What is Free Will and How Does It Affect Us?

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Bill Canfield Photo
What is invisible, yet incredibly powerful? What is at work all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not? What is the “mechanism” always available to us that dictates our every action? What is an amazing gift that every human receives at birth? What is completely free for the taking in every moment of life?

No, it’s not Superman!
OK, I admit it, not much of a brain teaser since the answer is right in the title — I just figured I’d use my free will to have some fun with you, which mixed with your free will, creates an outcome: You might be turned off by what you perceive to be silly and X out of this blog or you might get a light-hearted feeling and decide to hang in with me for a bit.

So one person’s free will affects another person’s free will and the synergy of the two (or more) creates a certain outcome. Comparing it to physics, one magnetic field affects another magnetic field determining whether the negative and the positive go forward together or the two negatives repel one another and go their separate ways.

Free Will is an incredible gift that we have at our disposal, 24-7; yet, who stops to consider it for one second? Not many, which is exactly why I want to draw your attention to it; so you can take better advantage of it.

It seems to me that the way in which we use our gift of free will determines the direction our life takes. In that regard, our decisions result in certain consequences, which ultimately create an outcome down the road apiece… just like the illustration of the magnetic pull of magnets, we affect ourselves and one another, but we humans have choices available to us; magnets and other unthinking entities do not.

We have the freedom to choose, the freedom to accept something or let something go. We can choose to be free from the bondage of our own minds, by virtue of where we put our attention. Just as a photographer can choose to focus on the foreground or background, diffusing any portion of the scene, we are all capable of doing the same with our own view of things, in the moment. We’re capable of taking our focus off what doesn’t serve us or anyone else., but how often do we exercise this capacity? If your radio station was full of static, you wouldn’t keep listening to it, or would you?

Through the gift of thought, we have the freedom to:
  • accept the “reality” we find ourselves in, or not…
  • accept or reject any “reality” that is not beneficial to yourself or anyone else…
  • pick and choose which “reality” with which to run…
  • blow things out of proportion…
  • make something from nothing or nothing from what could have been something…
  • take things personally…
  • make mountains out of molehills…
  • take offense…
  • feel disrespected…
  • do something about it, or nothing about it…
  • make it a big deal or no big deal (NBD)…
  • take it (whatever is going on) personally,
                                                                           
                                                                          or not…

                                                                 We alone choose

What’s really great is that we don’t have to change or DO anything at all, except — not trap what we’re thinking about — simply let it move through us naturally; like the wind moves through tree leaves or waves move through the ocean. We wouldn’t want to trap a tornado in place – yet we sometimes do just that with our own minds. Does that make sense? It’s one thing if you’re studying information for a test, it’s another thing if you’re bothering the bejeezus out of yourself for no good reason.

The next time you find yourself in an unwanted state of mind, you might remember your free will and exercise it wisely.

What is Free Will and How Does It Affect Us?

 

Using Free Will for the best outcome

Bill Canfield Photo

What is invisible, yet incredibly powerful? What is at work all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not? What is the “mechanism” always available to us that dictates our every action? What is an amazing gift that every human receives at birth? What is completely free for the taking in every moment of life?

No, it’s not Superman!
OK, I admit it, not much of a brain teaser since the answer is right in the title — I just figured I’d use my free will to have some fun with you, which mixed with your free will, creates an outcome: You might be turned off by what you perceive to be silly and X out of this blog or you might get a light-hearted feeling and decide to hang in with me for a bit.

So one person’s free will affects another person’s free will and the synergy of the two (or more) creates a certain outcome. Comparing it to physics, one magnetic field affects another magnetic field determining whether the negative and the positive go forward together or the two negatives repel one another and go their separate ways.

Free Will is an incredible gift that we have at our disposal, 24-7; yet, who stops to consider it for one second? Not many, which is exactly why I want to draw your attention to it; so you can take better advantage of it.

