I’m raising funds to attend Wim Hof’s seminar

Hello friends, enemies and neutral characters.

As the title says, I’m raising funds to attend Wim Hof’s seminar.

If you are reading this blog, you are most certainly acquainted with Wim Hof and his work. If not, let me just tell you that this is a man that swims under ice, climbs snowy mountain tops in shorts and sits in tanks full of icy water for hours straight, with no decline in his body temperature. Oh, and he resists disease through conscious control of his immune system. Don’t trust me, read the study.

Anyway, these things make up a lot of what being an Overhuman is. It goes without saying that I’ve been following Wim and practicing his methods for more than a year – that means more than a year of exclusively cold showers, even in the winter. And a lot of power breathing. I also haven’t gotten sick for more than a year, so, not bad, right?

But I wish to learn more, so I started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money. If you have the money or the time or both, do support me; I will be very grateful, and there will be at least one in-depth blog post about the seminar and what you yourself can do using the Wim Hof method.

If I fall short of the amount necessary, I will invest in online coaching.

Again, check out the campaign video, share it a bit, donate a dollar or two or a thousand, let’s try to make this happen.

And updates:

  • I am testing my martial prowess in an MMA tournament tomorrow, so there will be some more writing on teaching martial arts, testing martial arts, what works, what doesn’t and so on. Let me say for now that I’ve updated on some of the things I believed (namely, that learning to fight in street fights doesn’t make you better at fighting).
  • “HOW TO READ ANYONE”: This is a very good video on a very good channel; check it out and check them out. I like.
  • I’ll probably be filming things more; doing instructionals is sometimes easier in video format. Hell, who knows, maybe I start vlogging. Maybe I start doing makeup tutorials, you never know.

That’s it!

 

Mindfulness for the unmindful

Angry birds.
Dog shaming.
Dubstep.
50 shades of grey.
Paleo diet.
Twerking.

What do all of these things have in common?

cdn2-content-compendiumblog-com_

Move switfly as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and fuck shit up.

They are all fads, specifically, fads from the 2010s. Do you know another big fad? Sun Tzu’s Art of War. This book is probably the most read and most referred-to book of all time in the entrepreneurial section of society. Every manager, director, corporate executive, EVERYONE – seems to have read the Art of War and found wisdom therein.

And just like Crossfit and Paleo diets are new fads in the world of sports and exercise, the world of entrepreneurs has seen the emergence of a new fad too: mindfulness meditation.

Just google “mindfulness meditation entrepreneur” or “meditation business” and you’ll get scores upon scores of results where people claim that meditation will make you a better businessman, a better CEO, a better leader, a better everything.

And it’s not only the entrepreneurs, even though I personally find it amusing to see such fads emerge in the entrepreneurial sector. There are many studies that are trying to research meditation and try to quantify the results, measure correlations and do all the work needed to draw evidence-based conclusions. This fad is actually so strong now that we have even seen anti-meditation articles, criticising some aspects or even the whole of meditation.

FAD

noun
1. a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., especially one followed enthusiastically by a group. 

1825-35; noun use of dial. fad to look after things, busy oneself with trifles,back formation from obsolete faddle to play with, fondle.

Well, I don’t know about Angry Birds or dubstep or twerking, but I kind of like dog shaming memes. They’re funny. And I like to eat not completely Paleo, but Paleo-ish. Makes me feel good. And even though I haven’t read it yet, I have a hunch that the Art of War is a good book. And I know for a fact that meditation is probably the most impactful of methods for living a better life.
So the problem with fads is not that they are trifles, as the origin of the noun implies. Very often, fads are very good ideas, useful things, stuff that people actually should do in their lives. The problem with fads is that a fad will fade. It just gets pushed over by another one. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that we should try to stick to certain fads, such as mindfulness and meditation.

 

How to explain mindfulness to someone that’s not already mindful?

Explaining mindfulness to someone that isn’t mindful is like explaining the beauty of Japanese poetry to someone that doesn’t speak Japanese. They understand that if they had a skillset that allowed them to understand Japanese poetry, they would be able to appreciate it. They also understand that there is something there, but it’s not relevant for them – they just can’t get it, so they don’t try.

Or explaining to someone how exciting it is to skydive. A person will certainly have an image of what it must be, but this idea is nowhere near the real thing, the real experience of jumping out of a plane and diving towards the ground at 200 km/h. There is simply a limit to how vividly you can image something that you’ve never experienced.

To fully appreciate Japanese poetry, you kind of have to read it and experience it yourself.

To fully appreciate skydiving, you also kind of need to do it.

And meditation is similar in this respect, with a difference that it doesn’t demand a skillset (like Japanese) or it isn’t sudden, life-changing, extreme intensity (like skydiving). It’s very boring and it takes a lot of time to come to a state where you can appreciate it. You need to try it, and keep doing it for a long time, and you need to do it right – just unfocused thinking and semi-sleeping don’t really count as meditation.

And oftentimes people don’t want to bother with it because they don’t feel they need it. I’m not a “meditation evangelist” so I don’t go around convincing people to start meditating, but I really do think that meditation is good. Notice I said “good”, not “useful”. It can be useful too, but it’s more than just useful.

