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Escrito por Alex   
Jueves 30 de Septiembre de 2021 11:21
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Chapter 4 

system volitional control


Operational mode-switching (enabling anxiety-reduction), attention control and input control are the basic foundations of all future mental development. They are vital because they are the foundations of control, and trying to do NH without adequate control is like trying to swim without adequate control of your limbs.  

You are now more aware about what 'input' means, but you may not be so aware of what is meant by 'control'. Control has been dubbed a “master virtue” – one which enables so many others, such as motivation, patience and perseverance, creativity and accurate calculation. Indeed, better control of short-term impulses in conflict with long-term goals is linked to everything humans think of as good; from better health to more overall success in life.[1]


Control is not restriction

People commonly think of self control as 'restriction'; suppression or 'holding yourself back', like some sort of behavioral self-censorship. As Yoda might say; “This it is not!” System control really means self-direction, which is 'moving yourself forward'; directing the movie rather than holding it back or censoring it, interacting and responding instead of just drifting around constantly reacting to events that are unexpected because you weren't paying attention.


As mind develops healthily, which it will be doing if you are practicing regularly, greater control of the system becomes possible at every stage, and it's good if you know to expect this because you can accelerate its development. A fully developed healthy system enables volitional control of our own behavior, emotions, psychology and physiology to varying degrees. Without sufficient mental development, though, we cannot achieve much of this control, either of ourselves or within our lives. If you've been practicing regularly, therefore, it's time you started taking control.  

All living creatures are designed to be able to take care of themselves, control themselves and direct their own lives; we too are designed by biology to be self-governing; so once you have done a self assessment, once you are able to switch operational modes and have started practicing input control, you're well capable of sitting in the Captain's chair; in other words, to turn away from automatic reactions and start governing yourself. You cannot do this if anxiety is present, for reasons which should by now be clear to you, but if you know how to switch operational modes and you are implementing input control, you already understand from experience the keys to anxiety control.


You have also already used volitional control programs. I don't mean when you learned physiological control of basic physical stuff such as when you pee and how to walk and feed yourself, because your intent to do all that is pre-programmed. That programming is supposed to be the first step in biology's ongoing control strategy. After we gain internal motion control (such as bladders) and external motion control (such as hands grasping, holding, manipulating objects) we move on to coordinated control in the domain of locomotion. This is where we are able to walk and we decide where we want to go. Things obviously get much more complicated than the basics but most of us manage to rapidly get the hang of balance; getting where we want to go without falling over or knocking into things all the time, and we move on to finer control of our hands in object/tool dexterity and of our limbs in walking, jumping, running and swimming. Robots, by comparison, find this sort of thing really hard to do, and graceful locomotion is one of the areas where we can truly appreciate the astonishing computational powers of a system controlling a complex machine in dynamic circumstances.


Control in each domain (motion, locomotion, emotion, etc.,) develops step by step, as regular environmental exposure and experience send signals for what is needed, triggering the genetic changes necessary for the brain networks to develop that enable more and more control.


Along with each domain mastered comes the ability for relevant input control; for example, once we are able to provide our own food, we gain control in the domain of what we choose to eat and when (rather than our parents or others controlling this). Likewise, once we can control our movements and balance sufficiently to walk, run and climb, we gain control over what we are able to explore within a given space. Control is what enables personal choice.


And this pattern should of course continue. Experience of constantly varying outdoor conditions in our environmental matrix automatically trains the system in homeostasis (maintaining core temperature and healthy organ functions in a variety of conditions); attention control; input control and behavioral control should follow naturally over time. During all this time, the brain is getting a learning experience – it is starting to compute the nature of change itself, by unconsciously analyzing sensory input from the ongoing changes in nature.


This unconscious understanding of the nature of change (we could say the nature of nature) is what enables us to consciously comprehend how to change ourselves as well as our environment in ways that are beneficial. To successfully change anything, we need to control ourselves by the same means all nature does – in response to given input. 

