Category Archives: Mental Optimization

Reopening Your Mind to All Possibilities

Created October 22, 2021

We all have heroes and heroines. That’s a very good thing. But life is complicated, there can be harmful things that come out of good things, and vice versa. The harmful aspect I’m thinking about right at the moment is that we can become violently protective of every single thing our idol ever said.

The idolized person if they were still around would probably wish this inflexibility were not the case, especially if that unbudgeable position were being invoked in his or her name.

We must allow for the possibility that we can see further than the role model could see, because we sit upon their shoulders.

Imagine your role model might be proud of you for thinking for yourself, even it led to a degree of difference from something that person once said.

Each of us is always growing up, and things we said a long time ago might not be something we would bother to defend today.

Science is not a person, and individual scientists may have varying degrees of personal evolution, hence can have biases, but science as a whole has never claimed to have completed its quest and found the explanation for everything, including our existence in the first place. That basic existential question nowadays is labelled “The Hard Question” in physics. It includes the question of why there are laws of nature, because laws imply a lawmaker, order implies a mind of far greater powers than our own, the beautifully-ordered complexity of the universe having come about accidentally, having struck Einstein and many other scientists as hard to believe.

Yet to the average person there is the assumption that science has closed the books on that question, that any sort of great mind or spirit behind and responsible for nature cannot possibly be true.

Science has never declared that. It would be hard to call it science if it were to do that. Science is about objectively searching for truth by means of intuitive hypotheses based on observation and inductive logic, then conducting experiments to isolate variables one at a time so as to verify or eliminate hypotheses based on deductive logic. Without that process, a scientist taking a strong position on a subject is just another biased person stating his or her beliefs. The fact that in one sphere of life s/he is a scientist doesn’t make them an expert on every subject under the sun. The psychological halo effect, however, gives more weight to the words of a person to the degree that they have stood out in any way within their society. Nowadays that even includes the hate heroes polluting the media. Whether famous as a gang leader or a scientist, their words have much more impact than those of the average person.

The Hard Question to physicists is actually a fighting matter for most human beings. Many wars have been fought over such matters. Today some of the energy in the schism derives from people who are ardently loyal to one church, one way of answering The Hard Question. In the U.S. there is an overlap between people who are fighting mad, fiercely patriotic, and devoted to explicit orthodoxy within a specific religion. Even beginning to come close to what intends to be an open-minded consideration of The Hard Question may be offensive to some readers, so I hasten to say that I have no strong revisionist position about any religion, and that my personal hypothesis actually can coexist 100% with every major religion on Earth. (Readers who do not see how that could be possible are invited to get a free sample of my novel The First Son.)

The top physicists – Einstein and Wheeler for example – both allowed for the possibility of a lawmaker behind nature’s laws. Neither of them unfortunately studied consciousness as deeply as they studied physics and mathematics (and as deeply as Einstein studied philosophy). They both realized and used the power of intuition, and if they had been disposed to study psychology as deeply, they could have come to the same hypothesis as mine, that all that exists is a single consciousness, a single lawmaker, and each of us is that entity temporarily self-assigned to one role in the total performance. This view would have satisfied Einstein’s inability to accept and explain the existence of free will, and his rejection of the possibility of a God who could care about individual humans.

You may get a good feeling out of viewing this 2-minute video of a father and daughter having a conversation about the existential question:

Let the real magic of life back into your life. Without adopting any worldview, allow yourself to enjoy the lack of closure on the largest question, and to be awed by the significance of the question: our lives are a mystery. We are in the most important movie that could possibly ever exist. Get used to keeping your mind open until you see what would be considered legal evidence or scientific evidence – which will be rarely. Learn to enjoy (it is admittedly an acquired taste) not feeling 100% certain about anything, so long as you’re able to make decisions effectively, harking to your preferred hypotheses.

If you’d like a ten-minute video explanation of my hypothesis, it’s here.

For a set of wonderful Einstein quotes curated by one of my heroines Yana Lambert please click here.

We don’t need to get negative about any subject so long as we are internally flexible to consider lots of different points of view, while always choosing to do things the way we like, and allowing for the possibility that we are not as separate from each other as we presently look.

You want to be able to land on your feet if it turns out to be that we are all one thing together. It’s scientifically possible. Decisions made with that possibility in mind will work out better for you and everyone, and that is a pre-scientific pragmatic validation of sorts.

Love to all,

Bill

Belonging, Unity, and the Future of the USA

Created May 28, 2021

Belonging (a sense of social acceptance) is one of the 15 Motivations uncovered by the scientific* work I have been doing for the past 30 years or so.

