Preservation Traps

My whole thinking and writing is based around the idea that one can better oneself and others.
Through adoption of different mindsets and different habits, one can have a better life and help others have a better life.

So, a really interesting question to me is: Why is it so hard for people to change?

Most people stay the same. Most overweight people, will stay overweight for the rest of their lives. The one fat guy who becomes a marathon runner is an exception, clearly not the rule. The same goes for smokers, alcoholics, homeless people, poor people, lazy people, etc. I’m not judging and I’m aware that I’m massively simplifying complex, multi-level issues. It’s just that most of the described people would LIKE to have it different. They would like to be slim, rich and healthy. Or more precisely: slimmer, richer and healthier than they are.

So why is it then that it’s such a tough task to accomplish those goals and actually change? Is it a lack of technique, road maps, guidance, support, encouragement?

I believe it’s this:

Energy prevention is Identity prevention.

We develop a sense of Identity early on in life. A sense of who we are and who we are not. The world is very confusing and thereby threatening. Noone really has an idea of what’s going on. How should I live? What’s considered a good life? Should I marry? Should I follow the rules? Is it morally ok to get a divorce? Or is it immoral, but then ok to cheat, because something in me feels like doing so? Am I allowed to make mistakes? What should I eat? Meat is delicious, but is it ethical? Is vegetarianism more ethical? What about dairy and gluten? Should I be concernced about ethics or exclusively about my health regardless? What profession should I learn? Is a degree necessary? How much wealth is acceptable, how much is greedy? What are the safe bets in life? Can I trust in the social contracts given to me by my parents? Why are there so many invisible scripts? What happens after death? Are the Hindus right? How come, Jesus is the good shepherd and I’m a sheep? Why aren’t we equal? Is there heaven, rebirth, oblivion? Just darkness? What should I believe?
The world is full of confusion, so it’s really essential to minimize those somewhat unanswerable conflicts wherever possible, in order to not stagnate in shock and just die. One effective way of conflict minimization is a strong, rigid sense of Identity. A mental home next to the physical home of the body. This is who I am. If I start thinking, most things are confusing and scary, so let’s at least be clear about me and know me in and out. Arbitrary dislike of cinnamon at age 7 then turns into a part of your Identity and it’s being broadcasted wherever it fits into the social context. “No, I don’t like cinnamon. Thank you! Never liked it.” – Oh, ok. This is WHO he is.

Based on this understanding it’s obvious why most diets and attempts to change fail. They try to change the world while the Identity of the person exposed to it remains the same. Being overweight and lazy is part of one’s Identity, so simply adopting a new diet CAN’T be successful, because Identity is a deeper behavioral layer and it strives to align reality with its beliefs and structure.

I remain to be a fat Identity and just change the world is what most people do. I keep the Identity of a smoker and just change environmental, external factors. It won’t work. In order to get anywhere in life and make sense of things too big for us, we minimize confusion and an essential part of that is alignment of perceived Reality and Identity. If I have the Identity of a smoker and try to stop smoking, I have to BECOME a non-smoker on the Identity level. “I don’t smoke” has to be in alignment with “This is who I am”.

Identity change is a riskful, but possibly very rewarding strategy. The currency demanded is energy and that’s where it stops for most people. The reptile, loss-averse parts of the human brain are very convincing by stating “Look, we’ve survived so far on the current programming. Why would we change a running system and risk the chance of not surviving any further? Let’s just play it safe and stay the same. We don’t like cinnamon.”

It’s a repeating, self-perpetuating cycle. We attract life circumstances that are in alignment with our Identities in the first place, because only those circumstances make sense to us, but in return they are also reinforcing what we believe about ourselves already. It’s a preservation trap. A successful strategy for survival in a dangerous, unexplicable world with scarce ressources. Sure.

But as we have come to understand: survival is not enough anymore.

In order to fully grasp the mechanisms of this trap we have to dig a little deeper and ask ourselves, what exactly is it that we derive a sense of Identity from?

Is it the action itself? E. g. smoking, eating junk food, being lazy and not doing the work? Or is it the emotions attached to those actions? The feeling we get from smoking, eating junk food and being lazy?

There is a repeating, self-imposed narrative structure to all events providing a sense of Identity.

