Currently viewing the tag: "values"


Part 3 of a multipart series (part 2 herepart 1 here)

poor-salesIt has been awhile since I have added to this fascinating subject, but today I feel inspired so here goes: We have been discussing going with the flow, and what happens when “the flow stops flowing”? In part one, I discussed the foremost question one must ask, and that is how one is to define flow—is it money, is it being purpose driven, or is it something else? I think that needs to be known upfront before we can determine if and where the flow has actually stopped flowing.

In part two I discussed the possibility that what we are using to measure flow might be something not really that high on our values. I use money as the example, but it really could be anything—success (whatever that is; another term we would need to define), contact list, people reached, or whatever. People often believe they should value something valued by others, an authority or society as a whole, but we value what we value—trying to make it something else will only lead to frustration and possibly depression. A much better strategy would be to honor, appreciate and submerge yourself in what you truly value.

Higgs BosonBut now the question arises: What if we do, in fact, value money? And let’s say it has been our measure of flow, and perhaps that flow has stopped flowing. What might be some reasons for the drying up? Ahh…now this is an excellent question. When a scenario of this kind does occur I find it enormously revealing, and while I suspect it can be difficult for the one immersed to see the big picture, I do believe this type of thing is a completely ordered event, one meant to shape our growth and development.

The universe is an ordered entity. There are subtle energies at play at all times; these energies have effects on sentient beings such that they push and prod us to move in the direction of our dharma. Remember that? Dharma is our life’s purpose, and we all have one. Better to tune-into yours than to blow off the notion as mumbo-jumbo, and allow life to unfold randomly. These subtle universal forces act on individuals all the time—physically, mentally, socially, through personal relationships, economically, and through acts of nature. These forces are nature moving you in the direction of dharma fulfillment.

So here is a short-list of reasons why a formerly abundant flow might have dried up:

  1. listening-to-your-customers-on-social-mediaIt might be time for new products, services or information. A lack of flow may signify a lack of interest in your current product, service or program. Not a biggie—just time to evolve. Listen to your clients and customers—ask them what they want. That is the great thing about social media: you can see what people are into—what they are posting about, their conversations, their questions to you—all these give information as to how you can improve what you provide. Everything changes, including what people are looking for. Thus it may be the product, service or information that’s stagnant reflecting itself in flow.
  2. It may be time to change your avenues of dissemination. In other words, you might need to bring yourself up to speed with what’s resonating with people today. Some people, companies and industries are slow to catch onto current lifestyle trends. At the rate at which things change today, that’s professional and business suicide. And those most susceptible are, without a doubt, entities that have enjoyed previous success. It is very hard to not leave well enough alone, but fail to change with the times and watch the flow stop flowing suddenly and dramatically. I am amazed at how many in my profession of chiropractic are still clueless about having and maintaining something as basic as a website (Stone Agers)! Then there are those who say they don’t do social media. Uhh…well then you are killing yourself (Bronze Agers). What about review sites, videos, blogging, Yelp, mobile apps, and the list goes on and on. Have you failed to take your business to the next level (Iron Agers)? Well duuuuuuhhhhh….!caveman and computer
  3. It might be time to reevaluate your product, service or information’s value to people. Yes, maybe you think your business is more valuable than it really is. You might be right on the money with your self-assessment, but it never hurts to reexamine. Listen, I have described here how business is a monetary exchange of perceived value. If the flow has stopped flowing, and that flow is money, then to me THAT speaks volumes! It doesn’t mean you suck—it simply means that, without question, it’s time to grow. Face it, people just aren’t that into some things anymore. People’s needs and interests evolve. Film developing, CDs and DVDs, the Yellow Pages—these are just a few examples of things that are dead or dying fast. C’mon! I am sure you can think of a few relics in your industry…heck you might even be attached to one or more. It sure wouldn’t be so hard for me to see why your flow has stopped flowing if you are selling the obsolete.
  4. career-change-nowIt might just be that your current product, service, or information is no longer one of your highest values. Hey people change! Our interests grow, we evolve, we desire to touch more people—this is a natural process in life. And while you may still have love for what you do, it may be time to see how you can expand yourself. Maybe it is time to teach, or to write books, or to speak to corporations—all of these would be growth for somebody who is working one-on-one with clients. Remember subtle energies are at play within the universe, and that energy flows between and among people. If you are no longer truly inspired by what you do, but are doing it because, “it pays the bills,” well then guess what? Your clients will feel it too; and they will stop coming—believe me, I’ve seen it more times than I can count. It’s all energy, and you can’t hide your underlying feelings (except from yourself). Consider it a wake-up call, for you to expand into the next leg of your dharmic path. I’ve met attorneys on their way to medical school, corporate paper-pushers moving on to give guided adventure tours, you name it. This life is meant to be lived NOW, today! Listen to what your heart is really telling you and go after what you love. If you don’t know how to do it, then contact me: I help people every day with this exact dilemma (drnick@drnickcampos.com)

