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Consciousness

Psychiatrist Who Survived The Holocaust Explains Why Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness

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Are you happy? It’s a loaded question that many of us cannot simply answer yes or no to. Yet it’s something we ask ourselves and others, and often. But perhaps we shouldn’t be focusing on happiness. Perhaps happiness is the byproduct of a meaningful life. This is how Viktor Frankl sees it, anyway.

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In September 1942, the well-known Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist residing and working in Vienna was arrested and taken to a Nazi concentration camp along with his wife and parents. After three years, the camp in which he was imprisoned was liberated. Frankl lived, but his pregnant wife, along with the majority of his family, did not.

When one is reduced to a mere number — 119104 — for three years, being stripped of your right to freedom and life, how does one survive? Frankl’s 1946 bestselling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, written in just nine days, explores this question through the experiences he endured at the camps. His answer illumines an essential part of what makes us human. The difference between those who had lived and those who had died, he says, came down to the idea of “meaning.”

Frankl worked as a therapist in the camps, and came to find that there was an overwhelming sense of hopelessness that consumed many inmates. In his book, Frankl discusses two suicidal inmates who had come to believe there was nothing to live for.

Frankl writes: “In both cases, it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them.” One of the men discussed the importance of his young child, who was living in a foreign country at the time. The other man focused on a series of books he needed to finish.

Frankl writes:

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This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”

Meaning is something that is so easily overlooked in comparison to happiness, but Frankl’s understanding of why we need it is impactful because it brings to the surface the truth that, in the face of suffering, we find a great light by looking beyond our immediate situation.

Frankl found that meaning came from three possible sources: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty.

Regarding the “intensification of inner life” that helped prisoners stay alive, he discusses the transcendental power of love: “Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.”

He uses the example of his wife, who gave him a sense of meaning:

We were at work in a trench. The dawn was grey around us; grey was the sky above; grey the snow in the pale light of dawn; grey the rags in which my fellow prisoners were clad, and grey their faces. I was again conversing silently with my wife, or perhaps I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, my slow dying. In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. “Et lux in tenebris lucet” — and the light shineth in the darkness. For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong: she was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.

Frankl also says that humour is “another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation.” He writes:

It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds. . . . The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent.

Frankl’s outlook directly opposes that of today’s culture, which is so focused on the pursuit of individual happiness that it neglects the search for meaning. “But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy,’ ” Frankl writes.

Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, boosts self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression.

Yet according to the Center for Disease Control, about 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Forty percent either do not think their lives have a clear sense of purpose or are neutral about whether their lives have purpose. Nearly a quarter of Americans feel neutral or do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful.

And then there’s research that suggests our single-minded pursuit of happiness is actually making us less happy, which shows that Frankl was ahead of his time when he wrote, “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Consciousness

On Taking Life Too Seriously

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Much of the time in life, we allow ourselves to take situations VERY seriously. This will sometimes turn pain into suffering, or prolong the challenges we face for growth. It also stops us from truly finding peace in life.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you feel a constant sense of anxiety in your life? Underlying everything? Where do you notice you take life or situations too seriously? What do you do to begin connecting back to self, and taking life less seriously?

Do you go through life with constant angst? A feeling deep down that there is always a little bit of stress or a little bit of worry? I’ve been through this. And in some ways, I thought it would never go away. But I focused on self awareness and living in the heart enough to kiss those days goodbye.

We can sure take life too seriously at times can’t we? I mean it’s fair. We have stresses in life that we get caught up in, we go, go, go, go, and often forget to take a moment to breathe. In Western culture, it’s all about obsessing over goals and getting there and telling ourselves sotries about what life will be like when we do finally get there… but what often happens to us when we live this way? We step into unconsciousness. We stop taking time to FEEL.

I want to help us remember to be STILL with this.

Various experiences and events have taken place in my life that have challenged some of my deepest ideals, belief systems and concepts that I felt were a part of me. This has gone on and occurred in my entire 11 year journey of truly changing myself. Whether it had to do with the work I do, friends, the world, relationships or big decisions in life, many things were challenged. It has truly been an incredible ride.

We sometimes might think “when will all the change and ‘chaos’ end?” A good question indeed, but isn’t this what we are here for at this time? To truly look at ourselves, look at all that we hold onto and all that we define our reality with. Literally everything! If you are feeling like you are the only one out there going through this stuff and feel like everything is backwards -that things are constantly being challenged, know that what you are experiencing is perfect, and we must remember to have fun with it!

Not Just A Human Experience

We are not here at this time to simply have ‘a human experience,’ we are here to evolve the human experience. It’s different! Stop looking at the past to tell us what to do, how we should move forward, and what ‘the greats’ did in our past to figure things out. We are not in that time, and the zeitgeist of our time now is not to simply exist but to be present as we deeply evolve the way of life on this planet.

