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Adventures In Self Discovery To Transform Your Life

Introduction

We humans often get a little stuck, off the main path to happiness and the good life. Working too hard. Marriage stressful. Concerned about personal finances. Family problems. You name it. Ever think, “There has to be more to life than this?”

Well, there is. Our goal in this book is to explore what is possible for each of us and how to get what we want out of life.

There are over seven billion humans on the planet. Each of us is unique. Each of us is different. No one exactly like you has ever been on this world or ever will be again. You are constantly a new you. Every atom of your body gets replaced by other atoms over the course of just seven years. You can identify with, empathize, sympathize and support all humans as being unique like yourself. Each of us humans is valuable. Each of us has something to contribute. Each of us is alone. Each of us will die.

It's been this way for thousands of years. We are all explorers in this life. All of us are built to survive, to reproduce, to create and to die. We watch, imitate and learn from others. We learn a language, see causes, work with numbers. We fear heights, mimic others and take care of family and friends. We suspend disbelief to play and to pray.

From childhood you learned to care, share, cooperate, reciprocate and work with others. You trust and take care of yourself, your family, your tribe, your nation, and all the people like you. You learned to cooperate to specialize and exchange stuff with others. You have life stories about good times with love, laughter and gratitude. You have stories about distress, guilt, rivalries and conflict.

These behaviors kept us alive and thriving from cave to condo. They are ancient directives built into our bodies. They are patterns that repeat over and over to shape families, tribes, cities and civilizations. They are the roots of the rights and rules that we turn into laws and enforce with police and armies. They get built into our culture and behavior at the deepest level. To change your life you need to become aware of them and learn to work with them.

The quality of our daily lives depends on what is happening in our bodies, minds and in the world around us right now. Now is when each of us can make changes in how we think and act now to make our lives work better.

We Are The Future

Each of us is worthy. Each of us creates value in some way. Each of us has an equal claim to dignity and understanding. Each of us lives in our own private universe of experience and understanding. We come together in this moment. If we are ever to live together in harmony, we need to accept each other's being. We need to allow for differences in our beliefs. 

We can imagine being like another person and having their feelings. This empathy brings us together in understanding and support. We can find shared principles as a basis for working together. Individual freedom, free speech, reciprocity, community responsibilities, equality before the law, justice, civil rights, due process, balance of powers, economic opportunity are all grounds for being together in peace and harmony.

As adult humans we need a strong sense of identity. That comes from our relations with other people, the environment, self-reflection and a narrative about who we are. We need the sense of fulfillment. That comes from hard work, a real challenge or creative expression. We need meaningful relationships. They come from deep understanding of other people through face to face sharing of experience and feelings. We must be able to pace our day to our own speed and choice. We need some time for quiet reflection.

You are a unique human being. There is no one else like you. Your body, memories, thoughts, feelings and behavior are your own and only yours. You build your personal reality from them. You have different life experiences, points of view and stories than anyone else. You live by them. No one can understand you in all your complexity. Nor can you completely understand another human.

In a rapidly changing world, you have to figure out who you are and how to adapt to live in peace and harmony as a new human. This book offers a whole, new way of understanding and living your life. You can create almost any life experience you want badly enough and are willing to work for.

There is no right way to live. Life is an experiment, a great adventure. You get to make choices and changes. With a clear understanding of your situation, you can change toward becoming a new human. Let's look to an easy enjoyment of ourselves, our work, our family and friends as a start. Taking more time for quiet reflection, for nature or for just doing nothing is another step. We can build a new future for ourselves. Working together, we can change the world.

How?

I began building this book by looking at the biggest problems you and I run into as humans. Most of them arise and linger because we ignore the basic knowledge we already have. That knowledge could change our lives. Where do we find it?

To change your results, you accept your present situation. You learn from it, then do something differently. You will learn by going on adventures. Each chapter explores a different aspect of your life. The adventures in each chapter open solutions to the problems they explore. Each adventure allows you to become aware of a part of your experience. You can explore whatever changes would bring you closer to how you want to live. Your experience will change as you go. Even exploring one adventure will make a change in your awareness. 

The adventures you will go on are liberating. They focus on recognizing and releasing old beliefs and patterns of acting. You are working to get over your old 'self.' You are looking for a new way to be human. You may find some adventures that seem 'not my problem' or 'not my thing'. “This will never work.” They work if you do. You'll notice small changes as you do them. Your biggest problem may be inertia. “I'll do that tomorrow.”

