Follow your dreams despite your “evidence” that you can’t

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By Neil A. Armstrong

Delusion is defined as “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder”. It is often described as the triumph of hope over experience, ie acting as if the world is a certain way despite evidence that it is not.

But there can be a problem with taking the opposite approach, ie problems with following a logical path driven by evidence. The issue is that our judgement of the evidence is not necessarily objective. …

A cycle of conscious focus followed by stepping back is the pathway to success

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We are always told that we need to be disciplined and focused on our goals in order to achieve success in life. That is true but sometimes a laser focus and rigid discipline can become an obstacle to progress. The key is to know when to focus and dig in and when to take a step back.

Truth means knowing when the pattern you’re seeing really exists

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Humans are very visual. We base our interactions with the world primarily on what we see. But there is a difference between truly seeing and merely looking.

Looking is the act of directing your eyes towards something. The image enters your eyes, hits your retina and is processed by the visual parts of your brain. However just because that physical process of vision is occurring doesn’t mean that you are taking in information about the outside world.

Seeing takes place when the data from this physical act of vision gets processed by your higher level functions. Looking starts to become seeing when you notice what you are looking at, when you begin applying your intelligence to what is coming in through your vision. …

Courage and Humility are the keys to success

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Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash

We do not always make the best choices. We often make decisions that thwart our desires or lead to outcomes that we would rather avoid. In particular our actions often stem from fear and pride rather than being driven by an objective view of what needs to be done in order to achieve our long term goals.

Fear arises from a misinterpretation of reality. There is an objective reality out there that we are trying to understand but we are getting it wrong. …

Our actual goal is to address our fear of the unknown, not to find the truth

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We can’t both be wrong

Humanity’s killer app is our intellect, our ability to analyze available data and make decisions based on that. At least that’s what it says in the brochure.

The reality is that we are not as far away from our caveman heritage as we would like to believe. Rather than arrive at conclusions from an objective view of the world we mostly make our decisions emotionally and then find the evidence to support it after the fact.

We are less objective scientists drawing conclusions from all the available data than we are lawyers selectively presenting facts to support a particular point of view. …

Not all motion is progress

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all mPhoto by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

We all want to achieve something in our lives.

Once we are able to maintain the basics of food, shelter, etc our natural human condition drives us to seek more.

What that means is different for each one of us but is likely some combination of personal goals, career goals, and external goals for our family, friends, and society.

The trouble is that while we often don’t have a clear idea of what we “really want” we also know that what we are currently doing is not it. …

Goodness isn’t a trait, it’s an achievement

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Photo by Adrià Crehuet Cano on Unsplash

By thinking of goodness as a measure of an inherent trait rather than the results of our actions we disconnect ourselves from reality and base our decisions on a fantasy world making it more difficult for us to achieve what we want out of life.

By instead focusing on actions, we allow our fundamental value as a person to become independent of our history of ignoble actions which in turn frees us to be able to take actions driven by our goals.

Morality isn’t theoretical

The biggest obstacle to living an effective life and making progress towards our goals and desires is the fact that we assume things but don’t actually check to make sure that our assumptions are valid. …

But you can change your pattern of decisions

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Photo by Matt Bowden on Unsplash

When we are not satisfied with our lives or where we are going, we want to make a change. Whatever we are doing hasn’t worked so we need to try something different.

If we have a modest amount of self-awareness we seek to make changes in ourselves. After all, where we are in life is generally due to the combinations of external circumstance and the decisions we have made.

By definition external circumstances are the part of our situation which we cannot control so the only thing that we can really do is change the pattern of our decisions. …

We only feel uncomfortable about what we really care about

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We are programmed by modern society to seek comfort.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that, asceticism with no goal is as much a pointless exercise in the egotism of denial as hedonism is in the egotism of plenty.

But seeking comfort is normal because discomfort is a precursor to pain and pain is a precursor to injury. So avoiding discomfort is a protective mechanism.

The trouble arises because we also feel discomfort when we do something new because new is unknown and our default setting is to mistrust the unknown.

Even if the unknown may be better, we are hardwired to assume that the unknown is worse than our present situation since being over-prepared is better than being under-prepared. We are already dealing with the devil we know. But the unknown could be a worse devil that we are not able to handle. …

The difference between a mistake and an adjustment is motion

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Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Often when we are trying to make a change in our lives it is because we want to achieve something big. After all, if it was something small and easy to do, we would be doing it already.

Significant goals are intimidating for the same reasons they are motivating. They usually stem from core internal motivators around the type of person we want to be as compared to the type of person we think we actually are. We want to be better but suspect we may not be able to. That tension is extremely stressful.

But while something that is fundamentally important to us is hard to ignore, we also find it hard to actually start working towards it precisely because it is important to us: failing would feel like proof that we cannot be better. That our inner monologue telling us to be safe in our rabbit holes, to not try, to just accept our crappy situation is seemingly correct. …


Andrew Patricio — Sentience > Intelligence — Being effective, ie getting the results you want, depends on clear thinking rather than brains.

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