Life is About Change


This Blog explores applied game theory, life strategies, personal development and self help how change and the resistance to change affects our lives?

Definition: Change – A shift in a recognizable pattern or habit.

STUDENT: Speak further about change.
LEWIS: We all know that life is all about change.  In the creation of a life filled with love, freedom and wealth the ability to respond effectively to and influence what changes around is essential. It doesn’t really matter why or how people change. It only matters that they do. Even if people could somehow refuse to change, everything and everyone else around them would still change.

STUDENT: And yet people do not change easily?
LEWIS: No, they don’t. People like habit and they will stick to what they know unless they are in such discomfort that they must change or experience the pain of remaining where they are.

STUDENT: Pain? Speak more about pain and change.
LEWIS: Dr. Dennis Waitley, a well known writer and speaker in the motivational field has gone  on record as  saying, “When I  experience  pain I  know  it  simply  as  a  signal for change.  It tells me that I need to change either the way I do things or the way I look at things.

STUDENT: Is there a system for measuring change?

LEWIS: Substantial change seldom happens instantaneously. It happens in stages. The rate and manner in which people change will vary based on many factors including beliefs, culture, gender, and personal history. Throughout the change process, relapses can and often will occur. This should not be a point of concern. Relapse is a normal process and a constant possibility in one’s attempt to change behaviors. Mathematicians use  calculus  as  a  tool  for  studying  complex  changes.  A master influencer will use different persuasion techniques depending upon what stage of change the receiver is  in  and  whether or not they are in relapse. (See the Conversation on Mastering the Art and Science of Influence.)

STUDENT: So there is a system of influence based on the point of change that an individual is in?

LEWIS: Yes. One of the most effective approaches is known as The Transtheoretical  Model  of  Influence. This approach works on  the  concept  that since influence creates change, it is best applied in situations where change is the prime focus. Those  who  use this model believe that there are five  essential stages of change. Since people are always changing it  seems  natural that an individual who understands these five essential stages can effectively apply influence.

STUDENT: What are these five stages of change?
LEWIS: The Five Stages of Change as defined by the Transtheoretical Model of Influence are:
• Pre-contemplation – This  is  a  state  of benign ignorance. Highly heuristic in nature, individuals in pre-contemplation mode will generally not even think about a situation more than they have to. In this stage, an individual is not even conscious of change. The status  quo  rules. There is no thought of risk, or of internal or external influences. Things just are as they are. There are no thoughts about consequences. There is a faith that all that has worked  before  will  continue to work as it has before. There are some individuals in a state of pre-contemplation, though a minority who know that a particular behavior is not in their best interest, but see no reason to change it. Most of us are in a  state of pre-contemplation a  good part of the time.
• Contemplation – In this stage, individuals recognize that there is a consequence for  their behavior and have  even  considered  changing. They may even have explored a solution to the problem at hand – Googled it, talked to some friends about it, took notes on it while hearing about it on TV, the radio, or the news. It is a major thought, rather than a passing thought, however it is still merely a thought rather than a commitment. These are the folks who talk about writing a book some day or quitting smoking. They are interested, involved, and even excited. Yet they are still spectators to the game at hand, not yet participants.
• Preparation – In this stage, individuals decide to change risky or unproductive behavior. In the process of this preparation, they are exploring what the best course of action will be. In essence, “What will make the cost too high to choose one path over another?” When the preparation stage is complete, it is time to act.
• Action – The change has taken place recently, maybe in the last six months. There is no way as of yet to determine whether it will be long-term or short-term change but the change is a reality. It is a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing but you are definitely on your way.
• Maintenance – Interestingly, maintenance can become as heuristic a mode as pre-contemplation. This is because once you have repeated a behavior over and over it becomes comfortable and consistent. You do it without thinking or planning. There is no discipline required. It is automatic! The change has lasted long enough, and patterns have been established to indicate that the change will be maintained.  In such a case, there is usually an attitude change and the changed individual can even articulate what motivated the change and what it is that he or she did to make it last.

The Transtheoretical Model of Influence provides a simple, easy to understand and apply approach to influence and persuasion. By understanding the five stages of change and applying the appropriate influence models they are assured of success.