Belonging is the most complex of the 15 Motivations in the sense that it contains more variations within it. It contains 25 Need States, such as Nationalism and Levity, and 220 of the 265 DriverTagsTM, each of which is a highly specific state of mind. It’s possible that Belonging is a hard-wired instinct, at the core of our nature as social animals, perhaps one of the survival characteristics that has caused homo sapiens (and other species) to be able to still be standing.

That’s why it hurts so much to be cast out of your belonging group. Like in the case of Liz Cheney, for example.

Although political parties were not mentioned in the US Constitution, 20 years later they sprung up and were bolted onto the constitutional system called the USA. Whether the political parties have done more good than harm is still a matter of debate. But one thing they have definitely supplied is the opportunity for belonging, something we all need. This would explain why 59% (Gallup) of Americans today belong to one of the two parties.

As the need for a sense of belonging is a constant, it’s possible that getting this mood-enhancing brain “drug” from political parties has become more important in recent decades as the power of the family might have declined, with children caring more about belonging to their peer group than their family, happening at earlier and earlier ages (hypothesis).

Religion for sure has lost a lot of its hold as a means for transmitting a sense of belonging.

Race has possibly become elevated as a means for generating the sense of belonging, as in the case of white supremacists.

Hypothesis: as the sense of belonging has deprecated from its traditional sources, that created an urgency of need which increased the emotional connection of party membership as a self-identifier.

Rhetoric is the art and potentially science of using words so as to cause people to believe them, whether they are true or not. Rhetoric existed before the media, but then the media became a means for applying extremely powerful rhetoric. Hitler used this in the case of cinema and other media. Today’s internet and social media are analogous to the atomic bomb version of rhetoric.

During the Greatest Generation’s watch, it would have been spectacularly unsuccessful to try to use rhetoric to pull the wool over people’s eyes to the extent that is happening today. I see it as having reached a point of mass hysteria.

Today it would probably entrain belief in the minds of at least ten million Americans if QAnon added another story that all fish can fly. Their fish minds have been taken over by devices used by the Democratic party obtained from pedophilic socialist aliens. They won’t let you see them fly, they only do it when you aren’t looking. But some day, there will be skies filled with dangerous fish swooping down on American patriots to wipe them out.

When you look at the strength of the need for a sense of belonging, how the traditional sources of this have been petering out, how political parties have always known that a populist charismatic leader is the thing to have, and then layer in the mind-bending power of the media (wait for artificial reality media to add to this brew), it’s possible to understand better what is going on today around the world not just in America.

It only took four years to push the USA back into its share of world power position (a measure of the perception of all people in the world) to pre-WWII levels.

Now as we attempt to restore ourselves to what we were there are also wild behaviors happening outside the US which we ourselves caused during those four years, not to mention a potentially genocidal mutating pandemic and an “edge city” environmental situation.

It certainly is a good time to pull together and figure things out by focusing objectively with high performing teamwork and enlisting more help from rich people to make the world the heavenly place it can be. We can actually do it.

Not the best time to have to reach 60% majority vote before we can go to the toilet. The filibuster has been rationalized as preventing “the tyranny of the majority” and “preventing action that has not been fully thought out”. The Founders did not lock in the need for a 60% majority in passing bills, so despite being some of the greatest pragmatic geniuses in history, these considerations somehow did not occur to them? More likely they did consider such things and left it to the voting outcome whether razor thin or unanimous to settle legislative issues.

To people whose careers are in government, it’s easy to see why filibuster might appeal to them. It gives power to stop legislation if one is in the minority. Think of how harmful this would be within a corporation. That’s how harmful it is in government, especially under the emergency conditions we are now faced with. Yet because a politician knows that it’s likely that half his or her career life will be spent as the minority, filibuster will be a floor under how bad one can feel. We non-politicians have no such swaddling cloths in our lives, we make our own successes and failures, we have no special entitlements that keep our control of others high when we have not earned that by majority vote of the people or by our individual performance in the eyes of our employers/clients/customers/users.

Unity is more than belonging, it is a highly desirable condition in which people work together toward common goals. That’s what we meant when we called ourselves the United States of America.

Unity has always been a strength of the Republican party, they are able to band together as a voting block (sic) whereas Democrats in the past have always been all over the lot in the diversity of their thinking. But today the Republican penchant for unity is allowing 4251 people who at best represent only about 14% of eligible voters in the US to impede the rest of us – polls showing that more than 60% of Americans like what the present administration is doing – from getting things done at the federal level, but even more dangerously are taking advantage of the powers which the Founders gave the State level.

Unless we the people speak up loudly enough, the future of America is that a number of States representing a minority of the population will drive out non-white people and many important businesses, who will migrate to the States where non-whites are offered equal opportunity and a sense of belonging.

