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.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mind Over Matter

"If you believe it, you can do it!" New age illogical crap the way most people talk about mind over matter.

What does that phrase actually represent? How could one explore the logic of such a statement to determine a scientific basis, if any, for that hypothesis?

Allow for a simple thought experiment. You are feeling lazy, or lethargic. In my post about emotions, I discussed the fact that all these "feelings" are just different interpretations of chemicals in our body. So there are some chemicals in your body or brain which are causing you to interpret the feeling of lethargy. Apathy. Laziness. Lack of motivation. Some combination of neurotransmitters is giving you that subjective feeling.

Now let's take the phrase "mind over matter" and see if we can apply it. Or rather, let's discuss is as "willpower over the external physical universe." So your goal is to use "mind over matter" to simply remove the physical chemicals present in your body which are causing you distress. Impossible, right? Spiritual mumbo jumbo?

Not exactly. Let's say that your self-awareness, that your mind, recognizes that when you have taken a walk in the past, or have gone to the gym, you remember feeling better. You remember feeling energized afterwards and more motivated for the rest of the day.

You then go about implementing the actions that you remember. You converge on the probabilities in your neurons which will allow your body to implement the steps for your choice. Your pattern recognition allowed you to see a possible future that you liked, and take a step towards it in the fifth dimension of choice.

You come back from the gym and feel less lazy. You have endorphines running through your body. You have none of the chemicals or neurotransmitters associated with the feeling of lethargy.

Your willpower, your decisions, over a period of 100 minutes, for example, was the mechanism your free will used to remove those "lethargy" chemicals from your body. To change the neurotransmitter configuration when you came back from the gym.

You use your willpower to remove the chemicals associated with pangs of hunger, every day.

If you will yourself enough, you can overcome the physical limits of your body. But it takes time. And that change in the physical universe over a period of time based on your willpower is what we colloquially define as "goals".

But not by simply wishing things would change. Rather by making choices of what to do with your body for a period of time (100 minutes, a day, a week, a year) to change the neurochemicals you experience. 

You work hard in your career to experience seeing a beautiful house you own. You choose to act a certain way on a first date so that you can potentially experience the neurochemicals associated with the experience of marriage.

You used your willpower to choose which photons would be hitting your eyes at a future date. You want to see the photons coming from a a child, and so you use your willpower now to change the photons you see in the future.

You were able to change your life by making choices, and therefore change the physical universe your body occupies, by your willpower.

Mind over matter has a logical basis, in that we can change the physics in front of us, the objects occupying the physical universe in the space in front of our eyes, through achieving our goals.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Field of Choice

This blog post is an amalgum of my series on senses and consciousness and my posts discussing the physics of the universe.

Fifth Dimension

Once we delve down into the structure of the universe, we hone in on time (the present moment), we hone in on space (subatomic particles and forces), and yet we see that there is an additional component: probabilities.

What if we defined probabilities as the fifth dimension? As in: matter/energy moves through time (and therefore the past and future are real and can be connected via wormholes), but also moves through probabilities (there are different probable energy levels that energy lives in).

There are possible trajectories a photon could take through space, and there are waves of those probable locations for the photon (and therefore possible trajectories through probabilities, or the fifth dimension).

Gravity and quantum mechanics are irreconcilable right now, possibly because gravity explains spacetime as a four dimensional universe, and yet quantum mechanics deals with probabilities. Einstein had a lot of trouble believing that God would play dice with the universe, as per his famous quote.

I already presented the idea that we are aware of probabilities through our willpower. But what is willpower exactly? What exactly are we aware of?

I believe that we are actually aware of our motion through the fifth dimension.


We visualized our four dimensional universe last year as a single block.

At the end of that article, I made the claim that a multiverse could be visualized as a morphing four dimensional universe.
But a multiverse is nothing more than a five dimensional universe. Rather than visualizing a multiverse as a morphing four dimensional universe, allow us to visualize it as what I call a Field of Choice.

