Why Understanding the Phenomenon of “Separate Realties” is a Necessity

I’m sure you’re familiar with this common mantra: “Every human being lives in his or her own separate reality.” Perhaps you even appreciate the value in knowing that no two people can share precisely the same perspective on an event, circumstance, environment, or the world. But have you considered what’s at the crux of the phenomenon of separate realties? What causes human beings to live in separate realities? Or why understanding this phenomenon is so important?

I’ll do my best.

Separate realities exist because the experience of human beings is 100 percent an inside job. What we see, smell, taste, hear, even our touch is a byproduct of an uncontrollable state of consciousness from moment to moment. When, for example, my head is momentarily jammed in personal thought, my senses will construct a negative, unsightly, or rocky reality. But when personal thought falls away, my senses will construct positivity, compassion, and splendor. Same, of course, goes for you.

In other words, “separate realities” doesn’t actually mean that you and I see the same reality in a different manner. It means that, right now, you and I are forming and then experiencing different realties altogether. Take the current political climate in the United States. One person describes the president’s actions one way; another person, a different way. Are they both observing the same actions? Not exactly. They’re both observing a construct of their own thinking and subsequent state of consciousness. Alternate realities, optics, or universes entirely.

This is why it’s futile to try to convince others of your personal point of view. Even the most logical of evidence (to you) cannot be experienced by another person. Again, human beings can only experience what their thinking allows them to experience right then and there. You say Trump denounced hate; I say he didn’t. No one is wrong. We’re each describing what our current state of consciousness projects—what looks real, and justified, to us in the moment.

Remember: Realities are not transmittable. When we try to force our reality on others, hostility and division follow. Yet when we look within, to the fact that each of us creates our own reality via thought, hostility and division lose their grip. Do you truly want tolerance, progress, and love for the human race (or for your family, team, organization, or community)? Only with a firm understanding of the phenomenon of separate realities will they effortlessly emerge.

Thank you for reading,

We Are Not Our Differences

We Are Not Our Differences

Look at this. Was it a Black man? An Asian woman? A 15th Century Moor? A 20th Century mixed racial girl? A 12th century peasant? A transgender man or woman? A gay or lesbian man or woman? A Priest? A thief? A Buddhist? A Muslim? A rich man? A poor man? A King? A soldier? No way to know. But look at it, and immediately you know this bony frame once supported a living person, a soul, a member of the human race. The particulars don’t alter that. The essence is the same.

Our humanity, our brief experience in this life as thinking, feeling human beings, is what binds us together. Everything we make up about ourselves and each other beyond that is the source of what pulls us apart.

At what point will we all stop dividing the entire human population into friends and enemies, good and evil, right and wrong, strong and weak? At what point will we stop organizing people by race, religion, ethnicity, heritage?

When will we see that we are all part of the human race? No more, no less. Perfectly human. Human at the core. Human from the heart and soul. Human because we are all spiritual beings inhabiting one form or another of a body. Human because our common ground is that we are all thinkers and we all navigate our lives the same way. We generate thoughts which appear real to us, and that appearance becomes our understanding of experience. Superficial differences have nothing to do with the essence of humanity. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from or what you look like: if you’re a human being, you’re making up every moment of your experience of life with the gifts we all share: the energy of life itself flowing through our minds as thoughts of which we become conscious.

What we have in common, no matter who we are, is that we are living in the world we create with our own thoughts, moment-to-moment-to-moment. As soon as we generate a new thought, our world looks different. What we don’t always know is that we are the authors of our own story, the creators of all we “know” and “see”. And the only way the story can change is if we change it. Each one of us. Using our power to think to make up something entirely new.

When will we look at the way children easily interact — non-judgmentally and playfully and fearlessly — and realize that we are born with love and joy to share, and we are drawn unconditionally towards relationships with each other? We give that natural affinity away as we grow older. We are born with it, but we can think ourselves out of it.

Despite being naturally inclined to relate to other human beings comfortably, as we grow up, many of us figure ways to sort ourselves out and find reasons to be suspicious, or angry, or hateful, or judgmental, or fearful. This is not natural. This is all invented, innocently, by the way we use our own thinking to organize the world around us. We could just as easily use our thinking to take stock of all the beauty in diverse humanity and take stock of the gifts all people have. Thinking, and what we put into our thinking, is strictly volitional, and subject to change in a moment.