It seems to me that the way in which we use our gift of free will determines the direction our life takes. In that regard, our decisions result in certain consequences, which ultimately create an outcome down the road apiece… just like the illustration of the magnetic pull of magnets, we affect ourselves and one another, but we humans have choices available to us; magnets and other unthinking entities do not.

We have the freedom to choose, the freedom to accept something or let something go. We can choose to be free from the bondage of our own minds, by virtue of where we put our attention. Just as a photographer can choose to focus on the foreground or background, diffusing any portion of the scene, we are all capable of doing the same with our own view of things, in the moment. We’re capable of taking our focus off what doesn’t serve us or anyone else., but how often do we exercise this capacity? If your radio station was full of static, you wouldn’t keep listening to it, or would you?

Through the gift of thought, we have the freedom to:

  • accept the “reality” we find ourselves in, or not…
  • accept or reject any “reality” that is not beneficial to yourself or anyone else…
  • pick and choose which “reality” with which to run…
  • blow things out of proportion…
  • make something from nothing or nothing from what could have been something…
  • take things personally…
  • make mountains out of molehills…
  • take offense…
  • feel disrespected…
  • do something about it, or nothing about it…
  • make it a big deal or no big deal (NBD)…
  • take it (whatever is going on) personally,

or not…

We alone choose

What’s really great is that we don’t have to change or DO anything at all, except — not trap what we’re thinking about — simply let it move through us naturally; like the wind moves through tree leaves or waves move through the ocean. We wouldn’t want to trap a tornado in place – yet we sometimes do just that with our own minds. Does that make sense? It’s one thing if you’re studying information for a test, it’s another thing if you’re bothering the bejeezus out of yourself for no good reason.

The next time you find yourself in an unwanted state of mind, you might remember your free will and exercise it wisely.

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A Certain Uncertainty

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Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.  
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.  
The dark will be your womb
tonight.  
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.  
You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in...
(David Whyte, Excerpt from Sweet Darkness)

As I write this I am preparing the last live broadcast of my show "A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything" on Contact Talk Radio (iTunes podcasts will continue)  What lies ahead, I'm not entirely sure. 

I must admit, I have always been a great big know-it-all. And a planner. I like to think I have a future, some influence over it, and that I know something.

The truth is, I don't.

Only the other day I was about to state one of my opinions as "fact" when I  caught myself.  As I pulled back I noticed I quieted down inside and settled into  the nicest feeling of not being a somebody.  I remembered how important it used to be to me to know (or to not look like I didn't) and to be seen as having authority.  It's amazing, isn't it, how life is hard enough and yet on top of that we have the full time job of managing our image of ourselves!

I've learned so much about this and have relaxed much more into my authentic self in recent years.

In "101 New Pairs of Glasses" I included quite a few chapters on releasing this kind of strain and my favorite is the chapter on mystery. In it I advocate for the art of not-knowing. I'd like to remind myself of this message today
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How do we listen and just let it become clear as we go?

Are we able to just rest in the fresh scent of the unknown and see what happens?


I'd like to share this piece from the chapter on mystery, mainly as a reminder to myself how valuable it is for me allow mystery to be here as I take each step...

"The desire to know, or worse, the desire to look like we know is a modern plague. In one fell swoop it destroys listening, understanding, cooperation and learning.  It undermines peace of mind and peace amongst nations.

Consumed by our desire to know, or not admit that we don't, we finish other people's sentences, we hate people we have never met, and we cling to things we have long outgrown.

Living in the world of familiarity our lives are choked off by the smallness of our ideas.  Crowded in by the known we become selectors instead of creators. The death of curiosity is surely the birth of the ego, as children give up on being explorers of wild imaginings and doodads without names and become regurgitators of facts. 

Our lack of curiosity leads directly to our unwillingness to fail and spreads from there to our unwillingness to try - because we already know.  We know too much. And what we know isn't worth learning.

To allow wonder and mystery into your life is to suddenly find yourself in weightless spaciousness.  We work so hard to fuel personal creativity, business and product innovation, but we would automatically have all of these if we added just an extra dash of curiosity to our daily vitamin supplements.