In the article about visualizing a four dimensional universe, we collapsed one of the spatial dimensions. In this article, we will collapse all spatial dimensions into one, to more easily visualize. 

Allow the dimension of choice be orthogonal to time, which is orthogonal to all the spatial dimensions.

Our lives through a four dimensional universe would simply be a straight line through the Field of Choice. But then you would simply be a passive observer, possibly only making decisions based on the highest probability.

I assert that we have free will. Which is nothing more than us moving through the fifth dimension of probabilities. We make choices every day, and are therefore moving through the fifth dimension by collapsing the probabilities in our neurons.

Now imagine a curve moving through the fifth dimension, not just the three spatial dimensions, as time progresses. We would constantly have to be making choices, visualizing possible futures.

We can take our theory of pattern recognition being seen as another sense into the future, as actually a sense into both the fourth and fifth dimensions. We can see the future, and also other “nearby” choices.

It’s possible that quantum physics’ models of probabilities could never resolve its conflict with Einstein’s theory of gravity until the idea of choice (converging the probabilities) is seen as the fifth dimension the same way time was seen as the fourth dimension.

This the true multiverse. Physicists discuss the possibility of multiple universes existing simultaneously with different probable outcomes, and that's simply what I refer to as the Field of Choice. To define that multiverse, we simply have to define an additional dimension of the universe as the probabilities.

This theory also explains how we have free will, as well as have subjective experiences which observe the state of the universe. Our motion through the multiverse is how our free will operates.

The truth is, we don’t live in a four dimensional universe. We live in a fifth dimensional universe. And the fifth dimension is choice. Our sight into the past and present is singular in the past, and varied in the future.

Applications & Implications

Daily Life

Now that we can visualize how free will may operate through a multiverse, let's discuss possible ways in which this could affect our mood and our day-to-day interactions.
  • Fear of Death: Our pattern recognition sight is unable to see what happens after death. Our fear of death is simply an awareness of the fact that our sight, everything we know we’re going to be in control to change, is limited to our life. It’s a void past which we don’t know. We have no feedback from what happens to our awareness and willpower after death and that’s scary.
  • Fear of _________: Any fear could simply be seen as attempting to avoid unfavorable spots in the Field of Choice. For example, fear of embarrassment could be seen as using our pattern recognition and memories to avoid unfavorable spots on the field of choice based on socially acceptable ways to interact.
  • Depression: Could be pining about things that are set in stone in the past, coupled with a lack of motivation to exercise our will across the fifth dimension (unmotivated).
  • Anxiety: Could be the feeling of frantically trying to not screw up which choice you make and constantly trying to avoid unfavorable spots in the Field of Choice.
  • Optimism & Empowerment: The feeling that you have a wide range of motion in the fifth dimension. That your choices are capable of moving you further across the dimension of possibilities.
  • Pessimism & Realism: Understanding that there are high-probable outcomes outside of your control which may not be favorable.
An instinctual awareness of a fifth dimension has even permeated our language. “If I choose X, I go down one path in life. If I choose Y I go down a different path.” That’s our minds naturally and instinctually being aware of the fifth dimension of probabilities and the fact that we can carve out different curves through the multiverse, not just a straight line.

I understand that it's entirely possible that there's determinism, and that the universe simply chooses for us the highest probability events. Yet it's also equally possible that by believing in a five dimensional universe (or however many spatial dimensions our physicists find plus time and probabilities), this allows free will to operate within the current paradigm of physics.


In addition, if time travel were to exist, this concept of free will and choice as a fifth dimension could resolve the grandfather paradox. If you go back in time, your willpower is essentially carving a new path in a parallel universe. There's no paradox if there's a fifth dimension.

When physicists discuss a multiverse, for those who understand what a dimension truly represents, they are simply discussing slicing (a type of dimensionality reduction), along the fifth dimension. The parallel universe hypothesis is nothing more or less than a recognition of probabilities being the fifth dimension.

