Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Luck or Skill?

I want you to imagine you are watching a group of people playing poker.  Don't worry - I am not encouraging you to gamble, but just using this to illustrate a very important point!

One of the players, Fred, keeps winning.  He shows top hand after top hand.  A Royal Straight Flush, which is the best hand you could possibly have in the game, comes up twice!  The probability of just having one Royal Straight Flush is 0.000154% and he has two, one after the other.  The next two hands he loses.  Then he wins again with four aces, which is also a very rare, powerful hand.  After another losing hand he wins with a Full House (a percentage chance of 2.6% for this).  That is 4 winning hands in a series of 7.  In the first 3 winning hands he gains a lot of chips.  Fewer players throw chips at him when he wins with his Full House, but he still leaves the table having gained around 10 times the amount of money he brought to the table.

Another player, Stephen, loses quite a lot of his "stack" of chips in the first couple of hands.  One of those hands was three kings, and he bet a lot of his "stack" on that hand.   He wins the third hand with a pair of 10s, gaining most of the chips he originally lost.  He wins again on the fourth hand, but as everyone folds to him we cannot see what his hand was.  His winnings now have increased his "stack" to around double what he brought to the table.  He doesn't enter the last three hands at all.

Fred walked away having increased his funds tenfold.  Stephen doubled his funds.  Which of these two players would you feel was the better poker player and is likely to end up with the most money if they keep on playing for many hundreds of games?

The poker players among you may say I have not given you enough information to be certain of the answer.  True.  But you probably have enough to make a fairly reasonable guess.

If you have answered "Stephen", then congratulations!  From the very limited evidence before us he is probably the better player and will probably eventually make more money.

Fred was just very lucky.  The only times he won he had extremely rare hands.  That was the reason he won so much, as other players could reasonably have assumed they had the best hand and were probably right to bet heavily against him.

The thing about luck is that you cannot rely on it.  Skill, on the other hand, you CAN rely on.

A good poker player knows that when he loses money at the table that doesn't necessarily mean he was playing badly.  He will try to learn from the experience, perhaps realizing after the event that there were some body language signals he could have picked up to tell him just how good a hand his opponent had.  But he will also recognize that the best poker player in the world does not win the majority of hands he (or she) plays.  Even the best players lose more hands than they win.  But those hands they DO win eventually ensure they win a lot more money than they lose.

Life is like this too.  No matter how experienced you are in using the Law of Attraction you will not always win every single "battle" in your life.  But if you remain positive and apply the Law of Attraction properly you will win the "war" itself.  Each of your failures is just another step towards success.

Be very thankful when you are lucky.  Make sure the Universe (or God, if you prefer) knows you are very grateful for that luck.  Believe yourself to be a very lucky person.  Know that "lady luck" is on your side.  But also accept your failures gracefully.  Look at them carefully to see what, if anything, you can learn from them, but never be discouraged.  Accept that sometimes luck works against you but that a series of unlucky events is not a pattern of bad luck that will continue.  Your next lucky event is only just around the corner.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Do You Dream?

Do you dream?  I certainly hope so, for several reasons.  If not, you are missing out - again for several reasons.

What do I mean by dreaming?

There are at least two very different types, and possibly three depending on how wide you define them.

Most people who are asked the question "do you dream?" immediately think about what happens when they are asleep.  Dreaming while you sleep performs an important function.  According to Dr Rosalind Carter, the founder of the Sleep Disorder Service and Research Centre in Chicago, dreams "help us process new, emotionally important information and add it to our conceptual memory system.  As I pointed out in an earlier article, scientists have discovered that most mammals (and perhaps all) use this process while they sleep to experiment and sort out which strategies should work and which probably won't.  We are no exception to this principle.  Dreams are a safe "sandbox" we can use to try out different things, to see how we might react emotionally to changed circumstances, to condition ourselves to and be ready to accept change.

If you believe you do not dream while asleep you are probably wrong.  There have been a number of scientific studies of the "non-dreaming" phenomenon, and most have reached the conclusion that those who claim not to dream simply do not remember their dreams when they wake up.  You probably still gain the benefits of your dreams, as your subconscious will have integrated the experience whether or not you remember it.

One way to begin recalling your dreams is to have a pen and paper by your bedside and to write down anything you can remember about your dreams the moment you wake up.  I can hear your objection loud and clear - how can I write down anything about my dreams if I don't remember them?  Humour me and try it anyway.  Many people still have a memory of their dreams when they first wake, but within just a few seconds completely forget they even had any dreams.  Those people adamantly state that they never dream, but if they try recording their dreams the moment they wake they find they really did dream.

