GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


January 28, 2015

Who Am I?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:01 am

C114202 mHere was the Grasshopper’s cryptic message this morning: “The time spent defending ‘who you are’ is inversely proportional to the amount of time you spend noticing how things are.”

I got to notice that I didn’t get to spend too much time contemplating who I am while shoveling feet of snow. Reality has a way of grounding you to the way things are.

Who am I in relation to the world? is too big a question. Who am I in relation to what’s right in front of me? gets me closer to who I am.

I am the person doing whatever it is I’m doing in the moment.

If my focus is out there defending who I am to the world, the less I am focused on what’s really happening.

The global “Who I am” is a fantasy. It’s a created image that we’ve made up to measure how we stack up against others.

Just notice how much time we spend defending that image. Every moment spent in that pursuit is a moment divorced from reality.

You will get closer to who you are by noticing what you do, not what your PR says you do.

“I am a snow shoveler” was a more accurate assessment of who I was yesterday than the many mental flights of fancy that my mind made up.

“Snow shoveler” isn’t a permanent label for me but it did accurately define me for the time I was shoveling.

I will say that who you really are is much deeper than what you do, but focusing on what you do gets you closer to who you are than any imaginings of who you are.

Who you are is the light and life force that animates your existence. That’s you in its purest form. When we claim that we’re only a tiny subset of that light, we diminish who we really are. When that subset is a mental fantasy, we have really gone far afield.

A practice that will get you back to appreciating who you really are is to do something focused – a math problem, a rock climb, moving tons of snow with a plastic shovel. In short, put your focus on what you are doing. This has a way of getting us to notice and appreciate our life force which is responsible for us getting things done.

The more we are focused on actual doing, the less time we spend imagining that we’re doing something or being somebody.

My reminder is to be as focused as a pharmacist when filling a prescription when you are doing whatever you have committed to do. It will get you closer to reality and, in turn, closer to the real you.

All the best,

John



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January 22, 2015

Where Am I Now?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:36 am

C609166 m“Where you are going depends on where you are.” So said The Grasshopper early this morning.

My experience is that the ability to get to where you are going has a lot to do with knowing your current location.

“How do I get to Cincinnati? is a lot easier to answer if you know you are in Louisville.

If you don’t know your current location, it’s a crap shoot as to whether you’ll ever get to where you want to go.

“Where am I now?” is a question we rarely ask ourselves. And if we do, we often make up an answer, making it doubly difficult to get to our desired destination.

An honest assessment of where we are now makes triangulation much more precise and makes the path we have to travel crystal clear.

The difficulty is that we don’t want to see the clear path because we know it’s ladened with work. That “burden” keeps us from pinpointing where we are. We continue to BS ourselves that we’re somewhere where we’re not, and we stay willfully lost.

We are so steeped in magical thinking that we miss seeing the landmarks of where we are. The magical thinking is that we will get to where we want to go without having to put in the effort.

I love learning shortcuts but if that’s all I depend on then I’ll come up short, and so will you.

Where you want to go has to be more than a wish to get you to find your true starting point. Your destination has to be fueled by the passion to do whatever is necessary to get there.

If your desired destination is not compelling, you’ll remain where you are dwelling – pretending you’re somewhere where you’re not.

The three keys to making this trip happen are:

1. Have a compelling idea of where you want to go.

2. Find out where you are now.

3. Be willing to do the work.

Regarding the passion part of this formula, this old adage comes to mind: “Find a big enough ‘Why’ and the ‘How’ will take care of itself.”

Where am I now? If you don’t pursue the answer to that question, your pursuits will remain a pipe dream.

All the best,

John



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January 21, 2015

Temporary

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:01 am

C76601 mI can’t know this for sure but it seems like everything in the human experience is temporary, with the exception of love.

Love seems to be a permanent fixture – not the love of something or someone but the ever-present nature of love itself. It seems that it’s always available.

We expend untold energy attempting to make temporary things permanent not knowing that we are going against the flow every time we do. Reminds me of an expression my mother used to use: “Children are only lent to you.”

They are only temporarily yours before they head off on their own. If you are anything like me, you may rail against that concept because you cherish the family atmosphere of having children around. But that situation, no matter how much you love it, is a temporary one.

