Flaneur Pocket Guide Advert 630

So, I accidentally wrote a new book – “A Pocket Guide For The Flaneur of Life”.

As you may be aware, alongside the NLP training and coaching that I do, I also focus on mindfulness and, with nearly 20 years experience in meditation, I am an advocate and activist for the “Slow Movement”.

I have been working on an update to my Mindfulness Meditation Guide and Business Guide for for NLPers when inspiration struck and I wrote this book instead!

What Is A Flaneur of Life?

Flaneur is a French term from 19th century Paris that describe the act of strolling. A Flaneur was a lady or gentlemen who took to casually strolling the streets of the city, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street. They would walk for the sake of walking, enjoying the journey.

A “Flaneur of Life” recognises that life is journey and would rather take a more casual approach, than rushing around and getting all flustered. They appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

In this little pocket guide you will get little gems of wisdom to help you slow your life down and turn it into a stroll rather than a sprint.

It includes ways that you can become:

  • Calm and collected.
  • Mindful and aware.
  • Able to chat to anyone about anything.
  • Unburdened (with thoughts, actions and possession!).
  • Unhurried and unflustered.
  • Well dressed (not fashionable, but stylish).
  • Able to carry yourself with grace and elegance.
  • With slow deliberate movements.
  • Unflustered and unhurried.

Get it now in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon:

UK here

US here

Can You Help Me?

Do you have a blog, website or podcast or just like writing reviews? I would be more than happy to email you a PDF review copy, do an interview or guest post/article, please contact me here to discuss it more.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

the truth about sea monsters

If three sailors returned from a trip claiming to have seen a sea monster, we would find it hard to believe without any additional evidence (and even that would be scrutinised). But if the same three men claimed to have seen someone kill a man, it would be enough to send someone to prison for a very long time (or even sentence them to death).

What makes one seem more truthful (and therefore require less evidence to convince us) than the other? Do we have different levels of “truth”? Where some “truths” need more evidence than others?

Richard Wiseman, the well known Parapsychologist and Skeptic seems to think so, here is what he has said about ESP (specifically remote viewing):

“I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but it begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do.”

This is frankly absurd. What he is saying is that to prove ESP is true we need more evidence than, say, proving we have a cure for cancer? Wiseman defends that statement by saying:

“…they [evidence for ESP] do meet the usual standards for a normal claim, but are not convincing enough for an extraordinary claim.”

So, some truths are “ordinary” and some truths “extraordinary”? What’s the difference? How do we decide (and, more importantly, who gets to decide)? What he is saying is if the claim seems extraordinary to him (it is outside of his experience of reality) then he demands more evidence than if it seems ordinary (within his experience of reality).

Surely there is one truth?

The odd thing is there isn’t. Or if there is, we could probably never find it. Just think about it for a second. 500 years ago it was perfectly acceptable to believe in Angels, in fact you may even have been burnt at the stake if you said you didn’t. Nowadays, we tend to scoff at people who make claims that they have seen an Angel. We look back and laugh at the naivety of the people in those times. But, if history teaches us anything, it is that everything we know is probably wrong and people in 500 years time will probably look back and laugh at how naive they think we were. Or as Einstein put it “Truth is a product of time”.

How do our ideas about what is true change over time? I have I have already written in detail here about how George Polya attempted to discover how we create our understanding of the truth (our beliefs), but it seems our perception is inherently bias towards re-enforcing what we think we already know.

This phenomena is known as “confirmation bias” and is best summed up by Orff’s Law that “What the thinker thinks, the prover proves”. Or, our perception system will generalise, distort and delete all sensory evidence we receive to fit in with what we “know” already.

Why do we do this? Why are we biased to confirm what we already think we know? It seems that our perception is based on “best guess” pattern matching. If you see a chair, you know it is a chair because your brain runs a check against it’s stored patterns that have been labelled “chair”, but because chairs come in all different shapes and sizes we have to be flexible with our patterns, hence the “best guess” (which leads us directly to seeing shapes in clouds, etc).

So, if our perception is constantly running a check against what we already know, what happens if we have no internal representation yet? The experience is completely new? Well this will tend to get straight into our internal representation of the world (our “map”) without being “transformed” to fit our map. And then we will use that data to compare all similar future experiences. So, when people say “first impressions count” it is true.

Here are a couple of simple thought experiments:

1. Next time you find yourself making a claim to knowledge, ask yourself how you know that. You will often find that the evidence you have is relatively scant, and much of it will be, in fact, information you have been told by someone you trust (which takes us to a totally different topic of how we decide who to trust….), rather than your own personal experience.

