The Being & The Doing EPISODE 8:
One Powerful Question that Changes Everything
Mindset has a powerful impact on our choices and focus. The way you view the world determines your day to day experiences. In this episode Laurel shares the most important question you can ask yourself and why it has an impact on everything you do.
Here’s a blog about my favourite Einstein quotes and what they have to do with life.
Want some help shifting your mindset or perspective? Send me an email and we can set up a time to chat about the benefits of a one hour power telephone coaching session. I would love to help you build this well-being skill.
THIS EPISODE’S HOMEWORK
Something to think about:
Do I live in a friendly or hostile universe?
Something to try:
Keep a tally of your friendly or hostile thoughts as you go about your day. Just notice which way your default is currently set. Shifting to a friendly universe mindset takes time. This bit of homework helps raise your awareness of where the hostile universe perspective shows up for you – or under which circumstances – or with which people.
Grab the guide
You can download a little guide with some ideas about making time for both action and awareness. When you grab it, you will also get my weekly tips about living life the mindful way.
You can grab your FREE homework Awareness & Action guide HERE.
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is Good Morning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Transcript of the Show
Intro: Welcome to The Being and The Doing, a podcast about well-being and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author and life coach Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hey lovely ones welcome to Episode 8 of The Being and The Doing. In today’s show, I am going to ask you a very important question. It just might be the most important question that you can ask yourself and that’s because your answer to this question has an impact on everything that you do. But before I reveal the big question, let’s dive into a little underlying psychology first.
So once we believe that something is true, we embrace all of the information that confirms that view while ignoring and rejecting any information that is contrary to our view or cast doubt on it. So in other words, when we want something to be true, we collect up all the evidence that supports our belief that it is indeed true and we don’t pay attention to any evidence that isn’t true. I touched on that back in Episode 4 talking about finding calm in the midst of chaos.
Now, there’s a fancy name for this; it’s called confirmation bias, and that’s just simply our tendency to search for and interpret and favor and think about and recall information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs. So confirmation bias means that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of information, the ones that make us feel good because they confirm our opinion or our belief.
So we cherry pick the information. Let me give you an example; I’ve borrowed it from a psychologist name Dr. James C Goodwin and he uses this example about ESP or extrasensory perception. He says that people who believe in ESP will keep close track of those instances that support the belief of extrasensory perception. For example; oh, I was just thinking about Mom and wow, the phone rang and it was her. Proof of their belief in extrasensory perception, but what they don’t do is pay attention to all of the times when either one, they’re thinking about Mom, and she never called or they weren’t thinking about Mom and she did call.
So in other words, think about that old saying, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ is actually more, ‘I’ll see it when I believe it’. Confirmation bias helps to explain why two people who have opposing views on a topic can see exactly the same evidence and both of them can come away feeling validated by that evidence. We see that a lot now. Yes, it’s a conspiracy; no, it’s not a conspiracy. Exactly the same evidence, two different views looking at the same evidence, both supporting the view that they have.
Confirmation bias is not a new thing, it has been around forever. But in today’s really let’s call it a hyper-busy world where we are inundated with information 24/7, constantly being bombarded by information, we really do have to pick and choose what information that we’re paying attention to. We just can’t possibly pay attention to all of it. So confirmation bias means that we’re going to select or cherry pick according to what we believe and what we want to believe.
So on to this powerful question that I want you to consider, it comes from one of my favorite guys, Albert Einstein. Now, yes, Albert Einstein was an amazing physicist but in my opinion, I think he was even more insightful as a life philosopher. I’m going to leave a link in the show notes to a blog that I wrote with some of my favorite Einstein quotes. There are lots of them and what they have to do with life.
Okay, Einstein said one of the most important questions you will ever ask yourself is, drumroll, do I live in a friendly or hostile universe? Do I live in a friendly universe or do I live in a hostile Universe? It’s a binary choice; Yes-friendly, no-hostile; yes-hostile, no-friendly. Now Einstein said that the answer to that question is the most important decision that you will make in your life.