As you read along, you will experiment with new ways of understanding and living. The more deeply you explore yourself, the more satisfaction, love, laughter and peace will enter your life.  You will enjoy living in the moment, feeling free, whole and happy. You have a wonderful life ahead of you waiting to unfold.

You build your new life experience using insightful stories, anecdotes, practical exercises and role plays. There is nothing strange, foreign, spiritual, mystical or magical about them. They are invitations into new ways of being, not directives. Imagine who you want to be and then recreate yourself every day from now on. You can take your time and enjoy the trip, it's your life.

Here are the basics of what you will explore in the adventures that follow.

Chapter 1 Our Screen Experiment
You get shaped by the screens you watch on television, video games and smart phones. Social networking is changing every aspect of your life in unpredictable ways. Unless you are aware and in control of your thoughts and actions, you may become a screen slave, a difficult addiction to escape.

Chapter 2 How We Build Our Experience

You don’t directly experience the world as it is. Your experience of 'reality' is a best guess. It is based on what your senses tell you tweaked by your memories and beliefs, extended by your fantasies, merged with what you are expecting. Understanding how your brain, body and environment build your experience leads to whole new ways of living and being.

Chapter 3 How We Got this Way
Humans have been around a long time following pretty much the same patterns of living. Here’s how your upbringing and culture shape and limit what you know and can do. Moving into new self-understanding and points of view will free your thoughts and feelings.

Chapter 4 This Is It
Right now is the only time you you are alive and can experience or do anything. This is the only time and place any change is possible. You will find ways to accept yourself and the world as it is now. Then you are able to do whatever takes you in the direction you want to go.

Chapter 5 Paying Attention
You take control by focusing your attention. Being here and now in this body opens up new ways of understanding and living your life. Here's how to use your attention to shape and move toward positive experiences of a more satisfying and rewarding life.

Chapter 6 Feelings Are First
Feelings shape your experience immediately and strongly. Accepting and working with your feelings is the way you let go of fear and negativity. You can move toward a positive way of living and shape your feelings toward more happiness and peace.

Chapter 7 Who Are You?
Your personal reality is of an outer worldly experience and an inner world. You experience being a unique self. You are actually making up your own reality moment to moment. You can change your point of view and the way you think, feel and act to shape what is happening. Use the GRIN adventure to turn your experience positive at will. The challenge is to imagine who you want to be and then recreate yourself in that direction from now on.

Chapter 8 What’s Your Story?
You live by the stories you tell yourself. You have a life story and sub-stories about what happened and what might happen. Your stories are not you, are not happening now and often do not work. Your stories are imaginations, not reality. You can make up any story you want, try out new stories and let go of old ones that don't work. You can't get rid of the storyteller, that’s you. You can try out new beliefs, new stories and points of view that will change your life.

Chapter 9 How To Make Words Work

Words, grammar, logic and math are man made products. They describe but do not shape or constrain the universe. Words are just abstractions.
Words symbolize and overlay your world view. We pretend a world of words matches the world of direct experience: it doesn't. The words you use get in the way of directly experiencing reality. Changing the way you understand and use words, grammar and logic opens powerful insights that will reshape how you think, feel and act.

Chapter 10 What Do You Know For Sure?
You operate in an actual world and in an imaginary world in your head.  What you think you know for sure quite often doesn't match reality. Here is a useful understanding of how the universe works and a method to test your knowledge. Use this method to ensure that what you think you know for sure actually is and works.

Chapter 11 How To Use Status, Power And Control

EAch of us reacts to other people automatically and without being aware. When you understand the workings of status, power and control in life you open possibilities for taking effective action. 

Chapter 12 Getting Along With Yourself And The Rest Of Us
You can build an awareness of yourself and a set of skills that allow you to get along with yourself and with the rest of us in any situation.

Chapter 13 Manage Your Health

Good health is your natural state. Learn how to maintain it and avoid bad practices to live a long and healthy life.

Chapter 14 The Digital Revolution
Our digital universe has quietly taken over, running in the background, running our lives. Becoming aware of and understanding this will free up your life choices and actions.
 
Chapter 15 Take Charge Of Your Life

You built the habits and practices that make your life work the way it does. You can open doors into other ways of experiencing and acting. Explore changes that can bring you closer to how you truly want to live. You can train your brain and body to produce almost any experience you want and are willing to work for. Our digital universe has quietly taken over, running in the background, running our lives.

