I have given a lot of thought this year to my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions but unlike past years, I can’t seem to come up with anything in particular that I would like to commit to.
I am realizing that I just want to do my best. But I am having trouble translating this into something worthwhile. First of all, what does it mean to do my best? When we say “do your best!” what are we trying to say? Perhaps we are really trying to say be your best?
But even when I look at the intention it seems to suggest that something within me is in control, a volitional character that is either lazily dreaming away existence, or is actively engaged in life.
The problem with this view is that it centralizes the notion of ME, into a specific aspect, bound by space and time into a finite location.
ME is as much my body and my perspective as my ability to WILL something to happen. In addition I have a narrative self that embeds me in a story, and I have a social self that is embedded in the societal structure.
All these aspects are all refracted and reflected like a diamond in the light. Meanwhile the world keeps turning and things are simply HAPPENING all around, up, down, within, without...
Trying to reduce myself into any of these aspects, specific goals mind, will inevitably limit my potential to the limits of that particular aspect.
The world is limitless, beyond any specific pattern - and if we are to live in this world we must grow in all directions, ignoring nothing, accepting everything - to become truthful.
How are we to live in a decentralized way?
This is the general form of the question followers of the Silver Rule must always keep in mind: Living nonviolently, without a worldview of opposition and conflict - to become loving.
If this or that part tries to control another part, another aspect of you, conflict will ensue - violence is never the answer to bring reality to consensus - to become powerful.
Living with these fundamental values we do not need to adopt a particular viewpoint or identification. Like a starlit mountain in the distance, whoever, wherever, whatever we are, we can climb and reach for the stars, without setting limitations on how or why.
The World is Changing
The world is changing rapidly and presents a challenge to adhere to our values. Unless we keep an open spirit and heart we will begin to ignore, hate or feel powerless in the face of aspects of reality that we are unable to accept, like or control.
Science and Information-technology is changing the very fabric of earthly existence for humans, and there is no turning back. And while global violence is decreasing, existential risks are on the rise as individuals powered by technology can have worldwide influence.
Old concepts, institutions and structures are trembling in the hot mess of advancing science and technological growth. Ideas go through the 6 D’s in a matter of a decade: Digitalization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization.
The time from our imagined idea to its realization is shrinking causing each idea, theory, product, service and skill to become outdated quicker than ever. Those who cling on to frameworks and conceptual thinking will inevitably feel a conflict with reality.
Flow and Meditation
The only solution is to find ways to truly live the fundamental values in a way that constantly revives them, constantly updates them, is refreshing life - constantly being reborn in each moment. Luckily this kind of living is gaining ground as a real alternative to normal living.
With the convergence of high performance studies, psychedelic research and spiritual education, we begin to see the outline of a new type of human flourishing, that is not based on running conceptual marathons, but rely on outgrowing ego-based conceptual thinking, to integrate all our fundamental values in a motivated, free flow of truth, love and power.
Below I outline the basic triggers of flow to get you started. If you are curious about how psychedelic research and spiritual education aligns with these triggers, see this post.
The 17 Triggers of Flow
Recently Steven Kotler in his 2015 book The Rise of Superman has taken up the ideas of Csikszentmihalyi. While Csikszentmihalyi held that there were 9 components to achieving flow, Steven Kotler has expanded this list to 17, broken down into psychological (4), environmental (3), social (9), and creative (1) triggers.
1. Intensely Focused Attention
Producing flow requires long periods of uninterrupted concentration. Deep focus. This means multi-tasking is out. Open office plans as well. Flow demands singular tasks and it demands solitude.
2. Clear Goals
Know what you're doing and why you're doing it - that's the point. When goals are clear, the mind doesn't wonder what it has to do next, it already knows. Our focus can stay pinned to the present moment and the present action.
3. Immediate Feedback
As a focusing mechanism, immediate feedback is something of an extension of clear goals. Clear goals tell us what we're doing; immediate feedback tells us how to do it better.