The future of all humanity and our planet depends on stepping back and seeing who we all really are: human beings using our infinite power to think to create our particular version of all the experiences we live in. We can lose our ability to see each other’s souls by getting emotionally aroused by thinking about each other’s thoughts, and then getting mutually insecure over them. We can forget that thoughts are not WHO we are. Thoughts are only WHAT we do to create, moment-to-moment, what we make of our life. The power to change all thought lies within each one of us. A different experience of everything is only one thought away.

We have the immediate power to change our minds, the power to think anything at all. At some point, I hope we share the remarkable collective insight that if all the effort, energy, treasure and lives humanity has squandered through the ages battling thoughts had instead been expended expressing mutual respect and love, we would live on a peaceful planet, without suffering.

The Foundation of Outstanding Leadership

It’s been an interesting ten days here in the US. I’ll leave it at that. What I will address, however, are the multitude of opinions on the subject of whether or not, under the leadership of the current president, the US is becoming increasingly divided. Or more to the point: Why is it that some leaders seem to unite people, while others seem to drive a wedge between them? What exactly is the foundation of outstanding leadership?

Here’s my answer; an essential take that you probably haven’t heard before:

No one is born seeing themselves as dissimilar or detached from others (think of the color-blind nature of infants). But as we age, everyone falls for the physical illusion of “the personal” or “the self.” Some call this illusion diversity. Some separateness. Some inequality. Some discrimination or “I am better than you.” Now, certain individuals tend to recognize (within themselves and others) this common human frailty. And because they recognize it, they rise above it more often than most. It is these individuals who become outstanding leaders. In spite of the physical and outside-in illusion of inequality or diversity, they understand that every human being is equal; that the human race is one.

Imagine, if you will, a family, team, organization, community, country, or world that’s guided in this unifying direction. Since the leader rarely sees himself or herself as separate from others, virtually no hierarchy or selfishness could exist. Harmony then flourishes as personal judgments, and thus personal clashes, remain at bay.

A leader’s role, then, is to simply direct the masses away from the alluring and mind-bending illusion of the personal or separate self—and toward the resolute principle that we are all fragments of the same spiritual puzzle. Leaders point others toward equality, oneness, and love. The foundation of outstanding leadership is a deep inner knowing that this direction is true.

Inward and onward,

Moral Equivalence is an Oxymoron

Moral Equivalence is an Oxymoron

We come into life with a deep, intuitive sense of what is “right.”

Philosophy expounds on morality at length. All the arguments around it are interesting diversions for the intellect. But the gut knows the truth in the moment. Right ideas, right actions, that which is in harmony with life itself, are experienced in peace and contentment, with a good feeling about ourselves and the world. Not-right ideas, not-right actions, that which is out of synch with life itself, are experienced in confusion and distress, with a troubled feeling about ourselves and the world.

Ask yourself: The last time you did or said something you “knew” deep-down was not “right,” how did you feel?

We have an internal guidance system. Wisdom, intuition, insight come to us with a beautiful, inspired feeling. That feeling tells us we’re right. As we come to understand that more and more, navigating the rocky shoals in life gets very simple. Confronted with dilemmas, we go to quiet reflection, we look to, and follow, what comes to us in peaceful, positive feelings. We recognize the “Aha!” moments that bring us solutions, and act on those. We recognize the ideas and actions that emerge from love and understanding and shared humanity, and act on those.

What is “right” is not “either-or”, “this-or-that”, “maybe-maybe not”. When we know or see that something is right, it is a solitary choice. THIS, this is right. THIS, this makes sense. THIS, this is a constructive idea. THIS, this will move us forward. THIS, this, brings us peace. It is a certainty. It arises from within us, from our own consciousness, from our connection to the order of the universe.

From this understanding, conversations about “moral equivalence” simply mean “we don’t have an answer yet and we’ve stopped wondering.” Right is clear. Moral equivalence is a pretty term for lack of clarity, absence of wisdom. Moral equivalence is a disguise for nagging insecurity that overwhelms the courage to speak what we know is right, if and when we do know it.