Useful implies that you’re going to live your life normally, as you would do without meditation, and that meditation has its use, its purpose. For some people it’s stress relief, for others it’s to calm their thoughts. If you see meditation as only useful, you think you are a certain person, let’s call you Bobby, that has an identity composed of many different things. Bobby is a man, he drives a car, he likes to drink coffee with cinnamon, he works at an IT company, he plays drums, he is under stress sometimes and he meditates to relieve his stress. Meditation is a technique Bobby uses within his identity. This is Bobby:

bobby

Some Bobby

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with Bobby. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Bobby is a much better Bobby because of his meditation. He is probably doing better at his job, he doesn’t get so nervous when his deadlines are approaching, he’s not angry when he’s sitting in his car on a crowded highway. He’s, like, cool with things he can’t influence. Good for Bobby.

But many meditation practitioners see meditation as something else rather than a technique to aid you in your life, or, ONLY a technique to aid you in your life. This is where we first start seeing the word spiritual and where an instinctive allergic reaction appears on the skin of every skeptic, atheist or advocate of the scientific method. Let’s say that Bobby, after many years of meditation practice, has come to a certain realization. He still has his job, loves cinnamon in his coffee, drives a car, works at the same company – his life is mostly the same. But let’s say that he has been meditating more and more, and that he isn’t meditating because of meditation’s usefulness. Let’s say, without defining it yet, that Bobby attained enlightenment. This is Bobby now:

no bobby

No Bobby

If you don’t see him, that’s good, because Bobby went from some-Bobby to no-Bobby.

I assume that with this, I pissed off even the most forgiving of skeptics and rationalists.

What the hell is this cryptic, woo-woo nonsense? What you’re saying is undefined, it can’t be understood! 

Well, I shall endeavor to explain.

Some-Bobby is a person that has an identity. He has a story. Car-driving, IT-working, cinnamon coffee-drinking, drum-playing – these things make up who some-Bobby is. They are the building blocks of his identity. Then also the fact that he is male, and that his name is Bobby, and that he was born in America. All these things make some-Bobby who he is. They are what he is known for. If you were to list out these things to his acquaintances and ask them if they know a person that fits the description, people would point at Bobby. Even practicing meditation is a part of his identity. And Bobby, he thinks of himself in terms of his identity. In his mind, his name is Bobby, he drives a car, works at an IT company etc, etc. and that makes up who he is.

The second Bobby (the no-Bobby) doesn’t think of himself that way, though. He doesn’t think of himself, in fact. Actually he doesn’t think at all. No-Bobby just is. Or isn’t, depending on how you see it.

Wha… you…whaaaat?

In order to understand how Bobby came to be no-Bobby from some-Bobby, we have to meet his transition form: the maybe-Bobby  (also known as “I dunno-Bobby”, “not sure-Bobby”, “potentially-Bobby”, “probably not-Bobby”). We shall picture maybe-Bobby like this:

maybe bobby

Maybe-Bobby

This is what maybe-Bobby is thinking for the brief second he exists in between some-Bobby and no-Bobby:

“Dude. Like, my name is Bobby, but would I be me if I were called John? And if I didn’t play the drums? Yeah, I guess so. I don’t even have to have the same address or birthplace or car or job to be me. So what does make me – me? Is it my gender? Like, if everything else was the same and I was a chick, would I be me? Like, the same friends, same family, same life experiences – but just me being a girl. Yeah… Well sure, then it’s still me. But wait… If all of my identity is negotiable like that: my gender, race, possessions, activities in life, NAME – then do I even exist?

[at this point a break happens in Bobby’s line of thought and some-bobby and no-Bobby arrive at the scene]

Some-Bobby: ‘Yeah well, I guess that each individual element of my identity IS negotiable, but the relations between them aren’t, and my complete identity is also not negotiable. So you can change maybe one or two things, but not all of them, and you can’t switch the relations between them.
No-Bobby: [listens to some-Bobby talk]
Maybe-Bobby: ‘Who is this person listening to me talk, that is, think?’
No-Bobby: [listens to maybe-Bobby ask the preceding question]
Maybe-Bobby: ‘Wait, did I just say that there is someone else in my head except me?’
No-Bobby: [listens to maybe-Bobby ask the preceding question]
Maybe-Bobby: ‘Duuuude, this is sick. So I can listen to myself think. Lol wtf. I can see my thoughts as they form and listen to them as if I were a different person. But what kind of person is this?’
No-Bobby: [listens to maybe-Bobby ask the preceding question]
Maybe-Bobby: ‘Aha, I get it. This person that listens to the thoughts in my head is capable of only listening, but can’t produce anything. It can only perceive things. It’s just conscious. It just… is.’
Some-Bobby: ‘Dude, you remember those woo-woo bullshitters that talk shit like You are not you. You are a walking field of consciousness?? This must be it man!’ ”

We said that Bobby attained enligthenment – and enlightenment is understanding that you’re not some-Bobby but that you’re no-Bobby. You’re just a group of atoms capable of perceiving itself, no less, no more. All of your identity – your house, your friends, the language you speak, your name, the very thoughts you think – all of this belongs to some-Bobby, and it is only an upgrade to the walking consciousness that no-Bobby is. In other words, the story about Bobby is not Bobby. Bobby is a group of atoms that can perceive the story of Bobby.

