What would it take?

So… I‘ve declared 2024 as my chance to show what I’m made of, to live without flinching, and to remember why I wanted to come here in the first place. This represents a big change for someone who has found a good deal of security in flying under the radar for many years.

Now what?!

How do I move ahead in the face of this paradox?

The first thing is to recognize that everything in our lives is influenced by inner and outer energies. That’s the vantage point of my perspective. This isn’t a surprise; it’s a fact of physics. And it means I’ll start by learning a bit about those energies to become clear on two things:

  1. What will I be navigating though?
  2. How can I manage my own energy as gracefully as possible?

Cosmic energy has a major influence on us, whether we are aware of it or not.  Since this is the beginning of a new year, it’s a good time to get the lay of the energetic landscape.

From the perspective of cosmic energy, 2024 has signs of being another turbulent year. But there’s a fundamental difference in the energy. It’s going to be tricky—turbulent but with a nuance that has implications for all of us. Chinese astrology identifies 2024 as the year of the wood dragon. Dragon energy is fiery, and wood fuels fire. So, as you might imagine, the intensity of what we do will be magnified.

Looking at our inner energy, from a mythological perspective, the dragon is a powerful fiery force which is distractive when disconnected from consciousness. And yet fire combined with consciousness results in illumination and wisdom. 

The bottom line is that fire consumes or illuminates, depending on whether or not it is coupled with consciousness. And given the fiery cosmic condition, it’s doubly important that we consciously direct our energy this year. Living by default will not serve us well.

Back to navigating change…

Here’s a basic energy principle I learned from Deepak Chopra many years ago.

Energy flows where attention goes.

In practice, this means that when I concern myself with what I consider wrong with me or the world, I’m feeding those very things I want to change or get rid of, and entrenching them even more. And I will have spent a lot of valuable energy doing so.

Squandering my energy in this way is bound to leave me unhappy, with little energy left for moving toward what I do want.

To be clear, I’m not saying I should ignore the reality of how things are. Awareness is the first step toward change. It is what we do with that awareness that makes the difference.

So if I know trying hard can’t work, what will I do instead?

Since attention activates energy for something to happen, the sensible thing is to direct my attention toward how I’d like things to be, instead of focusing on what I dislike and don’t want. Simple. Not always easy. Takes conscious effort.

The question becomes…

What is it I want?

Or, the better question might be: What do I really want? I’m fortunate to have my survival needs well supplied, and that has left me room to explore how I can contribute to the well-being of life on this planet.

I’ve always had a sense of purpose, a deep knowing that I’m here—here at this particular time—for a reason. So what I really want rests on that foundation.

In this coming year, I want to consciously explore what is true from my perspective, and then articulate it. My posts will be a step in that direction. This approach has arisen from deepening my inner connection through a variety of means. It’s a process of unfolding, and I’ll share more as we go along.

Where to start?

Simply put—start where we’re at. Since I’m moving resolutely into not-yet-known territory—in which I’m likely to encounter a lot of conditions that are different and new—I’m thinking an exploratory attitude will take me a long way. And I do know that nothing is changed until the possibility of it is seen. I’ll start by exploring possibilities.

How to do it?

I ask myself questions. I imagine possibilities and test them by feeling how my body responds. Does it feel light or heavy? Contracted or expanded? Sometimes I feel as if my heart is smiling when I land on a constructive idea. And once I recall doubling over with a feeling of nausea while considering a job that was not aligned with where I needed to go.

If you’re feeling the stirring of the dragon but not sure where you want to put your attention, it’s time fo a bit of an inner adventure. A good way to start an exploration is to wonder what you might want. Here’s a playful approach from author Teresa van Bryce to help you engage your imagination and explore possibilities.

And that might be all it would take for you to put change in motion.

Bibliography

Thinking Differently & Why It Matters

Before I start, let me be clear that this post is not about artificial intelligence (AI). It’s about navigating life as AI becomes smarter than us.

The ChatGPT backstory…

Last week I mentioned a recent development that has disrupted our comfortable lives—the release of ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer). To elaborate:

ChatGPT is a large language model designed to produce natural human language. Much like having a conversation with someone, you can talk to ChatGPT, and it will remember things you have said in the past while also being capable of correcting itself when challenged. … ChatGPT was trained using a mix of machine learning and human intervention, using a method called reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF). Take note of this last point because it is relevant to the proposal in the video that follows.