The adventures in this book lead to rethinking many of the ideas and actions most of us take for granted. They are invitations into new ways of being, not directives. There is no right way to do them, only the way that works for you. Some start with a kernel of practical action from our cultural, religious or scientific practices. You may have been doing them for years without paying much attention. When you pay attention, you release their power.

The challenge is to imagine who you want to be and then recreate yourself in that direction every day from now on. You may get discouraged as an old pattern reappears. The old ways do persist. Look how long it took you to build them. Now you are rebuilding your experience. When you find something that works, keep doing it, try variations. It's your life. You can take your time and enjoy the trip.

Life is complicated. Untangling it is half the fun. Life is also what you make it. I began my own life adventure when I asked questions and got answers that didn't fit my experience. Early on, I refused to go back to Presbyterian Sunday school. They told me I was there to learn, not to ask questions. I encourage you to live your life by questioning. If you are always asking, you are always learning. I also encourage you to live by thinking about yourself. Who are you? How do you feel? What are you thinking? What do you need? What will make your life work better?

I want to live an open, free and full life. I've worked and worried my way through life this far. I found myself making the same mistakes with the same bad results over and over. Ignorance repeats blindly. One of the benefits of living for 91 years is getting to recognize some of the problems and mistakes. Then you learn how to avoid them so there's no 'over and over'. To change your results, you accept your mistakes, then do something differently.

Here's How
Every day you make choices, then take actions. You are free, constantly choosing your path and your action. You shape your life by what you feel, think and do. What attracts you? What is satisfying? What is important to you? You get to decide what kind of life you want then and make it happen. You can choose to make yourself wretched or filled with joy. Take yourself on a little adventure. Ask yourself two questions.

1. Am I living the kind of life I want right now?

2. If I could change three things in my life right now, what would they be?

Your choices will depend on your circumstances, your feelings, the stories you tell yourself, what you think is possible and the actions you take. You have the ability to live, to love and to contribute to the welfare of your community. Your goal could be to discover and express your true being.

It's not what you believe right now that matters. Words, labels, ideas don't contain or limit what or who you are. You don't need a theory or a philosophy. Thinking about or talking about how to live is empty reflection. We are all delusional in one way or another. It is a challenge just to live whatever you are experiencing as it is.

There is no secret to happiness or a fulfilled life. They come from what you are doing this moment and each moment that follows. Right now is the only time you can think or act to change anything. Your power lies in choosing what to think or to feel or to do. You have some control, less than you think perhaps, but enough. If you take responsibility for your experience, you can guide the results. You can always do something. For example. Blink.

The quality of our daily lives depends on what is happening in our bodies, minds and in the world around us right now. Our challenge is to adapt to worldly changes while we live fulfilling lives among our family and friends. Each of us can make changes in how we think and act now to make our lives work better in the next now.

We build our personal reality from our body, feelings, point of view, beliefs and situation. With awareness, we can change each of these as we recognize and understand them. On offer is a whole new way of understanding and living your life. If you are seeking change or a fresh start, you can build the understanding and skills necessary to make it happen. You make yourself the model of the changes you want to see around you. As you go along, you will find an easy enjoyment of yourself, your work, your family and friends.

“The New Humans” is a series of adventures. You explore how your body, brain and world shape and limit your experience. You get to explore and choose the tools and actions that will change your experience in the moment. They include insightful stories, anecdotes, practical exercises and role plays. They allow you to understand and change your experience.

The book merges ancient wisdom and modern science into the understandings that change your life. This is not an attempt to prescribe a lifestyle for anyone. It offers possibilities that everyone can pursue in their own way. It will open doors for you into other worlds of experience that exist around and inside you. You will discover things about yourself you never knew before.

The book takes the form of adventures because that is how they arrived in my life. Each adventure lets you explore your point of view, beliefs and behavior. You will build a new understanding of who you are and how you work. You will expand your ability to change your experience. You will find possibilities that you can pursue in your own way.

“That man is happiest who lives from day to day and asks no more, garnering the simple goodness of life.”
Euripides – 424 B.C.E

Take Charge

Let's start with the understanding that you are OK. You can decide for yourself what makes a good life. Or you can leave it up to someone else. There are plenty of willing tutors. You have to be clear and make it clear to others that this is your life, not theirs. To make life your choice, you have to do what you want to do rather than what someone thinks you should do or think or be.