The universe is a perfectly ordered entity, even if it does not seem that way on the surface. Even when it looks like life is reigning in chaos, forces are pushing you toward fulfilling your dharma. Where would the world be had Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling or Thomas Edison not followed their universal push?

Braided riverA true flow never stops flowing, not without another channel opening in its place. We exist in an energetic universe, where transformation is the key. You have to ask the right questions, do the right evaluations, and then listen to the messages the universe provides through its subtle energies. It helps to be in-tune with those energetic fluctuations, and there are methods for becoming more proficient at doing so (contact me for available courses or consultations). But the most important thing is to understand this aspect of the universe, and how its energies are at play constantly to push you toward fulfilling your life’s mission. Without this knowledge and understanding, it IS a universe of chaos, and it would not surprise me to see someone completely baffled by an apparent “flow that has stopped flowing”. But wake up to the magnificence of the universe, and follow its natural flow. If you open yourself to this possibility, I promise you will be amazed at what unfolds.


new-years-resolutionsAs we say goodbye to the first month of 2014, most of you who have made New Year’s resolutions have already abandoned the effort. In fact, nearly 80% of all people making New Year’s resolutions quit by the end of January. I believe this abandonment is due to four specific failures that people make when setting their New Year resolution, and which I have outlined here. But like most people, I too start my year, every year, by setting intentions (not resolutions, because even though I think there are some pretty good New Years resolutions one can focus on, I believe that intentions—what you would love to accomplish, as opposed to what you want to give up—are simply more powerful) which I plan to concentrate on throughout the year. I can tell you that not only do I maintain my commitment over the entire year, but I accomplish a high percentage of those things I set out to do. In this post I will describe how I set my intentions, and how I address them throughout the year; and I will also discuss the actions and behaviors that keep me on purpose and completing most of my intentions and goals in a given year. It is not too late to start your year right. Just follow what I outline here and you will be surprised at what you will accomplish in 2014.

To begin with, when setting my New Year’s intentions, I make sure that everything I set out to accomplish is aligned with my dharma—or my life’s purpose. I realize that not everyone is in-tune with their dharma, or have a deep understanding of what their life’s purpose is, but I believe this is available to anybody who is willing to take the effort to uncover it. I have methods of which I am certain can help anybody uncover their life’s purpose, so if you are committed to tuning-into yours, please contact me. I work with clients regularly to help them discover their divine missions in life. But I can tell you that I started this New Year’s ritual of setting my intentions well before I myself was tuned-into my dharma. So you can get the ball rolling now, even in the absence of this understanding. The important thing is to keep your goals or intentions realistic. Unrealistic goals will only lead to frustration and abandonment. Saying that, however, if you are connected to your life’s purpose, then be sure to align your every intention with this in mind.