After being in the works for several years, ChatGPT was released on the internet by OpenAI in November 2022. Now, the summer of 2023, it’s creating a buzz everywhere.

Initial public concerns were about the ease of fraudulent communications—written, visual, and voice. This could show up in activities such as impersonating others, students submitting essays they didn’t write or even fact-check, and misleading news reports. Granted, these things already happen with our present technology, but the sophistication of AI makes it almost instantaneous, very convincing, readily accessible, and highly pervasive.

These characteristics of AI have raised concerns such as: How will we know what is real any more? What is real anyway? Does it matter? What will happen to jobs? Especially my job?

Then in March 2023, the Future of Life Institute published an open letter calling for “...all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.” According to a CityyNews article, it was signed by “more than 1,000 researchers and technologists, including Elon Musk.

That letter was followed by several highly publicized cautions from early developers such as Prof Yoshua Bengio and Dr. Geoffrey Hinton. These and many other voices of industry insiders have raised the really big questions: Are we past the point of no return? (Yes) How long will it take for AI to be smarter than humans? (5 years, maybe less)

It’s scary…

Whereas the experts are deeply concerned because of what they know from working in the field, the rest of us experience the disempowerment of fear without knowledge. That makes fear doubly scary in any situation.

The logic of fear…

The logic of fear is that a moment in the future is less safe for me than this moment.

Therefore, it’s safer for me to preserve the conditions of this moment, to keep everything the same, to hold the line against change.

The fallacy…

The fallacy of this viewpoint is that it’s not the nature of nature to stay the same. We’ve all heard the truism that nothing is certain but change. So we are wasting a lot of energy when we fear the future and try to keep things the way they are.

A more constructive approach…

Given what experts are saying about the inevitability of AI’s rapid evolution, it’s unrealistic to think we can hold the line at the existing level of artificial intelligence (social media, chatbots as customer service contacts, GPS on our mobile phones, autocorrect on text messages, digital assistants, and e-payments).

Rather than trying to halt it, our energy will be much better spent in thinking about how we can navigate life with AI to achieve the best outcome for us, the planet, and humanity.

Sounds good in theory, but it seems huge beyond anything we can do. How will we ever be able to navigate what’s next?

The value of thinking differently…

When we don’t know what to do, the best thing is to change our perspective, to look at the situation from a different viewpoint. As Einstein famously said, we can’t solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it.

Mo Gawdat is approaching the AI situation from a higher consciousness. He’s a former industry insider who is thinking differently about how we can navigate life as AI becomes smarter than us.

It’s a radically different viewpoint, but who’s to say it wouldn’t work? As noted at the beginning of this post, ChatGPT was trained using a mix of machine learning and human intervention, using a method called reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF). As explained on the OpenAI website, this is “a method that uses human demonstrations and preference comparisons to guide the model toward desired behavior.” This suggests to me that we can play a constructive role here.

For a description of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, a concept in game theory in which everyone has an incentive to defect in their own self-interst and, as a result, everyone is worse off.

To hear Mo Gawdat speak at greater depth about this idea, go to 1:50 of his interview with Tom Bilyeu. For more context, start earier, at 1:18.

Moving forward…

In times when every “next thing” presents another big challenge that seems beyond our control, we will navigate more easily if we consciously avoid a knee-jerk fear reaction and instead put our attention on discovering empowering possibilities for action. 

As Mo Gawdat says, “We might as well…ask them [AI] to do what’s good for us, good for the planet, and good for humanity.” 

From my perspective, our human superpower is that we can choose to think differently—and thus create the more beautiful world we know in our hearts is possible.

If you found this of value, please share it with someone.

I just want this to be over.

I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Many of us are experiencing fatigue from the extreme degree of adjustment and adaptation that has been required of us as we learn to shop differently, work in unfamiliar conditions or not at all, and socialize in new, less satisfying, ways.

Last week I shared some soothing techniques from ACEP, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology. Today I have something from the HeartMath Institute.

The video below describes a quick way to reset your system when you’re reaching the limit of your ability to cope. It can be done anywhere, several times a day. Although they refer specifically to health care workers, this simple action can help all of us deal with the daily grind of this on-going pandemic. Continue reading