Give No One Cause to Fear You

Give No One Cause to Fear You - Just One Thing

What puts people at ease? The Practice: Give no one cause to fear you. Why?We evolved to be afraid.The ancient ancestors that were casual and blithely hopeful, underestimating the risks around them - predators, loss of food, aggression from others of their kind - did not pass on their genes. But the ones that were nervous were very successful - and we are their great-grandchildren, sitting atop the food chain.Consequently, multiple hair-trigger systems in your brain continually … [Read more...]

See the Good in Others

What do you notice in people? The Practice: See the good in others. Why?Many interactions these days have a kind of bumper-car quality to them. At work, at home, on the telephone, via email: we sort of bounce off of each other while we exchange information, smile or frown, and move on. How often do we actually take the extra few seconds to get a sense of what's inside other people - especially their good qualities?In fact, because of what scientists call the brain's "negativity bias" … [Read more...]

Ask Questions

What are you learning? The Practice: Ask questions. Why?My dad grew up on a ranch in North Dakota. He has a saying from his childhood - you may have heard it elsewhere - that's: "You learn more by listening than by talking."Sure, we often gain by thinking out loud, including discovering our truth by speaking it. But on the whole, listening brings lots more valuable information than talking does.Nonetheless, many people are not the greatest listeners. (You've probably noticed this … [Read more...]

Hug the Monkey

Longing for love? The Practice: Hug the monkey. Why?Your brain evolved in three stages (to simplify a complex process):Reptile - Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal - Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate - Cortex, focused on attaching to "us"The first JOT in this series - pet the lizard - was about how to soothe the most ancient structures of the brain, the ones that manage the first emotion of all: fear. The next one - feed the mouse - addressed how … [Read more...]

Feed The Mouse

Got cheese? The Practice: Feed the mouse. Why?As the nervous system evolved, your brain developed in three stages:Reptile - Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal - Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate - Cortex, focused on attaching to "us"Since the brain is integrated, avoiding, approaching, and attaching are accomplished by its parts working together. Nonetheless, each of these functions is particularly served and shaped by the region of the brain that … [Read more...]

Empty The Cup

Are you full to the rim? The Practice: Empty the cup. Why?Once upon a time, a scholar came to visit a saint. After the scholar had been orating and propounding for a while, the saint proposed some tea. She slowly filled the scholar's cup: gradually the tea rose to the very brim and began spilling over onto the table, yet she kept pouring and pouring. The scholar burst out: "Stop! You can't add anything to something that's already full!" The saint set down the teapot and replied, … [Read more...]

Remember The Big Things

What matters most to you? The Practice: Remember the big things. Why?In every life, reminders arrive about what's really important.I've recently received one myself, in a form that's already come to countless people and will come to countless more: news of a potentially serious health problem. My semi-annual dermatology mole check turned up a localized melanoma cancer in my ear that will need to come out immediately. The prognosis is very positive - this thing is "non-invasive" - but … [Read more...]

Rest

Busy, busy? The Practice: Rest. Why?This practice is definitely a case of teaching what you need to learn: I've been working through a big bucket of tasks lately with little chance to rest. (I console myself with knowing that the bucket is emptying a lot faster than it's filling with new tasks.)Sometimes you can really feel what you need to do by feeling what's happening for you when you don't. "Don't," that is: ease up, unwind, recharge, put your feet up, take a load off, just … [Read more...]

Give Over To Good

What is living you? The Practice: Give over to good. Why?In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else - from quantum foam to fleeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves - are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing though persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.We are the result of multiple causes flowing through us. As Buckminster Fuller famously said, "I seem to be a verb."This fact … [Read more...]

Feel Cared About

When Have People Been Caring? The Practice: Feel cared about.  Why?Everyone knows what it's like to care about someone. Remember being with a friend, a mate, a pet: you feel warmly connected, and want him or her not to suffer and to be happy.On the other hand, you've probably had the sense, one time or another, of not being cared about. That you didn't matter to another person, or to a group of people. Maybe they weren't actively against you, but they sure weren't for you.As soon as you … [Read more...]


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