we choose if we are already excessively wired to act otherwise.

One more thought:  The Truth Shall Set You Free!


A person standing on a rock while watching the sun

Ethical Leadership

Leaders have to view others at the soul level.  They must develop soul ethics.  Management style, charisma, personal integrity and business acumen are not enough.  Soul Ethics provides the moral courage to avoid temptations found in competitive environments.

We begin to purify the motives behind our decisions when we become fully aware of who we really are and what we are here to do.  Mark Twain has said that “a man can not be comfortable without his own approval.”

When we have developed Soul Ethics:

We no longer need to rely on interpretations of sacred text or sources of revelation to tell us what to do.  Our actions stop being influenced by sacred texts whose spirit has too often been lost to strict interpretation.

We no longer let feelings of guilt affect our decisions as love becomes our guiding emotion.  When guilt affects our decisions we let survival fears override that guilt and we make decisions based on fear instead of love.  Fear and love are our two basic emotions.  Fear contains many sub-emotions and because those emotions are stronger in some and weaker in others, our consciousnesses are different and thus so would be our ethics guidance.

We no longer merely look out only for ourselves and instead we seek what is best for our clients, friends, and family.  Looking out for ourselves first is truly a buyer-be-aware mentality.  This would be the opposite of win-win decisions and would lead to win-lose outcomes. I guess some would mistakenly try to justify me-first decisions by thinking they had an ethical obligation to stockholders to maximize profits from every transaction.

We no longer do things just because it is our duty.  We do our jobs and we take care of our family because we love to serve and we serve with love.

We no longer try to enforce our rules of respect onto other cultures as we now respect ourselves and have learned to respect other cultures.  What counts as respect can vary from one culture to another.

We are aware that all of us are created with certain inalienable Rights.  This is the most influential moral notion of the past two centuries and refers to minimal conditions of human decency.

We want to make the world a better place and demand a high degree of self sacrifice where we consider the consequences for everyone including reducing suffering and increasing pleasure or happiness.

We continue to develop our individual character and individual character in others.  We understand that good persons will make good decisions—a concept first developed by Plato and Aristotle and an integral part of Jesuit tradition.

We become virtuous in that we work with interest and desire to help others, have creative spiritual ambition, calmness, courage, an unconquerable attitude, tolerance, patience, and peace.  We no longer have doubt, mental fatigue, worry, indifference, boredom, fear, restlessness, timidity, mental and physical laziness, overindulge in anything, an unmethodical life, lack of interest, or lack of creative initiative.

We usually go about our day doing things out of habit without thinking about ethics.  This is how it should be once our habits become ethical.  Most of us have not taken the time to create a set of personal values.  And if they loosely exist unwritten in our minds we haven’t given them much thought and they can become distorted when we have to make difficult decisions.  Creating and writing my personal values is what led to this book.

We make decisions all the time.  Most of these decisions do not seem to directly affect our lives or the lives of others.  But when we need to make bigger decisions that will affect our lives or the lives of others, we need to be very familiar with our values.

If we develop our values in moments when we are at peace and unburdened with eminent decisions and problems, our values will be more pure than if they were developed when we were under pressure to make a difficult decision, especially a financial one.  We can be guided in ethical ways if we refer to those more purely developed and written values before we make decisions.

I would imagine that if 100 people were to give long thought on their values and then write them down, those written lists could be quite different.  What would make them different is our soul ethics, our soul consciousness, our desire to serve versus being served, our desire for win-win outcomes versus win-lose outcomes or even we-both-win-but-I-win-more outcomes.

To bring this back to a business example look at the difference between the thinking of two technology companies.  The ego driven company strayed to advancing profits and the soul driven company stayed true to advancing technology.  In the 1970’s, according to Jim Collins in his best selling book Good To Great, Texas Instruments decided to make cheap pocket calculators and throwaway watches because their vision had to do with increasing gross revenue.  Hewlett Packard in comparison didn’t include increasing gross revenue as their vision and instead chose not to go after low-end technology because it offered no chance to make a technical contribution to the world.

