A Simple Click
Why do I think this book will change you and the world? Once you finish reading it, you will want to click, and once you do it, you will want to spread it. More importantly, there is clear evidence that it works and that it is quickly spreading. There are only four steps you need to take. Step four is the most important one as it explains how to maintain the click. Depending from person to person, implementation of the first three steps can take half an hour to a few weeks.
- 1 As soon as you make the click, you will experience:
- 2 What is Neuro-Spinozism aka athenism?
- 3 Four steps to logic as your new core value
- 3.1 Step 1: Develop an unconditional trust in logic
- 3.2 Step 2: Find what emotionally drives you
- 3.3 Step 3: Realize that experience as a goal won't give you as much well-being as experience as a tool
- 3.4 Step 4: Follow a few guidelines to make sure the click is permanent
- 3.5 Did I make the click?
- 3.6 The following chapters were written with two goals:
- 4 Did God create logic?
- 4.1 objective reality – phenomena such as gravity that applies to all of us whether we like it or not;
- 4.2 subjective reality – the value you personally connect to, for example, an object;
- 4.3 intersubjective reality – the value that many people connect to something which, for example, can turn paper into money.
- 5 How to explain the click to others
- 6 What Now?
- 7 References
As soon as you make the click, you will experience:
- a rush of dopamine in your brain;
- a euphoric feeling;
- a tremendous relief. Later on, as long you follow step four, you will experience most of the following side-effects:
- You will feel clear-headed, in the present and in a constant state of flow;
- You will feel driven to think logically and understand things;
- You will experience selfless and choiceless awareness;
- You will stop taking things for granted and you will find everything that surrounds you beautiful;
- You will feel intrinsic confidence and a sense of empowerment;
- You will appreciate reality for what it is, which will allow you to truly listen and understand the world from other people’s perspective;
- All your problems will be gone instantly as you start thinking in solutions rather than problems;
- Your logic abilities skyrocket such as quicker pattern recognition and learning capabilities;
- You will feel no burden, story or identity as duality ends and you won't need to think in 1st or 3rd person anymore;
- You will develop an urge to tell other people;
- You will experience a diminished urge to eat, since you don't feel as much of a need to reward yourself with it;
- Your social anxiety or depression will quickly fade away, which will naturally improve your ability to find a partner;
- You will be able to overcome addictions with ease, including a lack of desire to take drugs as you achieved the state you were using them for.
You might argue that if something like this would exist, it would have already spread all over the world. But it wasn’t up until now that science, and neuroscience in particular, started unraveling the mysteries of our mind. Using the most recent knowledge on that area, we now understand the underlying neurological processes that influence our behavior and happiness. The steps outlined below are a result of all these scientific breakthroughs on how to change and model our brain. Four simple steps are all we need to begin a psychological revolution that will reshape the world as we know it and turn it into a utopia. I know it sounds crazy but once you successfully complete the four steps, you will realize how compelled you will feel to start spreading it. Only this time, you will be your own living proof that it works.
What is Neuro-Spinozism aka athenism?
Spinozism is a religion posed by Baruch Spinoza in which God is indistinguishable of nature, all of existence and the laws that underpin it. His most well-known followers include Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan and Lessing.
Neuro-Spinozism aka athenism uses our current neurological understanding of the brain to give answers to the criticism on Spinozism. We have the ability to detach a concept related with a core emotion and rewire it with the brain’s reward system, and with the help of the 4 steps outlined below, we can submit our emotional drive to logic.
Four steps to logic as your new core value
We often go through life feeling lost and incomplete. We spend years and years trying to find an inner balance, trying to understand who we are. Sometimes we question whether there is a meaning to life, and often we even give up on the search. These 4 steps are the answers you have been seeking. Completing them will not only bring you closer to who you are and make you feel complete but it will also reveal to you how life can be a wonderful and meaningful experience.
OLD STEPS: Animation video explaining the 4 steps
OLD STEPS: Ultimate guide to click – pdf version (You can also read it by clicking “Read more” in each step)
Step 1: Develop an unconditional trust in logic
Goal of the step: connect a positive emotion to logic (instead of having a cold or neutral feeling).
Logic is the consistent patterns that bring about our reality. Anytime we refer to reality, the organism, consistency or life, we are referring to logic, since logic is the patterns that govern everything.
For more information on that matter, check this link: Content to help you appreciate logic
Our conscious experience of the world is what allows us to observe and study the consistent patterns (such as gravity).
