How To Have a Happy Marriage

Humor can keep a marriage strong. In fact some problems, especially marriage problems get solved because we are will to accept the absurd as normal reality. This applies to game theory, life strategies and basic problem solving.

I accepted this as an epiphany of sorts during an argument my wife and I were having. Yup my wife and I had a bit of a tiff this week.  We were watching a movie about marriage and ruminating on why some couples stay together and others get divorced? Then we had a tiff about something.

Neither of us can remember what it was about but it was a tiff nonetheless. You see we are each from a different culture, religious background, racial heritage, and have differing and often oppositional tastes in almost every way.  To add to the differences I am 6’1” and she is 4’8” tall. I guess that the cause of the tiff is somehow tied to one of these differences… but I’m not sure.

Lilia and I never dated and she moved in with me the second time we met (I begged her to).  As I remember it the voices in my head said “Hey, Lewis, ask this woman that you don’t really know to move in with you” Of course I always do what the voices in my head tell me to do so I asked her, actually I begged her to stay. We got married in a year and many of our friends were convinced that we would be divorced in less than a year (sadly most of them are now divorced). We have spent well over a decade bickering about this or that. Our neighbors used to call us the “Bickerers”. (Oh they are now divorced as well).

I was single till I was forty seven and used to dazzle the ladies with my cooking skills. I only tell you this because Lilia doesn’t really like most of my cooking. I often create feasts for us and she send out for Chinese takeout.

Now all that being said we really do have something special. Trust and respect is at the top of the list and we’ve pretty much accepted what are often called by others as “irreconcilable differences”. Some say we have learned to compromise.  I’d rather call it drawing and seldom crossing a “line in the sand” that seems to be constantly moving. We often communicate effectively within an hour or two of any disagreement we may have. That might be the key to some sort of marital success.

A SHORT SEGUE

I want to say that greatly respect the Pope and the Dalai Lama but have always wondered how easy it would to be the Pope or the Dalai Lama if they had to deal with the quirks of marriage.

BACK TO THE BLOG

So as I was saying Lilia and I had this tiff while we were watching a movie about marriage and we began ruminating on why some couples stay together and others get divorced?

This tiff and our discussion about it reminded me of a funny story I pulled out of  Woody Allen’s movie “Annie Hall” about marriage.

The male and female parts can be switched. It doesn’t  matter.

Enjoy.

“A man goes to a psychiatrist and explains that his wife is insane.

“Maybe she is a bit eccentric” replies the psychiatrist. “You can learn to adjust to her behavior, after all marriage is compromise”.

“No” replies the man. “She is really crazy”

“What makes you so sure that she is crazy?” asks the psychiatrist

“She thinks she’s a chicken” Replies the man

“What?”

“She thinks she’s a chicken”

“What makes you think, that she thinks she is a chicken?” Asks the Psychiatrist

“Well she acts like a chicken”!

“I don’t understand” Replies the psychiatrist

The man explains. “Every morning she wakes up and starts to make clucking noises. Then she bends over and starts to peck at the floor like she is eating seeds. Then she waves her arms up and down like a chicken does.”

“Wow” say the psychiatrist, “Your wife really does think she is a chicken”.

“That’s what I told you” replies the man.

“Why do you stay married to her”? Asked the psychiatrist

The man responded instantly, without any thought or sense of irony. “Because I need the eggs!”

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Lewis Harrison is the founder and director of the Harrison Center for Personal Development. He is a radio talk show host, speaker, consultant, practical philosopher and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. Lewis is a pioneer in the personal development movement The author of nine self help books on human potential he offers a monthly retreat/seminar “How to Solve Any Problem”.  He also and phone based coaching.   This blog is explored more fully through Lewis’ E-book “Everything You Need To Know About Staying Happily Married”. It is available for $7.00 and can be ordered directly from Lewis by calling him at 212-724-8782.

Listen to Lewis on the radio on his show “That Was Zen, This is Tao” Wednesday and Thursday 4-6 PM

Lewis speaks to companies and other organizations on stress management

Lewis also offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and a monthly workshop/Retreat – a simple program 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”.

The Secrets of Initiation

This is derived from a class I taught on the role of initation in making effective strategic choices in life.

Lewis Harrison

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The basics of this class was:  To explore how an individual is accepted by a group through a specific rite, ritual, or ceremony.

Definition:  Initiation – A formal rite of passage, often a ceremony, marking entrance or acceptance into adulthood or into a certain level or formal component within a group or society.

 Q & A

STUDENT: What is the source of the word initiation?