new years resolutionNext I focus on every aspect of life, and categorize my intentions as such. The seven aspects of life are physical, mental, spiritual, social, financial, professional and familial. I write down exactly what I would love in each one of these areas. I then write down everything I would love to accomplish in each life category. For example, every year I read or take courses that equal up to thirty books. I have an idea of what I would love to learn through the knowledge of my dharma, and so when focusing on that, it guides me to the books and courses which I will tackle in any given year. It would be highly unrealistic of me to set an intention of reading forty books in a year. It might be possible…just rather unlikely, so I don’t set my sights that high. I think setting the intention of twelve to twenty books to read is doable. But I don’t just say, “I will read 12-20 books this year.” I actually write down the titles of the books I know I will wish to tackle. Sometimes I don’t read every single book on my list, but I can tell you that I mostly do.

Another example would be that, in my physical life, I may wish to learn a new form of physical activity, like I did in 2011: I wanted to start learning and practicing martial arts, so in that year I wrote down that I would love to start a martial arts program…and I did! But I also write down how many days a week I plan to exercise, which days they will most likely be, and what types of exercise (yoga, weight training, or simply daily stretching) I will do on which given day. Yes I will even set the length of the workouts, because I am quite certain that that kind of detail is of the utmost importance.

Good New Years ResolutionsIn the family section, I may want to teach one of my children how to swim—and on to the list it goes. I may wish to focus on saving a certain percentage of my income—and on to the financial list it goes. I may want to dedicate a certain amount of time to social media—I don’t leave this to chance or chaos; instead I allot a certain amount of time/energy and then stick to it. You see, God is in the details, as they say, and so any detail you leave out is a detail that will be determined by an outside force…or chaos, if you will. I do this in every area until I have a solid list of doable goals set by my intention to accomplish them.

Once finished with my lists, I print them on to sheets of paper, which I carry around in my briefcase. And here is the kicker—the thing that you MUST do in order to make sure you will complete your intentions: you must read the list at least once per week, and often even more. Yes! This one simple action is the difference, I believe, between accomplishing what you set out to do in January, and abandonment, which is the norm for most people as I’ve already pointed out. You see, by reading and rereading every week, you are reminded repeatedly of what you would love to accomplish; and even if you don’t get to any particular intention by the final months of the year, you will still have a few months to get it going, as long as you remind yourself to do so. That is exactly what I did in 2011, and by October of that year, I was enrolled in a martial arts program, because every month, I reread my intentions, and I would say, “Oh yeah, better get on that—the year is coming to an end.”

running a non profitSo you may have a dream of running a nonprofit organization or nonprofit website, or maybe you would like to start a small business. You may know that to accomplish either, you will have to pick up information on starting a non profit or small business. Great! By reading and rereading this intention throughout the year, you will be more likely to take that first step toward accomplishing these goals.

Do I accomplish everything on my list? No, never! Duh, who cares…I consistently complete more than 75% of what I intention in any given year. And for the things that I don’t get to…well they simply go on next year’s list. Okay there are a few things that, year after year, get pushed aside. Guess what? Those are probably false intentions anyway, ones not really aligned with your dharma. Great! You can thus abandon them completely (or just keep them on the list; the end result will be the same). I assure you, however, that the goals and intentions which ARE aligned with your dharma will give you no trouble at all to start and complete, because that is how all humans are wired: we do the things that bring us closest to fulfilling our values.

