In today’s rapidly evolving world, change is unavoidable. Yet for some people, it is a scary prospect.
In fact, keynote speaker and future strategist John Sanei has built a whole career around his fascination with the concept of change, and why so many people resist it so fervently.
Traveling the world to deliver talks and masterclasses, John helps companies and entrepreneurs live happier, healthier and more successful lives by opening themselves up to whatever is coming next. By combining meditation, psychology, neuroscience and business strategies, his unique approach has led him to produce five best-selling books, gain more than 41k TikTok followers, take up a position as a associate partner at Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, and become known as a global expert on change.
The renowned author chats to Livehealthy about why our ability to adapt and accept change impacts all areas of life, including the way we age, our health, susceptibility to disease and our financial state.
Why do some people struggle with change?
All of us have the malleability to change, but we haven’t been taught how. A lot of focus has been put on change over the last 10 to 15 years, but the education system hasn’t kept up. Education is just about fitting into a system that has a predetermined outcome. The better you are at following that process, the more successful you are.
I think that certain personalities find change easier. Entrepreneurs are obsessed with trying to figure out the next winning solution, so they’re constantly open for change. For instance, some of my friends came alive during the chaos of the pandemic when they had to completely change their businesses. Although they were successful before, they were almost bored. But other personalities are more cautious.
I’ve always been keen to learn and I’m and a trend watcher, but I went through a bankruptcy when I was 31 years old. I was very, very financially successful in my twenties. I come from a single-mom family and money was always a challenge for us, so I made a concerted effort for it not to be a challenge for me. I was always running away from poverty, and bankruptcy caused me to rediscover myself and work out what I had been doing wrong.
The problem was that I had found a formula that was making money, and so I didn’t want to change that. No matter how much the world was changing around me. I also realized that most people are stuck in certain jobs or with certain personas.
Sometimes your personality is almost galvanized when you’re very young. You peak when you’re 18, become the cool kid in high school, and then you never want to change. Your hairstyle stays the same, you listen to the same music, and you wear the same clothes. It’s almost like we get stuck in this idea of who we are and what we’re about. The more I looked around, the more I saw it was a problem for many people. So I started diving deeper and deeper into the subject, and becoming more passionate and interested in it.
All my books and lectures are based on my own fascination and curiosity about change and why it is a real issue in the world at the moment.
Are we living in a constant state of fear?
Even as cavemen, people needed to have a certain level of fear. Fear has been programmed into us without us even realizing it. Starting right from the Industrial Revolution, we have all become driven by deadlines. Even the word deadline is fear-driven.
We are all running away from deadlines and everybody is in a panic to achieve certain goals. If we don’t meet them, we feel like a failure. This focus on efficiencies and net profits has driven a beta brainwave inside our brains that tells our bodies that we’re in danger all the time. We’re all addicted to this feeling but we don’t even know it.
When you are in this high beta brain wave, you don’t have time for creativity, to learn anything new or to be adaptable. You’re in survival mode and just focusing on your ability to pay your rent and bills, or who is annoying you at work. The system has taught us to focus on what we’ve always done, and not to take any drastic steps.
We even sometimes show off about how busy we are. It’s common to say things like ‘I never have enough time’ or ‘I can’t sleep’. The global pharmaceutical industry has tripled in value in the last seven to eight years. We are just medicating away this anxiousness, and not understanding how to deal with it.
How can we become more open to change?
The simplest solution, although it is not easy, is to change our brain waves and change our personality.
We need to practice moving into the alpha brainwave. This lets us become imaginative, calm, adaptable, collaborative, keen to explore and curious about the unknown.
It’s how most people feel during their first day back from holiday. Nothing is irritating and everything’s okay. But, just two hours into work, suddenly you can’t even remember that you were on holiday at all. You’re already back in the beta brainwave.
I try to get people to understand that if they can change their brainwaves, their perspective of the world around changes too. You gain a calm heart and clear head.
How can you change your brainwaves?
Studies show that we have between 60,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day and 90 percent of those are the same. By the time we 35 years old, the constructs of your personality are set in stone and for the rest of your life, you have the same ideas about money, power and food. But through meditation, you can relax the highways of your brain relax and reconstruct certain habits, personality traits and rituals.
Meditation is something that we should all be doing daily. It teaches us to celebrate the unknown and be okay with uncertainty. It makes us powerful at dealing with change on all levels, including within our personal life, relationships and at work. To be able to manage your behavior like this is a real superpower.
What is the best way to start meditating?
It’s like how you can’t run 10 kilometers during your very first run. You need to start with one kilometer and build up. Meditation is the same, it’s a brain gym. Why do you go to gym? So that the rest of your life can be more comfortable, and to avoid health issues. It’s a preventative process and meditation is exactly the same.
Most people have no control over how their brains work. They’re slaves to their triggers and addicted to their anxiousness.
We find every excuse not to get rid of that anxiousness. You could be sitting in the Maldives in a five-star hotel and suddenly feel anxious for no reason at all. It’s because it’s familiar and better than exploring a new version.
I always suggest starting with five minutes of meditation and then moving up to 10. If you can’t engage with this new way of developing yourself, you will be the one who loses out. Instead, you will medicate yourself by drinking alcohol or doing whatever you have to do to get away from your high beta brainwave.
Meditation isn’t even a spiritual practice, it’s a science-based practice. For instance, Dr Joe Dispenza is a 60-year-old Italian man who has done science-based research that shows what happens to your brain, blood, cells and heart after you’ve meditated.
I meditate three hours a day and now I don’t get triggered. It’s a great life. One way to assess emotional intelligence is to look at how quickly you get off a trigger and come back to a calm and loving mind set.
