Friday, October 01, 2010

Reprogramming the Human Brain

In mid-2009, I had to understand what was happening and why it kept happening to different people around me, and so I began reading about personality traits with regard to regions of the human brain.

Much research has been compiled from studies done on victims of stroke, cranial injuries, and genetic conditions.  I scribbled down a synopsis of relevant findings on my whiteboard (which also included my TODO list at the time)...

From these groupings, certain archetypical patterns became apparent.

An overactive limbic system often leads to an inability to regulate emotions.  Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors are often prescribed to cap the intense peaks and valleys often experienced by those with bipolar disorders and similar emotional imbalances.

Of notable interest is the potential association between anxiety and handwriting.

The temporal lobes are particularly susceptible to outer head trauma.  Accident victims with head injuries may exhibit symptoms of damaged cells in the temporal lobe region.  This can often affect a person's sense of judgement, language, and morality.

And the cingulate system... this is where your buttons live.  Game developers, marketing firms, and drug dealers alike would very much like to have direct access to this region of your brain in order to convert your compulsions into agents of their system.

But they can't get in if you already have a religon.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Intentional Friendships

I turned 35 exactly one month ago.  The theme over the past few months has been to streamline various aspects of my life to make sure that the energy I put into things results in a meaningful threshold of effect.

One area that has reached outside my comfort zone is the way that I have been managing friendships.  There has been much sorting over the past few months... many casualties  The following guidelines for judging friendship were developed during this sorting process.
  • Shared verbs are mandatory if a genuine friendship is to be maintained... otherwise, they are a Facebook-only friend
  • Friendship can generate expectations, which can generate fears... common verbs justify repetitions of proximity.  Verbs are the medium through which friendship flows.
  • Common verbs do not always need to be a collaboration
  • An inner circle can hold about seven people; any more than that will result in leakage.
  • The choice is mine as much as theirs. I will be rejected. It won't be personal. No expectations... only trial and error.
  • Having a routine of verbs eventually leads to having well-defined openings to fill with friendship activites
  • I do not need to be everybody's friend. Neutral is acceptable and more common than emotional intimacy... after all, there are only approximately seven openings within the inner circle.
  • People change... It is normal for people to come in as buddies and leave as strangers within one's life... we share wonderful moments with good people all the time... this does not mean that we are entitled to continue sharing those moments if our taste in verbs is no longer a natural match.
  • Three Axes of Friendship: Identity Reinforcement, Reciprocal Trust, and Mutual Commitment
The Plan
Agency: Cultivate Intentional Friendships.
Time as a Resource: Cull out friendships that feel obligatory.
Directed Target: Imagine what an ideal friend does.  Do those things.  Be that person.
Technique: To counteract the tendency towards blind loyalty, use the lens of amnesia to filter intrinsic friendship behavior from obligatory friendship behavior.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Book of Lenses

Your answer is personal, but the right question can help get you there...
  • Lens of No History: Would you let this continue if you could only remember the last 8 minutes?
  • Lens of Infinite Time: How would being an immortal affect your choices?
  • Lens of the Future Badass: What would your future self do if your future self was a very wise badass.
  • Lens of Novelty: How much of this is truly sustainable?  Would you still keep going at this once the novelty wears off and daily life settles back in?
  • Lens of Limited Time: If you only had three months to live, would you be doing this, right now?
  • Lens of Utility: Does doing this yield benefits equal to or greater than the cost of not doing this?
  • Lens of Androgyny: Would the situation still be perceived the same way if the gender were different?  Why would gender be a factor, and is that a rational line of thought?
  • Lens of Opportunity: If it makes you feel bad, then what can you do instead that would be a better use of your time?
  • Lens of Verbs: Strip away every noun label and every adjective modifier... Look only at the verbs.  Do you still want this in your life?
  • Lens of Maslow: For the effort you are about to spend time on, which level of Maslow's Hierarchy are you addressing? Are lower levels of the pyramid sufficiently fulfilled for you to be prioritizing this level, right now?
  • Lens of Three: Pick the three most important things to you in life... health, money, love?  Will this serve or work against those three highest priorities?
These are the questions that have worked for me so far.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thresholds for Unsolicited Advice

I was recently reminded of the concept of things having value if you suffer for it/earn it...

It made me think of the concept of UNSOLICITED advice... where another person's "wisdom" is just handed over for free. It doesn't ever seem to absorb as well as the kind of advice that people figure out on their own.

There must be a threshold somewhere.... a threshold in which the words you tell a person are not told, but shared. Shared in a way in which the person feels as if they are contributing to the dialog as they engage in a collaborative process towards a truth.

Because truth is personal, and pushing your truth on someone is akin to forcefully rubbing your scent glands on that person in the hopes of making them smell like you.

