“You can’t be an effective Lifehacker unless you understand how the the human mind hacks itself.”
Lewis Harrison – The Lifehack Guru
Question: What is the cause of most of our problems? Lewis Answers: Most problems have to do with perspective and how we experience the world around us. This is all an expression of the mind. Thus, before we begin solving problems or creating life hacks of one type or another, it is probably wise to explore how the mind works.
In my book Common Sense: Tips, Tools, and Strategies for Making Effective Decisions I explore why people create life hacks one way as opposed to another without ever mentioning the term life hack.
Actually, no one has ever physically captured the mind or observed it. One can describe how it works, and one can look at a brain but there is no way known to humans to visually observe a mind. Thus, we are left with a technical definition of the mind. This doesn’t help our exploration of problem-solving or lifehacking since a technical definition covers a wide range of functions and activities including aspects of intellect and consciousness. These are manifested as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will, and imagination.
Mind is the stream of consciousness and includes all of the brain’s conscious and unconscious processes. “Mind” is often used to refer to the thought processes of reason, thus, a person acting without reason might be accused of “being out of their mind.” For an individual exploring life hacks and lifehacking this is the equivalent of creating a dysfunctional hack for a problem that doesn’t exist.
The mind is perhaps the greatest of all mysteries. The mind is at the center of our very existence, and yet we are not really sure what it is, or how it functions? We can’t master the mystery of the mind and yet we all want to understand what it is and where it is. Even defining which human attributes make up the mind and how these connect to spirituality is the subject of much debate.
The question naturally arises, “If you cannot define the mind how can you use it to create effective lifehacks?” The answer to that question is that, it can be done if one has an end goal and clear intention of achieving that goal.
I discuss this at length in my book Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.
As a soft cover book: http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/spiritual-not-religious/
In popular usage, mind is frequently synonymous with thought. What is thought other than the private conversation that goes on “inside our heads” with ourselves? We “make up our minds”, “change our minds”, or are “of two minds” about something. One of the key attributes of the mind is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access. No one else can “know your mind”. They can only know what you communicate from the depths of it.
So how can psychologists address mental illness, emotional issues or even problem solving if they cannot specifically define the mind? Psychology is part science and part art and is not specifically concerned with the mind itself. Rather psychologists study many different areas related to the mind including Groupthink memory, language, cognition, and emotions. These are all functions related to the solving of problems and how we create lifehacks (life hacks) as well as mind hacks. The exploration of any mental processes not related specifically to emotion is known as cognition. Cognition is concerned primarily with processes such as imagination, visualization, mental imagery, perception, attention, action, problem solving, and how we create lifehacks.
In my work as a professional mentor, coach, problem solver and expert lifehacker I must always contend with the fact that distinctions between emotional and non-emotional thought are not all that clear.
I have found that when solving problems or designing life hacks that involve one form or another of human behavior, it is best to work with issues of the mind that are more or less universal. By doing this you can hack through thought patterns that can create disharmony and chaos.
Here is a list of many of the patterns that are generally accepted concerning the mind and which one must understand if they are really going to live the hacker life is that:
- The mind ascends quickly to what it believes to be the truth. Simply speaking the mind grabs at any declaration, proposition, or alleged fact; it creates evidence to support its beliefs even if there is no personal knowledge or objective facts to support those beliefs.
- The mind is comfortable with and is strongly attracted to repetition, habit, and the familiar.
- An untrained mind will seek pleasure in the moment (short-term gratification) before it even becomes aware of the benefits of delayed gratification.
- The mind has an ability to recognize patterns instantly and unconsciously.
- An untrained mind will generally react faster to thoughts of extreme future discomfort than it will respond to the actual experience of great pleasure.
- Every human being is unique. Every mind is unique. Their view or “map of the world” will be based on their ethnic background, gender, religious influences, genetics, childhood, age, conscious and unconscious life experiences, and many other factors known and unknown.
- The mind needs a predictable future. When there seems to be no predictability it searches all the stored memories of known situations to find an appropriate action-pattern. When the mind is “extremely busy” the door to the unconsciousness of an individual opens and accepts whatever a desirable source of information will tell them.
- When the mind is confused, it enters into a trance-state or dissociation.
- A large part of the population is more suggestible when their expectations are so unfulfilled that they are actually lost and confused.
