Tag Archives: Eldon Taylor

Struggle Does Not Mean Bad: Choices and Illusions, Part 3

In Part 1, we took a closer look at the first 6 chapters of Eldon Taylor’s book, Choices and Illusions. There were some great stories about how our thoughts can have an effect on us, even when we don’t think they do. In Part 2, we looked at chapters 7 through 12. In particular, we looked at an important story that emphasized the importance of ‘wait and see’ as a viable option when deciding a course of action. In today’s post, we’ll look at the last 6 chapters of the book.


Chapter 13 reminds us that we may have limiting belief systems preventing us from achieving what we ‘want.’ For instance, if you want to be successful or prosperous, do you think you’ll get there if you have a belief that people who are prosperous or successful are evil (and you don’t want to be evil)? Taylor also reminds us that we shouldn’t hate our work and discusses the importance of empathy.

In chapter 14, Taylor reassures us that having limiting beliefs doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it’s actually quite normal. He goes on to talk about the importance of looking within one’s self to find those limiting beliefs that may no longer be serving you. For instance, when you were younger, you may have developed the belief that speaking in front of people is really scary or that it may cause you harm. If you now work as an analyst for a big company, there’s a good chance that you may have to speak in front of people at some point. As a result, it would probably do you good to have brought this limiting belief to light and then replaced it.

Like with yesterday’s post, there’s a great story from Chapter 16 that I think you’ll enjoy. In fact, it reminds me of the best piece of advice (We’ll See…):

There once was a scientist who beheld the glory of an emperor moth and was so totally taken by the creature that he decided to study it. For more than a year he monitored the activities of the giant moth.

One day he came upon a caterpillar ready to spin its cocoon. He gently captured the caterpillar and took it back to his lab. He watched the caterpillar build its cocoon within a glass container and enter that state of deep sleep. While in the chrysalis it changed its form, from crawling on the ground to floating in the sky.

The day came when the moth was ready to leave the cocoon. The scientist watched anxiously as the tiny head chewed its way into the light of the laboratory. The moth struggled and struggled, seemingly getting nowhere. Its body was simply too large to fit through the tiny hole in the cocoon. The moth tired and laid its head to rest on the shell of the cocoon. The scientist took it upon himself to help the tiny creature. “How could I stand here for so many hours watching this beautiful moth go through such agony and pain?” he questioned. “Where is my mercy?” he continued as he took his tweezers and scissors to cut away the cocoon. The moth fell from the cocoon badly deformed, and soon died.

Later the scientist discovered that it was precisely the cocoon-escaping struggle that pressured the fluids down into the body of the emperor moth and gave it its aerodynamic ability. The cocoon forced the fluids into the body, perfectly proportioning the moth as it pushed its way out. Cutting away the cocoon in an effort to help had only killed the moth.

You may be familiar with a similar story about butterflies and moths, but this is an important story with regard to being okay with things that you may otherwise not be. For instance, some folks couldn’t stand to watch the moth struggle in this case, but if they were to interfere, they’d actually be disrupting the process by which the moth needs to undergo to become a butterfly. This raises all kinds of possible ethical dilemmas when we consider intervening within certain environments or the animal kingdom. To be clear, I’m not necessarily advocating no intervention, but I think it’s important to remember stories like this when we are considering intervening. As Taylor says, “Struggle does not mean bad.”

There’s another great story in Chapter 18 highlighting the possibility that judging could be viewed as a sickness. I’ll let you read that one on your own, though.

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the book.)


If you liked this paper/series, you might want to check out some of the other papers/series I’ve posted.

What Was Your Last Original Thought: Choices and Illusions, Part 2

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the first 6 chapters of Eldon Taylor’s book, Choices and Illusions. There were some great stories about how our thoughts can have a tangible effect on our bodies. In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at the next 6 chapters.


Chapter 7 picks up right where the last three chapters leave off: marketing. In particular, Taylor asks one of his favourite questions: “What was your last original thought?” In continuing down this line of thinking, Taylor emphasizes how a great deal of planning and money has been spent on trying to get you to, in a sense, manipulate your thoughts. Now, I don’t want you think that Taylor’s talking about ‘mind control’ or something like that. In fact, if you think about it, you can probably come to the same conclusions that Taylor has. When you’re hungry, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? For many, that will be fast food. When you’re thirsty, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Pop (or soda, or coke, depending on what part of the country/world you live in). How are those your first thoughts with these biological instincts?

Taylor also continues on subliminal thinking in Chapter 8. There are a couple of good stories, one about the 2000 election and the subliminal messaging used by the Bush campaign. There’s also a discussion of dichotic listening, which brought me back to my class in cognitive psychology from several years ago. Similarly, if you’ve never taken the Stroop Test, I suggest checking it out.