Scientists believe that it is likely that throughout evolution, life started generating an emergent property of experience, also referred to as a feedback loop. This feedback loop is the mechanism in which the input and output through our senses translates in a conscious experience. This means that if the experience would have never been generated by logical patterns, we wouldn’t exist.
Reality is probabilistic
Furthermore, it is fascinating to acknowledge how the consistency that we experience is fundamentally probabilistic. On an emotional level, you might connect consistency with determinism but having a simple grasp of Quantum Mechanics can help making this concept more intuitive.
Step 2: Find what emotionally drives you
Goal of the step: find the core emotion associated with your existential need of inner balance
The reason why we want to feel comfortable and safe in our lives boils down to our craving for existential balance.
Existential balance is the consistency that we are driven to achieve within our own experience. Although most people associate this consistency to their identity or to believing in a soul, none of them are consistent within existence, which ultimately makes the drive to reach this equilibrium to go against its own balance.
Finding this core emotion is essential. To achieve that, you need to be truly honest while questioning the reasons behind why you did what you did in your life. You basically need to pinpoint the existential need of inner balance that you are craving for, the one that gives meaning and purpose to your experience.
Furthermore, it is very likely that your inner child is only holding on to a core value – such as comfort, family, social validation or even God –, to fulfill this need of existential balance. He is clinging to the idea that having experience as your true reason to live is a good thing.
Your inner child just needs to realize how, for all this time, the drive for comfort and identity was a drive for consistency instead. And that this consistency is much better achieved when seeing our experience for what it is (a tool), while at the same time holding on to the consistent patterns that bring about reality (which is to say having logic as the goal).
Step 3: Realize that experience as a goal won't give you as much well-being as experience as a tool
Goal of the step: complete a paradigm shift in which you realize that experience as a goal is damaging and logic as a goal is meaningful
The consistent patterns that emerge in order to bring life have evolved in such a way that the consistency (or logic) is perceived as the tool and experience itself as the goal.
This creates a feedback loop of identity and fictional stories that are often the cause of a lot of suffering.
As you can already realize, it is close to impossible to achieve existential balance and feel complete if you keep trying to find purpose and meaning in your experience. The purpose of experience is merely to serve as a tool for life to evolve more optimally. Experience is the tool, life is the goal.
This should bring a really big relief as you understand that it is not about you anymore. In the same way that a mother experiences a selfless feeling towards her child, you will find the same meaning and connection once you submit yourself to something much greater than you: life and logic itself.
People that we define as heroes (such as Einstein, for example) were actually the ones that realized, on a fundamental level, that life wasn’t about them. They used their experience as a tool and logic as a goal to bring humanity forward.
Visualization is very useful to set an emotional stage. You should try to visualize how your experience (the essence of what you are) is merely a tool and seeing it as a goal will always be detrimental for your well-being, causing a lot of inner conflict.
On the other end, you should also try to visualize how having logic as the goal instead of as a tool will allow you to easily achieve anything you want, including the balance you were looking for and the previous core value that you were trying to fulfill.
Going back and forth between the positive and negative emotions (holding longer to the negative ones) has proved to be an effective way to complete the paradigm shift. This is known as the “Yo-yo technique” and you can read more about it here.
When you realize this on an emotional level, you will go through a paradigm shift in which you submit yourself to the probabilistic consistency that brought about you and reality. As soon as you do that, logic automatically starts being desired from the core and you feel finally complete.
Plus, when you align with your real purpose, every neural circuit will start resonating with each other, granting you not only the existential balance that you have always been looking for but also true fulfillment, inner peace and a constant state of happiness.
Step 4: Follow a few guidelines to make sure the click is permanent
Keep making logical decisions
Your immediate reaction will often be a strong urge to understand everything through logic. This is highly connected with the reward center of the brain, so the first action you should take is to logically restructure your belief system.
Correctly frame your decisions, emotions and thoughts with probabilistic thinking
Even when you adopt logic as your core value, you can still have flawed ideas and behave in illogical ways. Thinking that everything is deterministic rather than probabilistic is one of those ideas.
The way our brain works is very simple. When we think, you connect an emotion to the thought. We generally store information in a binary way (“good” or “bad”, for example) but we should instead also include the statistical probability that we might be flawed, ignorant or not completely sure. Thus, even though our emotion is quite binary, the thought isn’t.