Imagine not knowing your boss, not knowing your children, not knowing yourself - being totally open.  You'd listen closely. You would see new and amazing things. You'd discover the people you live with are people you've never met before. In the freshness of the moment you would unable to locate that familiar feeling of disconnection.

You would see into how your world is constructed. You'd gasp to realize you are much bigger than you ever imagined. 

You'd lose your fear."

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Awakening Our Spiritual Eyes


I was strolling with my wife, daughter and her two kids through acres and acres of tulip fields at a local farm here in La Conner.  Broad bold stripes of reds, pinks, whites, yellows, oranges, and purples set against the farms and towering Cascade Mountains.  The early evening sun gave a golden warm hue to everything.

The beauty was so commanding that it allowed my family and me to drop out of our busy minds and into the sacredness of the present moment.  Beneath the chattering of our minds is an ever-present backdrop of quiet and stillness.  This backdrop is where we all experience life unfiltered by the distractions and distortions of our conceptual thoughts.  We are so amazingly designed -- when our personal thinking falls away we are able to connect with this inner core of quiet.  And when this connection is made this quiet core so often awakens in us feelings of aliveness, vitality, gratitude and love.  This core awakened in me a deep sense of connection with everyone who was passing me in the fields.  When our minds are at rest in our souls, a deeper sense of clarity and tenderness arises.  I noticed that everyone was smiling and being nice to one another.  How wonder-full it is to learn that understanding the 3 Principles point us within to this quiet, enlivened place where our deepest humanity is awakened and brings greater spiritual sensitivity and caring into the world.  To know in our heart of hearts that this quiet place always exists within us, and that it has the power to awaken the sense of sacred in us, is a priceless gift.  I am amazed by this ever-present capacity in us to see the beauty in each other and in the world around us.  I call this deep core spiritual because it is a formless, creative energy that is ultimately indescribable, yet it is the essence of who we are as human beings.  And I got lots of hugs from little Jacob and Eva out in those fields.  I stop to take photos of them because I know they are also seeing everyone and everything through those same sacred eyes!




Feelings: A Curse or a Blessing?

Do you know there is a fundamental misunderstanding that each and every one of us has every day?  And do you know that this misunderstanding is responsible for a major part of our stress and preoccupation?  It is such a simple and common misunderstanding, but most of us fail to recognize it in ourselves and in others.  What is this misunderstanding?  We erroneously believe a good part of the time that our feelings are created from something other than thought.  For example, we may believe that a deadline is causing us stress, the traffic is making us upset, our spouse is bothering us, or that the sun makes us feel good.  

When we don’t recognize our feelings as coming from thought, we attribute our feelings to something in the outside world, e.g. the deadline, the traffic, our spouse, the weather.  Often we keep thinking about what we believe is causing our feelings.  This thinking may generate even more stress, upset, or preoccupation. We may see our feelings, especially our painful ones, as a curse imposed on us from the outside. Rather, when we understand the connection between thought and feelings, we will see our feelings as a blessing, tipping us off to their source within and reminding us that’s where they always and only come from.

As we learn about the 3 Principles of Thought, Consciousness, and Mind we are reminded of the fact that we live exclusively in a world of our own thinking.  We also learn that each and every thought we have creates a feeling.  As we realize this for ourselves, we have more and more moments of actually experiencing the truth of this fact.  This realization corrects the misunderstanding that our feelings are coming from anything other that thought.  It allows us to be fully accountable for our feelings rather than blaming them on someone or something else.

It is humbling to realize that all of us, with no exception, get lost in those moments when we misunderstand where our feelings are coming from and act as if the world is causing our feeling.  But it is up-lifting to learn that we all operate exactly the same way and that we can all become more aware that we live in a thought-created world.  Learning more about the thought-feeling connection is a short cut to well-being.  Do you think you can now see your feelings as the blessing that they are?