Why. Bad. Things.

Virtually every day, I’m asked some form of this question:

“Why do bad things happen?”

From a hard-working pro golfer failing to earn his or her tour card by a single stroke, to a horrific and deeply tragic event like what just took place in Las Vegas, why must innocent people suffer?

The answer is: We don’t have all the answers. But what I can tell you is this:

In the heat of the moment, or in the midst of suffering, nothing will make sense. Yet, from distance (if gained), we’ll find perspective.

Now, I surely don’t make this statement to make light of suffering, or to say that wounds don’t run deep. I make it to remind you that suffering is purely a figment of thought and one’s ensuing state of consciousness at that moment in time. When, for example, my thinking takes me back to childhood trauma, I suffer massively. When I get some distance from this train of thinking, I don’t. Again, the events of my childhood are what they are. What’s variable are my thinking and state of consciousness, which cause me to suffer or not to suffer.

Equally fascinating about “why bad things happen” is that, from distance and perspective, it’s common for people to describe the experience of suffering as a path to growth or even enlightenment. It’s as if suffering is part of a universal intelligence or greater plan at work; since, in suffering’s wake, so many of us become more resilient, connected, and loving.

Finally, I want to make clear that this article is not meant to ease suffering (that’s simply not possible); it’s meant to explain it. Suffering occurs when human beings do what human beings do: look outside—to circumstance, the past, other people, or ourselves—in a quest to figure out why we feel what we feel. Salvation occurs when human beings do what human beings also do: wake up to the folly in looking outside and turn back WITHIN.

In other words, the more we grasp just how normal the normal ebb and flow of the human experience truly is, the less our feelings will matter to us, the less we’ll struggle with struggle, and the less we’ll ask “why.”

Hang in everyone. Love,
Garret

So You Want Control?

This might surprise you, but a big part of my job is to remind people that the onus of control, decision making, effort, and even results is NOT truly on them. Every human being is an extension of a higher power. And, in my experience, when this spiritual truth is recognized, nearly everyone feels an overwhelming sense of freedom and relief. I say nearly because, occasionally, a new client or member of an audience I’m addressing will shoot back with this type of concern:

“That’s the problem, Garret. I want control. I must be in charge of my own destiny.”

In fact, just the other day, I was conducting a workshop when those very words were flung my way. I then countered with the following statement, which just poured out of me:

“Okay, my friend, you got it. I’m going to play exalted ruler and decree that you’re in total control of your life. Your thoughts, state of mind, decisions, and all outcomes are on YOU. No instinct or intuition. Every move you make must now be deliberate and calculated. You, and you alone, are driving the bus.”

What’s funny, or better yet unfortunate, is that this type of coaching paradigm is extremely common today. Many coaches and motivational gurus actually point others toward the concept of personal control or burden. And the ultimate result? Confusion, since everyone’s life contains a surplus of serendipitous or unexplainable occurrences that clearly take place out of our control. In sport, for example, athletes often describe their finest moments with words like, “I can’t believe that just happened, out of nowhere, or that was so effortless.” In those moments, control is the furthest thing from their minds.

Meanwhile, back to the man from the workshop. When ordained with complete control, he first replied, “Thanks, perfect.” But then, as concern and doubt flowed though him, he chuckled and pulled a 180: “Hang on, Garret, I assume that we can’t have it both ways (control some things, but not others), so no deal!”

Indeed, we can’t have it both ways because it doesn’t work both ways. As suggested earlier, you and a higher power aren’t separate; you are ONE. Meaning, trying to assume personal control—over anything—is simply not possible.

What a relief.

Garret

Coaching 101—From the Inside-Out

Here’s a quick true story that reveals the power of understanding the inside-out (and illusionary) nature of problems, and how this understanding benefits others. Actually, in this case, two people and their relationship.

Last week, I received the following text message from a hockey-playing client: “G, I’m getting super frustrated with my new linemate’s attitude. All he talks about is wanting to score. He’s so selfish it’s a joke!”

I replied: “Hey, bud, he’s new to the city, right? Have you taken the time to get to know him? Have you had him over to the house for dinner or something like that?”

“No, not yet. I guess I probably should.”

“Sounds to me like his thinking is getting the better of him right now. He’s feeling a bit out of sorts. As he starts to feel more comfortable, he’ll automatically become less selfish.”

“Ah, so simple. How’d I miss that?”

“We all do at times. Just remember, all it takes in a relationship is for one person’s consciousness to rise. From there, we start to relate to the struggles of others rather than take their attitude or actions personally.”

“Thanks, G, calling him now, love you.”

“Love you too, talk soon.”

It is so simple: When states of mind rise, problems wither away. So, if you’re a coach (parent, friend, teacher, counselor, or therapist), it’s never productive to dig into the content of someone’s problems. What’s productive is to do whatever seems necessary in the moment to help pull that person out of his or her funk. From there, compassion, trust, and love will automatically flood the space.

Inward and up,
Garret

The Missing Link—Your Connection to God

Every year, a host of biological, circumstantial, and environmental causes of psychological dysfunction (mental illness and suffering) are disproven. Yet, rather than realize that these types of causes don’t actually exist—we keep searching for more.

Every year, a host of mental techniques, motivational mantras, and relaxation practices are discarded as a waste of time or even fraudulent. Yet, rather than realize that these types of strategies don’t actually work—we keep searching for more.

When will we learn?

When will we stop searching and allow ourselves to see that the Truth has been with us all along?

When will we see that the experience of human beings is nothing more than a projection of one’s connection to God, moment to moment to moment?