Then, if one of your logical ideas fails, your inner child just accepts that there was a chance and keeps the trust. This is a fundamental understanding of logic. If you don't have this mechanic in your brain and you don't store information in a probabilistic way, you are bound to unclick.
Be aware of “identity death”
Once you truly understand that the reason why you were holding on to identity was because you were emotionally driven to find existential balance, your identity will likely automatically vanish.
Still, you should keep yourself in check and be honest whether that is the case or not.
Did I make the click?
For those who might doubt the legitimacy of their click, answering the following questions with a “yes” means that you clicked.
1. Do you have a strong emotional desire to understand everything logically?
2. Do logical actions flow naturally or does it require discipline or motivation?
3. Do you experience a lot of dissonance when you act illogically or when you have contradictory thoughts or emotions?
The following chapters were written with two goals:
- To shed a better light on what logic is and to allow people to understand the benefit of it;
- To give some guidance to the people that already clicked but never implemented logic in their life and now need to reframe everything logically.
Did God create logic?
If logic is your core value you automatically try to understand everything logically. If something doesn't add up it can cause immense dissonance. The idea that there was nothing and suddenly the big bang happened seems very illogical. This has been one of the reasons why many people turn to religion, as it seems more logical that there has to be a creator.
Now with stating that logic is our creator instead and that our understanding of it brought about all our advances, someone could still wonder who created logic.
This is one question that I have been wondering for a very long time and has brought me to learn about physics and quantum mechanics. Throughout the years I have had a lot of different theories and ideas and even made a documentary called Athene's theory of everything. Since then I have had to rethink many of the ideas brought forward and came up with one particular theory that put my dissonance around this creator question to sleep.
When logic becomes your core value you start to think fundamentally different. To elaborate on this I will define 3 concepts:
objective reality – phenomena such as gravity that applies to all of us whether we like it or not;
subjective reality – the value you personally connect to, for example, an object;
intersubjective reality – the value that many people connect to something which, for example, can turn paper into money.
Humans have the tendency to think that the intersubjective reality is the same as the objective one. But when logic becomes your core value you only assume the objective reality to be real. We stop taking certain concepts for granted and instead we use them to understand the world around us. A good example is time, while we assume there is a yesterday or tomorrow, we only ever experience the now. It is a very simple idea that is right in front of us every moment yet we never take the time to reflect on it. Another example is how one plus one equals two, even though when we look at our own consciousness we cannot just add up all our neurons and assume the sum equals just adding the parts together. These simple observations together with the weirdness of quantum mechanics has made me look at the world fundamentally different.
I tried to understand the world by seeing everything as information instead since it then becomes a lot easier to find a logical answer to how we came to existence and why the logical patterns around us emerge. There are two scenario's that sound more logical for the average person, one is that there has always been nothing and the other that there has always been infinite chaos. Keep in mind, this is simplified because always makes us think about time and time came only to existence with the big bang. The issue people have though is how something could emerge from nothing without the intervention of a creator. On the other hand, if we assume there was always infinite chaos and we can find a falsifiable explanation to how our consistent reality could emerge from it we would have a much easier time to set our inner conflict at ease.
To get back to how I approach everything as information, let's represent this infinite chaos as 1's and 0's. How could our reality emerge from this and how would logic be able to bring about all this beauty and consistency. There is already mathematical models of how chaos brings about order but in this specific case we can also derive certain mathematical conclusions from infinity. For example 0 would appear around half the time and 1 as well. Same, if you take the combination 01 it would appear 25% of the time while the combination 10, 11 and 00 would do so to. What you already can see is that the longer the binary number is the less frequent it appears within infinity.
To understand the next step you need some basic understanding about the concept of compression algorithm. To illustrate, if you have a fully black background in paint and save it as a .bmp it will be a much larger file then when you save it as a .jpg. The reason for this is because the .jpg uses a compression algorithm that allows you to show the same black picture on the screen but requires a lot smaller binary number. If this black picture would be our consciousness instead and it would emerge from infinite chaos, it would naturally be the one that is most compressed since it is what is most likely to happen. This is one explanation for how everything around us seems to follow specific patterns as these are merely the compression algorithms that are brought about due to the probabilities within infinite chaos.
If this line of thinking would be true it would also have other consequences. The number 1 and a billion 0's for example would be smaller then a shorter binary number that would contain more information. This approach would also bring about a different kind of math that isn't based on Euclidean or non-Euclidean geometry. Additionally it might also help us better understand the quantum weirdness such as entanglement and superposition.
