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Is It Really True? New Rules for the Game of Life Quiz ~ Motivate by Fear?

As promised, here is the first installment of our new monthly feature:

If this is the first time you’re playing along, you may want to read our initial explanation. You can find it here:
Is It Really True? Quiz Intro

Please remember that in this quiz there are no right or wrong answers. We simply want to stimulate dialogue in our community about some of our commonly held cultural beliefs. This quiz comes out of a practice we have of asking ourselves if the beliefs we hold as the “truth” are our own, or if we have just adopted them unquestioningly. We hope you enjoy playing along.

Here’s the first statement…

Fear of getting a ticket is the best way to stop people from speeding.

Do you agree or disagree?

Here’s what we came up with when we examined the statement.

Why would governments give tickets in order to stop people from speeding?

We believe that everything we say or do is to meet a need or experience something we value. And when we want something we come up with ideas for getting it–strategies such is giving tickets to people that don’t obey the speeding laws in order to stop people from speeding. Since cultures, societies, and governments are made up of people, we believe the same holds true at that level.

Keeping all this in mind, the first thing we want to do is get to the essence–the underlying values–hidden within any strategy.

What values are people trying to satisfy with this strategy?

We guess these might be the needs or values underlying the strategy of giving tickets to stop speeding:

  • safety–so less people are injured or die on the roads.
  • predictability–so you have greater confidence about what you can expect when you get on the road.
  • effectiveness–by establishing clear agreement about what is and is not unsafe.

Can you think of any other needs our values people may be trying to satisfy using this strategy?

Why this strategy?

Now the question becomes, why this strategy? In our experience, behind every strategy we choose there is a belief that guides the choice and our subsequent actions. So what’s the cultural belief that led the government to choose this strategy as opposed to any other?

Here’s a possible belief we came up with that might have led to adopting this strategy:

  • People need authorities who “know better” to set strong boundaries that will govern their actions.

Which may point to these even deeper underlying beliefs:

  • People can’t be trusted
  • People only care about themselves
  • People make bad decisions on their own

Can you think of any others beliefs that might lead to making laws that impose traffic fines as a way to prevent speeding?

Does this strategy work?

If your goal is to make people worry about getting a ticket, then we would say this strategy works. But if what you really want is safety, predictability and effectiveness then we think it’s probably not working very well.

Think about it. How often do you still see people speeding? How often do you speed yourself? Why is it that so many people continue to speed if there’s a law that tells you not to, and is enforced by the use of speeding tickets?

We’ve identified a number of reasons for this, but the one we’ve picked to explore here is the difference between intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.

We define the difference this way: being motivated from our internal values vs. being motivated from externally imposed consequences.

If you’ve been brought up in a typical world culture, then you are no stranger to externally imposed consequences. They start at a very young age. Early on, the authorities in your life teach you what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad, what’s appropriate and inappropriate.

And you probably quickly learned that you get punished for being wrong or bad and rewarded for being good or right.

So here’s another rule–don’t speed. Enforced using an externally imposed consequence–you’ll get a speeding ticket that will cost you a lot of money and a lot of time if you disobey.

What does this strategy accomplish?

Let’s recap:

  • There is a cultural belief: People can’t be trusted so authorities must tell them what to do.
  • The culture teaches using a system of punishment and rewards.
  • Government came up with this strategy of punishing people who break speeding laws by giving tickets that costs them both time and money.

But what do most people learn from this strategy–both now and when they were children? In our experience the lesson learned is:

Don’t Get Caught When You’re Breaking the Rules.

Given the number of people who still speed, it doesn’t appear that this strategy–or what people actually learn from it–satisfy the underlying desire for safety, predictability, or effectiveness.

What might satisfy these underlying values?

Now let’s contrast the use of extrinsic motivation with intrinsic motivation. What would it take to cultivate intrinsic motivation?

How would we motivate people to do things–such as obey agreed upon speed limits–simply because this was in harmony with their personally held values?

Let’s start with the underlying belief.

What if we were able to change our cultural belief from “people can’t be trusted,” to “people can be trusted to make decisions that are for the highest good of everyone involved” because they inherently care for, and want to contribute to others and themselves.

Where would this belief take us?

Would we change how teach our children?

Let’s see . . . If our underlying cultural belief was that “people can be trusted to make their own decisions,” then most likely we would want to support them in staying present to what’s most important to them–what they personally value.

And we would probably ensure that our children’s education included developing their emotional intelligence. This would support their ability to make decisions based on how their actions might benefit or impact themselves and those around them.