Even our empathy is simply an understanding that there are other beings with free will also navigating this Field of Choice, allows us to have a sense of morality.


This is what Buddhists talk about when they discuss how we're all in this life together and make the entire world of sentient beings their in-group. Also the concept of reincarnation can be related to the idea that our awareness moving through the Field of Choice will find another entity to be aware of after the death of our neurons. This is what Christians talk about when they discuss that God is omnipotent, as He would be a being capable of navigating and seeing this entire Field of Choice.

It's a working possible way to reconcile some inconsistencies between gravity, quantum probabilities, religion, free will, morality, and self-awareness, with some possible real-world implications of this philosophy in regards to psychology and how to live one's life.


Fate may given you a tunnel through this multiverse, or Field of Choice, based on the fact that certain outcomes are low-probability events (the edges of the tunnel through the fifth dimension) and certain outcomes are high probability events (the middle of the tunnel through the fifth dimension is easy to move through). But free will allows you to move through the tunnel. It takes more willpower to create highly improbable events in your life come true, such as starting from a disadvantaged position early in life into a huge financial success, but you can still use strength of will to move through that tunnel. A highly financially successful life may be farther away along the fifth dimension of probability when you start from nothing, but willpower can move you closer to highly improbable events by the choices you make through the Field of Choice.

That's the takeaway for how philosophy can affect your day-to-day interactions, choices, and emotions.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Structure of the Universe

We've been given the incredible power of choice. It is entirely possible that choice is an emergent phenomenon, an illusion that we want to believe to avoid the sinking fear that we are simply machines responding to our senses via pattern recognition. Yet the fact that we have subjective experiences based on our senses suggests that we are not simply complex machinery (well technically according to the concept of solipsism, I can only be sure that I personally have subjective experiences, but my empathy makes me believe that others do as well).

We are capable of directing our willpower to influence the universe around us. Gravity, left unchecked, would dictate that the rock would quietly sit there on the ground for years. Yet we can choose to use the strong and weak nuclear forces to contract our muscles and pick up that rock. If you had no willpower, the rock's trajectory through time would have remained unchanged.

But what is the mechanism behind this choice? This is one of the greatest questions of modern science. How does our willpower act through our neurons?

Let's delve into our neurons at a micro scale as we go deeper into space and time and arrive at the present moment.
  1. Our bodies move by contracting muscles through nerves.
  2. Those nerves are directed through our neurons.
  3. Our neurons are capable of pattern recognition (see any current research on artificial neural networks to learn more regarding the process of neurons yielding regression and classification decisions).
  4. Our neurons have action potentials based on neurotransmitter chemicals.
  5. Those chemicals are made up of protons, neutrons, electrons etc.
  6. Those are made up of subatomic particles (quarks, etc.) at different energy levels. 

At this point we have to pause. Because deeper than that, we come to the realm of probabilities. There are probable energy levels in which the subatomic particles and electrons may exist. However, there is no clear understanding of how nature decides on which probabilities to collapse. As time flows forward, the probabilities collapse into a given energy level. In fact, the particles likely exist in all possible energy levels simultaneously until time flows forward and they have collapsed (Schrödinger's cat).

Yet imagine what would occur with different combinations of these subatomic particles' energy levels being at different states. By collapsing those probabilities. By having a unique combination of the energy levels, this yields different states of the neurons and eventually human bodies. It's my assertion that the collapsing of those probable energy levels is the mechanism behind which free will operates. The energy levels with the highest probabilities could result in the human body unmoving, just swaying in the wind, so-to-say. Yet there are some combinations of energy levels which would result in the human body taking a step.

Or perhaps the most probable energy levels wouldn't be a static but, but would result in a person just acting out of his instincts.

If we assume that free will exists, then I assert that the mechanism through which it operates is a collapsing of the energy levels of the subatomic particles in our neurons.