Let’s say that one more time. There is:

A. Bobby’s story. This is what we would call his identity. All the thoughts he thinks go here, ranging from work related problem solving to him remembering a prank he pulled in high school. His name goes here. His familial relations. Basically, everything goes here, and we call this Bobby’s story (or some-Bobby).

B. Awareness or consciousness. This is what the part of Bobby that can’t think, but can register thoughts, the same way it can see, hear, smell and touch. The best way to understand what no-Bobby is, is this: the next time you think of something, try to ask yourself “Who is it that is thinking this?” And when you ask yourself that question, try to simply perceive it, just as if you were looking at a bird flying by, or heard a noise. Just try to register your thought, but don’t think it.

And as long as this whole meditation business stays within the confines of A, many skeptics and rationalists will be okay with it. But as soon as it hits B and we start seeing words like awareness, consciousness, spirituality (this word is the closest word that comes to describe the state of being no-Bobby) – as soon as we get there, disagreements arise.

Skeptics and advocates of the scientific method often regard themselves as superior to those that are “spiritual”. You need only see the Facebook comments on The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe and similar places. They often mock spirituality and advocate that we should accept and live by rules of logic, science and empiric evidence. Of course, they are right. There are a lot of quacks and there is a lot of pure bullshit in the world of the “spiritual”. However, skeptics and rationalists – among which I count myself too, by the way – often don’t understand that they don’t understand.

When you try to explain the importance of mindfulness or meditation, the reaction is sometimes sheer lack of understanding, undertones of sarcasm, accusations of “woo woo” and so on. Naturally, there are woo doctors and quacks, using scientific terminology to create “sciencey” words that in their essence, mean nothing. By the way, here is a Deepak Chopra quote generator. However, there is importance in mindfulness, and there is a materialist, rationalist, skeptic way of explaining why it is so important.

According to this research, our actions are not really initiated by the conscious part of our minds. Our subconsciousness dictates our actions, the words we speak, the friendships we make, the jobs we take – and our consciousness simply observes what is going on. To quote:

“From this perspective, it is concluded that in both phylogeny and ontogeny, actions of an unconscious mind precede the arrival of a conscious mind—that action precedes reflection.”

Here’s an article explaining this a bit more. Here’s a study.

It is like we are a passenger in a driverless car. We think we’re the driver. It’s very intuitive to think so because we’re in the front, we see when the road is bumpy, or curved, or straight, or full of other cars. So we must be the driver.

But let me ask you this: have you ever been in a situation where you just did something, and afterwards thought “Jesus Christ, why did I do that”?

Of course you have. We all have.

You didn’t understand the reasons you did something, but you maybe rationalized it, or simply forgot about it. But what happened exactly?

Let’s say you’re being pulled over by a police officer. There’s nothing wrong, you haven’t been speeding or drinking, your car is in perfect order – there is absolutely no reason the cop needs to pull you over. You have absolutely no reason to be upset about it.

Then why are you nervous?
Why do you fumble while searching for your licence?
Why have your hands gone cold?
Why have you said that stupid awkward joke that was meant to ease the tension?

Well, the answer is obvious. You are not being controlled by the conscious part of you. You are being controlled by your subconsciousness, and your subconsciousness is a dumb animal that knows how to fight, run, eat, laugh, have sex – but it doesn’t understand that 2 + 2 equals 4. And your consciousness is all like “I’m just gonna watch this stupid motherfucker and tell him how stupid he was.” It kind of looks like this:

consciousnesssnes

Did you cheat in a relationship despite thinking that you wouldn’t and that it was against your principles? Bam, subconsciousness.

Did you play computer games for 3 hours instead of doing what you needed to do? Bam again, and yes, subconsciousness again.

So no, you’re not the driver. Your body is the car and you’re a passenger. At least that’s how it is most of the time.

It seems highly counter-intuitive, because we have been conditioned to see ourselves as the creators of our own destinies, but it goes hand in hand with – laws of physics!

We are made of atoms.
Atoms obey physical laws.
That means that our brains obey physical laws.
Furthermore, that means that our decisions are chemical reactions in the brain.
And seeing that chemical reactions follow physical laws, our decisions follow physical laws.

You could say that we’re predetermined. Which might go hand in hand with M-theory in which time would be a “flat circle”, and all events exist at once, while we simply cycle through them.

One chemical reactions means raising your left hand, another means raising your right hand, yet it was impossible that one came instead of the other, precisely because it didn’t. It is like saying that water spilling out of a cup could have not spilled – of course it couldn’t have. Gravity has precisely the same effect on matter – it pulls it. The water had no choice in the matter – it was simply pulled down. Much the same with our actions. We are simply governed by the very rules that govern the rest of the universe, and our brains are no exception. It is the illusion of choice we have, not true choice.

