from the


from the Top of the Mind


from the
Top of the Mind

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“Ask yourself every moment, ‘Is this how I want to be thinking, feeling and acting?’…and only continue when the answer is yes.”

~ Adapted from Richard Bach

The Power of a Purposeful Moment

This is a quote adapted from one of my favorite authors, Richard Bach (author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions, and other great books). I say “adapted” because I have expanded the scope of the quote a bit. The original quote said, “Ask yourself every moment, ‘Is this what I want to be doing?,’ and only continue when the answer is Yes.”

I just wanted it to be as complete and powerful as possible, and thus added “thinking, feeling, and acting.” I love this question/perspective (which is about to be featured in the Wellesley Living Well magazine) because it focuses on the power of moment-to-moment awareness. When we can become aware of how we are thinking, feeling, and acting on a moment-to-moment basis, we are much more likely to make choices about our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are congruent with the life we want to create. On the other hand, when we are unaware of how we are feeling, thinking, and acting, there will be a greater tendency to have our experience of life created more by chance than choice.

Of course, the question then becomes, how do we make these choices, or maintain this awareness? For those of you who follow my Life from the Top of the Mind perspective, you know that purposeful choices come from the purposeful brain (the neocortex) while reactive choices come from the reactive brain (the brainstem). And, the best way to ensure that we are coming from this purposeful neocortex is to ensure we are asking ourselves “neocortex questions.”

Unfortunately, when dealing with a difficult person or situation, many of us find ourselves asking what I call “BS” or brainstem questions, such as “What is wrong with these people?” or, “Why do I always get stuck in the worst traffic?” or “What’s wrong with me…why can’t I get it together?” What if I don’t make the right decision?” etc. Because questions are so powerful (I call them the “search engine” of the brain), when we ask these questions that focus on the problem and/or the pain of the problem, we get thrown into the lower, reactive brain. This is perfect for a fight-or-flight situation where we need to react without thinking. Not so great when we want to have more influence in our lives and the lives of others.

Therefore, if the neocortex is the part of the brain we want to access when making decisions, I suggest we ask ourselves neocortex questions and one of them is this quote adapted from Richard Bach, “Ask yourself every moment, ‘Is this how I want to be thinking, feeling, and acting? And, only continue when the answer is yes.” Another is my version of a neocortex perspective that I call “The Four Criteria,”

1. Has this thought, emotion, or action been chosen deliberately or on purpose?

2. Is it working for me, or is it helping me create the experience of life I want?

3. Is it defining me the way I want to be defined (as someone who responds to _____ with ____)?

4. Would I teach or recommend this thought, emotion, or behavior to someone I love?

Albert Einstein says, “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” Therefore, I suggest we raise our level of awareness with respect to how we are thinking, feeling, and acting so that we can choose whether to feed it or change it.

To do this, we want to ensure that we have some powerful, neocortex questions at our ready so that we create the sort of awareness that puts us in charge of our experience of life. Or, put another way, that we create our moment-to-moment experience by choice versus by chance, and in a way we would teach and/or recommend to someone we love.

For those of you who would like an organization where everyone is coming from this clear, confident, and creative part of the brain, I suggest you contact me because organizations (families, leadership teams) that are creating themselves on a moment-to-moment basis by choice versus by chance are organizations that thrive versus merely survive.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill

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