We would still want to do whatever we could to maintain safety, predictability, and effectiveness on our roads, but with this underlying cultural belief, what strategy might we come up with?

This is where we start getting into very unknown territory. We’re not raised to pay attention to our internal values, or whether the consequences of our actions are in harmony with our values. Instead, we are constantly being distracted by external authority telling us what to do–and by the threat of consequences if we don’t obey.

So where this would go and how it would turn out is anyone’s guess.

But imagine being raised in a culture where your caring, kind and competent nature was valued and nurtured. Where your ability to reason and come up with successful, satisfying choices for everyone concerned was respected.

Imagine that your education, both at home and in school, had focused heavily on supporting you in making your own decisions, with respect for your internal guidance. And it supported this through teaching, conversation and experiences designed to help nurture these abilities.

Now imagine, as a society we have decided that limiting speed really will support achieving the goal of keeping our roads safe, predictable, and effective. What strategy might you use to achieve the greatest possible compliance with these speed limits?

What occurs to you?

That’s our thinking on the subject. Please let us know what occurs to you about any or all of this in the comment field below.

We look forward to reading your response.

With great trust and respect for your ability to choose wisely,

Beth and Neill

PS Please remember to sign up for the RSS feed to make sure you are alerted to our next installment of: Is It Really True?


Self Discovery – Ask Yourself, “Is It Really True?”

Everything Old Is New Again

Have you ever noticed how everything seems to cycle back into popularity. Bellbottoms, guys with long hair, tie-dyed shirts–they all seem to be coming back in full force. We read somewhere that it takes about 40 years for things to get recycled back into popularity.

We’ve decided not to wait 40 years to bring back The Full Cup Test, an exercise that we used in our seminars awhile ago. We named this based on an old Zen story that goes something like this:

“Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), was visited by a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overflowing,” said the university professor, “no more will go in!” “Like this cup,” Nan-in replied, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

It’s Hard To Receive When Your Cup’s Already Full

We just love what this story teaches and we strive to keep emptying our own cups so we’re able to continue learning new things. One way we do this is to think of the tea as a metaphor for the cultural beliefs that fill our minds. This tea comes in many varieties for us: beliefs about what life means, who we are, how we should act, and many others. These beliefs motivate our actions and dictate the direction we will take on our life’s journey.

Because of this, we often ask this question: Are the beliefs that I hold as the “truth” my own beliefs–ones that are truly in harmony with my personal values–or are they beliefs that were handed down from past generations and I have just adopted them unquestioningly?

Question Authority

As we start to question, we are able to empty our cups, which allows us to taste new and more satisfying varieties of tea. We believe this is essential for our continued learning and growth, and for us to evolve into the highest expressions of ourselves.

We also believe that our deepest discoveries emerge in relationship with others. Since we connect with others through language, the most powerful interactions happen through dialogue: sharing our stories, discoveries, and ideas.

To support this evolution in our community, we’re bringing back a modified version of The Full Cup Test. Our aim is to use this as a fun way to stimulate conversation that promotes self discovery. This time we are calling it:
Is It Really True? ~ New Rules For The Game Of Life Quiz

There are no right or wrong answers. Our goal is to stimulate dialogue about some of our commonly held cultural beliefs. The point is to ask yourself these questions and comment on what you discover:

  • Do I believe this statement?
  • What cultural belief is this statement based on?
  • Is this belief in harmony with my personal values?
  • Does it support me living consciously and in harmony with what I value most?

In the next few days we will be posting the first installment of this monthly quiz. So sign up for our RSS feed and look for the title, “Is It Really True?” Then drop by and start playing this game of self discovery by seeing if you agree or disagree with the first statement.


Eliminating All Stress Isn’t Necessarily the Answer

Tag: Stress ReliefBeth and Neill

I came across this blog post today and it reminded me of a story I heard at a personal growth seminar I took some time back. The story goes something like this:

“As hectic as life is, and with as much going on as we all have, we can tend to feel stressed out. So we do our best to eliminate the stress from our lives. Since that’s impossible we work towards as much relief from stress as possible.”

At this point in the story they took a piece of chalk and said,

“So we go about our lives trying to stay as calm as possible, evening out all of the highs and lows of life.”

That’s when they drew a straight line across the chalkboard.

__________________________________________

Then they asked, “If you were in a hospital looking at your vital signs on a monitor, what would the nurses say if they saw this straight line?”

You guessed it, a flat line means you’re dead.


If you haven’t gotten it already… the point of the story is that life has its ups and downs. And some of those ups are actually the most exciting most integrating times of our lives. And some of the downs are our best learning opportunities.

