Category Archives: Mental control

Shift up or shift down?

consistencyThe information in this category of the One in a Billion project can grant you the mental control required to consistently do all of those small things that we all know we really should be doing (but rarely actually do). This might not sound like much at first, but, as explained in a previous post, such consistent positive action really holds tremendous power. Gaining mental control can literally grant you perfect health, financial freedom, incredible productivity, great gains in life satisfaction, and the priceless peace of mind coming from the knowledge that you are living a truly sustainable life.

If you start to consistently do all those small things that contribute to health, wealth, happiness, productivity and sustainability you will really find increase-productivitythat life becomes one large benevolent cycle where gradual positive developments in these different areas start augmenting and amplifying each other. As you gain healthful energy, cast off self-made financial burdens, rapidly expand your skillset, free your true creative personality and decouple from the materialistic rat-race, you will find that your ability to produce value explodes while your desire to consume value shrivels away. Such great increases in your production/consumption ratio really hold tremendous power and bring us to the heading of this post: do you want to use this power to shift up or shift down?

Shifting up implies that you maintain or even increase your number of working hours, using your increased productivity to greatly increase your productive output. Shifting down implies that you use your financial freedom and reduced material dependency to reduce your working hours, thereby freeing up more time to actively improve the health and happiness of yourself and your family.

downshiftingBoth of these options can be highly rewarding and there is no right or wrong choice between them. Making this choice will depend only on whether you really want to make a lasting positive contribution to society (and are willing to make the sacrifices this entails) or whether you just want to live a long, happy and sustainable life within our affluent modern society. Again, both choices are good and both choices are highly rewarding.

Consciously making this choice and regularly envisioning the next checkpoint on this long journey to self-mastery can be highly motivational. Gaining mental control within our society where a large number of factors literally scream at you to just consume maximally and produce minimally can be very challenging (that is why such a large number of people are fat, broke, depressed and totally uninspired even within this time of unprecedented material affluence and opportunity). You will therefore need all the motivation you can get.

Stay tuned. The journey to mental control begins in the next post.

Filed under: Mental control – Introduction

The great culture shift

The purpose of this category in the One in a Billion project is simply to get people to consistently do the right thing. As discussed in the previous two posts (1, 2), we actually have a pretty good idea of what the right thing is – the problem is just that we cannot seem to get ourselves to put this knowledge into action with any kind of consistency…

So, let’s start at the very foundation: our cultural mindset. Currently, the predominent cultural mindset in western nations is one of consumerism and entitlement. This sounds pretty bad and will almost certainly trigger some automatic denial, but I can illustrate this with two simple American graphs (which are pretty representative of the developed world today).

us debt vs personal savings

entitlements-historical-tax-levels

These graphs pretty much speak for themselves and I won’t go into any further details in this post. For now, the point to be taken away from these graphs is simply this: our distinct lack of mental control is a direct consequence of this debilitating culture of consumerism and entitlement that has taken over the developed world.

OK, so how does that work? Well, our culture of consumerism and entitlement simply puts us in a consumptive mindset (entitlements are nothing other than government-sponsored consumption) which is the polar opposite of the mindset we want – a creative mindset.

habitsJust think about it for a moment: Virtually all of the things that we know we really should be doing more of (building and maintaining intelligent strategies for personal health and finances, consistently delivering quality work ahead of schedule, bringing more joy to the lives of the special people in our lives etc.) are creative in nature. But on the flipside, virtually everything that we know we really should be doing less of (over-eating, junk-food, smoking, excessive drinking, excessive TV-watching, excessive gaming and all manner of other bad habits) are consumptive in nature. See where I’m going with this?

Yep, it really is pretty obvious that our cultural mindset of consumerism and entitlement is the primary reason why we are fatter, deeper in debt and more depressed than ever before even in this time of unprecedented material abundance. And yes, the fundamental thing we need in order to get ourselves out of this hole is a new cultural mindset – one of contribution and personal responsibility.

We will talk a lot more about this new culture of contribution and personal responsibility throughout this category of the One in a Billion project. It really holds the key to successfully building and maintaining a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life.

