Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fear Pangs


A lot of my posts discuss emotions. I'll start with a quick summary chronologically and then move on to the core of this post.

  • In Emotions: Awareness of Hormones (April 2015) I discussed how the subjective experience of "feelings" are simply an awareness of different hormone levels in our blood.
  • In Empathy: Awareness of Other Awarenesses (May 2015), I discussed how being aware of others' emotions and being aware of their free will is the core of our experience of empathy.
  • In Moods (June 2015), I discussed how your emotional state can affect your choices.
  • In Deconstructing Emotions (July 2015), I discussed the way to recognize that some of our language uses catch-all terms (e.g. "happy" and "jealous"), which are really just combinations of constituent emotions attached with some abstract thoughts.
  • In The Role of Philosophy (July 2015), I discussed how emotions are one of the facets of life which are currently on the move from subjective to objective data.
  • In The Bisection Method (September 2015), I discuss how to better define which choices you want to make in regards to an emotional situation such as a breakup.

Hunger Pangs

Now that that's out of the way, let's switch gears a bit and discuss the animal kingdom. Lesser animals have significantly less (if any) self-awareness compared to humans. When they feel pangs of hunger, they react. They hunt for food for example. They aren't aware of their pangs rationally; they just know instinctually that in order for the pangs to be solved, they have to eat sustenance.

Whereas humans can feel hung pangs, but not necessarily react. Logically, our language has allowed us to classify and describe the feeling of hunger pangs. Our self-awareness has allowed us to make different choices. If we are on a diet, for example, we can use our awareness of a hunger pang, to recognize that we are choosing to ignore it for the moment.

We can choose to diet. Animals can't.

So based on that premise, the way to measure our self-awareness, is to determine how much we can make a choice, given an urge from the external environment (your own body's hormones as the external environment in this example).

Fear Pangs

So using that definition, what's next?

Imagine you're in marketing. You have a big presentation coming up for your boss, and you're nervous that you're slightly unprepared. You try to "pull yourself together" and calmly give it your all.

But what did you really do?

You became aware that the feeling in the pit of your stomach, was simply you being afraid of negative consequences for your career if your presentation didn't go well. Or perhaps you were afraid of being judged by your coworkers triggered from some old unresolved childhood issue.

You used your self-awareness and language to put a label on that fear, and made a choice of how to handle it, and how to present yourself, despite your fear. A less-spiritually-evolved person may have freaked out and screwed up such a presentation or had a panic attack.

How many people walk around with subconscious fears subtly dictating their every day decisions? Fears they aren't even aware of.
  • Maybe they're subconsciously afraid they might die alone and therefore act more desperately in their sexual relationships, which yields them ending up with a sub-par mate they end up miserable with.
  • Maybe they're terrified of being bored by life and are becoming an adrenaline junkie out of that fear (not out of an actual choice). Midlife crisis anyone?
  • Maybe they're scared of their family judging them, and simply subconsciously choose what to wear to a gathering based on that.
By increasing their self-awareness of these fears, they would be able to recognize that they are simply experience some hormone related to fear, and truly make a choice despite that fear pang hormone they've detected in their body. They will have "grown" as a person.


How could we define our next stage of spiritual evolution as a species?

Here are a few examples of ways to increase our self-awareness, and thereby increase our choices.
  • Being aware of what your hormones related to sadness when someone dies, you can choose how to deal with the emotions of that death, and choose to not push your loved ones away.
  • Being aware that your personality tends to be one of extremes ("work hard play hard"), and make a choice of whether to continue acting that way.
  • Being aware that the pleasurable feeling of a quick release of dopamine is driving you to use drugs, and choosing to find other methods to get your dopamine release.
  • Being aware of a constant fear about the future is allowing you to remove your generalized anxiety disorder (the entire basis for the highly effective CBT method which has been shown to be more effective than pharmaceuticals in some cases).
  • Being aware of your cycles and long term style of relationships allows you to choose a different partner next time who doesn't emotionally abuse you.


To measure self-awareness, we must measure out how many choices are stemming from underlying subconscious motivations (just chemicals in our bodies and brains).

The next time you feel a fear pang, just realize it's just some hormone interacting with your cells, and actually make a choice instead of simply reacting.

