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Life & Philosophy Nature Psychology

How the mind designs itself

We are always making predictions about our future. When we infer, we ignite consciousness.

Within the complex system of our neurocognitive wiring comes transparency we can’t explain. The external world processes through a symphony of brain loops.

Thinking is on a mission to remain consistent, predictable, while wildly variable. To err is to make strides.

The mind’s chaos is why it works, just as New York City operates a clear system amid bustling streets.

Minds are a byproduct of evolution, structurally optimized to clean themselves out of their internal wiring kinks.

“Evolution depends on the existence of high-fidelity copying but not perfect copying, since mutations (copying errors) are the ultimate source of all novelty.”

Daniel Dennett

Design is simultaneously intelligent and unintelligent, devised to keep pace with our internal weather.

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Life & Philosophy

Turning problems into opportunities

Opportunities and problems go together, often masked as one of the same. It’s your perspective that determines how well you exploit this dialectic.

It’s always easier to play the role of a pessimist. Bad thoughts are typically stickier than good ones. Optimism is harder to produce.

However, when you look at your challenges with a pragmatic lens, you realize there’s hope.

There will inevitably be some wins along the way, even if they’re incremental. After all, the Chinese word for crisis combines the characters for danger and opportunity.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

William James

The mind quickly identifies fake and forced positive thoughts. It also catches you from falling into a morass of negativity.

When you run away from a problem because the amygdala has told you to play it safe, you pass the opportunity by.

Dancing with the tension between thought and action motivates the search for solutions. He who hesitates caused by the dizziness of anxiety — a type of failure in advance — is sure to be lost.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry Psychology

How to mirror the beat of our heart

It seems that in preparing to live up to our best selves, we often fail to follow the very advice we give others.

Dizziness caused by the freedom of indecision goes at odds against reality. So we jump at the quickest cognitive register — whichever requires the least effort.

Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

The ALchemist

We control our expectations which shape how we experience our actions and their outcomes.

At the wheel, we lay our own foundation and build a world from those bricks. The difference lies in the rigidity of our inner-narrative.

Those who believe in their own potential, jump into hurdles with enthusiasm, go further, even if they exaggerate their faculties.

Since the lights are always on and the imagination on tap — even when we fall asleep — it behooves us to preprogram the subconscious with positive mental vitamins.

In the age of diminishing expectations, the story we tell ourselves is everything. We drive our own voice, intimately, and directly.

Surrounded by mirrors, the real “self” is the aggregation of different angles that aim to ride out the beat of our hearts.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Writing

Don’t hold that thought 💬✒️

When in doubt, speak up. Talking is a tool for excavating thoughts—microphone in hand or not. It’s only after the speaking occurs do the words begin to flow.

The same goes for writing. One doesn’t need an audience in order to do it. The movement of the pen gears the brain into motion so that words hit the top of the tongue at precisely the right time.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.”

Horace

Speaking and writing cue the neural pathways. They lay the groundwork for ideas to germinate and bloom.

Chatter, whether external or internal, are the firsts step in solidifying beliefs and discovering something interesting to say. The real enemy is a chattering brain that hesitates and never spits it out.

Inspiration and perfection are for amateurs–start before you’re ready.

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Life & Philosophy

Thinking is hard

People don’t like thinking. It’s painful.

Just as numbering denotes page numbers, we have to get our brain cells to assemble in an attempt to establish some order.

There’s a reason why there are so few philosophers and so many people attending entertainments. Consumption is our default setting.

It is easier to sit back and play our thumbs into inanition. Tinkering with abstract trains of thought to feel our brain transmit nerve impulses takes effort.

The “Thinking Tree”, an ancient olive tree in Puglia, Italy

Humans are thinking machines

It takes courage to challenge ourselves to learn without drawing conclusions.

Society obsesses with absolutes, stuck safely indoors while the explorers coast outside making guesses and predictions with effortless attention.

Magnetically lured to controlling the world, we forget that uncertainty is what makes thinking successful. Ignorance drives the start.

