How can you change the powerful loop that is your habitual life

Topic: You are a product of your friends, co-workers, family, furniture, architecture, restaurants, shops and streets

Discussion: You start out shaping your environment, but soon it’s shaping you, until you form a stable, self-reinforcing loop.

Tip: Try to identify malign loops everywhere you can think of (investing, macroeconomics, relationships, health)

Conclusion: If you’re not happy with your life you probably need to make bigger changes than you might think


Trauma induced psychopatic behavior is inheritable

Psychopaths can be identified through a brain scan. The trait is inheritable and their brain patterns are highly specific. Jordan Harbinger found out as much when he studied psychopaths. Later, when researching Alzheimer’s in his own family he found out he himself had the brain of one of the worst psychos he had ever come across. And yet, he wasn’t behaving like a psychopath, e.g., he never harmed anybody. More about that a little later…


Looping behavior and post traumatic growth

Recent research shows people often react positively to intense stress and shocks. They are beneficiaries of adverse circumstances. Other people develop PTSD from severe stress. Some people turn into raging psychopaths if exposed to a certain kind of trauma, as if the organism says “Apparently, I can’t trust other people, so instead I’m going to use them”. The good news is that they need to carry the psychopathy genes for that. What’s worse, however, is that once the genes are triggered they can be inherited in their triggered state to up to two generations.

Think about that for a while: the genes for psychopathy can be carried but silent forever, but once triggered by a traumatic experience, epigenetic changes occur that means the children and grandchildren of a psychopath can become active psychopaths themselves without the need for triggers. The pattern for inherited antisocial behavior could have significant implications for societies when observed over very long cycles. Strauss and Howe call those cycles “Saeculums” which are about 90 years long, or the span of a long-lived human. More about that in a little while.

Humans move in stable loops. We conform to our environment, move or change it until we fit in. The people we see, the establishments we frequent, what we eat, the shops we go to, the way our living quarters are arranged shape us. Once set, the context decides most of your life for you, just as you become part of other peoples’ life shaping context. If you’re  not careful you’ll live your life as a domesticated animal with hardly any active choices or enriching experiences at all.

In any case, our environment and experiences shape us, and there is good reason to take control of that process, lest we spend our lives as zombies or psychopaths.


Breaking the loop

With some effort you can change your context and break out of your homeostasis. However, unless you actually move, change jobs, spend most of your time with other people and so on, you’re likely to slip right back into your old habits.

By all means, start small: just take different routes to and from work, walk your dog in unfamiliar areas and visit new shops and restaurants. That way you might meet new people which is key. You’ve probably heard that you are a blend of the five people you spend most of your time with. Are you? And do they represent your values and ideals? If not you need to change them or dilute their influence. For that you may need to make bigger changes such as moving and getting another job. Recent research in psychology and psychedelics have shown that certain intense psychotherapy can break a decade of, e.g., depression looping in one single sitting.

Ideally, you want your environment to be like bicycling downhill rather than uphill, that your environment pushes you forward as opposed to hampering your efforts. You could compare the right technological, cultural and social context to always having homemade food in the freezer and your gymbag at the ready, as opposed to candy and cookies at the house.


Two topics fascinate me regarding this interplay between surroundings and choices: does it explain the Fourth Turning theory, and what can be done to prevent too much perosnal looping?


Could transgenerational epigenetic triggers of pychopathy explain The Fourth Turning?

  1. Big traumatic experiences that affect a whole generation of young people can trigger an entire generation of more or less antisocial behavior. Such a psychopathic generation would share certain memories, feelings and behavioral traits that make them prone to certain kinds of decisions in certain kinds of situations and lines of work
  2. Due to the mechanics of transgenerational epigenetics a certain number of their children are affected as well, and a number of their children. Then, for the fourth generation the bad blood (epigenetically pre-triggered psychopathy) is finally cleaned out, creating a generation that is quite different from the other generations.
  3. Unfortunately, when the Social generation and their children are still young, the Psychopaths are in charge of society’s most important institutions and risk causing a new cycle of trauma and psychopaths. Maybe, just maybe, this is part of the mechanics underlying Strauss and Howe’s theory of generational cycles in The Fourth Turning. Well, I’ll leave that to Howe, whom I’ve recently contacted regarding his updated edition of the book.

