Life is kinda difficult to analyze without a bias. We’re stuck right in the middle, everything is wrapped around in emotions and whatever happened recently seems overwhelmingly more important than whatever didn’t (Time biases).
Most people fail so miserably at analyzing theirs that for them is best to not even try – it takes energy and creates pressure on them, often getting them into Sheep mode, never the way to go.
If you have a good understanding of psychology, you can use this science to make a good, unbiased analysis. Unfortunately, at least 90% of the world population are not psychology experts.
If you trust science and psychology in general and have the money, you can pay for a shrink to do some of the work (outsource, not inherently a bad idea). Unfortunately, at least 90% of the world’s population doesn’t have both trust and money.
So we just let it be, no analysis? That’s what I generally do. But if you have the habit of analyzing, let’s do it right.
As life is not so analyzable, we can try to project its concepts onto some system of a similar kind, some complex object. This has a longish list of requirements:
– It has to have a similar number and type of building blocks as life. Let’s say about 15 main ones and hundreds of smaller, insignificant ones.
– It has to have similarly rich interconnections between the main building blocks. In life, everything important is linked to everything important in some way.
– The complex object must be structurally very well known to most people. If we compare your life to a laptop, fine. But how does one work in detail? Bummer, we just got into semiconductor tech and lost our audience.
– Life has an arrow of time, a direction. So the object must also be going somewhere. If we compare life to your house, we realize life is not a static object. It moves.
There is only one object that fits the requirements but it happens to fit them perfectly. A car.
Ironically I don’t drive a car at all and don’t like car travel that much, being a well-known train person 🙂
But the concept of the car had 150 years to evolve into an extension of human capabilities so it happens to somehow be a perfect mirror of life. So much that you can learn a lot for your life by just projecting it into an imaginary car. Even if you don’t actively drive, you spend some portion of your life in one and your brain is so used to how stuff works in a car that it would be effortless.
The car has one final virtue in this model. In order to analyze something with no bias, you need to detach facts and system properties from feelings and emotions. The car is a machine and everyone is used to this. It’s an object even emotional people (the ones that tend to want to analyze their life) usually feel engineery about. And this is the mindset we need to get it right.
Let’s try to project the building blocks from life into the building blocks of a car. Remember, we don’t understand life in-depth, so let’s start from the car. We take a part of the car and match it to a part of life until there are no more major parts of the car left. It’s going to be an insightful journey.
The engine = Your happiness, your values, your faith. Your spirituality, your love.
The starter = Your motivation. It seems gone until it ignites and suddenly it’s at 100%. No middle ground.
The fuel = Your energy, if you don’t have any, you go to sleep (stop and recharge the car).
The chassis = Your body and health. We live in our heads but your body feeds the head and carries it around.
The steering system = Your emotions. It’s what drives you around most of the time.
The wheels = Your autopilot, tasked with maintaining the chosen direction. Core survival element.
The brakes = Your safe preserving mechanism. The all-important ability to quit when stuff sucks.
The gearbox = Your self-control. Maximum throttle can get you in trouble both on the road and in life.
The lights = Your intelligence trying to take the best path. Best in short-term tasks.
The paint = Your looks. Should be an object of freedom and non-judgment. Judged by cars with a broken engine.
The windows = Your barriers. The ability to say no to stuff flying in your face without consent.
The software = Your deep mind and intuition. You have no idea how they work but they do a great job.
The sensors = Your senses. Feed data into the software.
What major part of life does not match any part of the car? Your money and finances and the stuff you own. The car doesn’t own anything, it just drives. So we must find finance elsewhere… and we do.
The car service = Your money. A universal helper or a living hell. Just like your relationship with money.
We already learned some interesting stuff:
1) Money has a special role in life and deserves a special kind of attention.
2) You can change most parts but once your chassis (body) starts breaking down, it’s bad. Take good care of yourself.
3) The easiest thing to change about yourself is actually your looks. Just go to the painter. But a good engine sound will always be more important than the paint.
4) You don’t need to understand how something works to trust and admire it. If you trust your life to the software of your car, why not trust your intuition completely. This is your software.
5) It’s not a bad idea to have the keys to your starter (motivation).
6) Most cars drive easily in a straight line most of the time but if you want to be the best of the best (a race car) you need to get used to constant turns and gear changes. Life rewards the fast and adaptive.
7) Trying to live without enough sleep is trying to drive a car without enough fuel. It can’t work and there is no point in trying.
8) You only see the road a very short way ahead. Any predictions beyond this are almost useless as you don’t know enough about the road and the many other cars.
We’ll get back to this model from time to time. For now a quick story:
A car is born 🙂
Imagine a car is born just with a chassis and knows the concept of a car, but has no parts and has to slowly build itself from the ground up. Kinda like a baby 🙂
Every car brand wants to offer parts and you need a lot of parts but you have to start with the 12 of the 13 main ones above (you already have a chassis).
With your limited resources you can build yourself two parts and the rest you need to outsource for now. Which ones do you choose to build? You hope your parts are better than the outsourced ones and even if you are not sure, you will at least know them much better.
It makes sense to build yourself the parts that:
1) Are hardest to replace;
2) Are connected with the most other parts;
3) You have to know how they work;
It’s clear that the best candidates are the engine and the software. They more or less define the car and if you don’t understand them, you won’t be able to turn the bunch of car parts into a working, happy car.