It's the entire basis for meditation. Becoming enlightened, is simply the process of becoming self-aware. Being aware of your true underlying motivations so that you can actually make a choice.

Eventually we'll be at a state where our fear pangs no longer dictates our choices as a species, the way our hunger pangs don't have to dictate our choices.

Constantly increasing self-awareness through technology (e.g. the internet containing our collection of knowledge to share), through self-exploration (e.g. meditation), or through science (e.g. measuring brain activity and hormone levels and correlating that with emotions).

What's will be the next step in our spiritual evolution? Meta jokes aside, what are we aware of that we aren't even aware we're aware of?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bisection Method

Improvement is the path to perfection.

"Perfection" is such a nebulous term. There's no real "perfect". There's only change in the universe. Buddhist have discussed for centuries the principle that the only thing one can count on is change. The atoms around us are constantly moving, changing, popping in and out of existence ("virtual particles"). The relationships in our lives are constantly changing. Our bodies are constantly changing. Our personalities are constantly changing. Our pattern recognition used to change our response to the external circumstances in our lives are constantly changing as we learn more and acquire more memories.

In my post about Adaptation, I discussed the importance of frequency in order to tap into the fact that life naturally adapts, in order to direct that change towards specific goals. In my post about Mind Over Matter, I discussed how using choices can morph the external environment into your specific desires. In my post about Deconstructing Emotions, I discussed how excitement is simply happiness with the direction of your choices.

To get from where you are now "Point A" to where you want to go "Point Z", you must direct the change towards Point Z If you imagine the perspective of driving a car, you have a vision of the future you wish to achieve, and there are several factors to getting you to that location on the map (really the physical location in the field of choice) through your choices.

Improvement: Choosing to direct the change in the direction you want.

Frequency: The percentage of time you spend being intentional about your choices.

Hard Work: The speed with which the change you want occurs.

Goals: The end vision you wish to achieve.

What about the direction though? The GPS? You have the goal in mind. You're ready to work hard, and ready to choose to spend your time improving and tapping into that change to achieve that goal. But sometimes the direction of choice is not necessarily obvious.

You may think that having a specific goal in mind is sufficient. It is true that the more clearly you define your vision for your goal, the more your subconscious will use that to subtly guide your choices towards that vision (the closest I can ever come to believing that book The Secret). But you can help your subconscious by thinking in terms of what I call the Bisection Method.

Take the vision of a goal (Point Z). Take where you are now (Point A). Cut it in half. What would halfway between A and Z look like? Define a clear vision for Point M.

Do it again. Define a clear vision for Point G. Keep doing it again until your immediate decisions, Point B, become clear.

Here's how this "Bisection Method" can be applied to various aspects of life. Yes, some of these may be obvious "duh" moments of just moving towards goals, but stick with me; you may be surprised how effective it can be.

You have a goal to be able to run 5 miles. You can barely muster running 1 mile. Before you do that, you'll have to be able to run 3 miles with ease. Too hard right now. Before that, you'll have to be able to run 2 miles with ease. More reasonable. Before that, you'll have to be able to run 1.5 miles with ease. So for the next month, you build up to running 1.5 miles with ease. Reapply. You then use the following month to build up to running 2 miles with ease. Rinse and repeat.

You're restlessly lying in bed going over the day's events and tomorrow's to-do's. Imagine what it would look like to be peacefully dreaming. You're so far from that, it's laughable. What would halfway look like? You'd probably be slowly drifting to sleep. Too far away. What would halfway to that look like? You'd probably be thinking less and less about whatever happened in your day. Now we're getting somewhere. What would halfway to that look like? At some point, you'd probably make a conscious choice that tomorrow's activities can wait until tomorrow. Now you have a clear choice in the direction you want.

You're devastated that your boyfriend broke up with you. You're a wreck, and can't focus on work. What would the goal look like? Well, in 5 years, you'd probably be laughing with friends and looking back on that one time 5 years back when you were "going through a rough patch". Okay, too far away. Use the bisection method. What would halfway to that look like? You'd probably be having a great social life but with a few old thoughts of your ex floating around in your mind. Too far. What would halfway to that look like? You'd probably be picking up the pieces of your life, and looking forward to some personal time, or time with friends. Getting closer. What would halfway to that look like? You'd probably be embracing your newly embraced freedom. What would halfway to that look like? You'd might decide you're better off in some way without him. I don't know how you personally deal with things like breakups because we're all unique, but you can use the bisection method to figure it out for yourself.

