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Magic George. Monday March 6, 2017

Too many years ago, Paul Miller and I had the pleasure of spending time with 'Magic George'. Magic George is a psychologist and magician who helps disengaged individuals - especially youngsters - re-engage through the medium of magic.

The key 'Aha!" moment for me was that Magic George was able to demonstrate to me that my eyes really didn't see the 'real' world. He showed me how my eyes had to invent some of reality in order to make sense of the world. He explained and showed me that I actually don't have the sensory apparatus to 'see' reality as it truly is.

To a certain degree...

Another couple I've been fortunate to come across are husband and wife team, Benjamin and Rosamund Zander. Benjamin and Rosamund Stone Zander's book, "The Art of Possibility," is one of those books that just might change your life. I have the book and the audio version - and the audio version still brings me to tears, even after listening to it time after time. Tears, and for the right reasons - this is deeply moving material.

I'll lift just one profound point from the Zanders' book:

It's all made up!

Benjamin and Rosamund are unambiguous on this point: we invent our lives and the rules we live by.

Clearly this isn't ultimate or absolute truth... some things are real. In terms of living day-to-day, though, it is enormously liberating to realise that most of this 'stuff' we see as the rules and regulations of life is made up - make believe - invented as we go along...

...and that means we can challenge it!

In Society, when what we make up gets believed by enough people, we make it Law - and then it has another dimension of credibility, but it is still invented!

When I began to drive, you didn't have to wear a seat-belt. Hey, in my Dad's day, it was pretty common to drive back half-cut from the pub. I make no moral judgment on this - I merely make a point: the rules have changed because we have invented new rules.

Am I suggesting then that we break all the rules? No!

Am I suggesting that we begin to break some of the rules? Yes!

I am suggesting that we see them for what they are: mere invention; mere things we've been led to believe, and thus they are 'make belief'. Understanding this gives us permission to question and to challenge and to change.

There are, for example, dozens of rules that bind your own behaviour (and even your beliefs) that are ridiculous and inappropriate. Maybe today is the day when we can encourage the Conscious Revolutionary in you to challenge just one of them?

Far more of what you perceive is illusion and invention, and, for these reasons, everything is worth a closer look.

You've invented your life. You can reinvent yourself - starting today. This is 'life on purpose' - the deliberate life.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Mike Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 5:04am

a lovely posting, thank you, so true and a lovely reminder we can all play by our own rules!!

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 5:35am

Thanks Mike... and I'm willing to bet that the rules you make up for this 'Game of Life' will be better than the ones others have made up for you!

Leah Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 5:11am

challenging as usual. I may be confused but what is difference between inventing or reinventing oneself and lying?? I find all this talk about fake news and post truth to be very difficult to understand. I probably missed your point!! In my experience people who play by their own rules often upset others and don't care. Thanks for the blog Lex.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 5:39am

Hi Leah, yes I haven't got my point over to you very well today, have I? I'm not into lying at all - it is unsustainable, aside from the moral aspect. Rules agreed with others are wonderful - and they glue Society together, but unagreed rules that are imposed can cause more harm than good. Take, for example, a dress code at work. For some professions, it's a great principle (in a Hospital is a good example.) For other professions, it is a way to 'control' people. I spoke to someone the other day who felt a tie was a noose. I'm not sure if that was true but it was 'true' for them, and so the rule of wearing a tie for them was very restrictive. So, my meaning is to stay with the truth as you know it, and challenge some made-up rules that don't serve either you or the people you love. How's that?

Sally Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:19am

I like the phrase " unsustainable" ,Lex. Wonderfully brief yet so true. A tie CAN be a noose! Apparently!!...When our son was 17 and at his lowest, our family doctor said to us, his parents, "I'll take my tie off before I go up to see him, just in case". It still makes me smile wryly today, years later! Our son is AUTISTIC, for goodness sake, not a murderer- in- waiting!! The only person he would've harmed would've been himself, probably...and then, most unlikely . Misconceptions about the disabled abound, I'm afraid!! I am trying to rewrite the story bit by bit. Smiley face.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:25am

Hi Sally - sounds like you have a great mission to help rewrite the rules around how we perceive and treat those with autism. This is a powerful example of the need to challenge attitudes that Society has bought into as if 'fact'.

Mary Wednesday Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 7:11am

Hmmmm. This can be very dangerous. I know someone for whom our "normal" views on sexual rules and activities are restricting. He can back up his arguments with facts and statistics and "prove" that monogamy does not work. Nevertheless, in our society at present, we expect people to have only one partner (in public life at least). He would love to break these rules and make his own. But - in a job where he is scrutinised more carefully than in some professions - this has resulted in trouble. Also, so far, he has not met many women who are happy with this arrangement. For some reason, the majority of women seem to want fidelity. Maybe it is just our culture; in other cultures men have more than one wife.... ah, but those are cultures where women have less power. A question arises: if women had more power than men, would we choose to have more than one husband? There is a whole genre of romantic fiction which would have us think so!