LEWIS: It comes from the Latin, initium: “a going in.”  It was originally used to describe “an entrance” or “beginning”.  The English verb “initiate” means to begin or start a particular event, happening, action, or circumstance.

STUDENT: What is the importance of the initiation process for the individual and for a group?

LEWIS: An initiation not only formally defines the agreement between the initiate and the group, but the initiation process may also signify that a transformation or “rebirth” has taken place.

STUDENT: Anyone can simply say that a person has had a transformation through some ritual or ceremony.  What makes an initiation anything more than a new myth or story without any real substance?

LEWIS: A shift actually takes place in the most authentic initiations.  There is a real process involved in an initiation with substance.  The shift is both in the perspective of the initiate and of how the group views the new initiate.  The simplest way to describe the shift is to say that the initiate has earned and has been given a new role within the group or society of which he may already a member.

Examples of transformational initiations that signify a transformation in which the initiate is “reborn” into a new role may include the Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, a college graduation ceremony, a Christian baptism or Confirmation (Christian sacrament), a ceremony within a martial arts school where a student earns a higher level belt, a mystic school where an initiate is given “secret” codes or information.  Other examples include a fraternal organization, a secret society, a religious order, and a recruit training for a military or Para-military organization, such as a militia or the Mafia.

STUDENT: Why do we need initiations at all?  We certainly could survive without them.

LEWIS: It may be that human beings are hard-wired to join groups, and groups are hardwired to create some initiation process.  It may be that in order to function effectively in life we need support systems and boundaries that help define our relationships to these support systems.  An initiation is a formal way of creating a relationship where those who are at a more evolved, transformed, or influential level in a group guide the initiate through a process of greater exposure of knowledge specific to the group.

STUDENT:  Are there any common elements that might be found in most initiation ceremonies?

LEWIS: In most initiations, the individual conducting the initiation (the initiator) possesses or is believed to possess a specific power or state of being and has the ability to transfer this power or state to the person being initiated.  As a student of Shamanism, I went through such an initiation process.  I was introduced to certain words and certain meditation practices which I was told would open the “Inner Door” to certain insight and mystic knowledge.

STUDENT: What type of knowledge or access to knowledge is imparted at an initiation ceremony?

LEWIS: It may be essential factual information, such as what a post-graduate student might receive from his or her noble prize winning professor.  It may include secret mantras or words as are given in mystic yoga initiations, secret hand-shakes used by street gangs, and specific revelation of private symbols or codes that might be used in a secret society, such as the Masons.  Some information is reserved for those at the higher level of understanding within a group, a bishop or cardinal in the Catholic Church, for instance.

STUDENT:  Where does the concept of initiation fit in the process of self-actualization, especially in the life of an extraordinary person?

LEWIS: Self-Actualization comes in many ways.  If one has belief in religion, spirituality, or esoteric philosophies, an initiation may cause a fundamental process of change within the person being initiated.  Self-Actualization almost always involves some type of personal transformation.  This is also the case in most initiation processes. What most initiations have in common is the concept of simultaneous death and rebirth.  Initiation is an end and a beginning.  One level of being drops away as another ascends.

STUDENT: What role is the initiate expected to play in an initiation?

LEWIS: The willingness to be initiated in thought word and deed.  In many groups it implies that the initiate agrees to certain requirements such as living a certain lifestyle, prayer, meditation, etc.

STUDENT: Are their many initiation processes that have no relationship to religion, secrecy, or spirituality?

LEWIS: Yes.  In fact, most initiation ceremonies are secular.  In many groups the use of the word “initiation” represents a brief familiarization with basic rules, guidelines, codes, and procedures of the group.  Some groups may charge a one-time initiation fee.  Unions, professional associations, and many clubs would fit into this category.  Generally, you might say that there is the form of a specific ritual and then there is the function or the value of the initiation to the group.

STUDENT: Are all initiations formal?

LEWIS: There are many initiations, symbols, and rituals that are tied to specific communities that are unspoken and yet would be defined as a rite of passage.  They are not true initiations in that nothing is asked of the initiate.  It is merely a joint event in the community that a person has participated in.  An example might be a sports coach winning his or her 1,000th game or a baseball player hitting his 100, 200, 300 or 400th home-run.  For some individuals an initiation of sorts has taken place when they have crossed the equator on board a naval ship or as passengers on board a cruise liner.  There are, literally, thousands of such initiation rites, some with long histories behind them and some newly created.

STUDENT: What is the most common initiation practice in the world?

