Category: Mindset Page 2 of 10

Diogenes Of Oinoanda: The Ancient Secret To Happiness Discovered On A Philosopher’s Stone – Find Out What It Is

If you walk around the upper valley of the River Xanthus in what is now southern Turkey, you might come across a large hilltop which is littered with ancient ruins. The area seems deserted and there are few signs to point to the fact that millennia ago, this site was home to a large city.

Unlike many of the commercial centers of the Mediterranean, the ancient city of Oinoanda was not situated on the crossroads of any major trade routes. Its economy relied on growing wine and olives, and tight relationships with its surrounding areas. This did not make it a fabulously wealthy city, but did ensure a certain level of prosperity.

Unfortunately, not much is known about the history of the city, but archaeologists have uncovered one very interesting find.

They discovered the remains of a wall which was originally over 80 meters long and covered with old Epicurean writings. It had been erected by Diogenes of Oinoanda in order to:

To help those who come after us.

Epicurean teachings had helped him a lot in his own life and he wanted to give back to his wider community. Another part of the inscription describes the purpose:

The majority of people suffer from a common disease, as in a plague, with their false notions about things, and their number is increasing. I wished to use this stoa to advertise publicly the medicines that bring salvation.

Unfortunately only a part of the inscription remains and even that is broken up into pieces of various sizes, but those parts that have been uncovered so far give us a glimpse into life in those ancient days.

However, more importantly, the writings also preserve ancient wisdom, much of which is still pertinent even today. This wisdom dealt with the eternal question of almost every person: How should you live your life? It gave advice on how to lead a good life and how to achieve something that almost everyone strives for: happiness.

The rise and influence of Epicureanism

In the times of the late Roman Republic and the early Empire, Epicureanism (together with Stoicism) was one of the most important philosophical schools that many Romans adhered to.

Cicero, while arguing against the Epicureans, still corresponded with and counted among his friends many Epicureans, including Atticus, a wealthy Roman who retired to Athens. Many famous Roman poets such as Horace or Lucretius were Epicureans, and even the great Gaius Julius Caesar was a fan.

While Epicureanism was pretty popular in Ancient Rome, it had actually started in Ancient Greece and its founder was Epicurus.

Epicurus was born on the island of Samos in 341 BC, but spent most of his life living in Athens, his father being a citizen of that city. There he founded his own school of philosophy, called the Garden, where he taught until his death in 270 BC.

Once he died, his school was taken over by one of his disciples, Hermarchus, and continued to grow. Its influence grew far and wide and by late Roman Republic times, it was one of the major philosophical schools in the Mediterranean region.

However, it began to decline in the 3rd century AD and died out completely when Christianity took over the Roman Empire. Many of the Christian writers penned extensive treatises against Epicureanism, in the process grossly misinterpreting its message. Epicureanism became a synonym of hedonism, when in fact it preached something totally different.

Epicurean ideals weren’t revived until the Renaissance, and later the Age of Enlightenment. Many famous figures of that era were influenced by them, and their thoughts in turn shaped the way society looks today.

If you are an American, you have “the pursuit of happiness” enshrined in your founding documents as an inalienable right. Have you ever wondered why that is?

The reason is that Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of Epicurus and Epicureanism. In one of his letters he wrote:

I too am an Epicurean.

Since he was one of the principal drafters of the American Declaration of Independence, some of these ancient ideas found their way into it. That pursuit of happiness comes from this.

Thomas Jefferson was greatly influenced by the works of Epicurus and they formed a foundation for his worldview and the way he lived. In fact, Epicurus had such a huge impact on his life that he sometimes called him his Master.

While the traditional teachings of Epicurus taught to “live unknown”, that is to try to steer away from politics, public life and all the chaos associated with them, Thomas Jefferson (just like many other famous people influenced by this philosophy) put his own distinct spin on Epicureanism and combined it with a life in the public spotlight.

Many hardcore Epicureans preach dettachment from society and tending your own little garden somewhere in the corner as the epitomy of life. However, you can get the benefits of these teachings even without withdrawing from public life completely.