- If this confusion is extreme enough, a person they will enter in a permanent trance-state (a dissociative trance disorder). With this disorder one does not have a whole well-balanced, functional life.
- Students of mind hacking can place themselves in self-induced trance-states (auto-suggestion) and feed themselves specific suggestions to transform their own behavior.
- Skilled coaches, mentors, teachers, therapists, and mind hackers can place themselves in self-induced trance-states (auto-suggestion) to create greater rapport and to listen more effectively to others especially students, clients and patients.
- The unconscious mind is always listening. Whether or not a person is in trance, suggestions could be made which will have a hypnotic influence, as long as those suggestions find some resonance at the unconscious level.
- The mind has the potential for great wisdom. It has the ability to integrate intuition, explore non-linear concepts, and create a foundation of highly developed and effective ideals and principles to govern all actions and decisions.
Much of what guides people to make certain decisions is a belief that something is true and can be shown to be true to another person who might be skeptical of the idea. No matter how much we believe we can never be sure that something is “So”. We may sincerely believe we know something to be true but realize later that we were completely inaccurate.
It seems that at the most basic and obvious level, the human mind seems to make notes of patterns – what psychologists generally call “pattern matching” or “pattern recognition”. Some of these patterns connect for us on an intuitive level, while others connect to us on a left-brain, linear, intellectual level.
Sorting out this “pattern matching” is a balance between the intellect and the emotions. No matter how intellectual, rational, reasonable, and sensible we would like to be, the fact is that many if not most of our decisions are driven by emotions. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for those who worship at the altar of logic. The key here is to know the best approach. This cannot always be done with logic, best practices, or some other logically-based, left-brain approaches. Sometimes it is best done through self-reflection, contemplation, and meditation. I deal with it in my own life by seeing the world as if it is one big game with lot’s of of smaller “subgames” that engage my lifehacking talents.
To begin, we must remember that the most ordinary aspects of daily life are filled with the need to make choices. In order to make these choices, the intellect must evaluate present experience and sort this against the memory of important past experience. It must do this while keeping present and past experience separate and distinct. These distinctions cannot be easily made without the influence that comes with reflection, contemplation, and meditation. All we are really speaking of here is self-reflection. When the human mind reflects upon itself, it recognizes that new patterns have come into focus. It combines this information with recalled patterns – long-term memories of patterns and events from the past. The mind is then able to make new judgments based on the combination of new patterns and the memory of old patterns.
Much of why I began to explore life hacking, game theory and game-based thinking was to integrate many systems of thought and action. It soon became apparent to me that one cannot discuss systems especially lifehacking systems without first discussing the system of the mind.
In order to address problems effectively and efficiently one need not understand every aspect of the mind, nor even master the emotions, but it useful to understand how the mind and emotions function.
We must always keep in mind that each person’s map of the world is as unique as their thumbprint. There are no two people alike … no two people who understand the same sentence the same way … So in dealing with people try not to fit them into your concept of what they should be.
Isn’t it amazing how much is written and spoken of concerning the mind, yet the mind is not directly observable? Each human being can only prove the existence of his or her own mind, and from a scientific perspective, no one can directly access the thoughts of another. Still with clarity of thought and effective, efficient, and productive life hacking we can put the pieces together.
Many problems are created as a result of some disconnect of intention between two or more people who must interact for some reason. In order to avoid certain problems or solve existing ones, one must master the art of reciprocal social interaction, and learn to read the cues of what others may be thinking or may be acting. A very effective approach to learning about the mind is called the Theory of the Mind. Through the application of this theory, one may be able to predict or explain the actions of others, and get an accurate sense of their intentions?
It is believed by most social scientists that the theory of mind is an inborn potential ability in humans. Over time, training and experience will bring this talent to fruition at that point you will truly be a master lifehacker and a mind hacker extraordinaire.
Lewis Harrison – The Life Hack Guru , is a media personality, mentor, success and wealth coach, speaker, troubleshooter, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving based on, applied game theory and Game Thinking.
He is the best-selling author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.
Don’t forget to tune to the Lifehack Guru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.
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Lewis offers various seminars, workshops and private coaching, mentoring, and counseling.
Learn more at: http://www.realuguru.com/mentoring/