The concept of service should be defined as providing whatever is in our friends’ or clients’ or customers’ best interest.  If we do not have the product that is in someone’s best interest we should not offer or sell that product to them.  While this decision could hurt us financially in the short run, it will guide us to where we need to be.  Where we need to be is a place where we can provide what is in our friends’ or client’s or customers’ best interest.  Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”   I think this is powerful.  Accomplish it and you become the flame instead of the moth.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book, The Power of Intention, tells us that it is hard to feel worthy if we are always looking out for number one.  If we do not feel worthy then without realizing it we feel unworthy of being healthy or wealthy or having loving relationships and we create an obstacle that will inhibit the flow of creative higher frequency energy into our daily life.

When we are without this flow, we tend to eat too much of the wrong things, or use prescription drugs we do not need or drink too much alcohol, or we dress down, or walk or sit with poor posture, or we fail to exercise, or we treat others with a lack or respect, or make judgments we should not be making, and the list goes on and on.  What we might not realize is that poor posture and disrespecting others, etc. leads to feelings of unworthiness.

We are like magnets that attract or repel positive or negative energy. Generally, people will come to us not because of what we do, but because of who we are.  What inspires a customer to be a repeat customer or a new acquaintance to become a friend is our presence and the connection they feel with us.    People we admire should be comfortable in our presence and we in theirs.

To do this we must continue to refine our expression—our thoughts, words and actions—to more accurately reveal the truth of who we are at our core, our true nature, then our work will deepen, our business will thrive, and our life will know greater peace and we will find fulfillment.  “One can have no greater mastery than mastery of oneself”—Leonardo da Vinci.

Clarence C. Walton, in his The Moral Manager, says that personal character is one of the keys to higher ethical standards in business.  “People of integrity produce organizations with integrity.  When they do, they become moral managers—those special people who make organizations and societies better.”

One of the most important factors in the functioning of society around the world is the art of leadership.  It is an art for true leadership is a gift, requiring great foresight, great determination, honesty, integrity and trust, the ability to not only be able to work with people successfully but to inspire them, to set goals and a vision for a society to thrive.

We have had many leaders in history that have been very charismatic, very talented and very successful and we have had many who were successful that didn’t have any charisma but were good builders.

To be a leader one needs the ability to organize, to delegate authority and to have massive energy for a leader has great responsibilities.  These responsibilities can cover such a large area that a leader must be able to endure a huge burden to carry and enjoy it, be inspired by it.  The greatest leaders have great spirituality, great foresight and only want to bring good and dedicate themselves to the prosperity, health, and welfare for all.

There have been major dynamic leaders in the world who have used their charisma for negative activities, succumbing to the feel of power and greed.  There have been leaders in the fields of science, art, music, military, economics, welfare, etc. who have contributed greatly to mankind or have left an indelible impression on massive numbers of people.

There have been great leaders in history who truly believed in what they were working for but were very spiritually wrong.  Their intent was good in their minds, necessary, seemed greatly important and they followed their path.  Some have been truly righteous, while others were in error spiritually.

Leadership is a quality that can take lifetimes to develop.  For some, leadership will add to their spirituality and for some that get caught up in power and ego; it will take away from their spirituality–a recurring theme in this book.

Leadership is a dangerous position spiritually for one may not be able to handle the power.  Many can, many can’t.  When leadership falls into corruption, the soul backtracks spiritually, loses ground.  When leadership aspires to high values and operates accordingly, one gains spiritually.

Leaders always face those who aspire to take their place, work against them, threaten them and sometimes eliminate them.  But without leadership and daring we would have no organization or progress.

Steven R. Covey, best known for his best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, marks the way for us to return to fundamental values, the wisdom of solid relationships, and the importance of communicating in improving our business.  Covey tells us that no matter how many people we manage or supervise we can only control ourselves.  If we want to change any situation, we have to behave differently.  But before we can change our behavior, we must change our perceptions.

Einstein agrees:  “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

We do need new perspectives.  We say we have free will, but which might be stronger, instincts and habits, or our free will to do what is best.  Where do we get our perceptions as to what is best?  Where does procrastination, selfishness, greed, jealousy, self-interest, anger, temper, bigotry, come from– Habits and instincts or free will?

Here is a moral and ethical dilemma for you to ponder that I received in an email that was being passed around.  Let’s say you are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for the bus:

  1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
  2. An old friend who once saved your life.
  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car?

Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or, you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered:  “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital.  I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.

Our personal values, character, and spirituality exert a powerful influence on the way ethical work issues are treated.  Since all of us have different personal histories and have developed our values, character, and spirituality in different ways, we are going to think differently about ethical problems.   All of us, as well as our managers and leaders, are likely to be at various stages of moral development.  Some of us will reason at a high level, others of us at a lower level.

