Laughing Heart is the last part of a trilogy begun some twenty years ago with the publication of Volume I of Piloting Through Chaos (1995). The present Guide is an intensely personal work. At 73 I find myself more creative, alive, and yearning to explore than I was in middle age. I am acutely aware that entropy will in the end prevail, and one day the well will run dry. In the meantime I ask myself—perhaps you do the same–is there an artful way to turn the tables on advancing age–like a skillful older tennis player who prevails over far younger opponents by husbanding energy and placing the balling strategically? I am passionate to tell you about a series of discoveries relating to “deep” or “integral” vitality. Ordinary vitality is generally associated with vigorous exercise, good diet, relaxation, and the avoidance of addictive habits. Of course these are important. But they are elements in something greater and more powerful.

Before relating my discoveries, allow me to provide some context. The first volume of Piloting Through Chaos introduced the core idea of integrity translated from the Chinese and Japanese languages as “inner power” or “character.” The component parts of the complex calligraphy for integrity () offer a clue to how to develop this inner power: integrity is gained when the “hand” of action aligns in dynamic balance with the “eye” of discovery, and the “heart” of compassion. Volume I highlights the “hand” in a practical arena I know well, international business negotiations. I was particularly interested in explaining how to deal with the “shadow players” in the world, those who rely primarily on deceipt and manipulation to secure narrow advantage. Volume II (The Explorers Mind) extended the integrity model to the realm of exploration and discovery by introducing the “Explorers Wheel”. This invention enables you to discover the “innovator’s gold” at the “intertidal zones” between established fields of knowledge and expertise.

Only after writing The Explorers Mind did I begin to understand more deeply the role of “heart” in the cryptic Chinese ideogram as the “governor” of the mind and hand. I came upon this discovery primarily through my training in a special form of heart-centric Chinese energy practice called qigong (pronounced chi gong). In this qigong form “heart” refers not only to the physical organ located in the center of your chest, but also to a subtle energy field that enfolds the physical heart like a cocoon. I began to see that every element of what I had previously written was enriched and refined by my new understanding. I call this integrating principle and practice, “Big Heart Intelligence” or as described in this Guide, “Laughing Heart.”

One of the exciting discoveries I am making in practicing Laughing Heart is the curious relationship of “inner” and “outer” vitality: the more I translate “inner” power into tangible actions that benefit others, the more powerful the “inner” becomes; and the more the bounty of the “external” world manifests in my life. One has the sense of an ongoing “conversation” with the universe, and the flavor of a game, “Creating Your Own Luck”. The process is substantially enhanced when the heart and mind work closely together. The Guide provides a simple way to track and to verify the process. I see a strong parallel with recent psychological studies suggesting that happiness is a primary enabling condition rather than the result of a life well spent. I call the state of flow I am describing “The Laughing Heart Advantage™.”(1)

Laughing Heart is cultivated by doing and validated by direct experience. I hope you enjoy practicing the 10 Essential Moves as much as I do, and we can explore this new frontier together. In these later years we may not be able to have “our sun stand still, yet we will make him run.”(2)

Julian Gresser – Santa Barbara, California, January 2017.

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