One other practice I do every New Year’s Eve is to write down everything I have accomplished during the year, as well as everything I am grateful for which I had experienced throughout the year. Whether pleasureful or painful, I give thanks to the universe for the experience, knowing full well that our challenges are what lead to our greatest growth and expansion. Why wouldn’t I be thankful for that? I also print out this list and read it along with my intentions every week (every day, three days, or whatever time frame you choose), so that I remember what I accomplished the year before, which simply acts as another driver for me to get started on my listed intentions. This Gratitude List acts as a confidence builder, because I know that not only did I keep my commitments, but that I also overcame some real obstacles to get there.

new years eve resolutionsI can almost guarantee that if you take up this practice I have shared with you, and you start today, you will be amazed at what you end up accomplishing this year. Yes, things will be that much clearer and ‘on purpose’ if you connect your goals and intentions to your dharma (and as I said you can contact me when you are ready to uncover it). But get started on what I’ve outlined here, and do so today, even if you do not fully know your divine mission. I promise that this little exercise will have your head spinning by how much you accomplish in any given year. I have done it myself, faithfully, for the last fourteen years, and I can say with confidence that I would not be who I am today without this yearly habit. Try it, do it as I describe here, and you will see exactly what I mean. Have fun creating the new you. And Happy New Year!

Back to GodheadI am convinced that all people have a life’s purpose. We are ‘born’ into this existence with certain qualities and drives that are direct reflection of this purpose. The Hindu teachings call it dharma, and the epic scripture, The Bhagavad Gita, spends much time explaining it. It’s easy for people of atheistic or materialistic philosophies to dismiss this idea as simply spiritual mumbo jumbo, but if these people could open their minds to the fact that certain human struggles are timeless, then they might be able to appreciate the true origination of these works or philosophies.

As I said, we are all born into this existence with a dharma. In its full definition, dharma is the universal order—it is pure reality.

Verily, that which is Dharma is truth.

Therefore they say of a man who speaks truth, “He speaks the Dharma,”
or of a man who speaks the Dharma, “He speaks the Truth.”

Verily, both these things are the same.

~ Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad, 1.4.14

All aspects of the universe are determined by their dharma—it is the law that runs the entire operation (and beyond); the harmony in which all things resonate.

Zach Grether, A Canyon Lake Morning"  - 2013 International Earth & Sky Photo Contest, 2nd Place in Against the Lights Category
Zach Grether, A Canyon Lake Morning” – 2013 International Earth & Sky Photo Contest, 2nd Place in Against the Lights Category

Dharma

What are those qualities that determine our dharma? Essentially, they are our values, the inner drives that determine how we spend our time and what we work on (toward). Each one of us is unique in the totality and hierarchy of these values, and they are part and parcel with our dharma, not one the cause or result of the other.

My dharma is to teach and to heal—I know this within the depths of my soul. I have no uncertainty about it whatsoever. It runs a little deeper (much deeper), but I want you to understand the essence of dharma. All my decisions are based on this duty I have to the universe, to existence and all its inhabitants. I take this duty seriously. It’s why I am here.

Nothing takes precedence over my purpose, nothing. This does not mean that I do not attend to other aspects of my life—earning money, my children, my relationships, my health. On the contrary, I connect all parts of my life to my purpose, which has been monumental for my decision-making abilities. If it doesn’t fit into my dharma—and believe me, many things don’t—then I don’t do it, period.

It is so easy to get caught up in the externals of life, and in this case, I mean external to our purpose (not dismissing the reality of the interconnectedness of all things). But here is something I discovered: When we are following our purpose (dharma)—when we are doing what we love, what we are here to do—we do not need to focus on the outer details. When we focus on the outer details (the externals), they simply become distractors to our true work. When we focus on our purpose, without attachment to the outcome, trusting in the universal dharma, the outer details take care of themselves. As hard as this may be for some to believe, just consider your life an experiment on this principle, and act accordingly…and you shall soon see.

But dharma again has a deeper meaning than just purpose, and this is a point of focus in The Bhagavad Gita: our dharma, our life’s purpose, is simply a tool for us to understand ourselves on a deeper level, and in this regard, as a matter of indistinguishability, for us to understand God.

samadhi

And this is where I’ve likely lost the atheistic/materialistic among us. However, if you are still here, just appreciate that we all have a life’s purpose. It need not be grand or lofty, as being the loving caretaker of a beautiful garden and animal children is equally valuable as striving to end all suffering. In the end, our purpose—our dharma—is what drives us. You can help make your life easier (and more fulfilling) by basing all your decisions on your dharma, not focusing on results but on the work itself, and getting to know yourself, and God (sorry atheists) more deeply through complete dedication to your dharma.