Once all the physical basics are achieved and have become automatic, we move on from control of motion and locomotion into the domain of emotion, beginning with stuff like directed mode- and mood-switching; and so on throughout the domains of human experience: behavioral control, input control, mood control, psychological control and output control should all emerge over time as we continue to develop in response to a constant supply of the correct input signals. 

Emotion control and behavioral control overlap, as we learn stuff like, 'Don't swear at Auntie even though she's a pain in the ass, it's not her fault, she has dementia', and 'Don't complain loudly in restaurants, or the staff may spit in your food'. We also learn that we follow these rules more to avoid problems or hassle just as much as out of consideration for others. We learn, vitally, how to calm ourselves down, how to cheer ourselves up, how to motivate ourselves, how to proceed if things don't go our way and how to recover from disappointments or nasty experiences. We learn, in short, emotional resilience. Or rather, we are supposed to. 

Like anything else, the more we use control the better it gets, but we need sufficient practice to gain control in the first place. Control does NOT mean suppression of abilities, emotions or behaviors; it means strategic skill in expressing them clearly but inoffensively. Self control is much more like directing a movie than it is like controlling a machine, because reality is dynamic and does not respond in predictable ways like a machine or a tool does; we have to keep switching strategies depending on what's going on 'right now'. Control gives us the ability to adapt to new, ever-changing circumstances with expedience and without anxiety, and without it we cannot do so. Learning and maintaining conscious control does require practice, as do all aspects of mind development and all our potential abilities. Once we have sufficient control of our own system, we can turn around and start adapting our environment to suit ourselves, in a sustainable way for our species to survive and thrive (rather than in a non-sustainable way that destroys our own natural resources). Right now we are discovering that many of us don't have this ability yet, and we're unlikely to get it until we first learn to control ourselves.


control does not mean controlling others

Control doesn't develop at all well in a context of domestication, because the whole point of domestication is induced dependence; the creature is conditioned to be more easily controlled by somebody else; which is not what neurohackers require.


When humans unconsciously know that we cannot control our lives, we either withdraw into depression and blame illness/society/parents/others for loss of control ('victim' behavior); OR we try to control everything (and everyone) around us in an anxious attempt to convince ourselves and others that we do have some control in our lives ('bully' behavior).



In both modes individuals expect others to do things for them, abnegating self-responsibility, and neither mode permits for any development of personal control. 

When we can't control internals, we try to control externals; and the lack of self control inherent in this behavior – and our inability to recognize 'victim' and 'bully' behaviors as anxiety-based dysfunctions emerging due to wrong input or lack of input - is behind many of the problems we face today. Most of us can't control our own mental or emotional systems, let alone reprogram them. We haven't even been told there was a choice, let alone what our biology needs to control a healthy psychology and maintain ongoing development, and so we don't know how to provide it. Our parents don't know much about control either, so they can't provide examples of it except randomly by accident. Teachers don't have a clue what human biology needs to create self-reliance in a healthy psychology, and currently, and neither do most doctors, who were thirty years out of medical school before epigenetics was even discovered. This is new information; a whole new domain of knowledge that will, eventually, become as familiar to anyone who reads as MRI or DNA is now. And we live in promising times, because more and more scientists (and due to the internet, all the people who read their research), are beginning to work with it.


Boldly going

To be fair, a few pioneers had already boldly gone exploring areas of developmental programming with some degree of success; for examples Carl Rogers,[2] William Windle,[3] Herman Epstein,[4] JC Pearce,[5] Jean Liedloff [6] Joseph Ledoux [7] ...plus everybody working in plasticity & epigenetics, etc., but until very recently there has been no real grasp of 'the big picture' for intelligence development and its requirements. The brain, and its responses, have been (before current technology) very difficult to image in action; partly because mental development is a dynamic, constantly changing process in which the biological program needs different things at different times as minds continue to grow and develop (a moving target is hard to keep track of); and partly because until recently the 'WEIRD' effect in research was not accounted for (see previous chapter).