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:21am

Hi Mary! You'll get no disagreement from me on what you've said... though this is not my intended meaning of today's blog. We will, of course, all find our own meanings through the associations it triggers. My strong moral stance is outlined in my response to Lead, above.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 4:59pm

I just noticed that 'Leah' has become 'Lead' - in my typing or predictive text. A call to action for Leah to take the Lead??? I shall have words with my fingers...

Debs Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 7:27am

Brilliant blog Lex and a subject close to my heart! I blogged about the Landmark Forum a while back and this is exactly what the course teaches: that all of life is made up and the only meaning it has is that that we give it.

Once you know this you can see that we all live in a big story, created from decisions made in the past (I got picked last for the sports team and made it mean I'd never be good enough and I've carried that around with me until I did the Forum). It's totally liberating! Once you start to free yourself from those decisions - which invariably lead us to see ourselves in a certain way (I'm not good enough, I don't fit in, I'm shy, I'm loud and a whole host of other things) - you get to create yourself, and the world, anew.

If you haven't done the Forum I always encourage everyone to do it. It's not for people in deep depression (although I did it when I was and it was amazing, but it's not recommended!) but for anyone who like me has a pervasive sense of not belonging or feeling good enough, it's life changing. I wish the world would do it, it would be a totally different place.


Bearofliddlebrain Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:12am

Sounds amazing Debs....I'd pick you for my team! (I was always one of the last to be picked for rounders...could run like mad, but couldn't hit the ball for toffee hee hee!). I'm still rubbish at throwing a ball, but I don't's only for doggit! Bear xx

LP Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 9:22am

Lovely too see you on this fine morning Bear Hugs/ Bear. Hugs! LP xxx

Debs Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 11:38am

Lovely to see you all too!! I'm reminded of how much I miss this community when I step out of it for a while. ;-) xxx

Debs Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 7:37am

I would just add (I love this subject as you can prob tell :-)) that Buddhism talks of humans being continually drawn in the direction of either love or fear. Rules generally have been created out of one or either of these. Humanity looks to control its self for fear of chaos and confusion, a shame really because our natural state is love. I say create your own set of rules based on love and as long as they have integrity and inspire people, go and live them!! Let's see what emerges when we live free like that xxxx

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:27am

That's wonderful, Debs - "...create your own set of rules based on love and as long as they have integrity and inspire people, go and live them!!" Your insights into rules being based upon love or fear is profound.

Leah Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:33am

Debs, Great to see your name. I hope you are well. I can see you are enthusiastic about this topic. You say "create your own set of rules based on love and as long as they inspire people- there's the rub- you are saying creat your won set of rule but they must be based on love etc. I know many people will just see create your own rules.See Mary's comment about a man trying to create his own rules about fidelity. I think it is a lovely idea but is not very practical unless one puts so many restrictions which sort of defeats the purpose. Lex, Thanks for your comments . I do understand I just have reservations see above!! Discussion is good for the soul and this is my story!

Debs Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 11:44am

I love that Leah: 'discussion is good for the soul' - ain't that the truth!! I can see how my slightly vague comments about creating rules based on love could be open to interpretation and naughtiness ;-) What I mean really is that there are rules that have been created for the love of humanity (don't speed for example - you might hurt someone and nobody wants that) and some that have been made from fear and control (school kids must sit in rows at desks and do what the teacher says). What I guess I'm saying - and I'm only really seeing all this as I write - is that the rules to challenge are the ones that have come from fear and control. What could happen if we made these rules from love instead? What if there was nothing to fear and control in this amazing humanity of ours?

Oli Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 7:49am

"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun."
Katherine Hepburn said that. It has become a wry motto for someone I know who has OCD.
I like it too. It reminds me how rigid, inflexible thinking gets in the way of enjoying life.
Nice blog Lex.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:28am

Thanks Oli! It's time I had a lot more fun... ergo...

Sally Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:05am

I was fascinated to read this point of view, Lex, and do know what you mean. I think it is worth remembering. For instance, a month go, in the glooms, I would've been looking at life through the wrong end of the telescope (Nobody loves me, I am an unworthy person, etc) but at some level, I knew that when I am "well" I have many friends and family who like my company, and that I lead a worthwhile life.
And I support a couple of people for whom life is the pits just at present, and their thinking is all negative and without any hope of recovery...
I think we all have to be there just to reassure, to love, in the widest meaning of that word, and to comfort people who have come off the a train enthusiast , I like to talk about being on the right track, blowing the whistle, hitting the buffers and so on!! Visual stuff like that helps me to see when seeing is difficult ...if you get my meaning, Lex ( and other Moodscopers).
Very many thanks, Lex, for writing this inspired and novel blog. Have a nice day.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:31am

Hi Sally, I do like your use of rail metaphors... especially when life seems to have derailed us for awhile. I can imagine you being cheery company on the journey for those you support.