2. Next time you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with something, ask yourself what references, experiences, and “data” you are using to create that comparison. Again, you may find much of what you are using is spurious to say the least.

[PS, it may seem as if I am “picking on” Dr Wiseman. I would like to make it clear that I am not, he is an intelligent and experienced person and I respect his views immensely (even if I may disagree with some at times), I am just using his quote as an example. Besides, I am sure, being a successful and intelligent man, he doesn’t really care what I have to say!]

Love Actually

It is the festive season, which means I can watch one of my favourite films; Love Actually by Richard Curtis.

I appreciate that to some people Richard Curtis is appalling; he writes smug, white, middle class, bland, cliched, schmaltzy, mawkish movies. If you grew up in a sink hole estate in an innercity, you may not be able to associate with his work and have that interpretation.

Which is utterly understandable. Our experiences create how we respond to the world. Two people will interpret a given situation in two different ways depending on their references, prior experiences, beliefs and current emotional state, because they respond to their interpretation of the events not the event itself. We respond to our internal representation (our map) of reality, not to reality itself.

Therefore, by creating an appropriate internal representation we are more likely to respond appropriately to a given situation. This, in essence, is what NLP is all about.

So, my question has always been ‘why create an internal world (map) that limits you?’ With absence of evidence to the contrary (and rarely is evidence as compelling as people think it is – many things can be interpreted many different ways) why not choose the best/most useful/most optimistic map that you can? It really is a choice. If it helps you get out of bed in the morning, believe whatever you want (as long as it isn’t harmful to yourself or anyone else)…

And I like to believe I live in “CurtisWorld” , where everyone is nice and friendly, and love, actually, is all around. Why not?

This internal representation (map or belief) makes me feel happy and helps me interact with people better, which makes them happier too. And evidence suggests that happier people tend to be more successful, less depressed(!), healthier and live longer. And happiness really is a skill; you can learn to be happy, you just need someone to show you how. And Richard Curtis has taught me a lot.

So, this festive season, why not give yourself and people around you the gift of happiness? Why not try living in “CurtisWorld” and see how you get on? You may enjoy it more than you think.

What Does Richard Curtis Films Teach Us About Being Happy?

“CurtisWorld” has a lot of lessons to teach us about how to live. Many of his films cover the same themes and here is just a handful of the things he has taught me through the years.

Be Involved In Something Bigger Than Yourself

What Richard Curtis teaches more than anything else is the power of community, whether that is just a group of very close friends or family, or even work colleagues.

Get out and about, make firm friends and spend time with them,  and have fun with them, stick together and support one another.

Make Grand, Preposterous Gestures of Love and Appreciation

If you are going to say something, say it BIG! Whether that is declaring undying love to a movie star at a press interview or proposing to someone in a crowded restaurant. Or just thanking someone for doing your a favour. Be grateful and be bold about showing that gratitude.

Manners Count

When Colin Firth’s character in Love Actually, Jamie, races to Portugal to ask for Aurélia’s hand in marriage, he arrives at the airport to find only one taxi. Although he gets to it first he notices an old lady who also needs cab and graciously offers her his (and then has a tantrum), even though it inconveniences him.

We are not polite and well mannered for self-serving reasons we are polite and well mannered because it is the right thing to do.

Stand Up For What You Believe In

Whether that is beating up Hugh Grant for offending the woman that you love or not putting up with a world leader bullying you (as our current Prime Minster did not so long ago as a rebuttal to an alledge comment from a Russian diplomat, and our Mayor of London did to defend us against Mitt Romney’s criticism about our readiness to host the Olympics) or just signing an online petition, stand for something.

We All Do Stupid, Embarrassing Things

Live with it.

It is Possible To Learn A New Skill in Less Than A Month

Given the right incentive. In Love Actually, two characters acquire a new skill in under a month – drumming and being able to speak Portuguese. Both to woo the women that they love. If they can do it, so can you.

Don’t Trust Anyone Called Bernie

It appears, if Richard Curtis is to be believed, that anyone called Bernie is a complete w**ker.

Swearing Is A Perfectly F**king Acceptable Form Of Expression

F**k all those prudes who interpret as offensive a certain sound or written down squiggle on a piece of paper! Sometimes an expletive is the only appropriate way to express your current state.

Four Weddings and Funeral starts with 11 F**ks, a F**kety F**k and a B*gg*r.

And Finally – Love, Actually, Is All Around

You can choose to believe the world is dark and unforgiving place if you want, and that people are essentially evil and cruel and selfish. If that is what works for you then go for it. There is plenty of evidence that supports that belief if you look hard enough for it. But there is also plenty of evidence that shows us that the universe is an accommodating and supportive place and people are essentially nice. I choose to believe that love, actually, is all around.