Every once in a while I am surprised by the maturity of a child’s expression for it will be way ahead of their years and more advanced than some adults display.  But usually it is over time that we become more developed and are capable of more advanced moral reasoning.

When we are very young we want to avoid punishment.  We either learn to obey authority or we learn to cope with trouble or we learn that authority is willing to cope with our misbehaving.  Later we learn that cooperating pays more than does strict obeying.  Someone once told me that they could not remember a time when they got in trouble if their answer to a request was no, but their yes answer usually opened the door to second guessing.  I wasn’t impressed then and I still am not impressed with that comment.  Just the same there are many people like him that make decisions based solely on what they perceive our societies’ customs, traditions, and laws to be.  A major portion of the world’s population has not evolved their reasoning beyond this point.  The groups these people hang out with whether it is friends, family, work, or clubs greatly influence their thinking and reasoning.

Our best leaders reason globally and as stated earlier care about relationships, human rights, human dignity, equal treatment, freedom of expression, and as Lincoln included in his Gettysburg Address, mans’ inalienable rights.

Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, tells us there are two categories of people:  The first are those who could never bring themselves to subjugate their egoistic needs to the greater ambition of building something larger and more lasting than themselves.  Work will always be about what they get i.e. fame, fortune, power and not what they build.  The second are those who have the potential to rise to become great leaders/supervisors.  Jim Collins tells us the great leaders, the most successful leaders, all share certain personal traits.

  • They have personal humility.
  • They demonstrate a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and are never boastful.
  • They act with quiet, calm determination, relying principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
  • They let the company be ambitious not themselves.  They set up their successors for even greater success instead of doing anything that would make themselves missed.
  • When talking about success they will look out the window and talk about luck, external factors, and apportion credit to others and not look in the mirror.  When talking about problems they look in the mirror and take responsibility.
  • These great leaders were described as spiritual people.

We can live a spiritual life 24/7.  We shouldn’t look for time to have a spiritual moment, we should just be spiritual all the time and in everything we do, say, or think whether it be a business situation or a personal situation.  We look for win-win outcomes or we pass on the opportunity. We look at every situation as if it were involving a close friend, which includes when someone is honking their horn at us or cutting us off on a busy highway, or driving too slowly.

If we were to picture those antagonists as close friends our anger would drop and we would then be able to recognize them as ourselves on other occasions when we were being the antagonist and we just might laugh instead of matching our vibrations to the vibrations of a person temporarily being an idiot.  Or we can try to get the best of someone or be rude to someone or sell more regardless of it being the right product for the right customer or we can just let the customer-be-aware or we can horde or we can brag or any other activity that is not spiritual.

Maslow picked out a group of people whom he felt clearly met the standard of what he called self-actualized.  Included in this group were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams, William James, Albert Schweitzer, Benedict Spinoza, and Alduous Huxley, plus 12 unnamed people who were alive at the time Maslow did his research. He developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of these people.

These people could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine.  They treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to.  And they felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means–the journey was often more important than the destination.

Maslow’s self-actualizers enjoyed solitude, were comfortable being alone, enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.

They enjoyed autonomy and were not susceptible to social pressure to be well adjusted or to fit in.  They preferred to joke at their own expense or at the human condition instead of directing their humor at others.  They had a quality he called acceptance of self and others.   This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves.

They enjoyed their personal quirks if they were not harmful and they were motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial.  They had a sense of humility and respect towards others, were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it.

They had a quality Maslow called human kinship accompanied by strong ethics, which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature.  They tended to see ordinary things with wonder and from this were creative, inventive, and original.  And, finally, these people tended to have more experiences that made them feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God.

These people were not this way all the time so they still had some work to do at their soul level.  For example, while they were not neurotic, some did experience anxiety and guilt and some were absentminded and overly kind and some experienced unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.

Maslow made another point about these self-actualizers that I consider very major and in fact are at the heart of this book:  Their values were natural and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities.  Maslow also defined self-actualizers by identifying their needs in order to be happy.  Here is his list.