How to do this? Thomas Jefferson is a good example. He was an Epicurean at heart, yet he still managed to become one of the principal figures of the American Revolution and the 3rd US President.

So Epicureanism has many paths which you can take. You can either take the road of Epicurus himself and some of his followers and withdraw from the hustle and bustle of society to tend your own Garden, or take the example of people influenced by Epicureanism like Thomas Jefferson, and tend your own Garden, while still trying to influence the society you live in.

The main tenets of Epicureanism

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How To Think About Cognitive Biases: A Short Summary Of My Cognitive Biases Framework

You have probably argued with someone whose position did not make sense. Instead of backing it up with facts, this person ended up just spouting the same slogans over and over again in a never ending circle.

We were always at war with Eurasia.

It’s a matter of facts, you would say to yourself. Maybe if they knew the facts, they wouldn’t be saying what they are saying.

After this quiet self-talk, you would then go back, research the shit out of the subject and send a summary of this research to them.

However, contrary to what you expected, they would not buckle down under a barrage of facts. Being exposed to facts just made their weakly argued conviction even stronger. Your strategy backfired.

A few days later they would come back and start saying the same thing you told them, albeit with their own spin, without even acknowledging that it was you who told them this in the first place.

We were always at war with Eastasia.

Or they might come back and start shouting their original slogans even louder, thinking it is how loud you shout and not the strength of your arguments that determines who is right.

On the other hand, it is not always others who are the problem. Sometimes you just have to look in the mirror. Maybe it is you who behaves this way. 🙂

What is at work here are cognitive biases. We all fall for them, but some people fall for them in a stronger way than others.

The first step of a recovering addict is to acknowledge that you have a problem. 🙂

Only after you are honest with yourself and face your weaknesses, can the journey towards recovery begin. Without this step, any attempt at a cure will be met with failure.

Once you have faced up to your problem, the next step is to start learning about what it actually is.

What are cognitive biases and why do humans fall for them?

There are different challenges that humans have to get through daily. So different mechanisms evolved in order to make this easier.

One of the ways to solve many of these problems is using heuristics. These are mental shortcuts that humans take in order to solve problems and then take action based on these solutions.

Most of the time, the solutions that these heuristics come up with are correct and you can rely on them.

However, there are times when these heuristics fail and come up with a bad answer, a cognitive bias.

My Framework for Cognitive Biases

I have been reading about cognitive biases for a while now. Ever since Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking Fast and Slow” came out, this concept seems to be popping up everywhere and many more popular works have appeared discussing it.

However, being a perfectionist and a guy who likes to put things in boxes, I was missing a more systematic categorization of the different types of biases out there. For me, this type of categorization would help in keeping the discussion relevant for the common folk and extremely helpful if you want to apply lessons in real life.

Not finding anything to satisfy me, I decided to come up with my own framework for cognitive biases. I thought back and tried to reduce all the different biases to their first principles and work up from there.

I looked at some of the basic similarities and differences between the different types of biases and came up with some initial categories.

Why and how did these biases evolve in the first place? Here, evolutionary psychology can shed a light.

Evolution does not come up with perfect solutions, only with solutions that are viable enough to survive.

The drivers for every living thing are survival and reproduction. This happens in a very complex outside world where many dangers (but also opportunities) are present.

So heuristics (and cognitive biases) evolved in order to promote survival. Due to the fact that your environment is so complex, you need to have the ability to analyze it and then make a decision on what to do next.

The two basic principles behind the way your brain works are speed and efficiency:

1) You need to make quick decisions based on outside stimuli. So speed is important.

2) You should not expend too many resources, and so you need to do things in the most efficient manner possible. You never know when and from where your next dinner will come from, so saving energy is a priority.

In order to make decisions quickly and efficiently, your brain developed mental shortcuts. That’s where heuristics come from.

However, if your brain developed to make decisions to ensure your survival, why does it fall for cognitive biases? The answer here is costs.

By saying costs, I mean the potential pay-out of making the right and wrong decision.

Imagine yourself walking along a path with bushes all around you. You hear a sound. It could be anything really.

