Saturday, 28 March 2015

How Culture Can Effect The Way You Think

By Dr Russell Razzaque

Our ideas about ourselves and the world around us - who we are and how we fit in - arise out of our relationships with our parents in our toddler years. If parents are suffering from the pain of traumas past, that can easily be passed onto the toddlers they nurse and, before they know it, the child will have developed whole ways of thinking and being in the world that has incorporated that pain.

Because of this, our general cultural background has an enormous effect on our psychology. Everything from the way we celebrate success, to the way we mourn our dead to the way we cope with illness is substantially influenced by cultural norms, as well as the way we perceive the world around us and, indeed, the way we perceive ourselves as individuals. The extent to which our cultural heritage plays into our own self image is often underestimated - it's almost like the invisible elephant in our psyche.

People who have been raised in countries where the state operates through suppression and propaganda and shuns openness - such as the former Soviet bloc, for example - can develop a mechanism of emotional suppression that might carry through generations, even for years after the state has itself changed its modus operandi. In countries blighted with poverty and fear, that same fear and insecurity about the world can continue to pass through family dynamics, even after the family has immigrated away from the region.

For the first time now, some of this is actually passing beyond the realms of hypothesis and into the domain of scientific proof. One example of culturally carried differences in self perception is the way in which people in the East see themselves as more closely a part of a wider family unit. In the West there is a greater sense of individual autonomy, while in the East there is a greater sense of kinship with and responsibility for the extended family. This was actually measured in a recent experiment where subjects underwent brain scans that monitored the degree of activity in different parts of the brain. It has been long established that the part of the brain that is activated when we are aware of the concept of "self" is just behind the forehead - an area known as the medial prefrontal cortex. Experimenters observed this area in a series of volunteers - some were from the West and others were Chinese - as they considered a list of words. Both groups showed increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex when words relating to themselves as individuals were shown. The Chinese group, however, also showed increased activity when they were shown words relating to the concept of their mother. In other words, to them the sense of "me" and "mum" overlaps in a substantial way, almost to the point of being indistinguishable. These are very contrasting ways of seeing the world.

All of this, then, makes the world a rich tapestry; one in which not only do people look different, talk, eat, work and play differently, our very sense of who we are and how we fit in differs from one culture to the next. Understanding these differences helps us fashion a richer life for ourselves, our families and our world. The starting point, however, should always be a better understanding of ourselves and the impacts our own backgrounds have had on us.

About The Author
Dr Russell Razzaque earned his medical degree from the University of London and he is a practicing psychiatrist based in London. If you liked this article then you'll likely benefit from Sileotherapy; a FREE stillness based online self help program in which Dr Razzaque teaches people to go beyond thought and realise their true potential:

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

How To Be An Agent of Change

By Andy Sullivan

Decision making and change! An agent of change is someone who understands the importance of change to create a happy vibrant life.

An agent of change is someone who is happy to constantly adapt and shift their approach to problem to get a solution. An agent of change is someone who has the ability to counter any negative thoughts with new and improved ways of thinking. If you want to be an agent of change, you must become comfortable with yourself as an all thinking all changing being.

Becoming comfortable with yourself is essential for adapting to change and countering the negative aspects of life. You need to be able to forgive yourself for the mistakes, while learning enough to get something out of the experience. Every challenge you overcome results in you adapting, changing and growing. We are all part of a process of change and more change. A mature attitude to change is desirable for personal success.

The agent of change has to start with an honest appraisal of themselves as a person. At the very start you should ask yourself what your strengths and weaknesses are. The agent of change is honest about everything that they see. Try to become more than just an ordinary person. The agent of change accepts no limitations in their life. To become an agent of change is your mission, do you accept it?

If you have ever behaved in an immoral or antisocial manner, you have probably spent some time reflecting on what you did. The bad things we are all prone to doing from time to time can affect the view of our own self image. Accepting yourself does not mean accepting the negative behaviour and continuing to do it. On the contrary, accepting yourself involves accepting when you need to change. Accepting yourself makes you more likely to learn from your mistakes and act in a constructive way.

