As I stride purposefully around my life in my tailored clothes, a handsome, physically imposing specimen (you’ve got to blow your trumpet, in case no-one else does!), you’d perhaps not think if you caught sight of me, but I’m a more than a bit of a geek, especially when it comes to my thought processes. I was always top of the class in Maths, Physics and Computing at school, and indeed I’ve ended up in a lucrative career as a software developer. Development, by its very nature, involves a lot of complex problem solving, which is best approached by breaking down something into its constituent parts and developing some kind of model to represent it.
My obsession in latter years has been making myself the single best version of myself that I can be. I’m pursuing myriad self improvement activities, but I always feel there is a bit more I can be doing. This year has seen a large number of changes in the way I think and approach life already, chiefly since I freed myself from the mentally debilitating influence of alcohol, and has accelerated since undertaking CBT.
As such, it has occurred to me that it is of some benefit if I develop a model that will help me understand the processes involved, and identify any areas of improvement I can make, towards my ultimate goal of self fulfilment. And possible global domination.
I’m tending more recently towards the meta analysis of my own mind and processes of consciousness, moods, and generally what we in the industry would refer to as “state”, and how to maximally maintain an optimal level of it, such that I am at my most sociable and confident as much of the time as possible, and therefore at my most effective in all walks of life. Especially chatting up models.
I’ve begun to view my brain (and moreso my life as a whole) as a complex machine comprised of a vast number of inputs, and a corresponding smaller number of outputs (which taken together could be said to define state).
Examples of input to my brain could include:
- how much sleep I get
- what, when and how much I eat
- how much I exercise
- what shape I am in generally
- what “extra-curricular” activities I undertake (such as classes, travel, hobbies)
- what supplements I take
- with whom and how often I socialise
- how much money I have
- where I live
- how successful I currently am with women
- what opportunities I have in my life
Whilst some example outputs are:
- level of confidence
- level of sociability
These inputs and outputs exist in a simple causal relationship.
- One or more inputs combine together to form a given output
- One or more outputs, combined with other outputs or inputs, in themselves become part of a further, higher order causal relationship
- Any given step in the chain cannot exist without the necessary prerequisites of lower order inputs
- At the top of the causality chain could be said to be a level of state “mastery”, of being in the best, most confident, most sociable mood possible all of the time
Outputs can be both positive and negative, based on the given combination of inputs. Simple examples:
At a basic level, these inputs and outputs can be thought of as a hierarchical model, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Each level on the pyramid cannot exist without the prerequisites of the level beneath. Since we in the Western world are by and large are fortunate enough to have our basic physical needs such as safety, food and shelter met easily, it is possible to ignore the bottom 2 levels of Maslow’s entirely, and indeed most of us as adults reading this will have our shit together enough that level 3 shouldn’t be much of a concern.
A simple hierarchical model is not sufficient to model the interactions between inputs and outputs however. Feedback mechanisms exist for instance, in which a given output can become an input to an earlier step in either its own or a completely different chain of causation.
A given feedback loop may require certain discrete inputs in order to start it going, and provided these inputs are maintained, the loop can exist indefinitely.
Simplified examples of this would be:
Loops, once established, can keep running indefinitely provided the prior inputs into the chain of causality are maintained. Alternatively an input could be removed and cause it to become disrupted.
In the case of positive feedback loops, cycle disruption is likely occur due to complacency creeping in, and the cessation of activities/inputs which caused the positive loop to be established in the first place. Imagine the case of the positive feedback loop shown above – if either of the prerequisite inputs are removed, the loop collapses and progress is halted.
Negative loops can be disrupted by taking affirmative personal action to cut out negative influences/inputs. By looking at the example above, it can be seen that by getting good with girls, and getting in shape, low self esteem is eradicated and the impulse to drink alcohol is removed, breaking the loop. Or the alcohol itself can be directly removed from the loop, breaking the cycle.
These are of course grossly simplified. In actual fact, the negative feedback case above is actually quite interesting – it’s completely self perpetuating. Even if you get good with girls, and get in shape, but carry on drinking every week, the alcohol induced depression will keep the low self-esteem alive long after it should have gone, and ensure the compulsion to carry on drinking remains.
Now this might all seem obvious on the face of it – and indeed you’d be right in thinking so – but the sheer amount of people who I meet who are totally incapable of recognising that the very “inputs” which they are actively choosing to feed into their lives are what is causing them to have completely unfulfilling and unsatisfactory existences, consequently failing to reach their full potential, causes me great dismay. “Keep the positive, cut out the negative” is a great mantra, but somewhat nebulous without specifics.
It is my belief that I can create an all-encompassing “model for success” which encompasses all of the factors that go into creating a successful, confident, masculine, socially dominant individual. Perhaps someone else may also find some value in this.
By way of illustrating a more complex example, I’ve taken a single one of the example brain inputs I listed at the start of the post – being in good shape – and attempted to extrapolate the chain of causality which creates this factor, which itself is an input to many other chains.
As you can see, the complex web of contributing factors that goes into creating the positive feedback loop by which we can continuously gain size and strength is quite large. If any one of the contributing inputs breaks down, it won’t be long before the loop is disrupted and progress is halted. The importance of correct technique is also highlighted clearly, it subsequently contributing to two further inputs.
And it all stems from the single most important factor when approaching anything that you wish to be successful at – a methodical mindset. I could have expanded this further, but it serves for now.
At some point in the future, I’m going to attempt to draw a diagram (which will probably end up looking like spaghetti) of the relationship between all the inputs and outputs I can currently conceive of that exist in my life, along with any feedback loops, positive or negative, which I can recognise. Being brutally honest with myself is vital to this exercise, or else the model will not be accurate, and not of any use.
And with that, I’m going to end this extremely geeky diversion into the realms of mental masturbation and go watch some shit TV with my parents, before heading out tomorrow night and unleashing myself on some unsuspecting, but lucky, lucky women.
Cheers all, have a good Easter!