Filed under: Mental control – Introduction

Human potential

I’m sure that you have often heard of this tremendous potential for greatness that resides within each of us. What do you think of these statements? Probably not much, right? Yep, such statements can easily devolve into overused cliches that no one pays much attention to.

However, if you just take a few moments to really think about it, you might feel a whole lot different about this great potential residing inside of you. Regardless of whether your aim is to be remembered as one of history’s great masters or just to live a long, happy and healthy life within the confines of planet Earth, a little bit of reasoning can quickly show that you have all the potential necessary to make it happen.

Violin practiceFor example, it’s often stated that it requires 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a skill (becoming a chess master, rock star, master chef etc.). Yes, 10,000 hours might sound like a lot, but if you take an average 80 year lifespan and assume that one third of that lifespan was used for sleeping, you’re left with 467,200 hours to actually get stuff done. So, theoretically, you have the potential to master almost 50 different skills within your lifetime. Not bad… So why is it then that most people have not yet truly mastered even a single skill? Is it because we lack the talent? Nope, it’s simply because we neglect to put in those 10,000 hours. 

But the ironic thing is that much of our potential is actually lost not through pure inaction (neglecting to put in the 10,000 hours), but through self-destructive actions that eat away at our long-term potential. The wide range of ways in which we routinely destroy our health and personal finances are the classic examples. Regardless of how much natural talent you have, if you are morbidly obese or saddled with mountains of unpayable debt, your potential takes a serious nose-dive.

Evolution-of-Obesity

So, in the final analysis, fulfilling our tremendous human potential really is as simple as consistently racking up those 10,000 hours while refraining from self-destructive habits. What could be easier? 😉

Well, if we were all robots, this really would be laughably easy, but unfortunately (or fortunately) we are not robots and getting ourselves to consistently take constructive action is a hell of a lot harder than simply pushing a few buttons on a machine. Yep, getting the human mind to consistently do that which is good and constructive is a pretty complex task and will be the central theme of this section in the One in a Billion project. But if we can get some more control over this amazing body/mind we have been blessed with, a lot of really cool things can happen…

Filed under: Mental control – Introduction

Mental control: The third cornerstone

So, finally we arrive at the third and final cornerstone of our apparently triangle shaped sustainable living fortress: mental control. The first two cornerstones; health and personal finances, were mostly based in hard science and economics which makes them quite straightforward to discuss, but this third cornerstone is based on much more abstract psychology, thus making it much harder to pin down.

By “mental control” I mean taking control of this amazing biological computer between your ears. This is very important simply because this biological computer controls all of your actions and your actions are solely responsible for shaping your destiny. Unfortunately, if you look around the world today, it is quite clear that the vast majority of people have no idea how to control this set of 100 billion neurons directly responsible for shaping their lives.

Let’s look at some examples:

Everyone knows that healthy diet and exercise will lead to good health and a slim and attractive body, but yet more than half of the adult population in the developed world is overweight and this trend is still rising rapidly.

Everyone knows that you can become financially secure by simply consistently spending less money than you earn and making use of the power of compounding, but yet the developed world today is one big debt crisis.

Most people are at least aware of the grave environmental problems bearing down on us, but yet the vast majority of people have never even calculated their carbon or ecological footprints.

The standard of living of those lucky enough to be born into the top 10-20% of the global population has risen tremendously over the past decade, but yet we are much more stressed and depressed and no happier than we were before.

Clearly something is very wrong with this picture. We know exactly how to attain vibrant health and financial security, but we just don’t follow through. We are aware of the biggest threat to our standard of living in the history of mankind, but we just don’t do anything about it. And we have lived through a time of unprecedented increases in material affluence without seeing any meaningful gains in true quality of life. How can this happen?

These are the issues we will tackle in this section. Indeed, you can know all the theory about health and personal finances discussed in the previous two sections and you can fully understand the multifaceted sustainability crisis bearing down on us, but if you cannot get yourself to act on this information it is completely and utterly useless. So, if I can summarize the goal of this section of the One in a Billion project it will be this: getting people to actually act on the guidelines for building a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life.

As Mark Twain said: “Actions speak loader than words, but not nearly as often.” Let’s get our actions to be a bit more talkative…

Filed under: Mental Control