Tag Archive | Stacking

On Recommitment and Stacking

The human spirit is like a campfire. You need to re-light it EVERY SINGLE DAY. (Brian Johnson)

Fragment from imaginary dialogues

“Do I really need to do it every day? Why not every few days?”

“Because this is a powerful practice. It’s a reminder of your highest aspirations and a daily recommitment. If you make it a part of your morning ritual, it also activates and primes you for the day. You can think of it as a kind of stacking

Regardless of whether you do it in the morning or not, it’s highly worth turning into a daily habit. I even added it to my habit-tracker.”

“What does your practice look like?”

“I have a selection of deeply meaningful writings which I’ve been refining (and simplifying) for a long time now. I read them slowly, lovingly, and gratefully.Identity

Identity [<link; medium read]
Soul Quests (deeply meaningful goals)
Macro-Focus (what I’m focusing on at a macro level)
Powerful Quotes

You can make the practice more powerful by – stacking – listening to music while doing it. I have a playlist with a selection of the most powerful music I know – which I’ve also been refining (and simplifying) for a long time. It serves as a kind of background for the practice.

And you can further optimize the practice by doing it while squatting, thus also turning it into movement practice. Yet more stacking.”

P.S. If you’re curious what my playlist sounds like, you can listen to it here [<link].

On Embodiment and Stacking

Fragment from imaginary dialogues

“To optimize a practice, you need to remember to practice. The more often you remember, the more often you can engage in the practice.”

“What’s your strategy for remembering to practice?”

“I’m currently experimenting with concept-stacking[<link; short length] as a means of information-retrieval.”

“Remind me what concept-stacking is.”

“It’s the process of fusing concepts together for practical ends.

Let’s take Embodiment for instance – the practice of becoming aware of your own body – and Mindful Breathing.

As long as Embodiment and Breathing are two different concepts, it makes it less likely to remember to do them together. By connecting them, you increase the likelihood.

You can connect them conceptually: Breathing as Embodiment practice. As far as retrieval goes, this is better than no connection, but it’s a weak-connection.

You can connect them structurally: EmbodiedBreathing practice. By fusing the two concepts together, you create a strong-connection for the purpose of retrieval. To make it even easier to retrieve, Embodied can be shortened to E – you thus get EBreathing.

Using the structure as a template[<link; medium], you can expand its application:

(and, by extension EParkour)


EMovement can be expressed as EMotion. You thus get emotion, which I consider an essential aspect of Embodiment practice.”

“So emotion also stands for EmobodiedMotion.”

“Indeed. Whenever I think of emotion, it also reminds me to move.”

Celebration Optimization

Fragment from imaginary dialogues

“BJ Fogg’s book Tiny Habits is excellent.”

“Is it better than James Clear’s Atomic Habits?”

“It complements it beautifully. Tiny Habits approaches habit creation from the perspective of behavior-design. I hadn’t heard of behavior-design before. Now it’s something I want to master.

Let’s go back to James Clear’s four rules of habit-making:

Make it obvious. (Cue)
Make it attractive. (Craving)
Make it easy. (Response)
Make it satisfying. (Reward)

From Atomic Habits, I’d understood how important rewards are for habit creation. From Tiny Habits I got another piece of the puzzle:

When it comes to rewards, timing matters. 

In behavior-science, reward has a very specific meaning. Something counts as a reward only if it affects behavior, and it affects behavior only if it occurs either during the activity, or immediately after. That’s when dopamine is released and associated with the behavior. If the reward occurs outside this time-frame, it does not affect behavior, because the association with the behavior is lost.

One of the most powerful rewards is celebration. These ‘micro-moments of positivity’ – beautiful concept which I know from Brian Johnson – are essential for habit creation. In the words of BJ Fogg:

Emotions create habits.

“How can I optimize celebration?”

“What’s the main obstacle?”

“Remembering to celebrate.”

Celebrate remembering to celebrate.

Also, you can stack it with your Gratitude practice. I call this practice-stacking.

Every time you celebrate, say ‘Thank you‘ and, in the moment, improv-style, find one thing around you that you’re grateful for.

On Writing: Posting daily

You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well. (Jennifer Egan)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I post something every day without sacrificing quality?”

“Distinguish between short-form and long-form writing.

The former you can finish in a single writing session.
The latter takes multiple sessions.”

“What if I can’t think of a short-form piece for the day?”

“The key is preparation.

You can use short- and long-form as a filter for your writing ideas.

I actually have two documents:

Writing (short-form)
Writing (long-form)

Whenever I come up with a writing idea, I evaluate it based on the estimated length, and write it down in the appropriate document.

Having all the short-form ideas in one place ensures I can easily find them, and have a constant supply of them.”

“Are you saying I should focus mostly on short-form writing?”

You can focus on both, by stacking them.

You can split your writing sessions in two: one dedicated to short-form, the other to long-form.

Once you’ve finished a short-form piece, you can switch to working on a long-form one.

Once you’ve finished a long-form piece, immediately start a new one in the same session.”

“Why immediately start a new one?”

