Let Your Inside-Out
14 February, 2015 | by Sven Hansen
The media is buzzing with resilience. Rich seams of new evidence underpin the power of practice – whether body, heart, mind or spirit. While this is not everyone’s cup of tea, the basic skills of resilience could become a cornerstone of education. Imagine exam score improvements if our teenagers improved sleep quality or learned basic relaxation. Could we counter the diabetes epidemic with smarter eating and fitness? Might better emotional and thinking skills improve productivity? Or, prevent a war?
We live in a consumer culture of outside-in solutions. Someone or something claims to have the answers to your problems; pills, creams, wearables, phones, insurance, financial plans, websites or social media. While they have their place, perhaps we have drowned out the obvious solutions inside us.
As our consumer culture peaks, the pendulum is swinging back. Yoga, mediation, exercise, lifestyle mastery, emotional awareness and mindfulness are cropping up in schools, businesses, hospitals and communities. There is a long and exciting path ahead. At the Resilience Institute we are delighted to be an active voice in this “Inside-Out” transformation. This mega shift is from dependent fragility to the creative expression of human life. It is noble work and a powerful force for good.
The philosophy behind my new book Inside-Out honours the magnificent richness and complexity of our human being. There is nothing like it in the Universe. We are (we think) the highest expression of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Our existence today is the product of exceptional bounce, courage, creativity and connection. Trillions of processes sparkle across trillions of cells allowing us to live, move, feel, think and express our highest potential.
A cell, fish or dog has little capacity to comprehend their resources, they are programmed to react to stimuli. We too are programmed to react BUT we can also be the programmer. We have at our fingertips all the knowledge, tools and support systems to monitor, adjust and redesign the system at every level. We can learn to regulate heart rate and blood pressure, we can sculpt and train the body, and we can master and regulate our emotions and minds.
Watching great yogis, athletes, entertainers and creatives inspires us with an image of human potential. What we are witnessing is the flow state. We see the intersection of deep skill mastery and awesome challenge expressed as greatness. Wherever we are in the curve of humanity, we all have the possibility of accessing flow and enjoying the success, pleasure and vitality that follows.
Last year Stuart Taylor, our Australian Managing Partner, and I had the pleasure of spending three days with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the 80-year-old originator of the flow concept. He is still accessing flow in his research and teaching. At the end of last year Stephen Kotler published The Rise of Superman, an extraordinary exploration of how we can learn to enter the flow state. By training our bodies, our emotions, and our brains to access the right state, flow allows us to achieve the almost impossible. No drugs can take us that far.
Outside-in is our default for most situations. “If I could just get this or that everything will be good” is lurking just under the surface of consciousness. Through an inside-out approach we learn to be patient, to notice, to seek for deeper and more lasting solutions, and to find the motivation to execute. Inside-Out is an instruction manual for human excellence.
If your desire is to be happy, don’t reach for antidepressants. If your back is sore, don’t leap to surgery. If angry, don’t blame someone else. If your mind is driving you nuts at night, don’t take sleeping tablets. Inside-Out can help you understand and master your inner faculties – physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual. Your future is in your hands, your heart and your mind.