Internally divided, we will still stand, but will not be the country we could be if we had unity restored.

Our degree of perceived vulnerability with a civil cold war will be exaggerated in the eyes of One Man Rulers abroad. They will come after us. It will not be heavenly at all.

That scenario must not be allowed. The only way to stop it is to use all your own social media efforts to put a stop to the self-destructive urges we have collectively been entertaining. Participate in polls, speak your mind, when the referendums come participate in them too.

Do not add to the problem by hating the 34 million of us who disagree, or the One Man Rulers of other countries, or any group or individual. Hate has no constructive outcomes. Hate erodes Reason. We need our ability to think clearly to rise to the top and to drive all of our behaviors. We need our emotions to be courageous enough to rise above fear and hate and to leave our minds open to win/win unity where dissenting voices are respected and included. Everyone must be included or we will never escape the downward spiraling cycle of divisiveness.

My best to all,

Bill

*When I say “scientific” what I mean is observing patterns in data, forming hypotheses from that, and then testing those hypotheses by means of controlled experiments, with the intention of discovering new and useful truths. The data I have used relates to the content that millions of anonymized individuals choose to consume on television and the Internet as measured by set top boxes and log files. This body of knowledge is meant to complement and inform the psychology systems (link to relevant example emanating from centuries of science using other data types.

 

Solving Challenges with Just One Fresh Thought

Updated August 28, 2020

Do you get frustrated when you look at a longstanding problem or challenge and feel that you just don’t know how to solve it?

Acceptance is a choice that leads to a path.

Is it possible that you do know how to solve it, but deep down inside you realize that the solution is likely to involve long, hard effort? Perhaps the situation seems so complicated that you’ve refused to even begin to think about how to untangle it. Are there complexities to the situation that have you considering easy solutions or quick fixes instead of dealing with those complexities?

How can you find your way out of this loop and move forward?

What works for me is to reconsider the situation and have “just one fresh thought on the matter” each time I’m considering what may seem a longstanding challenge. Instead of pressing for an ultimate solution immediately, I begin to consider and pursue step-by-step progress. The part of my mind that insists on easy solutions usually sees this as a reasonable compromise.

Accepting this creative compromise also refocuses the energy that was being expressed as frustration so that it now manifests instead as progress. I’ve found I begin to actually make progress the longer I restrain from lurching for a final solution while adding relevant observations, and that the probability for right decisions is noticeably higher. Continue reading

The Role of Feelings in Decision Making

Updated August 7, 2020

During this time it’s easy to harbor negative feelings almost continuously, but it only makes things worse for ourselves and our loved ones. Negative feelings not only bring us down, medical evidence shows they also weaken our immune system, making us more prone to disease, and they distract our cognitive concentration, thereby reducing our effectiveness. This is also a time in which consistently making clearheaded decisions is more important than ever before, to protect those we love including ourselves.

Bad feelings can also serve a positive function — as an alarm system to quickly get us to pay attention to a problem. Ironically, if bad feelings continue unabated while we are grappling with a problem on a rational level, it will take longer to solve the problem because we are stuck in a cycle of negativity. Most of us have experienced this cycle.

Are you more driven by thoughts or feelings

Are we generally more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts?

Freud established that thoughts are more likely to be rationalized in support of feelings, rather than our being able to use our thoughts to control our feelings. And yet, how valuable it is to be able to do just that — to have the mental self-discipline to focus our thoughts effectively even when our feelings are in an uproar?

Feelings are urges that arise within us, within our minds and within our bodies. Feelings are experiences, states of consciousness resulting from our motivations, sentiments, preferences or desires. These terms all really mean the same thing: what we value, what we want, what we are trying to get, what we want to avoid.

Feelings are how we respond internally to outer and inner events, based on what we are trying to get and avoid, and how current events can help or threaten our desired outcomes.

We feel positive if current events appear to favor our targeted outcomes, and we feel negative if events seem to be heading away from what we want to have happen.

Positive feelings are valued universally. There’s no argument: we all like them, and would like to have more of them!

Generally speaking, feelings are also a manifestation of our motivations colliding with the external world. What would we feel if we had no motivations?

You can discover this by meditating. While there are many meditation techniques, all of them have a mind/gut mirror effect of showing us what our motivations really are, where they have gotten us, and why we have each of our experiences. Through practicing meditation we can achieve this objectivity, turning off certain motivations at least for the moment and seeing what that feels like. What visions of future possibilities arise now that X motivation is gone?

The perspective we gain through meditation can give us a unique vantage point on our feelings and our motivations. Meditation helps us consider deeply our own feelings and their consequences in the world. It also generates positive feelings, so it’s good for our overall health and well-being. Practicing meditation and becoming aware of the role our feelings and motivations play in our lives allows us to better understand the value of both in our decision making process.