Identity Narrative

The baseline of that narative we interpret onto our lives’ events is guilt. If you’re not a narcissist, guilt is the main dominant identificator of self (if you are one, you wouldn’t know, but in that case the identificator would be shame). And it’s by design. We grow up in a world of conditional love, performance-related intimacy and signs of liking. If you do your homework, the teacher likes you and means well. If you are a good child according to the expectations of your parents, you are rewarded with love and intimacy. Do the dishes and Mommy likes you. Become a crackhead and Mommy doesn’t approve of you as a person. Play by the rules and obey to authorities and all is good. Step out of line and we don’t like you anymore. In evolutionary terms “We don’t like you anymore” equals death by the way. Love is conditional. And because humans aren’t perfectly functioning robots, they make mistakes and fuck things up. So there is a vast amount of incidents where conditional love is being taken away from you in your upbringing, because you did not meet the expectations of the people usually providing that love. This results in a misattribution of emotions away from the message and onto the messenger. Let’s say you’re in puberty and you didn’t wash the dishes. Because of that your parents don’t allow you to go to a party. The mental conclusion from this is, the people that put you into the world, don’t allow you to have fun, because you are a bad person. So you feel guilty. And because young people make a lot of mistakes and older people tend to have twisted expectations, most of us experience a lot of guilt during our identify forming years from early on. Before we even learn to walk or talk. All of a sudden we are adults by society’s definition and the only thing that allows us to feel who we are is guilt. So we go on to create circumstances and attract things that make us feel that guilt. We go on to EXACTLY not change. Society via authorities, media, advertising and brands tells you that change is desirable and achievable, so we buy into that illusion but with a hidden agenda. Not to change, but to not change, because only that provides the emotion we’re closest to, the prison cell we call home: guilt. New Year’s Resolutions, buying diet books, signing up for a gym membership, quitting one’s job, breaking up with your partner and moving to another city don’t have the end-goal of actually achieving those things in mind. They are just intermediate steps to the end-goal of failing at exactly those things, so that you stay who you are. Because: what else would there be left, if you couldn’t even rely on who you are?

So for most people, it’s not about change, but the illusion of change and the resulting inducing of guilt after a failed change. “I don’t want to change into a slim, new person. I want to believe that I can change and after I failed to do so, I feel guilty, so that I can sense who I am. Then I repeat the cycle, because I actually like to sense who I am.”
That’s the narrative and most techniques, most road maps, most self-help books focus on the Rise, the illusion of change perceived as possible because of misunderstanding the narrative. They think, if the method gets more fine-tuning, the climax will be *change* instead of *failure*. But the narrative is already laid out. The climax HAS to be *failure*, because the Identity providing element is the then following guilt. A fairy tale doesn’t end half way through. A climax equals a crisis, a questioning of the status quo. Fairy tales don’t end in crisis, they end, when things have returned to normal.

A more effective way to change would then be to focus on the Identity providing element, which is the falling action, the realization of failure that makes guilt arise. People wonder why the more strict and disciplined they try, the surer and more expectant their failure will be. Because the falling action is the linear opposite of the rising action.
If the actual thing that helps me to understand myself and not be lost is at the end of the falling action (in most people’s cases: guilt), then the harder I try, the harder I fall. The more the rising action is distanced from my self-image, the more I have to indulge and give in during the falling action to get back to “normal”. The failure-climax is usually achieved through an “Implosion of Superego”. The moral instance of my persona completely snaps, so that the id can run wild and bring back balance/alignment of the outside reality and the internal image in context to it.

So, what’s the solution?


Focus on guilt.

Why is it there? Why does it stay there? Why do you need it? Why do you start a diet, just to icecream binge 7 days later? Why do you sign up for a gym, just to not go the next year?

It’s replacing guilt with its polar opposite and turning the whole thing from black to white. That’s the only way. Noone HAS to run his/her Identity on guilt, but most people simply do because of arbitrary upbringing.

It’s a decision. It’s a “THIS is who I am”-process. It’s tough, mental work, sweat and hustle. It’s energy expending and facing the risk of death. The rising action is not important, meaning the technique, the method, the road map, as long as it’s not initiated as a precursor to inducing guilt.

It’s obviously no magic pill and pretty simple advice in contrast of the foregone explanations, but that’s how it works. You decide with every cell of your body who you are and the rest will be in alignment with that. You hustle through the valley, you embrace uncertainty, incompletion, death, oblivion, nothingness and extinction. Confusion is good, because it’s real. There are no answers to the big questions. Who the fuck knows what’s right? It doesn’t matter. Enjoy the ride you were given, stay present, be grateful, until you detach from inherited guilt into a paradigm of abundance, self-worth and win-win.