However, this is not fatalism. I argue that even if it is true that we have no choice, it absolves absolutely no responsibility. It simply means that, if we do something, we were, so to speak, destined by the factors of the universe to do just that, but it doesn’t tell us anything of the future. Even if it is predetermined (which we don’t know), the future is always unclear to us, and we should regard our illusion of choice as true choice.

How does mindfulness play into all of this? The answer is quite simple. When you practice mindfulness, you stop having the feeling you’re the driver. You’re simply a passenger, looking out through a window and observing what your car does. You observe what it thinks when it does certain things, and how its thoughts change upon changing environments. This is the true value of meditation and mindfulness – the genuine understanding that you’re not driving the car – the car is driving you.

Horrible, isn’t it?

When you’re deep in meditation, you might even come to worse realizations than not being a passenger. Maybe you also realize that you’re not even a car. Or that numbers are a human invention and don’t exist in nature. All sorts of weird, feeling-based realizations can come up when you’re meditating really deeply. Some of it can be explained, some of it has to be felt.

And yet it is not all that horrible. It is what it is. AND it also might be useful. Because imagine this:

You practice meditation a lot so you’re a lot more mindful of what your thoughts are doing, real-time, during interaction with people. You are about to make a dumb decision.

BAM

You are aware of what you are about to do.

You start thinking of it. 

You think some more.

You don’t do it.

BAM

MEDITATION BITCH

It could have been you cheating on your girlfriend, or drinking too much alcohol, or using drugs, or buying a new car or any sort of decisions you would later be sorry for. Because you were much more aware of your thoughts and of yourself thinking these thoughts, conscious of your own urges and wants, this awareness translated itself into action – that is, non-action, not doing a stupid thing.

Isn’t it funny that we end with this Zen-like, logic-defying paradox, where the illusion of choice actually gives you a choice?

Well, Zen. Can’t get enough of it:

A monk asked Zhao Zhou to teach him.
Zhao Zhou asked, “Have you eaten your meal?”
The monk replied, “Yes, I have.”
“Then go wash your bowl,” said Zhao Zhou.
At that moment, the monk was enlightened.

Practical Anger or How To Destroy The World

I’m sitting in my room, looking through the window. Thoughts are flashing through my head. In four days, it’s going to be my 24th birthday. It’s been four years since I had resolved to change myself and try to become Overhuman. Speed reading, memory techniques, Zen mode under stress, martial arts, language proficiency, advanced movement capability, strategizing against smart opponents, reading minutiae and details off a person’s clothes or their nonverbals, clarity in thought, withstanding lack of sleep or cold or hunger, hyperawareness… Just some of the things. There are many more things.

How did I do? Well, given that I had mentorship only for some of the things that interest me, and given that I was absolutely shit in everything I just mentioned four years ago:

  • I can read a 200 page book of moderate difficulty in around 1.5 hours with full understanding
  • I can memorize completely random sequences of numbers or things, such as my bank account number or licence plates
  • I never panic when things get tough
  • I’ve received an instructor’s licence in Wing Tzun (also, check out my training video)
  • I’m C level in English, French and Swedish, and I teach Swedish at a language school
  • I can do handstands, splits, backflips, big ass drops, Parkour runs, muscle-ups, semi-tuck front levers, horse stances, 0-inch punches
  • I rarely lose at chess now
  • I can tell people’s hidden emotions from their facial microexpressions; I can read their bodily displays (freeze, flight, fight; pacifiers); I can extrapolate to a moderate degree from the hair on their coats, the food stains on their sleeves, the cracks on their nails, the bumps in their pockets…
  • I’m a lot more rational, due to Clearer Thinking courses, so I try to use Bayesian probability theory in everyday life, and I perceive when people use fallacious reasoning
  • I shower exclusively with cold water and I practice Wim Hof breathing every day; I go on 16 – 36 hour fasts; I succesfully managed one particularly demanding training regimen on 4-5 hours of sleep a day
  • I meditate daily; (usually) I see my thoughts as they form; I pay much more attention to my senses than before

It’s nice to have such a list, where I even managed to quantify some of the things – like the speed reading thing. It’s not only an “I am” list, but an “I can” list. I feel satisfied with my personal progression.

However, as you may surmise from the title of the post, this is not the subject of it.

Question: Why do I do this?
Answer: To destroy the world.

I’ve always been inclined towards activism; even in high school, I took part in protests, and we even managed to do a screening of Zeitgeist: Addendum at the school, which was for me sort of a big thing back then. But my enthusiasm for activism has been waxing and waning during university; I have felt the need to do something more than to replay the same game time and time again – somebody does something stupid, you try to influence them not to do it through a very rigid and predetermined set of communicative methods: posters, flyers, protests, media actions. It’s like a game of chess, but one that never seems to come to a close, one that simply remains in mid-game – forever. So I decided to get into something more concrete, something that not only criticizes, but something that gives alternatives: permaculture. I’m still in permaculture. I’m still in activism. I think they are all very important. But there was still something missing, even then.