Dreams don't just occur when we are sleeping though.  We also daydream.  You can think of a daydream as being very similar to a dream while you are asleep, and it can fulfil the same function.  As long as it is done appropriately this is a very good thing.  Clearly you should not daydream when driving a car or operating heavy machinery!  It may also not be appropriate to daydream when you are being paid to work or in the middle of a school lesson, or a college or university lecture!  On the other hand, sometimes in such cases a daydream can be very creative and help you do a better job or get a better grip on the subject you are studying.  Just don't expect your boss, teacher or lecturer to agree unless they are very open minded!

If you don't already daydream I encourage you to do so.  Choose an appropriate time to do this, ideally when you are on your own and will not be disturbed.  As with the technique to recall night dreams, have a pen and paper by you so that immediately after your daydream session you can note down anything that appeals, or any insights you may have had.

There is another meaning of "dream", of course.  Your hopes and wishes for the future.  To some people this is akin to daydreaming, and they believe it is enjoying an esperience they will never have in the "real" world.  This is a very shortsighted view.  The distinction between the imaginary and real worlds is nowhere near as great as you may believe.  When you dream in the "imaginary" world you are actually starting to bring those dreams closer to what most people define as "reality".

This meaning of "dream" is very important.  We should all have dreams.  We should all have something we truly wish to achieve, and the start of the journey that ends in achievement is a dream.

In 1963 a great American stated "I have a dream!"  The dream he had has not yet fully come to pass, but the America of today is certainly very much closer to Martin Luther King's dream just over 50 years ago.  Some may argue that this would have happened even if King had not had that dream.  Probably that is true, but only because the same dream would have passed through another person equally empassioned by it.  I truly believe the world is a better place as a direct result of that dream.

So I hope you DO dream!  I hope you dream for a better future for yourself but also for all around you.  If you do, then the world will be a better place simply because you chose to dream!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Destroy Your Limiting Beliefs

We all have limiting beliefs, worries, and negative thoughts.  Things that try to stop us achieving whatever it is we want to achieve.  Sometimes we recognize these as our own internal beliefs and sometimes they appear as external barriers.  But if they do appear as external barriers you should be aware that they are still internal beliefs.  There is no independent external barrier that is capable of stopping you achieving what you want to achieve.  The power of the entire universe is behind you if you are prepared to accept that power and allow it to propel you forwards.  Those barriers that seem to be outside are either directly or indirectly your own inner limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs arise in different ways.  Some have been with you since your early childhood.  Often they are misinterpretations of what is happening around you as a young child.  Some are specific statements made to you by authority figures.  These may again have arisen in early childhood - something said by a parent, an older sibling, a teacher for example.  Or they may have arisen more recently - comments made by friends, especially those whose opinions you respect, something your boss may have said, a comment by your spouse, etc.  They can arise from something you have read.  This may be a direct statement - perhaps a comment in a non-fiction book that if you want to achieve something you must be prepared to struggle hard to get there.  Or it can be indirect - maybe a novel you have read in which the hero had to cross a number of barriers to get where he or she wanted to go, and had great difficulty in doing so.

Do you see why I have said we ALL have limiting beliefs?  It is simply not possible to go through life without acquiring them.

But it is possible to protect yourself so that it is more difficult for such beliefs to grow roots and take control over you.  And it is possible to uproot those that have taken hold.

There are many techniques to do both of these things.  If you have been reading my blog for long you will already have come across some of these techniques.  Today I want to focus on one powerful technique you can use to uproot and neutralize any limiting belief you may come across.

In order to use this technique you should create a safe space for yourself.  I am using the term "space" in the widest possible sense - a 4-dimensional space.  You should have a place where you can go and know you will not be interrupted.  I cannot tell you where that should be as it will depend entirely on your own personal circumstances.  It may be that you can reserve a room in your house for exercises of this kind.  For many of us that is simply not possible - we don't have enough rooms in our house to reserve one fully in this way.  But I did say this is a 4-dimensional space.  So it includes time as well as physical space.  Perhaps you can simply inform those around you (your spouse or partner for example) that at a particular time each day, in a particular place, you need you own space and would appreciate it if there could be no interruptions.  However you create it, do your best to create this 4-dimensional safe space to which you can retreat when you need to do so.  You will use it for today's particular exercise, but it will also be available for other meditations which you should use.

The time dimension of your safe space is very important.  You must make sure anyone who may otherwise wish to interrupt you is aware of it and knows it is very important for you.  But also you must avoid interruptions by yourself!  In other words, don't schedule your session at a time when there is a deadline coming up for something else you need to do.