Change is binary.

This is who I am and this is who I’m not.

Instead of trying to bend the world, bend yourself.

Preservation Traps

Let’s go with “Good Enough”

One of the main characteristics behind Evolution is the building principle of “Good Enough”.

It’s an everchanging world with lots of environmental pressure, scarce resources and survival competition. Building a perfect product once and then be done with it and that product is good to go for all time does not work. One changing environmental variable is enough to turn a perfect product into something close to extinction.

So it’s rather getting the product out quickly and course correct along the way. An adaptive structure is the only way to survive in a changing world.

You might observe this pattern in the tech world. Google’s Chrome Browser and Android OS first appeared in a merely “Good Enough” version to get shipped and since then got course corrected a lot. It’s an adaptive structure. Microsoft on the other hand grew up in a different world and learned to run on perfection paradigms. Windows OS is designed to perfection as close as they can get, takes way longer and then gets shipped into a world with the hope of being done with it, only to realize the environment changed already. Microsoft recently evolved into the “Good Enough” model with their unorthodox release of Windows 8.1.

Humans as well are a result of “Good Enough”, although we perceive ourselves a result of perfection or intelligent design, because our “Good Enough” is far ahead of all other species’ “Good Enough”.

Such wrongful self-perception usually results in massive harm, because if I’m perfect (finite, complete) my interpretations of the world are perfect and thereby correct. If I’m correct, someone else is wrong. Boom. Conflict. Destruction. Game over. I understand this is to a degree evolutionarily desired intra- and inter-species competition, but a lot of deaths by accident are based in the misunderstanding that our experience of the world is perfect.

A very essential mind shift as a progretarian therefore is the understanding that we operate with “Good Enough” minds, not with perfect ones.

There are many excellent books written on cognition flaws, thinking biases, wrong interpretation tendencies and failure patterns.

I really enjoyed:

“You Are Not So Smart” and “You Are Now Less Dumb” by David McRaney
“The Invisible Gorilla” by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons
“Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)” by Caroll Tavris & Elliot Aronson
“Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
“Influence” by Robert B. Cialdini
“The Drunkard’s Walk” by Leonard Mlodinov
“Nudge” by Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein
“Happy Money” by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton

There are way more books on the topic, but I found these to be easy digestible, pop-science nonfiction books with a lot of helpful advice in them.

The main bottom line takeaway is this: The human experience of the world is not absolute, but relative.

Chances are, we are wrong a lot of times in many different scenarios, on our own or within groups, without noticing. Read the books mentioned above for plenty examples.

Obviously, those mechanisms are still existent in us, because they serve a purpose called survival.

So, what do we do with permanently installed tools “Good Enough” for survival, but not quite good enough for thriving?

It’s simple. We condition ourselves to deeply acknowledge the relative correctness of those tools and disconnect “being right”, “me over you”, “win-lose”, “scarce resources” from our identities.

And how do you condition oneself?

With Self-Beneficial Thinking.

“We all deal much with others whom we correctly diagnose as imprisoned in poor conclusions that are maintained by mental habits they formed early and will carry to their graves.” — Charles T. Munger

Let’s go with “Good Enough”

Resistance Dynamics

Quick check: Do you live in the first world?

Does it piss you off, if you want to take a shower in the morning and there’s no warm water?

Your answer is ‘Yes’ and you live in the first world.

This means your biggest challenge of becoming a true progretarian will be to learn to effectively deal with Resistance. Capital R.

Resistance is a term branded by Steven Pressfield in his book “The War of Art”. It’s what happens, when you put homo sapiens into post-industrial, modern day environments. There is a tremendously strong urge in us, to preserve energy and to think twice about energy expenditure.

Back in the day, this made sense. The world was hostile, energy resources were scarce and hard to get, your life was mildly at risk all the time. So, if there was no direct threat to survival, your best option was to relax, to lay around, to preserve, to chill out and only interrupt those phases with quick bursts of burning fuel to eat, escape or fuck. Mission accomplished.

Today, this behaviour pattern turned from useful into harmful. We have built an interdependent, global civilization and most threats to survival and even replication have been eradicated and are now in our favor.