  1. Truth,
  2. Goodness
  3. Beauty
  4. Unity
  5. Aliveness
  6. Uniqueness
  7. Perfection and necessity
  8. Completion
  9. Justice and order
  10. Simplicity.
  11. Richness
  12. Effortlessness
  13. Playfulness
  14. Self-sufficiency
  15. Meaningfulness

Maslow believes that much of the what is wrong with the world comes down to the fact that very few people really are interested in these values — not because they are bad people, but because they haven’t even had their basic needs taken care of and, when forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.

To be a great leader in any field we must do self-study meaning looking closely at our perceptions, our way of interpreting.  We need to center ourselves on values and principals, work on our character growth, and examine our habits carefully.  We cannot let old habits and instincts rule our actions and thoughts.  We have had a lifetime of conditioning from our parents and friends and associates, from our situations and circumstances and these can train us to see things from only one angle.

We need to see things from other angles, other perceptions, from the big picture, and from the end and less from the middle of the battle.  It will give us a much broader picture and understanding and help monitor our thoughts and actions.  We need to carefully listen to others and show them we understand what they are saying, feeling.  Most people do not listen to understand but listen while thinking about reply.  This is keeping ourselves stuck in seeing things from only one angle and limits our picture of the whole.

We need to let people know we have heard them, have understood and appreciated what they have offered.  People need to know they have been heard and understood.  We need to truly hear, absorb and process information coming to us and not just automatically advise or decide basing our decisions on our own experience or our own motives and behavior.  We need good, open, constructive communication from other perspectives and interpretations for they are important in order to not only get out of ourselves but to see a bigger picture.

We need to hear all sides before judging.  Great leadership involves having an end in mind, a goal to accomplish in mind.  Then the process of achieving this goal needs to broaden greatly, allowing all kinds of information to come in and be processed.  Cooperation, integrity, high values, allowing new insights to enter our mind, a spiritual outlook, calmness, and courage, patience and tolerance are characteristics of great leadership.

We need to take a careful look at our governments and leaders.  To be in the government of a country, making policy, tending to issues, aiding people, protecting country, involves a tremendous amount of responsibility.  Once in office as President, King, prime Minister, Senator, Congressman, Governor, the person is obligated to work for the people with truth, justice, and honesty.

Too often we see leaders get into office barely committing themselves to anything other than themselves.  Then once in office they play the game of politics, being very careful over what they say in order to stay in office.  Then in the office they have to deal with all the interests that helped them get into office, the lobbyists and the senior members (senior power craving egos) of House and Senate, Parliament, military, etc.  Everyone wants a piece of the cake and there is a lot of give and take and bargaining.  Too often policies that would really help the people are lost or forgotten or diluted.

Beware The Gatekeeper

Beware the gatekeeper

America is a divided nation that flourishes when united.  What’s stopping us?  Our individual gatekeepers.

A part of our mind protects the status quo of our beliefs. Let’s call it the gatekeeper.  Our gatekeeper checks to see if a concept is in agreement with our existing beliefs. If it is, the gate is opened, if it isn’t, the gate stays closed and information is rejected.

For us to accept new concepts we have to wholeheartedly want to explore and be willing to change or learn.  A person realizing they need to change is not enough for the gatekeeper to open the gate.

Authority figures can also bypass our gatekeeper. For example, we tend to believe people we think know more than we do. This includes doctors, schoolteachers, preachers, and motivational speakers. All kinds of people bypass our gatekeeper. Anytime we are feeling a strong emotion such as love or fear, anger or grief, we are more suggestible. Things said to us, or things we say to ourselves, will bypass our gatekeeper and become part of our subconscious programming.  Normally nobody wants to be gullible but most people are at times when feeling angry or fearful especially when we are not recognizing within ourselves anger or fear.  Be aware, some people are good at manipulating the gatekeeper in us.

Nourishing our minds requires getting beyond the status quo, recognizing when our gatekeeper is restricting us and finding time to grow as a person by observing all that comes in front of us, finding truths, searching for love within our souls and in other souls.  Nourishing exercises the more evolved parts of our brains and rests the more primitive parts of our brains.  Nourishing has a lot to do with the company we keep and don’t keep.  Nourishing requires a decision.

It has become clearer and more obvious to me that our purpose in life is to gain spiritual knowledge, self-awareness, understanding, and a loving and serving nature.  I think we evolve through use of new perspectives, introspection, and meditation.  We either view nature and people as souls or we don’t.  If we don’t, we see from fear, impatience, and intolerance and if we do we see from love and we live and die with grace.