STUDENT: Is the Transtheoretical Model of Influence easy to apply in everyday situations?

LEWIS:  It requires specific skills. Particularly keeping in mind that it is essential that you assess what stage the receiver is at and make the appropriate tactic for influence to fit  the stage of change. Why approach a person in pre-contemplation with an influence model that is most appropriate for a person in the action stage? It just won’t work. In fact, there is a good chance that the receiver won’t even recognize that you’re attempting to influence them.

STUDENT: Are you saying that if you apply the wrong form of influence for a specific stage of change, that which you are doing will not even show up on the receiver’s mental radar?

LEWIS: That is correct. You must consciously define what stage the receiver is at then assess whether he is in a heuristic or systematic mode, and then use an influence tool that fits the stage and the mode. This cannot be done too quickly either. If you are in a hurry or impatient, the Transtheoretical Model will not serve you well. You must move stage by stage, systematically, shifting your influence models as the receiver moves from one stage of change to the next.

STUDENT: This seems like a lot of work. There must be an easier way?
LEWIS: There are  many  easier  ways but not if you wish to have longstanding influence. If you are effectively able to influence the receiver at each stage, you are building a foundation of influence as well as a bridge to the next stage.

STUDENT: So you start at stage one and influence step by step?

LEWIS:  No. Keep in mind that when you first attempt to influence the receiver, he or she may already be in stage two, three, or four. You must be skilled enough to determine this before you engage the receiver in the influence process.

STUDENT: Can influence be used to help a sick person heal from a physical or emotional illness?

LEWIS:  Yes. There are many different types of influence-based health professionals. Psychotherapists and counselors including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and specially trained therapists such as family therapists, pastoralcounselors, behavioral therapists, gestalt therapists and body/mind therapists (those that integrate hands on healing with counseling).
STUDENT: Is there an ethical problem with a therapist or health professional using these manipulation techniques to influence a client or patient?

LEWIS: NO. All  therapy  and  counseling  techniques  and  systems  involve suggestibility as part of the process. Psychotherapy  and  mental health counseling  come  in  many forms  including  Freudian  and Jungian Psychoanalysis, Gestalt and Rational Emotive Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis (and its offshoot, Neuro-Linguistic programming), Inner Child work, Family Therapy, and  many  others.  If there  were no influence involved then the work would have little or no value. It is the influence that makes it so valuable. Some health professionals are in the business of influencing their  clients  to  be  more responsible  and accountable for their actions and behaviors. A skilled therapist should have background in  the  study of human development  and  personality;  interpersonal issues, marriage, family  and group/ community dynamics;  cultural systems;  research methods;  and supervised  field experience.   Many  of   these approaches  focus on  reversing  common  self-defeating  behavior  and  negative thinking. All of this is applied influence in one form or another.

 There is so much to master here. Where does one begin? Where is the manual that will teach me everything I need to know about influence?

LEWIS: There is  no  manual  that  will  ever  be  accurately  called  “The Definitive Book  on  the Art and Science of Influence.” We have just too much new research and too  many  revolutionary  approaches arriving on the scene. However, I know if a serious student studies, researches, practices and repeatedly puts the principles into practice with positive intentions and ethical applications, he or she will immediately notice a shift in his/her own quality of life. These students will see the world through new  eyes. It will happen quickly and seem much as it must have seemed to Moses when the Red Sea parted in response to his command.

STUDENT: Can you discuss the relationship between instinct and the choices we make?
LEWIS: Yes. In the end, both the influencer and receiver benefit from the process because when applied effectively and proactively, influence  makes the world a better place to live in.

STUDENT: Can you discuss the relationship between instinct and the choices we make?
LEWIS: Human beings, more than any other living creature have a wide range of  choices  available  to them. One of these choices is to respond to our genetic and biological inclinations. Another is  to  make short-term journeys into the domain of desire and short-term gratification, even if to d o  so  is  to  rebel,  even slightly against our genetic predispositions.  Do we repress, suppress, or transcend our instinctual urges, or do we act on these urges? And then the question arises, “Can we learn to leverage  one  urge (the urge to compete for instance) against another  (the urge for sex)?

STUDENT: So in essence all humans possess the ability to make choices in opposition to instinctual urges when they wish to?

