How to do “life”

Quite often our students ask me for advice regarding juggling various tasks. Recently I read this article on psychologytoday and it made me think.To which extent can we gamify our lives and “win” as a result?

Life is hard for everybody. Each of us gets a different bucket of skills and challenges, as we get skillful we often face tougher and more interesting challenges. If we are lucky we enjoy the challenges we face, otherwise we do what needs to be done. There is a “zen story about a student who denied everything until he suffered, once confronted with physical suffering he had to face the reality. Eventually we all see the limits of our illusions.

Superlearning assumes search of knowledge. We learn to read faster, remember more, work well with people around us, be more creative. We gain some skills and we gain some illusion of knowledge – our markers, mindmaps/mental palaces and record of tens of thousands of pages we read. I am currently working on modules about selecting and evaluating the materials we read as an addition to this “almighty” arsenal of knowledge mining tools. Even if we read, analyze and remember perfectly everything we read, we should still be humble. There might be new findings which contradict everything we know about some subject, and we may need to relearn the subject from scratch.

So what can we do as superlearners to do better in our lives?

  • Find your own way. Do not assume I have some magical answers. All I did was reading a bit and practicing for a couple of years with some cool people. You have your own life experience which is probably more relevant for you facing your challenges, than what I learn facing mine. I will be happy if you write me like this student “When I finally decided to not force myself to try techniques that I thought was right (mindmapping, tree structures ) and stuck to what I’m good at naturally memory palaces, my skills excelled.” I had an opposite experience myself. So what? People are different!
  • We make our hell and paradise. Nobody knows what actually happens outside the measurable universe. It is quite clear that if we act unethically and are caught, this is extremely unpleasant. The fear of being caught is almost as bad as the effect of being caught. Do ethical things which make you love and respect yourself, and with time you will enjoy the person you are.
  • Sometimes moving slower will take you further. There is a huge temptation to jump steps and progress to advanced training before we are ready. There is a fear of procrastination, fear of being slower than others, fear that the method will fail specifically for you. Fear is normal. Facing fear is a heroic task, yet we all need to be heroes occasionally. If you do not take pomodoro breaks and occasional procrastination you will burn out. If you advance too fast, you will need to retake the training from the beginning, maybe more than once, and it will be hard.
  • We are stronger together. Do use the social networking tools we provide, and be active on them. When you open up and describe your progress and doubts, you get a valuable feedback. When you give feedback, you learn more. Most of the issues we need to solve are very common, and there is a lot we can learn from each other.
  • Learning gives purpose. Some say that “happiness = pleasure X purpose”. While the knowledge itself may be valuable, the learning is much more valuable due to strong feeling of purpose it provides. Learning may even fight depression. Focus on the act/art of learning, rather than on fruits of learning – and you will know A LOT very fast.
  • Career is overrated. Do not get me wrong: you do need to put some food on the table, and what you do at work is important as your footprint on the world around you. However, it does not matter that much which title is listed on your business card. Huge ego may be a showstopper: you cannot do extraordinary acts without facing criticism, and you ego will probably shrink. This is like the the goose in the bottle story: once your ego shrinks, you can do things you did not think possible before…

Living a better life is an interesting goal. For me zen stories are more powerful tools towards this purpose than rigorous planning. Once we expect the unexpected, is there anything that can stop us?

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