How to Find Yourself

The art of finding one’s self is not so much constructing a statue, but pulling off a series of overlapping masks. Exhuming a soul from the wreckage of child hood traumas, social and cultural mandates, as well as institutionally imposed fears and expectations, is no easy task.

It is an impossible task if approached in the wrong way. Inaccurate conceptualizations regarding authenticity render any attempts at self-discovery counter intuitive. Instead of mining for precious ore, you will be adding stone to the dig site, making future attempts even more difficult and daunting.

Your truest self is that which exists independent of social and societal enforcements and selects which of those enforcements is good and proper for creating a sustainable and healthy mode of being for one’s self and the society as a whole.

This will be frightening news to many: In order to be worthy of knowing yourself, you must cultivate shrewd critical thinking skills and accurate mental models of how complex systems can function harmoniously. We are all complex systems ourselves, as well as cellular components of larger, nested systems.

No man is an island, and thus one does not discover the authentic self by merely exploring what is bounded by the shore. To actually know and island, to understand how it was formed, how it will degrade, and how it functions, the ocean and the earth must also be understood.

But what of the individual voice?

The individual voice is what speaks when you are not thinking, and not motivated to speak by institutional or social pressures.

It is not whatever chatter sounds in your mind, any more than a musician’s most authentic song would be random finger tappings on a violin.

Perhaps a few of those random taps would form the basis of a melody, which could later be refined into a song. The authentic self is what selects the good and the beautiful out of an infinite amount of possible choices.

It is what creates.

It is what edits.

And it comes to be known by a process of self-sorting; the wheat from the chaff, beautiful from ugly, noble from evil.

But it cannot be known without a correct knowledge of the world outside the self.

Equality is Evil

Metanoia Inc.

The surface of a liquid only becomes flat when there ceases to be energetic motion upward or downward. This is called stagnation.

Blades of grass are only equal in length once they have been cut down by a lawn mower. The pleasant smell is their chemical cry for help, the beginning of a desperate effort to recover from the injury.

Human beings are equal at no point during their lifetime, save the end. The fastest sperm wins. Our species survival is contingent on this race. The failures of the slower are precious gifts to posterity. But if equity is the benevolent principle of organization, then let us apply it. Weights for the fastest sperm, jets for the slowest. But what abominations would be made from that billion strong stalemate?

But no, they say, you go to extremes. Your strawman is ridiculous. We wish only that the sperm would begin at…

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What is Self-Esteem?

Most negative conditions in life, both psychological and external, can be traced back to one underlying cause:

A lack of self-esteem.

Whole sectors of the modern economy rely on this lack and play off the powerful addictions and drives we seek to fulfill by the acquiring of goods that denote status and temporarily bolster pride.

Many books are written about how to acquire self-esteem, talking about it as if it were simply a set of beliefs one can acquire by proper internal manipulation.

But self-esteem is not the inevitable outcome of positive beliefs.

It is part of our rewards system, the most integral, least hedonistic part, that grants us joy and lasting confidence, not in return for mindless pleasures and dopamine triggers, but for virtuous action.

Lack of self-esteem is what you get when your behaviors and thought patterns do not live up to your unconscious standards of the proper and good.

Many people, in an attempt to escape from their own standards, drop those standards and thus gain the illusion of self-esteem. This is a difficult hole to come out of because once you reject your own standards and accept the improper behavior, you lose sight of what was meant to guide the course of your life.

This is why low self-esteem leads to deep bouts of hopelessness and bottomless depression. Because if you lose sight of those standards, that higher guiding force within your psyche, the future does indeed become a dark place.

It is also why to have high self-esteem is to be largely optimistic, because if you submit to your own standards, your life will proceed as is best for your capabilities and desires. A positive projection of the future will be appropriate to your conduct because your conduct will align with your goals.

Self-esteem is directly correlated with the size of the divide between you and your goals. The farther away you are from that conduct which would eventually accomplish your goals, the lower your self-esteem will be.

Self-esteem is a reward, not a treasure to dig up out of your psyche or something to be granted via the acquisition of high-status objects and environments.

 

How to Spread Ideas

Ideas are viral and subject to many of the same rules as any other organism existing in a selective Universe. The primary rule of this selective process being that “Success” as it can best be defined for Organic systems, belongs not to the good, moral, or even the strong.

Success belongs to those ideas which by their very internal structure demand to be replicated and spread to other minds.

“No one should ever know what I think”

Isn’t a Viral idea in the slightest, because those who actually follow its message become unable to spread it to anyone else. No wonder very few people submit to this idea, and even fewer ever discuss it.

Now, an Idea such as:

“The human race will only avoid destruction if drastic action is taken to combat climate change”

is incredibly Viral, because it implies that humans(the viral host) will cease to exist unless the idea itself is shared and spread throughout the minds of millions.

It is fascinating to observe how many great ideas sets gain almost no ground in our culture, precisely because they contain no internal compulsion to spread the idea around to as many people as possible.

