holistic health magazine






Holistic Education and Lifelong Success
An Interview with Jack Canfield, coauthor of
Chicken Soup for the Soul®

with Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Copublisher

Jack Canfield has dedicated 30 years of his life to mentor, teach and coach success principles and self-actualization to millions worldwide. Canfield is a former school teacher and a compelling, empowering and compassionate coach who has helped many thousands of individuals achieve their true potential. Canfield is also the cocreator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, with more than 80 titles in print and over 80 million copies sold. His latest book is The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, containing 64 powerful principles of success utilized by top achievers from all walks of life.

Jack Canfield

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The Share Guide: Jack, you’ve written that education and a commitment to lifelong learning are essential to success, but that a formal degree isn’t. Do you feel there’s too much emphasis placed on college degrees and not enough on self-education?

Jack Canfield:
I think there’s too much emphasis placed on learning things by rote that you don’t really care about. So what happens to students in school is that they eventually lose interest in learning, because they’ve been forced to learn the required courses, rather than pursing their passion. Most kids in high school aren’t interested in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. They’d rather be reading a contemporary novel about some teen who’s struggling with drugs, or pregnancy, or something that’s relevant to their life. So young people become turned-off to learning, unfortunately. I remember when I left college thinking, “Wow, that’s the last test I’m ever going to take” because I was so sick of it.

The Share Guide: Would you agree that our current educational system is set up to stifle creativity and out-of-the-box thinking?

Jack Canfield: Yes, absolutely. You get paid for memorizing stuff, whatever the professor thinks is important. Now there are individual schools and individual teachers within many schools who are great and creative and wonderful, and holistic, and empowering of students. But in general, it’s not like that. And because school wasn’t a positive experience, many people don’t see books, seminars, and classes as a solution to problems, which is unfortunate. People aren’t trained to do research or accustomed to reading that much. That’s right. If our schooling when we were growing up was about things that were interesting to us, and if we were taught how to use the library to solve problems, then we’d become lifelong learners. So now we have to re-commit ourselves to learning, and start reading and taking classes. The problem is the average person isn’t tuned in to lifelong learning, or going to seminars and so forth. If the information is not on television, and it’s not in the movies they watch, and it’s not in the few books that they buy, they don’t get it. Unfortunately, even the newspapers are controlled by large conglomerates that basically disseminate traditional kinds of solutions to problems, like pharmaceuticals, and fast food.

The Share Guide: You’ve said that a commitment to lifelong learning is essential to success in life. Why?

Jack Canfield: I teach something called The Law of Probabilities, which says the more things you try, the more likely one of them will work. The more books you read, the more likely one of them will have an answer to a question that could solve the major problems of your life--make you wealthier, solve a health problem, whatever it might be. The more seminars you take, the more audio books you listen to, the more magazines you read, the better. It could just be one idea that you’ve been looking for that can change your whole life. So I’m a big believer in that. I attempt to read one book every day. I don’t always achieve that, especially when I’m traveling. But when I’m home, I read almost a book a day. I certainly read a minimum of two or three a week. And as a result of that, I’ve read over 3,000 books in areas that interest me, like consciousness and spirituality, holistic health, leadership, success, psychological awareness, therapy, etc. So I’ve gained a huge awareness of the things that I can use in my work, and in my own life, which provides me with the ability to produce more of what I want to do. My first year of getting out into the world, I had a boss who said, “I’ll pay for any seminars you take,” so I took 38 weekend workshops! I was young and single, and I was motivated. I wanted to learn as much as I could about everything I could. Even now, I’m always on the internet, always reading, always listening to CD’s and reading magazines. I think it’s critical.

The Share Guide: What do you think holds people back besides memories of school?

Jack Canfield: One of the things that may get in the way of people being lifelong learners is that they’re not in touch with their passion. If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it. Tiger Woods recently changed golf coaches. It affected his game for awhile, yet he came back and won the Masters Tournament. The point is that he still wanted to get better. He said “winning a tournament is nice, but if I don’t get a different coach, I’m not going to improve.”

The Share Guide: Do you meditate regularly, and if so, do you use a particular method?

Jack Canfield: Yes, I meditate. One method I’ve used is the Holosync Method developed by Bill Harris. I met Bill Harris at a seminar. He sent me a copy of the Holosync CD’s and I started to listen to them, and they definitely take you to a deeper meditative state faster. I think as you meditate over the years you evolve--your practice gets deeper, and you reach new levels of inner peace and awareness. I’ve been meditating for about 25 years. No, there are days when I get up, and I have to run to catch an airplane. I fall asleep on the plane, and the next thing I know I’m giving a speech somewhere and running to catch another plane. But probably five out of seven days I do meditate, and I practice Vipassana meditation. I also do some other forms of meditation where I do visualizations, because they’re more intentional for a certain kind of purpose, such as if I’m trying to cleanse my aura. To paraphrase Yogananda: Life goes quickly, and we benefit by being aware of the spirit in every moment and action.