Let's say you're an architect. You want to come up with a killer blueprint design for a new project. You have the vision of it working out beautifully and being praised by your boss. Maybe you have some self-doubt, and are getting overwhelmed by how far off that is, or how unreasonable it appears. What's halfway to that? You'd probably have some struggles along the way but found a beautiful design you are pleased with. Maybe still too far. What's halfway to that?

You get the point. I can keep giving examples, such as:
  • Painting
  • Composing music
  • Business development
  • Social anxiety
  • Software development
  • Depression
  • Confidence
  • Graduating College

Defining clear visions of the "halfway" points is essentially you helping out your subconscious to more efficiently make choices which lead you to your goal. And those halfway points are not necessarily the time it takes; rather, what would have to be in place for the goal to be realized. Notice how in the "Emotions" example, I didn't bisect the "5 years" part of the goal, but rather the "laughing with friends" part. The time it takes will depend on hard work, frequency, and just time naturally flowing. This method is simply used to help guide the direction of the choices.

Improvement is the path to perfection, and the bisection method is what I like to use to decide how to improve.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Self-Awareness: Awareness of Possible Pasts

Now that the idea of memories and pattern recognition has been defined via the concept of the field of choice, you may notice there's an awareness missing.
  • Choices and willpower are your chosen direction amidst the possibilities laid out in front of you.
  • Pattern recognition is the ability to predict the result of different choices, or essentially "see" into the fifth dimension, in the future direction.
  • Memory is the ability to see the path you've already taken in the fifth dimension.
What subject experience would involve the sight in the fifth dimension in the past direction? Can we even experience that?

Now that we've laid the groundwork, we can choose to look at our senses from an alternative point of view. Previously, we attempted to list each subjective experience and figure out how to define it in terms of an awareness of the universe and consciousness. Alternatively, we can now look at different potential "sights" and awarenesses of the universe, and determine if there's an associated subjective experience.
  • We are aware of energy waves (via sound).
  • We are not directly aware of gravity.
  • We are aware of gravity's effects on the strong nuclear force (via touch).
  • We are aware of the hormones associated with certain emotions.
  • We are not directly aware of our white blood cells.

Are we aware of the fifth dimension in the direction of the past, outside of our memory? I believe we are, and I think that's the concept traditionally known as self-awareness.

When we think about the past and how we acted, we remember our actions and their consequences. For example, you may remember when you were angry and screwed up a career interview due to that anger. You may also have a memory of a time when you were optimistic and dominated an interview due to that confidence. Self-awareness is simply putting them together, and being aware how your mood could have completely changed the outcome of a negative situation (e.g. regret) or positive situation (e.g. "I almost gave up!").

Think about this in terms of the field of choice. You are using your brain to be aware of different potential paths you could have taken. Self-awareness is simply using your memory and your brain to imagine different possibilities in the past (the red arrows in the image above). Hopefully the result of increased self-awareness is to then use that awareness of past choices (or even past long term habits) to see different possibilities in the future (the cyan arrows in the image above).

A highly self-aware person is aware of their true underlying motivations and how different motivations could have led to different paths in life (the red arrows). Such a person is able to step out into the fifth dimension (seeing themselves from a third-party perspective) and visualize how their short term choices and long term habits have dictated their path. I alluded to this in my article regarding mind over matter.

Spiritual leaders talk about vague concepts such as "higher planes of consciousnesses". For example, the popular book from the 1970's "Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness Beyond the Drug Experience", the author describes how meditation is the mechanism to achieve higher "planes of consciousness" (which, as an aside, he very poorly defined). I believe that concept can simply be categorized as increasing your sight into the fifth dimension. Being able to "step back" and see your life from an abstract, rather than concrete, perspective, and be more self-reflective. I believe this, because the method through which they describe achieving a higher plane of consciousness is by increasing self-awareness via meditation. Yet it's important that we as a species ground our concepts in logic and data, as I previously discussed in my article regarding the role of philosophy.

