Human beings are, above all else, thinking creatures.
We are creative, we are aware of the passage of time, and we are the custodians of consciousness.
But that supreme gift of consciousness is somewhat hindered by a set of built-in limitations.
Those limitations, or instincts, are what you can call our default settings. They help us stay alive in a complex world abundant with too much information, in relative ease.
There is freedom in restrictions because analysis paralysis will definitely set in where there’s an unlimited number of choices.
We are defining the world through our limited set of sensors. We see only a certain range within the spectrum of visible light.
We hear only a certain range of audible sound waves and have a built-in sound box capable of synthesizing sounds back at the world.
Our skin is sensitive to specific range of temperature and pressure.
The nose picks up only a certain catalogue of aromas, as the tongue can distinguish the taste of certain substances in the world.
And… that’s it.
Other creatures have different filters to reality that allows a different set of information to sift through to their minds.
Whales and Dolphins have echolocation, Falcons have extremely sharp eyes, Owls see in the dark, Dogs have unbelievably powerful sense of smell, etc.
Our pre-installed software uses these default settings to activate our fight-or-flight reaction, gives us the command to find a suitable mating partner to reproduce, pushes us to arrange ourselves in hierarchical tribal systems, and it drives us to find meaning and purpose in the world.
But, we figured out how to employ our creative minds’ ability to self-program its own intelligence to invent technologies that vastly enhance and expand the power of our human bodies.
Clothes became a much enhanced skin, shoes much better feet, knives much better teeths, horses and later cars became better legs, diving air tanks became better lungs, and we even made our very own wings of metal to be able to fly around the world.
But the tools to reprogram the mind, to enhance its ability to see the world clearly, to filter through the noise all the right information and then use them to make the right set of choices and decisions, are not not intuitive. They require instructions, practice, and discipline.
One of the best technologies available to man, if not the very best of them all, is writing.
It’s not just a way to note down information for safekeeping for posterity or as insurance against forgetfulness. It’s one of the most valuable and effective ways to develop your critical thinking and clear thinking skills.
But what is clear thinking exactly?
Clear thinking is defined as “the ability to express ideas in a simple and straightforward manner. It also involves the ability to analyse statements and follow logical arguments. Some people imagine it means being super-clever or having a high IQ.”
It’s not such an easy feat, though. Especially in these times of abundance of both information and disinformation. It makes it extremely difficult for smart people who want to be “well informed” to actually make informed decisions.
Developing your powers of clear thinking is your best defense against unproductive, counterproductive, and straight out self-destructive ways of thinking.
In the following series of articles, I’m going to put the emphasis on all the main ways you can recognize bad thinking patterns and help you figure out the best techniques and mental models that you can apply and adopt to improve your effectiveness in the world.
It’s part of the main pillars of the investment philosophy of Warren Buffett and his friend and partner Charlie Munger that the best way to get ahead is to try to limit mistakes.
If we learn from the hundreds of years of accumulating human knowledge about the laws of human nature, the laws of power, the tools of influence and persuasion, the prevailing biases and errors of poor judgment, we can build a strong mind with a powerful arsenal capable of advancing our cause in the world.
The good news is that if you set your ego aside, open your mind for the prospect of installing mental upgrades, you will find that you start to see the world in a different light.
Your eyes become sharper, your ears more discerning, your reasoning spot on, and you develop a badass Bullshit detector.
You get to understand how people are manipulating the world to their benefit and how you can both deflect their efforts and apply some of their techniques to your advantage.
This is an invitation to come along on a really exciting field trip. I hope you have fun with me learning about this stuff.
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