It has also become clear to me that we have  two personalities and one wants to act, think or make decisions one way and the other personality wants to act, think or make decisions another way.  It is like there were a force pulling and pushing us in two directions.  Some feel this much more than others do.  Why?

Often heard is that some of us only accept what we can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste.  For those people their world is a material one.  Others of us add to this material world an acceptance of a spiritual world full of mystery and magic.  Those that accept the spiritual world gain perhaps a greater understanding of the meaning of life.

When we feel pulled in two directions it is because there is a gap between our spiritual and material consciousness.  Gaps result in restlessness, lack of focus, and a sense of unbalance.  This causes stress which leads to health issues and depression.

Our potentials are blocked by stress, anxiety, doubt, and limited introspection.  Sometimes we seem to be tightly locked-in to the world as we are experiencing it.  When we see and feel from this small world we limit ourselves to the small picture.  Relaxing allows our body and mind to surrender.   When we surrender, stop the hunt, we tend to find answers and observe from a new perspective and we begin to see the big picture.  When we see the big picture we feel lighter, laugh more, walk more fluidly, and have more energy.  Seeing the big picture expands us and seeing only the small picture shrinks us.

Great leaders use introspection not only within themselves but within their own tradition and heritage.  Leaders can become great leaders if introspection leads to new perspective and a more global pluralist worldview.  There should not be two sets of rules.  When we find ourselves becoming annoyed or irritated with another’s heritage, behavior, or tradition we need to look inward for that irritation is reflecting back to us some aspect of our own heritage, behavior, or tradition that we can examine.

If we were to grasp a ring as a symbol of possession and squeeze it in our hand, the ring is captured and so is the use of our hand. Imagine holding this ring out in front of you with your palm either up or down.

If our palm is facing down and we sense the ring getting loose, our tendency is to quickly squeeze our hand.  This is natural, we all do this.  But some of us will feel threatened when that ring begins to fall and we find ourselves wanting that ring more and begin to squeeze tighter.  Grasping and squeezing something is an attempt to own it and graspers and squeezers do this because they like to keep things, even if they don’t like them. Giving up the freedom of one of our hands to squeeze something is annoying and it follows that graspers and squeezers would become annoying as well. Graspers and squeezers tend to have lapses in ethics.

But if our palm is facing upward we tend to feel the ring less as a possession and more as a symbol of our own freedom.   Open your hand and the ring is still there.  Now with your imagination allow this ring to become a beautiful butterfly resting peacefully and gently on the palm of your hand.   Enjoy the moment and then with awe watch the butterfly float into the sky taking with it nourishment it received from you and sharing it wherever it goes.

Love with attachment is nothing more than fear emotionally.  To finish this thought I give you this by William Blake:

He who binds to himself a joy,

Does the winged life destroy;

He who kisses the Joy as it flies,

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.

Ask yourself, what ring am I squeezing?  Is it a lifestyle, a title, a person, a job, a house, a car, old perspective, fame, fortune, victory, domination, ego, poverty, anger, hostility, revenge, resentment, jealously, greed, hatred, unworthiness, pain, disease, beliefs, prejudice, restlessness, Trump, materialism, inferiority, failure, phobias, coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs?  The list seems to go on and on doesn’t it?

Learning to live is learning to release.  When we release change is possible.  Change involves releasing a bad and acquiring a good.  If we are full we might not be able to crowd in a good until we release a bad.  If we release a bad without having a good to replace it the void will be filled by whatever has been waiting in line to join us.

A small campfire

Unwritten Republican Party Platform

The Republican Party held its convention without creating a platform but it’s not like they don’t have an unwritten platform because they do.  It has been orally presented over and over again piece by piece, tweet by tweet, interview by interview, rally by rally.  It is a Trump platform and elected Republicans have gone along with it and Trump voters have cheered it on because they cheer most things Trump.

The platform is contained here.

It was written on August 25, 2020 by David Frum, Staff writer at The Atlantic.

He says the question is not why Republicans lack a coherent platform; it’s why they’re so reluctant to publish the one on which they’re running.

I have argued in previous posts that for change to happen smoothly and more quickly we can’t start with the answer and instead have to start with an hypothesis.  The hypothesis could be a problem or an opportunity but in either case it has to be defined and measured as the first step followed closely by getting consensus that the problem or opportunity actually exists.  Only then can we search for alternative answers, evaluate their pros and cons and then choose the most acceptable alternative.

