Why Athletes Cheat—the Overlooked Answer

The perpetual scandal in Major League Baseball over performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) has many people shaking their heads and wondering why. Why would an athlete (or anyone for that matter) cheat? Is it because of greed, a faulty value system, ego, one’s past, the pressure of the culture?

Interestingly enough, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the players implicated in the PED scandal possess varying character profiles. Some are brash; some reticent. Some come from affluence; some poverty. Some are generous with their time and money; some not so much. Plus, the same baseball culture exists for all players. What is it, then, that leads some players away from cheating and what is it that leads some players toward it?

Here, to me, is the overlooked answer: Players who understand that their feelings come from their thinking, and not from their circumstances, will rarely cheat. These players make sound decisions because they recognize that there’s no external reason why, from time to time, they might feel insecure, anxious, or egotistical. To them, there’s nothing “out there” that ever needs to be coped with.

By contast, players who don’t understand where their feelings come from will often cheat. These players make the mistake of attributing their self-doubting feelings to their next contract, a batting title, fame, or a win or a loss, so it makes sense to them to do something about these circumstances in order to overcome these feelings. These players cheat, and often lie about it, because their feelings don’t come from circumstances (they come from the up and down nature of their thinking), and the confusion created by this misunderstanding is what makes them incapable of making sound decisions.

This is also why some players go through periods when cheating seems illogical—and why sometimes it seems like a reasonable thing to do. From a naturally clear head, honesty is easy for everyone. From a head filled with thought, people feel bound up—and, again, those who attribute this bound-up feeling to their life situations (and not the variability of their thinking) will act deceitfully. Why, for example, do threats of suspensions seem to work for some players and not for others? Because threats do not cause players to abide by the rules. Players readily abide by the rules when their heads are clear; they struggle to do so when their heads are cluttered—no matter how many games or how much money the league threatens to take away.

Keep in  mind, those people who grasp that a wayward “gut” feeling is their intuitive sign that their thinking is not helpful in the moment—will hardly ever fall prey to their wayward, but always-harmless, thinking. They’ll rarely cheat.

Our feelings come from inside of us, and nowhere else. Understand this and, when you struggle, it’s easy to carry on and allow your insecurities to wither away on their own. Believing that your feelings come from the outside, at its core, is both perplexing and enticing—it’s a fraudulent entity that explains cheating in sports, as well as any type of fraudulent (and unproductive) behavior.

Woken Up by the Family Dog – Erika Bugbee

Where Irritation REALLY Comes From: Woken Up by the Family Dog - Part 1

A few weeks ago, I was woken up early on a weekend by our dog, which left me irritated, and thus providing me with an excellent everyday example of how life plays out for people. In these next few paragraphs, I’m going to suggest that the bother I felt wasn’t actually caused by getting woken up, but was caused by the thinking I did within my own head. I’m also going to suggest that’s true of all of the ups and downs we have in life, not just the trivial stuff, that the ride itself is actually being caused by the activity inside our own minds and is NOT caused by how life is unfolding around us.

So let’s start with this trivial example. The long and the short of it is that the family dog showed up in my room early on a Saturday morning, forfeiting the rare and coveted opportunity I had to sleep in. So right away I was bothered and pointing blame at my husband whom I assumed had left our bedroom door open. As I sat there and stewed, the thought crossed my mind that I often get awoken at all hours by my kids when they have nightmares, fall out of bed, etc., and yet I don’t get bothered in the least. That seemed reasonable, because in my mind, getting woken up by the dog really could have been avoided and was the result of someone’s negligence, so naturally I’m going to be bothered. In contrast, kids having nightmares can’t be avoided and isn’t anyone’s fault. By this reasoning, my bother at being woken up by the dog (due to my husband’s negligence) was perfectly justified and appropriate. But here’s the problem: as soon as it seemed justified and appropriate to me, I was basically stuck with feeling bothered and wronged.

As I sat there being the martyr, something didn’t sit well with me. I was conflicted by the fact that my husband never seems to be annoyed when I wake him up. I often go to bed after he’s asleep, and although I try to be quiet, I do wake him at times, and yet he simply doesn’t get bothered. He doesn’t think about whether I’m doing something negligent or avoidable. That’s always been a little puzzling to me, but I just figured he didn’t get bothered by things like that because:

  1. He’s more easygoing about a lot of things because he has that kind of personality
  2. Some people need more sleep than others so getting woken up is a bigger deal to those who need more sleep
  3. I’m always getting up with the kids so sleep is at a higher premium for me

But in a moment of honesty, I had to admit that right after the dog woke me up, I came up with what the cause must be, decided the incident was someone’s fault and could have been avoided, and then became annoyed. I wasn’t annoyed before I came up with a ruling.

At that moment, what I saw was that my annoyance wasn’t actually caused by getting woken up, or by how much I needed sleep, my personality type in contrast to my husband’s, or the fact that it was avoidable and due to someone’s negligence. I was annoyed because of what my thinking did and where it went in the moments after I was woken up. My annoyance didn’t come from getting woken up by the dog, it came from within my own head through my own thinking.