“Leaving things unfinished can be used strategically. In leaving a process open, your mind will continue to work on it in the background.”

Beautiful Models: Observer

Reactivity: a phenomenon that occurs when individuals alter their performance or behavior due to the awareness that they are being observed.

The Observer / Hawthorne Effect: a type of reactivity in which individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.


Walter Mischel is one of the world’s leading willpower researchers. (He’s the guy who did the marshmallow studies with kids.)

Walter tells us that you can scan someone’s brain and ask them to think about themselves. You’ll see a distinctive pattern in their brain light up. Researchers call this the “self center.” Then, you ask them to think about about a stranger. You’ll see a different pattern light up. They call this the “stranger pattern.”

Then, you ask them to think about their future selves – ten years in the future.

For some people, thinking about their future selves lights up the “self center.”

But for other people, thinking about their future selves lights up the “stranger center.”

Isn’t that fascinating?

Get this: The people who’s future self looks more like a stranger have lower willpower than those whose future self looks more like their current self. They’re less likely to delay gratification and more likely to be impulsive and engage in unhealthy behaviors.

The trick?

We need to strengthen the connection between our future selves and our current selves.

Let’s appreciate the fact that the decisions we are making TODAY are laying the groundwork for the version of us who will show up tomorrow and next week and the year after that.

(Brian Johnson)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The Observer Effect has beautiful practical application, as the ancient Stoics realized.

Bringing to mind someone you look up to, someone who embodies the qualities of the person you want to be can help regulate your own behavior.

“Do you think bringing to mind God has the same effect in the case of believers?”

“Depends on one’s representation of God. For an anthropomorphized God, I think yes, it does.”

“Who is your Observer?”


“So you’re using the Observer Effect and strengthening the connection with your future self at the same time.”

“Yes. Another subtle application of the Stacking model.”

“Why did you call the model ‘Observer’ and not ‘The Observer’?”

“Because the former has a bigger design-space,
in terms of use – in the same way a word can have more than one meaning, a model can have more than one use –, and
in terms of modularity [<link; medium read] – the extent to which it can be combined with other models.”

Representational-Models 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“You can think of your life in many ways:

The Beautiful Game
The Beautiful Practice
The Beautiful Adventure
Your Hero Quest
Your Playful Path
Your Master’s Journey

If you were to choose ONE, what would it be?”

The Art of Learning.

“Why that one?”

“All those are representational-models [<link; medium read]. They’re also metaphoric-models. Together they complement one another [<link; short], creating a more vivid representation. Together they form one system of meaning.

You’ve listed them sequentially, but the best way to visualize them is as a network, because they’re interconnected.

As you know, the central focus of my life is implementation. So I’m interested in how to practically make use of that system of meaning, how to turn it into active-knowledge [<link; medium read].

The key is access.

Going back to the network representation of the system, you can’t consciously access the entire network at once, especially when dealing with large networks.

The solution?

You need to create a center, a node that is connected to all other nodes, whose role is retrieval. I call this node the access-point, which allows you to reconstruct the entire network.”

“Makes me think of a mind-map.”

“That’s exactly what it is. The mind-map used as a mental model.

Now, going back to your initial question:

What’s the best access-point for this system of meaning?

Since we’re dealing with representations, the best access point is the most vivid representation, and one which also inspires and gives direction.

Yet another instance of stacking.”

Representational Models

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I’ve come to realize that, on my Quest for Thinking Mastery and operationalizing knowledge [<link; short read], mental models are key. They’ve become one of my primary interests and fields of study, and one of my favorite creative playgrounds.

I think in models [<link; medium read].
I collect models.
I organize and classify models.
I deconstruct and optimize models.
I create models.

Models are tools, they’re fundamentally practical.

One of their essential features is their transferability, which makes them usable in a wide variety of contexts. You could think of them as ‘multi-purpose tools’.

An important category of models I’ve identified is what I call representational-models.”

“What are representational-models?”

Representational-models are models used metaphorically to create and/or enrich mental representations.

Let’s take meditation for instance.

What does it make you think of?”

“Sitting in a certain position, focusing on the breath, that sort of thing.”

“So you’re mentally representing it in terms of the how of it. An activity you perform in a certain way. This is practically useful, but not particularly meaningful.

But let’s say you represent it in terms of the why of it:

Meditation as training for the mind

This forms a richer representation, which makes it more meaningful. And you don’t have to stop here:

Meditation as connection with yourself
Meditation as self-care

The more representations you ‘stack‘, the more meaningful it becomes. The more meaningful it is, the more likely you are to engage in it.

Training, connection and self-care here are representational-models.

An important type of representational-model is what I call metaphoric-models.”

“What are those?”

“Let’s take a beautiful quote by Plutarch as an example:

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited.

This is a metaphor. The mind is compared to a fire.

Fire – the heart of the metaphor – is a metaphoric-model with huge transferability.

I call the process of artfully creating and/or enriching mental representations ‘reality painting’.

You’re beautifying the landscape of your inner-reality. For me, this is an important component of the Art of (Playful) Living.”