However you search back and it reminds you of the sound a lion makes. You decide to start running away from the place as fast as possible.

Turns out it was a false alarm. Your brain connected the dots, but in fact it was a false pattern.

No harm done. You are a bit sweaty and tired, but you are still alive.

Now imagine yourself walking again along the same path. You hear a sound.

This time you decide not to run and just stay there. Then suddenly a lion jumps out of the bushes and kills you. You are dead meat!

You failed to connect the dots and ended up as lunch.

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Doing Hard Things Is The Cure For What Ails You

I have recently started climbing mountains and through this came to a few life-changing realizations. My successful summit of Mt. Blanc gave me a new perspective on things, which really improved my mindset.

It was a long and dangerous climb, and the hardest thing I have ever done physically. However, after two days of pushing myself, for a brief moment I was the highest located man for thousands of kilometers around me.

I had accomplished something that I had thought was impossible and beyond my limits just a few years ago.

Doing something like this really gives you a great feeling and a boost to your self-confidence. A sense of accomplishment that results from this is priceless and can really help you in other areas of your life.

Cure for what ails you

Unfortunately, in our lives we are often confronted with stupid shit, which we have no control over. Stupid people, stupid rules, and other retarded stuff that just don’t make sense.

You can’t really control it, but it ends up bothering you. You stress over it and it makes you miserable. You need to realize that this stuff doesn’t matter. It is just stupid shit done by stupid people, people who have lost touch with reality.

If you really want to find meaning, happiness and balance in your life, you need to concentrate on doing things that you have control over.

You are the judge of the worth of all things. Only you can determine that you are the man.

And no, you won’t do it by standing in front of the mirror all day and chanting affirmations, but by going out, working hard and challenging yourself.

Mt. Blanc is the perfect test of that. And even if you fail to reach the top the first time, you will feel good about giving it your best. You will then know what to work on and come a second time better prepared.

When you do reach the top, you will have achieved something that the vast majority of people will never achieve in their life. Best of all, you will have done it through your own willpower and perseverance.

You will have tested yourself and you will have succeeded. This will be an enormous boost to your self-esteem.

You can take that back to your little office life and use it to get through all those confrontations that often happen in the modern workplace. When an overweight, sweaty slob starts shouting at you over some minor BS, you can just sit back and smile at him.

He will never accomplish what you have done. This is just his way of compensating for his own failures. Keep that in mind, and you will be able to rise above the BS. You don’t even know what an amazing feeling that is.

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Every Hero Overcomes Things That Seem Impossible – What Is Your Impossible Challenge?

Every Hero overcomes things that seem impossible – What is your impossible challenge?

Ever since the beginning of history, the story of the hero has played an important part in society. Back thousands of years ago, people would sit around a campfire and listen to the tales of ancient heroes, whether real or imagined, and how they overcame impossible challenges to do incredible things.

Hero stories have always served an important role in the development of young guys growing up. They would set the examples to be emulated. They were meant to inspire so that these youngsters could aspire to something greater.

Every hero has an origin story

Some of the most popular stories proved to be the stories we now call origin stories. Heroes were known to possess incredible powers, do impossible things and overcome powerful forces. To most listeners, they seemed out of this world.

Yet, all these heroes had to start somewhere. Most of them started off as ordinary men, living in an ordinary world, doing ordinary things. This is what made them relevant to all the people sitting around the campfire and gasping at every feat of strength, every logical problem solved with brain power and every enemy defeated. The heroes were all once like them.

Whatever your endeavor, it all starts with a first step

The origin story covers the first few steps in a hero’s journey, the parts where they go from the ordinary world and cross over the threshold into a world of adventures, and also the first few challenges that they need to overcome.

Successfully completing these first few steps sets them on a path dependency towards their superhero status.

The good news is that you can use the same type of framework to guide you on your path to greatness. You too can create your origin story. However, you need to take action. It all starts with a first step.

That first step and the successful completion of your first challenge is what defines your origin story and sets you on your hero’s journey. At this point you will know that things that seemed impossible just a short while before, are in fact quite possible and achievable.