We have established machine assisted, complex systems of nations, societies, tribes, friends, colleagues to protect and catch us. No free falling anymore.

Laws, rules, welfare, insurance, safety technologies, people with single professional expertise in every field of life, police, cultural incentives, free market over-production of goods, endless entertainment delivered into the living room.

So whenever there’s some kind of challenge or obstacle today, some part of the human brains is tempted to give in, to give up, to submit, to not do it, to let it pass.

It doesn’t even matter, if the challenge ahead is a MUST BE DONE or a WOULD BE NICE. There is always a gut reflex of wanting to chill out. Does this kill me? No? Relax!

Avoidance, fear, procrastination are all forms of Resistance. Seth Godin calls it ‘the lizard brain’. Read up on Pressfield’s books on the topic. They’re worth it.

As society becomes more and more addictive, the dealing with Resistance must be adressed, in order to thrive. Because: survival is not much of an issue anymore in the first world, energy prevention has lost its primal cause.

It’s even the other way around. Average is dieing and taking the middle class with it, so feeling tempted to stay where you are and continuing to following orders, then becomes the new threat to survival.

Let alone the fact, that with China, India and Brasil there are a few billion people rising, hungrier than the first world and on the edge in terms of access to modern scaling technology (aka the Internet).

Resistance is the Enemy.

Pressfield notes, the thing you feel most Resistance towards, is the thing you gotta do the most. That’s the progretarian compass to multidisciplinary expertise. And multidisciplinary expertise is the key to thriving and giving back, which are the pillars of a happy life.

The dream that’s been sold to us by PR, media, the incentives of a free market, Religion and people in scarcity mindsets, is one of a happiness threshold. Do as you are told, get a degree, get one low pressure job, buy, consume, marry, don’t ask questions, get 2 kids, stay in line, consume more, play by the rules, serve your country, be a good citizen, vote and at some point in your life, everything will be fine. You cross a line and then it’s all sunshine and rainbows. You get to stay happy. The hustle is over. From now on only your favorite meals, no more rainy weather.

It’s just a dream to keep people going. There is no happiness threshold. There is no completion, no heaven, no eternal summer. There is no product to be happy with forever. Relationships come and go. People are born and then they die. Days end, nights begin. Nights end, new days rise. You breathe in, you breathe out. Progress is cyclical and recurring. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but also a potent wake up call to make the most of life.

Jed McKenna has a great saying in his Enlightenment Trilogy: “Whatever is, is right, because it is.”

He gives the example of being in a car crash and states, that in contrast to most people, he wouldn’t question the reality of being in a car crash. It’s right, because it became reality. It’s right, because it came into existence and expressed itself, therefore cannot be questioned. People usually don’t get the subtlety of that statement and tend to freak out: “So if I was in a car crash, should I just accept to die?” – No. Obviously not. You should fight for survival and do whatever it takes. But instead of your first gut reflex being one of self-pity and questioning the unfairness of fate, let it be one of Acceptance. “Ok, this is what it is. Let’s deal with reality.”

It’ll put you at ease and kills self-pity. More importantly, it shortens reaction time and puts responsibility where it belongs: to you.

Are you broke? Stop blaming your parents. Stop blaming the country or your college degree.
Are you single? Stop blaming golddiggers or your below average looks.
Are you overweight? Stop blaming your genes or Tiger Woods for his Gatorade commercials.

See, Resistance has only taken you so far. It’ll get worse from now on. This is not a Disney fairy tale. Start to become reality accepting and take responsibility for whatever is and is not today. You are the man in charge. It’s your movie. Put the focus on you and take your skills to mastery in as many fields as possible. Then take the cumulative leverage and give back to the world. Ideally this will make other people stronger, so they can give back.

—-Outline of the progretarian movement:

– increased addictiveness of things is a direct threat to the human behavioral programming of energy prevention
– energy prevention creates habits of Resistance towards life’s most valuable challenges
– average is dieing. it’s a race to the bottom and a race to the top
– multidisciplinary expertise in mind, body and life circumstances is necessary to create cumulative leverage
– cumulative leverage forms resilience
– resilience ends Resistance/self-pity and turns it into reality acceptance/responsibility
– a pro-active, reality accepting person can then turn his focus away from him and onto others to help them become responsible and eventually resilient
– the exponential combination of more and more resilient people then results in mankind’s survival

Resistance Dynamics

Self-Beneficial Thinking

Ask yourself:

Are you egoistic? Self-serving? Selfish?

