Thursday, January 14, 2021

Part I: The Law of Organization and The Principle of Awareness

From the “The Principles and Patterns of Building…  Everything!” 

A BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC Masterclass Series



Let’s focus on just the first law in this principle and pattern set: The Law of Organization.  There are 4 stages in the Law of Organization as it relates to the building or creation of all things:


Principle #1: Develop awareness

Principle #2: Learn to dream, imagine, and explore in ways that are believable to you and are within your powers of influence.

Principle #3: Choose a single focus area to work within.

Principle #4: Begin with the end in mind.





Each one of these elements requires further explanation and illustration to more perfectly understand.  Because I want this to be expansive, I’ll clarify these principles in specific posts.  Each principle stands alone but also fits beautifully into the context of “The Principles and Patterns of Building...Everything!” Let’s focus closely on the first principle in the Law of Organization: develop awareness.


Develop Awareness


In 399 B.C. the great Greek philosopher and teacher, Socrates, was killed by a poisoned drink containing hemlock, a flowering plant found in Europe and North Africa.  While standing in his own defense, Socrates, who did not write his own teachings but were recorded by those present, is said to have stated: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  


What do you think this means?! What is this question asking the listener to do? What are we to examine? What are we supposed to be aware of?  


This short and hyperbolic statement was the final straw that got Socrates the death sentence.  He had already been labeled “a corrupter of youth,” “a gadfly.” Why?  He had spent a significant number of his years trying to disprove an oracle's prophecy stating that there was no one wise that Socrates by asking leading thinkers, politicians, artists, and innovators who they were and what they believed.  He concluded that he was the wisest only because he was aware of his own ignorance.  When we learn our limitations, we know where to grow next, we gain the humility needed for openness to new ideas and new ways, we experience increased awareness.  To be aware of our own limitations may seem unnerving.  Maybe that’s why Socrates’s accusers had him silenced permanently.  In truth, it is the first step of all learning, all growth, all creation.


Awareness--No Matter How Distressing--is Less Painful than Ignorance


Let me share a real-life example shared with me years ago through a friend and family member.  Though we lived states apart, we kept in contact by phoning each other when life gave us a few minutes of time.  We would chat about the ins and out of newly married life and we’d often end up on the subject of money--the most scarce resource of young married students and newly minted parents. She, matter-of-factly, shared her most reliable solution to insufficient funds in her checking registrar.  )Before there were digital tools and visual accountings of every dime which we enjoy on bank apps available today, we had to keep a handwritten record of every purchase to know what was left in our accounts.) Her comment was this: “If I don’t have enough in real life but I still need to spend more, or I have more bills to pay, I just add an extra $1000 to my balance and make a budget that works for me.  I feel better because I’ve solved my money problem.  Then, everything works and I don’t have to worry anymore!”  So, in order to avoid painful, financial self-examination she found it easiest to fake it, spending her creative energy on a game of pretending rather than on concrete resolutions!  You can see the troubles this would lead to immediately.  Of course, she knew it was a fairytale and that it didn’t fix her problem, but she liked to pretend because it gave her a temporary sense of control and prosperity.  But at what cost? There is no happiness in self-deception.  Ignorance, surely, is not bliss.  Though it “helped” her avoid her immediate pain, it did nothing to address the reality of her situation.  Her pain would not only linger longer but over time, would also intensify through her self-deception and neglect.  Our imaginations work most effectively when we are addressing reality-- through increased, honest awareness. 


The Four Primary Intelligences to Develop


Awareness can be learned and increased.  This need to develop awareness applies not only to physical life realities like money, but it also applies to our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual realities, too: meaning, our character growth, the way we interact in our relationships, our self-talk, our skill development.


Awareness is the beginning of the beginning, the very first step.


Modern teachers, business leaders, and psychologists are exploring 3 intelligences in addition to IQ.  Others argue there are upwards of  9 or 12.  We’ll briefly look at 4 major intelligences:


IQ, The Intelligence Quotient

PQ, The Physical Intelligence Quotient

EQ, The Emotional Intelligence Quotient

SQ, The Spiritual Intelligence Quotient


IQ

Most common to us is the IQ, or Intelligence Quotient.  Simply stated, this is a measure of our spatial understanding and of our use of logic and reasoning. 


PQ

PQ, or the Physical Intelligence Quotient, is the measure of body awareness including our motor skills and our skillful use of them.  It also includes our ability to detect and actively manage the balance of chemicals in our brains so that we can achieve more, experience less stress, and live more happily. Simply, it measures the physical capabilities of the brain and body to change and adapt. This and more information is available at arteshumanis.com.