When you try to guess how past actions could have changed your current situation, your sight in the fifth dimension in the past is blurrier the further back you attempt to look. Just as it's difficult to predict the result of choices in the future (your sight along the cyan arrows is blurrier the further out you try to predict), the same applies to the past.

To increase your self-awareness (which incidentally is the goal of meditation and an important piece of the vague concept of enlightenment), you simply practice being truly aware of which choices led you to the present moment.

This allows you to make different choices going forward due to an increased sight along the fifth dimension.

Colloquially, "know thyself" and by being more mindful of how you've acted, and the consequences or results of those actions (both positive and negative), you increase your self-awareness muscle and make better choices in the future.

As usual, our senses list now looks like the following (I've slightly modified some of the wording):

SenseAwareness of...
SoundEnergy Waves
TouchNuclear Force
TasteChemical Structure
SmellChemical Structure
EmotionsHormone Levels
EmpathyOther Awarenesses
MemoryPast Choices
Pattern RecognitionFuture Possibilities
WillpowerPresent Choices
Self-AwarenessPast Possibilities

Friday, July 31, 2015

Role of Philosphy

It's important that philosophy better daily life. Otherwise it's just an exercise in mental masturbation. Science and religion have done a wonderful job describing specifically how to change daily life, or provide changes (and hopefully betterments) to daily life via engineering and morality respectively.

But what about philosophy? This is how I see philosophy's role in our understanding of the world:

The abstract thinking of science has improved daily concrete life through technology. Developed from understanding of biology, from psychology, or from methods for engineering.

But what about some of the subjective data? The data which we experience (or at least think we experience) but for which there is little measurable data? Examples include death and free will. Therein lies the benefit of philosophy. By using logic and our subjective experiences, philosophy can offer changes in worldviews leading to a different interpretation of death Or by understanding our awareness of our emotions, we can choose to interpret them differently. Or by believing in the concept of choice or willpower, we can implement changes in daily life resulting from optimism, empowerment, and changes in our daily habits.

That's why, at the end of several blog posts, I try to describe how a given philosophical idea can change one's daily life.  For example, at the end of my Field of Choice post, I described how the concepts of anxiety and depression can be reinterpreted given this idea. At the end of my thoughts on adaptation, I made sure to describe how the concept can be used to make sustainable improvements towards one's goals. It's important that philosophy better daily life.

But now let's consider for a moment the concept of emotions. They are a unique concept since they are one of the pieces of data which are currently on the move from a subjective experience to measurable data. Emotions used to be simply a subjective experience, with philosophical wonderings abound. But as we, as a people, learned more about the world, we started to measure neurotransmitters and hormone levels, and to become aware of their effects on this elusive subjective experience of emotions.

There is a trend. As society develops, more and more data moves from the form of subjective data towards measurable data. The pretty dots in the night sky used to be just the subjective experience of photons hitting our eyes. But as we developed the telescope (and more sophisticated variations nowadays), we saw the luminance of stars and planets.

It's in these moments, when experiences move from subjective to measurable, that philosophy has to keep up or be dismissed. I will admit that I do not understand (nor do many physcists) the subtle implications of recent developments in quantum physicists, simply due to the time it would take to learn the math behind it. An example of some concepts I have a some grasp on are dimensionality slicing and the many-world's hypothesis. Combining them with quantum probabilities, allowed the concept a 5-dimensional universe as the physical structure. But philosophy must not exclude any measurable data, and it's possible that there is a proof in some physics paper of which I am not aware which renders that idea completely false.

Currently there is almost no measurable on the possible subjective experiences of death and free will (if they even are real experiences), and those are therefore two major topics in philosophy. But as more data on death becomes available, whether due to biological understanding of apoptosis, or through physics' understanding of Schroedinger's cat, the need for philosophy will start to become obviated.

When we get to that point in society, it will be a completely different way humans choose to spend their time, and interpret the universe. Once there are very few philosophical wonderings left, and once science has enough measurable data to make us feel the emotions we want, for example, and to know what happens after death, our way of living will change. For better or for worse remains to be seen, and I'll offer no prediction on that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Cardiovascular fitness. Muscle hypertrophy. Obesity. Learning. Training dogs. Natural selection. All just examples of the process of adaptation.

Adaptation is simply the process of becoming more efficient at dealing with a repeated stimuli.

Let's go through each of these examples and see how they are simply manifestations of adaptation.