Bill Clinton believes that “politics and governing are one long conversation where you have to explain to people what went wrong and why, explain your plan to fix it, persuade them your idea is better than the other side’s,” this Democrat noted. “Today, politics tends to be heavy on assertion, light on explanation, and bereft of persuasion.”

The above paragraph comes from a short article from Politico and does a good job of indirectly describing the differences between Trump and Clinton. Like I said it is short and likeable.

All of us can be gullible at times and sometimes after we realize we were guilty of it we have to laugh at ourselves.  Where our emotions are high we are prone to gullibility more than when we are less interested in a subject.  We seem to now be most gullible regarding politics.  It is shameful but interesting that we are so divided that we don’t trust anything and yet conversely aren’t willing to disbelieve anything.

We spend a lot of time worrying about interference from Russia, China or Iran. But disinformation needs to have a receptive audience to work. If Americans weren’t so divided and all news media shared set of facts before offering wildly conflicting worldviews, it would be harder for a foreign power to meddle.

I’ll close with a quote about racism and while the quote mentions people of color it applies to all prejudices that maintains the status quo that keeps America from being what we say we are regarding life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What’s most important is the outcomes and experiences of people of color. When we know that those inequities exist and we refuse or fail to address them, that is racism. It is allowing the system to perpetuate itself because the status quo is racist.

— Melissa Williams, director of student equity and inclusion at Clark College

Science and Warnings

Warnings from scientists are nothing new.  They are ignored all the time though. They should not be confused with REPENT–The World Is Coming To An End statements made by non-scientists.  Covid 19 warnings were initially ignored and we saw the results.

Are we more ready to heed warnings from scientists?  We will know soon by what the world does with the root cause of many of the viruses that spread everywhere and the root cause of global warming.

According to the YouTube video below, China is the main source of exotic animals and bats that end up in wet markets that are the root source of the viruses that are killing us.  It is clear that Covid 19 and its handling will be at the heart of the elections in November and Republicans want to get voters mad at China instead of mad at the handling of the pandemic.  That said, we should be able to do both.  It is not so much that we should blame China for the pandemic as much as it is to encourage them to eliminate the wet markets.

A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.


Bill Maher in his unique and colorful style nails the need for China to eliminate the wet markets extremely well here:

Bill Maher follows up on China’s wet markets with this about America’s industrial farming:

Hopefully there are many more people in this world and who will allow Covid 19 make them more adamant about listening and heeding to warnings from scientists and take action.  Maybe global warning concerns will gain traction.  Both are invisible threats.

Outer space is cold because it lacks air and the particulates that would be suspended in it if air existed there.  The more particulates that are suspended in air the warmer the air. Doesn’t it make sense that as populations rise that particultates would also rise?  Is it hard to believe that there is all of a sudden a problem when one didn’t exist before?

Well, at the dawn of agriculture, about 8000 B.C., the population of the world was approximately 5 million. Over the 8,000-year period up to 1 A.D. it grew to 200 million to 300 million.  It’s not like we have precise numbers for that period of time. 

A tremendous change occurred with the industrial revolution: whereas it had taken all of human history until around 1800 for world population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in 30 years (1960), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion in only 13 years (1987).

During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.  In 1970, there were roughly half as many people in the world as there are now.

A person standing on a rock while watching the sun

Learned Awareness

It’s been awhile since I have Posted so instead of writing a new one without a real desire to do so, I am Posting one originally published in May 2020.  It is somewhat metaphysical but I now accept the information as fact.  You may not.

Also, everyday a handful of people subscribe to HelloFred.  HelloFred is approaching 11,000 subscribers.  I would like to hear from some of you in the comments section.

Fun and Collaborative Is Better

I know that the best exercise is fun and collaborative which is more beneficial than going to a gym where we interact as if we were in an elevator. The goal of exercise, whether it is fun or not, is to fend off heart disease and diabetes, reduce our weight, improve our strength, fight depression, and boost our mood.

I am aware that singing in groups calms heart rates and boosts endorphin levels and the long list of other benefits might make group singing more valuable than exercise.

I am aware that dancing increases the area of the brain that declines with age, improves balance fights off diseases like Alzheimer’s while improving memory and learning. I am aware that the best dancing for health routines are ones that make us change every two weeks from jazz to square to Latin to line that keeps us in constant learning.