During the last decade or so, though, the big picture is emerging as follows: intelligence emerges from the interactions between nature and nurture; between genes and environment. The underlying biological procedure for the growth of intelligence is a dynamic developmental program expressing many different genes in a particular order, and this program relies on input from specific environmental and behavioral signals to trigger the series of developmental changes in genetic expression that is required for full development.  

It's also becoming clear that most people previously had (and most uf us currently still have) very few clues with regard to what these input requirements are, even though they are such powerful biological imperatives for our own healthy development.


The reasons for this ignorance are multiple. On top of our lack of prior scientific information, for a long time many humans have been (and still are) living in societies that were formed hundreds of years ago, many of which were designed to either enable and/or attempt to prevent bully behaviors, and all of which have ignored human mental development requirements much as they have ignored quasars and for the same reason: simply being completely ignorant of them. Our most recent gaffe is that due to the resulting lifestyle, we have accidentally domesticated ourselves, but there is no blame or fault or guilt to be laid here and certainly no conspiracy; we simply didn't know that such things as developmental imperatives existed, even though we are currently (and have been for countless generations) suffering the results of not providing them; in terms of illness, anxiety, unhappiness and dysfunction.


The members of western societies are not master conspirators or greedy dictators; most of us are (mentally) children. Under-developed, immature, anxious children, trying to make sense out of a nonsensical fake matrix with most of our (intended) mental faculties undeveloped. Children trying to raise children. Children stuck in repetitive infantile playground behaviors of actions-reactions, wimps and bullies. We are very clever children in some specific ways, but we are still children in terms of mental development. 


The developmental dilemma

And all this occurs (and recurs with each generation) because of domestication due to wrong input and lack of input; because our fake matrix surroundings and stereotyped behaviors are operating 'at odds' with our own biology. Whenever anything is at odds with biological necessity we feel discomfort; we feel 'stressed out', and, if not dealt with, this turns into chronic anxiety, ongoing distress and inevitable illness.


Don't get the impression that tribal peoples know all this stuff and practice it on purpose; they don't. They simply don't deviate from lifestyles and behaviors biology needs, so anxiety and all its attendant problems don't arise. Our current situation is one in which the way that many of us live works in opposition to biology's requirements for mental development. Our lifestyles retard (slow down) our own development. That's the simple truth, and the reason we fail to recognize this and look at it objectively and do something practical about it is anxiety; either unconscious or conscious or both.  

Anxiety conjures up pictures of 'alternative lifestyles' as either cosmic trendy nonsense or a dangerous subversion of order, depending upon our pet fears. We fail to see the 'middle ground' of incorporating safe, sane technology into the natural environment to enhance our lives rather than restricting them and improve our access to resources without depleting them. Thus, instead of approaching our species' developmental dilemma with intelligence and practical solutions, we ignore it and pretend it isn't going on because we imagine it would be too scary, much too complicated, dangerous (and many of us believe, impossible,) to try to change things (including our own lives) in any way.


And that's an illusion; an imagined reality of 'not-possible' maintained by anxiety too. Domestication creates fear of change, makes it feel safe to 'stay the same'; become static; which in biological terms means, 'stop living'. We get especially anxious if any new behavioral change might make us 'seem strange' to others, threatening our social status because our societies are packed full of anxious, paranoid people who fear change. 'People who seem different get hurt' is consequently one of our early life experiences, no matter how much information we may hear about tolerance and acceptance of anything 'different from the norm'. Anybody who's witnessed sexist, racist or ageist discrimination will know what I mean, and any scientist facing skepticism despite the facts will recognize this prejudice as well; we've been hearing it for centuries: “Earth goes round the sun? Horseless carriages? Men flying in machines? Mad fellow who believes we could go to the moon? Human-induced climate change? -Bloody loonies!”  

Our anxiety 'to conform' also affects our attitude to (and not incidentally, perception of) everything, from huge global issues such as climate change all the way to choices in our personal, everyday lives. As restrictions are piled upon restrictions, our lives can end up being lived in order to pacify others (or in attempts to pacify artificial constructs like gods or societies) rather than to express ourselves as we truly are, and form healthy relationships, and maintain a healthy culture. 

