The Impulse

Impulse.png

What one can be, one must be

Abraham Maslow

Maslow is summarizing in 6 words the human drive toward “better,” toward being fully human, toward being all that we can be. He said it was as real as our need to breath.

Millenia before Maslow, in 382 BCE, one of the great philosophers, Aristotle, was born; he might be the first person who identified this drive.  He called it entelechia, the drive to make actual what is currently only potential.  Most of us really want to be better, do better, become something more.

Do you realize???

700 years ago…the Plague killed 200 million people in a single year; that is 40% of England’s population.

500 years ago… 3 million people died in France due to famine.

100 years ago… World War I saw 16 million killed and the flu killed 50 million in a single year!

If we heard stats like that today we would be shocked and alarmed.

The world has dramatically progressed in the last 100 years  But that progress is often eclipsed by the reporting bias that supports our evolutionary propensity for tuning into negative threats.  Which means, negative news sells, because it gets attention, which skews our understanding of what is happening in the real world. Which is why it feels so despairing… entelechia has us wanting things to improve….but it is!

Do you realize the per capita income for every single nation on the planet has tripled in the last century? Food cost has dropped 30X?  Not 30%, 30 fold! Transportation hundreds X and communication millions X? 

We could dig into all the interesting changes that have happened in the last 100 years.  Because few stats are short of mind blowing.

But it illustrates the point of this post.  We have a worldview biased to seeing the world as getting worse…when there is hardly one metric where that is true.  

If you didn’t see last week’s Wildlybetter video on three books you must read, go watch it… it is all about this wild improvement in our world.

Over time we ARE improving.  And entelechia is the impulse, the spark the prompt that moves us toward improving.

Which raises a question….are you?

Are you getting better?  

What gets attention grows.  

What gets attention gets invested with intention.  

 

So where is your attention?  What is your intention?

Where is entelechia prompting you?

This might be a more important question than ever because one of the big areas of global improvement is lifespan.

You stand to be here on this planet longer than any generation, bar the original methuselah generations.

100,000 years ago, cavemen lived til their late 20's. By age 13, humans went into puberty and began having children; by 26, those parents became grandparents and soon passed away.

Lifespan grew to about 35 by the Middle Ages.

In the 1800’s it was around 40.

Today it is around 80 and rising all the time. 

You, on average, have more years ahead than your great-grandparents had on this planet.

What is getting your entelechia impulse to be a contributor and dent-maker?  

What is getting your attention and intention this week? What are your deepest priorities?

To move from the comfortable bayou of the known into the vast ocean of the unknown will take wild courage, friend. 

Rollo May, the 20th century eminent psychologist described entelechia in his book The Courage to Create:

“The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions require courage.”

Grab some courage, focus your attention, bring some intention to your deepest priorities, and become all that you can be.

 

 

The Pull of Innovation or the Pain to Shift Paradigms

 

Live Now!

 

“The greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable.They can only be outgrown.” 

Carl Jung

Attachments hold us in yesterday and prevent us from experiencing what is happening right here right now. 

Our meaning-maker, called the ego in psychology, is what gives me my me-ness.  My history, geography, genealogy, education, etc… is what funds the narrative I tell myself about who I am. 

What is fascinating about how we story-tell to ourselves is that most of it is tacit…it is happening under the radar of our awareness most of the time. 

The impetus from minus to plus never ends. The urge from below to above never ceases: whatever premises all our philosophers and psychologists dream of—self-preservation, pleasure principle, equalization—all these are but vague representations, attempts to express the great upward drive.
Göethe - Letter to Lavater

Goethe is speaking here of what the Greeks called Eros.  While usually equated with the erotic and sexuality, eros, according to the Greeks, was the human drive to connect to the divine, to truth, beauty and goodness.

What gets attention grows… certainly makes sense doesn’t it.  Whether it is the ache in your neck, your irritation with a colleague, paranoia about tomorrow’s meeting or… that living right now in the moment and experiencing what is around you right this second is really the only place you can really live!  All of these grow with attention.

We skim life…

When we live most of our lives in the top nine inches of our body we often give attention to nothing and live our lives trapped in daydreams.  Such “captured attention” with constantly looping thoughts in our minds gives us little margin to “give attention.”

I am a daydreamer. 

I prefer to frame it as, brilliant thinker, problem solver or creative genius, but when you strip away all the bologna I am a daydreamer.  But here is the problem when we live our life on the inside of our head we automatically become “blind” to what is happening around us. 

You have had it happen.  You are carrying on a conversation…with yourself….and you miss the exit? There it is!  Daydreaming that leads to blindness and it happens everyday for hours and hours.  When we are giving attention to those thoughts our “sight” goes on autopilot.  We are generally safe driving down the road but we miss details, even big ones.

That is a picture of our lives.  We skim through life hypnotized and blind. 

Here are some ways to try and stay awake.

  1. Start the day with some mindfulness practice.  

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present that is arising around you. When you’re mindful, you are able to observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance.  This enables you to be more proactive rather than reactive and to choose your course. There are a number of ways to go here but if you want to get out of the rut of sleepwalking the only way to do it is to cultivate a practice that will assist that goal. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. 

One word about “practice.”  The whole point of mindfulness practice is to enable you to be present in real life.  The practice itself isn’t enlightening, or somehow insightful.  It is a practice because as you leave your time of practice you have gotten under your belt a little more “mindfulness exercise” which will enable you in life to be more present and mindful due to your training.  Practice for the express purpose of accomplishing through training what you simply could not do by trying.

       2. Consciously “Do.” 

The foregoing might come off like daydreaming is bad.  It isn’t, but anything we do unconsciously (eating, web surfing, etc…) is still unconscious. Start noting when you are bored, seem to have nothing to do and when you are susceptible to clicking on to mindless autopilot. Choose to dream, problem solve or nap but in in the absence of that choice choose something else.

       3. Ask yourself how much you really experienced your “yesterday.” 

What was your pace like?  How much did you notice?  Did you feel others' heart? Did you notice your surroundings?  Was your food tasty?  Did you really hear others when they spoke? Often we get our day done but we don’t fully experience what the day actually offered.  That requires attention.


Let’s look for ways to taste life.  Let’s be attentive to where we direct our intention.  And let’s help our kids and families do the same.  Experiences around the holidays get piled up on each other.  One after another after another.  The compaction and compression of events leaves little option but to skim…unless we are aware and attentive.

 

 

 

Monitoring Intention, Creating our Future

Monitoring Intention, Creating our Future

We are finding out quickly that monitoring our intention is tough work.  But this IS THE WORK we have to do if creating our future is the goal. Monitor intention and creating the future awaiting you is like breathing!

Remember the richest man in history with the hanging gardens of babylon...Solomon?  He said as a person thinks in their heart...that is in fact who they are.  It's easy to get stuck.  Monitor intention!