[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Since my results surprised me, I bet your results will surprise you when you do yesterday’s exercise to record your beliefs (aka mental models or just models).
First, the quantity. I felt like I had five or ten main models that I used a lot. I had about sixty or seventy. So the mental world I live in, from my mind’s eye, is more complex than I thought.
Next, how new they are — that is, most of them aren’t more than a few years old. I expected to have many going back to childhood.
Next, how intentional they are — that is, I created my most important beliefs.
Next, how much these beliefs replaced old ones that made me miserable. Almost every belief I wrote improved my life and made me think of an old belief it replaced that made my life worse.
Finally I noticed the overall effect of all these beliefs I created: I’ve created a mental world of
- Emotional awareness
- Trying new things
and more. When I look at what it replaced, I see I left a mental world of
- Less emotional stability
- Entitlement that went unfulfilled
- Independence that isolated me
- Lack of awareness
My life is better today than ever before and is improving as fast as I can. I made the changes happen myself, I know how to change more, and anyone can do it.
I don’t want to overstate things. My life before had great stuff — I succeeded in business, academics, sports and more. And I’m sure plenty of people embody my values better than I do. I’m sure they live lives embodying their values better than I do. I hope you live by your values better than I do, since I probably have different values. But…
I’ve become the cathedral guy. My life is better today than ever before and is improving as fast as I can. I made the changes happen myself, I know how to change more, and anyone can do it.
Though I’ve hardly changed the physical world around me, I only superficially interact with it. The value of everything is in my mental world. I live more by my values, get more done that matters to me, have better professional and personal relationships, and so on. You can do the same for yourself in your life — at no cost and needing no one else’s help.
Your life and this exercise
Think about what you want in your mental life. Your mental life isn’t about money, travel, family, and other external things. But all those things only have value for what they mean to you — that is, for how you represent them in your mental life, meaning by what beliefs and models you use. This exercise reveals those beliefs and that meaning.
You don’t want to live my life. You want to live yours. But whatever life you want, you want the best life for yourself by your standards.
If you wanted to be an athlete you’d probably want more competition, drive, exercise, and such. If you’re a parent you’d want more familial elements. You know what you value better than I do.
Whatever mental world you want for yourself, you’ll still want to do what this exercise helps with. You’ll want to replace beliefs that conflict with your goals with new ones that support it. You’ll even want to support beliefs that work for you with beliefs that work even better for you.
My next series
I’m going to post the beliefs I adopted that created the mental world like I described above. If you want a life of calm understanding and everything else I listed above, you might want to adopt the beliefs yourself. If you want a different world for yourself, you’ll still benefit from replacing counterproductive beliefs with productive (to improving your life). I think you’ll benefit from seeing how someone else replaced theirs.
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