Clarity by Jamie Smart
I have a busy mind. I often feel that I’m racing from one commitment to another getting stressed because traffic is slow or because I’ve so badly robbed the time I owe Peter that I’ve stolen from Paul as well 🙂
I was working at 4am on the day I left for my most recent holiday. Whilst at the airport I saw this book. I’m not sure what made me buy it perhaps it was the offer:
“What would it mean if you could declutter your mind?”
There’s a huge market in self help books with bold claims about your scope for personal transformation if you’d only apply the method laid out in the book. Jamie Smart says that Clarity is not a self help book. You already have all you need, you just have to get out of your own way.
The premise is simple. You and I were born with wisdom, resilience, creativity and lots of other capacities that allow us to face life’s uncertainties. However, we are conditioned instead to believe that our happiness is dependent on external circumstances.
I’ll be happy when I’ve learnt this new programming language;
I’ll be happier when I’m slim again;
I’ll be happy when I feel like I fit in/belong;
When I reach a thousand or twenty thousand twitter followers I’ll be happy.
These kinds of needs are relentless illusions, if you believe in them you’re never happy because there’s always more to do. ‘Here’ is only a step on the road to ‘there’ where things are so much better. That’s how sales works, how game theory works.
Goals are important but they are a symptom of something more important the causes of those goals: your thinking.
From moment to moment your experience of life is created by your thinking. Your thoughts and therefore your experience is created by your mind. Given the same set of circumstances your experience and mine will be different but equally real for each of us.
Before having children I would go SCUBA diving. In dark or fast water it’s possible to lose your sense of direction. Swimming up whilst actually travelling down or losing the exit in a submerged space can be lethal. It’s not the lack of visibility or the loss of cues that’s lethal it’s that your thinking is based on a misunderstanding of what’s really going on. Smart uses lots of metaphors like this to emphasise his view that outside-in thinking is a misunderstanding.
What if your security, happiness and sense that things are OK begin within you and radiate outward. From thoughts that you generate. Happiness, competence and resilience are your default settings, if you’d only let go of superstitious and habitual thinking.
I’m an Agnostic in the religious sense. Why should trust my thinking? I can create as many Gods or Devils as I like and make them real if I want to. In time I’ll discover the truth and intuitively I know the answer to this question cannot be found in the here and now. If your truth is the polar opposite then yours is no less real.
There’s a level of consciousness that exists below the level of thinking that responds appropriately to life as it really works, apparently. Clear your mind and your innate wisdom will point you in the right direction. That happens to me most on the way to the supermarket at lunchtime, or on the drive home when I’ve failed to spot an obvious solution to a tricky problem for hours. We have all the resilience required to cope with life’s ups and downs. I’ve managed to overcome many downs and appreciate many ups in my life why shouldn’t that continue?
You get the idea.
I believe in the premise that we create our experience of the world around just as we make sense of the images projected at the cinema or the dots on a printed page. And given the many models of life I prefer One where I am happy and OK from the inside out to one where I’m happy because I have this or that or because I’m on my way to some place better down the road.
The book has some useful insights. I like the ideas on leadership, and disrupting the reality my habitual and superstitious thoughts create.
Like food that leaves a bitter aftertaste there is an inconsistency in the book. Some of the language in the book feels contrived and drawn out to me. Jamie Smart has trade marked Innate Thinking, built a business around it and allowed himself to join a circle of “super-coaches” that have the secret to “living the life you want”. Smart is living the life he wants and if that happens to coincide with bringing some benefit to you that’s a win-win I guess.
But the aftertaste I get doesn’t spoil the meal entirely.
We continue to make life harder and more complex for ourselves. We create problems for ourselves so we can create the solutions. Sometimes we run to stand still. We compare what we have to the guy next door and believe the grass is greener where he says it is or because it looks like it. We consistently look for happiness outside and not within.
It’s not a bad thing to challenge your current reality. The world is not flat, disease is not caused by bad smells. Overall I enjoyed this book and the challenge to my habitual thinking and found that it’s not a million miles away from what makes sense to me.
I bought this book at the airport.
I need to read this book again but not soon.