You could wonder why we don't experience time if everything is just information taking place simultaneously in an all encompassing now. In order to experience the illusion of time we would only need our past information to be encoded in our current consciousness. And the compression algorithm required for this would be the same as the one that brings about all the mathematical laws that govern our universe.
Another consequence would also be that our own subjective reference frame, in our case our consciousness, would be responsible for the probabilities of what happens around us. A silly example is how the chance of having a car drive by now is much higher then if you would be born a thousand years ago.
A thought you might have is how come there isn't then infinite versions of you coexisting simultaneously within parallel universes. But this is already a popular interpretation in quantum mechanics called the many world interpretation which is believed by many scientists.
This can all sound interesting but would be practically useless unless this theory is falsifiable. One way is to find evidence how gravity for example would actually be an entropic force. Entropy is the scientific term of how everything gradually declines into disorder due to it being more probable. The same would apply to much of the other logical patterns we observe around us, they would all emerge from the probability patterns within infinite chaos including the big bang.
How to explain the click to others
When we speak, we subconsciously assume that the thoughts and emotions we evoke in others are similar to those that are unique to our own experience. This misunderstanding is exacerbated when we use loaded concepts such as God, love or truth. As a result, people often have endless conversations where they talk past each other and end up disagreeing on things they don’t disagree on at all and vice versa.
The best way to understand what someone is trying to say is by first listening without bias and by trying to see things from the other person’s perspective. This is important because even though you begin to frame everything logically after you made the click, you can’t assume rationality will be what helps others to understand their situation. Most people that didn’t click are still mainly driven by emotions, which requires a more emphatic and emotional approach.
Being aware of this in conversations will enable you to explain yourself more clearly, as you’ll tend to use the other person’s framework to get your ideas across. This is a skill that takes time and practice and it has been something that I have had to work on for years.
Always question your truth.
It can be profoundly confusing to grasp the concept that there is no such a thing as an absolute truth. It is impossible to know whether your experience of reality is a simulation, a dream or a hallucination since seeing a 3rd party’s point of view as an objective truth is an assumption within your frame of reference. This can sound counter-intuitive at first but the world you experience would not exist without you. Fully understanding this concept can restructure the brain to be less attached and more capable of rationally evaluating different beliefs.
The problem with seeing even our own existence as an absolute truth is that we have to assume that time and space objectively exist. Surprisingly, this is a point of quite some debate in science and there are phenomena that violate our intuitive understandings of them. When there is strong evidence, scientists consider a theory to be true, but only within our current knowledge or understanding of it. You don’t have to take my word for it, questioning everything I bring up in this book is a good mental exercise that will help you correct flaws within socially conditioned beliefs.
I try to be very empirical and construct logical arguments that are based on the assumptions I deem likely, such as what I read in reliable scientific papers. Emotionally, it is very appealing to believe in absolute truths and most people tend to avoid or reject confrontational ideas because their gut feeling tells them to do so. But erroneous certainties can hold people back or lock them into beliefs that may be illogical or even harmful. This is perhaps the most important insight I have learned from how scientists approach the smallest building blocks of our world. Our entire universe is made of quanta such as electrons and photons that all behave probabilistically rather than deterministically. Ultimately, anything is possible and answering any yes or no question with “there is a chance” is actually factually correct. As much as we’d love to believe in absolute truths, real answers will always lie in probabilities and approximations.
Remnants of the past.
When people think about conditioning, the overall perception is that it influences our actions but we are still in control. We have the tendency to ignore the impact of our environment when we look at ourselves and take many processes that have been fundamental to our development for granted. This ranges from the language we speak to how we define concepts or even the emotions we experience when we think about things. This then translates into our body language, our intonations and ultimately the culture we feel part of. All these processes are in one way or another conditioned and being aware of this can highly increase the control we have over ourselves.
There is an endless number of examples that can be given in relation to this topic and many of these can sound mind-blowing and hard to believe at times. Yet, these dynamics define our everyday interactions and decisions more than our own perceived level of control. Most of our actions and thoughts happen subconsciously and conditioning lays down the foundation of these habits and processes as we grow up. We accept them as part of who we are but our sense of self has little to do with how we perceive it and more with how we have been molded by our environment. I found that neuroscience provides the best framework to master the self and to understand how by using logic, we can overcome our inner conflict.