This is the way life works for us every moment of every day. When we look out at life, it looks like people get upset because of what happens in life – it looks like whatever situation we’re in at any moment causes us to feel whatever feelings we land in. But I’m using this example to point to the fact that our upset doesn’t come from outside of us, it doesn’t come from what happens in life, but rather our upset comes from whatever thoughts we have about what happens to us. We refer to this orientation to life as a new paradigm, an inside-out view of life, in which life as we know it comes from inside of us, not outside of us. This orientation explains why some people get annoyed by getting woken up and some don’t, and why sometimes I get annoyed by getting woken up and sometimes I don’t. It all comes down to what happens inside my own mind as I go through life moment-to-moment and the criteria I’ve made up about when to be annoyed and when not to. If my upset came from being woken up, I would have been upset instantly, but I wasn’t – I laid there for a moment, thought about the cause, came up with one that involved blame and righteousness, and THEN I became annoyed. In the heat of the moment, we get upset so fast it doesn’t seem like there’s a pause between what happens in the world around us and the reaction we have to it, but when you slow it down, there’s a moment when your thinking creates a reaction for you. The reaction inside of us is what causes our upset.


What do these Principles have to do with You and Your Life?  Woken Up by the Family Dog – Part 2

On this website, we refer to a set of three principles as a way of talking about the inside-out paradigm or orientation to life. Let me explain what these principles are and what they have to do with you as you walk around in life every day. There are three principles that we point to that together are 100% responsible for how our lives play out every day in every situation. Each principle has a different role or function. In Part 1 of this blog, I used an example of how I got annoyed after being woken up by my dog. I’ll use the dog example to point to each principle so you can see where it fits into the grand scheme of things.

The Principle of Thought

The first principle we point to is the principle of thought. As soon as I got woken up, my head filled with possible causes behind why the dog showed up in my room, whether or not it was avoidable, whose fault it was, the fact that sleep is a big deal. We call all of that thought. In my head, I editorialize what’s happening at that moment, and I do that about everything that happens in life. It’s a constant and everyone does it all the time. When my husband gets woken up, his thinking comes up with something humorous, or he has the thought to go back to sleep. We all think something about everything that we experience.

The Principle of Consciousness

The second principle is what we call consciousness and here’s how it works. At the very instant I had thoughts of blame and negligence, or that I got deprived of valuable sleep, those thoughts put me in a feeling through what we call consciousness. For every moment that I’m thinking my husband was negligent, I feel a degree of righteousness and bother and getting woken up feels to me like a big deal. As soon as I think something, it gives me a feeling. When I wake him up, he has humorous thoughts about how loud I’m being. He editorializes with a completely different flavor, and consciousness brings those thoughts to life for him and he feels humorous, casual, and light, and getting woken up does not feel like a big deal. My husband and I each have a very different feeling or reaction to getting woken up because we have different thinking that gets kicked up for us, and that thinking gives us each a different feeling. Consciousness makes you feel whatever your thinking does.

The Principle of Mind

We use the term Mind to describe the source and the intelligence behind the forces of thought and consciousness that give us the ability to take part in life and to be awake to what’s going on around us. Mind puts a constant stream of thoughts in our heads 24/7 and then makes each thought appear real to us. Mind is basically the energy behind our internal lives that creates all of the content and gives each of us life as we know it. It’s the power behind all of the technology.

So why use the technical jargon at all? Your life will be the same whether these terms are in your vocabulary or not — the terms themselves won’t do anything for you. But each of these principles points to a force that operates inside of every person, and we’ve discovered that when people step back and take a good hard look at each of these three forces, they get a grasp of how the whole system works. When people have a grasp of how their thinking works, they do better in life across the board. Using concepts or terms to describe something is one way of isolating each individual point and talking about it more simply and concretely. Our thinking happens so fast and affects us before we even realize it, so we have to slow down and ponder the anatomy of how our thinking really works in order to appreciate the logic and intelligence behind this system that we are all under the influence of at all times.

In Part 3 of this series, I talk about how this inside-out system works the same way for the bigger, more significant things that happen in people’s lives and not just the trivial things like getting woken up early on a weekend.


What about the Bigger Problems in Life that are Outside of Your Control? Do those Work the Same Way? Woken Up by the Family Dog – Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of this blog, I showed how people’s irritation or bother over trivial events comes 100% from what goes on inside the person’s own mind, and is not actually caused by whatever it was that happened to them. In the example I gave, when I got woken up by my dog, my irritation came from my own thinking, not from the fact that I was woken up. I made the point that our ups and downs come exclusively from inside our heads, not from what happens in life around us, which explains why my husband and I get affected differently by being woken up early.