STUDENT: It must be difficult if not impossible to make a choice that goes against one’s genetics?
LEWIS: It is difficult. There is always the question of what is one to do if one has a genetic disposition towards a pattern or behavior. Is it best to act on it or if it appears to have negative consequences, to avoid it?
STUDENT: Should a person with alcoholic tendencies simply avoid imbibing in the beverage or should he say,  “This is me, it feels nice, and I’m going to do it in spite of my genetics or rather because of my genetics.”?
LEWIS: As I have said  often throughout the Harrison mentoring process, “I am not going to tell someone how to live his or her life.” The fact is that the choices we make, whatever the source or influence, affects our health and viability as an individual.

To see photos of beautiful architecture that has been abandoned:




Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a pioneer in the personal development movement The author of nine self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line



Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies www.How ToSolveAny – a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.



Non-Verbal Communication

The focus of this blog is   To explore, and learn to apply wordless messages as a tool for the creation of love, wealth, freedom and greater influence.

Definition:  Nonverbal Communication – The process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages.

This is  extract of a class I taught on problem solving and the illusion of time.


STUDENT:  What is the history of nonverbal communication as an academic discipline?

LEWIS:  It is generally accepted that the first scientific study of nonverbal communication was The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), a book by Charles Darwin.  Darwin proposed that emotions could in fact be reliably communicated in facial expressions by these creatures.  For close to a hundred years, most researchers on nonverbal communication struggled with the idea that most definitions concerning this type of communication were based on arbitrary symbols.



STUDENT:  Why was this a problem?

LEWIS:  That would mean that the meaning of such symbols differed from culture to culture.



STUDENT:  How has this changed?

LEWIS:  Paul Ekman conducted influential studies in the 1960s that determined that expressions of fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, sadness, and surprise are universal. With Ekman’s reach, it became clear that a large percentage of facial expressions are to some extent iconic, and thus universally understood.



STUDENT: I understand that human beings do not communicate by words alone.  Yet our bodies are regulated through the nervous system, and also by the sophistication of our communication skills.  Speak further about nonverbal communication skills from this perspective.

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication can occur through any sensory channelsight, sound, smell, touch or taste, and transcend words.  Nonverbal communication may also include body language; posture, facial expression, voice tone, eye movements and eye contact, gestures, touch, (Haptic communication) and other subtle factors.  All these communication cues determine how we interact with other people.  In addition, our programming will determine the reality we choose to create and the boundaries we accept, either consciously or unconsciously.



STUDENT:  You mentioned other subtle factors of nonverbal communication.  What would be examples of this?

LEWIS:  People also use objects or artifacts to communicate nonverbally, including hairstyles, architecture, symbols, and clothing.  There are also many nonverbal elements within speech. This is commonly known as paralanguage, and may include elements such as pitch, voice quality, volume, rate, and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as stress of voice, rhythm, and intonation.



STUDENT:  If  body language and posture are forms of nonverbal communication, where would dance fit into this conversation?

LEWIS:  Dance is definitively a form of nonverbal communication, and one of the most universally understood and expressed.



STUDENT:  How about writing, sign language, or painting?

LEWIS:  Yes these are considered verbal communication. All written texts have nonverbal elements, such as the physical layout of a page, handwriting style, and the spatial arrangement of words.  However, those elements of writing, or any other form of communication that do deal with words would be considered verbal communication.



STUDENT:  How about an art form such as painting?

LEWIS:  In painting there is the physical layout of a work, the painting style, the spatial arrangement of the elements in the work, and the tools used to create the work.



STUDENT:  There is so much here to learn.  Where can one begin?

LEWIS:  When studying nonverbal communication, it is usually easiest to explore and learn about face-to-face interaction.


STUDENT:  How would one do this?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication through face-to-face interaction is generally classified into three primary areas:

1. Environmental conditions where the communication takes place.

2. The physical characteristics of the communicators.

3. The behaviors of the communicators during interaction.



STUDENT:  Why these three?

LEWIS:  Because they utilize the primary elements in communication – neurology, understanding, and programming.



STUDENT:  This seems very complex and very systematic.