You can create your origin story for any type of goal that you want, whether it is an adventure you want to undertake, a mental challenge that you want to tackle or a physical challenge that you want to overcome.

Create your own adventure

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What Is The Secret Behind Warren Buffet’s Success? It’s Quite Simple Actually!

Warren Buffett is one of the richest men on the planet and in the investment world he is seen as one of the best investors of all time. His decisions have made him billions many times over.

However what is his secret? What does he do that gives him that mental edge?

It’s actually quite simple. He reads a lot!

One time he was asked what the secret to success is. This is his reply:

Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.

That’s it. This is what gives him the combinatorial mental powers that he has. The more he reads, the more information he has, the more things he can combine.

It also makes him less impulsive and more rational. To quote him again:

I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.

His investment partner, Charlie Munger, also reads a lot. From all the information he reads, he creates a select amount of mental models, which he then uses to guide him when making investment decisions, as well as many other decisions in life.

For him, reading a lot (and a variety of books) is fundamental:

In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.

If you look at many of the successful people of today, the expert-generalists that have created the iconic enterprises of the past decades, they share this exact same trait with Buffett and Munger. They read a lot.

When he was young and beginning his investing career, Buffett would read between 600 and 1000 pages a day! He still spends about 80% of his day reading.

I already mentioned that Elon Musk also reads like 2 books a day. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. In the old days, guys like Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin would also spend their days reading a variety of books.

As Benjamin Franklin said:

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

The elite thinkers spend much of their time sucking up as much knowledge as they can.

What does the average person do? This:

There is a book by Tom Corley called “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Rich Individuals”, where the author mentions some very interesting findings.

There was a study done that surveyed the reading habits of different people. The results were quite telling.

Rich people (those with an annual income of over 160 000 Dollars) read primarily for self-improvement. Poor people (annual income of 35 000 Dollars or less) read for entertainment.

To quote him:

The rich are voracious readers on how to improve themselves. They’re reading self-improvement books, biographies, books about successful people, things like that.

You see what I am getting at? If you want to be successful, you need to start reading a lot. You might not become a multi-billionaire like Warren Buffett, but you will definitely have a leg up on the average dude on the street.

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A Framework For Cognitive Biases: More Types Of Cognitive Biases

It’s another great day on the savannah. You wake up as the sun is beginning to rise up above the horizon. A cool breeze starts blowing in from the east.

You get all your tools ready as you start preparing for another day of tracking and hunting on the vast grasses of the East African plains.

This probably would have been a typical scene for you, had you been born about 200 thousand years ago.

You would have had to struggle every day in order to survive, by finding food, battling enemies, and generally staying out of harm’s way.

Life wasn’t easy in those days. You were not guaranteed to make it to the next day, so you had to hustle hard and always be on alert.

Luckily, you had inherited a set of internal tools embedded deep in your brain that are the result of millions of years of evolution.

Those are your best bet for surviving and prospering. They drive you to want to achieve more, to struggle on, but also to take in all the different information coming into your brain from your senses and then make a decision.

These decisions need to be made quick and in an efficient manner. They could mean life or death and plus you don’t have too much energy to spare.

The internal tools I am talking about are called heuristics, shortcut ways to coming up with a solution to a problem and then acting upon it.

Psychologists and researchers have started to study them more intensely in the past few decades and have drawn up quite a list.

I had already discussed how I sat down and decided to make sense for myself of all these long lists of heuristics and the cognitive biases coming out of them.

Yes, these heuristics come up with good solutions most of the time, but can fail spectacularly as well some of the time. These failures result in cognitive biases.

In Part 1 of the Cognitive Biases Framework, I discussed the first category of biases that I found, ones I grouped under the “The world is centered around me” problem.

I further divided up this category into two main sub-categories: “I have an ego” and “I am a social animal”.

Yes, you do believe that the world is centered around you, and you do have an ego. And yes, you are a social animal. 🙂

The cognitive biases in these categories are meant to manage your drive for survival and reproduction based on potential risks.