Merry Christmas!

Matt

I can’t help feel twinge of sadness. You see, I have noticed a disappointing trend.

NLP has become worryingly mainstream…

NLP grew out of the counterculture and the exploding scene of consciousness explorers of the 60’s and 70’s, people like Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Noam Chomsky and Buckminster Fuller (to name a few), the psychotherapist it studied were the edgy and controversial. NLP is a fringe science (if it is a science at all), out on the edges of understanding (and like all fringe sciences has been accused of being a pseudoscience more than once).

But all of a sudden NLP seems to have become “normal”. More and more people in every day life are seeing some of the benefits of the applications of NLP and NLP, as a sector, has expanded exponentially over the last few years.

NLP was and still should be on the cutting edge of conscious exploration, yet there don’t seem to be many pioneers anymore (I can list on one hand people I have come across who are doing something unique or original with NLP), and NLP is becoming more and more  a homogenised mass of identikit trainers churning out cookie-cutter trainings, all the same, all desperately unoriginal, many just trying to make a quick buck.

Even Richard Bandler has cut his hair and is wearing suits! NLP Life Training has become a slick corporate affair, far from the slightly dishevelled trainings (I mean that as a compliment) I attended.

Of course, I write this blog  with my tongue firmly in my cheek, this trend is undoubtedly a good thing, NLP is starting to become researched and rigorously tested, it is gaining credibility and is doing some amazing things in different fields, including health and education. I just can’t help but think that it is making it all a little…dull.

NLP should be controversial. All cutting edge tools are. Lets recapture the spirit of NLP, burn the map and head out into the wilderness and see what you can find. Be creative, be original, be FREE!

(As ever, I invite you to comment – and disagree vehemently if you wish – and share).

In this episode, I share an exercise I learned from Aleister Crowley via Robert Anton Wilson. It will help you recognise all the random chance, coincidences and synchronicities that have got you where you are today. This will hopefully help undo unuseful or limiting beliefs and behaviours.

I am often asked about “The Secret” and the Law of Attraction, it seems to have become associated with the NLP field somehow. I have even noticed some NLP Trainers have started running workshops on their version of it!

People ask me on a regular basis if I think it works. My take on it is simple: I don’t know. I am not quick to jump to conclusions or pass judgement, but the thing I have noticed is that people who are really focused on what they want seem to succeed much more than those that aren’t.

Now, are they bending reality to their will, did the universe give them what they are asking for? Maybe. That would be nice wouldn’t it?

Don’t believe in that idea? Don’t write off the Law of Attraction just yet! It may still work for you. There is a more psychological explanation for how it may work.

We have in our brain something called the Reticular Activating System, or RAS for short. It is thought that one of its jobs is to be the doorman of our mind. Let me explain…

We are bombarded with thousands of pieces of information a second, we just cannot take in or process that amount of stimuli, so the RAS is the part of our brain that decides what to allow through. If it’s not on the list, it’s not getting in. What decides what is on the list? Well, it is complex process that no one quite understands just yet, but to put it simply, have you ever brought something new, like a car or a piece of clothing? And suddenly seen it everywhere? Did you manifest them? Maybe, but more than likely, your RAS now deems it important enough to let through to your awareness (it “puts it on the list”), and you start to notice them when once you ignored them.

Does that make sense?

I am not saying it is purely psychological I would like to think (being the daft romantic that I am) that the universe is benevolent and does give us what we focus on (I can almost hear the scoffing of the more rationalist readers out there!).

Whichever explanation you want to believe in, don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. Do this experiment: Tell yourself you are going to find some money unexpectedly today. Keep it in the forefront of your mind and look around for it. I guarantee that you will find some money, even if it is just a penny that someone has dropped on the pavement (obviously if you find someone’s wallet or a big suitcase full of cash, you may want to take it to the police station). Now when you find the some cash ask yourself; did you manifest it, or did you just notice something that usually you wouldn’t? Does it matter?

If you can do that with money, imagine what else you can do it with…

Matt

I have been into comic books long before they became fashionable, back when you still called them comics, not graphic novels and most people had never heard of Alan Moore, or Neil Gaiman and accused you of being childish if they saw what you were reading.

So it is probably no surprise that the one person who has been the biggest influence on the way I think is a comic book author.

No, not Alan Moore, I think he is terribly over rated (other than “V for Vendetta“, which was brilliant)

It is Grant Morrison, especially his magnum opus “The Invisibles“, that book changed my life. To me The Invisibles is as powerful, and culturally important as James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The Invisibles blew me away. When I started reading it I had no idea what it was about, but it seemed to include everything that I was interested in and was mirroring my own journey at the time.