What can be done to counter your own laziness, homeostasis and looping behavior?

  1. Humans have a very limited agency as it is, i.e., room for voluntary action that is not immediately and deterministically triggered by circumstances. Some would say we have no free will at all. Be that as it may, but at least we feel we can change our behavior just a little.
  2. Thus it’s crucial to tweak and design one’s surroundings as thoughtfully as possible, to make them conducive to… well, whatever it is you want to achieve.
  3. The following might help: Feng Shui furniture, dark bedrooms, TV placement, computer and phone screen habits, refrigerator contents, shopping habits (I recommend shopping groceries online, right after having eaten and using fixed lists).
  4. Learn to be aware of, recognize and break non productive loops and ineffective coping behavior. Try to guide your coping behavior to loop-breaking rather than loop-reinforcing, e.g., by letting thoughts of “staying the course”, “choosing laziness” trigger the opposite. Drop to the floor right now and make 10 push-ups. Don’t feel like it? You’ll do it later? But there are people around? Those are the exact triggers you want to make you do it without delay. Now!

Conclusion and summary

Never mind the Fourth Turning, that’s for another day and another author, no matter how fascinating.

Take charge of your context. What do you want to achieve? What do you need to achieve that? What kind of traits would help? Where do people with those traits live and hang out? Seek them out. What traits are in the way? Stop seeing people with those characteristics. Design your life around people, activities, companies etc. that  on average are what you want to be. Make a plan on how to get from here to there and take the consequent action, be it moving, resigning, take a course, break up and so on.

Just be careful what you wish for; you need a very good grasp of who you truly are and what you really want, before taking drastic action.

Final thoughts: If you’re not happy with your life something is seriously wrong. I know people who are retired and pretty well off who have planned for reading books and making oil paintings but find themselves constantly renovating the house, just as constantly complaining they never have the time to relax, read and paint. They are stuck in a loop, unhappily so. Are you happy with your job, your activities after work, the level of meaningfulness in your social life, your overall level of belonging and self-actualization etc? If not, no New Year’s resolution about going to the gym or joining a book club is going to change that.

You need to put yourself in a whole new context.


P.S. If this resonated with you here are two suggestions: 1) bookmark my website, 2) check out Start Gaining Momentum and his book Breaking Out Of Homeostasis.

Ekonomi i en parrelation på Börshajens event på Hovet i Stockholm

Summary: this post is in Swedish

Slutsats: framtiden kanske inte alltid blir som man förväntar sig, men inte heller det förflutna är vad man minns att det var

Investeringar: Investera i din person, hälsa, dina relationer och din ekonomi idag och skörda imorgon, men skjut inte upp livet för det levs i nuet

   


För några dagar sedan pratade jag och Anna Svahn (bilden – jag är också med där någonstans men i svart kostym) om hur man kan hantera hushållsekonomiska frågor i en parrelation. Jag tror det ska gå att hitta våra 12 minuter någonstans på svtplay eller på Börshajens websajt. I korthet hade vi tre idéer:

  1. prata om ekonomin tidigt (och det man ska prata om är vad man ska sköta tillsammans och vad man ska hantera separat — om något). Observera att det inte handlar om att upprätta någon slags millimeterrättvisa, utan om att komma överens om hur man ska sköta ekonomin, att bli överens tidigt för att slippa prata om det sen.
  2. ha alltid möjlighet och beredskap att ta ansvar för dina egna utgifter (även så små saker som en glass eller utekaffe, annars riskerar det att successivt byggas upp till ett allt värre irritationsmoment i onödan
  3. planera gemensamma aktiviteter och inköp — spara tillsammans och dröm tillsammans. Det är lättare att hålla igen på vardagslyxen om man vet att ens partner också gör det och vad belöningen längre fram består i