Wow, powerful question. That’s because that one answer sets up the framework for your entire worldview. We’re either friendly Universe people or hostile Universe people. Your answer determines whether you feel helpless or empowered, whether you are a pessimist or an optimist, whether you’re a glass-half-full person or a glass-half-empty person. The answer to this seemingly simple question actually colors everything that you experience. And that’s because what I believe about the world has a direct impact on what I experienced; remember confirmation bias.
So let’s think about this hostile universe. In a hostile universe, things just don’t work out very well. They don’t work out very well for you compared to everybody else, where it seems like it works out better for them. Life feels like it plays favorites, perhaps, with some people over other people and some people just have charmed lives or they are naturally lucky. My view is that the universe doesn’t play favorites.
I think you find the opportunities that you go looking for. I bet you couldn’t tell what my answer to that question is, hostile or friendly universe. But if I believe that the universe is hostile, I’m really believing that the world is conspiring against me. So in that case, it’s easy to give up personal responsibility or start blaming other people or circumstances for things not going the way that we want them to. And when that happens, life is really living you rather than you living life. It’s really circumstances are dictating your experience.
Now on the other hand, if you believe that the universe is friendly, then, yeah, things go your way but not always. It’s not that everything always goes your way. If you believe that the universe is friendly, but when it doesn’t go your way, you look at setbacks as learning opportunities or maybe course corrections. And when you believe that the universe is friendly, you kind of have to have a little faith.
You have to be patient because everything doesn’t happen right now just because I want it right now. And in a friendly Universe, you have to be okay with not knowing everything. If you believe that you live in a friendly Universe, it also means that you have to be conscious and intentional in your choices; you have to be proactive.
Just because the universe is friendly, it doesn’t mean that you can sit on your butt and wait for whatever it is that you’re wanting to have happen will come along. There a great quote that’s about, pray and row for the shore; really meaning that, yes, you can have faith in whatever it is you want to have faith in but you got to take some action too.
So you’re not just going to sit there in your sinking boat, you’re actually going to start rowing. So ultimately, you either believe that the world is conspiring against you or you believe that it’s co-creating with you even if you don’t completely understand the whole plan. Now, you might be thinking well Laurel, this sounds a whole heck of a lot like the Law of Attraction; well, sort of.
Again, the concept of the Law of Attraction has been around for a long, long time. So if you’re not familiar with Law of Attraction, here it is in a short condensed version; so knowingly or unknowingly, every moment of our existence, we’re acting as human magnets and we’re sending out our thoughts and our emotions and we are attracting back more of whatever it is that we’ve put out. That’s a really cut condensed version of the Law of Attraction. And this idea of Law of Attraction certainly predates the book, The Secret which was published way back in 2006 and it was kind of the book that shoved The Law of Attraction into the mainstream.
Now, I wasn’t a big fan of The Secret. For me, it focused way too much on the idea that thoughts become things so that I could somehow manifest a Ferrari in my driveway if I attracted the right stuff. For me, it kind of seemed like it missed the point. Does your mindset matter? Yes, absolutely. Is it sufficient? No.
And I also think that sometimes the Law of Attraction has a blame component to it or at least it feels that way; that if you don’t have what you want then somehow you must be inviting that and for me, that’s just nonsense. Life is chaotic and random and lots of things that you don’t want can end up in your lap and can we contribute to that sometimes? Well, sure. Absolutely.
The Einstein question, do you live in a friendly or hostile universe is really less about what the universe is bringing to you and it’s really more about what you’re going to do with whatever circumstances that you have. And it’s absolutely true that what you think about increases. So for example, you go to the car dealership and you’re looking at new cars and there’s a really cool color that you like, you know magenta and it’s like wow, that’s a really cool color, I’ve never seen that color before. And then you leave the dealership and for the next two weeks, all you see are magenta colored cars. And it’s not that there are more magenta cars all of a sudden, it’s just you’re paying attention differently and you’re seeing them or you become pregnant and like all of a sudden everyone seems pregnant; well, there’s not more pregnant people, you’re just paying attention differently.