I’ve resolved, more recently, roughly a year ago, that this world is not right in many ways, and that, if I am able, I ought to do something about it, but really, really, like, really really do something. Like, I don’t know, there might be a lot of intricate details as to why these bad things happen, and there might be an awful lot of people that argue that it’s too undetermined to support any one faction, or that a certain thing is not bad at all. There might be too much dispersion of responsibility, or doing something might be worse than not doing anything. But these things… These things simply shouldn’t be like this, wherever the reasons may lie, or whoever might be responsible for this. At an emphatetic human level, we feel that there is something wrong here:

syrian-migrant-boy-turkey
Holocaust Victims

ISIS Biggest Mass Massacre in Palmyra

duluth-lynching-postcard

Rain Forest In Brazil Are Cleared And Burned By Settlers For Farmland             animals

I could put many more images here. Look at them intently, really focus on them. Don’t they make you just seethe with anger?

I mean… I know that we’re all going to die one day (okay, even that’s not sure anymore with the uploading of consciousness and whatnot, but just for the sake of the argument, let’s say that we’re all highly likely to die). The Earth will just cool down one day, the Sun will burn out all its fuel, and these little walking atoms of consciousness we call life will all stop being alive at one point. The nihilism is on point – there is no inherent point in doing anything whatsoever. Nothing makes a difference.

Except when you decide that it does make a difference, because, if it’s all the same, then we can all collectively decide that it’s not the same and take that as a guiding principle. Either way you look at it, you can either choose to care or choose not to care. I am inclined to choose to care.

And activism and permaculture are all laudable examples of care, as well as social entrepreneurship and political engagement, and even righteous military action. I feel that any one of these activities is a good thing for the world, if seen from a perspective of someone who chooses to care.

However, I have always been inclined to do the unconventional thing, and that is what I intend to do in fixing the world: I intend to break it, rip it apart, burn through it, make it crumble. At least that’s what I intend to do with the most messed up, evil and perverse things that are happening in the world. While my intention is not purely destructive, it is destructive to a certain extent. Not to say that I do not plan to build, lead, teach, help and care. Pure destruction is, more often than not, madness. But take a look at those photos again and tell me you can build/lead/teach/help/care people out of those situations, with no conflict, with no breaking, with no destruction. When confronted with an agressive husband that is going to rape you, you smash your elbow into his throat, you don’t sweet talk him out of it. When a religious fanatic opens fire on civilians at a concert, you don’t debate faith with him; you take cover, prepare your own firearm and aim for the head. There is a time and place for softness, for persuasion, for influence, for playing chess; and there is a time and place for escalation to the death. Sometimes it is wise to lose. Sometimes it is imperative to win.

The trouble with all of this is that it’s always so ambiguous, so uncertain, so dispersed. The action you take may have an adverse effect. You may create more difficulty, more pain and suffering because you wanted to help. Take, for example, Dubai. This is clearly an utterly wrong society. But what to do about it? If you simply raze the city to the ground, you’ve caused death and destruction, but have you helped anyone? If you take down its leadership, will a new one arise, or will the society fall prey to warring factions? If you choose simply to influence the culture of it, will you make any actual difference? In every wrong society there is a chain of personal responsibility. Each man and woman are responsible for their actions. Is the sheikh responsible for this situation, or are the people collectively responsible for not taking action, or any other group or person? The answer is never clear, and it is definitely not clear in this particular case. But despite the lack of clarity when ascertaining responsibility, we have as a result a very bad society. Is this ambiguity, this not knowing who is responsible, is it to stop us from fixing it? In my view, no. Somewhere along this line of responsibility, we ought to insert our action. The more effective our action, the stronger the dissagreement with certain people, and the more dangerous the repercussions from powerholders. In other words, if you want to thouroughly fix a corrupt system, you will in all likelihood be met with force. Dragons are not easy to slay.

I’ve been creating a particular skillset for the last four years, and it is this skillset I imagine will be key when I start burning through the world one day. I hope to spread my knowledge, connect with like-minded people, and do more good more effectively. It is funny – I actually made a list of all organisations I hope to break during my lifetime. Upon it figure terrorist regimes, fanatical fundamentalist organisations, modern slave societies…

I don’t know when or how yet, but my will is strong and my resolution is clear. Good things shall follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Develop the habit of watching intently

Look at this face:

lie

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you look at it? To me, it’s intentness.

During the last several years, among other things, I’ve been studying nonverbal communication. I’ve read books, I’ve watched videos, and I’ve gone out and practiced and talked to people.

The greatest insight I got from it is not a new, hidden microexpression that no one before me managed to perceive. As a matter of fact, my insight has absolutely nothing to do with the nonverbal communication of other people. It’s about how I look at people, and how you too (probably) look at people.

There are certain conventions in the animal world (including our species) as to how we look at one another. Have you ever tried to eye gaze, i.e. to look at people directly in their eyes and not break contact until they do? For many people, myself included, this is extremely uncomfortable and difficult to do. Naturally, some do this with no difficulty whatsoever, but they are not in the majority. Even dogs exhibit this behavior – gazing into a dog’s eyes and not breaking contact can be an invitation to fight. When parents are angry with their children, they stare at them, but the children don’t stare back and avoid eye contact. From this, we may conclude that it is a power dynamic – the one that is more powerful may look, and the one that is weaker may not. This is an intuitive notion, but it is worth stating it explicitly.

