Beautiful Models: Life-Density
It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“I’ve grown more in the 3 years since I’ve been in London than in the other 37 years of my life. I didn’t even know it was possible.”
“Why do you think that happened?”
“This is something I’ve been trying to understand.
Two models are useful for making sense of it:
– the qualitative/quantitative model
– the density model
We all change a lot throughout our lives. The important question is:
How much of this change is meaningful (eg learned a meaningful skill, or installed a meaningful habit),
how much of it is meaningless (eg changed one meaningless desire for another meaningless desire)?
You can think of meaningful change as qualitative change.
Combining the two models, you get a few useful concepts:
Change density: number of changes within a certain timespan
Growth density: number of qualitative changes within a certain timespan
Experiential density: number of experiences within a certain timespan
Growth-experiential density: number of qualitative experiences within a certain timespan
My growth can be described as very high growth density and growth-experiential density. I call this life-density.
We all have the same number of hours/days/months in a year. It’s what you do with that precious time that makes the difference. And I think life-density is key.”
“Why is growth important for life-density?”
“You’ve undoubtedly heard the idea ‘everything changes’. It’s a beautiful idea, and a beautiful direction to explore.
For me, an equally beautiful direction to explore is the question,
What doesn’t change?
I call that which does not change persistent structures.
There’s a lot to talk about here. In a nutshell:
Growth is a systematized accumulation of persistent structures.
Think habits, skills, internalized ideas. Once such a structure is in place, it opens up a new possibility-space.
Another way to think of it is in terms of complexity. Simple structures create more complex structures, which allow the creation of more complex structures, which allow the creation of yet more complex structures… It’s a fractal pattern. Each level of complexity opens up a new possibility-space.”
“How did you come to increase life-density?”
“To make a long story short, focusing on the principles, it was a matter of Focus and Discipline.
I like to make a distinction between Deep Focus, the capacity to maintain attention on one thing, and Selective Focus, the capacity to direct attention on the right things. Both are important.
Expressed as directives:
Focus on Meaning.
Focus on Life-Stacking [<link; medium length].
Focus on quality over quantity as a macro principle.
Viewed through the 80/20 filter:
Focus on the 20, ELIMINATE the 80.“
“That sounds radical.”
“That’s where Discipline and having a profound sense of Meaning come in.
There’s a quote I love:
If you want to live an extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of an ordinary one.
I’m LIVING it.”