Insecurity is just as important a feature of our internal guidance system as beautiful feelings. The feeling of insecurity simply lets us know that our thinking is chaotic, and heading into the maelstrom that drags us down through doubt, fear, blame judgment, sadness, misery, despair. Insecurity is the harbinger of impending calamity. If we feel it coming on, though, it is our most reliable guide back home. Why? Because the feeling of insecurity dissipates quickly when the mind quiets, when stormy thinking is allowed to pass, when we settle down into reflection and wait for insight. Turning away from insecurity turns us back to our innate well-being.

What allows us to do that? A simple fact of being human: We are born into the flow of life, propelled through our part of it by the energy of the life force. We use that energy to “see” and find our way through life by forming thoughts in our own minds and then experiencing those thoughts. Insecurity is the experienced feeling of insecure thoughts. If we don’t like it, we can pause, and await new thoughts. The natural tendency of a quieter mind is clearer, more neutral thinking. That is the power of humanity, shared by all, always. Always accessible; not always accessed.

Oh, world! Oh, beautiful, troubled world! If only we could pause together, take a few moments of quiet, shut down the roaring engines of our racing minds, and hear the silence. Feel the ease. Listen for the harmony. Sense the impulse and glimpse the spark of insight. What might come of it? What healing ideas might arise? What doubts and fears and arguments might fall away? What appreciation for the powers of vision inherent in simple human being might come to light? What mental clouds, like moral equivalence, might dance across the sky into obscurity?

A Rare, But Important, Friday Post


There are many on this email list. If the direction I point below strikes a chord in one of you, then it was worth sending out this rare Friday post.

Thank you for reading it. Here goes:

There’s nothing more despicable in this world than bigotry. Yet, at the moment, we’re falling into the same trap that’s held bigotry in place forever. Hating a hater adds a new hater. Protesting bigotry energizes bigotry. Prejudice against the prejudiced feeds the cycle of prejudice.

Rather, we must point to the root of bigotry. It’s not culture. It’s not biology. It’s not one’s past. It’s the widespread and age-old misunderstanding that one’s feelings are caused by something external.

When people wake up to the fact that feelings are only caused by the ebb and flow of energy within, it stops being logical to look outside and blame others.

And when people stop blaming others for the normal ebb and flow of their feelings within, bigotry becomes impossible. So does premeditated violence. So does war. What then emerges is LOVE.

Yes, it is that simple.


Living Up to Potential—Consistently

When it comes to the behaviors, strategies, or practices that will help you consistently perform to the best of your ability, here’s a brief reminder:

There are none.

In fact, as a result of my work with some of the most consistent athletes, teams, and organizations around the world, I’m often asked:

“Hey, Garret, how do I consistently live up to my God-given potential?”

Well, again, there is no “how” or action you can take. However, within you (and every person alive), there does rest an innate understanding which—once uncovered—will prove remarkably beneficial. That’s why in our work together, my clients and I continually look in this direction:

Contradictions of the soul are normal. And because they’re normal, it makes little sense to fight or attempt to control these contradictions.

In other words: Those who understand that states of mind are meant to meander, from positive to negative and back again, rarely attempt to fix something (the soul, spirit, or mind) that isn’t broken and can’t be broken. Sure, the human experience is a wild ride of inner change and flow. But that doesn’t mean that your life, on the outside, is required to follow suit.

Thank you for reading,

Unanswered Questions

Here’s an interesting dialogue that reveals the power of universal wisdom, and the mind’s innate ability to clear and tap into it, versus the unhelpful nature of digging into what’s personal.

Last week, my colleague, Grayson Hart, asked me the following question: “Why does this one particular old conditioned thought (about so and so) often repeat itself inside my head?

I answered, “Well, bud, I could give you my personal opinion to your personal question, but since that would likely turn this conversation into a futile cognitive therapy session, I’d rather not.”

Grayson then laughed and said, “Perfect, G, suddenly I don’t need the answer anymore; I’m good.”

And there you have it. Since only what’s universally true has the power to help a fellow human being, if you’re a coach, parent, teacher, advisor, or friend, it’s never preferable to:

A. Answer the most personal of questions.
B. Offer your own personal opinions masked as truth.

Remember: Insight, realization, or love cannot spring from analysis or scrutiny. If you’re asked a personal question, you might be tempted to answer, but it’s not a requirement. In fact, when you don’t get personal, it’s a pretty sure bet that answers will effortlessly appear.