It is possible that you already have everything you need to live a fully satisfying life. How would you redesign your present experience for greater satisfaction? The first step is to realize that change is possible. To change something, you have to step out of the social ruts. Give up telling yourself stories. Stop blaming. No one is doing your life to you. Do something differently. Keep doing, taking action. Since each of our situations is unique, that something is different for each of us. We have to change ourselves, each in our own way.

Life's An Adventure

For years I was a partner in a major management consulting firm in Manhattan. I commuted from a big house in Westport, Connecticut and vacationed in the Caribbean. I was stressed and distressed. That was back in the '60s. One day I went to an encounter group. I saw that my present situation was just one possible version of reality that was available to me. The first thing to change toward getting a new life must be me. That started a series of discoveries. Over a three year period, I radically changed the direction of my life. I became a Rolf practitioner living in a hand built cottage in the jungle on Maui. Big difference!

My life changing adventures led me from one understanding to the next. You will find similar ‘adventures’ in each chapter. Exploring them will open your way toward becoming the new human you are going to be. As you move along, you will find your own ways to change how you think and act. You will build skills to get along with yourself (and with the rest of us.) You will expand your ability to change your experience as you change the world and the people around you.

Living a simple life is not a sacrifice. You can’t be happy in the past or the future, only now. You'll find close relations with your fellows, fulfilling work and bonds with nature. Your body can always give you happy feelings unless it is sick. Peace and happiness are already here, built into our bodies. When we stop running after stuff, they emerge.

“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” 
Howard Zinn

Whatever Works
I like to know how things work. Given a plausible explanation, I like to test it to see if it fits my experience and what else I can learn. This has kept me from taking a lot of things 'on faith'. Questions and answers followed me through combat in War II. I kept asking through thickets of philosophy at the University of Chicago. I worked at several professional careers and searched along spiritual paths. I'm still racing to keep up with science and technology.

It is not the purpose of the new humans to oppose the existing order or put a new order on it. Our old institutions get trapped in patterns that are self destroying. They become impotent or irrelevant. The challenge is to shape our selves and our new tools and institutions to adapt to an ever changing world. I believe we have the wit, wisdom and will to do it. Solving problems and building a better life experience for everyone is the way to go.

I studied, absorbed and then practiced many different points of view and belief systems. I can say I am not a theist, atheist, agnostic, skeptic, rationalist or scientist. All seem to have voids in understanding and empty certainties. This leads to my disclaimer. “I don’t know.” All my watching and questioning leads me to suspect that nobody else does either. If I had a label it would be “none”. If I had a Latin motto, it would be Ignoramus, “We do not know.”

Most of this book focuses on what we know or don't know or think we know but may not. Human notions about what the universe is and how it works keep changing. We keep exploring and learning new things. I believe there are great wonders to discover when we push past our certainties. It’s likely we can only enter into these wonders as we let go of what we now know for sure.

This is not a self help book. Most people do not need help. They are not helpless. This is a how to book, more like a guidebook on how we build our lives and how to change them. You will take yourself on a series of adventures, explorations and exercises. These adventures are educational, experimental trips. They are not intended as therapies. They should not be undertaken by anyone in therapy without the knowledge of their therapist. They will open up new ways of understanding and living your life. You get to explore and choose the tools and actions that will change your experience of the moment.

You can create almost any experience you want badly enough and are willing to work for. You'll find you get excited about the future. You will be full of new ideas, looking for fulfilling projects. You will live with a sense of wholeness and worth. You will enjoy living in the moment, feeling free, whole, and happy.

Curiosity led me through serial careers to living in beautiful places among people I love. I am still trying to understand this amazing world and how it works. I tend to stick to stuff that works for me and makes a difference that I can experience in this world right now. I’m still learning, still changing my point of view. I am drawn to a way of living that has no path, just explorations. I find no final answers, just revelations. It is a great life. Welcome.  

©2012-2017 Keith Gilchrist - not for distribution or reproduction
4,160 words 11 pages 9.26.17 adv 0 Beta 1



Go to THE BOOK page. Read each chapter and go on the adventures that lead to being a New Human.

Send Keith an Email I will appreciate any ideas, comments and suggestions you have. Let me know where the book works for you and where it doesn’t. What changes would you suggest I make.