2) I need to make the correct decision based on the information available.

However in order to survive and reproduce, you need to be able to manage all kinds of different information, interpret it, and then make a decision on a future course of action based on this.

Let’s get back to a prehistoric nature scene.

What do you see? What should you be seeing? Where is the danger? Where is the potential food?

Information overload! Too much information!

Wait, do you hear that sound? What could it be? Should you be scared? Is it nothing? Too little information!

You try to search in your memory. Yeah, you heard that sound before. Probably nothing.

What happened? You were bombarded with inputs from your senses and subconsiously a decision needed to be made about which of these inputs are important and which should not be paid attention to.

You focused in on some sounds, but unfortunately you did not have any more information to make any reliable conclusion. So your brain raced to find analogies to that sound in its memory.

Then based on all these things, your brain came to a decision: No danger imminent, continue on.

What made this decision possible? Information!

While the category described in Part 1 was about your relationship with other people, the category described here is about your relationship with information.

The brain uses different types of inputs as information in order to create patterns, and then get meaning out of these patterns. These processes are the source of many cognitive biases.

Why do many of these patterns turn out to be wrong? The answer once again has to do with risk.

Going back to our ancient savannah, imagine walking around in the tall, yellowish-colored grass. You hear a sound, and see the grass in front of you ruffle a bit.

You are missing information. There are two possible courses of action.

Your brain does not form a pattern, does not associate the sound and ruffle with anything and you continue on walking straight. Or, the brain makes a pattern, surmises that it could be a dangerous animal, and you decide to take out your spear and backtrack slowly and carefully.

Choose your own adventure!

What if it turns out that you did not form a link between the ruffle of the grass and anything and continued on walking, but walk straight into the mouth of a hungry lion! Big mistake!

On the other hand, if you formed a pattern and backtracked out of potential danger, you walked out of harm’s way. Even if there was no lion in the grass and the pattern you created was false, you are still alive and this mistake didn’t cost you much.

The risk of not making a pattern and turning into lunch meat is much bigger than making a pattern that turns out to be false.

This is why cognitive biases have a tendency to happen.

There are some basic principles about how you and your brain works in the context of information. These principles have a big effect on how these cognitive biases take place.

Principles:

Your brain tries to find meaning.

Your brain works by forming associations.

You brain works by drawing analogies.

What you see is all there is.

The emotions you feel at the moment have a huge impact on how you perceive a situation.

The way your brain stores memories is not perfect.

It has been said that humans are storytelling animals. Telling stories is one of the most ancient and most popular ways of conveying information. We are all suckers for a good story.

The reason why stories are so powerful is because they connect the dots smoothly. Things happen in sequence and there is always a cause and an effect.

This type of structure conveys meaning very well, and that’s the most important thing humans are looking for: meaning.

What all the different cognitive biases dealing with information have as a common denominator is that they are giving you some sort of an explanation (a meaning) for all the different things that are happening.

This is the basic principle from which all the other principles derive. Your brain tries to determine this meaning by forming associations between different elements.

These associations can then be stored in your memory, so that it can be used at a later date as well. The way your brain is set up is that synapses form between neurons, which then links them together. When they wire together, they fire together too!

Another principle behind how the brain works is that it likes to form analogies. For example if it has a hard question to answer, it might substitute that by forming an easier question which is similar and answering that.

To put all this in context, you need to understand that the brain usually works only in a limited context and largely devotes itself to the present moment (the now).

For the brain, what you see is all there is, which Daniel Kahneman calls the WYSIATI principle.

The future is unpredictable, and in order to get there you still need to deal with everything that is happening now! 🙂

The WYSIATI principle states that the brain deals with its immediate surroundings and what it can get out of them, with things it knows. It doesn’t concern itself with things it doesn’t know.

If it doesn’t know something, it just makes it up. Basically, your brain fills in the blanks with its best guesses.

To make decisions quickly, your brain relies on emotions. So the emotions you are perceiving at the moment have a huge impact on how you react to the situation.