LEWIS: Probably puberty rites.  These are sacred collective rituals whose function is to facilitate the transformation of an adolescent to an adult.  There are records of puberty rites going back to the dawn of human history.

STUDENT: What is the most common form of spiritual, if not religious, initiation?

LEWIS: In the last few decades there has been an increased interest in different “New Age” and Shamanic approaches to initiation.  Some are quite serious and profound while others are no more than exercises in spiritual materialism.  Authentic Shaman initiations are generally limited to those few who have a passion and a calling to do inner work that is not accessible to the rest of the community but may ultimately serve the community.

STUDENT: What other types of initiations are there?

LEWIS: Aside from formal initiation ceremonies, there are often unofficial initiations held or practiced within subcultures of the larger group.  Many aboriginal tribes use initiation to both reflect and define the tribal identity. Initiations can include many different practices including: circumcision of males, genital mutilation of females, sub-incision and scarification.  In these cultures initiation truly is a rite of passage in every sense of the word; preparing a young person to be a good husband or wife.

STUDENT: How large does a group need to be to have an initiation?

LEWIS: There is no standard for this.  Initiation, formal and non-formal, exists in sub-cultures within larger groups.  Such small communities exist within groups like the Green Beret’s, Navy Seals, and on board military vessels.  Members of these groups are often tightly knit communities that are so internalized that they function like families, even after the initiate has left the military.  These subgroups, like the larger groups they are part of, may have a hazing or a trial before a new member can be formally accepted.

STUDENT: How extreme or dangerous can an initiation ceremony become?

LEWIS: They can get pretty extreme.  Of course, much college fraternity hazing is designed to be humiliating and can be dangerous without any deeper meaning of transformation.  It’s just about “belonging to the group” and doing anything one can to be accepted.

STUDENT: How long does an initiation ceremony take?

LEWIS: There is no way to define this since some initiations go beyond a single ceremony.  My Shamanic Initiation extended over the course of two days.  My Bar Mitzvah took a few hours.  In some Aboriginal cultures initiations may take 3-4 months or even longer.

STUDENT: Is initiation really important in our modern society?

LEWIS: I would say more than ever and yet the more modern a society is, the less likely that initiation and rites of passage will be taken seriously regarding an individual’s growth and development.  The anthropologist Joseph Campbell discusses this in his PBS (Public Broadcasting System) interviews with Bill Moyers.  Without initiation and rites of passage society loses much of its reason for being; and that which was once held as sacred is lost.  In some tribes initiation is essential if a person is to be regarded as a full member of the tribe.  Otherwise, the individual may not be allowed to participate in core social rituals and ceremonies.

STUDENT: Is there a sacred element to the concept of initiation that is separate from religion or spirituality?

LEWIS: Yes.  If we are hard wired to create community and to form groups (see the Level:  Community) then we must also have a reason for doing so.  The group, as well, must have a reason for existing.  This reason is sacred in that without it the community would have no reason for existing (see A Conversation: “What is Sacred?”).  Thus, initiation becomes sacred because it reconnects us to who we are, who we are to become, and where we are in the community.  The initiation process also reconnects the community to its own history, origins, mythology, and culture.

STUDENT: What are the greatest benefits of a truly transformational initiation?

LEWIS: There are many and they may vary from culture to culture.  Here is a list of the most universal benefits of initiation:

  • Ritual death or “Dying while Living” enables one to live life more fully and guide a person to conquer the fear of real death.”
  • To reveal the deeper meaning of our existence.
  • To help a young person to accept accountability for his or her actions, and to hold them to a higher standard so they may be powerful and effective participants in the group.
  • To make them aware, on a transcendental level, of whom they truly are.
  • To ground them in “what is” so they might be fully open and available for “what might be”.

STUDENT: It seems as if initiations are merely events that people give meaning to – a sort of cultural meme?

LEWIS: This may be so in some groups but there are initiations that are structured to bring individuals into an authentic transformation. Many of these initiations can bring a person into an altered state of consciousness.

STUDENT: Can you give me an example of some physically extreme initiation?

LEWIS: Some Native American tribes practice a “Sun Dance” that requires intense mental and physical endurance.  You may research “Sun Dance” to learn more.

STUDENT: Is there some kind of initiation in your work as a mentor and coach?

LEWIS: No.  This work is not spiritual, religious, or group oriented in that sense.  However, initiation is an important part of any transformational process.

STUDENT: Can you speak about the idea of initiation and “Rites of Passage” and how they connect with the stories we create?

