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Love Comes More Naturally than its Opposite

by Dr. Amy Johnson on August 17, 2017

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“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” –Nelson Mandela  

 

I remember giving a copy of Being Human to one of my family members soon after it had been published in late 2013.

He read the headline on the back cover: “The basic, immutable nature of all human beings is well-being, clarity, and peace of mind.”

It took him aback. I knew how he felt because that idea took me aback when I deeply heard it just nine months prior.

He looked at me and, with complete respect and simple curiosity, asked “How can you know that? What about all the evil in the world? What about criminals and child molesters and…”

There at the Thanksgiving dinner table he went on to make a case that the basic, immutable nature of some human beings might be well-being. For others, it was clearly dysfunction and mental illness.

He assumed that as a psychologist I’d seen enough dysfunction and suffering to know better.

He expected my book to be about fixing people; developing morals and values to right the places in which we’ve gone wrong. Learning to do the right thing so we could stay on the right path.  Isn’t that what makes Being Human noble and worthwhile?

His very fair, not uncommon questions represent one way of seeing human nature. From that viewpoint it was inevitable that he’d see proof of humans’ lack of innate health and well-being everywhere he looked.

We’d all see that, looking through his thinking.

And I simply had different beliefs that felt deeply true. Because I had recently learned about three Principles that create all human experience, I couldn’t make myself see it his way. That snake was now a rope; I couldn’t see a snake if I tried.

When I looked out at the world, I told him, I saw people who are well-being, clarity, and peace of mind simply caught up in thought, mistaking their thinking for who-they-are.

So what about those criminals and ‘mean people’? he wanted to know. How do I explain that?

I’m not saying I’m right—my beliefs are thoughts too, no different than yours, I told him. But it makes sense to me that we’re all the same. That there is a single human blueprint, not a bunch of unique ones.

That we are all well-being, clarity, and peace of mind, no exceptions.

And that we all live in a sea of our own thinking, mistaking our thinking for who we really are.

Sometimes thinking is criminal. For me, too.

Other times it’s loving. But that thinking can’t define us when we see it for what it is. We are the well-being, clarity, and peace of mind within which that thinking occurs.

We all mistake our thinking for ‘us’; for truth. But that’s an innocent, human misunderstanding.

Could it really be as sweet and simple as you say? he asked.

Could it really be as grim and complex as you say? I wondered.

Each of us gets to reflect, and discover what feels right to us. What feels true to you?

It makes sense to me that we aren’t born hating, judging, or discriminating.

We have to learn hate. Hate isn’t there until someone thinks it up.

If we can learn to hate, we can learn to see the true source and nature of that hate. It is fearful, insecure thinking that takes shape within us in a moment.

We learn to cling to transitory, thought-created hate. And we can unlearn that clinging and misidentification.

Love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

 

 

 

 

 

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When Seeing Life as Black-or-White is Incredibly Insightful

by Dr. Amy Johnson on August 10, 2017

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Life isn’t really black-or-white…but seeing it that way has been one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done.

Here’s the either/or I’d like you to consider:

We’re either in life, in the moment, immersed and present…that’s one end of the spectrum.

Or we’re in our heads, in our personal thought systems and our subjective realities. That’s the other end.

In reality, we’re somewhere between these two poles in each and every moment. But look at them as a black-or-white distinction to really get a feel for how this works.

At the present-moment, in-life end, things look and feel relatively simple. We’re just bobbing along, taking things as they come. We’re reactive rather than proactive. We have exactly what we need in that moment, no more and no less.

There’s less variety in our feelings at the in-life end. We’re generally content and peaceful because that’s the natural backdrop. Because emotion comes from thinking and we’re less caught up in personal, busy thinking we’re….generally content and peaceful.

At the in-your-head end, life looks complex rather than simple. There is enormous variety and complexity in our personal thinking.

There is anger, which looks different than insecurity, boredom, or sadness. Thoughts and feelings are specific and it looks as if something other than our own thought-in-the-moment created them.

Do you have a feel for this either/or? For the black-or-white picture of life painted here for illustration?

Do you see how you’re sometimes immersed in an activity, with the person you’re in love with, or just sitting alone and you experience that moment of true presence?

