Our learning process begins as soon as we have developed enough cognitive ability in the womb. The process continues as we build competencies in many areas of our lives, which help us become smarter & wiser as we grow. As we gather a better understanding of the world around us, the more smoothly we can adjust and shift when our situation evolves.
We don’t have to read Charles Darwin to know that evolution eliminates the weakest and in this information age, it’s the uninformed who gets put to the bottom of the food chain.
Ironically, human minds were not designed to process the amount of information that we deal with every day today. The breaking news, your phone notifications, 24×7 emergencies, Instagram reels, YouTube shorts, and random facts are injected straight into your skull with headlines and titles that make you click. This is creating nothing but an attention deficit pandemic worldwide. FAANG and a few others are the absolute manufacturing hub of this devastating pandemic. I’ve covered more on this here.
To say that I can sum up the entire day of an average person revolving around 5 to 7 apps on a loop is scary.
Internet helped us access the entire library of Alexandria at our fingertips, but killed the individual’s attention span, and ability to focus, consume and apply the learnings. The on-demand culture met with brains constantly needing unnecessary stimulation at all times had taken over the path between focus and quality work.
Disclaimer: Before I decided to be very conscious of the type of media I consume, I was in the same boat.
Try to keep your phone away for a full 90 minutes during active non-working hours of your day. If you manage to do it, that’s good. Doing this exercise will force your brain to consciously avoid the need to:
- Unlock your phone for no rational reason.
- Getting anxious about checking WhatsApp, Instagram, or any social media accounts.
- Check how many likes/comments your last post/picture got.
- Who viewed your stories?
As you’re breaking the pattern your brain is familiar with for a while now the most important thing to consciously observe in this experiment is to measure the number of times your brain creates anxiety if you do not check your phone. Because that’s the source and holy grail of overstimulation dopamine releases that’s somehow we have normalized.
I’m jealous of the fact that this anxiety which also leads to stress was non-existent for people who lived up until the 80s. Life was simple back then.
How do we solve this?
Considering the overwhelming amount of random information we consume, the first step is to control and filter the information you feed into your brain. You’ll be as wise as the quality of raw information you let your brain process.
The only exception could be your controlled leisure time with friends/family/loved ones etc.
Identify if you’re consuming the knowledge that aligns with your goals and how much control you have over subconsciously going down the YouTube/Instagram/Netflix, etc. rabbit hole.
Our body reacts to different types of food we eat and as a result, we know:
– Eating a lot of cheese makes us fat.
– Consuming fried junk food will make us chronically ill.
– Drinking a lot of soda can make you diabetic and so on…
Similarly, our brain consumes information we expose it to and it heavily shapes our beliefs of the world around us and our actions in our day-to-day lives. This reminds me of a quote by Epicurus:
“Human beings are pulled forward toward and by nature seek pleasure, whereas they flee from and reject pain.Epicurus (Greek philosopher, 341-270 BC)”
It is important that you should be directly in control of when and for how long you should be exposing your brain to mindless content that doesn’t require it to work.
Anything that requires mindless scrolling or watching endless loops of random events in short intervals(YouTube shorts, Reels, etc.) causes havoc on the biochemical functioning of the brain. Resulting in anxiety, lack of focus, ADHD, uncertainty, stress, etc.
This is concerning.
The first step to get out of this is to acknowledge that you are a part of it. Take the 90-minute test during active non-working hours, and experience it yourself.
The second step is to have a Personal Information Management System(pIMS or IMS) to get a visual understanding of where you stand and build a visual mindmap of the latticework of your knowledge. This helped me tremendously to cut out the noise and be laser-focused on my goals.
I will show what worked for me:
My goal was to have a multi-disciplinary mindset that would allow me to think better, make the right decisions subconsciously, and live a better, rationally optimistic life.
I started by dividing the long-term goals into Master nodes.
Master nodes are supposed to be goals that often are very intensive and would require a lot of undivided attention dedication and patience to achieve them. I often avoid or become very considerate before I choose to open up a master node to work on.
Each master node consists of subsets that could be skills or actions that I make which would contribute to my respective master node being stronger.
For Eg: I opened a master node in my brain for Building Wealth:
I will then identify skills, behavioral changes, or high-impact actions I need to take that could contribute to the larger goal i.e., achieving the end goal of, in this case, building wealth.
I call these small actions, nodes.
Once you have the 5-7 master nodes identified, the next task is to think about what tools, actions, or skills are needed to make the master node stronger and add the nodes.
Somehow this is also influenced by Steve Jobs’s commencement speech at Stanford where he says:
Steve Jobs, Commencement Speech, Stanford.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
This is what the fully built latticework of knowledge or pIMS foundation would look like, this goes way deeper in notion, if that is something interests you, let me know and I will write another dedicated post around IMS:
These master nodes lay the foundation of having a multi-disciplinary mindset which enhances my probability of making better and efficient decisions.
This allows me to think and make decisions in a way that wasn’t possible before.
The best part? the nodes could be interconnected among other master nodes. For example, The strengthened node in the ‘Become a Better Orator‘ master node may help you to, directly or indirectly strengthen multiple nodes in ‘Building Wealth’. As the benefits can now be clearly visualized through my latticework, I was able to make better choices like:
Either sleep 2 extra hours or wake up early, hit the gym and listen to lex fridman…
Either to watch Netflix or spend time reading…
Either to order from outside and break the ‘clean eating’ streak, or simply wait for my mom to cook...
This system acts as an automated wise decision maker helping me reach my goals, effortlessly. Building this system worked for me and moved me one step closer to clear thinking, calmness, and reduced anxiety.