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We hear a lot “but we’re human, just embrace that!” That’s all fine, but what does that mean? What is a human? How should we be? Does being human mean accepting the world as it is? Are we capable of more? Can we redefine what it means to be human and what life should look like? Why do we give up so easily on dreaming big about these things?

I used to accept MANY limitations about myself and what I could do. But eventually, I was faced with the chance to let all that go, and reimagine what was possible. Even when everyone told me I was crazy and I couldn’t do what I was trying to do, I used my connection to self and consciousness to create it. Because I believed I was capable of more, and so is everyone else. This is how Collective Evolution, the site your on, came to be.

Embracing Change

After experiencing the many deep questions and challenges I have thus far, overcoming them and moving forward, I have one very special thing that I have reminded myself about over and over and truly understand to a deep level. We are here to play and evolve! None of what we are experiencing is as serious as we think!!

The mind and ego can make things very real, very dramatic, very frightening. I know! But the highest aspect of who we are is always clear, always neutral, and always sharing with us exactly what we need to hear because IT IS US! We are not the mind or the stories it creates that makes things so serious. They are there because that is our challenge. To go beyond the mind and the stories it creates -so we can experience this sensorial world and remember who we truly are (click to listen to my podcast on this topic.)

So let’s remember, whether it’s life choices, relationships, friends, work, family, sports, or everyday events, know that it’s just an experience! We can spend our whole lives always caught up in the drama and the intensity, saying “oh my gosh things are so tough, the world is so crazy, my life is upside down, and I’m so busy!” but where does this lead us? This is a question we must ask ourselves.

If we remain caught up in these perceptions, repetitive patterns of mind, we will continue to miss out on the entire journey we are on because we are lost and caught up in the mind. We perpetuate our so called “suffering” when we make things serious and make them a big deal. When we can see it for what it is, we allow the emotions to subside, allow back in our full potential and know how to take action forward. This is called finding true peace.

I’m not talking about simply accepting things and saying “well get over it” or “that’s how it is, so deal with it.” No. I’m talking about truly seeing things for what they are. Seeing why we color something in a particular way. Seeing the belief system behind why something is good or bad or right or wrong or even why it’s serious!

I promise you, behind every strong emotion, every serious situation, there is a belief system that makes it that way. One that is held in the mind and made real by the mind. But the mind is not YOU! See the story! Let it go and just play! You will find much peace and joy in flowing through your experience in this way.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
Continue Reading

Consciousness

Have You Realized The Profundity Of Our True Nature?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In life, we typically move about, seeing all material for what we define it as. This makes things convenient in a way, but there is a profoundness to not only seeing beyond these definitions, but also tapping back into full potential.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you ever tried practicing the awareness that you are not your mind nor your body? Why do we identify so strongly with just our physical body, and is it time to begin to remember we are much more than that?

Who we really are has been staring us in the face the whole time.

Take a look at your body, but look at it from a completely impersonal perspective; free of any thought about it at all. Without labels like arms and legs; without any sense of ownership, just as it is. Look in the mirror at your face, your eyes, but look without the thinking mind. This body that you get to use and throw around the joint, is a product of the universe. Conditions were apparently perfect here on Earth for Humans to exist. A magnificent sculpture, carved from stardust, gases, cells, minerals, heat – one of the most complex arrangements of cells and energy you have ever laid your eyes upon.

There is no boundary to the human body; there is no “in here” and “out there.” The body is a constant flow of energy, never a stationary or permanent thing we could pin down. There is a constant flow of air coming in and out, molecules by our skin, bacteria breaking down food in our stomach, there is no boundary between the body and the environment. It’s like a river, never the same body of water in any two moments.

Then, how about all the stuff the body perceives. All the sounds, tastes, smells, visual images and so on. The human body makes the whole world we’re privy to. The brain selects a very narrow band of frequencies and constructs reality according to the bandwidth of what our senses relay for us. The visual spectrum is only a very narrow band, while other sentient beings select out different bands for their viewing pleasure. So reality as we know it, never exists objectively, only subjectively through the being that is observing it. Without an observer what does it exist as? Just a soup of frequencies I suppose.

I find this phenomenal! There are little reality bubbles existing wherever a sentient being is alive. Energy has coalesced into the form of a human being, a giraffe, an ant, a butterfly, a chameleon, an amoeba, and through these configurations, the universe is observing itself. It is having experiences with itself.

1619136_420984308034739_245289130_nSo essentially, the whole world that you exist in – the reality bubble that you spend your entire life in – is entirely made by the human body. Your human body. Everything, all of it. Look at the image your eyes are creating. Look at how immaculate, perfect and impeccably high the resolution is! Check out how infinite the colour palette is. Take another look in the mirror at the wonder of your eyes. Those things stuck in that head, those things that we call eyes are absolutely wondrous biological organs, composed of trillions of living cells; living in harmony, being fed by the fuel you place in your mouth. Those things are taking frequencies of energy, sending it at light speed to your brain, where trillions more cells convert it into a picture. WOW!

