A cheetah may be able to run much faster than any of us can, but find the animal that can fly from New York to London in one day.
What separates us from other animals is that we leverage our surroundings to give us an advantage. We took the nebulous concept of flying and broke it down into its components: gravity, lift, speed, and we did something previously unthinkable. We fly. Orville and Wilbur made us superhuman.
Now, that example may seem obvious but there is another obvious opportunity that we’re ignoring. What is more nebulous than the mind, the way that we operate, the way that you or I feel and behave? Why do we do what we do? Why was I so motivated yesterday? and why do I feel useless today? Most of us only have the vaguest of an idea and yet we expect to operate at full efficiency, to be fulfilled, to enjoy our lives, to be happy, to be successful. We leave it to our subconscious, to our feelings. That’s as if the Wright brothers had collected all of the materials for a flying machine, held them in their arms, and jumped off a cliff hoping to fly. Which, coincidentally, a lot of people did in the 19th century. Looking back now, not such a good idea.
Lucky for us, a solution is in sight! Lets do a little self-analysis, figure out how the mind works. The most effective, the happiest, of us are already going in the right direction. At a basic level most of us know that working on an empty stomach or with minimal sleep isn’t very good. Many of us know that spending time with loved ones will improve our mood. Some of us even know eating well and being active improves our body function. However, none of us know specifically what actions or experiences will make us better, more effective, and happier.
Before we tackle that simple little question, lets take a step back and think about the mind. How does it process information? How does the mind change? Fundamentally we are going through experiences, seeing things, interacting with people, hearing sounds. Then, drawing on “past knowledge” the mind processes the experience and reacts with a certain action. Later, both consciously and subconsciously, we see the result. All this information is then stored back in “past knowledge” and maybe next time we’ll react differently to the same situation. That part is easy. The tough part is describing with specificity how all those pieces affect each other? How do specific moments affect the way the mind reacts to different ones in the future?
Now you may be thinking: “I know that watching a movie relaxes me!” Ok, but not always, and rather than listing things that relax you can you describe all the types of things that relax you? “I know that walking through Times Square is unnerving” but can you describe everything that unnerves you? Do you know all the different ways you can react to an experience? More importantly: Do you know how watching movies affects the way you react later to seemingly unrelated events? Now we’re back to the original question: How do ALL experiences affect us? and we can break it into several parts:
- What are we conscious of? (Short term memory)
- What have we experienced? (Long term memory)
- What is my biology? (Genetics)
- How does what we experience trigger memory? (physical and mental)? (i.e. Intelligence and the intersection of 1, 2, and 3)
By answering these four questions about one person in their entirety, we would have a complete and specific picture of that person’s mind. We need this, how can we improve if we don’t know who we are? or if we don’t even know what to improve? Our current strategy is very similar to banging on a broken TV and hoping it will work again.
Why should we care? If we can develop a systematic model for how the mind works we can supercharge everyone. We can examine why successful people rise above everyone else and we can implement our findings into a vastly more effective method of teaching our children. The possibilities are endless, the implications are profound, but luckily, the questions are simple:
- What are behaviors?
- How are they caused?
- What are bad behaviors?
- How do we reverse them?
- What are good behaviors?
- How do we teach them?
Even better than having simple questions is having questions that are already answered, and that’s what we have here! These questions have been studied for thousands of years and the body of knowledge is vast. My vision is to bring all of this knowledge together, to make it popular, to make it easy, to make it necessary. To make it simple for anyone to be effective, the same way many of us don’t worry about feeding ourselves on a daily basis, I want to make it easy and effortless to be smart, to execute, to have amazing ideas, to be fulfilled, to be successful. Then we can all focus on the bigger issues: hunger, science, the universe, where did we come from, where we are going.
I challenge the world to join me in taking this epic journey and super-charge the human race.
I speak more about these changes here.