LEWIS:  It is very systematic, but this also makes it easier to understand.   Look, there are many different systems utilizing this triad of neurology, understanding, and programming. Among the most influential in my own studies and teachings are the writings of Milton Erickson, a pioneering psychiatrist in the field of trance work, hypnosis, and influence.  What made Dr. Erickson’s work unique was his mastery of rapport.  He developed the ability to enter the worldview of his patients, and from that vantage point, having established rapport, was able to make extremely effective interventions that influenced his patients to overcome many phobias and assorted life problems.  Most masters of influence now know that it is much easier to influence an individual or group if you can create rapport with them.  It is rapport that facilitates change through influence.



STUDENT:  What is the specific definition of rapport?

LEWIS:  Rapport is a harmonious communication or relationship between two or more living creatures.  Rapport is generally characterized by empathy, affinity, and mutual understanding.



STUDENT:  Are we always conscious that rapport is present?

LEWIS:  No.  Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication.  It is a commonality of perspective; being “in sync” with, or being “on the same wavelength” as the person with whom you are talking.



STUDENT:  Can one consciously build rapport with another?

LEWIS:  Yes.  There are a number of techniques that are supposed to be beneficial in building rapport such as matching your body language (i.e., posture, gesture, etc.); maintaining eye contact; and matching breathing rhythm.  Some of these techniques are explored in the Conversation on neuro-linguistic programming.



To explore these concepts in greater detail see the Conversation on Change, the Conversation on Understanding Systems of Greater Complexity, and the entry on Milton Erickson in the Level: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

STUDENT:  Is whistling, grunting, or “scat” singing, as might be found in some forms of jazz, considered verbal communication?

LEWIS:  They might be in common language, but definitely not in specialized language. (See the Conversation on Specialized Language)  Among scholars and academics dealing with various forms of communication, the term “verbal” relates directly and specifically with spoken words. The vocal sounds you have spoken of in your question are nonverbal.



STUDENT:  I have heard it said that the eyes are the doorway to the soul.  Can you discuss eye gaze as a form of nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  The study of the role of eyes in nonverbal communication is sometimes referred to as “oculesics.”  Eye contact can indicate interest, attention, and involvement.  Studies have found that people use their eyes to indicate their interest with more than the frequently recognized actions of winking, and slight movement of the eyebrows.  Eye contact is an event when two people look at each other’s eyes at the same time.  It is a form of nonverbal communication and has a large influence on social behavior.  Frequency and interpretation of eye contact vary between cultures and species.  Eye aversion is the avoidance of eye contact.  Eye contact and facial expressions provide important social and emotional information.  People, perhaps without consciously doing so, probe each other’s eyes and faces for positive or negative mood signs.

Gaze comprises the actions of looking while talking, looking while listening, amount of gaze and frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate.



STUDENT: Please discuss nonverbal cues of the voice.

LEWIS:  This is known as Paralanguage. (sometimes called vocalics)  It’s the study of  nonverbal cues of the voice.  Various acoustic properties of speech such as tone, pitch, and accent, collectively known as prosody, can all give off nonverbal cues.  Paralanguage may change the meaning of words.

The linguist George L. Trager developed a classification system which consists of the voice set, voice qualities, and vocalization.[11]

  • The voice set is the context in which the speaker is speaking. This can include the situation, gender, mood, age, and a person’s culture.
  • The voice qualities are volume, pitch, tempo, rhythm, articulation, resonance, nasality, and accent.  They give each individual a unique “voice print.”
  • Vocalization consists of three subsections; characterizers, qualifiers, and segregates. Characterizers are emotions expressed while speaking, such as laughing, crying, and yawning.  A voice qualifier is the style of delivering a message – for example, yelling “Hey stop that!”  as opposed to whispering, “Hey stop that.”  Vocal segregates such as “uh-huh” notify the speaker that the listener is listening.



STUDENT:  What are your closing thoughts on the concept of nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  Communication, especially distinctions in how we hear or listen, has many subtle elements.  When we listen, (or speak) we naturally focus our conscious attention on words, rather than body language.  However, our subconscious absorbs and responds to both verbal and nonverbal signals.



STUDENT:  Can one easily distinguish positive forms of nonverbal communication from negative forms?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal forms of communication are not usually positive or negative in and of themselves; the perspective of the observer, the message being delivered, and the situation at hand will determine the appraisal.