Go to your safe space and relax yourself.  Close your eyes and feel your body and mind relaxing.  If you have any relaxation music it would be a good idea to use this to relax you more, but it is not essential.

Once you are fully relaxed I want you to imagine there is a big garbage bin just at the edge of your safe space.  There is no garbage in it yet.  But it is the most efficient garbage bin in the universe.  Inside it there is a black hole.  A black hole which will swallow up and completely destroy anything you put in the bin.  See that garbage bin there and see the black hole inside.

Allow a limiting belief or worry, or whatever other negative thought or feeling you may have, to surface.  Don't react to it.  Don't try to argue with it.  Don't judge it, nor yourself for having it.  Just let it surface.

Now see yourself picking up this negativity and throwing it into the most efficient garbage bin in the universe.  See the black hole swallowing it up.  It has no choice.  It cannot escape.  It cannot resist.  It has gone!

Feel the sense of peace that comes with knowing this particular negativity is gone for ever.  It is no longer in the universe at all.  It is as though it never existed in the first place.

Gradually allow yourself to surface from the deep, relaxed state you were in.  When you are ready, open your eyes.  Now you are ready to get up and leave your safe space.  Leaving behind the limiting belief you originally identified.  In fact, not just leaving it behind, but knowing it has disappeared from this universe and it is as though it never existed in the first place.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Making and Breaking Resolutions

If you are reading this soon after it is published, then it is that time of year again.  The time we try to keep New Year resolutions.

Did you make any resolutions this year?  How many?  And have you kept them all?  Have you kept any of them?

For many people, New Years Resolutions are simply a tradition.  A bit like hanging up stockings and waiting for Santa to fill them.  They don't really expect to keep them.

For many others, New Years Resolutions are an opportunity to do something they know they ought to do, or stop doing something they know they ought to stop, but have never really had the motivation.

Most of the above fail to keep their resolutions.  Why?

Well, if you are in that first category, notice the final sentence.  "They don't really expect to keep them."  Is it any wonder  you don't keep those resolutions?  If you start with an expectation of failure, this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you don't really expect to keep a resolution you shouldn't make it.  Not only is it a waste of effort, but it is actually harmful.  Why harmful?  Because you are sending out a message to your subconscious mind that you are unable to achieve whatever you try to achieve.  Keep sending out this message and your subconscious will then apply it to everything else you try to do.  By paying lip-service to the tradition of making resolutions you will be weakening your ability to achieve anything, not simply those half-hearted resolutions.

As for the second category, notice "they have never really had the motivation".  Do you fit into that category?  Do you make resolutions in good faith, and with every intention of keeping them, but don't really have any motivation to do so?  If so, then you are very unlikely to succeed.  Without motivation you will probably fall at the first hurdle.  If not the first hurdle then the second.  And there will be quite a few hurdles to cross before you can finally say you have kept the resolution and will now always keep it.  You need strong motivation to cross all those hurdles.

Before even thinking of making a resolution, begin by asking yourself why you want to do this.

For example, if you want to stop smoking, why do you want to stop?  The glib answer to this is "because smoking is unhealthy".  That may be the reason, but it is not sufficient to give you the motivation you need.  What you should do is start listing all the positives and the negatives.  The positives are all the benefits you will gain if you stop smoking.  Try to think of as many as you can.  Identify the ones that really appeal.  The negatives are all the bad things that may happen if you don't stop smoking.  Again, try to think of as many as you can.  Do some research online if you cannot come up with a long list - you will find plenty of reasons out there.  And again, identify the ones that really horrify you.

At this point you have a list of really great things that should inspire you to keep your resolution, and another list of really bad things that can happen if you don't keep it.  Focus on those lists every day.  Especially focus on the positive list.  Really feel the change inside you and how good it makes you feel.

If you do this properly you will have the motivation you really need in the form of a bunch of carrots and a load of sticks!  With that motivation you are much more likely to succeed!

Of course, you don't have to do this simply at New Year.  This is a good exercise to try at any time of year.

Tackle your resolutions this way one by one.  Once you have turned a resolution into a habit which you are confident is there for good, then turn to the next one.  Don't try to do two or more at once, as you are then much more likely to fail.  Focus on just the one.  Don't pick one that you think you ought to do but cannot really get yourself properly motivated to do - when you create your "reasons why" lists you will soon see whether or not this is something for you to attempt.  And don't think of it as a pass or fail exercise.  You may slip back into your old habits from time to time.  Don't consider that a "fail", but just a reminder that it is important to keep on trying.

Use these techniques and you really can improve your life in ways that may not even seem possible right now!