The Brain & Neuro-plasticity
The human brain is a network of approximately one hundred billion neurons. Different experiences create different neural connections and these bring about different emotions. Depending on which neurons get stimulated, certain connections will become stronger and more effective while others may become weaker. This is referred to as neuroplasticity. Virtually any sort of talent or skill can be created through training. Rüdiger Gamm for example, who was a self-admitted hopeless student, used to fail at basic maths and went on to train his abilities to become a famous mental calculator, capable of performing extremely complex mathematics.
Rationality and emotional resilience work the same way, these are neural connections that can be strengthened. But this also applies to negative thinking. It's possible to have two elderly people who may have had similar lives, yet one person is perfectly happy while the other is very unhappy and has a negative view on the same things. Everything depends on which neurons they have been stimulating throughout their lives. Whatever you are doing at any time, you are physically modifying your brain to become better at it.
Since this is such a fundamental mechanism of the brain, being aware of this will greatly increase your confidence in what you are able to learn and, eventually, achieve.
Specific neurons and neurotransmitters such as nor-epinephrine, trigger a state that can be described as having an ‘active ego’ when we feel that our own thoughts have to be protected from the influence of others. If we are then confronted with differences in opinion, the chemicals that are released in the brain are the same ones that try to ensure our survival in dangerous situations. Sometimes debates go on endlessly because people keep expressively resisting differences in opinion. When we're in a defensive state, the more primitive part of the brain interferes with our rational thinking and the limbic system can even knock out most of our working memory, physically causing narrow mindedness. Being aware that this process can still take place after you make the click might help you control it.
When we express ourselves and our views are appreciated, the defense chemicals decrease in our brain and dopamine neurotransmitter activates the reward neurons, making us feel safe. Our beliefs have a profound impact on our body chemistry, this is why placebos are so effective. After making the click, the duality we usually experience will gradually fade away and we will gain more control over our subconscious processes. Our emotional part – that has logic as its new core value – now trusts the feedback loop with our logical part of the brain, creating a direct bridge between the two.
Mirror Neurons & Consciousness
Social psychology often looks at the basic human need to fit in and calls this the normative social influence. When we grow up, our moral and ethical compass is almost entirely forged by our environment, so our actions are often a result of the approval we get from society.
Recent neurological research has confirmed the existence of empathetic mirror neurons. When we experience an emotion or perform an action, specific neurons fire. But when we observe someone else performing this action or when we imagine it, many of the same neurons will fire again as if we were performing the action ourselves. These empathy neurons connect us to other people, allowing us to feel what others feel.
Before making the click we are in a constant duality between what we logically value and what we learned to value. This often results in low self-esteem, a craving for attention, a need to fit in or to seek comfort. On a fundamental level, we don't trust in our own ability to provide for our safety.
Scans show that we experience these emotions even before we are aware of them. When we are self-aware, we can alter misplaced emotions because we control the thoughts that cause them. This is a neurochemical consequence of how memories become labile when retrieved and are restored through protein synthesis. Self-observing profoundly changes the way our brain works. It activates the self-regulating neocortical regions which give us an incredible amount of control over our feelings.
This insight clearly highlights both the importance of reviving the emotions that drive you in step 3 and our ability to rewrite them over time in step 4. However, if we aren’t self-aware, most of our thoughts and actions will still be impulsive which can create a lot of inner conflict. Our brain resolves this by creating explanations for our behaviour in a process referred to as backwards rationalisation, leaving most of our negative emotions unresolved and ready to be triggered at any time.
Someone that frames their own thinking as being more rational should be more aware of this process than those who don’t. Often, they create layers of rationality that disable them to clearly analyse their own emotions. While a rational approach is often better than an emotional one, it’s important to realise when our rational behaviour is merely controlled to fulfil our emotional core. Emotional intelligence can greatly help you understand this.
All of this complex and almost schizophrenic subconscious behaviour is the result of a vastly parallel distributed system in our brain. There is no specific centre of consciousness, the appearance of a unity is in fact each of our separate circuits being enabled and being expressed at one particular moment in time.
Our experiences are constantly changing our neural connections, physically altering the parallel system that is our consciousness.