If you keep dividing time, quantum physics talks about probabilities. Probabilities of different events as the primordial soup of the universe. This makes sense if you think about the fact that there are probabilities of different things happening given our choices. Our consciousness is us being aware of these states as we flow through “realizing” these probabilities come together. Consciousness is the convergence of the probabilities to an actual event (the particle actually moved in this direction). The collapse of the probabilities is us moving through time and “observing”.

We try to make the best choice given our actions. We can follow general population trends and know on average what occurs, but instinctually we always know that there was a chance our choices could have yielded a different output.

What does that mean? It simply means that you are using pattern recognition to guess the probabilities, and making a choice collapses those probabilities.

The structure of the universe is probabilities and choice projects us through the realization of being the observer. Trying out our sense of memory by thinking back in the past to known probability outputs, and looking into the future by seeing different probabilities.

Quantum physicists are slowly realizing the the basic physical structure of the universe isn't just geometry and raw energy, but also probabilities. Which to me represents possibilities, and a mechanism through which free will may operate.

Friday, June 26, 2015


In all my posts about senses, I've been discussing our senses as an awareness of different properties of the universe. We get feedback from the world around us, and make choices based on that feedback. We get feedback from our memories, from our sense of sight, from our brain's pattern recognition, from our rational abstract thoughts, from our current emotional state (run! I'm afraid of the tiger!), and we make a choice based on that feedback.

Our choices are actually based on all that feedback combined with our DNA, in addition to things such as our feeling of an ingroup versus outgroup, and our moods. Our moods change our goals. When you're in a bad mood, you may still be just as rational as if you are in a good mood, given your different goals.

A bad mood may give you the desire to stay in your room and shut out the world. A good mood may give you the desire to laugh with friends. Your moods are then filtered through your personality and result in a given decision. Your personality will determine if you calmly shut the door or slam it when someone hurts you emotionally. Where you decide to go to dinner with friends when you're in a good sociable mood; what sort of ambiance you prefer. But ultimately, your mood is going to subtly influence every decision and action you take.

Creating a model of our psyche could look something like the following:

We have a range of possibilities available to us, but those will be affected by, and therefore limited by, our mood as well as our personality.

Each of our senses simply gives us additional feedback about how our decisions changed the universe (did we catch the ball?). In addition, our senses also give us information on the current state of the universe (such as our own levels of hunger) in order for us to properly exert our will to achieve our goals.

We see pixels on a computer screen through the sense of sight and know the price of a given stock. We use our sense of memory to remember our investment plan. We use our sense of pattern recognition to determine probable financial results for ourselves. Our chemical makeup based on our DNA may affect our mood (whether we're extremely competitive and likely to take risks or not), and the other events in the day (taken in by our senses) will also affect our mood. We eventually arrive at a decision regarding whether to buy a given stock and repeat the process.

At the core, we are simply using our senses as input, using our brain to give us possible outcomes (which include not just which is "best" but also how we'll feel after each decision), make a choice (this is key; I don't believe in determinism), and then direct our body to implement our output decision.

This is the purpose of our senses. To allow us to be aware of the feedback from the universe to make different choices. Our senses are filtered through our moods to arrive at a decision.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Willpower: Awareness of Probabilities

In the article about pattern recognition simply being sight into the future, I alluded to the ability to make a choice.

There are a few subjective experiences which our current model of physics doesn't properly explain, one of which is the experience of willpower. Willpower is the process of choosing your thinking (directing your neurons), using those neurons to physically move (directing your body). Your body then is used to modify the rest of physics (the physical universe) as you see fit.

You are aware of the different choices in front of you. You can see the future (by visualizing the outcome of different choices). Yet in addition to seeing the result of those choices, you are deeply aware that you are able to direct your body. That there are different possibilities. That the world is going to be continuing on its path defined by simple physics unless you choose to change it.