  • Cardivascular fitness: By running consistently and frequently, the cardiovascular system has to become more efficient at delivering oxygen to your body. By consistently straining your cardiovascular system, it adapts by increasing your cardiovascular fitness. So by the 100th time you run a mile, there's less strain to deal with that forced stimuli of running.
  • Muscle hypertrophy: Strength training. By repeatedly exposing the muscle fibers to strain, they have to adapt to be more efficient at contracting. The result is increase in the size and quantity of the muscle fibers, resulting in a strong physique.
  • Obesity: By repeatedly consuming food, your body has to become more efficient at storing it. The number of fat cells capable of storing food actually increases. That's why it's more difficult to lose weight once you put it on: you have more total fat cells in your body (in addition to an increase in their average size!). Back in our caveman days, the need to store food efficiently was an adaptation to the scarcity and infrequency of meals. (Aside: the recently popular intermittent fasting diet regime is the other side of the same coin).
  • Learning: Or, more specifically, acquiring knowledge rather than rational thought. Memorizing. Learning about chemical bonds or language theory. By repeatedly exposing your neurons to the same stimuli (a fact, a process, etc.) they adapt. They become more efficient at recalling that information in the future. This way, when the information is needed again, or when you read the same book a fifth time, your memory is more efficient (it takes less "mental strain" or less time) to bring the information to your awareness.
  • Training dogs: When you punish a dog for a given action, he adapts. The first few times that he experiences the punishment, he doesn't yet form a pattern to predict whether it will happen in the future. But by the 10th time, he sure won't be pulling on the leash when going for a walk.
  • Natural selection: In terms of evolution, only the strong survive. Or rather, only the best-fitted to the current environment survive. The universe is constantly presenting our environment with new stimuli. For example our earth's atmosphere, which we've adapted to and expanded beyond. Harsh conditions. The primordial soup from which it is theorized DNA emerged. All simple examples of life's molecules adapting to repeated exposure to the universe's conditions and stimuli, resulting in only the adapted organisms surviving.

This is all well and good, and perhaps blatantly obvious. But how do you use the concept of adaptation to better achieve your goals and benefit your personal life? It's simple: frequency. There are platitudes galore of this. For example: "consistency is key", "practice makes perfect", "an apple a day keeps the doctor away".

William James was a 19th century philosopher who said:

"When we look at living creatures from an outward point of view, one of the first things that strike us is that they are bundles of habits."

Use the fact that we naturally adapt to fine-tune your habits. By doing something consistently, frequently, whether it's running, or working on an architecture design, you will naturally adapt. By the 17th time you see the same architecture plans, or you read the same literary deconstruction, it has become a part of you. You've adapted. You've been exposed to the same stimuli too often (in a good way!). This clears the way for you to efficiently see patterns or creatively use that information to push further in your given task. By running frequently, even if you don't push yourself past your previous limit every day, your adaptation will naturally allow you to push yourself from couch to 5k. Now for professional level athletes, simply relying on frequency alone is not the most efficient way to achieve their goals, but for nearly every other person, doing something frequently for several years and then decades will have a profound cumulative effect on their lives.

Being particular and intentional with how you spend your time is the basis for many motivational videos and speeches, and is simply capitalizing on the process of adaptation.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Descontruction Emotions


I discussed emotions as simply an awareness of different hormone levels throughout our body. Yet that's only the concrete feeling of emotions. If emotions were only awareness of hormones, then how would one distinguish two feelings, which may have similar hormone levels, and yet would be caused by two different events?

To understand this, we have to recognize that emotions are both subjective sense of our hormones (or other chemicals such as neurotransitters) of which our consciousnesses are aware, as well as an associated abstract, rational thought, attached to a given feeling.

As such, this allows us to deconstruct several of our emotions, and enact what cognitive behavioral therapists attempt to do, in distinguishing the feeling from the underlying thought.

We'll take two emotions: jealousy and happiness. Each of these words is actually a catch-all term representing several underlying emotions.