Of course, another important element for any type of decision is the ability to store memories and then recall them as needed. The way this happens in the brain can be quite messy and is another source of cognitive biases.

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A Framework For Cognitive Biases: What Types Of Cognitive Biases Are Out There?

The internet has changed our lives in many ways, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. What the events of last year, such as Brexit and the US Presidential campaign, have exposed is the way that the structural flaws of the human brain can be taken advantage of using the internet.

What is encouraging is that these problems have gotten wider play and people are starting to take measures to combat them. Luckily, we can already build upon a wide range of research and solutions in this area, many of them developed because of similar large-scale failures of human rationality.

One of the most basic principles of traditional economics is the assumption that humans are rational actors always striving to maximize their own benefits.

I remember sitting in Econ 101 class and sort of scratching my head at this. In my experience, most humans were very far from rational actors. Actually, I have seen people literally shoot themselves in the foot more times than I can count.

Then the economic crisis of 2008 arrived and all these theories came crashing down. Most economists realized that humans are not so rational after all, and behavioral economics suddenly exploded onto the scene.

However, behavioral economics is nothing new and had been around for a while, but it was not really the prominent paradigm for most economists.

Already in the 1950s, Herbert A. Simon, an economist and psychologist (a polymath really), proposed the idea of “bounded rationality”. In this model, humans are only partially rational, and this rationality is limited by difficulties in formulating complex problems and in processing different types of information.

Many of the basic concepts in behavioral economics are based on the work of two Israeli psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. They noticed that there are specific patterns inherent in human decision-making.

The two big terms that they came up with are “heuristics” and “cognitive biases“. Heuristics are mental shortcuts that humans take in order to solve problems and then take action based on these solutions.

Most of the time, these mental shortcuts come up with a good solution. They are fast, efficient and effective. This then allows you to go about your daily life and navigate the world.

However, things are not perfect and sometimes these mental shortcuts come up with the wrong solution. This is called a cognitive bias. The process was fast and efficient, but obviously not effective.

Why do you behave in this way? All of this can be explained using evolutionary psychology.

Humans, just like any organism, are the product of millions of years of evolution. Their bodies and minds adapted due to pressures coming from their environment.

Not in a direct way, but indirectly. Due to random mutations, certain ways of behavior would arise. If these behaviors allowed the organism in question to survive long enough to reproduce, then they would propagate to their descendants.

This is the basis of evolutionary theory. An individual doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be good enough to survive.

There are two main goals hardwired deep down into your brain: survival and reproduction. These two things are what drives your existence.

Imagine the everyday environment of your ancient ancestors, living somewhere on the vast savannas.

There are many dangers present. At any time of the day or night, a saber-toothed tiger could jump out of the bush and want to eat you, or a little snake could bite you and poison you.

In order to survive in such an environment, you need to be able to take in vast amounts of information through your senses, determine what is significant and what isn’t, and then make quick decisions based on this.

Is that noise you are hearing just wind beating against the sand or something more sinister? Is that shadow just a figment of your imagination or a lion heading your way?

These were the main things that your brain developed to analyze. However there are some constraints to this entire process.

The two basic principles behind the way your brain works are speed and efficiency:

1) You need to make quick decisions based on outside stimuli. So speed is important.

2) You should not expend too many resources, and so you need to do things in the most efficient manner possible. You never know when and from where your next dinner will come from, so saving energy is a priority.

In order to make decisions quickly and efficiently, your brain developed mental shortcuts. That’s where heuristics come from.

However, if your brain developed to make decisions to ensure your survival, why does it fall for cognitive biases? The answer here is costs.

By saying costs, I mean the potential pay-out of making the right and wrong decision.

Let’s go back to the prehistoric savanna in order to illustrate. You are walking on your way home from a successful hunt, your kill strapped to your back. You are walking alone, since you got held up and your companions went on ahead of you.

Then suddenly you hear a noise coming from behind a rock nearby. Quickly, your brain goes into overdrive. What could it be?

If it judges it to be nothing of concern and you pay no attention to the noise, but suddenly a lion jumps on you, you are dead meat. You have become a source of protein and essential fats (and maybe some carbohydrates too) for an entire lion family.