The key is to become constructive not destructive in your approach to change. In order to overcome destructive or socially unacceptable behaviours , you need to do the following:

Take personal responsibility for your bad behaviour. Rather than deciding you’re just a bad person who has not control or responsibility for your actions, accept that you are doing something bad. As an agent of change it is up to you to take ultimate responsibility for your actions. You are less likely to start blaming others for your misfortune, and will look instead to positive action.

If you are willing to work hard and practice on your new skills, you will find it easier to accept yourself for who you are. Integrating self-acceptance into your life should be a daily process. Most people feel the way they think. If you think unhappy thoughts you will tend to feel unhappy and vice-versa. Meaning is attached to the names you call yourself. If you use abusive or harsh language to describe yourself all the time, then you are heading towards feeling very emotionally unhappy.

The more times you tell yourself something, the more likely you are to believe it. Fortunately, you can choose what messages you give yourself and, therefore, choose how you think and feel about yourself. The trick to remember is to give up on all encompassing negative labels. People often call themselves losers, idiots, good for nothings, simpletons, or imbeciles because of certain events or actions they have been involved in or done. This does not get to the heart of the problem and is very self-destructive.

Resisting self-abusive language means stopping with negative labelling and name calling.

Remember to Identify the areas that you need to change in and be specific. For example: John has two definite serious problems. First, he has an addiction and second he is stealing to support this addiction. Standing in between of these two bad behaviours stands shame and self-condemnation . If John can’t get over these two emotions, he can’t begin to tackle the vicious circle that his life has turned into. To move on in life in a way that contributes to the kind of world you would like to live in, assume personal responsibility and keep working hard on self-acceptance

About The Author
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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Secrets Of Successful People

By Daniel J Thorley

Success isn't just a happenstance, it is often a combination of a series of choices. To become successful, you need to know what other successful people are doing. I do not mean in terms of strategies, tips and techniques, I am talking in terms of what they are worth on the inside. As far as I know, being successful isn't a matter of how much money you have or how many houses you own, rather it is a function of who you are and what habits govern your life. Successful people have a lot of positive influences and habits and some of these habits are

The Ability to Carry On

This is often referred to as perspiration. One wise man once said that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. This basically boils down to the fact it doesn't matter how talented you are, if you are not willing to put in the required amount of work, you are not likely to become successful at anything. No wonder we consistently have scores of unsuccessful geniuses as they only tend to believe in their brilliance and incredibly high IQs. So, if you want to become successful at whatever it is you want to do, you ought to learn how to consistently be at your duty post.

The Ability to Demand More From Themselves

Think about this critically: Do you know anyone who is successful without being disciplined? Successful people have a lifetime habit of demanding more from themselves than any other person. It takes discipline to consistently go for what you desire and to keep at it. Successful people don't do things because they feel like it, instead they do things because they are already committed to it. So, even when it doesn't feel easy, they tend to keep going. One philosopher once said when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. It's that simple.

The Ability to See the Big Picture

Tell me which successful person you have met who doesn't have the ability to see the big picture. They often see things from a broader point of view. Thus, making them better managers and administrators. They don't spend time on the little things, and whine at very challenge they meet. Instead, they develop an attitude that actually welcomes change and challenges, thus putting them in a more positive frame of mind to be successful in their ventures.

They Look at Things from the Angle of Worth

Most people tend to look at things from the angle of convenience, and not the worth. Hard work is not convenient at all, but it is worth it as it will often be the difference between starvation and abundance. Successful people tend to have a mantra like question which is usually "is it worth it?". All they need to go after such projects is the justification that it is worth it. So, while it is more convenient to sit down and watch TV, they'd rather be out in the field tilling the soil and working hard to become successful.

