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The most important life resources

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What are the most important resources?

I’m thinking, time and energy.

Time because it’s non-renewable.
Energy because it’s an enabler, it gives you the capacity to make use of time.

What if you do have time and energy but you’re in an unresourceful state?

State is also an enabler. I guess we can think of it as a resource as well.

What about meaning?

Energy and state give you the capacity to make use of time.
Meaning makes you want to make use of time to the fullest.

It can also make you not want to make use time to the fullest.

All resources take skill to manage properly.

Random Magic card on the phone

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I’ve been looking for an app to see random Magic the Gathering cards on my phone but I was unable to find any in the app store.”

“You can create a pseudo-app to achieve the same effect. It looks something like this:

Random Magic card

When you press the curved arrow at the bottom of the card, it generates a new random card.”

“That’s exactly what I want! How do you do it?”

Step 1: Open an internet browser app on your phone. I use Google Chrome.

Step 2: Go to the page https://flavortexts.com/.

Step 3: In the browser, open the three-dot menu (in Chrome it’s at the top-right side of the screen) and select the ‘Add to Home screen‘ option. This creates a pseudo-app, which appears as an icon on the phone’s screen.

Step 4: Give it a name. This is the name that will appear under the icon on the phone’s screen.

Whenever you want to see a random card, just tap on the icon.”

On Mindfulness and Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I love Emily Fletcher’s definition of Mindfulness:

Mindfulness: the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment.

“Bringing your awareness into the present moment is easy. Keeping it there, that’s the hard part. I’d rephrase the definition to:

Mindfulness: the art of keeping your awareness in the present moment.

“What’s the practice?”

“I find it useful to compare it with Meditation.

Meditation is the practice of focused awareness. Focusing your attention on a point (anchor-point).

Mindfulness is the practice of diffuse awareness. Focusing your attention on the now, on the present experience, and engaging all senses (VAKOG).

The two practices are complementary.

It is possible to combine the practices into one. 

Mindfulness Meditation is the practice of both focused and diffuse awareness. While focusing your attention on a point, expanding your awareness to your entire peripheral field of vision, and engaging all senses. 

I know this practice from NLP. The practice originates from Hawaii where they call it Hakalau. In NLP it is also referred to as ‘the now state’, or ‘the learning state’.”

“You use the word ‘presence’ a lot. What’s the difference between mindfulness and presence?”

“The way I use them,
presence is the desired state,
mindfulness and meditation are the practice for reaching the state.”

On Knowledge 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is knowledge?”

“Knowledge is organized information.

I like to think of it as a network. A network has two components: nodes, and connections. In the knowledge network, the nodes represent potentially useful information, and the connections represent understanding.”

“So useless information is not knowledge?”

“Not in my view of it.”

“What if you don’t know whether a piece of information has the potential to be useful?”

“That’s a skill you can develop. Edward de Bono calls it ‘Value Sensitivity‘.

Useful information is instrumental. We might think of it as creative building-blocks.

The output of useful information – and of Thinking, more generally – is Creating Value. It can be in the form of problem-solving, optimization, conveying meaning, etc.

You can increase your knowledge in two ways: by creating more nodes, either through direct or indirect experiences [<link; medium], and by creating more connections between the nodes.”

“What about externally organized information. Does that count as knowledge?”

“We can make a distinction between internal and external knowledge. External knowledge is useful only insofar as it creates internal knowledge.

As Scott H. Young put it,

Knowledge that is not in your head can’t help you to solve problems.

The Better Share

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“You’re familiar with the idea of the ‘lion’s share’.” 

“The one who shares takes the largest piece. It’s the name of one of Aesop’s fables, isn’t it?”

“Yes.

I find it a good reference… to do the exact opposite of.

During our meals together, my parents have always given me and my brother the better share. Most of my life I was unable to appreciate it. As with so many other things, I took it for granted. 

Now, that I’ve gotten a little wiser, as a means of honoring it, I turned it into a life principle, which I expanded beyond the scope of my small family, to my big family that is mankind:

Always give the other the better share.

The Beautiful Path 4

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Make it the absolute priority of your life until you find the Beautiful Path, my dear.”

“How do you know I didn’t?”

“You wouldn’t have time to waste if you did.”

On Thinking: Restructuring Patterns

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Capitalism is evil.”

“One of the most important aspects of Thinking is restructuring patterns.”