Thank you for reading,

Second Thoughts?

Second Thoughts?

We can’t help the past popping into our minds. It is impossible to know what might awaken a memory— someone who looks like your grade school bully, a sentimental song on the radio, a pattern of light and shade, a faded photograph, a sudden loud sound, a gory TV scene, a patterned dishtowel. When our mind wanders towards anything, we might immediately bring up a momentary memory.

A lot of people who struggle with past abuse, or traumatic events, or remorse over something, or anger at someone, or sadness from a loss will say their memories are not momentary. They will lament that they “just can’t get them out of their mind.” They will say they keep coming to mind, no matter how hard they’re trying to fight them off. The harder they fight their memories, the bigger they seem to get.

There’s a reason for that, in the logic by which the mind works.

Those people are right about one thing: As hard as we might fight, we never win at shadowboxing with our own thoughts. Things will just appear in our minds and we have to hold them there to fight them.

But those people are missing something important. We do have the spiritual power to transcend those thoughts. We don’t have to have second thoughts about them. We don’t have to fight them. We can allow them to pass as we go about our lives in the present. Think of memories as a program on a television you’re not watching while you’re doing something else, although you notice images flickering on the screen from time to time. You can choose at any moment to “grab” an image and drop what you’re doing now to focus on the program. But the only thing that can make you do that is you — you have a second thought about what just passed across the screen and you decide to spend more time with it. As fast as you turned toward it, you could turn away.

The fearful thoughts, the struggle thoughts, the “Oh, no!” thoughts, the angry thoughts, and the grieving thoughts — all those negative second thoughts — precipitate pain and hopelessness and elicit the desire to fight. We get frightened by them and we want to drive them away. We don’t recognize that if we notice images passing but don’t give them a second thought, they’re gone. They scarcely have a fleeting impact on our experience or feelings. They pass like a bird flitting past the window.

How do we find the “strength” to ignore upsetting thoughts? How do we avoid those second thoughts? That’s where our spiritual power comes into play. Over the years, people have always given others the advice to just drop things, or ignore them, or let them go. And those who receive the advice have too often exhausted themselves trying really hard to follow that advice. What has been missing is a deeper understanding of the nature of thought, and the nature of the innate gifts we have to create and respond to it. We don’t need to try. It is natural for thoughts, unattended, to pass. Our strength is the birthright of humanity. We are the thinkers continually creating our own life experience, in every moment. We have the power to hang onto thoughts and fight them, or the power to set them loose and see them naturally dissipate, like patterns in a jostled Kaleidoscope.

Thoughts are part of the whole, universal, dynamic creative flow of life. They come and go, unless we capture and hold them and turn them over and over in our mind trying to do something with them. The nature of thought brings to mind my summer nights in Connecticut as a child, catching fireflies. They were so interesting, blinking and fading in the darkness. When I went to grab a jar and scoop them up and finally caught some, everything changed. They were hard to enjoy. Their natural blinking and fading turned frantic; and stopped, and then I was stuck with dead and dying insects, feeling horrible that I could not safely manage them and knowing I could not return them to the state in which I had found them, happily blinking and fading and moving on through the darkness. I had to deal with them in that unnatural state.

So it is with thoughts. When we grab them and then try to manage them, we end up frustrated and upset. In a sense, we have innocently disturbed their natural movement. As soon as we come to the realization that if we just leave them alone, they will blink and fade and disappear, we are free. Thoughts flicker through our minds and, in the moment, we are always at choice whether to hold them or how to use them. That is our power as the thinkers, shaping the flow of energy that we call life into images that generate the experience of our own moments. If we do not like the the experience the images project through our consciousness, they will fade and evaporate when we turn away and new images come to mind and into expression.

We come into life with that incredible power to direct the experience of our own life through the way we hold and use our thoughts. We can see that our sensory experience, our feeling state, is created in the moment by our thoughts, and is a reliable guide to how we’re doing as thinkers. If we see thoughts for what they are, illusory images, flickering like fireflies, and recognize that the content of thinking is fleeting, we can leave them alone, and turn towards the thoughts that bring lighter, calmer feelings and turn away from capturing and working with the thoughts that create tense, negative feelings. Our feelings naturally change in a blink of the mind’s eye.