Are you more likely to be triggered if you are tired?
Absolutely. When you’re tired it’s because your brain has been revving at 8,000 revs in high beta, which is exhausting. In alpha and low beta, you don’t get exhausted. You’re just like a car idling rather than revving at an extreme level.
If you are triggered for two to three days, it’s a mood, for seven to 10 days it’s your temperament, and if it’s for longer than two weeks it’s your new personality. That kind of personality doesn’t want to be quiet or meditate, it’s addicted to being triggered.
Think about Donald Trump. He’s like an eight-year-old boy that got triggered and can’t get out of it. The leaders that are causing mayhem around the world, they’re mainly men in their 60s and 70s that were never taught how to be emotionally intelligent.
In their world brute force was the way to achieve their goals. The software inside their heads is an iOS 1 and the world requires an iOS 20.
You need to understand how to access emotional intelligence and get yourself off a trigger. Everything you’ve ever wanted is down to your ability to manage your brainwaves.
Is accepting change a difficult process?
Your body is a lot more intelligent than any of us give it credit for. It creates diseases based on subconscious patterns, internal dialogues of self-hatred, self-doubt and judgment. All of them are linked to a high beta brain wave. For instance, studies show that a very high percentage of children with asthma have parents that are anxious.
If you think about it, kids are not listening to what you’re saying, they’re watching what you’re doing. If you’re shallow breathing, they think that’s the way you need to breathe, and so they start shallow breathing.
When you start to shift your brainwaves, your body resists. It’s had its own way for the last 40 or 50 years and it still wants to absorb a bit of hate from the news and get a taste of the anxiousness and anger that it’s addicted to. You have to be very vigilant during the process of change. It can be tumultuous. But the minute you do change, all your issues, whether they are related to work, relationships or money, start to fall away.
After all, if we meet someone we don’t like, we say things like ‘I don’t like their energy’. Or if you really like somebody you feel at peace, safe and inspired when you’re around them. What you’re really describing is frequencies. The people on a low frequency are the ones that you don’t want to hang around with. But meditation raises the frequency of your brain waves.
For example, I spoke to my dad for the first time in 20 years. He was violent with us growing up and I was angry with him. So I never set out to heal that relationship. I also spoke to my brother for the first time in four years last year, gave up smoking after 20 years, and quit sugar. I never thought I could give up smoking because I had been doing it for so long, or go to bed without having a chocolate. That was just part of who I was. All I did was practice and focus on meditation. If you listen to the science behind it then it helps you elevate your energy, your frequency and your personality starts to change.
Are there multiple realities?
The idea that there are multiverses is hard for us to get our heads around.
But time is malleable. I have a theory that people who love doing what they do age differently because they are in a constant state of curiosity and excitement. Their experience of time is different.
People that are having a terrible wretched time of life age badly. Age is not about what skin product you use, it’s what your experience of life is. When you’re in a high beta brain wave, you think you never have enough time. Then you go on holiday and your alpha brain wave kicks in and time starts stretching out. You realize you have more than enough time and relax. The higher our frequency goes, the better experience we have, the lower the frequency goes, the more stress we have.
When you move into a theta brain wave, which is where meditation takes you, you’re accessing the quantum world. When I go on retreats I meditate between four and eight hours a day and it’s like you disappear. Your construct of time changes when you’re in that state.
We are now starting to explore the quantum world, where there is no time. Every single reality is available to us. But, if the reality that’s being described doesn’t fit into the construct of your brain, most people just ignore it. They’re not ready to explore anything new. But we will never know everything. If you think you do know everything, you’ve lost the game before you started it.
I’m always happy to hear more, adjust and evolve. The more meditation I do, I start to realize that we are multidimensional beings with the ability to adjust our perspectives.
Have your friendships changed since your transformation?
A lot. But it’s important to remember that as you lose friends, new ones arrive. Nothing’s forever. My circle of friends has changed dramatically. I’m not enemies with my old friends, I’m just on a different path to them. When you do start doing this work, you evolve away from some people.
Change is not easy, but it’s absolutely necessary. Why would you want to live the same old life over and over? We no longer measure success on whether you have a big house or a big car. It’s about AQ, awareness and adaptability quotient. IQ is irrelevant, AI is replacing that. But, as Alvin Toffler very famously once said: “The illiterate of the 21st century won’t be the ones who can’t read and write, they’ll be the ones who cannot unlearn and relearn.” If you are unmalleable, you’re in trouble because you’ll become irrelevant. That should be the biggest fear for most people.
What is the secret to ageing well?
I’m two years away from 50, but I feel like I’m getting younger. I’m getting leaner and I still look like I did when I was 35, if not better. Biohacking is an approach to fixing things physically. I think it’s good but some people do it out of desperation, or with anxiousness. They start worrying that need to take 85 pills a day and it’s just applying the same stress to becoming younger, and in that process you are ageing yourself even further. It’s quite a dichotomy. Energy is the core of our reality, and everything else doesn’t really matter. 130 years ago Einstein said: ‘The future of medicine will be the medicine of frequency’.
Disease is linked to frequency. On the Joe Dispenza retreats, people who have cancer cure themselves, and people in wheelchairs stand up.
If you’re constantly anxious, stressed or you’re drowning yourself with alcohol, your body is going to age. But if you’re adaptable, curious, and open to unlearning and relearning, you’re just not going to age. Your body becomes a reflection of your mind. Old men who can’t bend over and touch their toes, have inflexible brains. If you’re stiff, your brain is stiff.
We are the pharmacy that we’ve been looking for. We just need to learn manage our brain brainwaves.
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