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And while I’m on that subject: have you ever wondered how electrical signals in the brain – how realistically an infinite amount of neurons in our brain – can create the conscious experience of sound out of electrical impulses? How does something biological turn electricity into the conscious experience of smell? Into the emotion of love, of anger?

So look around you. Look what you’re part of. You’re on a planet zooming through space at hundreds of kilometres per second, circling around in a gigantic galaxy. You’re amongst animals, forests, bodies of water, lightning, rain, drought, plants and soil. You’re amongst life! You’re seeing it unfold right before your eyes, seeing life in all its animation. I don’t see why it should seem like there’s anything else to do, other than admire what we’re amongst, and create.

Just as the bus motors down the street, so too does the galaxy arms revolve around its core. A child eats breakfast, while an asteroid erupts as it passes through an atmosphere. We are as much an expression of this universe as the plants and galaxies. This universe has arranged itself in such complex ways, in such exquisite patterns, so that it may know itself through our eyes. We have become an aperture for energy to know what it inherently is.

When we look deeper into our own nature, we find that things are even more extraordinary than what exists in the physical realm of bodies, animals, plants and stars.

There is this notion of separation in our society, where we exist separately from the outside world of other stuff. We are separate from the table, our house, other people and the whole cosmos. We feel this too, because we feel that we are the human body, or the thinker somewhere in the head. But this notion is learnt, cultivated, but not all cultures prescribe to this way of being at all.

The whole world is consciousness; it all exists within, not out there somewhere. This is the worldview slowly being ushered in by quantum mechanics and eastern traditions. They’ve arrived now at the same point, but there is obvious resistance because the old system composed of survival-of-the-fittest, authority, institutions and competition rely on our illusory separateness for vitality.

Consciousness is the way in which biological functions of firing neurons in the brain are turned into a conscious experience. Consciousness is something transcendent of the physical world, and is therefore never affected by the  realm of form. It is so perfect and complete already, not needing fulfillment or healing in any way.

The thing is, most of us don’t feel this way though. We still feel separate, small, incomplete and not an integrated part of the whole. We still feel like we are locked up inside a head looking out at separate stuff. But there are ways in which consciousness can shift and identify with something much deeper. The first step is usually quieting the mind through meditation. Our thoughts have run rampant, and we’ve taken this incessant internal monologue to be who we are. But if you do one session of meditation, you’ll see that the mind comes in all by itself, starts up fantasies, conversations, judgments and memories all by itself, while you are trying to focus on your breath. While you’re trying to be silent, the mind has other ideas. Meditation shows us we aren’t the thinker at all; it shows us that we are the witnessing presence OF thought.

A thought is as much a sensation as the taste of ice cream is; we’ve just placed too much emphasis and belief in thought. So rather than identifying consciousness with something superimposed upon it (the mind, the “small self”, the ego) we can shine the light back in on itself via techniques like meditation, and identify as pure consciousness itself. We become not only the witnesser of all sensation, but we merge with it, just as we did with the mind. The feeling of self shifts from the mind with all its thoughts and ideas about the world, to sensation. And sensation is essentially the universe! You become the whole universe.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
Continue Reading

Consciousness

When Is The Last Time You Were GENUINELY Yourself? If You’re Still Thinking About It, Read This.

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Some of us go our entire lives without truly being ourselves. There may be many reasons for it, but we often find ourselves living via others' expectations or approval.

  • Reflect On:

    When was the last time you noticed yourself hold back or be different than YOU because you were worried about what someone may think or do? Worried about challenging someone? Perhaps just appeasing people's egos?

Being 100% authentic to who you are, and at peace with it. Living from the Heart. Feeling comfortable within yourself. At all times. With everyone. No matter what “people dynamics” you are exposed to.

Now that’s a tough one for an ego who needs the approval, love and acceptance of others. Inner-peace sure is conditional when we are afraid to have our mind and its beliefs challenged in one way or another. But instead of basing our actions and state of being according to the fears, worries and desires of our ego, what we should ask our heart instead is:

Is it really worth it to compromise our natural state for the sake of appeasing the ego of others? Is it worth it to step away from our natural state and rather buy into our own egoic beliefs and fears?

The truth is, when others are truly comfortable and at peace with themselves, they won’t need you to change who you are. And when you are truly comfortable and at peace within yourself, you don’t need others to change who they are. Only the ego does.

When you have reached a state of utmost clarity and inner-peace, the only thing that can really make sense… is to BE who you truly are!

So the bottom line is, when you are authentic and at peace within yourself, YES, there will always be egos challenged by you, yet there will always be souls INSPIRED by you. In both cases, it is as perfect as it can get 😉

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This is a simple reminder, not long, just simple. You can read it today, pass it on. Deep wisdom doesn’t have to be super long. Enjoy your day! 🙂

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
Continue Reading
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