Anything more than sharing is telling, and people do telling naturally because humans seek validation for their identity.

Anything less than sharing is work (as one may need to do with coworkers)... work in learning and work in accepting the intrusion of another into your personal process... because empathy requires work to manifest.

Sometimes you have to listen, and that is work.
Sometimes you are asked to tell, and that is a privilege.
There is a time and a place for both... and for neither.

New Thing: Try my very best to avoid giving UNSOLICITED advice. I would rather be compassionate than correct. Because that is the right thing to do. This is my advice to you that you should take. Don't be a hypocrite; drop whatever you believe in and take this valuable advice that I am handing over to you for free!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Truth About Truth

At this point in my life, I've come to the following counter-intuitive conclusions:
  • Speaking Truth can be a selfish act
  • Truth is not the ultimate answer to everything
  • Truth is a means to an end, and that end is validation of identity
I am reminded that most of us are trained to become masters of data, knowledge, and correctness... into knowing things and being able to analyze things, but after all is said and done, we exist in fragile human frames that respond to emotions more so than any truth.

It is this little quirk about us that allows us to smoke harmful cigarettes when we know that it may bring a horrible painful death upon us... because the truth of danger is drowned out by the emotion of want.

And it is this quirk that can make us walk away from a relationship at the slightest sign of strife... because the truth of safety can be drowned out by the emotion of fear.

Inversely, one might stay in a harmful relationship because the truth of harm is drowned out by an emotion that is considered to be "love" by the beholder.

The compass always points to identity. Most people accept only the truths that support their self image... what they already know or wish to be true about who they are. The reality you choose to accept is based on who you think you are.

Every word, every silence, every action and inaction serves an explicit EMOTION more so then truth. Every meaningful interaction has an emotional intent from the source, and an emotional effect on the receiver. Ideally, the emotion between source and receiver would coincide, but this is not always the case because truth is personal while emotions are universal.

You always have a choice... to either be correct or compassionate.

The human brain is infinitely capable of rationalizing any truth as being the absolute truth. This "absolute truth" is personal. Our brain can convince itself into believing or denying anything if it does not fit an existing model of what we already "know" about the world and ourselves. If somebody wants to believe that something is true, they will find a way to rationalize it.

You always have a choice... to either challenge one's identity with unsolicited correctness or choose to coexist with different truths that lead to common emotions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On the subject of Twitter/Facebook disdain

So here's the deal,

You don't have to use Twitter, nor do you have to get on Facebook. You don't have to do anything in this world that you don't want to do. When you do transmit signals into the internet, you expect to get something out of it.... whether it be Twitter, Facebook, or this Journal... there is an intention behind everything. Some useful things that people get out of Facebook/Twitter include the following:
  • Entertainment
  • Information
  • Interaction opportunities that lead to changes in social configurations
  • Verb opportunities
  • Solicited advice
  • Opportunities for expression (yes, this is a valid human need)
Most people suck, and you probably don't want to know them. It is perfectly okay to say that you are happy with your current circle of friends and see no need to expand and maintain links with a group of people who may be acquaintances at best.

The purpose of Twitter and Facebook is to provide opportunities to participate in a network of other people who seek the same. It is a tool, not an obligation.

So if the concept of Facebook and Twitter offend you for some reason, then ask yourself what it is, exactly, that makes you so angry at what other people are doing with their own time. Seriously... try to put this into a sentence made up of vocabulary words. After you've thought about it, consider saving yourself the trouble of dealing with any of it by deleting your account. That would be easy enough to do.

People who actively participate on Facebook and Twitter must get something out of it, and that is why they continue to use it despite the hassles with interface and inundation of unsolicited reading material. It doesn't matter if you don't relate to the motivations of the typical active Facebook'er/Twitter'er... It is very likely that they have different needs for social engagement than you.

In Maslow's hierarchy, social needs are a very real requirement for human beings, humans will degrade if their need for social involvement is not sufficiently met. We live in an age where members of society are generally impatient and will actively seek out the things they want instead of waiting for opportunities to randomly fall into their lap. Most friendships and romantic involvements do not happen the way they do in Hollywood movies, they happen because people put out request signals and somebody else answers them.

So what is your intention for getting on a site like Facebook or Twitter? To know about things? To maximize opportunities? To broadcast information?
  • If you have no intention, then get off those sites! Other users will only take from you, and you will get nothing out of it.
  • If you have an intention, then embrace it. Don't be shy about it. The site exists to serve your intentions, and you have a pool of cohorts that have agreed to be in on this social exchange
Whatever the case, participation has always been voluntary and optional. Getting mad at people who use Facebook or Twitter does not really accomplish anything unless it is your goal to revel in being mad about something. Getting mad at frivolous things that really don't affect you is one way of making yourself feel important... but that is a topic for another day.