Overcoming the Amygdala Part 95


Luck, fate, destiny, chance — these are what people often ascribe as the causes of fortuitous or unfortuitous outcomes. But outcomes can be determined to a large degree by the exercise of observation and reason.

All new discoveries are the end product of a sequence of logical investigative actions that begin with an ideal and a departure from that ideal. All rational knowledge depends on an ability to investigate, which in turn depends on an ability to dissociate from events long enough to observe and analyse.

When you look at your life as a whole you might find it quite overwhelming to have to find something that needs to be corrected in order to improve it overall. Many people just generalise that ‘My life is a mess’ or ‘I’m doing fine’, which doesn’t progress anything anywhere; many people fail to realise that anything can be progressed anywhere, through their own failure to project an ideal against which the current situation can be measured.

The way to speed up the whole process of observation is to eliminate areas one by one.

You can start off very simply by postulating as your ideal ‘A happier life’.

With this in mind, you can go through your daily activities and every connection in your contacts list and ask ‘Is this making me happier?’ ‘Happiness’ is of course a subjective measure — you’ll need some kind of defined statistic so that you don’t get yourself into a tangle of opinions and changeable ‘feelings’. Perhaps you can break down what you mean by happiness into units like ‘hours of relaxed time’ or ‘numbers of words written of the novel you’ve wanted to write for twenty years’ — you’ll need something measurable.

Observe, record, measure. Which things in your life are pointing towards happiness? Which are not?

By following up the things that are detracting from happiness — by measured statistics — you can arrive at the points which need to be addressed.

To discover which aspect of your life is ‘bad’ or ‘good’, you can start by discarding neutral areas to narrow things down for investigation.

Just throw out anything that seems to lead nowhere. You’ll eventually narrow things down to the zone that contains the Biggest Departure.

As a super-simple example, you look over your week in terms of family life, work life and leisure time. Your statistics (whatever they may be) noticeably drop during the work time. So the key to improving your life is going to be found in that zone. Discard family life and leisure time as areas for investigation: concentrate on work.

A wise farmer would study all his crops and find the one not doing well; a wise apprentice would work with the person who taught her best and ignore the rest. It sounds like common sense, because it is — but unfortunately it’s not that common.

Many people tend to ‘cling on’ to existing scenes and routines from fear — anxiety has mounted to such a degree that all change seems as though it might worsen things, so sticking with the scene as it is seems safer.

But logic, if followed through, will lead to an approach to a better life — so confronting that it is your work scene which is dragging your whole life down, in the case of this example, and closely analysing that, will open the door to improvement. This might be a drastic alteration — get a new job — or it might reveal a simple change of work routine which relieves the pressure. As soon as that is addressed, your life overall swings around and you will become noticeably happier.

Discarding wider zones, areas where nothing seems to stand out or seem important, can save enormous amounts of time.

I once toured a small business in North London, having been asked to help the place handle enormous financial problems. I could tell in an instant that the main issues lay with the company’s founder and the way he was handling — or not handling — his workload. So I listened politely to what everyone had to say, but immediately zoomed in on that person’s desk and introduced a simple methodology for dealing with day to day work. The business began with £20,000 of backlogged business but a £12,000 unpaid tax bill which was threatening to become dangerous. The boss was going out of his mind with anxiety: he kept picking up pieces of paper from his desk, starting to deal with them, but then not following through and replacing them in disorganised piles, so that he was overwhelmed with incomplete, half-done actions. By suggesting that he divide up his papers into organised piles and then follow through on each job, one at a time, in an organised fashion, until it was done, I knew things would improve.

Six weeks later I returned to the business to find that the tax bill had been paid and they had £20,000 in the bank. Everyone was happy.

This was done by discarding areas which had no real departures of interest, and concentrating on the one which was packed full of pertinent departures. Dealing with that produced an immediate improved scene.

Your life can be dealt with in the same way. Taking rational action removes the necessity for any emergency alerts from your amygdala.

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