The extent to which our neural activity brings about our consciousness, which creates our sense of reality, goes far beyond our current concept of the self. The separation we perceive between our environment and ourselves is only a conceptual practicality that we use to make sense of things. This is not a hypothetical philosophy, it’s a logical consequence of how everything we experience, external or internal, takes place within our consciousness from a neural activity point of view. Seeing the concept of the self as merely yourself excluding the environment is a misconception.
This is even reflected in our super-organismal features through evolution, where our survival as individual primates relied on our collective abilities. Over time, the neocortical regions evolved to permit the modulation of primitive instincts and the overriding of hedonistic impulses for the benefit of the group. Our selfish genes have come to promote reciprocal social behaviours in super-organismal structures, discarding the notion of survival of the fittest. The brain’s neural activity resonates most coherently when there’s no dissonance between these advanced new cerebral regions and the more primitive ones. ‘Selfish tendencies’ is a narrow intellectual interpretation of what self-serving behaviour entails wherein human characteristics are perceived through the flawed paradigm of identity instead of what we are, a momentary expression of an ever-changing unity with no centre.
The psychological consequences of this as a more objective belief system allow self-awareness without attachment to the imagined self and brings about dramatic increases in mental clarity, social conscience, self-regulation and what’s often described as being in the moment.
The common cultural belief has mostly been that we need a narrative to establish moral values. But with our current understandings of the emphatic and social nature of the brain, we understand that a purely scientific view with no attachment to our identity or 'story' yields a far more accurate, meaningful and ethical paradigm than our anecdotal values.
This is logical since our traditional tendency to define ourselves as imaginary individualistic constants neurally wires and designs the brain towards dysfunctional cognitive processes, such as labelling and the psychological need to impose expectations.
Before the click, practical labelling underpinned most forms of interaction in our daily lives. But by psychologically labelling the self as internal and the environment as external, we constrain our own neurochemical processes and experience a deluded disconnection. Growth and its evolutionary side-effects, such as happiness and fulfilment, are best stimulated when we are in line with what we are and emotionally aligning our core value with the love for logic is exactly what brings this about.
As described in step 4, strengthening our faith in logic alleviates the need for distraction or entertainment and creates cycles of socially constructive behaviour in our environment. Sociologists have established that phenomena such as obesity, smoking, emotions and ideas spread and ripple through society in much the same way that electric signals of neurons are transferred when their activity is synchronised. In a sense, we are a global network of neurochemical reactions and the self-amplifying cycle of valuing logic on a core level, sustained by the daily logical choices in our interactions, is a chain reaction that defines our collective ability to overcome most of our current challenges and approach life in the grand scheme of things.
Free Will & Quantum Mechanics
Through quantum mechanics, I have learned to see reality differently and approach all things as probabilities instead of certainties. In a mathematical sense, anything is possible. As well as in science as in our daily lives, the extent to which we can calculate or figure out probabilities is determined by our intellectual ability to recognise patterns. The less biased we are, the clearer we can identify patterns and base our actions on reasonable probabilities. Since it’s in our nature to deny ideas that do not fit into our current paradigm, the more attached we are to our beliefs, the less able we are to make conscious choices for ourselves. By observing this process, we can expand our awareness and free will.
It is said that wisdom comes with age, but with openness and scepticism, the key principles of the scientific method, we don’t need a lifetime of trial and error to sort out which of our convictions may be improbable. The question is not whether our beliefs are right or wrong, but whether or not being emotionally attached to them will benefit us.
The insights in this book are based on current research and just as much as our understanding of the world has changed throughout time, these insights and understandings that determine our actions can also change through time. With the Internet, it is easy to scrutinise the information presented. This is important as it keeps you adjusted to reality and allows you to calibrate towards the better version of yourself. I like this metaphor, because having your best self as a framework is a very practical and realistic measuring tool to compare yourself with. It is unique to each person without having to generalise what is best for people to do. Ideally, you want to align your actions with the best version of yourself at any time. It is better to define this best version based on scientific findings rather than emotional attachments. For example, if you don’t mind smoking, yet you know it is better for you not to, then it is logical to stop smoking. The same would apply to other habits you would consider to be bad. The extent to which you can overcome these bad habits will greatly define your personal growth and is a big part of step 4.
What Do I Genuinely Want?