Be honest. Answer silently inside your head. You don’t have to let anyone in on the truth.

If you’re like most people, your answer is: Yes.

Or more something like: Hell, yes! Of course!

All stigma and judeo-christian tradition aside, most people regard themselves as selfish. Which makes sense, because it’s simply a deeply engrained survival mechanism that’s being observed by a higher rational entity. It’s the reason we are still here.

But if you take a second look on it, you might as well realize, most people aren’t selfish at all. Yes, they try to get by. Yes, most people wouldn’t return money they found on the street. Yes, most people would pass the last bits of food to their kids and not eat it themselves. That’s the surface level, which I am not concerned about.

My focus is on what’s going on inside people’s heads.

Most people are easily offended. They have strong opinions about a narrow range of things and don’t want to get confused by opposing ideas. They respond to emotions, not to logic. They drink high fructose corn syrup, that massively imbalances brain chemistry. They are indecivise in the workplace. They don’t believe they can get promoted. They don’t believe they could lose weight, get a girlfriend or become rich. They think 5 hours of TV a day is a good choice to relax. They get angry, when they are being cut off in traffic. They crazily over-identify with the bits media feeds them in the current Government Shutdown. They are stressed out most of the time. Burnout and midlife-crisis are *real* issues. If an authority figure is being rude to them, they can’t stand up for themselves. They think, it’s ok to not face your fears. They actually don’t enjoy going to the gym, so it’s an on-off habit with massive lack in discipline. If their work gets criticized, their asshole tightens and they defend themselves, because they come from a win-lose paradigm, not a win-win one. The education mix they received, convinced them that what they know is enough to navigate the world. If they watch the news at night, they either idolize or hate on people and events. They are conditioned to only look at the tip of the iceberg. They would cheat on their spouses, if they got the chance, but would get angry, if they were cheated on.

The list is endless.

And all of that thinking is technically not selfish, not self-serving. If egoism is the idea of “I put myself first and look after my own well being first”, then it’s a fatal flaw in behaviour to fully neglect the wells and wells of toxic thoughts bubbling up each day inside of our heads.

If you come from a long-term mindset (legacy > currency) and you want to stay physically and mentally healthy for as long as possible, you have to learn to think in self-beneficial ways.

If you think, there’s a finite amount of wealth and you have to cheat and betray to get your piece of the cake, that’s not self-beneficial, because you teach yourself that scarcity is real and success is a result of trickery, not hard work.
If you think, in any interaction only one person can win, that’s not self-beneficial, because you’re always at risk of losing and relate to people in hostile ways, which is a reinforcing pattern.
If you think, you don’t deserve a great girlfriend, wealth, friends and great life experiences, it’s obviously not self-beneficial. It’s the opposite. It’s pathetic!
If you argue with someone and get angry, that’s not self-beneficial, because the emotion of anger kicks off a release chain of hormones that influence your brain chemistry, which influences in return your perception of the world. And this will result in worse decisions, that again will lead to worse results.

There’s a saying that pessimists and realists live in a world closer to objective reality, but optimists are 4 times better off in any situation.

Thinking the glass is half-empty is simply not self-beneficial. It preemptively gives other people an advantage, because you allow yourself to operate from weaker, less effective paradigms, which obviously is the opposite of what you want.

So, it’s actually quite helpful to reflect on what’s going on in your head. Not as a seed of insecurity, so that you can’t trust yourself anymore, but more as a simple course correction.

“This guy is a jerk!

Wait a second, how do I benefit from this interpretation of the world?”

Learn win-win, adopt abundance. The world is good and people are not out to get you.

Become really selfish!

Self-Beneficial Thinking

Conservation of Modularity & Resilience

The progretarian approach to life is not political and not judgemental.

Although I label things as preferable or something to avoid, it’s totally up to oneself what to make of it.

It’s an attempt to realistically understand the world we live in, as precise as the human mind with all its flaws allows, and put that into a cohesive body of principles, which in return act as signposts to ease living.

One strongly influential idea to this is Clayton Christensen’s model of conservation of modularity. This model basically states that either the device or the platform running on it have to be conformable/sub-optimized, so that the other not good enough side of the value chain can be optimized.