The most viral ideas imply rules and behaviors in their hosts that make even the uninfected more susceptible to infection. This effect compounds the more people come into contact with the idea, and so it spreads faster and faster until the pool of hosts is completely saturated. This phenomenon is well demonstrated by the spread of Christianity in medieval Europe. The more popular it became, the less secular thought seemed viable or shareable whatsoever.

This viral principle is consciously and unconsciously used by every authority and nearly every person who wishes to transform the beliefs and behaviors of others into something more similar to themselves and their ideal.

Is it distressing to know that morality and quality have no direct relationship with the effectiveness of an idea?

Or can we use this knowledge to mold great ideas into forms more accessible and shareable amongst the individual minds that make up collective culture?

The answers to those are of course, yes, and yes. But actually designing ideas so that they spread is incredibly difficult.

When was the last time someone unknown created a piece of viral internet content on purpose?

Manufacturing virality is challenging, but understanding how these forces play upon our psyche may help us to resist what would otherwise infect us, and forever alter our thinking.

 

The Power of a Paradigm Shift

Mind your paradigms.

It’s incredible the degree to which our behaviors are unconscious and totally determined by belief structures we don’t question or even consciously notice.

Paradigms are the lens through which we view the world.

But how can you notice a lens?

You probably can’t. But you can notice the places where it’s smudged or cracked.

Failure to achieve desired results are the clearest sign of a limiting, broken paradigm. Our unconscious minds want us to keep a limited paradigm. Our DNA wants to follow the path of least resistance, conserve energy, and reproduce. Nothing more.

In many ways, the basic drives of our DNA are sociopathic. They don’t care about charity, kindness, love, except in so far as they get us the things we need for survival and reproduction.

But our consciousness can rise above all that, and set a paradigm that beats the default behaviors assigned to us by our selfish DNA.

This is a choice we are presented with. A difficult choice, and a choice it takes effort even to perceive. But it is clear that everyone falls somewhere on a spectrum of paradigms, ranging from that of a Murderer to that of a Saint.

The former has fallen into a downward spiral, falling farther and farther down into a paradigm where all that matters is the immediate fulfillment of impulsive drives.

The latter forgoes immediate fulfillment in exchange for a continued commitment to the bettering of their environment, often at the expense of their own pleasure and profit.

Few of us exist at either of those two poles, but rather somewhere in the middle. We often swing wildly between moments of great joy and generosity and animalistic hunger or self-obsession. Take notice of what triggers these swings. It will be to your benefit, and the benefit of others to elevate your paradigm. So many of the problems we face are self-generated, due to a limited and unsustainable set of beliefs about what we need and what the Universe owes us.

It owes you nothing.

You owe it everything.

But luckily, if you are a microcosm of a system, anything that is to the benefit of the system, is a benefit to you.

Equality is Evil II

I’ve spoken before about the concept of “equality” as the desired end state for a system, whether it be in a school or human society as a whole.

But what precedent is there in nature for equality as a beneficial end state for a system, wherein the individual components of that system all benefit?

Take space. We call it such because it is unfathomably empty but for a relatively minuscule amount of massive objects. Neutron stars are so densely packed that a single teaspoon taken from their surface would weigh several tons. We may consider them the “greedy billionaires” of space. From any given neutron star there might be millions of light years of emptiness.

And what if matter, as energy, were equally distributed throughout the cosmos?

That, my dear friends, is known as the heat death of the Universe. Entropy. No life, no difference in distributions, and strangely enough…no diversity, the very thing which so many champions of equality label an intrinsic good.

Such a clear, catastrophic contradiction in values betrays the “equality as ideal end state” as nothing more than an emotional longing.

Longing for what?

For those who have more than you to have less and you to have more than you currently do.

I think most would regard that as the mindset of a thief, not a hero.

 

 

Progressive Regression

What is evil?

Functionally, it tends to be that which we align ourselves against in terms of both our identity and responsibility.

We act as though evil is that which we are incapable of doing, and in no way responsible for making manifest in the world.

But of course, that’s not what evil really is. 

Evil is the initiation of force or deceit against others in pursuit of one’s own benefit.

Quite simple, really. The difficulty is in determining what constitutes deceit and the initiation of force. Recently, the belief that words themselves can be considered initiations of force has come into vogue. The names we call each other has for many eclipsed in importance the ways in which we behave. Justice has been perverted into a righteous euphemism for revenge.

Evil has become more a label for people, especially collective groups of people, more than it is a structured way of defining actions.

The result of such linguistic perversion is the current state of affairs, where political belief and cultural identity is considered the paramount marker for how someone ought to be regarded and treated.

Perhaps that is why a rather menacing word has come to describe the cultural climate in our modern era: Regressive. 

Nothing can be regressive without being destructive, and there is perhaps no greater sign of evil than a seemingly unstoppable, angry, unthinking, destructive force.

How can such a force be stopped?

By a sober consideration of what actually constitutes evil, and what principles if sustained for decades and centuries will lead to lasting progress. Angry mobs do not build great civilizations.

Angry mobs do not build great civilizations. They only tear them down.

Evil people never evaluate their individual actions on a moral basis. They only align themselves against an enemy and thus justify any opposing behavior. Beware of forming such an identity. It can easily land you on either unfortunate side of the torches and pitchforks.