Now I’m going to suggest that this is true of everything that happens in life, not just in the trivial matters. For example, when people lose their jobs, you’ll see some people who have excellent prospects, savings they can use for the time being, and a 2nd income in the home, yet they live in a state of angst and insecurity about the future and are desperate and discouraged in their efforts to find work. And you’ll see just as many people who lose their jobs, have very few prospects, little or no savings, they’re the sole source of income in their household, yet not only aren’t they panicked, they’re actually philosophical and grateful for whatever they do have in life, and they’re creative in their job search. As people go through life, the internal or emotional state they live in day-to-day is not caused by having lost a job, what their finances are like, how their future is likely to play out – everyone’s internal state in any given moment does not come from the physical or secular world outside of us. Regardless of the circumstances we’re in, at any given moment, our internal state is caused by the thinking we’re having at that moment. If we’re jobless, the feeling we have about being jobless comes from whatever thinking we’re having. To say it simply, whether we’re up or down about life at any moment comes from thought. We feel our thinking. We don’t feel life, we feel our thinking about life in that moment.

This can be seen every day in life. If you watched the news after the hurricane in Alabama, there were people who’d lost everything they owned and were happy to be alive and felt blessed, while others who’d lost everything were devastated and grieving, both perfectly reasonable responses. In this example, one person’s thinking has to do with the fact that they’re still alive and there are others that were not so fortunate, and through the force of consciousness, that thought gives them a feeling of gratitude and humility. Someone else has thoughts of what they’ve lost and how they have to start all over again, and consciousness gives them a feeling of sadness and desperation. The force of mind gives them each a unique personal experience of the effects of the hurricane, independent of the variations in each other’s circumstances. This paradigm explains why we can be hopeless and desperate about a situation one day and calmer and more big-picture the next without the situation changing at all.

There’s nothing to do, nothing we need to change about ourselves, the way we think, or the way we live our lives. Somehow, to the degree that a person understands that their feeling in life comes from their own thinking, they take their own thinking less seriously, are less alarmed by the upset, anxiety, insecurity, and arrogance, because they see that it’s all up for grabs. That’s what happened to me in a way. I was stuck with being habitually annoyed and put out by the same kinds of things, and for whatever reason, I stopped to take a look at my annoyance, knowing it must come from my made-up theory about getting woken up. As soon as I looked in that direction, it all started to unravel. But even better is the fact that even when it doesn’t unravel or get better for us, just having the sense that whatever struggle we’re in always comes from within our own thinking, and as soon as our thinking changes, we’ll feel better no matter what happens in life. Ultimately we’re never really stuck with what we have.

Erika Bugbee

July 2011






Are You a Follower? Look Here Instead

As some of you may know, many of the topics that I talk about each week touch on the innate principles of mind, consciousness, and thought. As you also may know (and I’ve mentioned this before), a man named Sydney Banks is largely credited with uncovering these three principles and revealing how an understanding of them can lead to a more loving and dynamic life.

What many of you don’t know is that Syd didn’t care about taking credit for this finding. He didn’t care if people quoted him or if they used a specific blueprint to explain his firm belief that mental health rests within every human being—if only they could grasp that their thinking alone was responsible for their perceptions and how they felt.

In brief, Syd did not want people to follow him. He wanted to point us in an inside-out direction and let each of us take it from there—in our own way.

This comparison might seem like a reach to some, but, to me, Jesus Christ lived and guided others in a similar fashion. For thousands of years, throngs of people all over the world have worshiped Jesus Christ and hung on the words he spoke and the things he did. In my opinion, however, that’s not what Jesus intended. His aim was to spark the spirit that everyone already owned deep inside. In truth, Jesus was revealing how natural it was to lead each other toward understanding, resilience, and love—and how foreign (and dangerous) it was to follow.

My simple message is that if you’re inspired by the teachings of another person, that’s perfectly okay. But please stop paying homage, or stop asking others to pay homage, to him or her. Plus, if you’re a teacher, coach, cleric, or self-help professional and, like many today, you believe that the road to success is paved by creating a horde of disciples—a “tribe” who adopt your personal theories and techniques, you need to look in a different direction, too. This exact misunderstanding has contributed to the formation of cults, brainwashing, and sordid and sundry human atrocities.

Sure, go ahead and learn about (or read books by) Syd Banks or outstanding humanitarians such as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela—but never follow. Look closely and you’ll see that this is exactly what these true leaders warned against. The last thing they ever intended was to thwart anyone’s free will or instincts. Rather, they asked you to look inside for answers. They knew that wisdom could only be found there.

An Optical Illusion

My good friend Joe Bier called me the other day with a question about the inside-out paradigm that I teach: “Every time I see my grandchildren, I feel good inside. Are you telling me that my grandchildren are not the cause of my good mood?”

I said, “Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”

“It sure looks (and feels) like you’re wrong,” he countered.

Well, I do agree with Joe about that. According to one of my favorite colleagues, Gina Woolf, “Life works from the inside-out 100% of the time—not 99%. So we know with certainty that when it looks like something outside is causing us to feel (fill in the blank), that’s just the optical illusion of our thinking making a case for something that is never true no matter how much it feels and looks like it is.”

In other words, while there is a correlation between Joe’s grandchildren and his feeling state, there is not a causal relationship. And, to me, understanding this distinction is an essential ingredient to activating your innate ability to find clarity and live a productive life.

