Tag Archive | Mind-Mapping

Life of Meaning 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the meaning of life for you?”

“I like to express it as a mind-map. I call such mind-maps maps of meaning.

My highest-order map looks like this:

Click to enlarge

Each item on the map is itself a deep mind-map.”

On Writing and Systems

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How do you decide what to write about each day?”

“I have a system for it.

I start every day by being creative before reactive. I start every day with writing.

The first phase is playing with ideas. This is essentially free association, mind-mapping style.

I start with something that’s on top of my mind [<link; short read], and/or with some random stimulation, and expand in all directions.”

“What sort of random stimulation?”

“Random quotes. 

As you know, I use quotes as a resource [<link; short read]. In my CommonBook [<link] I have a selection of quotes tagged ‘reflectional‘. These are quotes that stimulate my mind – I call this type of quotes, puzzle quotes. I generate two random reflectional quotes, and use them as a starting point in my exploration.

If I can’t discover my piece for the day this way, I proceed to the second phase: developing ideas.

I have all my writing ideas – ideas about things I want to write about – saved in the CommonBook. I shuffle them (display them in random order), and casually go through them, fleshing them out a little bit more.”

“So instead of going deep on a saved idea, you go wide, developing multiple ideas a little bit.”


We can metaphorically think of ideas in terms of stages of development, like a plant.

Ideas start as seeds.

As you develop them, they turn into seedlings. The bigger the seedling, the more enticing it becomes to write about.

Writing is the process of turning seedling ideas into evergreen ideas.”

Creative Oscillation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is creative oscillation?”

“The creative process is an oscillation. 


Creative insights happen during the Off, not the On.

This can be used strategically.”


“By alternating Creative Thinking with Creative Pauses.

During the On, choose a Creative Focus, and follow it by Creative Exploration. Viewed as a mind-map, the Creative Focus is the center of the map, and Creative Exploration is the process of branching out in all directions, seeing where it takes you. You’re thus opening a mental process [<link; short read].

During the Off, let go. Focus your attention elsewhere, and let the unconscious mind do its magic.” 

“What’s the optimal oscillation pattern?”

“Play around with it. Experiment. 

What’s important is to remember that the Off is an integral part of the process.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is a macro-template?”

“It’s a template [<link; medium read] that gives a big-picture overview of who you are and what you stand for. It’s a central access-point for retrieving everything else.”

“What does yours look like?”

“Like this:

My macro-template

It has three main systems:

– Identity
– Values
– Soul Quests”

“What are Soul Quests?”

“Meaningful things you’re moving toward but can’t possibly reach. They give your life direction. Another metaphor for them is Guiding Stars

My central identity-block (modular-identity [<link; medium read]) is Life-Artist [<link; medium read].

My central value is Loving Play [<link; short read].

I have two central Soul Quests:
– my Ikigai, my reason for getting up in the morning, which I express in one word as Beautify [<link; short read]

Each of them is itself a deep mind-map.

As a side note, in actuality, they’re all deeply interconnected.

The hierarchical structure helps with retrieval, with combating our tendency to forget.

I use the macro-template as a journaling template every morning. I actually write it down.”

“Can’t you simply read it?”

“In writing something down, you engage in active recall, you’re actively retrieving it from memory.”

Journaling Templates

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I know the Big Three model from Brian Johnson:


Brian identified these three as the most important areas of one’s life. The model was inspired by two big ideas:

Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. (Sigmund Freud)


Manage your energy not your time.

Energy is our most precious resource, and the fundamental currency of high performance.

(James Loehr & Tony Schwartz, Power of Full Engagement)

It’s a beautiful model which Brain uses as a journaling template.”

“What is a journaling template?”

“It’s a lens through which you can view and gain clarity on your life. A potential starting point, a scaffolding you can build on in your reflection process. 

Its value is not just in the framework itself, but also where it takes you.

For instance, the output of today’s journaling looks like this:

The Big Three

Loving Play [<link; short read] is the central value of my life that connects everything else.

Our BodyMind is the most important and powerful tool we possess. I regard Movement and Thinking as two fundamental values, and two essential ways of nurturing ourselves.

As concerns Work, I consider myself a Knowledge Worker. There’s a quote a I love by Naval Ravikant:

Earn with your mind, not your time.

I’m not there yet, but I won’t rest until I do.”

“Why didn’t you draw everything on a single mind-map?”

“I used to do that, but I find it clutters the map too much. Smaller maps are more focused, and more aesthetic.

The Big Three is just one lens. To multiply the insights, you must view your life through as many lenses as possible.

For instance, another lens I like to use is Growing/Giving, which was inspired by a quote by Tony Robbins:

Two things in life make you feel alive: growing and giving.

Today’s journaling looks like this:


This Growing/Giving map complements the Big Three map because it highlights the Why that fuels my work.”

“Remind me what Kaizen means.”

“Constant never-ending improvement.”

Playing with Connections

Two things in life make you feel alive: growing and giving. (Tony Robbins)

True love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving. (Abraham Twerski)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“As you know, one of my favorite pastimes is playing with making connections [<link; short read] as a means of discovering beautiful ideas.”

“What’s your process?”

“I like to do it mind-mapping style.