Vi spelade även in ett avsnitt (nummer 12) av min och Annas gemensamma podcast Outsiders samma kväll efter eventet på Hovet. Podden tar upp frågor om ekonomi, sparande och aktier på ett lättsamt sätt med ett lite filosofiskt anslag snarare än massa siffror. Avsnitt 11 handlade t.ex. om flockbeteende på börsen, och avsnitt 10 om råvaror. Avsnitt 12 hanterar frågor om just ekonomin i en parrelation, dvs det vi pratade om på Börshajens event den 5 maj 2018.

På eventet pratade även Kavastu. Han hade ett pedagogiskt sätt att inspirera till ökat sparande, nämligen att tänka att en utgift på 100kr idag egentligen är en utgift på 500kr, eftersom det är vad den är värd i en lagom avlägsen framtid om den investeras rätt. Det är bra tänkt och gäller definitivt onödiga utgifter (*host* Ferrarin jag köpte av Zlatan *host* och *host* Lambocabben jag uppgraderade till efter Ferrarin för över 10 år sen *host*).

Men, det gäller att inte glömma värdet av att leva nu jämfört med sen. Visst är det skönt att ha de pengar man behöver på ålderns höst, men kom ihåg att man också blir mindre aktiv och uppskattar andra saker när man är 78 år jämfört med 28 år. Många gånger kan en hundralapp spenderad idag vara värd 1000 kr i minnen i framtiden. Alternativt kan den aktivitet som ska framkalla en viss personlig nytta kosta 1000 kr när du är 78 år men bara 100kr när du är 28. Och då har vi inte ens tagit med risken att du inte ens blir 78 år och Kavastus femhunka blir värdelös!

Så för att knyta ihop säcken: jag och Anna pratade om att prata om och planera den gemensamma ekonomin tidigt för att undvika konflikter och problem i framtiden. Kavastu föreslog kreativ bokföring för att lura sig själv att spara mer och konsumera mindre, och Elin Helander (Hjärnkoll på pengarna) pratade om hur man kan kringgå våra evolutionära felmatchningar för att ge upp belöningar idag för att uppnå mer i framtiden. Evolutionen har gjort oss kortsiktiga, men effektivt sparande kräver långsiktighet. DET var det bärande temat för våra framföranden.

 

Tidigare idag läste jag även den här korta artikeln om att ge sig själv gåvor i framtiden genom att ta rätt beslut idag. I artikeln pratar Stephen om att uppskatta dagen och undvika att bortse från nuet för se fram emot någon obestämd framtida tidpunkt då det är tänkt att du verkligen ska leva.

“You know how you sometimes look forward to things?

Careful!

I’m guilty of this too, but when you begin looking forward

to an exciting event in your future,

in doing so, you devalue today”

Observera att det är en svår balansgång mellan att njuta av minnen av svunna dagar, att uppskatta nuet, och att planera för att ge sitt framtida jag bästa tänkbara förutsättningar. Ingen kan säga vad just din balans ska vara – en marshmallow nu eller två sen – men det är värt att aktivt tänka på att det finns en balansgång så du kan anpassa valen till just dina preferenser.

Stephen sa även följande:

To me, maximizing my choices today means paying attention to my physical health, mental health, relationships, and productivity

Jag håller med mer eller mindre ordagrant, men jag vill lägga till att jag njuter när jag tränar, när jag skriver, när jag lär mig eller mediterar — så jag njuter lika mycket i nuet av de aktiviteter som ger mig gåvor i framtiden. Det om något är en superkraft jag är glad över. Däremot är sparande inte så kul, så som tur är ägnar jag mig mest åt att leva upp mina tidigare ihopsparade tillgångar. Om du är intresserad pratar jag mer om meningen med livet här.