In fact, everything we experience springs from whether or not the connection to God is clear.

When the connection to God is filled with personal thought (the intellect on overload), our experience becomes negative.

When the connection to God is clear or flowing (the intellect at peace), our experience becomes positive.

Both will happen. Both are normal. This ebb and flow to the human experience is shared by every person alive.

The father of modern psychology, William James, once said: “Anything short of God is not rational; anything more than God is not possible.”

He also said: “First, it is essential that God be conceived as the deepest power in the universe, and second, he must be conceived under the form of a mental personality.”

James was pointing us to the fact that one’s state of mind exists solely between that person and God. He was reminding us that our connection to God, and our ensuing state of mind in the moment, projects outward—creating our experience of the physical world that we see.

As I said, the physical world is nothing more than a projection. Meaning: What takes place in the physical world can’t cause us to feel or experience anything—even though it often looks like it can.

Indeed, this is the “great illusion” that sages and mystics have directed us away from forever.

They warned: “When we struggle, don’t look outside, to the form, for causes or cures. Look inside to the formless connection to God in the moment.”

The astute philosopher, Sydney Banks, called this connection “the missing link to all psychological functioning.”

Like James, Banks knew that Truth had no form. He knew that the sole cause of our feeling state was found inside, in the preset status of our connection to God (the formless).

Banks also suggested that “experts” who point outside for answers are fine human beings who are trying to help. But their training and research has complicated and concealed the basic principle that human beings project their experience from inside to out.

In other words, these experts have accepted the great illusion as real. They think that an experience causes one’s feelings. Sadly, they think that human beings work outside to in.

Every year, the number of “outside-in” experts continues to grow. In the age of social media, for instance, the great illusion is perpetually validated with more buying in.

That’s why innocent people continue to suffer. They fall for the illusion, and they seek the counsel of others who have fallen for it, too.

Remember:

Causes and cures cannot, ever, be found in the projection—the great illusion—that is the physical world (the world of form).

Continue to look there and, like a dog chasing its tail, you will continue to suffer.

See that—even when you feel separate or lost—the missing link cannot, and need not, be controlled, managed, coped through, or fixed.

Look within, to the ebb and flow of your ever-present connection to God. As William James, Sydney Banks, and the wise from Jesus to Gandhi to King insisted: “The answers you seek can only be found there.”

Thank you for reading,
Garret

Pointing Toward Truth

No doubt in my mind, reminding others that we work from inside to out—that our feelings are connected solely to the ebb and flow of spiritual energy, and our feeling state in the moment determines our perception and experience of life—is essential. It’s also a blessing, privilege, and, as I see it, the most important thing that one person can share with another. But here’s my question for you today: Is the Truth that we work from inside to out actually any more than that? I mean, should one person point another person in the direction of the Inside-Out paradigm, or toward Truth, for a specific reason, purpose, or circumstantial solution? I say the answer is no.

Now, I’m well aware that this perspective will come as a surprise to some. Quite a few on this email list have hired me to help secure more wins on the scoreboard, more dollars in your organization’s pocket, or more compatible relationships within your team. But take a closer look. Although we’ve faired pretty well (according to the judgments of most), have you and I ever strategized around that line of thinking? Have we set targets, expectations, or goals? The answer, again, is no. Rather, we’ve shared our best version of Truth and let the chips fall where they may. Anything else would have been a complete shot in the dark.

Same questions go to some of my colleagues who are nobly trying to utilize the IO paradigm to awaken the world, or to stamp out the symptoms of unconsciousness such as poverty, discrimination, abuse, and war. Can it be done? You tell me. Sure, the temptation to start outside and work inside (as mankind has tried forever) is alluring—it’s also fundamentally sinister as it will tempt or gnaw at even the best of us. However, it is and will always be the opposite of how human beings work. The opposite of Truth.

Remember: Truth is universal. The implications of Truth are personal. So, while it’s impossible to predict the circumstantial or personal results of pointing someone toward Truth, we do know this: In time, Truth answers all calls. That’s why we must strictly start inward—with how the experience of all human beings is created—and let resilience, excellence, oneness, and love emerge from there.

Garret

Relishing the Journey

Since over the past few weeks, I’ve written extensively on the current-affair implications of the inside-out paradigm, in this post, let’s turn our attention back to the foundation of performance.

Fact is: If you’re an athlete, coach, executive, writer, gardener, artist, or performer of any kind—these days, it’s virtually impossible to avoid the deluge of self-help advice or tips (coping strategies, mental practices, and techniques) on what to do when your state of mind waivers.

However, you can know this:

1.  None of them will work.

If you’ve ever used a coping strategy and then felt better, the strategy is not what caused you to feel better.

2.  No matter how you feel, a state of mind cannot be abnormal.

Negative feelings are an essential part of the human experience; it would be abnormal to not have them.

3.  The mind is designed to ebb and flow.

And it will do so to the degree that you don’t try to fix what’s not broken (don’t obstruct the ebb and flow through the use of coping strategies).

4.  Every person alive owns a psychological immune system.

The psyche—soul, spirit, or connection to God—is durable; 100 percent resilient.

5.  Your psychological immune system always has your back.

When you know, I mean deeply know, that your psychological immune system will not abandon you, the need to cope or look outside for answers automatically fades. Then relishing the journey (the ebb and flow) becomes simple, even enjoyable.

Inward and up,
Garret

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,
Garret

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,
Garret

A Rare, But Important, Friday Post

Friends,

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.

Garret

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,
Garret