Chapter 9 has a two-part story that I thought you’d enjoy. Here’s part 1:

 It is about a Zen master who made it a habit at noontime to meditate while he walked in the gardens. On this particular day, he became so engrossed in his meditation that he wandered far into the jungle, where he met a hungry tiger. Well, our Zen master did what any Zen master would do, which is to attend to the urgency of the moment. He fled as fast as he could with the hungry tiger in pursuit. Soon he came to the edge of a sheer cliff, but with a hungry tiger about to eat him, he jumped over the edge. On the way down he grabbed the only thing jutting out from the cliff, a small tree. There he hung on as he heard a roar from below. Now, there was a hungry tiger above and a hungry tiger below. Just then the small tree began to pull out of the ground. He looked to his right. Nothing. He looked below. Nothing. He looked to his left. A beautiful strawberry. He picked the strawberry, and it was the best fruit he’d eaten in his life.

Taylor uses this story to emphasize the now: “The moral of the story is, be mindful — you will find the strawberries.” The second part of the story is just as good:

 After I told this story to an audience in Malaysia, a fellow approached me during a break and asked if I knew the entire story.

“I thought that was the entire story.”

“No,” he said. “Would you like to know it?”

We sat down and had coffee while he related the story that he said comes from Paramahansa Yogananda. It seems that the Zen master, when confronted with the tigers, was actually hanging from a small apple tree while mice were digging away the light soil that the tree was rooted in. The story cuts away to a picture of the event hanging in a gallery. There spectators are viewing the art, when one speaks up, “Look at that stupid fellow. He’s selfishly indulging his senses while blind to his circumstances.” The story then returns to the Zen master. Another tiger runs onto the scene, and now there are two tigers above. The Zen master enjoys his apple, and pretty soon he sees vultures circling overhead. The two tigers have fought and killed each other. The mice see the shadow of the birds and flee. Below a herd of deer comes down to drink from the brook, and the tiger below sets off in pursuit of them. In short, what seemed like dire circumstances fixed themselves or were fixed by some power above.

Of course, some folks may balk at the idea that every situation will fix itself, but I’d argue that lots of people forget that when they are trying to decide the best course of action, ‘wait and see’ is overlooked more often than it should be. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at the last 6 chapters of the book.

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the book.)

They Limped in and Danced Out: Choices and Illusions, Part 1

A few of my posts recently have been about the importance that our thoughts and beliefs can have on how we function. Coincidentally, I was asked to write a review of a book that is right in line with this thinking. The book: Choices and Illusions: How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be? by Eldon Taylor. I enjoyed reading it and if you’re unfamiliar with the idea that our thoughts can have a tangible impact on us, this book is certainly a great introduction. Over the next few days, I’ll take a closer look at some of the sections of the book. In today’s post, I’ll look at the first 6 chapters.


Chapter 1 was a great introduction to this idea that our thoughts can have a tangible effect on our lives. Taylor tells a clever story about an eagle that was raised as a chicken. The eagle, all its life, assumes it’s a chicken, even when an eagle comes to tell it that it’s an eagle. This chapter reminds me of many of the posts I’ve written about perspective. If you don’t know what other possibilities there are out there, it’s hard to choose something different.

In chapter 2, I was surprised to hear about someone who can draw fractals freehand! I remember a few years ago being really enthralled by fractals. In fact, there were times when I’d just watch YouTube videos of fractals for in 15-30 minute increments. If you’re interested, Jason Padgett is the fellow who can draw fractals freehand. He’s quite good! And if you don’t believe me that fractals can be encapsulating, watch this: Fractal Zoom Mandelbrot Corner.

Chapter 3 had a really fun story about a high school reunion. There were a number of people who had reached the age where they weren’t as mobile as they used to be. The DJ, not accounting for this in creating the playlist, became worried when people weren’t moving so well on the way into the event. Figuring that there wasn’t enough time to change the playlist, the DJ played it as it was. The DJ later told Taylor: “Eldon, they limped in and danced out!” How is this possible? Well, as Taylor emphasizes, our thoughts can have a powerful effect on our abilities. Many of these people were transported to their youthful days upon hearing the popular music during the time they were in high school.

Chapters 4 through 6 reminded me of the importance of the documentary Miss Representation (and it’s soon to be released companion: The Mask You Live In). The media can have such a powerful impact on the way we think about ourselves and it can often be overlooked. In particular, chapter 6 reminds us that advertising is not always the most ethical profession. With that being said, it’s important to say that not all advertisers behave in this way.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at chapters 7 through 12.

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the book.)