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What Separates Man From Beast
Do you know what distinguishes you as a person? Stand up straight? Opposed thumbs? Language? The ability to speak?
These may seem like good answers, but there is an exception to all of them. In fact, in my opinion, the characteristic that really separates us from animals is our ability to be creative. Some may disagree with me on this point and say that it is our ability to reason.
Now, I certainly wouldn’t deny our ability to use logic and reasoning and all that left-brain stuff is unique, but I think what really sets us apart is more our ability to use our right-brain — the creative side. Animals have reactive minds. Humans are born with creative minds, but they often operate outside of the basic reactive animal mind. If you can learn how to recognize what you’re using and switch to your more powerful, creative mind, it can make all the difference in living a happier life.
What happens when you throw a ball at a dog or wave a piece of string in front of a cat? They generally go for it, right? This is a classic stimulus-response example. Something happens
(a stimulus) and the animal responds (either through instinct or conditioned learning). There isn’t much thinking in this kind of situation.
As humans, we do this too. Think about how many things you instinctively or conditionally respond to every day that you don’t give much thought to. Here are some examples:
- The alarm goes off in the morning and you reach to press “off” (or “snooze”)
- You go downstairs and automatically light a cigarette or make a coffee
- You look at the clock, notice it’s time to go and your child isn’t ready yet, so you yell at him to hurry “or else”
- On the way to work you pass Krispy Kreme and smell the donuts or see the “hot donuts” sign lit up and suddenly crave one
- You arrive at your desk at work and immediately open your computer
- Your colleague “Bob” passes and you feel resentment building up again because he got the promotion you wanted
- You get a call from your new friend and you get butterflies in your stomach and a smile on your face
- You walk by Cindy’s desk, see the candy, grab a piece, unwrap it and pop it in your mouth
Get the idea? All of your actions in these examples were based on some kind of external stimulus. There were no new or creative thoughts – you were just reacting to your environment.
WHO IS TOTALLY RUNNING THIS SHIP?
Now, many of our “autopilot” activities can be useful, saving us time and mental energy by not having to “reinvent the wheel” for mundane and familiar things we do every day.
However, sometimes we get stuck in patterns that either harm us or stifle our growth.
Instead of living our lives, our lives live us. We spend our days so influenced by our environment that we are tossed around like a boat without sail or rudder, at the mercy of the current and the wind. Before we know it, we are dropped on the rocks or in a foreign, often hostile country and we don’t know how to get home.
There is a saying that I learned years ago that struck a chord with me:
“First we form our habits, then our habits form us.”
How true is this? What habits have shaped you?
Even better than that, was something I recently heard from a motivational speaker, Mike Littman:
“People form habits and habits form futures.”
What future are your habits shaping for you? Where will your current habits lead you in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? Will you want to be there?
This is a result of becoming overly reactive in our daily lives and stifling our creativity. Doing things the same old way seems easier than thinking of new actions or responses to it
it’s happening around us. Unfortunately, this begins to put us in “victim” mode, at the apparent mercy of other people or events over which we have no control.
But this is a dangerous misconception and belief that robs us of choice and agency in our lives. And with choice and power go our primitives – joy and passion!
IT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, BUT WHAT YOU DO WITH IT
That’s right — a life of joy and passion is YOUR RIGHT. That’s why you were born with a creative mind. You are not bound to the simple stimulus-response of your instinctual nature, like an animal. You are a powerful being with an unlimited mind! Yes, even you! Don’t sell yourself short.
Steven Covey wrote: “Between stimulus and response lies choice.”I just love that saying. When you allow yourself to pause long enough after a stimulus occurs to occupy your creative mind, you access the power of choice.
The reactive mind cannot accomplish this – only the creative mind can.
BEYOND STIMULUS-RESPONSEAnd even beyond stimulus-response, the creative human mind can imagine things that have not yet manifested and bring them into being.
What were once only dreams – images and ideas in one’s mind – have been fulfilled:
- Sailing across the ocean to a new land and proving that the world was round
- Building a bridge across miles of water
- Construction of a vehicle to enable man to fly
- Building a device to talk to each other over the air
- Invention of a machine to replace the horse and carriage
- Sending a man to the moon
- Freeing a group of enslaved people from slavery
- Building your own business
- Lose 50 pounds and live a more active and healthy lifestyle
Big or small, personal or public, it doesn’t matter. All it took was
he dreams No animal could have done any of these amazing feats.
“Some men look at what it is and ask, ‘Why?’ I look at things they don’t even have and ask, ‘Why not?'”–Robert F. Kennedy
This week we will celebrate the anniversary of our country’s independence from a country that we believed stifled our creativity and our right to choose. I encourage you to make this YOUR Independence Day.
Step into your power. Claim your primal rights. Think about where you are in your life. Are you living fully, with joy and passion? If not, what would allow you to do this?
Get out of the fog and resignation of “what is” and set your sights on “what could be.” Reconnect with forgotten or discarded dreams, reignite the spark of desire, turn up the heat and let that energy guide your daily actions. Shout, “Look people, here I come!
(PS–Those of us already moving in this stream of creative consciousness welcome you to join us. 🙂
Need help stepping into (or staying in) your power to live life in Creative vs. Reactive mode?
I offer many in-person and remote training options to help you learn, use, and incorporate the above course. Your consultation is FREE, so you have nothing to lose (except
unwanted habits!). I also offer an “Unconditional Happiness Guarantee” for select programs.
Even if you are not in the Virginia Beach area, you can benefit from my services and hypnosis recordings. Contact me for a free consultation and to learn more at [email protected] or call 757-631-9940.
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