Hopefully, you die quick and don’t get to experience the joys of getting dismembered by a pride of lions, the alpha male and his harem of females, together with their baby cubs.

However, if you judge it to be danger and take out your spear while running away from the place, but then realize that it was nothing, there is no mortal cost to you. Sure, you got a bit sweaty, but you are still alive to hunt another day.

You see what I am getting at? It is much more costly if you judge something to be of no importance, when it is in fact significant, than it is if you judge something significant and there is nothing there.

In the first instance, you die, while in the second one, you continue on living and potentially pass on your genes. Your brain is wired to err on the side of caution.

This is where cognitive biases come from. Your brain evaluates thousands of stimuli from the outside every second, and sometimes it makes mistakes.

However that mistake doesn’t matter if it doesn’t kill you. What matters is that that specific way of solving problems and making decisions keeps you alive the rest of the time.

The brain looks at these different pieces of information and tries to make patterns out of them. If a wrong pattern emerges, it is called a cognitive bias.

One thing that I have noticed is that since now the study of cognitive biases is very popular, psychologists keep on coming out with newer and newer types of these almost every day. Sometimes many of these are very similar.

It’s hard to keep track of all of them. So I decided to sit my ass down and simplify things for myself. At the end, I came out with a small framework to help me make sense of cognitive biases.

I have based this framework on some of the things discussed above. Survival and reproduction are the two main goals that drive human existence.

Heuristics or mental shortcuts developed in order to help humans survive long enough to reproduce. These mental shortcuts need to be fast and efficient.

The inputs they work with are different types of information. This information comes from outside stimuli gathered by your senses or from storage (memories) in your brain.

The problem is that you need to construct all this information into some sort of meaningful patterns. Only once you have this meaning, can you make decisions.

I have broken down all these different cognitive biases into two basic categories arising from two fundamental ideas:

1) The world is centered around me.

2) I need to make the correct decision based on the information available.

The first fundamental idea is that you think that the world is centered around you. No matter how altruistic you are, there is still at least a bit of solipsism inside of you.

This idea shapes your inner thought patterns and your relationships with the people around you.

The second fundamental idea comes from the fact that you need information as inputs in order to make a decision.

Sometimes there is a lot of information around you and you need to determine which of it is significant. Sometimes, there is not enough of it and you need to determine what to do in the face of uncertainty.

Oftentimes, the relevant information may not be present at that moment in your environment, and you might need to pull it out of your memory.

Almost all of the main cognitive biases work within these two categories.

However, you also need to keep in mind that you cannot put all the biases into neat little boxes (otherwise you would be committing a cognitive bias ☺ ). Some biases belong in several categories and combine elements of each.

Here is the framework broken down and explained:

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Epictetus – The Wisdom Of A Stoic Master: The Secrets To Living A Good Life Revealed

One of the most important questions we ask ourselves is about the way we should live our lives. What is really important and how should we act?

Luckily, there is guidance available and some of the most profound thoughts on this were formed already two thousand years ago.

These words of wisdom were uttered by a man named Epictetus, who went on to influence the lives of some of the most powerful men of his era, all the way up to Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Yet this man was born a slave and supposedly had one of his legs maimed by a former cruel master, so that he always walked with a limp. This did not detter him from living a good life and achieving happiness.

Epictetus was not a theoretical philosopher living in his own world, but instead tried to make his philosophy down-to-earth and practical. This advice can be taken and applied in the real world as a guide for your day-to-day life.

His powerful words served as inspiration for many people undergoing hard times. Picture this: a man sitting in a prison with no knowledge whether he will ever get out.

The man could feel no hope, but instead his thoughts are turned inwards and draw inspiration from Epictetus.

There is a great similarity to the tale of Boethius and his reflections on life that I already wrote about. However the year is 1967 and the man is James Stockdale, an American pilot captured by the Vietnamese and put in a prisoner of war camp.

Stockdale credited the works of Epictetus for showing him the way on how to survive this ordeal. If these words could guide a man in such desperate times, just imagine what they could do for you.