*For anyone who would love to uncover his or her dharma, I am available for consultations: drnick@drnickcampos.com


Let’s talk about judgment. Everybody has an idea of what they think this is. Some even feel that it is a virtue to try and remove judgment from our lives. “Judge not that ye be not judged,”* as if judgment is something we can function without. Hopefully, I will be able to convince you that not only can you forget about removing the vital process of judgment from your life, but that you would be wise to understand it, embrace it, and then see the whole picture masked by the illusion of a one-sided universe created in the mind. If you can do this, you will see an effective method for transcending your momentary judgments, and board a launching pad to jump into your next level of awareness.

Try as we might, we cannot escape judgment—not our own, and not that of others. Judgment, at its most basic, is a way to categorize the world around us. The sky is up and the ground is down: this is a judgment we make unconsciously every moment. If your feet are up and your head is down, you are either doing a handstand or free-falling, both of which require your brain to be in complete awareness. This type of judgment is based on neurology, physics and language—that is, what we have decided to call something that we all experience and agree upon.

We do it with people too, although it isn’t as clear-cut. He’s nice; she’s mean. He looks shady and dangerous; I think I’ll walk on the other side of the street. She’s only interested in money, or her looks, or whatever else our mind tells us about that person. This is a normal and necessary function; it allows us to walk through life, making decisions that could affect our very survival. These types of judgments are not based solely on absolutes, but instead on a number of factors including upbringing, past experiences and even book, newspaper or teacher learning.

Events and experiences are subject to our judgments, as well. This experience was bad, that one good—again, we base these judgments on a number of factors. If you think about it, though, you’ll see that these types of judgments are purely perceptual. Were the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers good or bad? Well that depends on which side you are viewing it from. As horrifying as they were for most people in the western world, many in the Middle East celebrated it. And this is true of every event. From lawsuits, to fistfights, to simple descriptions of common everyday occurrences, some people will see things one way, while others see it another way.

This brings up a deep philosophical question—are there absolutes when it comes to making judgments? Plenty of people will argue that there are; however, you will agree that no matter what transpires in the world, there is a group that sees it through their perspective, and another that sees it a different way. My point is this: We make judgments based on our values. They are necessary for us to navigate through life. You will never be without judgment because it is as vital to your survival as breathing is. Every conscious creature no matter where it stands on the evolutionary chain has to make judgments all the time. Is that food or is it death? Is it safe to come out of hiding? If I make this decision, how will it affect the rest of my life, or my family, or the world around me? Truth is we are judging all the time.

But even in its necessity, our minds’ propensity to judge is not presenting us with the full reality. In actuality, there is no absolute right or wrong, good or bad—it comes down to what serves us in the moment. And this is based on our values. Predator captures prey, has a meal and lives another day—good for the predator, bad for the prey. The boyfriend or girlfriend that breaks up with you, is he or she nice or mean? Perhaps you judge them as mean in your initial assessment, but as it allows you to move on with your life and meet your future spouse…well, ha ha…I guess that can go either way, too.

Better to understand that judgment is a process of the mind, and that no event is either good or bad until we judge it. And further, if you look hard enough, you will see that all events have both advantages and disadvantages to everyone involved. This is tricky, and no doubt that everyone reading this can come up with their “absolute” examples to try and disprove what I am saying. But if you look hard enough you will find that even in those things you come up with, as with everything that has ever happened in your life which you have consequently labeled as either good or bad, has a flip side to it that gives an advantage or opportunity, along with an associated disadvantage or closed door.