When you strip your self from all the noise and replace your core value with logic, you achieve a state of clarity with little conflict that I could best describe as a choiceless awareness. What matters at that point is merely what is most logical to do and becomes similar for everyone. It may express itself differently from person to person but as the laws of physics are the same for all of us, they also equally underpin the processes of our biology. We are very alike and that is why applying reason to shared knowledge brings about similar action. In the end, what we really want comes down to understanding what we are. And most of these answers can be deduced from our biology. The urge to reproduce, for example, evolved into our need to find a partner. Figuring out how to connect our biological purpose to our actions is what matters. And since there is a clear line to be drawn from stardust evolving to us we just need to follow up on that to understand our design. It explains why we are here and is wired into every single cell. These are the same patterns that allowed stardust to ultimately question itself. When looking at these existential questions such as the meaning of life, we do so through our own subjective lens. We come up with personalised answers just as we come up with rationalisations to understand our emotions. But it is only by understanding logic that we look at ourselves from a bigger picture, a grander scheme, and we can really pinpoint the answers. Understanding this will bring about a clear and scientific moral compass with values that transcend esoteric and spiritual beliefs
If we apply logic and reason to our insights in order to determine our actions, choiceless awareness arises. You simply do what you have to do. This can sound confusing but when considering all the input that reality presents to us, determining the best course of action is a process that becomes very linear. Even when presented with different choices that are similar, choosing one rather than being stuck is more logical. These choiceless moments are already omnipresent in our life but we don’t experience them as such because we take them for granted. A mother taking care of her child for example, or having to go to the store. Our actions flow out of our mindset without being paralysed by the abundance of choice. Because if we look at things rationally and efficiently, much of the choices fade away. Acting upon our logical understanding of reality is a very simple mechanism we have lost track of, due to the overwhelming presence of distractions. You can see this with people in remote villages for example, who experience very little distractions as life is very simple to them. This then translates to more mental clarity and being in the moment.
Understanding the brain has been a big leap forward for humanity, however it takes time to propagate through society and to shape our psychological understandings of who we are. A lot of the insights in this book are based on recent studies and if it wasn’t for these, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Nurturing your brain to be able to put these insights into practice is vital. The mind-body relationship is an important stepping stone and knowing the importance of this relationship brings about quite some activities that you already can implement.
The Right Mindset
While it might not be clearly defined, when we take a moment to think about it, we all have subconscious core values that we feel most connected to. Core values differ from person to person and can range from freedom and family to money or religion. Since these subconscious beliefs define our actions, having a foundation that is solid and accurate will automatically result in more mental stability.
That is why having logic as your core value is the essence of this book, since reason is what gives us control over our otherwise impulsive decisions. Logic originates from the mathematical patterns that govern our reality and gives rise to the complex neural structures required for our thoughts and feelings to exist. Aligning our beliefs with these mathematical patterns creates a paradigm with little contradiction. All we need to do to reduce our inner conflict is to find out how to make sense of it within the context of our present reality.
On a fundamental level, realising that your beliefs are the ones that are flawed rather than you leads to a higher level of mental clarity and relief. All our fears and uncertainties suddenly become logical since we have the ability to explain them using neuroscience. Instead of creating dysfunctional beliefs or beating ourselves over our thoughts or emotions, we can come to acceptance or understand the causes behind the conflict.
This makes sense when we know that emotions emerge even before we are aware of them and only by applying reason to our knowledge we will be able to rewire neurally emotions in a more logical way, a process that takes time.
Defining the right mindset in a universal and accessible way has always been a big challenge for me. What has worked the best so far is boiling it down to four easy steps in which we adopt logic as our core value. This process must happen on a subconscious emotional level in order to replace the root of our current impulsive drive with an intuitive urge to be logical instead. This subconscious rewiring is within everyone’s ability and it has been the defining factor and common thread through all my achievements.
The Importance of Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of constructing arguments and counter-arguments. If you are not adept at rhetoric, you can more easily be intellectually subdued. If you talk to someone about a specific topic and the other person’s rhetoric is more advanced, you are likely to fall short of finding ways to counter the arguments. And even though questioning your beliefs is important, if it is not the insights or facts within the arguments that convince you but rather the rhetoric, it can lead to adopting flawed beliefs, certainly when logic is your core value. In the end, actions speak louder than words. As long as you are aware of this, you will prefer to lead by example rather than win a debate since it doesn't matter how hard you can theorise any point of view when you disconnect it from reality. Because the privilege to have these thoughts require a physical reality that allows you to do so and therefor having the ability to think is part of the premises to be able to build an argument. If your conclusions goes against that premise you are contradicting yourself. This is why your theoretical train of thought has to always make room for the practical reality if you don't want to contradict yourself.