Let’s take those two quotes as an example.

From the outset, a beautiful idea jumps at me. Giving can have two meanings:

Giving is Love
Giving is Contribution

Representing it visually, another beautiful idea jumps at me: Growing itself can be seen as an act of Self-Love.

Growing is Love

Building on it, we can say Love is the essence of both Growing and Giving.

This is the starting framework which I build on by making new connections. Each ‘is’ statement represents a meaningful connection expressesing a beautiful idea.

Growing is essentially Learning. 

Growing is Learning

The highest level of Learning is Mastery.

Learning is Mastery

By extension:

Growing is Mastery

The best way to Learn is by Teaching.

Learning is Teaching

As I see it, Teaching and Creating are the highest form of Contribution.

Giving is Creating
Giving is Teaching

I see both Learning and Teaching as creative endeavors.

Learning is Creating (Creative Learning)
Teaching is Creating (Creative Teaching)

Since Love is the essence of both Growing and Giving, we can say:

Creating is Love
Learning is Love
Teaching is Love

All these beautiful ideas combined form a beautiful model:


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is constraint-setting?”

“We’ve talked a while ago about the creative limitations principle [<link; short read] of creativity. The idea that

Restrictions breed creativity. (Mark Rosewater)

Constraint-setting means making the process intentional.”

“A kind of intention-setting?”


In practical terms, this means getting clear at the beginning of the creative process on what your constraints are.

What are your constraints?

Let’s take these imaginary dialogues as an example.

‘Fragments from imaginary dialogues’ is the primary constraint – my idiosyncratic style. 

I write in the form of dialogue.

I write fragments, which means they do not follow the traditional story structure of beginning, middle, and end. [pattern-breaking]

I write short-form, which means I strive to keep them short. [brevity, condensed meaning]

I write in simple language, which means that, given a choice between two similar words, I go for the more common one. [clarity

Viewed as a template [<link; medium read], this is the fixed part of the template. The content of the dialogues is the variable part of the template. 

Let’s take this particular imaginary dialogue as an example.

The dialogue has a creative focus. [one thing]
It has a general creative focus, a theme – which in this case is mental models. 
It has a specific creative focus – which is usually the title of the piece.

The first stage of my writing process is exploratory mind-mapping.”

“So you’re essentially discovering your constraints.”


I discover my creative focus for the piece, and I discover the main components of the piece. We might think of the former as the hard constraint, and of the latter as soft constraints

Then I continue the exploration by starting to write, using the mind-map as a guide.

The beauty of the process is that I never know where I’m going to get.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is ModelStorming?”

ModelStorming, or MStorming, is brainstorming with mental models. 

I like to do it with mind-mapping. 

The first phase is analog, using pencil and paper. I write a model in the middle of the page, and then start generating compound models based on it. 

The second phase is digital, using a mind-mapping program – in my case, Scapple [<link]. The nice thing about digital mind-mapping is that you can rearrange and organize the branches.

The result is something like this:


Template-Models 2: Template Mind-Maps

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is a template mind-map?”

“It’s a tool for visualizing template-models [<link; short length].

The basic structure of a template-model is:

model-prefix + model + model-suffix

model is the fixed part of the template.
model-prefix and model-suffix is the variable part.

Represented as a mind-map, it looks like this:

This is a template-model centered around Learning.”

“So Learning is the fixed part of the template.”


By combining it with other models, you get various useful conceptual-models, like:

optimal-learning (model-prefix + model)
learning-output (model + suffix-model)
optimal-learning-output (model-prefix + model + model-suffix)”

“Why did you choose to represent those particular models on the map?”

“I’m working on optimizing Learning. The models on the map have actual practical application. They are conceptual-tools.

Taken as a whole, I call them MIV – Most Important Variables.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Which career path should I take?”

“Start with BrainStorming (BStorming).

What are your perceived options?

You can do it with mind-mapping. Write ‘Career’ in the middle of the page, and branch out in all directions.

Continue with QuestionStorming [link; medium length] (QStorming).

You can do it using two pages – one for mind-mapping, and one for questions.”

“Why not just one for questions?”

“The essence of any question can be captured in a few words – it’s essentially a model. You can reverse-engineer the process by starting with the models, and using it to generate questions.

Something like this:

As you come up with a relevant model, add it to the mind-map.

Using the map, start generating questions.

It might look something like this:

Which option is the most meaningful?
Which is the most aligned with your purpose?
Which is the most aligned with your highest aspirations?

Which does your gut guide you toward?
Which makes you feel most expansive?

Which is the most exciting?

Which offers the most growth potential?

Which can you learn most from?
Which has the highest learning-density potential?

Which allows you to develop future-proof skills?
Which allows you to develop transferable skills?

Which would you most like to do if you weren’t afraid?
Which is the least comfortable?
Which is farthest outside your comfort zone?

Which is the most painful in the short-term?
Which is the most painful in the long-term?
Which is the most pleasurable in the short-term?
Which is the most pleasurable in the long-term?

Which offers the highest potential ROI (Return On Investment)?
Which has the highest life-stacking potential?

Which would Future-You be most grateful for?

You get the point.

And you can invert all of them – to practice Inversion [link; medium].”