LEWIS: We all seek power in our lives.  A person in possession of real power knows that we are all limited or empowered not by our experiences alone but by the stories we create about these experiences.  We create different life stories for a variety of reasons, some within our control and others not.  We can exert power over others and be controlled by others’ powers because of many different factors, some under our control and others beyond our control.  These factors may include gender, religious beliefs, cultural background, age, or general life circumstances.  The popular motivational author and lecturer, Leo Buscaglia, defined six stages in a person’s development.  These stages are infancy, childhood adolescence, maturity, intimacy, and old age.  Different types of power will be important to an individual based on where they are developmentally.  The stories they create and the stories they will cherish from the past will often reflect the stage they are presently in.

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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.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com  –  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”.

LEWIS WILL BE OFFERING A WEEKEND BOOTCAMP  IN  SEPTEMBER ON LIFE STRATEGIES AND APPLIED GAME THEORY.

FOR INFORMATION ON DATES, AND TUITION CALL LEWIS AT

212-724-8782

Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at WIOXRadio.org

What is Truth?

Lewis Harrison explores, “You Can’t Handle the Truth”

I awoke about 3:00 am this morning asking myself questions about truth and the distinction between what is truth or fiction? Sometimes this happens – I awake with just a few hours of sleep with some questions bouncing around my head. When this happens, going back to sleep or meditating is a lost cause. The only solution is to “dive” into the question. “is there a naked truth, an undisputed truth?”.

As I thought about the idea of truth that line from the play and movie “A Few Good Men” came I to my mind. The one where Jack Nicholson yells, “You can’t the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Today Sunday, is a day when many of us express our faith either formally in some house of worship or in some personal way. The idea of faith which is a hope for the truth is closely tied to the idea that one can actually know what is true.

 

Here are some of my thoughts on this.

It seems that as knowledge and expertise increase, creativity and innovative thinking seem to drop off. There are many reason why this happens but one of the main ones is that once you systematize your world view and the patterns that form out of that a hidden type of arrogance forms where it is hard for a person to believe that they do not know as much about what they think they know and they think they do.

A belief that one knows what is true or “so” is likely to breed arrogance. After all once one achieves expertise in a particular subject, it’s is natural to imagine not knowing what you do. In time one develops a specialized language unique to this level of expertise including various catch phrases, cliché’s and jargon that are foreign to the uninitiated. When it’s time to achieve a specific goal an expert is likely to achieve that goal the way it has always been done effectively. In a corporate environment this is often know as applying “best practices”. Unfortunately the down side of this way of thinking is that it stifles innovation and does not address the issue of new technologies and new ways of thinking

Any innovative thinker is cursed by their knowledge. On one level they can tap into wisdom and knowledge not available to most. On the other hand they can’t even conceive of what it might be like to be as ignorant as the mass of ordinary people.

How does one transcend this dilemma?

To begin with one must create a support system of experts from different disciplines. This can include individuals with highly creative and expansive minds who might even have done work in a related but different field, and who is not in a hierarchal or competitive environment of which you are a part.  You definitely do not want someone in this group who can gain or lose any benefit by agreeing or disagreeing with your ideas.

In this creative environment new types of “common language” that dissolve entrenched and ineffective specialized language will come into being. After all you can’t innovate in a group if everyone is speaking a different abstract language of specialization and expertise.  Part of this support system needs to be creative and artistic individuals whose only purpose is to keep these innovators track. This “outsider factor” forces the group of innovators to observe their reality from a new and different perspective. The result of this is new solutions to old problems and simple solutions to complex problems.

There are some very basic questions that will arise in any field of endeavor that will stump the experts.  Believing that you know the truth who worshipping your own expertise  is one of the great obstacles   to answering these questions

In my exploration of Applied Game Theory and in the Wisdom Path, my term for my daily spiritual practice, it is impossible to know any absolute truth intellectually.  This is not to say that there is no absolute truth, only that there is no way to come to it through a logical, deductive or inductive, left brain stream of thought. Among many great thinkers there is a trilemma (A difficult choice from three options, each of which is, or appears unacceptable or undesirable) .known as The Münchhausen trilemma (named after Baron Münchausen, a German Nobleman who told outrageous stories about his adventures including allegedly pulling himself and the horse on which he was sitting out of a swamp by his own hair).  Also known as Agrippa’s trilemma, this is a term used by philosophers and mathematicians to point out the purported impossibility of proving any truth even in the fields of logic and mathematics.

Imagine that a person states that something is “true”. I may then ask “How do you know that it’s true?” The person may then respond with some proof or evidence that it is in fact true.  Yet that same question can be asked of the fact or proof, and any subsequent proof. As I stated, the Münchhausen trilemma is that there are only three options when providing proof in this situation:.