Jealousy can be thought of as one or more of the following: possessiveness, envy, and insecurity. Let's take the simplest, and most common, example of jealousy at an ex's new lover. While the concrete subjective feeling may be exactly the same, the experience of jealousy can be broken down into:

  • Envy: Some subconscious thought makes you wish you were her (the other lover). You have the physical queasiness in your stomach, associated with a subconscious thought that you wish you had what the new lover has. Envy is a focus on the new lover.
  • Possessiveness: "Mine!" An evolutionarily programmed, instinctual response, over your ex. It has nothing to do with the new lover, but everything to do with a sense of possessiveness over your ex. Possessiveness is a focus on your ex.
  • Insecurity: "Maybe I'm not good enough?" The feeling of queasiness, associated with some deep unresolved insecurity Insecurity is a focus on yourself.
Before critics start claiming "I don't have these thoughts, I just feel jealous!" allow me to remind you, defensive reader, that these are subconscious thoughts, arising likely from an evolutionary incentive. Nothing you'd likely be aware of.

Each of these separate feelings are simply the same subjective emotion of jealousy (that "queasiness"), associated with a subconscious, automatic thought regarding either you (insecurity), your ex (possessiveness), or the new lover (envy).


Next we'll delve into happiness. Again, another catch-all term. This time, it's a concrete feeling associated with some feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters (likely dopamine, seratonin, adrenaline, etc., in some combination and flow), associated with a subconscious thought.

We could break down happiness along the dimension of the person and subject (happy for yourself, happy for him, happy for her, happy for them), but this time we'll discuss happiness in terms of time, and break it down into three constituent feelings.

  • Pride: Happiness with the past. Happiness with some way you performed or acted, or some external result which occurred in your life. You can feel pride in yourself, or a loved one. Pride is a focus on the past.
  • Contentment: Happiness with the present. Imagine Buddhist monks, or Yogis. Living in the present,completely content with the way the universe is unfolding. Or a Christian, content with the belief that God has as plan, and things are unfolding as they should. Present-minded. Mindful. Happy with where you are in life. Not a stray thought unnecessarily focused on longing for memories or trying to predict the future. Contentment is a focus on the present.
  • Excitement: Happiness with the future. Forget about being proud of the past, or content with the present. Rather, from the perspective of driving a car, being happy with the speed and direction that car is moving through the Field of Choice. Excited about the probable outcomes the future may hold. Excitement is a focus on the future.


Our language contains many words describing emotions, which are really catch-all hierarchical terms (e.g. "happiness" and "jealousy"), and also many words describing more constituent, specific emotional building blocks ("contentment" or "insecurity").

Every emotion you feel is a combination of the physical, concrete feeling (e.g. joy or queasiness or cortisol or fear) associated with a subconscious automatic thought. By detaching the two from each other allows one to better understand oneself and have more control over the influence the external world (and other beings) have over one's emotional state.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Natural Society Selection

Life has become increasingly more sophisticated as time goes on. From single celled organisms to the symbiotic relationship between multiple cells comprising the human body.

This has only been possible through a constant battle or thousands of generations and billions of species, fighting for dominance.

We are at the bring of the limit of what our earth can support. Natural selection will still continue on earth, but as we become smarter and more resilient, life will begin to expand to other planets.

This will allow for an interesting phenomenon. A collective set of cells evolve together through the human body, with billions of humans helping the process along at any given time.

Once we start expanding outside our own planet, and outside our own solar system, we are going to start observing societies acting collectively as one single unit. With enough space available, societies will be acting as a single organism, and natural selection will start choosing which societies are best fit for the universe.

The point of life is to see what is best suited for the trials and tribulations in the obstacle course that is our universe. We are already trending from single-celled organism, to multi-celled organisms, to symbiotic organisms, and now onto societies in which the agents (citizens) are starting to act in unison, under the direction of a centralized (nervous) system (the government).

As our world becomes more interconnected, through the advent of telecommunication and air travel, we are already starting to fight amongst ourselves at an increasing rate. That is simply natural selection starting to work its way onto larger systems, in order to determine which societies are best suited for the environment.

Our individuality and free will will always exist, but eventually societies which better act in unison may beat out (evolutionarily) societies which allow for too much creative thought.

Or, on the other hand, societies which act as a template for capitalistic free thought in a decentralized fashion may turn out to be better suited to the universe through quicker adaptation to unknowns, and may be better suited for the universe than a centrally controlled society.

Time will tell. And by time, I mean the millions of years which define the evolutionary timescale.