So, let’s dig deeper.

Here, to me, is how visiting his grandchildren really plays out for Joe (and you can compare Joe’s experience to any experience of your own): On days that Joe’s head is clear and he’s feeling good, he goes to see his grandchildren and his good mood continues. Simple.

But the cool thing about Joe is that on days when he has a lot on his mind and doesn’t feel so good, he still sees his grandchildren anyway. And because he does this, his head clears.

However—and this is super-important—it’s not seeing his grandchildren that clears Joe’s head. What clears his head is the fact that he doesn’t delve into all the outside factors that appear to be bothering him. Joe looks away from his supposed business issues, the traffic, the weather, whatever—and finds himself in a better mood. Yes, his grandchildren are adorable. But Joe can go anywhere or do anything at that stage of the game and regulate to peace of mind.

It works the same for you.

It may seem as if an external action or environment—going to see your grandchildren, performing a mental strategy, watching a movie, taking a walk on the beach, or practicing yoga—has the power to alter your mindset. But it’s never the case.

Everyone lives in the feeling of their thinking; not the feeling of their circumstances. If you feel down in the dumps and look outside to explain or excuse why—since your feelings don’t come from your circumstances—you’ll become a paralyzed victim. If, like Joe, you look inside to your thinking and get on with your day—you’ll feel better in a jiff.

My good buddy Joe may credit his grandchildren for his elevated disposition. Me, I give the credit to him.

How I met Leon

I don’t tell this story often because, for people who aren’t used to trusting the power of a calm state of mind, it is at best weird and at worst frightening. But it’s true, and it happened to me in New York City in the early ’90’s, when my daughter was a student at New York University, living in a tiny apartment not large enough for me to stay with her. When I visited, I stayed at the Washington Square Park Hotel, several blocks from her.

One night, while I was walking back to the hotel from her apartment, I had the prickly dsc_0020-1feeling there was someone a few steps behind me. My first thought was to run or scream, but that didn’t make sense. I was walking past closed academic buildings. I did not know who was behind me or why; I wondered how to find out. I came to a crosswalk and stopped, and the person behind me remained behind me. He or she was hesitating; it occurred to me that the person was tentative about what to do next, too. They must be insecure about what they’re thinking of doing. Then the thought came to me that no one who is taking so much time to act can remain intent on doing harm to someone who is friendly and cares about them. So I turned around, extended my hand to what turned out to be a young man in a navy blue hooded sweat shirt. I said, “Hi, my name is Judy; what is yours?”

He was startled. He stood stiffly and stared at me. I kept talking.

“You know,” I said, “I was visiting someone back a few blocks that way. I am on my way to where I’m staying. I’m a little nervous walking alone. I didn’t realize it would be so quiet out here. Would you walk with me? I’d feel better if I had someone to walk with. What is your name?”

There was a pause, and then he relaxed, shook my hand, and said, “My name is Leon. And, yeah, I’ll walk with you.”

I asked him where he was from. “The park,” he answered. “I used to live in an apartment, but my mother got sent to jail and my little sister got sent to foster care. I am too old for that. So they just put me out. I live in the park now. In boxes, or whatever I can find to sleep in. I don’t sleep much. I’m scared most of the time.”

“Are you in school?” I asked. He looked downcast. “I was. I can’t go to school any more. I don’t have an address. I have no place to get cleaned up. I dropped out.” He told me he was nearing the end of 11th grade when he dropped out. He said he had had a B average and he used to think he would be able to go on to a public college, but now he had no hope of finishing his education.

I asked him if he had ever heard of the GED. He had, but he didn’t think he could take it. He didn’t have an address or a phone number, or parents at home. How could he fill out an application form? I told him, “Leon, come on, be a New Yorker. You can do it. Just put a number from any pizza box you find in the park on the form, use your old address and your mother’s real name. No one is going to call you; forms just need to be filled out. No one checks the information. Just pay close attention and make sure you know where the test is given and what time, and show up. You can go pick up your scores; they don’t have to mail them to you.”

“Do you think I could pass?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but if you were doing well in school and just about finished 11th grade, you probably will pass. And if you don’t,  just take it again. Once you know what you missed, you can always go to the public library and study on your own. You have nothing to do anyway; you’ll be a lot safer in the library and you can read there all day long if you want to. Don’t give up on learning just because you’re not in school right now.”

As we walked along, he told me how worried he was about his little sister, and how frightened he was living on his own in the park. He never knew day to day what was going to happen, or how he would eat. He looked for a job at first, but there wasn’t anything that didn’t require a high school degree and now he was embarrassed because he looked so dirty and unkempt when he went to apply. “They look right through me like I’m nobody,” he said.

“You’re somebody,” I said. “You’re Leon. You can decide what Leon will become. Don’t give up your choices.”

We came near to my hotel, and I stopped and said, “Well, we’re just about where I was going. I want you to promise me that you will follow up on that GED. I know you can do it. You’re young; you were on a good path; you can get back on it.”