Without willpower, the ball thrown at you would hit you square in the chest. But you are aware that you can direct your neurons to direct your hand to intercept the ball. You have essentially used your willpower to modify the "traditional" course of physics.

If we look on a more micro level, there are probabilities. Probable outcomes based on our choices. This will be more deeply explained in my future post about the universe's structure, but suffice it to say that there are probable outcomes based on our decisions. While pattern recognition is the awareness of those different choices, the fact that we can direct which probable outcome will actually occur gives us the subjective experience of willpower (which is different from the experience of visualizing the future using pattern recognition).

Choice, willpower, free will. While the topic of free will versus determinism is hotly debated, I assert that willpower is simply an awareness that there are probable outcomes in our universe, and that our neurons can affect those outcomes.  My previous definition of a sense as "an awareness of some property of the universe through time" is important, because the awareness of us making choices through time and affecting the physics around us allows us to define the subjective experience of willpower as a sense.

Our senses list now looks like the following:

SenseAwareness of...
SoundEnergy Waves
TouchNuclear Force
TasteChemical Structure
SmellChemical Structure
EmotionsHormone Levels
EmpathyOther Awarenesses
MemoryThe Past
Pattern RecognitionThe Future

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pattern Recognition: Awareness of the Future

In the previous post, I discussed memory being (or at least including) an awareness of the past.

But what about the future? When we think about the future we imagine good or bad outcomes. We can start to predict what will happen. When a ball is thrown at you, you can predict where it's going to be and move your arm out to catch it. You used your pattern recognition to make a prediction of the future. You timed the movement of your arm to coincide with your prediction of the future.

You knew instinctively that your guess was based on the future. You had a deep awareness that your actions (putting your hand up) could change the future. Without your pattern recognition, the physics of the ball's motion could possibly place it square in your chest and injure you. We evolved an awareness of the future, and a method in our brain to predicting how our willpower and decisions (such as putting your hand up) could modify the future.

Animals do it a little worse than us, although they certainly can be taught some things of prediction; think Pavlov’s dog. Yet we don’t necessarily do it very well ourselves.

Even the best chess players can’t see too many moves into the future. And people try to make career choices based on their predicted value to a potential company, but are frequently wrong. We try to invest intelligently and frequently fail. Yet some things we do very well. We can know the cause and effect of eating certain foods on our bodies or going to certain events.

Imagining (which can include both goals and fears / anxieties) of different possible ways the world could be is sight into the future.

Our true "extra sense" is not communicating with the dead, or being a prophet knowing the future. Rather seeing into the past (memory) and future choices (pattern recognition). It’s an orthogonal vision to sight as discussed in Consciousness article.

Just as we discussed the emotions following a memory, we can similarly discuss the emotions (such as hope or fear) following a prediction of the future. We may use pattern recognition to believe that the charging bull will spear us. This thought will subconsciouly send the hormones associated with the emotion of fear through our bodies to force our conscious mind to act. We are aware of a negative future with increasing probabilities, and feel an emotion based on that. Or we see our winning lottery numbers appear on the television, and our pattern recognition projects positive changes to our future lifestyle, and we feel glee. This positive expected outcome likely evolved to reward us for the given behavior and continue actions which positively affected our lives.

Pattern recognition, cause/effect, educated guessing, hoping, fearing. All these are simply a deep awareness of the future and how our choices will affect the physics of the future with some probability.

Our senses list now looks like the following:

SenseAwareness of...
SoundEnergy Waves
TouchNuclear Force
TasteChemical Structure
SmellChemical Structure
EmotionsHormone Levels
EmpathyOther Awarenesses
MemoryThe Past
Pattern RecognitionThe Future

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Memory: Awareness of the Past

Memory. It can be deceiving, it can be hopeful, it can be depressing. Nostalgia, fondness, regret, and pride are some of the emotions associated with mental thoughts regarding our memories. When we feel these emotions, they are simply hormones and neurotransmitters being released in various quantities following a thought regarding a memory.