My best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers . Click here for my latest post.

Trying to Move a Boulder?

Updated July 10, 2020

Be aware that everyone including you are is hair-trigger. There is a sense of being in a constant life-or-death matter. We are compressed as in  jail, with a dose of daily sameness that feels weird. You may at the same time have more tasks to juggle than ever before. When you turn to your own passion work, does this bring you up and out of all that? Or are you feeling blocked? Have you run up against a challenge that is worrying you and bringing you down? Here’s another of the tools I keep handy when I run up against a boulder that frustrates me, casting a dim light or even fog over the achievability of my goals and priorities. I find these tools can also be used proactively even during times of smooth sailing to notch my game up a bit.

Image by Pedro Fernandez*

Imagine that you can feel the muscles in your head relaxing while you go blank and stop gnawing whatever bone has your mind obsessed at the moment. Don’t let yourself revive that conversation in your head for a while. Let it go, for now, and steer yourself into thinking or feeling about some different subject, for at least several minutes. If timing permits, it’s ideal to do this for up to three days.

Step away. Get out in nature alone, even when it’s cold or cloudy. Sit in it, hear it, smell it and see it. Pay attention to nature all around you, up and down, above and below you. (This works in the streets of big cities too although not as powerfully, so nearby parks are a plus, the less city-like the better.) This makes room for the inner messages that come from our feelings and intuitions, and the outer messages we get from our five senses.

Like trying to remember a word that’s on the tip of your tongue, you have to stop trying to remember it. You are going into the wrong file drawers in your mind, which blocks you from relaxing into the right file drawer where suddenly the word just pops into your mind in the midst of some completely different conversation.

Turning away from a problem allows the subconscious mind with its far greater resources to approach the problem from new directions. If we persist in trying the ingrained approach we are stuck in and can’t see beyond, it will just take longer to get to a solution, making us miserable and less effective in everything else we do in the meantime.

Try this approach next time you have a boulder to move. It works for me.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at MediaVillage.com. Here is the link to my latest post.

 

*text added to original

How a Subtle Shift Can Be Useful

Updated June 5th, 2020

The peachy-purple-gold sunset reflects with pink iridescence on the wet sand where the sea recedes from its last sally onto the beach. Soundlessly a squadron of hunting pelicans glides past my writing hand. These two-day escapes to the seashore reinvigorate my excitement at life.

image by Bec

Simply clearing the decks of our mind and its latest obsessions, stepping back as the Observer and seeing the richness there is to be observed around us, we can attain peace anywhere.

When I was very young, somehow I became inspired by the notion that a slight shift in the way I look at things could have enormous effect. Now decades later, the number of times I have applied this principle must be in the millions, firmly installing it in my neurons, making it second nature for me to shift my point of view.

What I’ve learned

The thinking part of the mind and the feeling part both represent potential obstacles of different kinds.

The feelings do not want nor seek solutions. Specialized in expressing themselves, the feelings therefore wish to simply find more and better, increasingly dramatic, ways of expressing whatever they are feeling at the moment, kind of an inertial momentum (i.e. an object in motion tends to remain in motion kind of thing).

Reasoning with the feelings, using thinking to change unwanted feelings, is not inherently a strong strategy. Telling oneself to feel joy, and that happiness is a choice, so go ahead and make that choice, be strong, be positive — this sometimes worked for me, because I liked the idea of being indomitable and of not allowing anything to have power over me or my mood. At other times some part of me is clearly relishing wallowing in sulking, rage, guilt, anxiety, or whatever, as if a part of me is coming from a separate reality and visiting here on a trip specifically for the experience of such an operatic-size dramatic expression of emotion.

The strategy that works best for me is more intuitive, neither straight thinking nor straight feeling. It is through the intuition that we can make a creative and altogether indiscernible slight shift in the way we look at things, which will both fill us with the happy anticipation of effecting positive change, and enlighten us with light cast in from a new angle to reveal amazing insights.

Engaging the intuition this way has first a positive impact on hope and secondly a positive impact on curiosity. I find myself looking around in my mind for the perspective that will create the shift. I start from the assumption that my thinking mind accepts: there will always be an angle on the situation that will bring relief. So far, that prediction has always come true.

Finding that mental switch inside that leads to this subtle shift in feelings may not be so easy the first time you try it. Keep practicing.

Wishing you all a strong and agile new mind muscle, giving you the ability to seek and grasp the hidden gearshift to indomitable happiness.

Tomorrow is the 76th anniversary of Operation Neptune, which led to the greatest known victory of the Light over the Darkness. I pray that the same energy we had on D-Day in 1944 is with us again now.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Here is my latest post.