You can’t pay attention to everything all at the same time so we have to be conscious intentional about what it is that we’re paying attention to. We have to cherry-pick, we have confirmation bias. When we pay attention differently, we get to see new opportunities, we get to see opportunities and possibilities that were there, always there but we just might not have seen them because we weren’t paying attention in that way to them. You can’t see the possibilities if all you’re looking at are the obstacles.
You know, when our daughters were younger, I taught them that Einstein question; do you live in a friendly or hostile universe? And now, they’re all adults but every once in a while one of them might call and something in their life seems hard or it’s unfair or it’s complicated or it’s not going the way that they want it to go and all I have to do is ask, do you live in a friendly or hostile universe? And thankfully they answer friendly and that then sets up the shift to will what is it that you want to do about this thing that seems harder unfair or complicated or not going the way that you want to? Rather than this feeling of it’s happening to you, it’s more, well, it’s happening and now we can participate in it.
Do you live in a friendly universe or a hostile universe? It’s a really powerful question. It’s powerful because it determines your mindset and your mindset determines what you’re going to focus on and what you focus on determines the opportunities and possibilities that are available to you. The opportunities and possibilities that were always available to you, but you can only see when you’re paying attention to them.
This idea of mindset or shifting perspectives is one of the key well-being skills that I work with clients on building. That’s because it’s so powerful when you can consciously, intentionally create a mindset and learn how to shift your perspective, how it is that you’re looking at it. Wow, well opportunities and possibilities begin to open up right in front of your eyes.
If that idea is of interest to you, pop me an email and let’s chat about how I could help you do that. The simplest way is to just go to Laurelvespi.com and click the contact button. I will leave a little link in the show notes so that you can contact me if you want to just reach out and chat about how maybe I can help you with that.
But for now, time for a little ‘being and doing’ homework. Something to think about and something to try. Grab a pen and write it down unless you’re in the car or on the treadmill or walking down the street but not to worry if you’re doing any of those things, the homework is always in the show notes as well as the link to grab the little guide to help you work with the homework.
Okay, something to think about. I bet you can guess what this week’s reflection question is; do I live in a friendly or hostile Universe? Now, I know that you automatically probably want to say friendly but you might be surprised at how often you actually slide over to that hostile Universe perspective. So work with that question; do I live in a friendly or hostile universe?
And then something to try; keep a tally of your friendly or hostile thoughts as you go about your day. So just notice which way your default is currently set as you’re going about your day; oh, hostile Universe, hostile universe; ooh, friendly Universe, friendly Universe, hostile Universe, just noticed where it is.
You know shifting into a friendly Universe mindset, it’s a skill so it takes a little bit of time to build it. It’s not like you’re going to flip a switch and whoa, all of a sudden I have a friendly Universe perspective, but this little bit of homework can help raise your awareness of, for you, where does the hostile Universe perspective show up or under what circumstances or in which places or with which people do you tend to have a hostile Universe perspective?
Now before I go, some of you have been asking about how you can help support the show, and thank you for that, I do so appreciate that and here’s what you can do to help. If you enjoy the podcast, please head over to iTunes and leave a 5-star rating and post a comment. And it would be great as well if you could share the show on any of your social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest and let people know why you love it and invite them to subscribe to.
Now, next time, we are going to dive into digital distraction. oh, do you and your phone need a therapist? Tune in next time and find out but until then lovely ones, pause, breathe and enjoy your day.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing with your host Laurel Vespi. If you liked this episode and think other people would, please subscribe, rate and give a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
Be sure to tune in next week for another conversation about The Being and The Doing. Thanks for listening.