I have a new favourite book: The Oxford English Dictionary! With our “economy” going to hell in a hand basket fairly quickly, I have started looking up the words the press commonly uses to transmit their message. The recent headline “economy about to collapse” spurred me on to enquire about what that actually means. While it sounds threatening enough, the two words that caught my attention were “economy” and “collapse”. So, let’s see what my dictionary has to say, shall we?
For some people it is easy to stop smoking, it is just a decision they make from one day to the next. For others, it amounts to a daily battle of will power…in that case, it is a mano a mano between you and you! Over the years, I have heard many stories as to how people quit, and it is interesting to know that each person has their own little strategy of going about it. Some throw all their cigarettes away and vow never to touch them again, some make more ritualistic burnings of the sticks, others buy a full pack and leave it sitting on the kitchen counter. Apparently, the third one is the best way to go…
If you have been following my blog a little, you will have seen the word “influence” in quite a few of the posts. Now, I believe that we are all intelligent and capable of our own thoughts, and as such learning the ideas of influence serve us in three ways:
- protect us from people using the same techniques on us
- We now can influence ourselves
- Our communication with others is much better
While there are many different ways to influence someone, I tend to stress more subtle or unconscious aspects. Yet, a recent article in “Scientific American Mind” has made me doubt whether that is worth it at all. Sadly, it seems we are a pack animal after all, and we tend to outsource our thinking to others – specifically “Hollywood Movies” !
I have recently started thinking about thinking, and more specifically, where does our way of thinking come from? It seems, that across boarders and geographical boundaries, our western culture has spread far enough to make sure we all think along similar lines. Of course, we don’t think the same things, we don’t even think the same ways, yet the rules guiding our thoughts appear to be very similar across the planet. These rules are so deeply embedded in us, they are so unconscious that we are not even aware of using them, or letting them rule our thinking. So, what are they, and where did they come from??
Thoughts. We all have them, most of the time at least. Monks and spiritual leaders train themselves to shut their thoughts up, and get into a state of not-thinking. A state Carlos Castaneda referred to as “Stop the World”. Yet, this is not what we are aiming for today. What has recently caught my interest is the process of thought that leads to innovation and progress. Caught somewhere between daydreaming and number crunching, so to speak, we find the pendulum of progress, swinging politely in the background of our culture.
It is one of the most common activities around the world, and I can confidently say we have all done, are doing it, and probably will keep doing it for some time to come: breathe. Many different (interestingly enough, mostly Eastern) traditions have devoted considerable time of study to breathing, how it affects us, and what are the best ways to utilize it. “In-then-out” seems to be quite straightforward, yet the subtleties are actually quite amazing, and once you start to learn about them, things do change….
Over the last few years, I have made it a personal habit to look for new ways of doing things in strange places. This has led me, among other places, to the very interesting world of improvisational theatre, to learn about the way they codify and utilize their understanding of human interaction. Recently, I have noticed a tendency of some business publications to follow their own advice (look for innovation in places other than your business field!), and interview at least one “non-business” person. In the last issue of Harvard Business Review, this person was Twyla Tharp, the famous choreographer and author of 2 books. How could a choreographer possibly know something about business and change that could positively change the way we work?