By seeking and finding how every event that you judge has the equal and opposite side to it, you will see the totality of the universe. Whether we are talking about people or experiences, by seeing the full spectrum, outside of your momentary and one-sided judgments, it allows you to make leaps in your consciousness. In fact, I am certain that we all do this all the time, and it is how we ultimately grow into our next level of awareness. Once we are able to get over the initial hurt of a breakup, and see how it is serving us to move on with our lives and into something more useful for the moment, we transcend the hurt. Who hasn’t done this? Okay, no doubt some people are slower to see than others, which, if nothing else, has helped make daytime talk shows popular; but in the big picture, we all eventually see some things in their completeness.

I believe that the wisest thing to do is seek the whole as quickly as possible. Not only does it allow you to shed the pains that may be keeping you from moving forward, but it also allows you to see a larger sphere of truth. Truth isn’t only present in the judgment itself—a half-truth at best—but in the full picture, including the parts our minds are concealing.

Seek to find the whole in your experiences and you will leap into a new level of awareness and consciousness. Don’t beat yourself up for judging, though, because we need to do so for survival, and as a way to guide us into the next stage of learning. But look for the other side, no matter how hard your mind tries to resist, because I assure you it’s there. When you find it, you will have an “a-ha moment,” and you will see the magnificence of the universe open up to you briefly…and then it’s on to the next judgment.

So maybe we can stop striving to “not judge” and instead accept judging as a part of the human condition, one rooted in evolution and a necessity for our very survival. But we also do not have to become slaves to our half-truth judgments. By seeking the hidden part, the one our mind is blocking, we see the whole truth, and this allows us to move into the next stage of our own evolution.

*I realize this is a misinterpretation of an oft-misinterpreted quote, but I am merely using it to make a point.

Have you ever heard that you need to balance your work and personal life? In the world of separation, perhaps, that may be true, as balance is the true nature of all things; but in an integrated world, work and life are often the same.

No doubt that not everyone values their work above all else. Some don’t even have it in their top three priorities or highest values, so what the heck am I talking about? Well whether your work is your life, or you merely work to live, a psychic connection to your vocation can be rewarding, as it can help you gain a new appreciation for each dynamic responsible for the complete synthesis of your life.

When you do what you love; when your work is a part of your life’s mission, then it isn’t work at all—it’s just life. Can you imagine Isaac Newton needing some downtime? “Gone fishin’” posted on his office door at Cambridge? Or Albert Einstein needing a break to go “find himself”? Puh-leeze! No doubt, stepping away from your work is periodically necessary to maintain mental balance, as well as to keep the creative juices flowing; but seeing work as a drag, or living for the weekend, or counting the months till your 65th birthday, and its ensuing retirement, is definitely not living your life’s purpose through your work.

Listen, sometimes people just have to survive, and that’s what work is for them. And in these cases, of course, a balance between work and personal life must exist. However, I don’t think anybody in this mind-frame needs reminding. No, the advice to seek balance is usually left for people who are working hard, because it is either a part of their life’s mission, or they have an end in mind, and the advisors just can’t relate to that. But even so, for these people, an occasional stepping away will help them accomplish more, as the break will surely allow their brains and bodies to recharge. However, when one’s work and life’s purpose are properly aligned, then it really is misguided to try and change that.

But how about for people whose life’s purpose is not connected to their work? Well, I think for these people it is still important to see how their work allows them to live more fully. For instance, one might be dedicated to raising a beautiful, healthy and fulfilled family. Their mission might include the activities they do with their children, the things they teach them, and the experiences which they expose them to, and so on. What a beautiful life’s purpose that is!

It would be a shame to not see how one’s work actually allows for this dynamic to unfold. When we spend time resenting our work, and fail to see the interconnectedness between it and our personal life, then we block the channels to our own fulfillment. This mental dissatisfaction can lead to an incomplete awareness of the magnificence of our existence. But nothing is ever out of order.