4. The Challenge/Skills Ratio
Flow exists near (but not on) the mid-line between boredom and anxiety. If the task is too dull, attention disengages and action and awareness cannot merge. If the task is too hard, fear starts to spike, and we begin looking for ways to extricate ourselves from the situation.
5. High Consequences
When there's danger lurking in the environment, we don't need to concentrate extra hard to drive focus, because the elevated risk levels do the job for us.
6. Rich Environment
A rich environment means an environment with lots of novelty, unpredictability and complexity - three things that catch and focus our attention much like risk.
7. Deep Embodiment
Deep embodiment is paying attention to multiple sensory streams at once. When we capture multiple senses at once it drives attention into the now.
8. Serious Concentration
Groups need to be focused on the task at hand with maximum attention to the here and now, blocked off from other distractions.
9. Shared, Clear Goals
Groups need to be clear about what their collective goal is in order for flow to happen. The goal must provide enough focus so team members can tell when they are close to a solution, but open enough for creativity to exist.
10. Good Communication
Constant communication is necessary for group flow. Listen closely to what is being said, accept it, and build upon it. Nothing blocks flow more than ignoring or negating a group member.
The group has a common language, a shared knowledge base and a communication style based on unspoken understandings. It means everybody is always on the same page, and, when novel insights arise, momentum is not lost due to the need for lengthy explanation.
12. Equal Participation (and Skill Level)
Flow is most likely to happen in a group setting when all participants have an equal role in the project. For this reason, all members should have similar skill levels.
The potential for failure. Innovation and frequent failure go hand in hand. There is no creativity without failure, and there's no group flow without the risk of failure. Mental, physical, creative, whatever - the group has to have some skin in the game to produce flow.
14. Sense of Control
Combines autonomy (being free to do what you want) and competence (being good at what you do). It's about getting to choose your own challenges and having the necessary skills to surmount them.
15. Close Listening
We're fully engaged in the here and now. In conversation it isn't thinking about what witty thing to say next, or what cutting sarcasm came last. Rather, it's generating real time, unplanned responses to the dialogue as it unfolds. Innovation is blocked when one or more participants already has a preconceived idea of what the person is going to say, or how to get to a goal.
16. Always Say Yes
This means interactions should be additive more than argumentative. The goal is the momentum, togetherness, and innovation that comes form amplifying each other's ideas and actions.
Pattern recognition is the brain's ability to synthesize and link new ideas together, while risk-raking is the courage to bring those new ideas into the world. Both of these aspects of creativity are important flow triggers.
If we take to heart a way of living that is constantly growing, without goal or limit, when we play the infinite game of life, expanding into a widening expanse of freedom, we are living in abundance, in joy, and in a mode where what we are is always transcending its own limits.
Be Bold in 2017
I will leave you with Peter's Laws - The Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind. These playful laws highlight that we should be optimistic about the future and bold in the face of exponential technologies to realize our unlimited potential for growth. Enjoy!
1. If anything can go wrong, fix it! (To hell with Murphy!)
2. When given a choice - take both!
3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
4. Start at the top, then work your way up.
5. Do it by the book... but be the author!
6. When forced to compromise, ask for more.
7. If you can't win, change the rules.
8. If you can't change the rules, ignore them.
9. Perfection is not optional.
10. When faced without a challenge - make one.
11. No simply means begin one level higher.
12. Don't walk when you can run.
13. When in doubt: THINK!
14. Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.
15. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
16. The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
17. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.
18. The ratio of something to nothing is infinite.
19. You get what you incentivize.
20. If you think it is impossible, then it is for you.
21. An expert is someone who can tell you exactly how something can't be done.
22. The day before something is a breakthrough, it's a crazy idea.
23. If it was easy, it would have been done already.
24. Without a target you'll miss it every time.
25. Fail early, fail often, fail forward!
26. If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.
27. The world's most precious resource is the persistent and passionate human mind.
28. Bureaucracy is an obstacle to be conquered with persistence, confidence and a bulldozer when necessary.
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