Well, if the body is the device and the mind is the platform, the conclusion is simple:

The first/initial focus is on optimization of the body. Get in shape, cut out the refined carbs, get enough sleep, develop a healthy sex-life, go for walks and regularly expose yourself to sunlight and fresh air. During this device optimization period, the platform has to be sub-optimized. (You may want to read up on Christensen’s model first to follow my quite abstract line of thought here.) Most people think of the mind (the platform) as a proprietary integrated thing in Christensen’s terms. Most apps (beliefs) that run on that platform are just good enough to get by and work together, because they came in a package. Andrew Solomon calls this package deal a horizontal identity. If you open yourself up and temporarily neglect the package deal of beliefs you inherited by your tribe, family and culture, you become able to optimize the device. An example of this would be to neglect the app installed by one’s parents, teachers and TV commercials that guides your nutritional decisions and try to avoid refined carbs. This will result in an optimized better running device, which then allows to improve the platform. The device can only be improved to a certain point, until such imrpovement reaches physical barriers. But it’s necessary to get to this point first, in order to then focus on platform optimization and put the device optimization on maintenance levels (what Stephen Covey calls “sharpen the saw”). Energy resources are limited and if you hit the gym 6 days a week, there’s not much left to overthrow your parents’ christian influence onto your upbringing and develop a more realistic understanding of where we come from.

So, device optimization first. Up to its physical limits. Be the fittest and healthiest you you can be.
Then it’s off into platform optimization land. This means: read a lot. Read everyday. Read opposing and contradictory ideas. Read very different topics. Find out what the world really looks like and what you were told it looks like. Meditate. Strengthen willpower. Question the status-quo. Socialize. Socialize and interact with people a lot. Laugh. Party. Understand, that other people are THE defining, context providing factor of your life. Look at Will Smith in I Am Legend. Life without other people is extremely boring and linear. And even though he’s the last person on Earth, his drive to find a cure comes from the fact that he defines himself as one part of a whole species. He himself could get by without working on a cure, the species couldn’t. People matter. Socialize a lot. Take honest interest in other’s lives.
–> Update every single app on your platform, so that it’s more efficient, productive and synergistic. Most people exclusively run apps on their platform that are barely good enough. They look at the nutrition labels of their groceries and count calories, but don’t cut out the refined carbs and sugars. This app (belief) has to be updated/recoded, otherwise its limitedness harms the platform and then weakens the device. Most people don’t go to church anymore, but subconsciously still accept that there is some higher, omnipotent form of being and they get to go to heaven after death. It’s an app to just get by, not one to thrive.

I plan to go into way more detail regarding suboptimized platforms in future posts.

For the point I want to make today, this understanding is sufficient.

The sum of all apps running on your platform build in its synergistic interplay your operating system.

And as the technologization of society accelerates, so does the addictiveness of things.

Marketing in the last century grew into the science of smart, psychological exploitation of consumers by occupying their attention and catering to their desires. Modern mass media tells us what to like and what not.

How many pairs of shoes do you own? And how many would you actually need? What about the other stuff you have? How many groceries do you throw away, because they passed their expiration date?

How many hours a day do you spend in front of the TV and/or the computer and/or your mobile devices? What part of that time is entertainment and/or procrastination?

Do you have a mediocre income and don’t particularly like to go swimming because of your average physique?

Have you ever questioned the idea of owning a house or getting married?

How many times a day do you jerk off? Can you abstain for a week?

A side-effect of an globalized Internet age is, that everything becomes widely and freely available. Every brand and product fights for your attention and the competition increases exponentially. That’s why you get more and more stuff for free and the daily time available to you is demanded by more and more potent channels of catering to your exact needs.

The result is that we live in a society where addictiveness accelerates. As Paul Graham said: “…the world will get more addictive in the next 40 years than it did in the last 40.”

So, if you not only want to survive, but to thrive (and that’s the first part of the 2-step progretarian core), you have to develop resilience towards the increasing addictiveness of stuff. Can you throw your smartphone out of the window this very second? If your answer is NO, you are not resilient in this modern day world. I know, it’s a very black and white example. But resilience also means to become what Nassim Taleb calls “antifragile” and grow stronger from harm. So at least your answer should have been YES, because the data and dependancy on that smartphone is replaceable by an even better device. You make enough money to do that, right? But that didn’t occur to you. Your first thought was “My work depends on that thing. Can’t throw it away. End of story”.

That’s not an efficiently designed app that spits out productive things that other apps on your platform can benefit from.