So if we’re only willing to do things where we can stay calm, then we may be missing out on some of life’s most wonderful opportunities.

And as this blog post says, short term stress can actually be healthy for you!

Short term stress is healthy

– Our bodies are designed to deal with short term stress. When we are under stress, adrenaline surges within us and our immune system is heightened. Short- term stress, such as having to give a speech, has a defined endpoint, …

With love,
Beth and Neill


Same Old Relationship Problems — Again!

Have you ever wondered how to keep those pesky issues from your past relationships from cropping up like weeds in your present relationship? Does it seem that no matter how hard you try, the same old patterns keep replaying like a stuck record?

It’s an old saying, “No matter where you go, there you are.” But, unless you take specific steps to avoid it, it’s just as true that, “No matter where you’ve been, there you go!”

What do we mean by this?

Simply put, people don’t take responsibility for consciously creating a future that draws them to it. More often than not, they take what’s happened in the past and expect that this is most likely what’s going to happen to them in the future. Then they live into that prediction.

We can guarantee that you’re doing this if you’ve ever asked yourself some version of these two questions:

Why does the same thing keep happening to me over and over again?

Why don’t I learn from my mistakes?

Past, Present and Futurepast presnt and future

Without getting into a quantum physics argument, time in the physical realm flows from the past, to the present, and then into the future. But since we human beings have a memory–and are so very, very good at creating meaning–we form opinions about what’s happened to us in the past and apply these opinions to what’s happening to us now as a way to predict our future.

The future tends to be this big, scary, black hole of the unknown, and we don’t like the unknown very much. This leads to the obsession with predicting the future we humans have always had.

In our human perception of time there is our memory of our past, our experience of the present–which is colored by our experiences in the past–and then there is this big blank space called our future. And since we don’t like these big blank spaces we tend to fill our future with predictions that we base on our past experiences.

So instead of past, present, future, our timeline looks more like: past, present, past. In other words, we put our past in our future and then live into that.

Starts to make sense why history repeats itself, doesn’t it?

Predictability = Safety — T’aint Necessarily So

It’s obvious people want to predict the future because they believe this will create greater safety or security. The problem with this is that our prophecies tend to be both: 1) of the worst possible scenario, and 2) self-fulfilling.

This is not a good combination. Whenever you predict a future based on your unpleasant experiences in the past, you are very likely to fulfill on your prophecy of an unpleasant future.

So how do you get your past out of your future?

The first thing is to believe that your future is entirely unpredictable and then make a commitment to stop using your past experiences to predict it. It’s okay to use your past to inform your future, but not to predict it.

Now granted, this is much easier said than done because you can’t ever stop doing anything, you can only start doing something else.

We suggest you start getting very clear about what values you weren’t experiencing in your past by exploring these “recurring” past experiences that you don’t enjoy. Once you identify what you value that is missing for you in these experiences , you can then put all of your attention on ways to get more of this in your future.

Using the information about what you value most in life is how you use your past to inform your future. But first you have to believe that–since your future is unpredictable–it is possible for you to have what you value in the future. We find many people don’t believe this.

The trick here is to make very concrete plans for how you can experience more of what you value in the future, and then take whatever actions you need to in order to have those plans happen.

We can’t guarantee that you will get what you want, because the future is unpredictable!

But, since what you focus your attention on grows–and since you’re focusing your attention on what you value and on specific plans to get it–we’re confident that you’re much more likely to get it than if you keep filling up your future with your past.

With a commitment to your success,
Beth and Neill


Stress Relief – The Best From the Web for Coping with Todays Kind of Stress

Tag: Stress ReliefBeth and Neill

Stress and Stress relief

With everything going on these days, it’s not uncommon that most of us are feeling a higher level of stress than normal. There’s a lot of great information out there about the causes of stress and how to relieve it. Here is some of what we’ve found.

Stress: Portrait of a Killer – As we’ve evolved, the human stress response has saved our lives. Today, we turn on the same life-saving physical reaction to cope with intense, ongoing stressors – and we can’t seem to turn it off. “Stress: Portrait of a Killer” reveals …

Stress Steals Important Nutrients From The Body – Hormones: Stress disrupts hormones that regulate menstrual cycles causing missed, shortened or lengthened periods. Under stress the body will actually steal nutrients as a coping strategy. These are the most common nutrient deficiencies …

Coping with Stress and Anxiety as the Market Melts Down – Rule #1: Don’t be a victim. Rule #2: Don’t wait to be rescued. Rescue yourself.

Well that’s the best from the web about stress, and stress relief today.

Until tomorrow, relax more and stress less.

With love,

Beth and Neill


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