Memory itself has been known to activate the same parts of our brain as our actual "traditional" five senses. For example, when you imagine a visual scene, you will be partially activating the occipital lobe, which is also used to primarily process your actual sense of sight.

The subjective experience of memory may present itself to your "mind's eye" the same as sight. However, we have a deep awareness that even though the image shown to us is a visual interpretation, a daydream, it is from the past.

As such, that nearly imperceptible awareness we experience, a deep knowing of the fact that what is going on through our brain is from the past, is our next sense.

The emotions attached to memory are cognitive interpreting of the past, and those emotions have evolved through evolution. For example, regret likely evolved as a way for humans to survive longer by feeling a deep sense of "mistake" and "guilt" from memories which did not serve our lives positively. In addition to the past perhaps not benefiting ourselves, we can also empathize with another human and recognize how our past decisions affected someone's trajectory in life. We may recognize that it is not beneficial to our "tribe" and feel the emotion of shame.

The memory is experienced, our minds interpret the event (queue psychiatric advice on choosing to reinterpret a past situation differently), and our minds then release some hormone or neurotransmitter which causes us to feel an emotion. This feedback from our mind's interpretation of the event then allows us to adapt our behavior and choices.

I'm going to stop here, and save our choices of behavior after the memory for the next blog post, because I want to do The Future due justice.

However, one point I will mention before closing is a philosophy from the popular spiritual book The Power of Now, which aims to remind readers that the past is set in stone. Think about pining about the past. Reminiscing or feeling depressed or guilty. It’s truly a wasted exercise if it doesn’t positively benefit your future. Why? Because the past is set in stone. Think about yourself desaturated, in shades of grey.

"The past is written in ink." "No use crying over spilled milk." Nothing can be done about the past choices you made. It's obvious when explicitly stated, and yet many people carry with them emotional baggage, perhaps a feeling of shame or regret or sadness about the past. Our ability to remember the past is only useful insofar as it affects our present and future decisions.

But we can visualize these situations. Maybe learn from them to improve our futures. We can feel how we felt and essentially empathize with our former selves. We can empathize with our former self. These subjective experiences of memory are what we define as awareness of the past.

Our senses list now looks like the following:

SenseAwareness of...
SoundEnergy Waves
TouchNuclear Force
TasteChemical Structure
SmellChemical Structure
EmotionsHormone Levels
EmpathyOther Awarenesses
MemoryThe Past

Monday, May 11, 2015

Empathy: Awareness of Other Awarenesses

Empathy. The subjective experience of putting yourself in another’s shoes.

Not visualizing something happening to them, but imagining how they might feel. One could call that just as subjective an experience as thinking rationally, or feeling emotions.

Empathy isn’t really an emotion. It’s a way of thought. Emotions we’ve defined as physical feelings. Empathy doesn’t quite fit into that. Empathy can be deeper kindness towards other people, other animals, and our kin.

Really understanding intuitively that they are just another sentient being with free will in this world. To feel sorry for them when something horrible happens. To be able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and imagine how they are thinking. To get wrapped up in their joy, their anger. The way moods are contagious.

Empathy truly is simply being aware that other people are going through life too.

We base a good amount of our laws and societal morals on the idea of a deep understanding and respect towards others, their property, their sense of ownership, and their feelings.

“He has feelings too, you know!” is just another way to state that one should recognize and be aware that there are other beings with their own set of awarenesses regarding this universe.

As such, one can define empathy as a sense. A sense, which we previously defined as an awareness of some aspect of our universe. Not quite an emotion, and not quite a logical thought. Something else entirely.

Our senses list now looks like the following:

SenseAwareness of...
SoundEnergy Waves
TouchNuclear Force
TasteChemical Structure
SmellChemical Structure
EmotionsHormone Levels
EmpathyOther Awarenesses