Since 1988 we've been researching and developing material to help people achieve
their maximum potential in this turbulent world.
Although major advances have been made in technology since the beginning of last
century, the same cannot be said of human society, prompting one social commentator
to exclaim, "While technology has progressed significantly over the past millennium,
the same cannot be said for human society, if anything, it is showing signs of
We believe that for society to make significant progressive
strides into the future, society, itself, must become a learning system
(just as today's successful organisations have realised the importance of being
learning organisations). A key attribute of any learning system is that:
- It has a memory through which knowledge and wisdom are passed on to future members,
- It is principles driven,
- It is continually seeking to revise and update the principles that guide it,
- Its guiding principles are based on solid research/wisdom (either academic or experientially-based),
- It has a mechanism to sift through latest research insights and prevailing wisdom,
in order to determine what is valid and what is not, and
- It realises that some of what is valid and worthwhile may fly in the face of what
is currently regarded by most as commonsense.
The approach to living that we advocate, as the current "best-shot" approach to
creating a society which meets the above criteria, is called ACCL - Acceptance,
Commitments, and Conscious Living.
Acceptance (A) - is about accepting the fact that life is tough and we
may have had some awful things which have happened to us. Latest cognitive
research indicates that using techniques, such as CBT (cognitive behavioural
therapy) do not work because they focus what people want to change. Focusing on
what we don't want in our life actually reinforces that part of our brain which
is associated with the negative aspects of our life. It is better, so cognitive
research tells us, accept that some "bad things" have happened to us, and get on
with the process of focussing on what we do want.
doesn't mean liking or approving. It means letting in the full reality--this is
the way it is right now, this is where I am, this is what I did, this is what I
think, this is what I feel." Nathaniel Branden
Commitment (C) - is about finding out what is important to us, that is, knowing
what our values are, knowing why they are important to us and making a firm commitment
to living them. This process activates that part of the brain which makes life more
enjoyable and fulfilling, and creates the best context for us to achieve that which
we have committed to achieving in life. The Minessence Group specifically developed
a values inventory (the AVI), to facilitate this process.
Conscious Living (CL) - is about knowing which principles guide the living
of our values. We live in a society, so we cannot live our values any way we want.
In the past it was sufficient to use commonsense, cultural traditions, the "wisdom
of our elders", etc. to guide how we live our values. Today this framework of guidance
has broken down. The world of today is a far cry from the world of our parents and
our grand-parents. What worked well for them may cause untold damage today. Hence
the need for conscious living. Through conscious choices we can select the
principles which will be the best guide of our behaviour. Some examples, based on
latest findings from neuroscience and neuroeconomics, will help concretize the concept
of conscious living:
- When we behave in a way which gives people a perception that we trust them, there
is a chemical released in their brain which actually makes them more trustworthy.
- There is a direct correlation between trust levels in organisations and society
and a country's wealth. The greater the trust level the greater the wealth, and visa versa.
Why? Because when trust levels are low, financial transaction costs are high
(legal advice, contract costs, etc., etc.), whereas when trust levels are high,
financial transaction costs are low (a hand-shake will suffice). More (see p.18) ...
- Faced with inequality in the workplace, people would prefer to withdraw their services completely, rather that work for lower pay/ rewards etc. than they believe would
be fair reward for the work they do. More...
- When you negate a frame of meaning, you evoke the very frame of meaning you no not
want evoked. That is, telling people "Don't do..." is more likely to ensure that
the do exactly what you don't want them to do. Why, because the brain ignored the
"don't do" and fires up all the neural networks associated with the words following
the "don't do." The more people hear, "Don't do...," the more their neural
networks are reinforced in relation the the very behaviour you don't want them to
- Happiness is directly correlated to the extent to which we can control the conscious
flow of our thoughts - "The simple truth - that the control of consciousness determines
the quality of life - has been known for a long time; in fact, for as long as human
records exist (Csikszentmihalyi)". However, the knowledge of how to control consciousness
must be reformulated every time the cultural context changes. This is why we cannot
rely on past wisdom, we must develop techniques which suit our own context.
Knowing the above, we can use that knowledge
to guide how we live our own values, whatever they may be. We can use that knowledge
to guide how we behave in relationships, families, teams, and organisations
- and we can use the knowledge to develop social and political policy.
In summary then, ACCL is about accepting the bad things that have happened to us,
and realising that focussing on them only makes them worse; knowing it is better
that we focus on determining what is really important to us, our values, and making
a commitment to fully live them. Also, ACCL is about making conscious choices about
how we live our values based on well informed insight into how the world really