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.