We know the philosophy of Epictetus primarily through the works of his pupil, Arrian. Arrian noted down the teachings of Epictetus in two surviving works: “The Discourses” and “Enchiridion”, which is the Greek word for handbook.

It is the “Enchiridion” which is the most easily accessible work, as it is short and contains many practical lessons for your own life. It doesn’t take long to read, but can really change the way you view life in a very fundamental way.

All people search for happiness, but they usually go about it in the wrong way. They don’t realize that happiness can only come from within, from things that you have control over.

What are the things that you have control over? Your thoughts and your actions.

The main idea of the Stoics was that you should live a simple life, where you don’t concern yourself with things that you cannot control, and instead focus on the things that you can.

The world is what it is, random things will happen, and they might block your progress. Learn to accept it.

Living a simple life, where you act in a disciplined way, and where you act in accordance with your moral principles (virtue), will lead you to happiness.

For it is within you, that both your destruction and deliverance lie.” Epictetus

Below are some of the main lessons from the “Enchiridion”:

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How To Make An Impact In This World? The Secrets To Success From A World-Class Scientist

Almost everyone dreams of hitting it big, of becoming someone who makes a difference and changes the world. The reality is that most people will never make the type of impact that they want to make and instead will live very ordinary lives.

That’s not always a bad thing, but wouldn’t it be great if your wildest fantasies came true? As a kid, you probably dreamt of becoming an astronaut, a record-breaking athlete, or a world-class scientist.

What things do you need to do in order to rise up to the top of your field and actually make a difference? I recently ran across the transcript of a talk given by Richard Hamming, an American mathematician whose work changed the computing industry.

In the talk he outlined some of the things he learned from working with numerous world-class scientists and the way these lessons could be applied in your life and your work.

While most of his lessons come from the scientific field, they can be applied in any type of field that you are in. The lessons are universal:

Now, why is this talk important? I think it is important because, as far as I know, each of you has one life to live. Even if you believe in reincarnation it doesn’t do you any good from one life to the next! Why shouldn’t you do significant things in this one life, however you define significant?

I’m not going to define it – you know what I mean. I will talk mainly about science because that is what I have studied. But so far as I know, and I’ve been told by others, much of what I say applies to many fields. Outstanding work is characterized very much the same way in most fields, but I will confine myself to science.

One of his first jobs was at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project as a programmer who created the machines that helped the physicists calculate all the different equations they were using to create the A-Bomb.

There he started noticing the things that the top guys did and what made them different from all the rest.

At Los Alamos I was brought in to run the computing machines which other people had got going, so those scientists and physicists could get back to business. I saw I was a stooge. I saw that although physically I was the same, they were different. And to put the thing bluntly, I was envious. I wanted to know why they were so different from me.

I saw Feynman up close. I saw Fermi and Teller. I saw Oppenheimer. I saw Hans Bethe: he was my boss. I saw quite a few very capable people. I became very interested in the difference between those who do and those who might have done.

The part on observation is very important. If you want to succeed, you need to be a keen observer of the things around you. Look, analyze, and then implement. Observe what is happening around you, ask yourself questions and analyze why some things work and others don’t, take out lessons and implement them in your own work.

In his speech, Hamming noted that the first thing that you need to do is to drop your modesty and become ambitious. You should say to yourself: “Yes, I want to do first-class work.

This type of goal is what creates the drive needed for rising to the top. As I noted in the article on how chimps rise to the alpha (leadership) position, ambition is the first trait of someone who becomes a leader.

This trait is important for motivation and drive. Without it, you would just end up drifting through life, with no goals, no motivation and no willpower to better your situation.

From the speech we can notice a pattern emerging: ambition, motivation, drive. Each one creates the other. Drive is one of the things that differentiates the great ones from the just mediocre ones:

Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive.

Hamming goes on to talk about luck. Yes, luck is important, but you still have to prepare the conditions necessary in order for luck to strike. Here the quote “luck favors the prepared mind” sums up the situation perfectly.

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