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'Don't Be a Moron'

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I was having lunch with a friend who'd survived a heart attack a couple of years ago. When I asked him if he had any dietary restrictions, he shared the story of going to his doctor post-coronary with a written list of questions about what he should or shouldn't eat going forward.

The doctor took a look at the list, then ripped up the paper and threw it in the bin.

"Here's my dietary advice," said the doctor. "Don't be a moron."

"What do you mean?" asked my friend.

"I mean," replied the doctor, "use your common sense. Eat heart-healthy food most of the time, and if you really fancy the odd bowl of macaroni and cheese, enjoy it."

While I was a little taken aback at the bluntness of the advice when I first heard the story, I've come to realize that it's a fantastic response for pretty much any kind of question people have about how to live their lives.

For example, when Dr. Roger Mills and his team went to introduce the inside-out understanding into Homestead Gardens, a housing project with the highest murder rate in America, his safety instructions to his colleagues was to "just use your common sense," which is of course the polite way of saying "don't be a moron." Not only was no one on his staff harmed, within three years the murder rate in the community had dropped to zero. (You can read more about this amazing story in the book Modello: A Story of Hope for the Inner City and Beyond by Jack Pransky.)

Similarly, one of the most common concerns expressed by people in my private practice is that if they begin to live more in their innate well-being and allow their deeper wisdom to guide their lives, it will somehow lead to massive financial irresponsibility, complete apathy or even the abandonment of their families. As the results are invariably the exact opposite of this, I sometimes use the following analogy to address their concerns:

Imagine you buy a new car that has a GPS system pre-installed. You are enjoying getting a feel for how the car drives and how much easier it is to simply be guided by the GPS than to have to pre-plan the route to wherever it is you want to go. After a time, the GPS tells you to "take a left turn ahead." When you look, there is a large brick building exactly where the nav system is telling you to go.

Do you a) crash your car into the brick building, or b) stick on the main road and wait for the nav system to recalculate your route?

In other words, just because you begin to rely on a real-time, highly responsive navigational system doesn't mean that you suddenly become a moron.

The design of the human system seems to be that our common sense and deeper wisdom work best when used together. The wisdom of our deeper mind guides our way forward whenever we let it without ever trying to take away our free will. And the more you come to rely on that deeper wisdom to guide you, the more you'll start to notice your common sense coming to the fore whenever you need it most.

With all my love,

For more by Michael Neill, click here.