Who are you anyway??

Posted by Tandarin Nike Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:46 PM 2 comments

Sometimes a blogger's job is to say what people are thinking, but say it better than they are thinking it.

Watch me do that now.


Have you ever wondered who you are?

You're not your body, because living cells come and go and are generally outside of your control. You're not your location, because that can change.

You aren't your DNA because that simply defines the boundaries of your playing field. You aren't your upbringing because siblings routinely go in different directions no matter how similar their start.

My best answer to my own question is this:

You are what you learn.

If all you know is how to be a gang member, that's what you'll be, at least until you learn something else. If you become a soldier, you'll learn to control fear. If you go to law school, you'll see the world as a competition.

If you study engineering, you'll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking all the time.

I'm fascinated by the way a person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. People who study economics come out the other side thinking a different way from people who study nursing.

And learning becomes a fairly permanent part of a person even as the cells in the body come and go and the circumstances of life change.

You can easily take apart my definition of self by arguing that you are actually many things, including your DNA, your body, your mind, you environment and more. By that view, you're more of a soup than a single ingredient. I'll grant you the validity of that view.

But I'll still argue that the most powerful point of view is that you are what you learn.

It's easy to feel trapped in your own life. Circumstances can sometimes feel as if they form a jail around you. But there's almost nothing you can't learn your way out of.

If you don't like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You're free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.

Suppose you don't like your social life. You can learn how to be the sort of person that attracts better friends.

Don't like your body? You can learn how to eat right and exercise until you have a new one. You can even learn how to dress better and speak in more interesting ways.

I credit my late mother for my view of learning. She raised me to believe I could become whatever I bothered to learn.

No single idea has served me better.

you are someone else's avatar..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, October 8, 2011 7:00 AM 0 comments
When professional cyclists were told they were racing against their own best times, they tended to match those times, even when the times were faster than they had ever raced. I wonder how useful that sort of influence would be if we applied it to other areas.

In a few years it will be feasible to create a virtual version of yourself - an avatar - that lives a better lifestyle in the digital world than you do in the real world.

The avatar would have a healthier diet, exercises more, be less shy in social settings, more assertive at work, and perhaps have a more perfect batting skills. If you spent a few minutes every day observing your avatar doing what you wished you could do, would the peer pressure motivate you to higher achievement?

I think it might. In a way, this would be the high tech version of writing down your goals every day and visualizing success. 

The avatar would simply make the visualization easier.

Perhaps calling this effect peer pressure is not doing it justice. It might be more of a case of unlocking your potential in the same way that the first runner to break the four-minute mile unlocked the potential of those who followed. For any given task, we all seem to have a mental switch that is stuck in the "yes you can" or "no you can't" position.

Sometimes you need to use mental tricks to flip the switch from no to yes. I wonder if your avatar could help.

Very often, successful people seem to have had meaningful interactions with other successful people prior to making it big themselves. That could be a case of coincidence or selective reporting, but I suspect causation.

When you get to know a famous person, your mind says, "If that idiot can succeed, how hard can it be?" That flips the switch in your mind to "yes I can."

I also wonder if programming your avatar to smile or laugh would immediately put you in a good mood. I think it would. I think your avatar could also improve your table manners, help your posture, and move you in the right direction a hundred different ways.

At some point in the future of humanity our avatars will be so well-programmed with our preferences and memories that they will live on after our deaths and have no idea they are not the real us.

And since that future will last forever for the avatar, perhaps in a continuous loop, while your mortal life is limited in years, the statistical reality suggests it already happened and you are an avatar of someone who went before.

Yes, you knew I was going there.