Bearofliddlebrain Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:09am

One of the best Moodscope blogs to date, Lex.....much to ponder in this guilt-ridden life, where we are supposed to 'conform' to beliefs and rules that have been made up and if we challenge them or openly disagree, we are often out cast of society.
Brilliogs blog! I thankees!
Waving Bear paws at you all....because I can!

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:31am

Thanks for the waving bear paw, dear Bearofliddlebrain... and for encouraging me!!

Tutti Frutti Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:24am

Hi Lex
I haven't been in a great place due to a build up of things over the last week or so and I found this very helpful. I think what you are saying is pretty similar to REBT (rational and emotional behaviour therapy) where you identify your negative thoughts and feelings and then try to pinpoint the underlying attitude which caused it and then ask is it rational, is it helpful etc and work out a better attitude to live by if it isn't? I think there are often things where we are putting overly strict standards on ourselves and setting me bar higher than we would for others where a small tweak to our attitude is really helpful. Mary and Leah, I don't think Lex is suggesting that we let ourselves off abiding by the usual moral standards or try some sort of post truth. But if your inner critic is saying things to you that are so harsh you wouldn't dream of saying them to a friend in your situation you probably have the odd attitude which could do with tweaking to allow you to be kind to yourself.

Not sure how coherent this will be as I have had very little sleep but hopefully getting up to do CBT exercises in the night will pay dividends later. Now I need to decide whether or not I am up to going to work today! Love TF x

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 8:35am

Hi Tutti Frutti, great to hear from you. I think you've made your points very eloquently. I'm not familiar in any depth with REBT or CBT, but the underlying challenge is similar to what I'm seeking to convey today: let's challenge the 'stuff' that isn't working because we can find alternatives! x (Glad you spoke out to support my moral positioning too! Each blog is a tiny reflection of the truth - but can never be the whole Truth on its own.)

Susannah Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 9:14am

Hi Lex

I love this blog. Thank you.

There are too many pointless rules in society, that are just for controlling people rather than letting them live life to the full.

If somebody needs a starter - try wearing obviously unmatched socks (that are visible) we're talking one orange and one purple here, not just a little accident in the post-wash pairing.

It hurts nobody and it just might make you smile.

Freedom of expression all the way.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 10:12am

I love that aspect of freedom, Susannah... one of my daughter-in-laws has worn mismatched socks for years, and it's a lovely statement of her quirky and adorable individuality.

LP Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 9:28am

Hi Lex,
Thank you for your inspiring blog. I'll look out for which decisions are based on imagined rules rather than actual ones today!
It's a brilliantly sunny morning in London, sending sunshine and smiles to all! LP xx

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 10:13am

Thanks, LP - Dorset is grey but your words bring sunshine xx

Jul Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 9:48am

Hi Lex. I like you for your rebellious streak! I have always been one to follow rules (or at least I used to) but not imagine they exist. My OH for instance won't venture somewhere he THINKS might be out of bounds. He must think Gaffer George will appear and send him packing. I am adventurous and will do something unless I am told not to. I am not reckless however. I like your blog today as it has made me think about how I look at the world. We live in a nanny state and are dictated to in so many ways that maybe we should stop and this really the right way to go about my life? Obviously there are sensible boundaries to all this. Jules xx

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 10:15am

Hi Jules! Actually, I'm a big fan of sensible rules and structure, but not of the 'unexamined life'. Someone far cleverer than me said, "the unexamined life is not worth living!" Challenge and rebel when appropriate! (Socrates, apparently said it!)

Lacey Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 11:36am

Hi Lex
Love your blog today
I try to live my life with the thinking 'The only rule is.....there are NO rules'..........
It helps,it gets me through bad days, sometimes other times falls on deaf ears.
However the days pans out though we get through it ,one plod,one foot at a time
That's the way to do Judy said to Punch. Everyday is a story,a tale,a fiction.......and no two are the same.
Thank God x

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 12:43pm

Hi Lacey, I believe you and I are very aligned in our thinking on this - we make up stories about the what is possible and what the rules are. It reminds me of a powerful question, "What would happen if I didn't...?" Best to break the rules in our imagination first!