The Share Guide: Do you think that our culture suffers from the fact that so many people watch lots of television?

Jack Canfield: I teach that people should watch less TV. I don’t care what else they’re doing! The average American’s watching anywhere from three to six hours a day. If you watch six hours of TV a day, that’s 15 years of your life! I don’t think evolution was leading up for the brain to do that. Now I’m not saying that I don’t watch television--I will sometimes watch shows just to relax with my family. But generally, my TV adds up to maybe an hour a day, or so. And many, many days I don’t watch any TV at all. I like to watch biography shows, and The Actors Studio, because what you’re learning is the principles that these people have used. Whenever you’re listening to someone that’s at the top of their game, there’s something you can learn from them. So when TV brings me that kind of stuff, I like it. And I think it gives us a sense of common humanity, so you feel like you’re connected to the world, such as when the Pope died, or when 911 happened, or Tiananmen Square. Peter Russell refers to the “global brain,” which is created by digital and electronic reality. It’s like the nervous system of the earth, and that’s the fax machines, the internet, and television, telephone and radio. So I do think TV has a huge role to play. I think CNN is valuable. You used to be able to do stuff in other countries and hide it. Now if you do something in Africa, it’s on the news an hour later, so I think it holds us more accountable.

The sad thing is when you get addicted to it. You come in after work, you turn on the TV and the next thing you know it’s midnight. For all those people who want to learn more, if you turn the television off, it’s easier to read books. Well, I’ve been a self-esteem expert for years and there’s two things that build self-esteem. One is quality of relationships, where you feel lovable and you’re making a difference in the lives of others. And the other is achieving things. Neither of those things occurs when you’re watching television. When you’re connected to a source and to each other through conversation, through making love, through meditation, playing games with your kids, all that stuff, then your self-esteem’s going to go up, because you’re being attended to and you’re attending to others. People get frustrated when no one’s paying attention to them. That’s why kids often get in trouble, parents aren’t paying attention. Also, when you’re achieving things, you’re confidence levels improve, and your sense of power and ability to meet your needs in the world improves. As well as writing books you teach workshops.

The Share Guide: Please tell our readers about what you are teaching.

Jack Canfield: Well, a lot of people read books on things and it never turns into action. The seed sits on top of the soil and it doesn’t take. The reason often has to do with what’s already inside--the Zen have that saying that you’ve got to empty out before you can take in. All too often we’re filled with negative and limiting beliefs. We’re filled with self-doubt. We’re filled with guilt or with a sense of unworthiness. We have a lot of assumptions about the way the world is that are actually wrong. In order to input new information, like the 64 principles of success that are in my latest book, The Success Principles, you first have to help a person release the past, release the limiting beliefs, and release the wounds to let go.

We use a lot of technology in the first three days of the seminar to facilitate this. We do a process called the Total Truth Process, where you go back and pick one of your parents or teachers that had an impact on your life in a negative way. We can actually release those emotions cathartically, so that the energy that’s blocked up is released and the aliveness comes back. Because when we’re repressing feelings, there’s anger, there’s hurt, there’s guilt, there’s fear. We go through all of those, because anytime there’s a negative experience, all of those feelings come into play. That’s why we call it the Total Truth.

We also look at the past from a positive perspective. What about the past do I need to be appreciating, and acknowledging and owning, and what lessons can I learn? How do I identify the limiting beliefs? For example, last summer I had a guy in my seminar who had a belief that he could never make more money than his father. He identified this in a process we do called Limiting Beliefs, and he was able to turn it around and release it. We’ve all got limiting beliefs, whether they’re around money, sex, relationships, or about power, religion, whatever it might be, and we can identify those and release them. So in the first three days of the workshop we do that kind of work.

Then the last four days of the seminar we build in the new habits, behaviors, belief structures, etc that will allow you to create the life you want. So we take the information from The Success Principles book, and do it all experientially. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle--you can read books about bicycles forever, but until you get on one and ride it, you’re never going develop the balance you need, and the momentum you need to make it work.

For more information about Jack Canfield and The Success Principles, visit www.thesuccessprinciples.com

Read another interview with Jack Canfield on writing and getting published.

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