The majority of people, at some point in their lives, do realize all this, or at least some of it. Yet most of us still fail to depart from the monotony, because the effects are so debilitating and the demands of society are so time-consuming that we lack the motivation or energy or imagination to change anything and so we settle into resigned semi-awareness. We think of all sorts of reasons why to not bother changing, we think of multiple things to blame for our condition or current events, we often pretend that nothing is amiss, some just give up and kill themselves, more drown their awareness and unease with alcohol or drugs, but none of these is a solution as we rarely have the courage to approach the underlying issue: that life could be a lot more fun and a lot less hassle if we as individuals were intelligent and brave enough to do a few things differently. 

Having said that, there's no point becoming anti-society or some sort of wannabe revolutionary shouting “Power to the people!” Remember, nobody living today is responsible for inventing the societies we are born into, and rebellion is just another time-wasting anxiety-based game. You are not here for some deluded quest to 'mend society'; you are here to fulfil your own personal potential for development, as are we all. The path to success in overcoming the developmental dilemma is to control what input your system is exposed to in order to reinitiate your own development. The only changes you are responsible for are those you make for yourself.


If we grew up in a healthy cultural context, we adults would already know about mental skills and be passing them on to the next generation, helping young people develop the skills and strategies to protect their mental health, which has a lifelong positive impact. If mental health skills like mode switching and strategies like input control were broadly taught by family and applied by youngsters in a supportive learning context, good mental health in adulthood and the consequent mental maturity would be the norm.


This is not ordinarily the case in westernized societies. Children are separated from their families and sent to hang out with a bunch of strangers they don't feel all that safe with and are therefore unlikely to learn much of anything from. Some children are taught bits and pieces about physical health; the importance of things like exercise, a healthy diet, the dangers of STDs and the risks of smoking, in school. But they rarely learn about the impact of excess stressors on their mind, the symptoms of anxiety and depression, or how to use healthy mental habits and methods for human wellbeing and resilience. They are not taught how to prevent anxiety and excessive stress, or how to work with these experiences when they arise, even though they arise daily in our societies. That's why we have to teach ourselves this stuff now. When your mind is at stake, the saying, 'Better late than never' is really true.


control is directed interaction

Control means learning to direct yourself in more mature ways. It's the difference between directing something (in this case, yourself,) in dynamic changing circumstances, as opposed to either going full blast out of control or staying immobile.



Control is the 'goldilocks' choice; where we can express ourselves in a dynamic yet controlled way that is 'just right' to achieve success and thrive. It is not about restraining ourselves, it is not about controlling others. You sit in the Captain's chair and you fly the damned ship. You don't hold back, and you don't tell other Captains what to do.


The determinants of mental health

Control requires developing resilience and maintaining wellbeing, both of which are strongly impacted by two core determinants of mental health which we should be focusing on now for expanding our domains of control: 

The first determinant, "metacognitive self-regulation", is linked to your reflective self control; your ability to pay attention enough to notice what is happening in your mind and body, which helps you to effectively manage your attention and emotions. This means, for example, that you might notice you are having repeated anxious thoughts about an upcoming event. Or that you often get jittery and talk too fast when you have to speak in front of others. Noticing these initial signs should prompt you to apply some strategies to reduce the anxious thoughts or stressors. You may deliberately disengage your attention from repetitive thoughts, or apply techniques that help you feel less anxious. In this way, you can prevent the early signs of any difficulties that you were experiencing from escalating into overwhelming stressors. This is part of building resilience. Through practicing such strategies you are, in effect, getting to 'know yourself' or getting to know the system, if you prefer to think of it that way. 