“Thank you,” he said, and then shook my hand again and started to walk away.

I called him back. I took out my wallet and went to hand him most of the cash I had.

“Oh, no, you’ve been so nice. I couldn’t take it,” he said.

“You were going to take it before we met, weren’t you?” I said.

“Well, yeah, but that was before I knew you. You’ve been really nice.”

“Now,” I said, “you can take it because I am freely giving it. Remember this: More people than you think will help you in life if you ask. Don’t do stupid stuff when you’re desperate. Calm down and look for someone friendly to help you along the way.”

He took the cash and waited on the sidewalk as I walked up the steps to the door of the hotel. When I turned to wave, he said, “I’m going to do what we talked about. I am. I promise. Thank you.”

I never saw him again, and I have no idea what he did with the money or whether he ever went to take his GED. But I know he did not hurt me, and maybe I helped him that night.

And I am sure that trusting myself to know what to do if I kept from jumping ahead of the moment and didn’t get reactive saved us both from harm that night.

Wisdom gives us the answer to every situation. The answer is always love.

“Love and understanding harmonize the mind of humanity to its true inner nature. What you give in life is what you receive. To give love is to receive love. A mind full of love and good feelings can never go wrong.”

Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p. 117.

Can we find common ground?

In an insecure state of fear and anxiety, this is how people behave:

shooting gun

  • They expect the worst.
  • They do not trust others, especially others who are “different” from them.
  • They feel on edge and unsafe.
  • They act impulsively out of that fear.
  • They are certain they are justified in any action to protect themselves.

In a secure state of peace of mind and wisdom, this is how people behave:

handshake copy

  • They are present in the moment without expectations.
  • They respect others, even those who are “different” from them.
  • They feel calm and at ease in life.
  • They act from insight out of common sense.
  • Their actions tend to elevate situations, and need no justification.

The same holds true for organizations, for communities, for nations…

State of mind matters. Peace of mind matters. As a matter of fact, it is the primary quality in life that matters if we hope to live without constant strife among our neighbors, within our organizations, at home in our communities, or in the world.

The Trayvon Martin case brought this into sharp focus, but there are examples all around us at every level of human interaction.

What if both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin had come, early in life, to understand the nature of thought, and the spiritual bonds that unite us all: We are all thinking, seeing our thinking as real, capable of allowing negative, distressing thinking to pass, and thinking again.

George Zimmerman would have seen a stranger in his neighborhood, a young black man in a hoodie, and had the thought that he could be one of those punks that get away with crimes, and called 911. He would have realized he was getting worked up and taking that thinking seriously with no real evidence. He might have calmed down, pulled up alongside Trayvon, rolled down his window, and said, “Son, I’m George. I’m a neighborhood watchman, and I’m armed. I feel responsible for keeping this neighborhood safe. I have called the police. I am no threat to you, but I do need to know who you are and where you’re going.”

Trayvon Martin would have seen a stranger in a black van trailing him, and his first thought might have been he was a “creepy” guy who might be a pervert. But he would stop to think what would make sense to stay safe in this case. Maybe he would have gotten off the phone with his friend and called his father and asked him to come out of the house and meet him because he was frightened by someone who seemed to be following him. Maybe, if he were confronted by George Zimmerman, and George Zimmerman identified himself respectfully as a neighborhood watchman, he would have said, “Oh, man, you really scared me. I had no idea who you were. I thought you were going to hurt me. I live right over there.” And George Zimmerman, to satisfy his duty as a watchman, could have gone home with him, met his father, and made a new friend in the neighborhood.

There is nothing in what we have learned about either party to this case that would suggest this neutral scenario could not have happened. Their friends and family loved them and thought they were good people. They had treated others gently in the past. They were regular human beings, just like us, going through ups and downs, moving in and out of varying levels of insecurity, thinking their way through life.

The tragedy is, not knowing anything at all about how different life looks to us in different states of mind, not knowing that when our thinking is most urgent we can least trust it, not knowing that if I am insecure and taking insecure thought seriously, the “other” might be doing the same thing … they fought and the one without the gun died.

It is heartbreaking that all the commentary, all the news, all the discussion about this case is not about the answer to the underlying reason these tragedies occur: insecure thought taken seriously.

Do we truly want this kind of thing to stop happening?

Then we have to look deeper, to the fundamental cause and the real solution.

This will be part of the conversation at a significant conference of people who are deeply dedicated to bring about a paradigm shift in the world, from prevailing insecurity and anxiety to prevailing security and peace. Come join us to see how thousands of people have realized that possibility, and you can too.

“With wisdom people see beyond the filters and biases of race and culture, to realize the beauty in everyone. Such understanding enables people to stop fearing and distrusting those who are different, to see the commonality of human beings regardless of cultural differences. Wisdom applied to society would do more than anything else to halt the ethnic clashes and wars the world suffers from today.”

Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p. 136

Addiction and The Three Principles – Jonathan Pounder

Part 1

Addiction and the Three Principles

People in my treatment groups almost always say “I wish everyone knew this.”