Just det ja, jag glömde nästan podcasten med Barry Ritholtz om teknikinvesteringar jag lyssnade på idag på gymmet. Den fick mig att tänka på hur svårt de flesta har för att tänka mer än en period framåt. Det är t.ex. lätt att tro att biltillverkaren Tesla ska ta över marknaden för elbilar bara för att de var tidigt ute med en uppskattad prestigemodell. Det är t.o.m. lätt hänt att tro att man därmed är en visionär investerare som “förstår elbilar”. I själva verket har man emellertid missat att i period två kommer alla andra biltillverkare upp på banan och ökar konkurrensen enormt. Jag har sett alltför många exempel på investerare som bränt sig på case som t.ex. Fingerprint, där en tidig branschledning inom ett visst teknikområde obarmhärtigt raderas ut när de etablerade spelarna börjar springa i samma riktning.

Så är det i Tesla nu. Alla som ser mer en en period framåt, förbi århundradets short squeeze, förbi den initiala branschledningen, förbi utspel om gigafabriker och påhitt som bilar i omloppsbana runt Mars, märker nu hur Tesla ligger hopplöst efter inom alla teknikområden och dessutom snart tappar relativförsprånget inom både elbilssubventioner och utsläppsrätter. Läs mer om min syn på Tesla här (sammanfattning: kursen ska till 50 från 300 och sen kanske ner till 0).

Om man inte förstår ränta-på-ränta-effekten, eller “tool by tool”-effekten där tekniken i en generation används för att designa bästa generations teknik och så vidare, så lurar tyvärr det linjära tänkande evolutionen försett oss med att dra helt fel slutsatser om vart vi är på väg.

Här är några grejer du kan ta med dig från dagens artikel:

  1. Investera för framtiden — i dig själv, din hälsa, dina relationer och din ekonomi
  2. Glöm inte att leva nu också, tänk på att balansera sådd och skörd med inte alltför långt mellan investering och konsumtion
  3. Lyssna på min och Annas podcast Outsiders — du hittar oss t.ex. här på Soundcloud men vi finns överallt
  4. Om du inte vågar dig in på börsen finns alltid Lendifys (som också var på plats på eventet) peer-to-peer lending där du lånar ut direkt till utvalda kreditvärdiga privatpersoner. Sätter du in 10 000kr får du en välkomstbonus på 500kr med den här länken. Du kan läsa mer om mina erfarenheter av P2P och Lendify här.

 

 

How to become the richest man on the planet

Topic: What wealth is actually for, how to avoid wasting wealth to acquire money

TIP: Sleep, exercise and eat well – and the rest will follow. Start working on any one of the three magic pillars of true wealth and the others will rise with it.

Conclusion: Strive for real wealth; don’t be fooled by the money illusion. Nobody actually wants money, fame and status. Those are at best tools, and at worst unintended side effects.

Reading time: 10 minutes (times the 4x obligatory re-reads)


Rich but not happy…, then what does ‘rich’ really mean?

The super wealthy have a problem.

They have no reason not to be happy, content, fulfilled satisfied… (I’ll use “happy” as shorthand for whatever state it is you are ultimately trying to attain). With extreme wealth comes the potential to buy, to give, to experience, to research, to explore, to learn, and not least to feel accomplished, happy… “rich”.

Anecdotally, however, despite all the resources in the world, it seems many of the money-fat fail at being 100 per cent fulfilled.

In contrast, there are a lot of people that struggle to put food on the table, but nevertheless are happy, thankful and, somewhat paradoxically, feel richer than many millionaires.

Yours truly actually seem to be one of very few wealthy people that feel truly happy, not to mention rich. I’ve come across several articles and surveys, where objectively wealthy people still put “being rich” at somewhere between 2-5 times their current net worth. I’m the anomaly here, in considering the “rich” bar being set somewhere below half my current level. So, I don’t have the most money in the world, but I am definitely rich (point being: after having enough to live comfortably, the rest is all in your head).

For all I know, I may well be the richest (read: happiest and most rich-aware*) wealthy person on the planet.

