What if I told you that you aren’t the one making your own decisions.
Ok, now there’s a whole argument concerning determinism and randomness along with the whole metaphysical and quantum definitions of consciousness, but aside from all of that — what if you (I mean the “you” that you perceive as ‘you’) weren’t the one making your decisions.
That initially wouldn’t make sense. It initially seems like you’re the one making your career decisions and your education choices, like you’re the one taking the most important decisions in your life — but the objective truth is that you’re actually not.
Brules and the Culturescape
“Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”
― Pursuit of Happiness
What are you doing right now? Are you happy doing it? Do you wake up every morning asking these questions to yourself or do you wake up, continuing to pursue the same monotonous routine, doing other things that you don’t like.
When I was in 7th grade, I would get up at 5am in the morning every day. I’d learn some rubik’s cube algorithms or build some origami models or study for some chemistry competition that I was super excited for. Regardless of what I’d do, I knew that I was the one in control.
Yet — as I moved into high school, I could feel that slowly start to slip away from me. That same feeling of bliss was replaced by a constant struggle to be at the top, to prove myself , to be the best that I could in front of other people.
A lot has changed for me in the past year, but I can consistently observe a similar phenomenon happens to other people my age. They seem passionless. All they talk about is that the statistics teacher was coughing too much, or that the math teacher is really bad. Once somebody mentions that they got an internship, the other kids crowd around and then everyone’s trying to find some way to compete, so that they can match the other person.
That’s when I realized that society is talking through the mouths and actions of these teenagers. It isn’t their choice to want to be on top, to be the most competitive student.
Every single one of us has so much potential and yet we constrain ourselves to what the culturescape defines us to be. It’s crazy. Everyone in my school get’s a particular tag attached to their name on what their specialty is. Once you start preparing for a biology competition, you become the “bio” person and once you apply to a math program, you become the “math” person.
Once I was sitting at my lunch table, and I was talking to one of my friends about how I had replicated a machine learning algorithm that does generative drug design and gave a weird look back towards me: “What does that have to do with chemistry. I thought you were the ‘chemistry’ person?”
Sometimes it’s more implicit than what you might see in a competitive high school, but it’s definitely true that each of us constrains ourselves to what we think society sees us as.
The rich stays rich and the poor stay poor. The “smart” stay “smart” and the “dumb” stay “dumb.” Using Naveen Jain’s terminology from Moonshots, we’re acting out of a mindset of scarity, not one of abundance. We act as though there’s a lack of potential, a lack of resources.
Yet, the honest truth is that a 6th grader can learn machine learning and completely understand it, online, for free.
Ok. So now you know that you aren’t defined by the rules and the identity that society prescribes towards you. How do you realize your potential and define for yourself who you actually are?
There are three main ways to do this
- Habits and Blissipline
- Creative Visualization
There’s a whole science around habits but one think that Vishen touched on that has changed the way that I approached habits is creating “set points.”
For example, say that your goal is to wake up at 6 am. Say that one day you get up at 7am. What many people do is beat themselves up, pushing themselves into a negative feedback loop which never ends and causes regression rather than progression (I believe that this is based on another brule in society that progress must be the in the form of constant linearity as opposed to
The set point and correction mechanism allow you to work your way back towards your goal if you slip by setting and immediate goal that is slightly more ambitious than the set point. For example, if your goal is to get up at 6am, but then you get up at 6:30, then the next day you should aim to get up at 5:45am.
This concept is crazy and is probably one of the most actionable items that you can take away from this article.
What if I told you that visualizing, and I mean purely visualizing positive images of your future with your eyes closed, could actually make positive change in your life.
I first saw examples of this in James Doty’s book Into the Magic Shop. If you aren’t familiar with a book, Professor Doty is a professor at Stanford university who has devoted his life to studying the science of meditation and compassion.
But he didn’t start out in the best of best situations. Born into poverty in a not so peaceful household, he was able to rise up and go to medschool, become an entrepreneur, and take the reins in on his own life.
He attributes the miracles that happened in his life and his ability to get through financial and societal barriers to his creative visualization and meditation.
Creative visualization is nothing but visualizing your goals, aspirations, and dreams for the near or longer term future. This technique allows you to transcend brules because it shows you who you really are and who you want to be, regardless of what you don’t know about yourself.
6 Phase Meditation
This is one of Vishen’s techniques that has changed my life over the past couple of weeks. It’s more of a creative visualization technique than so-called “meditation,” but it works nonetheless.
The six phases are…
- Visualizing your perfect
- Visualizing certain aspects of your future
- Blessing (supernatural power or religious figure)
Here is a recording to the meditation.
My Journey So Far
I’m a 16 year old who wants to make a positive impact on the world. This year, I’ve raised the bar for myself and exceeded by far what I thought was my potential initially. But the journey so far in no way hasn’t been fraught with confusion.
I’ve realized that the things that are holding me back are…
- I’m doubting myself and compare myself to others
- I tie results and my work to who I am
Following the techniques that I’ve outlined have helped me so much. There’s still a ways for me to go, but reading the Code of the Extraordinary Mind has helped me accelerate myself on my journey to self growth.
If you’d like to discuss any of the topics above, I’d love to get in touch with you (Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on LinkedIn) Also feel free to check out my website at mukundhmurthy.com.
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