Here’s the thing with nonverbal communication: you have to be on the lookout for the signs that the body gives. When people converse, it is habitual that they look at one another some of the time, but not always, constantly breaking and reestablishing eye contact, looking away while listening and talking, and only occasionaly creating eye contact to stress something we are talking about. However, if one is ever to absorb all of the information the body offers, this laxness cannot be permitted. If you want to find out interesting things, you do not slack. You have to look to see.

But here we come upon a problem, because the power dynamic often doesn’t enable us to look. Do you gaze into the eyes of your boss, or a police officer that is about to arrest you, or your abusive husband? No, usually, you don’t. Should you? Maybe.

Tim Ferriss, an author I appreciate highly, proposes this comfort challenge:

“People are typically are uncomfortable when eye contact is made for a long time. In conversation, maintain eye contact when you are speaking. Practice with people bigger or more confident than yourself. If a passerby asks you what the hell you’re staring at, just smile and respond, “sorry about that. I thought you were an old friend of mine.” Focus on one eye and be sure to blink occasionally so you don’t look like a psychopath or get your ass kicked.”

I think this is a great exercise and anyone that has a problem with self confidence should practice this until they get good at it.

But this is not the subject of this post. Watching intently and looking into someone’s eyes are similar, but not the same. Oftentimes we not only don’t look into someone’s eyes, we don’t even look in their direction.

I believe it has something to do with our not wanting the other person uncomfortable, not only the power dynamic we mentioned. This is an understandable motivation – who wants to be known as the psycho stare guy? However, that’s jumping from one extreme to another. You don’t have to stare, but you do have to look.

So cultivate that profound habit of actually looking at people, not breaking contact when they look at you, observing them as if you were playing a demanding videogame, or watching an absorbing film. There is no laziness in the eyes then. Don’t let there be any when you interact with other people. The power dynamic does not permit you to look? Rebel against the power dynamic. You are worried that people will be uncomfortable? Do it anyways, and if they are uncomfortable, at least you’ll see it. This is one of the most important things you can do if you wish to perfect your practical application of nonverbal communication knowledge. If you are trying to shoot at a target half a kilometer away, you have more chance to do it with a sniper than with a handgun. Same goes with spotting nonverbal cues, seeing lies, perceiving discomfort, sensing aggression. Here, you simply need to force yourself to do better. Don’t be a handgun; be a sniper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to be evil

So, my New Year’s resolutions were these two:

  1. Be more easy-going and less critical, less imposing.
  2. Read 200 books in 2016.

My average for the last two years has been around 15 books a year – just over one a month. This is a sad statistic for someone that can speed-read, and it’s disheartening for someone that has over 300 books on his to-read list. (If you wan’t to see what I’ve read or what I’m reading or planning to read, you can check out my Goodreads profile. I don’t really leave reviews and when I do, I do it in Croatian, but that might also change one day.)

Thus I started the year off with a book a day influence(or almost a book a day). I read them in no particular order, as they spark my interest at the time. It is mostly non-fiction, books I can extract useful information quickly and discard the rest, but I don’t discriminate against fiction. Somehow it happened that, after reading How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie, a book that has been recommended to me time and time again, I got interested in “people skills” – and so I started reading Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

Now, this book is really good. It is based on scientific research on human psychology and how we make the decisions we make, and also how people use flaws in our decision making processes to make us do what they want us to do.

Naturally, I had a feeling that this was nothing new. We all know, at least intuitively, that salespeople have their “tricks” that make us comply with their sales requests. But the problem is we see their techniques as tricks, not as well-tested, research-based methods that use our weak spots to hack our brains. Simply put, as it so happens very often in life, we do not take certain things seriously enough. We just buzz past them, without noticing how deliberate, how studied, how professional – these techniques really are.

Anyway, the whole point of the book seems to be how to protect yourself from the bad effect these techniques might have on you. What I have done is the opposite: I have compiled a list of techniques based on fixed action patterns that can be used to influence and manipulate people into doing things they wouldn’t have done before. This is real grey area here, but it’s the same thing as learning to punch someone in the face.

I will not go into detail here; for that, you have to read the book. The author lists all the studies that he bases his conclusions on and you can check the studies out too. What I will explain is what fixed action patterns are and how they can be exploited to manipulate people, and I will list out all the possible practical applications of these findings. It is on you to decide if you will ever use them. I plan on field-testing them – not using them on a daily basis, but on trying them out and seeing how they work for me, and if I am able to use them in an efficient manner.

evil

So, what are fixed action patterns?

Fixed action patterns are actions that a certain species does in presence of a certain stimulus, and rarely (or never) differs from the fixed course of action. These are so called “instinctive responses”, but them being instinctive is not enough. They are simply fixed. If a certain stimulus is present, the animal does exactly the same thing over and over again, despite it not being a good decision. For example, some birds will roll any egg-shaped object into their nest because they have a fixed action pattern that says: “I always have to roll eggs back into the nest.” They simply cannot decide otherwise. They just perform an action without any will of their own. It just happens, the pattern takes over the brain and any brain processing whatsoever.