Some people feel that when their job isn’t their life’s purpose that somehow things are not right. That’s why it’s important to be aligned with what your life’s purpose is. Don’t try to force what you think it should be. You know deep down inside, because your life’s purpose is what you love. It’s what you do every day that nobody needs to remind you of, or motivate you to do.

So again, by connecting to how your work allows you to carry out that purpose is the most empowering thing you can do in this regard. When you view things in this manner, you won’t feel the need to create balance. Balance is only needed when the misperception of imbalance exists, and this will be pervasive if you can’t see the divine connection among all your roles in your complete life; in other words, seeing the whole and not just the fragmented parts we label as duties.

So finding a balance between your work and personal life is somewhat of a fallacy, since different people have different relationships to their work. For those whose work is their life’s purpose—then live it, baby; but, of course, take the occasional break to recharge your creative batteries. For those working solely to reach a particular goal, like making your first million, then yeah, being aware of, and proactively focusing on, balance may end up saving your life. But for those of you that work simply to live, so that you may carry out your true life’s purpose, then seeing how that work allows the totality of your life to be expressed is essential…and if you can do that, you might find that’s all the balance you need.

Difficult people…we all have to deal with them, right? Wrong. I am certain there is no such thing. Our approach to dealing with others is usually a direct reflection of our perspective, one that, for many, is based on a misunderstanding, or an incomplete awareness, of human behavior: People do not create problems because they have nothing better to do; they direct their lives according to their needs, wants, and desires—their internal drives—which are dictated by their value system.

We only perceive people as being difficult when they challenge our values. When they give us what we want, they’re smart, good peeps, going places. Some say it’s best to “remove toxic people from your life,” but I’ve got to tell you, everybody is toxic when they aren’t giving us what we want. Our minds do that: respond to unfulfilled desires by making out the denier to be public enemy number one—a human obstacle, a force to be resisted, maybe even conquered. And while there is no doubt that different degrees of toxicity reside within the human perceptual spectrum, usually the more somebody challenges our values, the more toxic they become. But this is a severe misunderstanding of human nature. People are not out to make our lives difficult. In fact, most people aren’t even thinking about our lives at all—they are simply thinking about what they want.

Everybody has things they are trying to achieve or accomplish, the things they desire; and these correlate with each individual’s unique value system, a person’s intrinsic drivers. Understanding this first principle of human behavior is crucial to having good interactions with others: Everyone wants what will move them closer to fulfilling their values. Being aware of this can help you build a strategy of interaction that, hopefully, serves everybody involved.

The first step in interacting with a challenging person, then, is to stop thinking of them as difficult; they want something, simple as that. Your task is to find out what that something is—what does that person value? Now, sometimes, you can tell just by looking at a person—first appearances are known to shape our overall impressions—but, very often, you have to do a bit of homework to get a feel for what that person really wants.

But the easiest approach is to just ask what the person is looking for, or what they wish to accomplish. I assure you that asking is a lot more practical than guessing and then dealing with potential consequences later. Ignoring the other person’s drives altogether or, worse, just focusing on what you want, is the quickest way to failure, misunderstanding, or maybe even the cause of some bad blood between you.

Now, if you can find out what another person wants, you’ve increased your chances of having a successful interaction exponentially; and in personal or business relationships, this is crucial. Just remember that all people operate off their drives, and whether that something is concrete, like a business transaction, or more ethereal, like recognition, praise or a sense of value, it’s people’s drives that move them to interact with you or anybody else.

This is also true for you. You want things, have desires, and are trying to fulfill your highest values, as well; and these, of course, come into play anytime you interact with others. So the next step is to find a way to frame what you want in terms of what the other person wants. A true win-win situation: How to get what you value by helping someone else get what they value. Poetry in motion.

But what some people want is not always congruent with what you want, and compromising your values is not a wise option. Doing so will most certainly lead to resentment, which can be an insidious obstacle to your peace of mind, or to future relations. If you determine that what you and the other person wants is incompatible, then nothing says you need to continue the interaction or the relationship. The sooner you are able to recognize this, the better it will be for the both of you.

