New Civilization News: Thinking Bigger Tricks    
 Thinking Bigger Tricks32 comments
picture 4 Jul 2006 @ 13:12, by Flemming Funch

If you think you have problem, it sometimes helps to imagine something bigger. Like, a much bigger problem. Then your current problems at hand suddenly seem much smaller and easier by comparison. You can't quite get your diet to work? Well, a billion people in the world are starving - that's a bigger problem, and in comparison, it is very insignificant if you weigh 5kg too much. It also works if it is something positive, if you get to think of something so wonderful that, again, your current problems become insignificant. Which shirt should you wear, the white one or the grey one, or should you go shopping for a new shirt? Well, if the doorbell is ringing, and outside you see a news crew, and the smiling host of your local Lottery program - you'll be choosing that shirt in no time at all. No longer any problem.

Most obstacles in life are really quite relative. What you call problems will for somebody else be nothing at all, something to solve in half a second. What you call problems will for somebody else be a great blessing. You don't know what company to choose to replace the window shades on your car? Hey, in the first place, you have a car, and most people in the world are not so lucky.

Likewise, your own obstacles will seem different to you depending on what you compare them with. Like, depending on what objective you're working towards, and how much you believe in it. If suddenly you have something more important to do, you'll handle most things in no time, and you'll take on some challenges you otherwise would never have thought of.

Here's a couple of thought experiments Max and I thought up once, a long time ago. Nothing terribly unique about them, but they illustrate the possibilities well.

Imagine you're going to die tomorrow, or maybe next week. What would you do? Clearly, your priorities would totally change if you knew, for sure, that you were going to die shortly. A lot of petty issues no longer would be an issue. Other things, which you have been ignoring, suddenly become very important. You'd probably want to tell people close to you that you love them, even if you forgot to mention it previously. You'd suddenly feel like calling up people you had some minor conflict with, and settling it. You'll apologize to a few people, for things that you did or didn't do. You'll probably put some of your affairs in order, making sure your family is taken care of, as well as possible, and that they know the password to the checking account, and that kind of thing. And then you'd probably concentrate on having the most quality time you can in your remaining days. Doing the best things you can imagine, with people you care for, and doing it in the most intense and emotionally awake way that you possibly can.

OK, you might react totally differently, and go into a deep depression, and hide in your room, and not mention it to anybody. But that would be missing the great opportunity. The opportunity to bring everything up to date, and to revel in the love and good will and closeness and compassion you kind of wanted all along, but didn't get around to.

Noticing that you very well could do most of that in a week, the question is of course why you don't just do it anyway, every day, even if you don't know you're going to die next week. After all, you might indeed be killed in any instant, by a stray meteor or a falling brick or a heart attack or a drunk driver. You don't really know, and you don't really have any good way of avoiding it. So, why not live in the moment every day, bring out the best qualities of life, and don't leave anything dangling. Say what you feel. If you feel you need to do something, do it now, as you won't necessarily get the chance again.

Such a thought experiment might of course remind you of that. Maybe inspire you to do the things that really are important, rather than messing around with unimportant stuff you don't really enjoy anyway.

Another experiment: imagine you're an inter-galactic agent who's been sent to this planet in order to clean things up. The planet is on a downward course, people are fighting about stupid stuff, destroying their environment rapidly, and following self-serving leaders who don't have more of a clue than they do. Something needs to be done, so the Grand Council in the galactic core have sent YOU. What are you going to do?

Most of us settle down on having a certain standing in life, a certain sphere of influence, a certain range of things we might attempt to do. It is different for each of us, but most of us imagine certain boundaries around our sphere of influence. I might start a business, I might be on the parent's council in my kid's school, I might get a bigger car, I might win the lottery. And I sort of position my problems and obstacles within that sphere. I might have some trouble starting a business, I might argue with the other parents in my kids school, I need to pay my mortgage and my taxes, etc. I adopt these problems as part of my allotted place in life. It goes with the territory.

Some people, who seem no more well-equipped as human beings than me, might choose bigger lots in life. To be a politician, and be elected to office, for example. They're not smarter people, but merely people who assume that they ought to do that. You might assume that your lot in life is to be wealthy and run a big company. It is not that you necessarily have something I don't have, but you define your playing field that way, and you define your obstacles accordingly. The steps for getting a bank to lend you $50,000,000 are not terribly different from the steps of getting them to lend you $50,000. Hiring 1000 people is not inherently different from hiring 1. It is just that one adopts and accepts a different scope and some challenges of a different size.

So, OK, I've been sent here on a mission, and I have, say, 1 year to change the course of the planet. What would I do? Well, I probably wouldn't just aim for getting an apartment in the suburbs and a job as an office clerk, and keeping up with my car payments, and trying to catch the latest shows on TV. Maybe I'd do some of those things as part of my plan, but that wouldn't be my focus at all. I'd have to look at it strategically. What is the power structure on this planet? Who are the most influential players? Where are they? How do I enter their circles? Who would be my allies? How do I acquire large amounts of resources very quickly? What are the most effective means for influencing mass opinion? What's the most effective framing for a movement that will change the planet - a religion, a polical party, a business, a media event, a technology? Once I establish the targets and the means, I have to go about it systematically and quickly. I only have a year, so I need to meet some major milestones every day.

That wouldn't be an easy job, but you get the idea. If that were actually what I was here for, I'd do very different things than I otherwise would. And I'd be quite likely to make some significant progress with it.

You'll notice, of course, that there already are people who work like that. Maybe they don't consider themselves inter-galactic agents, but they somehow have the motivation to claw themselves to the top of the heap, where they'll have the influence they desire. People who think very big and who don't hesitate. People who'll go directly for the most powerful points of leverage, and have no qualms about whether they deserve it or not. And the difference between them and you is not their inherent skills, but mainly the scope of their vision. They believe they ought to do something big, and they don't let themselves be stopped by small obstacles. It doesn't matter if they start with no resources. It is all in the attitude.

So, point being, you are free to frame your life as you want it. You're equally free to choose a big frame as a small frame. The frame is just something you imagine, but it helps greatly if you believe it, and you feel it, and you act as if it is important.


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32 comments

4 Jul 2006 @ 14:39 by martha : Better yet
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