The second determinant of mental health is your sense of meaning and purpose in life. Research does show that those who have a better sense of meaning and purpose are less likely to suffer from high anxiety or depression.[8] 

Our sense of purpose arises in various forms. It could be an occupation, a project one is working towards, or a motivation to be really good at something, for instance. But when it goes beyond "my achievements" or "my career", and connects with bigger domains; like a connection with nature, culture (arts, sciences), spiritual self-exploration or a contribution towards a larger positive cause, purpose goes beyond mere self focus, and this can have particularly protective effects on mental health. 

Importantly, strengthening metacognitive self-regulation and having a positive sense of meaning/purpose in life are not only central to well-being but also enhance your creative and intellectual performance. For example, chronically increased levels of stress resulting in unhealthy sleep patterns and excessive anxiety interferes with learning and negatively impacts intellectual and creative performance. So self-regulating effectively will have a knock-on effect on executive functioning. Similarly, having a clear purpose, such as wanting to make a positive difference or compassionately care for others, can strongly motivate our own learning.


are you experienced?

Once again, sparse practice of a few strategies is unlikely to produce long term change. A variety of approaches should be integrated into NH at this stage, including attention training, mindfulness, anxiety control (via mode-switching), self regulation and input control. Further domains for input control and methods to explore your personal meaning and purpose are explored in the latter half of this chapter, and we will venture into emotion control in the next one.  

Meanwhile, here's an example of lack of experience causing lack of control: 

Alice and Bob return from lunch to an unexpected small fire in the office. Alice grabs the nearest fire extinguisher and attempts to use it, but the seal won't come off so she grabs a pair of scissors and tries to cut it off, all the while swearing and pushing the handle and pulling at the ring and cutting her finger and wondering why the fuck she can't remember the instructions from the safety lecture, she throws the extinguisher down, grabs her phone and runs away, calling the fire brigade and yelling at Bob to get out.


Bob runs for the extinguisher in the hall, gets back to the room and stands still outside, reading the instructions on the extinguisher, then he releases the seal, pulls the ring, re-enters the room and depresses the handle, putting the fire out.

What happened here? Both Alice and Bob had seen the required safety lectures and both knew where the extinguishers were, because they passed them every day. Neither of them remembered the instructions, though, because they had no actual experience of using the extinguishers before. They had no practice. That's one reason experience is as important as information.



And here's the other reason experience is important: Alice panicked. The blood flow to her frontal lobes shut down and she couldn't think straight. Her system gasped for extra oxygen, she inhaled smoke, and she lost control. But Bob had been practicing how to calm himself down in other stressful situations, and by applying this technique from experience he was able to keep his head and follow the instructions in situ, even though he had no experience of using the extinguisher before. He lost valuable seconds reading the instructions, but stayed in control, while Alice got nowhere at all. 

If you ever doubt the value of practice as experience, consider how much a single sensory experience affects gene expression in the brain. Research reveals even a single sensory input causes a dramatic and diverse landscape of gene expression changes across all brain cell types, involving thousands of genes, many linked to neural connectivity and the system's ability to rewire itself to learn and adapt, triggering lasting changes in the brain. 

Experienced persons form memories using different plasticity mechanisms than naive persons even if they are learning about the exact same thing. In other words, the way our neurons form new connections depends on their prior history of practice doing it; a phenomenon called metaplasticity.[9] Experience and environmental stimuli appear to almost constantly affect gene expression and function throughout the system.[10] 

If you were paying attention in previous chapters you'll recall that knowledge as experience is just as important as knowledge as information. It's another one of those biological 'both' things; we need both for full comprehension of anything. Experience provides knowledge for concrete unconscious processing and information provides knowledge for abstract conscious processing. Unconscious processing is 'intrinsic' (or 'implicit') processing; innate and normally below conscious awareness; conscious processing is 'extrinsic' (or 'explicit') processing; available to conscious awareness and possible to explain in words. 

Unconscious processes are always about doing and showing. Conscious processes are about thinking and saying. Researchers can distinguish between the neural signatures of each type of learning by the brainwave patterns it produces. You can see the importance of both working together for coherent understanding and behavior.[11] 

Since all processing begins with concrete sensory experience (we cannot imagine, or abstract from, a sensory experience that we have never had in real life), all system learning proceeds from concrete to abstract. That is, if you don't know what a concrete physical candle is (or if you grew up on a space station and don't have a concept for what 'wind' is), you have no chance of understanding an abstract mental construction such as the metaphor, 'like a candle in the wind'. 