Happiness is also temporary. It’s here, it’s gone, it’s back and it’s gone again. It’s in a state of flux – temporary.

In order to co-exist with temporary, we have to recognize its existence so we can take advantage of its limitations. The limitation of temporary is that it will never be permanent. To take advantage is to appreciate the experience you are having while you are having it.

If you are feeling happy, celebrate it while it’s here. Don’t waste your time trying to capture it in a jar, that will only take away from the experience and shorten its visit.

If you are sad, notice it while it’s here and, again, quoting my mother, “If you’re sad, you’ll get glad again.” It’s temporary.

Beginning to appreciate temporary will have you begin to appreciate your experiences more. You’ll begin to outgrow the concept of permanent and the frustration that notion brings.

All the best,

John



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January 19, 2015

Prejudice

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:37 am

P179101 mThe Grasshopper offered this up this morning: “Your most conditioned reaction is your largest prejudice.”

It seems that most of our prejudices are involuntary, until we notice. Even after noticing, we may begin to justify our conditioned reaction. That’s usually when we look the most foolish.

Have you ever watched anyone defend their prejudice? The only people not cringing are like minded morons.

Like most of our beliefs, we got most of our prejudices by accident. They were handed down to us through conditioning. The interesting thing to notice is that they aren’t really our prejudices, just some hand-me-downs we got comfortable wearing before we knew what a hand-me-down was.

Stop for a moment and think about what prejudice you own that your mother or father may have had. Now, perhaps, you can appreciate what kept the Hatfields and McCoys going at it for generations.

You were conditioned into a way of thinking and acting that may not be serving you well today. It could be attitudes about other races or cultures, religions, political parties, sexual preferences, the role of money in life, what other people should or shouldn’t be doing. The list of conditioned prejudices is endless.

The conditioning you got the most is your largest prejudice. What you may not realize is that it prejudices you from progress. Prejudices have the unique ability to keep you stuck where you are.

The first key to outgrowing a prejudice is to notice it in you. The second step is to stop justifying it. This takes continuous application – like home teeth whitening. It takes work on your part.

Here’s an everyday example of the ill effects of conditioning: Every time you post your prejudicial point of view online, under the guise of “the truth,” you have made another argument for your limitations, keeping you stuck and angry. if you like that feeling, keep doing what you’re doing.

If you’re tired of that angry feeling and tired of being held in place, notice that it’s your conditioning that’s arguing for your limitations keeping you stuck and angry.

If you just got angry about this post and went into justification mode about your prejudice, you need attention the most – your attention. Notice that you are the source of your own anger and your own stuckness.

If you ever get that recognition, you are at the threshold of change where prejudice starts to come unglued and you are on your way to no longer being stuck and angry.

All the best,

John



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January 13, 2015

Formula for Fresh

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:42 am

C513775 mHave things gotten stale? The following is a formula for freshening up. Note: It’s nice to know about the formula but it only works if we use it.

We are either reacting or responding to the ever-present stimulus known as Reality. Think of reality as a carrot that’s always dangling in front of us. Each day our life is filled with unforeseen and abundant realities, and how we answer them determines the freshness of our life. We can have a very predictable, repeatable existence or we can create our lives each moment. The path we wind up on is directly caused by a reaction or a response.

Reactions have us “re-acting” the same way again. We act like the actor who can only play one role. No creativity comes from a reaction, only predictability. We have been conditioned to give the same reaction to the same stimulus and haven’t noticed how stale we’ve become.

A reaction is a remedy we’ve used before – a remedy that may not be working now. We get so caught up in our reaction (the way it’s supposed to be) that we don’t notice we’re not being rewarded anymore.

If your life has you taken down the “dead-end stale trail,” you are a victim of your reactions. You have defaulted to one way of reacting. It seems like the only way, even though you know it’s tired and worn out. You need a creative intervention.

Creativity (Freshness) is the result of a RESPONSE.

There is magic in a response because it allows you to cross the border into creativity and find solutions reactions never look for.

Reminds me of a story I’ve told before . . .