And do you see how you’re sometimes so busy in the personal reality that’s being created in your own mind that you are oblivious to life as it’s actually unfolding around you?

Good. That’s the black-or-white that is unbelievably helpful to feel into.

The more you feel yourself caught up in emotional drama and mental complexity, the more you begin to clearly see what’s going on. It’s not that your husband is truly driving you nuts, that life is cruel and unfair, or that you’re literally going to die of boredom.

It’s that you’re at the in-your-head end of the spectrum.

The more it looks like “those” are your kind of people but those others over there are not, or come to think of it, you’d rather not deal with any people for a while, or that no one understands you and never has…you begin to see that all that’s really going on is that you have a lot on your mind. That’s it.

The more complicated and hopeless things feel the more you get to see: oh yeah…this is me lost in my own ideas and images. Not in life, but in my complicated and hopeless thoughts about life.

Since you’ve made it this far, I’ll share the best part.

Sliding from the in-your-head end of the spectrum to the in-present-moment-life end of the spectrum happens naturally when you stop taking those personal thoughts and ideas you’re batting around so seriously.

When you let go, they let go. And wheeeeeeee! There you go to the other end.

You’ll slide back, of course. But once you know how it works you slide back and forth far more naturally and easily.

It’s so simple it’s practically black-or-white.

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How Your Brain is like the Play-Doh Fun Factory (and how this Can Seriously Improve Your Quality of Life)

August 3, 2017

Your brain is an appliance. A physical apparatus.  It’s a little like the Play-Doh Fun Factory (which is modeled after a pasta maker in case you aren’t familiar). You select an extruder plate (an extruder plate is one of those things that looks like a stencil with shapes cut out) to place over the opening. […]

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Good Ideas Are Shallow and Short-Lived Without a Framework

July 27, 2017

The world is full of good ideas and nice people who are happy to share them. Bumper sticker phrases. Instagram memes. Pop song refrains. There is only now. Let it go. You are perfect. Spend time in silence. It’s all in your head. Forgive and forget. Serve others. These good ideas might point out something […]

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I Know I’m Feeling my Thinking, but…

July 20, 2017

The first time I heard that I was “living in the feeling of my thinking”, I thought: “No kidding”.  As my kids say (usually with a frustrated eye-roll), “I already know that.” The second time I heard it, I thought: “Seriously, this again?” The third time, it felt like all thought stopped. My mind got […]

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The Single Source of All Addiction

July 13, 2017

Beneath the perceived complexity of addiction—beneath layers of chemical dependency, psychological and emotional instability, complicated relationships, fear and trauma—lie some incredibly simple truths.  These simple, universal truths apply to every human on earth, no exceptions. They are that universal. These truths apply to you regardless of the nature of your habit and regardless of how […]

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There’s an Excellent Chance You’re Completely Wrong about Why You Do the Things You Do

July 6, 2017

Every profession has rockstars. You know, those people in your field who are as kind and down-to-earth as they come, but in whose presence you feel like a tongue-tied loser. As a graduate student, one of my professional rockstars was Daniel (Danny, to those who actually knew him) Kahneman. My field of study was social cognition–how information about […]

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Change You Didn’t Know You Wanted

June 29, 2017

I recently wrote the foreword to Jill Whalen’s new book, Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety.   Victim of Thought tells Jill’s story of finding freedom from something she didn’t know was a problem. Which is kind of interesting, isn’t it? Finding peace and freedom that you didn’t know you didn’t have? […]

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Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety by Jill Whalen (the Foreword)

June 28, 2017

Below is the Foreword I wrote for a book called  Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety by Jill Whalen.  *** What if—regardless of how anxious you feel—you are 100% healthy and well? The first time I heard that question, I thought the person asking it was insane. “YOU certainly don’t have complete mental […]

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A New Definition of Freedom (and How it’s Much Better than “This too Shall Pass”)

June 22, 2017

No experience is off limits. Nothing you do will make you immune to feeling things you’d rather not feel. But what if there’s an even better definition of freedom? Seeing how thought and feeling work allows you to still go through the full range of human experience…but this time, with freedom.

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