Once someone starts to realize the true nature of the Three Principles, Mind, Consciousness and Thought it becomes more and more obvious that the problem, whatever problem, addicCon, mental health, stress, or just an actual problem in life all come from innocently misusing thought. This is radically different from the rest of the field.

The Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought reveal to us that, just like any other human being on earth, a substance abuser has simply become addicted to thoughts; a pattern of thinking that pops up when they don’t feel the way they want to feel. The problem is not a disease but rather dis-­‐ ease. The only thing that makes a person in a chemical health treatment center different from anyone else is what they do when they get insecure. We all as human beings have gotten caught in thought habits of how to feel better when we don’t feel good. Our attempts to feel better are all at different levels of consciousness and provide equally different levels of consequence, but regardless they only temporarily change our feeling. When the effect of the drug wears off the person tends to revert back to their thought habits. Suddenly they are back into the swamp of their problems and unending stress.

I’ve seen many incredibly smart people try to think or intellectualize their way out of their addiction, as if they would find a solution if they keep thinking about it. This problem is that thinking has no answer. It doesn’t matter if it’s positive thinking, thinking negatively about the chemicals, thinking about the consequences, the answer is never found. At this level the best we can do is learn to cope with these potentially recurring problems. What many don’t see is that when we have something that needs to change like addiction, it is our thinking that created this as a reality. We try to use the same thinking that created the problem. This is why understanding the role of Thought is so important. When you see how Thought works, it becomes obvious that there wouldn’t be a problem if that level of thinking contained a solution.

What we are looking for is insight or realization into the nature of Thought. This would be like being lost in a forest and finding a ladder that lifts you over the trees giving you a panoramic view of where you actually are and makes it easy to find your way out. It gives you new perspective and changes what’s possible. As a personal example, when I started to realize the Principles, two major things became apparent to me. 1. The only thing that can ever create an insecure feeling in me is me; me using my thinking as a weapon against myself. Not only that, that thinking does not look like thinking, it looks like reality. This is Consciousness. It brings our thinking to life. Seeing this is invaluable. We can awaken to the fact that our suffering and our problems aren’t real in the way that they seem. It’s just our thinking creating a version of our reality brought to life by these Principles. So to try and fix it all via drugs or alcohol would be like trying to fix a broken leg on an imaginary chair. Which leads to my second big insight. 2. If the problem or suffering isn’t real then to get better there’s nothing to do! It’s understanding what’s going on that is important. So if I don’t put any energy behind my distorted thinking, there is a natural force that we call Mind, pulling me back to well being again. It’s as if you were stretching a rubber band. If you let go, it will snap back to its original state. You don’t have to do

Anything for the rubber band to be in its natural state, other than stop pulling on it. And even beyond that, this energy inside of us has the power to reveal to us something about ourselves that can eliminate our ability to keep re-­‐creating our old thinking that’s causing the problems to begin with! To go back to the metaphor we can see that to stop stretching the rubber band we stop pulling on it. To break the cycle of addiction, we just have to raise our level of consciousness where we see past our erroneous thinking which has the power to make drug or alcohol use look like an answer.

I’ve seen people realize the nature of these Principles on the first day of group to such a degree that while they still encountered problems or stress during their time in treatment, they shifted to a level of understanding where the idea of using didn’t even come up anymore. There were no daily affirmations, no rituals, and no techniques. They just started to live in a world where the idea of using drugs or alcohol to change how they felt didn’t exist. It just stopped occurring to them as a solution. That is the power of looking inside ourselves and truly seeing the Three Principles as the source of our experience.

Part 2

When I talk to people about what they get out of using drugs or alcohol, I get a number of responses: “I want to feel good, I don’t want to feel bad, I don’t want to feel anything,” and the list goes on. But if you break down all those responses, what you have at the core is that people want to change how they feel. They don’t live in a feeling they like and they know deep down they could feel better. To me, this points to a few things. The health that lies inside is trying to come out. Their wisdom is telling them, life isn’t supposed to be like this, you could feel better. The issue is a lack of understanding how.

The simplicity is that it is thought that creates our misery and thought that creates our happiness, joy and peace of mind. Syd Banks used to say “You’re one thought away from happiness; you’re one thought away from sadness.” So when our moods start to drop, and we know that the source is coming from inside us, a distortion created by our personal minds, we start to see more quickly that the answer is not to look outside to feel better. We have to look inside. Just past our own personal maze of thinking is the deeper source of thought. This deeper source of Thought naturally produces the feelings that we are looking for; the feelings that we are supposed to be living in more often than not. As our level of consciousness starts to rise we naturally access those feelings that even in the midst of our greatest suffering we knew were possible. And these feelings can be so beautiful -­‐-­‐ so beautiful in fact that there would be nothing to change, no desire to enhance our experience.