EQ

Emotional intelligence, EQ, measures the ability to understand and manage emotions and of being aware of the effect one’s actions, moods, and emotions on other people.  It encompasses how we build and nurture relationships. Those with high functioning levels of Emotional Intelligence have the ability to self-regulate, have social skills, experience empathy, and can motivate themselves intrinsically.  More can be found on this at verywellmind.com.


SQ

Spiritual Intelligence, SQ, is more difficult to measure.  Not all psychologists include this intelligence in their studies for this reason.  This intelligence measures the ability to act with wisdom, which to me is the union of knowledge, virtue, and understanding.


David B. King has undertaken research on spiritual intelligence at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. King proposes four core abilities or capacities of spiritual intelligence:


Critical Existential Thinking: The capacity to critically contemplate the nature of existence, reality, the universe, space, time, and other existential/metaphysical issues; also the capacity to contemplate non-existential issues in relation to one's existence (i.e., from an existential perspective).

Personal Meaning Production: The ability to derive personal meaning and purpose from all physical and mental experiences, including the capacity to create and master a life purpose.

Transcendental Awareness: The capacity to identify transcendent dimensions/patterns of the self (i.e., a transpersonal or transcendent self), of others, and of the physical world (e.g., non materialism) during normal states of consciousness, accompanied by the capacity to identify their relationship to one's self and to the physical.

Conscious State Expansion: The ability to enter and exit higher states of consciousness (e.g. pure consciousness, cosmic consciousness, unity, oneness) and other states of trance at one's own discretion (as in deep contemplation, meditation, prayer, etc.).  


What I find most striking from these 4 intelligence quotients is how closely they align with the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’.  In 1943, Maslow published A Theory of Human Motivation where he suggested that “healthy human beings have a certain number of needs, and that these needs can be arranged in a hierarchy, with some needs (such as physiological and safety needs) being more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs)” (psychologytoday.com). Maslow’s so-called ‘hierarchy of needs’ is often presented as a five-level pyramid, with higher needs coming into focus only when lower, more basic needs, have been met. This is what Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ looks like on the left and how it lines up with the 4 primary intelligences on the right (image on the left from simplepsychology.com):



The intelligences can be arranged to reflect Maslow’s research.  However, it's important to note that intelligences are neither developed independently nor sequentially due to the nature and demands of living, but there is an indication that they are progressive and they show what higher levels of living involve.  When we can honestly evaluate our standing in each category, we become more aware of where we need to focus our goals for greater fulfillment and ideally, a higher quality of living.


Characteristics of Self-Actualized People


Viktor Frankl, in Man's Search for Meaning, wrote about those people who were able to endure the harshest conditions of concentration camps as “sensitive.”  I believe his definition of sensitive could be understood today, in psychological terms, as those who had developed character traits of “self-actualized” people.  Frankl commented:

Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom. Only in this way can one explain the apparent paradox that some prisoners of a less hardy make-up often seemed to survive camp life better than did those of a robust nature.


Frankl seems to indicate that despite physical quotient deficiencies, some fared better because they had developed elements of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual intelligence that sustained them through bitter injustice.


Abraham Maslow believed that “only two percent of people would reach the state of self-actualization” (simplepsychology.com).  By studying his own set of mentors, people who he considered living at the highest tier of self-actualization, he identified 15 characteristics of someone living at their peak potential.  I’ve organized these characteristics into a self-evaluation opportunity with one caveat that you understand that not all traits are required in order to live fully.  Even Maslow recognized that there is no perfection in man but that there are shared characteristics enjoyed by many of them: 'There are no perfect human beings' (Maslow, simplepsychology.com).  This means that when evaluating yourself, be honest, but also remember to remain fair-minded and merciful in the process.  As with all things, there is an inner (spiritual) component of self-actualization and an outer (physical) component.  


Self-Evaluations


Below you’ll find two self-evaluations.  The first measures the internal characteristics associated with those who live their personal potential.  The second measures the external behaviors associated with those Maslow found living according to their potential.  


Self-Evaluation #1: Inner Characteristics of Self-Actualizers

Inner Characteristics of Self-Actualizers

Name:                                                    

Date:

Instructions: Place an ‘x’ in the box that most accurately describes your current skill or ability in each area right now.  This should remain personal and private so you will feel free to be perfectly frank.  It is also valuable to revisit and retake quarterly or annually to look for patterns of growth and increase your personal awareness.