The other parts can be outsourced until you learn how to build your own. Babies learn by copy-paste, even for stuff like emotions.
Everything can be learned by copy-paste, refined, improved into the perfect car part.
Except for the engine, because you should not copy-paste someone else’s values.
Except for the software, because your intuition and gut feeling are not copy-paste-able. If you give it up, there is nothing from the world to replace it with.
Cherish these two and work on them, but never outsource them unless you absolutely need to. If your engine has broken down you may need a new one temporarily.
Outsourcing your engine is called religious faith. You still have an engine and it works (may work better than a broken one), it’s just not your own engine anymore. The company (religion) you outsourced it to now has a major influence on your life. More in the Religion post (link).
Outsourcing your software is when you decide to just be like other cars. The problem is you don’t really know other cars, do you? You see them drive around but are they happy? How do they really feel? Any idea?
So don’t and don’t. Be yourself in every possible way. There is enough that you will copy-paste anyway.
The power of structure led us via very basic actions to the most interesting places. We didn’t invent the car (or anything), we simply used some existing brain structures in a new way. We asked simple (but yet unasked) questions and answered them effortlessly.
Now let’s explore the most prelevant structures in time of a human life, the habits. With them I include inertia which while not exactly one, has the same repeating structure and it’s prelevant inactions can be classified as a type of action.
How to change habits according to popular self-help advice?
Jordan Peterson likes talking about order. There is a reason we use the word structure instead, a subtle difference.
Order has this essentiality ring to the ear, when you hear order it always sounds like it’s needed on some level, either being good or a somehow necessary evil. Lack of order is not chaos. It’s anarchy, a place we don’t feel we want to be in.
Order also never self-assembles. It implies that someone creates it when there was none. The hero in our stories…
Society surely needs order and stabililty on some level. But the golden question is: Do you need order as a person, as a soul?
Let’s think of some of the bad common things in life – depression, anxiety, addiction…
What do we see? Feelings and behaviours repeating against our will. A bad order that we self-impose due to our imperfections.
Why is it hard to grow in life? Because of Inertia. Doing nothing and doing things the old way is also a behaviour, repeating against our will. A bad order imposed by the evolutionary relics in us.
Now let’s think of the most beautiful moments in life. When we are in the effortless flow of learning, creating or engaging in physical activity. When we connect with friends. When we give up control. When we fall in love.
Would you ever attribute any of this beauty to… order? Creation and Love come from chaos and when beautiful structures emerge, we often want to assign them a creator. To take or give credit to people, to God, to someone somewhere. To make the structure… order.
But… why? Structure is often just emerging. Evolution is the primary example how a very complex structure emerges without the need for a creator. If there is no creator, is the end result and the process less beautiful? I’d say it’s not less, it’s more. A miracle in reality.
A great deal of trouble in The Game of Self come from self-pressure. Things get better when we let go. So in self-help, order is surely not the right call. Because we need someone to create it and if it’s us, here we go with the self-pressure. And it always comes with expectations. We want order now and we expect it to happen soon. And if it doesn’t, it feels like a failure. This feeling gets us into Sheep mode, Inertia takes over, and change becomes much harder than it should be. This vicious cicle is well known to anyone who tried self-help books, talks or any materials that focus on order.
Improving your habits as any kind of plan counts as an attempt at order. I’m not saying the end goal is bad. Habits are extremely important for anyone. Order is just not the natural way to get there with habits. Because, again…
The first step to any personal improvement is to remove expectations.
And a quest for order is not compatible with this approach.
Instead, let’s welcome structure. We do not create it. It’s already there in the Universe and in us. It’s the basis of our Intuition.
If we grow younger, if we let go of the things we don’t need in the The Game of Self and create the space for new structure, it will appear regardless of how much chaos you have around you. Good habits will form without any effort because the foundations (like Self-Love) will be the right ones.
This way you don’t have to give up on Love or Creativity or any of the other beautiful chaotic elements of life. They are not in the way of good structure in your life.
The only things in the way are pressure and expectations.
Let go of them.
The first step is to simply acknowledge their uselessness mentally (hopefully now in this very moment) and start focusing more on doing everything with no pressure or expectations. Then you can continue completely ditching them on every emotional level.
How to change habits with no effort
To summarize: There are 6 principles in life that if followed together, will help you acquire great habits in life with zero effort:
- Practice self-love – the foundation of all good emotions. This will help you reduce fears.
- Realize that if you have less fears and no expectations, you have freedom from internal forces.
- Acquire life knowledge so you attract resources (eg. money) and maximize your freedom from external forces.
- The love, freedom and knowledge helps construct a good environment so everything is good for Future you.
- Bad structures (addictions and inertia) should be destroyed using internal and external Love and Chaos.
- Good structures (good habits) will self-assemble in a good environment & hunter mood once the bad ones are gone.
Any really good habit starts with self-love and can form only when there is anough freedom and usually the trigger is random (chaos). No pressure, no expectations. Habits are symptoms of our wellbeing, not a foundation. And while we strongly believe in the power of influencing our subconsciousness with our actions, habbits are by definition a stubborn nut to crack if attacked directly. On the other hand the combination of Love, Chaos, Freedom and constructing a good environment gives a high chance of low effort success.
Wouldn’t you want to take that chance?