Resilience is a quality that only can be achieved on the operating system level as a whole. The way you do one thing, is the way you do everything. If you’re addicted to your daily dose of porn, this addiction will increase in the coming years, because that’s the only way to keep selling for those people in a world where noise explodes and signal remains the same.

The best way out is to understand that in the Information Age average is dieing. Explosion of noise means only the best and the worst get attention.

The average life with one repetitive task performed in an average manner for 45 years and calling this a career, 2 divorces, 2 kids, one house with massive mortgage, more struggle than joy, focus on instant gratification for the little man through mindless consumption and a lethal heart attack at the end…..this is not an option anymore.

Optimize your device, your body!

Understand that a healthy brain chemistry through nutrition, excercise, sleep and air is necessary to run a properly functioning operating system on your device.

Then get on to update all the apps (beliefs) that demand processing power and don’t serve a purpose anymore.

The things you take for granted the most, are the things you have to question first.
This is no conspiracy and no doomsday preaching. It’s just another thing that happens in a technologized and globalized world.

It’s up to the people with the freshest set of eyes, with the most advanced apps, to observe and give back to the world, so that everyone can thrive.

Noone has to lose out in this, but everyone has to adapt.

And one core quality is resilience towards a stormier world of temptations and consumption.

Remember, resilience is only achieved at the operating system level, which is the synergy of all apps on your platform.

One weak or outdated app = no resilience. One single hole in a dam weakens the other functioning 99% of that dam as well. Most devices only create value out of the synergy of all their functioning parts. Look at your watch. No surprise here.

Start by going for a 30 minute walk each morning. Keep this up for 3 months. Then slowly increase load and expand onto different areas.

Step by step.

Conservation of Modularity & Resilience

Cyclical Progress

Have you ever started a new sport and became enthusiastic about it right away?

I have. With rock climbing.

I was fully and completely convinced, this is my thing! I signed a 2 year contract with the rock climbing gym, although I already knew I was about to move away in a few months. But those were the best people to learn from. Simple. I went out and bought ALL the equipment necessary. I mean, ALL of it. I got 2 climbing shorts, 2 specialized tank-tops made from the best fabric, 2 pro ropes, a belt, chalk and the most advanced shoes available. If you do something, you do it right, right?

I was at it for half a year, 3 days a week plus every second weekend, and made some good initial progress regarding my grip, strength and climbing intelligence, but then the move came and it just faded away. Somehow.

Climbing pals flaked on me here and there, the distance increased, priorities changed and a few weeks later I lost interest. Sort of. I payed another year for my membership without ever going again. I put the equipment bag on the top of my closet, where it stayed untouched for 2 winters.

A year ago I stumbled onto it again and realized, I actually quite enjoyed climbing. The sweat, the persistence necessary, the complimentary full body workout, the buddies. So I started going to the gym again. Just every once in a while. Just for fun. The last time I went was this past weekend.

It’s funny, but my lack of drive and determination made me realize the concept of cyclical progress, which since then helped me as another piece to the puzzle of understanding myself and the world a little bit better everyday.

I found that my approach to rock climbing is actually quite common for us humans.

Cyclical Progress

When we start out, we tend to go full extreme about something. We go everyday, we buy all the equipment, we commit in advance.

Then something happens and we move into the other extreme of not doing it at all. Letting it fade.

After a while we return with a more moderate approach and eventually find a balanced middleground that’s sustainable.

You can observe this everywhere. Guys hitting the gym for the first time, going 5 days a week. Then they get a girlfriend and drop bodybuilding completely. Then they get dumped and return to 2 days a week, because they want another girlfriend, but this time realize extremism won’t work if they want to both maintain a girlfriend and their physique.

You can observe this, when someone starts to learn a new language and buys the Rosetta Stone course, the Pimsleur course and 3 others at once. They start to learn the basic structure of the language and the most rudimentary vocabulary. They plan to visit the home-country of their desired language, but then something happens and they don’t get to go there at all. So they rationalize it’s not that important anymore and stop with their harsh grammar regime. After some time has passed, it dawns on them, that they actually enjoyed learning and speaking that language and get back at it again. Once a month. Slowly.

You can observe this with young guys learning to pick up women. They become extreme about it and start to go out every single night. They hit up every female they can find to a point where they feel guilty when a woman passes and they don’t approach her. Then college, the first job or a girlfriend come along and they drop that habit of going out all the time as if they were promoters in Vegas. No more. After a while things change (again) and they reignite their love for the game. This time it’s only 2-3 nights a week. It’s sustainable and over the course of a few years they become really good.

