[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.]
You want to do well in life. What areas are most important for you? Do you want fame? Fortune? Power? Family?
My explorations into meaning, value, importance, and purpose (MVIP) led me to consider what I wanted. Since I’ve found MVIP are grounded in emotions, I found I could refine my understanding of what brought me MVIP by refining my understanding of my emotional system and my emotions.
I found that emotions stood at the foundation of all of MVIP. Not just emotion, but emotional reward, though also pleasure and happiness. While I like reward of all characteristics, I found some worth more time, energy, and other resources to get.
I found I considered long-term, rich and complex, intense, pleasurable reward most worth my resources to get. When I looked at what behaviors and environments created those types of reward, I found I came up with a short list, which looked to me like a lifestyle I’d like and work toward creating and keeping.
A model for a great lifestyle: To be a valued and respected member of my communities and family, enjoy the beauty of nature (including eating healthily), keep fit, and learn and improve myself.
That’s a long title. Let’s put it into four bullets. I find the basic elements to a great lifestyle — that is, one that creates the most MVIP of the characteristics I want — as follows
- to be a valued and respected member of my communities and family
- to enjoy the beauty of nature (especially eating healthily)
- to keep fit
- to learn and improve myself
I can’t imagine anyone finding problem with wanting a life like this.
I came up with these by exploring The Model and figuring out what would create the most long-term, rich and complex, pleasurable, and intense emotions and emotional reward. I also like simple, short-term, subtle, and even some painful emotions and emotional reward, but I find those easier to come by, so I don’t consider them worth working as hard for. I can get them when I want them.
Coming from The Model means they came from my belief in how evolution shaped our psychology. I believe our cultures and societies emerged from people behaving how our ancestors evolved, so behaving how you were born to leads to behaving harmoniously with your neighbors.
Maybe you believe people are bad or evil underneath and have to be managed, but I don’t. I believe and have found in myself that behaving more consistently with what feels most natural and least taught by society leads to the most social, friendly, and community-supporting behavior. It seems the simplest explanation of how humanity grew into what we see today in the first place.
When I use this belief
I don’t actively use this belief as that once I hit on it, I realized I didn’t have to wonder so much what life was about or what I wanted. It seemed to validate my understanding of myself and humanity through The Model. It cut through a lot of the purposes of philosophy, psychology, business, and various approaches to answer how do I make myself happy, what do I want out of life, and questions like that.
I’m open to adding other elements to the list or finding reasons to displace element from that list, but I like it as it is.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces wondering what the meaning of life is or what I want out of life.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to creating a life containing those four things and not searching or wondering about other things or wondering if something is missing.
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