Whenever I start thinking life is dull and I should be “normal” I re-read the Invisibles, just to remind me to lighten up and that there is much more to what is going on than we can ever understand or imagine.

His teachings are not as obvious or easy to get as Robert Anton Wilson or Richard Bandler as he doesn’t write books on the subject (apart from his “Pop Magick!” essay in “Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult), he writes comic books that include his idea’s, beliefs and techniques. You have to do a lot of reading between the lines, you have to do a lot of work and research yourself, he doesn’t give it away easily!

What he truly excels at is to remind us that our understanding of the world is just our “map”, not “the territory”. He makes us very aware that our reality, to a rather large extent, is what we believe it is. He understands that everything we think we know about reality is just a metaphor (as he explains in the introduction to “The Filth“).

talking with gods


Now there is a brand new documentary from Patrick Meaney at Respect Films: “Geant Morrison: Talking With Gods“. I have watched it three times in the last three days and each time I get something new from it. It is fascinating look at the man behind the myth and why he is so revered in the geekosphere. If you are Grant Morrison fan, it is a must watch. If you are new to him, this may be the best place to start.

Matt

Just a short post to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I will be back in the New Year with new and exciting trainings, events, products and ecourses.

I think it is fitting to leave you with the wise words of The Pogues from Fairytale of New York:

“I could have been someone
Well, so could anyone”

Think about it. Have a great Christmas, see you in 2011.

Matt

hack – verb. (Computers) to devise or modify (a computer program), usually skilfully.”

neuro-linguistic hacker – noun. (Psychology) a person capable of reprogramming [their own and] other peoples minds with verbal streams of data [specific patterns of language and behaviour]…” (Neil Stephenson – Snow Crash).

Inspired by Neil Stephenson’s book Snow Crash, I have recently started describing myself as a Neuro-Linguistic Hacker rather than a Neuro-Linguistic Programmer.

what’s the difference between a neuro-linguistic programming and neuro-linguistic hacking?

Richard Bandler (the co-creator of NLP) explains that NLP was specifically developed to study (model) the strategies (programmes) of others to help people learn new ways of doing things (re-programme ourselves). So for example, when Bandler was looking at ways to “cure” phobias, he found people who had cured their own phobias, learnt how they did it and then taught that to people with phobias. The result become formalised as the “Fast Phobia Cure”.

Neuro Linguistic Hackers uses the principles of NLP to “hack” their own brains, but rather than using someone else programmes, they create our own.

Neuro Linguistic Hackers are also adept at implanting a “thought virus” into the minds of other people.

Whereas NLP is remedial in nature (problem solving), NLH is generative (creating new, more effective ways of thinking, acting and communicating).

But NLH is more than that. Ideologically, NLH takes NLP back to its roots of exploration, fun and creativity, escaping from the overly formulaic and restrictive nature of the what NLP has become. It is a reaction to the attempts to overly mollycoddle and tie NLP into a formal framework, strangling it of it’s innovation and resourcefulness.

To learn more about Neuro Linguistic Hacking, how it can help you and how you can become a Neuro Linguistic Hacker please go to www.neurolinguistichacking.co.uk

Matt

Up until around 2003 I had read the majority of books that had been published on NLP (well, when I say read, I mean skimmed in most instances). From then, I have to be honest, I have lost touch a little with what has come out. I still keep an eye open for new books on the subject, but most of them seem to tread over old ground, or focus on specific applications of NLP. So, instead, I have been looking around for “non-NLP” books that have the attitude of NLP and seeing what these can do to inform my (and your) NLP practice. Here are three that I think are well worth the read.

1. james joyce  – ulysses

I have already spoken at some length about Ulysses in this blog post here, so I won’t repeat myself too much. Suffice to say, if you want to learn about language, metaphor and the nature of reality this is the book. Often considered the best book ever written it isn’t an easy read, but it is well worth it.

2. neil stephenson – snow crash

I have only recently been introduced to this book (big thanks to Jon), it doesn’t refer to NLP specifically (as some reviews suggest), but Neil really understands the analogy of the human mind as a supercomputer and language as the software. It updates some of the metaphors of NLP to the internet/personal computer age.

3. grant morrison – the invisibles

OK, this isn’t a book, it is a graphic novel series. But  Grant Morrison’s magnus opus covers everything from linguistics, to magick, to conspiracy theories, time travel, the nature of reality and the end of the world (to name just a few things). Like Ulysses, it is a multilayered work that demands and inspires multiple readings, each time you will go deeper and deeper.

Maybe one, or more of these books would make an ideal Christmas gift for the NLPer in your life?!

Matt