The concepts I live by

Through Quantified Self and Complexity science, I developed a few concepts I live by. They are just concepts that make me structure and play with my day, make me curious and make me want to develop. This is just a short list, but most concepts have a more in-to-depth blog attached to it. I hope you find anything useful in this list!

Attractors are spirals caused by positive feedback loops. It basically means that when something is working, you will do that again the next time. Some of our behavior is so “well” working, that we don’t really think about it anymore. At this point, this behavior could be called habits. We don’t really think about wearing clothes in the morning, because wearing them seems to be working quite well. Everybody has habits, attractors, in their daily life. Without attractors we would wake up in the morning and have no idea what to do. However, attractors could be stable or unstable. If you feel like you need to wake up every morning at 8AM, this is quite a strong attractor. If you wake up every morning at a different time, this attractor is quite unstable. Having attractors is great because they provide stability and order in your life, reducing the entropy. However, when you have too many strong attractors, you have less conscious control of behavior. With a few strong attractors it is easier to control and change your behavior easily. I try to have a few attractors, identify those and accept them for what they are now. I play with variation of behavior to make my attractors less stable and be more in control. Furthermore, I try to embrace new experiences as they develop my system an give me different perspectives and thus change attractor states. Read more about habits, attractors and how to change them here.

Fractal zoom
To a certain limit, I have control over my behavior. I choose the subjects I pay attention to and I want to zoom into (develop myself). Everyone has a certain perspective and is zoomed into a certain subject that he or she likes. When you start to zoom in, the details of this subject start to emerge. For example, when you zoom into a cell with a microscope, you’ll see the details emerge in front of your eyes. When you start to study law school, you see the detailed laws and conditions emerge in front of your eyes. Without zooming into something, you aren’t aware of all the details. But when you follow a branch, the paths will split, and sub-branches will emerge, like a fractal structure. But the cool thing is, it is your choice to zoom into the area’s you like and be immersed in the things you desire. Watch this video of me at the Quantified Self conference on “The fractals of life” or read this short story on the paths to the infinite.

Skewed reality
One consequence of the fractal zoom, is that we all live in our own world where we tend to amplify the things we are zoomed into. The result of this that we have a bias to neglect the areas we are not aware of. For example, many of us neglect the sewage and electricity grids below our feet but they are one of the most important objects for our current existence. We all think earth is the most important planet, but there are millions of other planets across the universe. Being aware of this, makes me appreciate the things I was (previously) not aware of and took for granted. When you realize there are many things that exist which you are not aware not, it could make you curious, grateful and amazed. Personally, I love to talk to people who are completely different from me and are worried about completely different things. Read more about your reality here. and this one about scale-free worlds in the mind.

The associative mind
Along with attractors, there are certain patterns that often go hand-in-hand. I believe that when we see patterns that follow the same rhythm, we start to associate them with each other, just like Pavlov’s dog. A car often has chairs, events usually marketeer with posters, when I look angry I am usually angry. But this doesn’t have to be the case. It is our associative mind that makes these connections. Through dissociation, you can divide the patterns, and you can loosen connections, through association you connect and strengthen parts and merge them together. When you are able to dissociate and associate at will, you can become creative and feel more free. Read more about that here in this blog about the associative mind and this one about the association of space and activity.

Everything is connected
We are bound to our environment and moved by its dynamics because we live in a relative closed system called Earth. The things we know today are a product of evolution, making us bound to the past, and the things that are currently happening in parallel to our existence, influence us right now, or in the future. This is connected to the butterfly effect and makes me conscious about the way I handle the people I meet, the products I use, and the things I eat. It also makes me curious about how everything within my reality has come to an existence and the paths they took over time. Read more about the Butterfly effect within you or about the complexity of life.

Time does not exist
When I say “over time”, I actually mean “over movement”. I believe time is a mental construct and very useful for synchronizing events. However, it does not exist and is a product of movement in the universe. Read more about that here. Synchronization can happen through the movement of the celestial bodies, the internal clocks of our own body, or external cues from the environment. When I started to accept that time does not exist, but is just a useful tool, I felt more agent over my decisions and life, making me less bound to age, or the “fastness” of time passing.

There is no absolute self
As mentioned earlier, we are bound to our environment as every action we take is dependent of our environment. Nevertheless, every action we take is also influential on our environment. Cause and effect are interlinked and dance together. The environment makes us do things, and we do things to our environment, we are constantly adapting to one another. We use (environmental) tools that we attribute to ourselves (like wearing glasses or phones). These feedback loops make the distinction between the self and the environment diffuse, as there is no clear separation. The things we do in our daily lives make our perception of ourselves. We obtain and internalize knowledge from our environment, and spread this knowledge again to other entities in our environment. This process is a constant flow of energy exchange between ourselves and the environment. When you start to accept this, the borders of the self diffuse becoming more attuned with its environment. Read more about the “You in the environment” or about the Flow of life.

Everything is relative
We compare the things we see in our environment with the nodes and clusters we have in our mind. We do not approach each situation we encounter with a blank mind. Why I feel I am happy, this is relative to a certain situation. When I feel I am fat, this could be relative to myself earlier, other people. Either way, I believe it is interesting that you can play with relativity and compare yourself to anyone you desire. However, we should also realize that we often take the “relative situation” we desire to comfort ourselves or hide from our fears. For example, if my leg gets amputated, I could always say; well, it is not as bad as losing two legs. When playing with relativity, you could change situations and look differently at the world. Read more about this, and the model I produced here.

Living fractal
Most of all, my goal of my life is to life fractal. With living fractal, I mean living coherently across all layers and scales in my life. With layers, I mean work, sleep, social relationships, diet, activity, and so forth. I try to make these patterns cohere as much as I could. This requires adaptation from several layers towards complete alignment (fractal). With alignment across scales I mean that the largest concepts align with the smallest details. When I decide to try to be a nice person, I should try to be this also towards the people who are just small details to me (like that I should also treat my waiter nicely). Usually, the smallest details imply a lot about the larger structure. Living fractal means also aligning with my environment. This makes it often hard to interact and adapt. But I believe that I could reach the edge of chaos by adapting and re-aligning. Read more about this in this blog.

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