  • Circular      Arguments – Here a theory and proof support each other (i.e. we repeat      ourselves at some point)
  • Regressive      Arguments – Here each proof requires a further proof, ad infinitum ad (i.e.      we just keep giving proofs, presumably forever)
  • Axiomatic      Arguments – Here you must question even that which appears to be obvious,      self evident, unquestionable or based on accepted precepts (i.e. we reach      some bedrock assumption or certainty)

The first two methods of reasoning are essentially flawed. As for the third, many great thinkers going back to the great Taoist and Zen teachers as well as the Greek skeptics have recommended deep questioning of all accepted values. The trilemma, then, is the decision among the three equally unsatisfying options.

Looking at this idea metaphorically as presented by the ancient Greek philosopher Agrippa we must deal to with following obstacles to logical ideas about truth and what is true:

  1. Dissent – The      uncertainty of the rules of common life, and of the opinions of      philosophers.
  2. Progress as ad infinitum      – All proof requires some further proof, and so on to infinity.
  3. Relation – All      things are changed as their relations become changed, or, as we look upon      them from different points of view.
  4. Assumption – The      truth asserted is merely a hypothesis.
  5. Circularity      – The truth asserted involves a vicious circle. Here you would say      something is “so” and then make a justification for it. However even the      justification requires a justification or support.  Thus any proposition of any form       can be endlessly (infinitely) questioned, much like a child asking      “why?” over and over again.

 

If these ideas get your mental juices flowing you might want to explore the following thinkers and ideas:

*Plato’s Third Man Argument

* Tarski’s Undefinability Theorem

* Godel’s incompleteness theorem

* Any Zen koan

 

 

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Lewis Harrison is a pioneering speaker, success coach and practical philosopher specializing in human potential and personal development.  He is the creator of the “Ask Lewis…” Series of ebooks.

 

He created the system known as Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory (LHAGT). This body of work is presented in  a 2,000 page manual offering  effective strategies for solving a multitude of basic and complex problems as well as exploring a wide range of disciplines.

 

 

He is the owner of  Events Chair Massage www.Eventschairmassage.com

Lewis conducts online training and coaching programs as well as residential retreats at the Harrison Center for Personal Development www.TheHarrisonCenter.com

 

His most recent book is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times

Story Telling, Memes and Influence

Over time, any story or series of stories where true or not within a community may take on mythic proportions.  In the United States, where I was born and live the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, and  Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address  are examples.  Eventually, if a story is passed on enough times by enough people, it may take on a life of its own.  It may become a sacred story, a reality for us and our community with little connection to the historical events that were the source of the story. This sacred story, this myth, may actually reflect who we are in relation to our community and so reinforced it can how we see ourselves.

 

The most productive RTPs through history seem to be connected to the human evolution towards survival, reproduction, and personal and group efficiency and effectiveness.  This all happens on a backdrop of seasonal changes, the search for food sources, local geography, relations with perceived enemies, terrain, and so on. Regenerating Thought Programs (RTPs)  reflect these relationships. I a person doesn’t understand how this process works it is easy to become overwhelmed and depressed.

 

If you chose to live on the Wisdom Path while at the same time engaging the world you will consistently be dealing with the expansion of technology, internet based social networking, the reduction within the general population of critical thinking skills, access to web-based information, and an ever-increasing amount of data that will be thrown at You.  You will need to learn to deal with the breakdown in the traditional division between entertainment journalism, politics, influence peddling, spirituality and the politics of faith based organizations.  It is virtually impossible to address and integrate all of these factors in your life while discriminating and discerning between empowering thought patterns and Idea Viruses – negative RTPs. Clearly, technological innovations are a double-edged sword.  They can enhance our lives or displace and devalue human culture and human existence.

 

How can you know which RTPs are fact-based and which ones are simply rumors or disingenuous attempts to influence ones beliefs? This is no simple matter.  Our society today is so complex that concrete and simple things that seem to make sense are likely to out-compete a fact-based “truth” that may be less appealing.  What is one to do?

 

 

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Lewis Harrison is an 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 the author of the Comprehensive book Healing Depression naturally www.HealingDepressionBook.com

He created the course on Life Strategies www.LewisHarrisonsAppliedGameTheory.com  – based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”. Lewis holds regular stress management,  and meditation retreats at his Spa in the Western Catskills. Learn more at Thecatskillsbedandbreakfast.com

His company offers on-site chair massage through www.eventschairmassage.com

Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at WIOXRadio.org