Now, I’ve seen people who after learning the Principles went back to their old ways of thinking and relapsed. It happens; they reverted back into their old habit of thinking and forgot it was just thought. But when they came back to me, inevitably what they said is that “the feeling [from getting high] was nowhere near as good as it used to be!” Of course it wasn’t. Substance abusers are living under the assumption that their drug is euphoria and life is somewhere below that to varying degrees. (You can see why getting clean or sober doesn’t look so appealing.) This is simply not true. The feeling of euphoria is relative. If you’re living in an equivalent of an emotional hell, temporary relief of that would certainly feel like euphoria. People who live in more beautiful feelings frequently report that when they have to take drugs such as painkillers after surgery they think “I don’t know why someone would chase that feeling!” Such people live at a level of consciousness where the drug-­‐related feeling is a step down from the experience they are used to.

One thing that I have realized from seeing the power of the Principles is that the best feeling drugs or alcohol can provide is relief. It could be relief from a stressful week, relief from anxiety, depression or stress. Even when people say that they were just using drugs or drinking to “enhance the experience” of whatever they are doing, it is still relief from whatever experience they are living in. Now, no one in their right mind would say relief is the best feeling that exists in life. Understanding the Principles brings us those better feelings. Essentially our personal minds (our thoughts, ideas concepts, beliefs, etc.) are the only thing that can ever get in the way of a beautiful feeling. Those personal ideas are what people are trying to find relief from. So as our level of consciousness rises and we start to live with a quieter mind, the natural product is a more pure experience of life. Love, joy, calm, peace are all natural products of the Principles naturally working through us.

Insight into the Principles points us to the fact that deep inside us is an unlimited potential for experience and an unlimited potential for understanding. The more we live in a beautiful feeling, the easier it is to have sobriety. Naturally. It doesn’t take any effort when we find this space inside of us. And when we temporarily get lost and get insecure about life we don’t have to take it seriously because it’s only thought.

The Source of Faith

Here’s one of the Merriam-Webster definitions of the word faith: “Firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”

Here’s what the definition of the word faith looks like to me: “A firm understanding that one’s perspective (about anything) will change for which there is much proof.”

Let me explain. Often, we are told that having faith in someone or something is an essential ingredient to excellence. When athletes struggle, for example, a common mantra is, “Have faith in your ability. You have to believe in yourself to succeed.”

The problem with this line of thinking, however, is that all personal struggles are the result of only one thing: An overload of thought in one’s head. Too much thinking lowers one’s consciousness. And no one is capable of drumming up confidence—or having faith—from a low level of consciousness.

So, contrary to the mantra above, the key when you lack faith is not trying to believe or convince yourself to think a different way (i.e., bs yourself). The key is knowing that clarity, and then faith, will arrive automatically. In other words, the human mind is wonderfully designed to rise above any and all circumstances. Everyone is naturally resilient. Faith is innate to us all—it’s not something you can lose.

What you can lose, or forget, is your understanding of how faith works. Have you ever been troubled, looked at a specific life situation, and wondered what in the world you were going to do? Have you ever felt hopeless or stuck? But then—and this is where my definition of faith might prove helpful—with nothing changing on the outside, you look at the same situation again and it looks totally different. You’re no longer troubled. This is proof of your innate faith taking hold.

Remember, we all establish our level of confidence based on the amount of thinking we have in our head at any specific moment. Therefore:

  • Head full of thought = no faith (with nothing changing on the outside).
  • Head free of thought = all the faith you need (with nothing changing on the outside).

Oh, and one more thing, the amount of thinking you have is totally up for grabs. The epitome of faith is knowing that when you feel low your head is destined to empty, and freedom is destined to unfold, at a moment’s notice with no effort at all.

If you need proof of that, try spending the day with a two-year-old!

Coping with a bad mood

Clouds touched by sunlightWhere do bad moods come from? This question is at the heart of the answer to coping with a bad mood. And the answer might not be what you expect.

Conventional wisdom has it that your mood comes from circumstances. You have had a “bad day” at work. The commute home was fraught with delays. The kids have been badly behaved. Someone was rude to you at the supermarket. Your team lost the big match. The dinner you cooked was spoilt.

Whatever the circumstances, there are no no end of reasons for being in a bad mood. That is until you learn how our psychological reality is created.

In the understanding from which I work, all of these reasons boil down to one spiritual fact: we think. None of these circumstances creates our mood. It is our thinking about them that does so.

Consider for a moment the fact that two people can be in the same traffic jam and experience it quite differently. One may be frustrated and angry; the other relaxed and enjoying listening the car radio. Same traffic – different experience. And you’ve probably been in similar traffic on different days and felt differently each time.

The difference is not the outside world, but what goes on in our mental lives.

Each thought we have is tied to a feeling. You can’t think happy thoughts and feel sad, or vice versa. That’s just not how the system works.

What are the traditional ways of dealing with a bad mood?

A quick look around shows quite a choice. Take a relaxing bath. Have a massage. Take some exercise. Meditate. Think positively. Use affirmations. Watch a funny movie. The list goes on.

Many of these seem to work. But they have one flaw. They are based on an outside-in view of the world. I mean that they assume (again) that circumstances outside will change what’s going on inside.