Brum Mum Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 12:16pm

I'm with Tutti Frutti on this one. It is our negative thinking, and rules maybe learnt from our family which can make life so difficulty. For me, the unwritten rule was no one in our family splits up with their husband. So I broke that rule and it took me a long time and much heartache for all involved (and I do understand moral codes). But was it the healthy, right thing to do? Absolutely. Am I a happier, healthier, kinder person as a result? Yes. We now co-parent considerately and far more respectfully and both are able to acknowledge the mistakes we made and our incompatibility. Sorry if I go on, but hope this is the type of thing you meant, Lex.. I found your blog very meaningful today.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 12:46pm

Thanks, Brum Mum. You've shared something very personal to me too. Today is my (ex)Wife's birthday. In spite of a strong moral code and similar rules to your own, I, too, split with my wife. I still believe that it was for the best even though the consequences have been dire at times. I simply didn't know enough at the time of marriage to make that kind of permanent commitment to someone I really didn't know! Some rules must be re-examined, even re-negotiated as we grow...

Vickie Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 12:37pm

Hi Lex,
Inspirational blog! When I started reading it I guessed it was your writing:) I “lived” strictly by all the "rules" for a long time but did not get the expected outcomes. I’ve come to realize that I need to take ownership of my life - as you say “life on purpose”. I challenge the limitations/restrictions that I have put on myself. Some days are scary and there is lots of uncertainty but I feel that I am truly living an authentic life.
Thanks for the encouraging words.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 12:47pm

Hi Vickie - thanks for the encouragement, and for using that beautiful word, "authentic"! Here's to an authentic life!

Di Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 1:35pm

Dearest Lex ~
Amazingly thought-provoking post. One part that slayed me:
"I am suggesting that we see them for what they are: mere invention; mere things we've been led to believe, and thus they are 'make belief'. Understanding this gives us permission to question and to challenge and to change."

I thank you, sir, for your digglingly fearless & questioning journey.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 2:51pm

Thanks Di, you manage to pour so much encouragement into your words today - lovingly appreciated, Lx

The Gardener Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 4:02pm

Leah - with you on confusion - read Lex's blog, looked at Monday's list - looked easier, having achieved a lot felt strong enough to have another look. Great scope for going off at tangent. Still struggling with decision on FaceBook - feel it gives scope to make yourself appear what you are not. (And, conversely, believe what people tell you?) Novel writing has proved revealing, truth mixed with fiction. A British fan swears the heroine of the second novel is the young me - never thought about it - she is streets above me in all spheres, except, perhaps, to cut through muddle and verbiage. But another character, who took over and 'wrote himself' transposed, if that's the word, into one of my grandsons - who, regarded as a bit of a joke, even a bit dim, when young, proceeded to confound everybody. Vickie's 'challenges' put on herself. My restrictions have been imposed by events. I'm good at tangents - Lex's 'magic' made me think of the belief in miracles, faith healers etc. Millions make the pilgrimage to Lourdes - there are, I believe, only 52 people who have been 'cured' for whom there is no medical explanation at all, Was it Locke who said laws COULD be broken in the case of tyranny? Now, my degree paper on 'Theories of the Modern State' did confuse me - did you ever understand Rousseau, Lex (if you were forced to study him)?

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 5:05pm

Hi Dear Gardener... not explored Rousseau as yet (though your comment, "were forced to study him," suggests pain!) Thinking of you while re-reading Durrell's charming and very funny, "My Family and Other Animals." I can imagine your own prose about your garden and the birds therein...

DAVE Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 4:07pm

The world is as was made, in its beauty and truthful stance, lying in the sunshine listening to the birds and the colours around gives purpose in this life to abide by the laws of nature....Man cannot change beauty into more beautiful...This is a recognizable anchor in life..

Man makes laws for the benefit of man, legislation has consequences...we can accept or reject that which anyone proposes, thus we accept the consequence of our choice.

Personally life is simple if we stick to rules that bring happiness into our lives....We can object if those rules/regulations bring us down miserably...

Making good choices and doing the right thing by the foregoing process of choice is a personal matter for the individual, and we stand or fall by our choice.

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid) Keeping Life simple for me is governs self confidence, the more complicated rules, laws, terms of contract become, the more frustrated we can become.

Royal Naval training was governed by order, that was 'knocked' into me at a very young age....That governs the way I feel and cope with what 'others' THROW at me, but logic and determination, even listening to other opinions gives me a very wide choice...So I cannot close my mind just to other angles, we need each other to communicate and ACCEPTING that we are not always right.

It's really nice to read your blog Lex as there are so many angles and answers...The beauty of age 72 is that I am willing to learn from Children and 'Older' people...Its what makes life so interesting.

Thank you.

Lex Mon, Mar 6th 2017 @ 5:03pm

Hi Dave, thank you for your depth and encouragement. I 'saw' a cut diamond when reading what you wrote - so many facets and each facet with a multiple of perspectives as it reflects each other facet. There is so much to learn, isn't there?

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