Never

Rarely

Sometimes

Often

Regularly

1. Perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty






2. Able to love yourself and others for what they are right now






3. Spontaneous in thought and action






4. Problem-centered (not self-centered)






5. Developed and unique sense of humor






6. Able to look at life more objectively (through multi perspectives)






7. Highly creative






8. Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely or mindlessly unconventional






9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity






10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience






11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people






12. Have peak (highly revelatory or spiritual) experiences






13. Need for privacy; Value privacy and make opportunities for rejuvenation






14. Embrace Democratic (freedom-minded) attitudes; Support freedom of self and of others






15. Strong moral/ethical standards







Self-Evaluation #2: Outer Behavior of Self-Actualizers



Outer Behavior of Self-Actualizers

Name:                                                    

Date:

Instructions: Place an ‘x’ in the box that most accurately describes your current skill or ability in each area right now.  This should remain personal and private so you will feel free to be perfectly frank.  It is also valuable to revisit and retake quarterly or annually to look for patterns of growth and increase your personal awareness.


Never

Rarely

Sometimes

Often

Regularly

1. Live with Openness: Experience life like a child, with full absorption, concentration, wonder, and curiosity






2. Willing to Experiment: Try new things using good judgment instead of sticking to paths mindlessly






3. Think Independently: Listening to own thoughts, feelings, and experiences instead of mindlessly following the voice of tradition, authority, or the majority






4. Practice Honesty: Avoid pretense ('game-playing') and discern best practices for communicating; there is an absence of self-serving ulterior motives






5. Commitment to Truth: Prepared to be unpopular if views do not coincide with those of the majority






6. Fully Accountable: Work hard and take responsibility for the consequences of your own behavior and feelings






7. Discerning: Able to identify biases and unhealthy defensive walls and have the courage to address them and work to give them up







As you look at the results of your self-evaluation, you have already increased your level of awareness.  Congratulations!  You might find value in revisiting these self-evaluations quarterly if you’d like a more intensive approach.  Otherwise, yearly would be beneficial.  Take note of your progress each time you take the test.  Recognize where you’re declining, where you’re staying static, or where new habits or abilities have become natural and spontaneous.  


Awareness is not about Perfection

It’s easy to lose perspective when taking on the seemingly nebulous task of self-analysis.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about personal potential. The website simplepsychology.com states, “Maslow did not equate self-actualization with perfection. Self-actualization merely involves achieving one's potential.”  The site also confirms the idea that self-actualization, the pinnacle of all intelligences, occurs by degrees and is achieved in personal ways and through unique experiences.  They are most commonly identified by the things we struggle with and suffer through, so go easy on yourself. Additionally, simplepsychology.com emphasizes, “It is not necessary to display all 15 characteristics to become self-actualized, and not only self-actualized people will display them.” Again the article reminds us: “Less than two percent of the population achieve self-actualization.”


Increased Awareness Leads to Increased Choices


Self-awareness is the bedrock of solid choices.  When you know where you’re strong you can work to your strength.  When you know where you’re weak you can find creative ways to compensate for that deficiency--hire someone who’s better at it, research how to improve, be patient with your progress.  Awareness is the first principle of the Law of Organization when we are discussing the overarching theme of “The Principles and Patterns of Building…  Everything!”.


The next principle, in the Law of Organization, is about tapping into your potential by learning to use your imagination, harnessing the power of dreaming, and learning to explore new options.  What is possible with your growing awareness?!  


Learning to live more aware includes much more than self-evaluations.  It also includes taking every opportunity around you to learn either in structured classes, through workshops and retreats, in self-directed reading and study, through personal experience carefully evaluated, by connecting to other’s experiences, and so much more.  To aid you in this process, I have workshops that teach these principles and patterns in greater depth with printable, in-depth workbooks that invite greater personalization through participation.  It can be done in either a do-it-yourself formula or live through ZOOM, or at a conference or school gatherings.  Please email me for more information to suit your personal needs, the needs of your family, or of your group or organization at beautifullivingtoday@gmail.com.  I’d love to help you, and those you influence, learn principles that help us all enjoy greater levels of fulfillment, connection, and productivity.



Until next time, learn to live more aware and increase your capacity to...


...Live Beautifully!


Heather Roberts Butler

Founder and CEO of BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC


P.S.

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