Another post, another weird heading. For those who are frowning quite deeply right now, please allow me to recap: In a previous post, we saw that the brain naturally blows up the potential pain or pleasure that might come from any given future event, something I like to call “mythical utopias” or “artificial hells”. This primitive human drive towards instant pleasure and away from instant pain has a profound (and often destructive) influence on our actions and, as discussed in the preceding post, the aim of the next few posts will be to harness this power for good.
We also saw in the introduction to the mental control category that the amazing power available to anyone taking more complete control over his/her body/mind can be applied in two ways: shifting up or shifting down. Shifting up implies that you use your greatly increased productivity to increase your productive outputs, thereby making great contributions to society. Shifting down implies that you decouple from the materialistic rat-race to decrease your working hours (and your consumption) and devote more time and energy to ensuring the lasting health and happiness of yourself and your loved ones.
This particular post will explore ways in which we can manipulate our instinctive drive towards instant pleasure in order to shift up our production and make great contributions to society. You may not believe it at first, but I think that it is safe to say that the majority of the world’s progress is due to this kind of mythical utopia manipulation. In the personal development literature, the state I’m referring to here is often called a “healthy obsession”.
A healthy obsession is a state in which your mind automatically returns again and again to a specific problem or idea that, if solved or further developed, can be of great value to society. The greatest thinkers in history – people like Einstein, Newton, Tesla, da Vinci and Edison – have all tapped into the power of their healthy obsessions to work ridiculous hours for years on end in order to create the amazing material comforts we take so much for granted today.
A healthy obsession occurs when your mind naturally links great amounts of instant pleasure to productive actions. To give a simple example: it is safe to say that Thomas Edison linked at least the same amount of pleasure to the act of experimenting with thousands of different concepts for generating light from electricity in his lab as a normal person would link to watching a good movie with a big bowl of chips on his lap. People spending most of their time in front of the TV with a bowl of chips end up as broke and obese, while people spending most of their time chasing their dream in the lab end up revolutionizing the world. That is the power of a healthy obsession.
So, the next question is therefore quite obvious: how do I get myself one of these healthy obsessions? From my experience, this can be done by leveraging the fact that, as discussed in a previous post, free creative expression is one of the most direct routes to happiness. Because of this clear link between creative expression and happiness, creative work can easily develop into a self-strengthening spiral.
Setting up such a self-strengthening spiral of free creative expression will be the topic of part II of this post.
Filed under: Mental control – Intermediate control