STUDENT:  Is there still much research being conducted on nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  Studies now range across a number of fields, including social psychology, linguistics, and semiotics.



STUDENT:  What are the specific characteristics that define a type of communication as nonverbal?

1. Nonverbal cues are culture bound.

2. Nonverbal messages primarily communicate attitudes and emotions.

3. Nonverbal cues substitute for, contradict, emphasize, or regulate verbal messages.

4. Nonverbal cues are continuous.

5. Nonverbal cues are more reliable.

6. Nonverbal cues are often ambiguous.



STUDENT: Speak about clothing as an element of nonverbal communication.

LEWIS:  There are many different levels of communication that are reflected from clothing, including cultural and social interests.  One of the most powerful forms of nonverbal communication related to clothing is a uniform.  All clothing has both a functional and a communicative purpose, but this is even more so with a uniform.  When a person is in uniform, they can identify gender, position, influence, rank and function.  All of these can be clarified even more if the uniform contains a badge and a social insignia.



STUDENT: Speak on bodily characteristics as an element of nonverbal communication.

LEWIS:  Elements such as physique, height, weight, skin, and hair can also convey nonverbal information.  There are certain bodily characteristics that change their meaning depending on the interaction and qualities of those involved in the communication.  These factors include skin color, ethnic background, national origin, gender, odors, and clothing.  Studies have shown that there is a correlation between how a person dresses and their interest in courtship.



STUDENT:  What is the connection between nonverbal communication and financial success?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication affects us on every level of living, including financial success.



STUDENT:  What are your final thoughts on this conversation on nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication is often much more impactful than verbal communication.

The more one can understand body posture, the perception of time, and our relationship to space the more effective our communication will be.



STUDENT:  If a person has the use of language, why does nonverbal communication even exist?

LEWIS:  There are many theories on this point.  One theory states that spoken language is most effective as a tool for communicating information about events external to the speakers.  Nonverbal cues and codes are more effective for creating and maintaining interpersonal relationships.  This brings into play the concept of social intelligence.  In many situations, it is considered appropriate – more polite – to communicate attitudes towards others nonverbally, rather than verbally.


Radical Thoughts on Love and Creating Family

Hello Friend,

This is an extract of a class I taught on problem solving and the psychology of groups.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

The concept of family is constantly changing. The so called “nuclear family” long in decline has been reinvented and refigured as gay and lesbian couples form families as part of larger communities of interest.

Many individuals of us trace our problems to the toxic, dysfunctional families in which we were raised.

Let’s explore the concept of family from an applied game theory and problem solving perspective.

There are three general models for families

1. Nuclear family

2. Traditional extended family

3. Polyamorous family model

Since the industrial revolution the trend in the west had been towards the nuclear family whereas in many other parts of the world, especially in China, as well as in nomadic tribal cultures, the extended family model was the natural choice.

The nuclear family model definitely has its benefits. For one, it gives freedom to the creative person who has a need to express his or her individuality.

This is not easy to do in the extended family model where a person is expected to take care of elderly parents and other relatives who may be in need. As a natural response to the growth of the nuclear family model other system especially social service agencies were created to provide lodging and basic services to those who could not take of the themselves and who could not look for that support through the nuclear family model.

For the elderly a balance between the nuclear family and the sense of community that comes from developing friendships with those with similar interests, and making use of community services including education and entertainment frees that person from dependency upon the whims, and control of an adult child.

In the nuclear model what the Confucians named filial piety often clashes with the needs of the individual. The Polyamorous family model whether monogamous or not in its attitudes towards sexuality is well suited for natural, loving symbiotic relationships. This model offers the best of the nuclear family and the extended family while freeing family members of imposed morality as dysfunctional and impractical rules and regulations.

Polyamorous family structures can offer an enlightened system of loving reciprocity.

Being independent can mean many things. For some it includes defining meaning and purpose in life by serving others with generosity and kindness.

The days are past where society can force the obligation of caring for family members, especially parental care, upon us. It has at the same time given us tools to care for those who have cared for us as a natural choice.


Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line.


Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies www.How ToSolveAny  –  a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.