Experimentation begets revelations, which allows one to seize and conceive even more possibilities.

Doing is why there’s knowing, a result of thinking lightly about what could be.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology

Enjoy the silence

Silence is the loudest sound — unprovoked, it can screech worse than nails on a chalkboard.

The pursuit of distraction is man’s attempt to escape the cacophony of a deaf monkey mind.

To break from mental prison, we conjure up an oasis of sound: Facebook or TV, dual-screens, infinitely scrolling through feeds and channels without remembering a thing.

The content Ferris wheel never ends. The circus rages on, burning into a dead-end of doldrums.

Perhaps the noiseless, originally our worst fear, is the pocket of sanity we needed all along.

gif by Carolina Costa

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

Relishing the doubt

gif by @raphaellemartin

Enthusiastic in the front, skeptic in the back.

The dialectic of mind enframes the rational man. When we peel off the plastic of certainty, we uncover the beauty of chasing ambiguity.

When we see that the true bearers of consciousness are patterns of continuous variation rather than preprogrammed automata, we relish our idiosyncrasies.

Naïveté is on par with idealism.

What we demand instead is the thrill of belief, vacuuming up all the information around us without pre-consolidating our vision with the cockiness of mastery.

Every single person has their own blend of style, just like the unique acoustic signature of birds. Wonderfully different, in search of random incursions.

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Arts Life & Philosophy Writing

Writing helps you seek clarity

giphy (32).gif
via giphy
  • Change the font
  • Write freehand or on a different device
  • Use prompts to help you get started
  • Sit and think about what you want to say. No computer. No pen and paper.

Because writing requires daily practice, doing it can get boring and predictable. It helps to have a system of hacks to drive the writing habit along the way.

Whether you’re writing a book, a blog post, or in a journal, writing is the most efficient way to purge your thoughts from the darkest and dormant corners of the brain. Writing is like talking to your therapist, a bicep curl that strengthens familiarity with your mind.

“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively. For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order.”

Hunter S. Thompson

You don’t have to be a published or aspiring author to write, nor do you have to be a student. Writing is a system for coping with the vicissitudes and celebrations of life.

As David Ogilvy once said, “People who think well, write well.” People who write well think well because it’s hard to clarify thoughts. The writer’s main challenge, therefore, is to find ways to keep on doing it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Tech

The loose gate of attention

Attention works like a loose gate. We can’t always control what information sneaks in, nor can we parse the data so it makes sense coming out.

We grind away at the information life throws at us, some of it tangible and worthwhile but most it nonsense.

Like a Google search, the stuff worth keeping is like finding a needle in a haystack. When we discover something of value, it sticks. We share the knowledge with others, recasting it as our own.

Yet, our minds remain terrible aggregators. Who’s in charge, the thinker or the thought?

It’s impossible to unhear and unsee things — conversations, teacher’s lessons, tweets — without getting sucked into the commercialization of attention. The public sphere promotes mindless chatter, so rationalization sinks to the bottom.

The race to become synchronized with the mainstream prevents the interrogation of ideas. The noisy flood of information buffers thought until finally, the chaos settles to the bottom. And pieces of clarity return, unstuck from the confident idiots.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Tech Writing

The promise of internet niches

gif by Jay Sprogell

The promise of the internet was that unfettered access guaranteed a diversity of interests.

At first, it appeared true — the web broke down the masses into a web of niches. The accumulation of distinctiveness created a long tail that when combined outweighed popular trends.

But little by little, those niches turned into popular tribes where everyone started talking about similar things.

The standardization of tastes, political parties, and lifestyles spread like wildfire. Individuality lost out to group-think.

The anarchic mindset requires one to imagine a world not yet in existence. Who would we be without digging deeper and envisioning the non-existent?

Culture attracts sameness. But we can change the default setting. All it takes is reevaluating and encouraging the realm of distinctiveness.

It’s impossible to synchronize all the world’s attention with the nearest click. But life is way more interesting when we instruct ourselves to think different.