You can observe this as well with how people approach diets. I eat paleo and see this all the time with new people starting out. They are blown away by the levels of energy they all of a sudden have, when cutting out refined carbs and sugars for the first time, that they never want to eat carbs again at all. Which is an intolerant extreme. There’s nothing against blueberries. Then you have a balanced idea like that of a “cheat day” and some people slip into the other (tolerant) extreme by extending the cheat day into a daily cheat meal, until they completely fall off.

You can observe this phenomenon of going from one extreme to the other extreme and then finding some middleground on a macro scale as well. Take women’s rights for example. A few centuries ago women weren’t allowed to vote, nor work outside their own home. It’s an intolerant extreme and not sustainable. That’s why things changed and some 50 years ago feminism came along introducing society to the other side of extreme, the tolerant one, where women make up the majority of the work force, the majority of voters and divorce laws are ridiculously in their favor.
Or you might want to have a look at racial issues. Society started out with inquisition, crusades, slavery and concentration camps, which are tremendously horrible things and the furthest you get with “intolerant extreme”. It took a civil war, many lives and the human rights movement until we arrive at today, where you have some sort of the polar opposite. Forced tolerance. Everything less than full tolerance towards everything is intolerant and by command of that other extreme not acceptable. So mosques pop up all over Europe and children learn to use the word “colored”, because the former word is disrespectful.
The same thing happens with how society treats homosexuality. It went from illegal and under penalty (intolerant extreme) to gay pride and push for same sex marriage (tolerant extreme).

I believe that in order for something to be sustainable, it has to find a balance in the middle of 2 extreme takes on it.
The most common way to get to balanced grounds is by starting at one extreme side, evolving into the other and eventually by maturing one’s understanding ending up in the middle.

Extremes can’t be maintained over the long term. That’s why communism failed.

Society is always the synergy of different opposing opinions and dealing with something in an extreme way means to neglect the contrary extreme opinions and everything in between.

The weird thing in my experience is this: the “intolerant extreme” take on something comes with a time fuze. It’s destined to self-destruct from within. It’s extremely fragile. That’s why there’s a different color area in the graphic. All other three convergence zones, the intolerant moderate, the tolerant moderate and the tolerant extreme need conscious effort (by internal or external force) to evolve into balance.
North Korea is an example of “intolerant moderate”. That’s why their suppressors are still in power. They keep riding the edge between “intolerant moderate” by barely making the people survive and “intolerant extreme” by having famine spread here and there.

You can take this concept a lot further and I’m sure many people already have in more eloquent ways.
A virus, for example, is usually in the “tolerant extreme” zone. If it was in the “intolerant extreme” zone, it would pretty quickly kill all hosts and thereby become extinct itself. That’s what eventually happened to pestilence.
Religion is another great example, where you have things starting out in the tolerant extreme to moderate zones. The ten commandments were quite a disruption towards tolerance intially. Then religion cycles on multi-layered macro and micro levels from one extreme to the other and back throughout the centuries. If you look at how things are today, Buddhism and Hinduism make attempts to go into “tolerant extreme”, Christianity is somewhere in “tolerant moderate” AND in “intolerant moderate” depending at which part of the world you look at, and fundamentalistic parts of Islam are in “intolerant extreme” zones, because they perceive there can only be one truth by definition, and thereby radicalize more and more.

– extremes are not sustainable
– the more extreme, the more fragile
– intolerant extreme is the most fragile, inherently built with a time fuze
– all other areas need internal/external force to change
– many things sit in convergence zones dieing slowly
– there is no stagnation. it’s always evolving, but slowly. one isolated moment usually appears stagnant.
– long term sustainability is only found in middleground
– the road to “sustainable balance” is cyclical and most of the time leads from one initial extreme into the opposing extreme and then into balance

I’m pretty sure the next decades will show more movings into extremes, but more importantly, a lot more coming into “sustainable balance”.

How do you approach new skills? Have you observed this phenomenon?

In terms of climate change, has human life on this planet taken place in “sustainable balance” or is the climate so far an extreme tolerating human life? Which would mean that we will face an evolution into the opposing extreme in the next centuries.

Interesting questions ahead.

Cyclical Progress