* I think I am, but feel free to challenge me. Nothing would make me happier than to learn about somebody with an even better experience and appreciation for their station in life


The richness formula explained

So, how did I get here? Is it my humble beginnings, genetics, physical and mental health, friends, or what? Most important, is it replicable? Could you feel rich? Yes, “feel”, since being rich apparently isn’t strongly dependent on your financial resources (again, after a point where you can eat, sleep and live safely and comfortably enough).

The following eight or so magic pills, that all fit in nicely with each other in a joyful and synergistic bundle, taken together is all you need to become very, very rich. How rich? As rich as you have the capacity to experience.


My 8 magic happiness pills that could (should) work for you too

I use my body, I work out; I push myself to the limit when lifting weights four times a week. I started out doing it chiefly to stay physically capable, but every year there’s more research showing how essential exercise is for a fully functional brain as well. In addition, my regular “wins”, in terms of personal bests or just pushing through some plateau, fill my life with small spikes of justified joy. TIP: exercise

I’m healthy. I had a sore throat back in 2006 and then again in 2017, but apart from that, at worst I become tired after a late night out a few times a year. Nota bene, health is tightly connected to the other magic pills of exercise, nutrition, environmental factors, and not least mental and psychological health. And vice versa, every pill is synergistically connected to the other pills. I strive to constantly level up on any one of those parameters, knowing that increasing one will lift the others as well. TIP: stay healthy (take care of your sleep, eat real food at least 80% of the time, avoid toxins, stretch those psoases). Side tip: eat fatty fish or drink natural fish oil, but try to avoid most other supplements, in particular in actual pill or capsule form (natural berry powder is a whole different story, though)

I’m outside a lot. I see sunlight a lot. Having a dog helps, since it means there are no excuses not to be outside, seeing nature, feeling nature, meeting people, meeting other dogs. But with a little determination you too could make taking a walk outside a few times every day an absolute rule. TIP: put up reminders to move around, and to do it outside. Side tip: Get a dog. Side tip 2: No matter my advice to stay off the pills, consider eating Vitamin D during the dark half of the year, at least if you live in Sweden or work indoors.

I have friends, challenging friends, intelligent friends, interesting friends. They inspire me, push me, lift me up, and in general ‘bother’ me in a good way. They help me break out of homeostatic behavior if I turn complacent and stuck in my ways. Friends come to you based on who you are and what you do. If you represent what you would like to see in a friend, you will attract company with similar values, and you will all be better of for it. TIP: be a role model and hang out with good people.

I pay attention. I live now, not far into the future or way back in the past. TIP: feel; do at least one mindfulness exercise every day, a few seconds would suffice (breathing, touching, feeling, body-scanning, watching, listening, smelling, thoughtfully experiencing). In addition, you should try a full minute of meditation every now and then, once mindfulness has established itself as a natural habit of yours. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to remember and learn from the past, as well as occasionally adjust your general direction into the future, lest you won’t survive. It’s a question of striking the right balance between appreciating and accepting what is, while still being smart about making sure there is enough to appreciate tomorrow too.
Failure is trying, and trying is growing
I’m appreciative, which comes easily and naturally from paying attention (as well as framing my situation as extremely favorable compared to [your choice: the past, other people, you in a parallel world]). I’m always waking up happy to see a new day in this wonderful world of mine, but if you don’t you might need to work on it. If you don’t feel appreciative, try imagining how things could be worse, much worse. That technique is called “framing”: If you’re standing in line, at least you’re not at the office, right? TIP: notice good things; do what every life coach in the world instruct their clients; keep a journal in which you everyday write down the best thing with that day, or a failure you avoided.