About 30 years ago I was conducting a seminar for a computer company in Augusta, Maine. I was discussing the difference between a reaction and a response. I asked a young strapping lad of 28 what he would do if someone called him a derogatory name. He said, “I’d whack them.” I then asked him if he knew who Billy Martin was. He said, “He’s the former manager of the New York Yankees.” I asked if he knew how old Billy was. He said, “Late 50′s.” I further probed if he knew anything else about Billy. He said, “Yea, he gets in fights in bars.” I then asked him if he would be getting in fights in bars when he was 58. He said, “no way.” I then asked, “What magical metamorphosis is going to happen between now and then to keep you from whacking people who call you names?” I then added, “What if when someone calls you a name, you pause and then say, “if you knew me a little better, you may like me more’.” He smiled and he got it.

There is a stimulus (Reality) and there is a conditioned reaction (what you normally do). When you take time to choose a response, you are making life easier and more fresh. You acknowledge reality but you choose not to fight with it because you will always lose.

Before I knew about responding to reality, I felt locked in to some predestined plan that just didn’t feel right for me. I found that most people are under that locked in delusion and response is the universal remedy – a passport to a life of fresh creativity.

Remembering to use the formula will be your biggest challenge because our reactions are so familiar to us. Noticing your reactions and interrupting them while they are happening, and coming up with a response instead, puts you at the doorstep of fresh.

A fresh response will have “humdrum” leave town with “stale” on its tail.

All the best,

John



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January 12, 2015

Owning Up

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:21 am

0Who doesn’t have problems? Dead people, of course.

That’s a reality that’s easily admittable; here’s something that’s not: our part in the problem.

The Grasshopper came out of his New Year’s slumber and offered this: “If you don’t own the problem, you’ll find it difficult to find a solution.”

Owning the problem is acknowledging our part in it. I’m reminded of an episode of the 70s TV show Happy Days when character, Arthur Fonzarelli (The Fonz) had trouble admitting he was wrong. He knew he was culpable in the situation but had trouble getting the words “I’m wrong” to form in his mouth.

That’s the biggest hurdle in problem solving – admitting that we may be part of the problem. That’s because no one wants to be wrong. This hesitancy to own up is a delaying tactic that keeps a solution down.

When the focus continues to claim responsibility is “out there,” the solution remains out there as well.

Yes, there are some unfortunate things that happened that we had nothing to do with – let’s call them “acts of god.” But we claim “godliness” far too often when we’re part of the devil in the details.

Owning a problem facilitates a faster solution. When we don’t look in our direction too, we ignore an angle of approach that could hold the key to our solution.

“Own up” is easy to say and hard to do due to our cultural conditioning that being wrong is a deadly disease. It’s not. It’s a shortcut to a solution.

If you’re hellbent on keeping your problems in place, just continue to pretend that you had nothing to do with them. Then if you want to keep them in place even longer, go find some people who agree with you and you can talk forever about the bastards out there rather than looking “in here” for a solution.

We are part of the problem. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can put all our energy into finding a solution.

I’ll end with a quote from author Susan DelGatto: “If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”

All the best,

John



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January 7, 2015

This means . . .

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:29 am

C786998 mDid you ever notice when you get an emotional feeling, you attach meaning to it?

We all get emotional over something and then we ascribe a reason to the feeling. The shorthand we use in these situations is: “This means that.”

My experience is when we equate an emotional this with that, we go on a downward spiral towards drama. Our transport vehicle is the “woe is me” wagon.

The next time you get emotional (yes, there will be a next time), stop and notice the sensations in your body that go along with the emotion. The sensations will register somewhere, usually along the front half of your body from your head to your bowels. For example, we can all relate to a lump in our throat, a gurgling in our stomach, a flushed feeling in our face, etc.

The trick to avoid the ensuing drama is to notice the sensations that go along with the emotion. That puts your attention on the sensations rather than having it go into “this means that” mode.

“This” rarely ever means “that.” I’m reminded of one of my favorite observances I learned from Dr. Robert Anthony. He said, “You’re rarely upset for the reason you think.”

It’s the thinking about the sensations that has them catch fire and start to burn out of control. If you begin noticing the sensations without ascribing meaning, you prevent “this” from becoming “that” and you won’t cause a 4-alarm blaze.