I am aware that children who play rhythmic, synchronized clap-and-tap games are more likely to do good and will more often mix with others not in their original group than do children who played nonsynchronous games. I am aware that even swinging in time with other kids on a swing creates cooperative and collaborative skills.

 Self-Observation Is Powerful.

I am aware that our behaviors, habits, tendencies, first reactions, biases, prejudices, etc. can be changed if we observe them, look for their roots, and are open to new ideas that help us evolve and not stagnate.  If we want to consistently make ethical decisions that are global in nature we need to dig deep within our unconscious selves and replace the roots of our thinking, behavior, tendencies, and habits.

Attractiveness Can Be Increased

I have become aware that I can become more attractive; that enthusiasm, energy, passion are as important, if not more so, than physical attractiveness

Time Only Moves Forward

I am aware that while I have enjoyed much of my life to date, learned from my experiences, and still squirm when thoughts recall blunders. I have learned that time will move on without me if I don’t keep up. It’s easier to keep up if I pull up the anchor.

Imagining The Future

I am aware that nostalgia is a good thing and is a window into which I have been gives meaning to my present.  I am aware that how well I can imagine myself in the future affects what I do in the present.  Together, nostalgia and my vision of the future work to enhance the significance of the present.

Awe Moments

I am aware that time can briefly move forward without us and those times are when we are experiencing something awe inspiring.  It could be as simple as lightning and thunder storm or feeling the power of nature.  That short period time stops is like stretching a rubber band, one that always snaps back and puts us back on the clock in real time.

Less as a straight Line and More as a Circle

Einstein’s space-time continuum states that the apparent linearity of events depends on the observer.  And since all experience is interconnected, and if we become aware of this interconnectedness and allow that interconnectedness into our cognitive processes, we can be aware of all events independent of all time.

I am not sure what that means but I like it.  It makes me think of life’s time line less as a straight line and more as a circle.


I am aware that anger can be addictive and unlike anxiety, shame or depression, it drives us towards the object of our arousal. Our brains become out of balance when we get angry as our left hemisphere is strongly activated. That causes us to use simple logic because the context processing right hemisphere didn’t keep up.

The angrier we get, the more we lose our ability to process subtlety and nuance. Reality comes to be seen in simplistic, good-or-bad, all-or-nothing perspectives. Other people come to be seen as ‘stupid’ or ‘evil’ for having differing opinions. All kinds of neutral events are seen with paranoia, as intentional threats.

Seeing Goodness and Beauty

Every thought we have either strengthens or weakens our ability to reconnect to the higher and fastest energy in the universe.  If we ask why we are not as happy as are others the answer might be that others have learned to see goodness and beauty everywhere and we perhaps do not because we cannot see outside what we fail to see inside.  (Thanks to Dr. David Hawkins and Anthony de Mello)

Happiness and Money

I have found additional peace from learning that lots of money doesn’t increase happiness after reading a 2010 Princeton study that found that happiness plateaus at a household income of $75,000 a year on average in America with some states higher like California ($90,000) and some lower according to a followup study by the Huffington Post.

“Only by changing education can our children compete with machines”

Only by changing education can our children compete with machines.

Jack Ma says only by changing education can our children compete with machines

With just 4 days to go until our Annual Meeting, here's Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma discussing how education must change to empower future generations."Everything we teach should be different from machines". Read more:

Posted by World Economic Forum on Thursday, January 17, 2019

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma discussing how education must change to empower future generations.

Political Parties and Group Think, ugh

Looking back to the time the United States decided to invade Iraq we seemed to come together as a nation.  France, Germany, and Russia pleaded with us to not do it.  We, as a result, stopped eating at French restaurants and started calling French fries American fries.  Most of us will now agree that that invasion of Iraq was an expensive mistake.

If we are Red Sox fans we dislike anything Yankees, same with Dodgers and Giants.  We either like Fords or we like Chevys.  We don’t need facts to make these decisions.

It seems that it is human instinct to become emotionally attached and we don’t need reasons to do so, we will make those up as we go or accept what we hear that is in line with our emotionally based decisions.  This causes us to be susceptible to group think.

Timing Timing Timing

I wanted to give a shout out to this Face the Nation interview with Daniel Pink.

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