A relaxing bath can work, but it is not the warm water and peaceful surroundings that cause the change in mood. Rather it is your thinking that has changed. Have you ever been in that same relaxing bath and found yourself thinking dark thoughts? Well it’s not the bath that causes either good or bad moods. It is your thinking.

So what is the alternative approach to coping with bad moods?

Once you understand that you are experiencing the feeling of your thinking then things begin to change all on their own.

I find that there’s a peace at the heart of a bad mood, if you just let it be. That advice — to do nothing — seems counter-intuitive but it works. If it didn’t we’d all be stuck in our bad moods forever.

When you are in a bad mood there is comfort in knowing that a new thought will be along. In the meantime this is not the time to address the big issues in your life. Watch what you say and remember that your low mood is reflected in the quality of your thinking. Your thinking is not to be trusted.

If you begin to see the connection between your thoughts and your feelings, your inner wisdom will naturally assert itself. Human beings are programmed towards feeling good and away from feeling bad. Your wisdom, knowing that your thoughts are leading to bad feelings, will naturally return you to a more positive state in time.

Your bad mood is like the clouds that temporarily hide the sun. Behind the mood there is always your wisdom and health, and like the sun it can only temporarily be hidden. Eventually your wisdom will shine through.

While you wait for that to happen you can explore how your thoughts are creating your reality moment by moment. That exploration is something that will help you immensely in all aspects of your life.

Another Excerpt from The Path of No Resistance

Here’s another excerpt from Chapter 4 of my upcoming book, The Path of No Resistance. Some of you may notice that a part of this section was extracted from a previous article. I hope you enjoy it.

Any questions or comments, reach out anytime.


…An interesting thing about the hours-applied rule, if you look closely, is that from freedom and ease everyone knows how hard to push and for just how long. Again, this type of answer isn’t imparted from the outside. Not even through the use of data (10,000 hours of it). One of my mentors and now colleagues, George Pransky, once said, “Spun correctly, statistics prove that storm-sewer overflow causes umbrella usage.” See what I mean about correlations as opposed to causal relationships? So much for data.

Even so, we’re besieged by the information and opinions of people who are doing the best they can from their current level of consciousness—which is always subject to change. I suppose the same could be said of me, though my purpose is to teach you how the system works; not to tell you what to do with the system. If you take from this book that behavioral strategies aren’t the answer, and nothing else, I’ve done a decent job. Behavior is after-the-fact—the damage has already been done.

Think of it this way: Follow someone else’s advice and, with your free will and instincts neutered, you’re not capable of doing anything right. Look inward to the fact that you feel your thinking, and nothing else, and you’re not capable of doing anything wrong. Looking inward is staying in the game. It’s what allows your mind to default to clarity, wonder—and rewarding behavior.

But how about you? When you picked up this book were you looking for a blueprint for excellence? A trail to the zone? Up until now, have you been frustrated with your inability to find this nirvana-like state? Well, I’m here to tell you: A blueprint for excellence won’t be found in a book, and it doesn’t matter anyway because you don’t have to pursue the zone in order to perform at the top of your game. Relieved? I hope so, because only when your mind is free from the burden of trying to find mental clarity, does it leaves space for insights and excellence to come pouring through. To be honest, I’m really not a big fan of the term, the zone, anyway.

Here’s an illustration of what can happen if you decide to follow another person’s advice or technique in order to find psychological perfection: Let’s say you’re a pro golfer playing in the last group of the last round of a major championship. The night before, you’ve worryingly tossed and turned, and now, on your way to the golf course, your anxious thoughts and feelings won’t let up. You’re also convinced (like most people) that anxious thoughts and feelings represent a problem; you must be in the zone in order to win a major championship.

So, you recall a deep-breathing/visualization technique that your sports psychologist recommended for these exact moments. You think about how you’re supposed to implement the technique: “Okay, breathe in the through the nose, out through the mouth, and picture the ball going toward the target.” But then you think, “Oh, wait, maybe it’s breathe in through the mouth, out through the nose, and picture myself holding the championship trophy. Darn, I can’t remember what to do. I better figure something out, and quick!”

What’s happened in this illustration is your revved-up thinking and anxiety has generated more revved-up thinking and anxiety. You’ve crammed your head with deliberate personal thought, leaving no room for fresh ideas to naturally work their way in. Said differently, you didn’t like your anxious feeling as the final round approached, and since you didn’t know that clarity of mind is guaranteed to appear on its own, you’ve jammed the inherent functioning of the system.

What’s the alternative, then? What should you do when, prior to “big” performances, you’re feeling unsure or anxious—i.e., you’re not in the zone?  

You know the answer. The same thing our baseball player did when he felt insecure about his swing and the same thing that I did during the writing of this book when I felt weighed down—stay in the game. Syd Banks use to call feelings our “virus detectors.” They’re pointing us inside to a temporary virus of thought—not outside to doing something to overcome a swing or book.

And just so we’re crystal clear, looking within, or staying on the game, is the opposite of a technique. It’s what everyone does naturally, before our inner wisdom falls prey to the does and don’ts of others…