Needless to say, humans have also exhibited fixed action patterns in their behaviour. Despite it being a bit more complex and despite our wonderful ability to rationalize afterwards, we have our own ways of turning off the thinking brain and just completing the pattern that has been ingrained into our nervous system by evolution.

Here are the ways a knowledgeable person can exploit these fixed action patterns:

  1. Use the word “because” often, even if your reasons are just repeating something you just said, or saying something non-related. Science says that if you hear the word because, you are more likely to comply to whatever was needed, even though the reason itself might not be a good reason. It just suffices to have A reason.
  2. Do favours and give small gifts that are difficult to turn down. People are more likely to comply to your requests if they feel they owed you something, even though your original gift might be an order of magnitude smaller and insignificant compared to what you’re asking for.
  3. Make people commit to things. If they commit to what you’re asking them, however small it may be, it makes larger commitments possible. Want not to be robbed while you use the toilet in the café? Ask somebody to watch over your stuff. That way, they commit to a certain role they have now assumed.
  4. Commitment is best achieved not through spoken word but through action. If your commitment makes people DO something, anything, just writing a couple of lines of text for example, it is a much stronger commitment than without the action.
  5. “Lowballing” – if you want to enforce or sell something, you offer it for a small price (monetary or any other kind). After a test period, you raise the price, saying that you’ve mistakenly thought the price was lower. Because of the test period, people have committed themselves to a certain product or whatever it may be you were trying to sell/enforce. They are much more likely to accept the raise in the price. Car dealers routinely lowball people.
  6. If you want someone to do something, be as similar to them as possible. Profess to have the same hobbies, wear the same clothes, speak in the same way. The more you are similar, the more people are likely to comply with your request.
  7. Look good.
  8. Flatter. Flattery, even when perceived as flattery, is often just as effective.
  9. Create an image of authority, be it through the way you speak, through a title you might have, through the clothes you wear. People are more likely to comply if they feel a request is coming from an authority, despite it not being an appropriate authority.
  10. The less something is available, the more people want it. The less the information about the unavailability of something is available, even more the people will want it. This is amplified if this something was previously in abundance.

There you have it, ten techniques to manipulate people into doing things you want them to do. Statistically, they should work with most people. Naturally, this information is of greatest interest to people that want to sell things, but many other uses are possible. Read the whole book for additional information and for greater understanding and appreciation of these techniques.

A final word of caution: be wise in your use of these techniques. It is better to tell the truth instead of lies. It is better to work in the open instead of plotting. And it is better to be honest instead of manipulating people’s fixed action patterns. But as you go through life, you will undoubtedly find yourself in situations where lying is necessary, where plotting is necessary and where using fixed action patterns is necessary. You might still decide not to use them but when you find yourself there, it’s better to know these things than not to know them.

 

Problems “beneath” an Overhuman

I didn’t know how to name this post and this is the best I came up with. Problems “beneath” an Overhuman are problems that are so commonplace and low-level and ubiquitous that an Overhuman does not deign to bother with them. (S)he is simply above them and considers them trifles, things not worth his/her time, things that – this is going to sound bad – are reserved for the “ordinary” people.

An Overhuman assumes what might be seen as a condescending attitude toward many things that other people worry about. Fortunately, this condescending attitude is not condescending at all because it is coupled with high emotional intelligence and, thus, empathy.

An Overhuman understands his fellow humans’ pain and suffering and anxiety, an Overhuman understands its causes and the mechanisms why these negative emotions come about, but the Overhuman does not share in their pain.

I shall give practical examples:

You have a bad relationship with a parent. Your parent is very controlling and has bad physiological influence over you. You are stressed because of your parent’s expectations, you are unsure of yourself and you seek your parent’s approval for everything you do.

You can be the best deductionist in the world and also speak 7 languages and be an incredible fighter, but if that is what’s bothering you – you are not yet an Overhuman.

An Overhuman cannot exist with problems that usually come up in normal human affairs. Why? Precisely because an Overhuman is not normal. Merely possessing Overhuman skills is not enough – it’s like having a Ferrari and not knowing how to drive it, or driving it badly, or only driving it during daytime. Skills are nothing without the state of mind that employs them.

Another example:

A war breaks out in your country and thousands of people are starving because the supply lines to your area have stopped. You starve too – primarily because you never stocked up on food in case of such events.

Or another example, based on that very same war I just mentioned: You are forced to take to the streets and because it is cold, you cannot bear it and have to change plans that involved you staying out.

What do these two examples have in common?

Well, generally speaking, the correct answer would be – weakness.

An Overhuman is an Overhuman because (s)he is not weak in any form, neither in body nor mind. For these two examples it is a certain weakness of the mind that has assured us that you are not yet an Overhuman: failure to prepare.

You see, an Overhuman is a prepper by default. Stocking up on food is done as a matter of course. It takes no thinking through – being a prepper, and – nota bene – a good prepper – is just something that goes without saying, something that is so blatantly obvious that it needs not be addressed.

And an Overhuman is also a practitioner of the Wim Hof method – by default. It goes without saying.