I really believe there are no difficult people, just people wanting to fulfill their values. Consciously and subconsciously, people move toward fulfilling what they want in life. So you can let go of toxic people all you want to—you’ll merely meet others that don’t want exactly what you want. Isn’t it worthwhile to find out what the other person wants and then try to make it work for the both of you? Think about how this applies to business, diplomacy and your day-to-day family dynamics. We get what we want easier when we help others get what they want—something we should all remember when dealing with people.

Do you have free will? How often do you exercise it throughout your day? If you really stop and think about it, you may realize that much of what you do is habitual—that is, a large portion of your time is spent doing routine activities. Habits are things we do regularly and often, to the point that we no longer need to think about them; they have their foundations in neurology, and specifically, within our memory.

Procedural memory is the neurological process involved in doing things. Different from declarative memory, which is knowing things—facts, figures, and trivia, for example—procedural memory works at the level of the unconscious mind. In other words, we don’t have to think too much about the processes being carried out—they become part of our neurological wiring.

Not every procedural memory process is habit, as many are simply needed for normal functioning like walking, washing or cleaning oneself, or finding and preparing food. In the modern world, it would also include things like operating machinery—cell phones, computers, cars, or for some, even flying airplanes. We learn them, and then they become a natural part of our everyday lives.

What are Habits?

Habits, however, are a subset of procedural processes, such that whatever we do often enough (not necessarily a function or common to all people) becomes lodged into our procedural memory. Consider what it was like when you first started wearing a wrist watch or a wedding ring—probably unusual at first, but then it just became habit.

And, of course, there are the obvious ‘bad’ habits, like smoking or nail biting, ones which we work so hard to break; but what we often don’t realize is that some of the ways in which we spend our time can also act as bad habits. These distractors, or ‘time killers’, actually prevent us from starting or carrying out what we would really love in life. So, if not careful, we may find ourselves living in habitual low priorities instead of within our inspired purpose.

How much of your day is spent taking part in low priority habits?

Television watching, social media, marathon texting—while each one of these may be entertaining, and maybe even serve a useful function for some, for most people, they are just distractors.

Okay, so we have all succumbed to low priority actions at one time or another—we don’t have to beat ourselves up about it. But as I asked earlier, do you think you have free will? In the sense that you have the capacity to consciously change any pattern in your life, then yes you do. Compulsive overeating, drug abuse, giving in to victim mentality—all of these are habits—and you have a choice to create different ones in your life (especially your thinking).

Creating New Habits

Creating new habits—ones aligned with your greater purpose—starts with knowing your values. If you fail to identify, and align with, your highest values, you will never connect to your life’s purpose. Without knowing what you would love in life, it’s pretty hard to establish which habits are best to serve you; so I encourage you to get in-touch with what you love the most—and don’t stress about it, because you know; just listen to your heart.

When you get in-touch with your values, you can determine which habits will serve you the best, whether that’s reading a new book every week, saving 10% of your income regularly, doing your daily yoga practice, or waking up at 5 am every morning. And it will require repetition: Anything that you do over and over again becomes lodged into your procedural memory and becomes habit over time.

I find that the best way to break old habits is by starting new ones. Listen, I’ve kicked cigarettes, and I’ve kicked drugs, so I know how to break habits; and at least one essential factor is to establish new patterns. But beware—if the new habit is not aligned with your highest values, then you won’t do it for very long, that I can assure you.

So you’ve got to start by knowing yourself. What are your highest values, and what inspires you? Being in-tune with these will make breaking old habits and starting new ones easier than you think.

We do have free will. And, although we don’t actually exercise it throughout much of our day, the ability to make decisions about how we want our lives to go is a power we all possess. Identify your highest values, and set your habits accordingly, and then watch your inspired life unfold. This is the true marvel of the human mind.

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