Most of us start out thinking of knowledge as information because academic learning tends to be directed by teachers and focused on passing tests. Experiential learning develops a range of non-academic skills, such as thinking creatively, stepping out of our comfort zone and risking mistakes, working more closely with others, negotiation, resilience and independence. When exploring the natural environment we experience appropriate risks and challenges, and most importantly we direct our own learning. This stimulates imaginative play through hands-on engagement with reality. Learning how to move safely in natural environments such as the unpredictable and challenging space of a woodland also improves physical skills such as motion dexterity and balance. All of this experience forms multiple concrete concepts we can later mentally abstract from.


Full comprehension is the creation of interconnected associated concepts in our minds; the connections between the front and rear of the brain; the connections between information and experience. It's not the number of concepts we accrue that makes us intelligent, it's the accumulation of connections between them and their associated abstractions.  

While connections within networks are important, the most important connections of all are those between entire networks. It is these which enable system congruity and the ongoing development of the system.

system congruity


Nature is all that a person brings with themselves into the world; nurture is every influence from without that affects them after their birth."


Congruity as experience

If you have knowledge as experience first, it is much easier to understand the related information. Congruity is the state of mind you experience whenever your unconscious and conscious knowledge match up; when your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior are unified. When intellect and emotion are in full agreement that what you are doing right now is a good thing to do for you personally. Put simply, when unconscious processing outputs agree with conscious processing outputs. 

For example, if you play music in a band and you think it makes sense to use your talents in that way, and you feel good doing it, and you believe you're helping cheer people up and give them a good time because you see evidence for that, and you maybe share a few cool personal values in your lyrics, that's the sort of experience I mean. You have the feeling that you are in the right place at the right time doing the right thing and there is no doubt or internal conflict. 

Or maybe you feel good about planting an apple tree in your garden for all sorts of sensible reasons including that you said you would, that it looks lovely, that it's good for the environment and that it gives you free, healthy food. The 'good' feeling is an emotion and it has a name: it is called rectitude; the awareness that we are doing something thoroughly good, and the system knows that this is a good thing to do, through and through. Consequently we feel good, through and through, and we can also intellectually explain why our behavior was beneficial. This is congruity. 

The opportunity for feeling rectitude crops up daily and always involves caring; it may be making sure you are punctual for a prearranged meeting, it may be getting someone something they will like, it may be meeting up with friends after an absence, it may be watering your plants, it may be working on a project you really care about, it may be experiencing improvements or noticing measurable good results from your NH practice; clear evidence that you are caring for your mind. In fact, anytime your unconscious awareness and your conscious mind are in agreement, you are in this state of being. Concrete (physical) behavior and emotion are coherent with abstract knowledge and beliefs. Conscious insight agrees with unconscious intuition. (Insight means 'seeing within'. Intuition means 'teaching within').



We also experience incongruity, and sadly many of us are much more aware of this than of its healthy counterpart. It is that experience of feeling you want to do something, but thinking or believing you shouldn't or daren't. Some refer to it as that 'Angel on one side, Demon on the other' feeling, others just get confused and stuck in salience mode; completely unable to decide. Some just make terrible decisions which cause them hassle for a long time afterwards. It's the system's equivalent of screen-freeze. We say, 'I can't make up my mind'; intuitively recognizing what is going on inside the brain as incongruity. In terms of brain networks, that means the unconscious and conscious parts of our minds are not yet sufficiently connected, or are miswired. 

If you have experienced congruity and/or incongruity, you already know what it feels like. Now you can find out why it happens and how to return the system to a state of ongoing congruity, which is how it is designed to function.