Are you starting to see the bigger picture?

Well, if no, I will outline it clearly.

The very foundation of an Overhuman, its base – is a high success level in other disciplines. What some may consider as the pinnacle of achievement in their art, an Overhuman considers as merely a starting point for his/her own art.

Thus fighters will strive to be incredible fighters and will consider it a great success when they become incredible. Overhumans are incredible fighters by default. For fighters, it will be their end-goal. For Overhumans, it will be their starting point.

Thus Zen monks and Stoics will strive towards mental clarity and acceptance of whatever life brings, and they will see this as “enlightenment”, as their final phase. Overhumans are enlightened by default. It’s their starting point.

Thus survivalists and preppers will strive to be as prepared as possible for various events, ranging from bad, to catastrophic to apocalyptic. Overhumans – you guessed it – are good survivalists by default. What the community of survivalists and preppers sees as high capability and preparedness, an Overhuman sees simply as a necessary base for other things.

And so, the problems “beneath” an Overhuman – being too fat or out of shape; having insecurities; not having enough money for strategical investments; speaking only one language; having a bad immune system; having bad people skills; having unresolved family disputes etc. – are truly “beneath” an Overhuman. An Overhuman simply has no time or patience to deal with such matters he or she considers as trifles. Naturally, (s)he will show empathy and give advice to those that need it, but in his/her personal life, such problems simply do not arise. They are just too low-level.

Killproof

A practical post for a practical idea.

Being killproof.

We know we want to survive. We do what we need to so that we have a chance of surviving. One of the greatest predators to humans are other humans – and I am not necessarily talking about serial killers. Wars, terrorism, random acts of violence – there are plenty of examples.

Obviously, I advocate martial arts training and being prepared for worst case scenarios (as in war, breakdown of the state or something else like that), but knowing how to punch well and having a stockpile of food at home isn’t really counter-intuitive. It’s normal. It’s what everyone does (or should be doing ).

We know, at least on an intuitive level, that doing the unexpected significantly improves the likelihood of winning in chaotic scenarios. People always have preconceptions and that’s a weakness an Overhuman will exploit, and not fall into the same trap. That’s why I will present you with some interesting but unusual ideas about killproofing yourself.

Neck training for chokeholds and hanging

An incredibly strong neck will help you sustain chokeholds and even hanging by the rope. Shaolin monks do it.

Exercise 1 – The Polygraph: lie on your back, have your head in the air and nod 100 times for “yes” and 100 times for “no”. When you can do it without a break, change exercise or increase volume.

Exercise 2 – Head and walls: Lean against a wall with your forehead, body and neck straight. Try to do a 45 degree angle, or even less if possible. Do it sideways, and on the back side of the head too. Achieve indefinite hold.

Exercise 3 – Wrestling neck routines:

Exercice 4 – Getting hanged: As the name implies, get a rope, make a noose and hang yourself. First support yourself with your hands, then try to do it without them. The goal is to be able to simulate death without dying.

Unorthodox weapons

Obtain and carry a kakute. Make or buy a blade that looks like a pendant on a necklace and train yourself to be able to get it out using teeth only. Learn to throw projectile weapons i.e. shurikens. Make cigarette-looking blowguns, and carry a pack with you.

All of the above are just some of the ideas how you can make a plan B, C, D, E and so on. The principle is this: go completely overboard. Carry an absurd amount of hidden weapons on you. Also, change your perception: everything is a weapon – a word, a gesture, a mobile phone, a car, a dog, a mob. There are many ways to fight, and fists, knives and guns are just… expected.

Life-savers

Around 40% of civilian deaths following trauma are because of blood loss. Meaning, someone cuts, stabs, or shoots you, you have a 40% chance of dying not because of damage to organs but for the dumb reason of having a leaking hole in your body. Obtain an XSTAT and a Vetigel syringe. One fills a gunshot wound with expanding sponge particles that plug up the hole immediately, and the other one is algae based and clogs the blood and closes cutting wounds. Actually, obtain everything you can afford from Suneris and RevMedX, they make stuff that really saves lives, like really really really saves lives. And, of course, always carry with you.

Dodging bullets

You can’t physically dodge an incoming bullet. It’s just moving too fast for any human to be able to respond. Yet there just might be a way to dodge several incoming shots if you’re dealing with someone that’s not a good shooter. You see, if you train your body to be really, really fast – which is possible – and if you train a certain movement pattern so good that it becomes second nature – which is also possible – you might stand a chance. There is no way to move faster than a bullet, but if you move faster than the shooter’s intention, finger movement and reflexes, you have a chance, however slim it may be.

The key is to be chaotic and unpredictable, changing direction in such a way that an inexperienced shooter won’t be able to make contact. Think zig-zag, think rolls, think jumps, think bobbing and weaving. All these movements should be directed towards the attacker so that you get close and gain control of the firearm.

I can’t do this yet, so you don’t need to follow my advice. I’ll work on it some more and then test it with paintball bullets to see if it has any effect. Experiment, and remember: even if it saves your life only once, it was worth all the training.

That’s it. Do you have any additional unconventional ideas? How about conventional? Leave me a comment.