Get in the habit of exploring the sensations that go along with an emotion. That means to actually feel them, not equate them. Feeling is an in-body experience; equating is a long head trip elsewhere.

The sensations want to be noticed. That’s why they acted up in the first place. They want you to pay attention to them, not judge them. By paying attention, we let them have their “say,” allowing them to more quickly go on their merry way.

Application of this strategy turns “I’m sad because” into just “I’m sad.” There is no meaning attached to “I’m sad,” just the opportunity to feel the sensations that go along with sad.

Once you begin to extrapolate meaning, you guarantee that you will be mean to yourself and insure that heartburn won’t be far behind.

Jump off the meaning wagon and you’ll stop the never ending “tit for tat” that goes along with “this means that.”

All the best,

John



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January 6, 2015

I’m Gonna

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:58 am

C482960 mIf there are two bigger resolution killing words than “I’m gonna,” I haven’t heard them yet.

The boulevard of broken promises begins with “I’m gonna.”

Reflect for a moment on past failures that began with these two words.

“I’m gonna be a millionaire by the time I’m 40.”

“I’m gonna go to the gym 5 times a week.”

“I’m gonna lose 30 pounds by Christmas.”

Don’t tell yourself or anyone else what you’re “gonna” do; tell them what you’re doing.

“Doing” is active and in the present; “gonna” is future based and promised to no one.

Any list of resolutions are wishes until actions take place. Action can only take place in the moment you are in.

Just a subtle shift in language from “gonna” to “doing” gives you a much better chance of fulfilling your wish.

Side Note: If you’ve added a start date to your “I’m gonna,” it’s doubly insured to fail.

“I’m going to start my diet on Monday” is a red flag that predicts a lot of bull will follow. Here’s a clue: If it’s not important enough to start now, it’s not important.

Please don’t tell yourself or anyone else what you’re going to do. Demonstrate what you’re doing. It’s a much more accurate predictor of success.

I was gonna write this blog post on New Years day but I didn’t.

All the best,

John



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January 5, 2015

Whatever Gets You Through

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:47 am

Bb39 coda charts john lennon 1974 billboard 650We’re all familiar with the phrase “Whatever gets you through the night.” It was even a popular song in the 70s. The problem with the phrase and the philosophy behind it is that it’s rarely a long-term solution.

The Grasshopper offered this: “Whatever gets you through the night won’t offer much light.” I took that to mean that “whatever” wasn’t going to shine a way forward.

Sometimes we all need a shoulder to cry on, but if that becomes our routine, we will routinely be pursuing whatever gets us through the night rather than seeking a way forward.

The way forward needs a brief look back as to how we arrived at our current situation. The purpose is to see the steps we took, so that we don’t misstep again. It’s one of the reasons why football players watch films of the games they played in – to gain perspective for going forward.

Once you know the path that leads towards the light, it’s time to let go of whatever gets you through the night. It may take a dark night of the soul or two to finally discover “whatever” isn’t working for you.

This is a simple but not necessarily easy process. The simple part is looking back to find out how you got here. Once you establish the pathway that got you to where you are, it’s time to stop taking side trips to “whatever” and put all your effort into blazing a new trail.

Whatever gets you through the night is a relapse against reality. It’s to make you feel good for the moment with no real chance of it being a stepping stone forward.

If you are constantly crying on shoulders, that should be your first clue that you don’t have a clue as to how to arrive at a solution. It’s difficult to get to a destination if you stop at every rest stop on the way. They become diversions from traveling the path that’s necessary.

What is necessary is to recognize whatever is going on with you is your problem. When we pretend our problems aren’t our problems, we put the onus out there somewhere. That sugarcoats it for awhile, but remember this: A sugarcoated turd is still a turd.

When the sugar wears off we find ourselves eating shit.

Sorry to be the “Dutch Uncle” here but no one is going to solve your problem but you. That’s the realization you need to bring yourself into the present where you can best fashion a future. You won’t get to the present, the only point from which you can change, until you put “whatever gets you through the night” in your rearview mirror.

All the best,

John



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