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I Chimp Therefore I Am

chimpI spoke at IATEFL Manchester. I was surprised that my proposal was accepted, given that I was really just saying to people, Let me tell you about a great book that I’ve read. That great book was, of course, The Chimp Paradox by the eminent Dr Steve Peters. Anyway, whoever accepted the proposal also needs to accept my deepest and sincerest thanks. It has been a long time since I have felt so…energised?…ecstatic?…wired?….looking back over my formative years, I can’t think of any time when I felt that way without having broken some of the local laws regarding controlled substances. If you’ve never done an IATEFL presentation, I couldn’t recommend it more. Thanks too to Andy Hockley and the LAMSIG crew for allowing me to form part of their SIG programme. Another big honour. And I’m not just saying that.

I was even more surprised to see how many people came to the talk, attracted, I suspect, by the promise of a stress-free life. At the risk of sounding overly happy-clappy, this is a real possibility. A key component of the Chimp Paradox model is what Dr Peters calls the Stone of Life. To be clear: if you want to live a stress-free life, it is necessary to work daily on reviewing and repeating the turths by which you live your life, the values which influence your life and the reason that you have for living. These three components, truths, values and the force behind your life, are written down on what SP calls your Stone of Life.

My stone of life took some putting together. I just couldn’t get my head around how to draft it. In fact, it took some years to gather together. Steve Peters explains how the Stone is at the centre of the Chimp Paradox model. The best way to avoid the chimp ruining your life is to make sure that it doesn’t kick off that often. How do you do this? You put time in to making sure that it feels safe and secure. A happy chimp rarely loses its rag. The best way to do this is to have your stone of life firmly in place and to revisit it daily.

Dr Peters recommends reciting the stone of life out loud every day. The theory behind so-doing is that as the brain hears the words, it is forced into processing them for meaning; if you quietly recite it in your mind, the mentalese doesn’t require processing. Anyway, it’s what I now do every day once I’ve finished walking the dog in the morning. My current stone of life can be found here. The next few blog posts e will provide some more detail of what these words mean to me.

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