“What do you mean?”

“A word is a linguistic label. That label points to something other than itself. That something is a mental model.

When you encounter a word you don’t know, for you that word doesn’t point to anything. Let’s say you ask someone what a word means, and they tell you their interpretation of it. That becomes your initial model. That’s what the word points to for you now. Unless you subsequently refine the model, it will remain frozen in its current state.

I call this kind of model, a meaning-model.

Different people can have different meaning-models of the same word.

Represented visually as networks, they can form vastly different patterns.

On one level, what a word points to – the meaning-model – is a pattern. Restructuring patterns in this case means being open to revising your meaning-models.

Every word has a history. This means, at some point, the word ‘capitalism’ did not exist. Someone created it based on their own personal interpretation, which was rooted in their historical and social context and their own subjective model of reality.

Once created and widely accepted, words create their own reality, and skew you towards a certain interpretation of reality.”

“Are you saying capitalism does not exist?”

“Capitalism is a fiction, a construct. A frozen linguistic pattern.

On another level, the word itself is a pattern. Restructuring patterns in this case means letting go of fossilized patterns and creating more useful ones.

I think the only useful discussion about capitalism is one that starts with each person describing their own model of it.”

Dominant Questions

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Whenever we ask a question, we’re ‘opening a mental process‘ [<link; short length], and our subconscious mind is working on it in the background. 

Using a different model, this is a kind priming – I call it question-priming. Asking a question mobilizes the Reticular Activation System (RAS) – which is essentially our pattern-recognition system.

We can open multiple processes at the same time.

Some are meaningful signal, others are useless noise.

Some give a more powerful signal than others – Jim Kwik calls these, dominant questions.

Some operate on short time-frames, others on very long time-frames. Some can even last a lifetime.”

“What are your current dominant questions?”

“They are three:

How can you master Thinking? How can you become a Super Thinker?

How can you optimize Learning? How can you maximize Learning efficiency?

How can you beautify this moment?

You can metaphorically think of them as ‘levels of magnification‘. This is an instance of hierarchization [<link; medium].”

On Self-Mastery

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Self-Mastery?”

“What does it make you think of?”

“It makes me think of Willpower and Self-Control.”

“We could say,

Self-Mastery is Discipline.

The capacity to do what needs to be done regardless of how you feel about it. (Positive Willpower)

The capacity to keep your impulses in check and delay gratification. (Negative Willpower)

Discipline is one essential aspect of it.

Now, think what happens when you’re facing a perceived threat in the environment.”

“Your sympathetic system kicks in, which shuts down your prefrontal cortex (cortical inhibition) and triggers the Fight-Flight-Freeze (FFF) mode.”

“To be able to function effectively in this situation requires the capacity to calm yourself down, relax, and regain control. 

Moreover, in the words of George Leonard,

Relaxation is essential for the full expression of power.

“Josh Waitkin has a similar one:

To turn it on, learn to turn it off.

“Same thing.

The better you can turn it off, the more powerfully you can turn in on.

So we could say, 

Self-Mastery is Relaxation Mastery.

This is another essential aspect of it.

And yet another essential aspect of it has to do with emotions.

Most of our failings are due to the incapacity to deal with emotional discomfort

Unpleasant feelings subtly shape the trajectory of your life. Certain things trigger unpleasant feelings, so you avoid them. What you avoid is not the things themselves – they’re neutral –, but dealing with those unpleasant feelings.

The outer obstacle is an illusion. The inner obstacle is all there is.

Your capacity to deal with unpleasant feelings narrows or expands your possibility-horizon.

We could say, 

Self-Mastery is Emotional Mastery.

“Reminds me of a quote by Karla McLaren from her book The Art of Empathy

When your emotional skills are poor, people won’t meet you. They will meet your emotional reactivity and your problems with whichever emotion has arisen.

“That’s my life story.

Only now that I’ve made Emotional Mastery the central focus of my life have I begun to understand it and get better at it. So many people never do.

I still have a very long way to go.”

Project Inventorying Habits 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“We are bundles of habits. The habits we form (and those we discard) shape the trajectory of our life.”

“They also reveal the trajectory of our life.

Habits are your history. As you inventory your habits [<link; medium length], make it a habit to arrange them chronologically, to make the trajectory visible.

All habits have a history. As you inventory your habits, make it a habit to reflect on how each habit came to be, and how they contributed to who you are today.”