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Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Joy and Excitement of Living

 By Willie Horton

Years of psychological research suggests that we are not living life to the full. This research concludes that we go through the motions of daily life, using the faculties of automaticity (to enable us perform almost everything mindlessly), categorization (so that we can pigeonhole every new experience or person that we meet and, in the process, experience nothing new) and recognition (the mental process whereby we try to make sense of what our senses are telling us by using our own "stored knowledge" the greater part of which is decades out of date). We "live life" on auto pilot - and I don't call that living at all.

In fact, the normal adult, in using these normal, standard mental capabilities, is slowly sucking the life out of themselves every single day of their so-called lives. This slow and mind-numbingly "not-too-bad" self-destruction started in childhood when we were told to conform, to sit up straight, to stop making noise, to stop doing the things that we enjoyed, to stop letting out minds wander and to steer well clear of any fanciful ideas for our future - we needed to get a good education, get a good job, retire and die! As children, our spontaneity, our joie de vivre, our unbridled imagination ruled our lives. These were the things that created the excitement, made life fun and that made long sunny summer holiday days seem to go on for ever. As children - up to the age of eleven or twelve - we were in what the University of Chicago describes as "flow" - we were what our youngest daughter would call "gurdy". As young children, our lives were carefree, open to all kind of possibilities, exciting and adventurous.

Contrast that with the normal everyday life of the average normal adult! How many of us can truly say that we leap out of bed bursting with excitement every morning? How many of us can say that we live carefree lives? How many of us are fully open to all life's wonderful possibilities? You may well say that we have to grow up - but, I'm pretty sure that the record (years of psychological research) shows that people grow older - they rarely grow up. Because if you did bother to grow up, you'd be able to control your state of mind. You could choose to be fun-loving, carefree, spontaneous, turned on and open-minded. You could decide to leap out of bed, bowled over at the prospect of the day ahead. You could choose to be open-minded and alert to all life's wonderful possibilities.

Unfortunately, though, the progression through adolescence changed the electrical activity in our brains. As our network of neural connections reached "fully adult operational" - our mental processes sped up and our logical processes took over. Or at least that's what the normal person thinks! However, there's nothing logical about worry - akin to wishing the worst for yourself! There's certainly nothing logical about stress - obvious when you consider that stress only exists in the mind of the sufferer - we make ourselves stressed. And, believe you me, there's nothing logical about closing your eyes to today's opportunities - but if you're pigeonholing everything that happens before you even experience what's going on, you will simply never notice the opportunities that are staring you in the face.

This how we behave as adults - our normal subconscious minds living in and longing for those sunny summer holiday days - our conscious minds distracted by the cares and worries of what might happen - instead of focusing, fully focusing as we did as children, on the here and now. We're slowly killing ourselves - the normal adult, existing in this half-life of useless thought and worry is as good as dead.

But it can be completely different and the great news is that you're the one who decides - you do not need anyone's permission or approval. Your life is entirely in your own hands. It is you who can decide to become like a little child again - not childish, but clear, focused, open-minded, fun loving, up for life's great adventure. It's entirely up to you to choose your state of mind - didn't you know that you choose your own thoughts and that your thoughts become things. It is you who can decide to come to your senses - revisit reality by seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting. Yes, this is how we experienced the wonder of the moment as children. We didn't make up our minds on what we were experiencing based on the "stored knowledge" of preconceived notions and so-called logical thought patterns - we jumped in, splashed around - we simply let ourselves go.

You've got to let go too - of all the crap that's in your head. You've got to come to your senses - see, feel, hear, smell and taste what's really happening. Break the chain-reaction of normal adult recognition, experience what's really going on. Today, right now, when you finish reading this article, stop to "smell the roses" and you will have taken the most important action for today - you'll have taken a definitive step towards living life to the full, in the here and now, where it's meant to be lived.

Copyright (c) 2010 Willie Horton

About The Author
Willie Horton has been a Personal Development expert since 1996 - working with top leaders in major organizations. An Irish ex-accountant, ex-banker, published author and keynote speaker, he travels the world, from his home in the French Alps, enabling people "live the dream". All his work - including his acclaimed Personal Development Workshop - is now online at

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