What Questions to Ask
Most of the time, by asking ourselves the right questions, we unravel the underlying motives of why we ask ourselves the wrong questions. This is an important process because these questions plant the seed for many beliefs that will define how we act and look at the world. Combine this with our tendency to easily get emotionally invested in our beliefs and we can avoid a lot of dissonance by making sure we asked ourselves the right questions. When we’re young, we don’t have the intellectual capacity to challenge our conditioning. But as we grow up we can course-correct a lot of the flaws by asking the right questions. Sometimes that's all it takes, answers aren’t even needed.
Here is a personal example of a question that has been responsible for quite some inner conflict when I was younger: Why care about the world if every action is inherently selfish? With all my logic, I couldn’t find a satisfying answer up until a decade ago when I learned about the brain and understood that you have to define the concept of ‘self’ before talking about selfishness. And as already explained in the neuroscience chapters, everything we experience takes place in our consciousness and the ‘self’ encompasses more than just our flawed concepts of identity. While this entire train of thought started with a question that could have potentially led to the justification of egotistical behaviour, it should have started with me asking “What is the self?”.
This also relates to many of the existential questions we have such as whether there is life after death. An even more important question to ask first is: What is time? Does time even exist? Because if the flow of time would just be an illusion of consciousness, then there is little use to wonder about the afterlife. For all we know, everything might be taking place simultaneously in a timeless now and time is merely a byproduct of perception.
Being Efficient and Effective / Result-Oriented vs. Outcome-Dependent
Being result-oriented is important as it allows you to measure your efficiency. But as with everything in life, most of the time it comes down to random events. You can make the most calculated decisions and things can still turn out for the worse, and vice versa. You can play the lottery for example and win, thinking you did the right thing. But being outcome-dependent is a very different mindset than being result-oriented. Ultimately, the outcome shouldn’t matter and the only relevant factors are the knowledge at that point in time combined with our logic. We can learn things from an outcome such as how to optimise our workflow but it shouldn’t affect us emotionally. When I reflect and look back at my decisions, I won’t regret them if I did the best I could with the information available to me at that time. Being result-oriented rather than outcome-dependent allows you to achieve a very peaceful state of mind as it contributes tremendously towards mental stability and focus.
Evaluating your beliefs at all times is quite important as well. New research is being published all the time and there is no shame in improving your belief system to align it more with reality. As mentioned in the neuroscience chapters, we have the tendency of being emotionally attached to ideas, which limits our growth. There are studies about close to anything and doing research in the topics you deem important can greatly increase your effectiveness.
How to Have the Biggest Impact
Having the ‘biggest impact’ means different things to different people. Some may see their biggest possible impact as ensuring that their children grow up with more opportunities than they had themselves, others may think along the lines of eradicating polio or creating new technology that turns sewage sludge into clean drinking water. Despite all of this being relative, there is an effective common ground for how to go about achieving what we want. The more logical you are, the higher your chances of success and by systematically learning from your mistakes and from the knowledge at hand, you can greatly speed up the process in getting better results. There is always a chance that random events slow you down and that, if you would have done it differently and less effectively at the time, the outcome would have been better. But that kind of reasoning after the facts is like saying it would be better to play a bad starting hand in poker after you have seen the cards on the table. It all comes down to making the right decision with the information and odds you have at that given time.
Having the biggest impact for me means moving forward in the broadest sense of the word. The way I try to frame it is by understanding how stardust evolved and eventually gave rise to consciousness. While vague, it has a clear direction and points towards a rich future of ever-advancing technology. My actions are just my best guess at adapting myself to the challenges that are being thrown at me. While this is personal, the more general answer I give when people ask me how to have the biggest impact is to first put themselves in the best position to improve one’s mindset. Working out, eating healthily, taking the right supplements, meditating, proper sleep, putting yourself in an environment that stimulates you, reducing the mental clutter, then becoming financially independent and looking for like-minded people to make the biggest positive impact you can think of in relation to the situation you are in. For many, making a big difference in the world starts by becoming financially independent and your mindset is key in achieving this efficiently. After that, you will be in a better position to figure out what to do and how to put this into action. Having like-minded people in my environment has been essential to me. I know this feedback is a bit broad but since everyone’s situation is different, making my advice too specific would reduce the chances of it being applicable. You have to find the best way to combine these insights and apply them to your own reality.