I Take risks. Live! (which sometimes means flirting ever so little with death, or fear of death). I do something almost every day that scares me, surprises me or makes me laugh. I try to do things I don’t actively want to do either – small things, like taking a cold shower or listening to a suggested podcast on a topic I wouldn’t have chosen myself. TIP: Seek out surprise, and strong emotions like joy and fear. Regularly break out of your homeostasis and make sure you experience new things, stretching those neurons and learn as much as you can. Not only will it make you healthier and happier but it will make you a capable and interesting person to hang out with. TIP 2: Fail. Make it a daily or weekly habit to write down what you have failed at recently. If you don’t fail every now and then, youre not trying, and if you’re not trying you’re not growing. Your failure journal can double as your “framing repository” to look back at on days you’re not failing. Seeing past failures can put your present actions in a better light.
I focused on real wealth
-financial wealth followed as a side effect
I have a lot of money. I ascribe my financial success not to any particular monetary ambition, but to all the suggestions above. I focused on real wealth and just got financial wealth as a bonus. TIP: get a lot of money by doing something meaningful, but don’t waste your life trying to impress others with a huge bank account. It’s nice to be rich, and it’s an important part of feeling relaxed, safe, free and independent; the opposite of slaving away as a mindless drone or compromising your moral for sustenance. But it’s not worth it if getting it means sentencing yourself to decades of prison in meaningless toil during your most physically cabable years.

Once you have the money, you’ll still just want to get back to my list above, now decades older than before. By all means, enjoy creating things and changing the world. Bask in the feeling of accomplishment that the scoring system of making money entails. But be wary of the time spent focusing on amassing money when you could be living. It might help considering if there is something else you’d rather do if the income was the same. Why spend 20 years as an accountant to afford a house with a sea view and lobster for lunch once you retire; when you could dive straight into said sea and catch the lobster yourself today?

Yeah, I know, I’m simplifying way too much in order to make you question what money and wealth actually is. What you need to do is think about what makes you happy when nobody’s watching and make more of that while you still appreciate it. You change as you grow older and the material riches you pile up when you’re young just might not buy the things you crave the most when you’re older.

Conclusion: money is for the poor
This is how I think it is: You want do be happy as much and for as long as possible. Hence, invest in health, good company and experiences. Pay attention to what you’re doing and frame occurences in the best way possible. In that way, life is like a dream, a lucid dream where you’re in control of your happiness (as long as you have access to basic necessities like food and shelter), and that control makes you truly wealthy. In addition, financial wealth isn’t unlikely to follow as well, although at that point you hardly couldn’t care less about the money. After a certain point, its only the poor mind that strives for money in itself, and will forever stay poor. As long as you hesitate to call yourself rich, or think that 2x is just what it takes to get there, you’re still poor and probably always will be.

Things you can buy for money isn’t the answer, no matter how much society tells you it is. How much living space, food and transportation can you enjoy in a lifetime? That’s really all money can buy. That which gives life meaning you still have to create yourself every day.

Begin with your sleep
If you sleep well you get less cravings for junk food and candy. Eating and sleeping better give you more energy which makes it easier to exercise. Exercise makes you hungry for nutritious food, as well as makes it easier to sleep. Exercising outside…, well, gets you outside in the sunlight; and nature provides plenty of opportunity for mindfulness, for moderate risk taking and meeting people.

So, start with taking care of your sleep, which incidentally (not really) often means exposing yourself to sunlight in the first half of the day. Thus a good old fashioned daily walk outside both improves your health in a number of ways, as well as sets you up for sleeping better which in turn is the foundation for all other magic pills of happiness.

Read more of my thoughts on the importance of SLEEP here, and my theory of meaning here, and a short thought on perspective here, and finally this one about striking a balance between exertion and rest here, about the cycle of sow and harvest.

Now, how about that walk outside? Take ten minutes and listen to the first episode of my podcast Future Skills here. If you don’t have iOS you should still be able to find the show on most other podcast apps. Read more about it on the show’s homepage.

BONUS: Keep a lookout for my new podcast in English together with Ludvig Sunström. It’s called “Future Skills”. We’ve kicked off with an amazing interview with hedge fund billionaire, Fourth Turning philosopher, crypto critic and gold bug Martin Sandquist. You can find it here. Don’t forget to leave a review to help new listeners find the show.