Congruity as information

The biological system (your hardware) includes busses, because a great deal of data needs to pass between processors at very high speeds in a three-dimensional construct (your brain hardware). Busses connect the two front hemispheres of the brain, the two main rear networks, the top and bottom and the front end to the rear end.[13]



Busses' directional map. Color hue indicates direction as follows: red, left-right; green, front-back; blue, top-bottom. 


Busses can pass information in both directions simultaneously, so instant sensory feedback from current input is available for comparison with memories of previous experiences and predictions about most likely oncoming probabilities (that's how you compute what the next word is likely to be in this --------).


Networks facilitate communication within domains. Busses facilitate communication between domains, and, importantly, enable conscious control in unconscious domains.  

Congruity puts a shortcut between your unconscious knowledge, your conscious thoughts and your everyday behavior, enabling faster processing and quicker, more appropriate decisions.


This is NOT a 'left/right brain' thing. In fact, congruity relies most of all on the development and maintenance of the front/rear connective busses that bridge unconscious and conscious processing networks.  

Like all other connections, busses need a critical mass of relevant input to trigger their growth and to maintain them in good health. The required input for developing these connections is unfortunately an area badly impacted by domestication; when a domesticated animal is 'broken', it is these connections that are disconnected (or if domesticated from birth, are never developed). But fortunately this is easily repairable. Because domesticates are usually deprived of outdoor roaming and exploring experience, many genes requiring outdoor conditions for triggers remain dormant. So all you have to do to wake them up is spend enough time outdoors, and if you've been practicing you've already got that far. 

All we have to do to develop busses fully is expose ourselves to the real world and reframe some developmental concepts. You know how to the first, and I'll discuss how to do the second in the latter half of this chapter. 

It is the density of wiring in busses between rear networks and frontal lobes which enables the system to achieve abstraction from concrete foundations. Then, abstracted imagined movements can change our perception in the same way as real, executed concrete movements do. 

During imagining a movement or behavior the brain predicts how we would feel if the imagined movements or behaviors really were executed, because imagined (abstract) and real (concrete) movements share the same processors. 

All concrete abilities and skills, all of our experience from real life, assist our abstract abilities and skills as we mature. The ability of intelligence to abstract (knowledge as informational) rests firmly on concrete (knowledge as experiential) foundations. When processing unifies the two, we experience congruity.




volitional control programs

Non-volitional control programs run unconsciously all the time; controlling things like homeostasis, proprioception, kinesthesia and navigation. They keep you alive and able to successfully move about and do stuff. They remain unconscious unless we take conscious control of them (such as deliberately breathing more slowly, or raising our heartbeat by exercising). 

As we develop, we are designed by biology to acquire volitional control of our minds in much the same way we learn volitional control of our bodies during childhood. Volitional control is only programmed in by experience. 

If experience is sparse, repair is quickly affected by providing appropriate experience; for example; the impact of domestication on some genes means that domesticates have poor immunity compared with their wild counterparts,[14] but spending time in natural surroundings quickly improves their (and our) immunity. 

If there is no experience at all, or inappropriate experience, circuits in specific domains fail to connect. For example, domesticated humans (and other animals similarly restricted) are losing the ability to see long-distance. You may have noticed this or you may not, but most westernized populations are predominantly myopic. That's an example of genes not getting the 'this is needed' message they would receive from regular exposure to the long-distance views ubiquitous in nature. When we put constant walls around ourselves or surround ourselves with fences and barriers we are literally walling ourselves off from the input we need to develop our own sensory abilities. Being indoors focusing on short distance tasks (such as reading) all the time deprives us of practice at long range vision, and long-range visual acuity degrades as a result.[40] The system sees no 'need' for long range vision if we never use it.


Volitional control of the system requires experience in just the same way, because it too is built upon the basics of physical control, which employs imagination in a number of processes to achieve competence speedily during practice; as follows:



What we perceive as our body is not only its appearance, but what we typically have conscious awareness of and can control. A numb limb doesn't feel like it's 'part of us' because we can't feel it or control it. Control is asserted by learned associations between our muscular movements and the sensory feedback we perceive when performing a behavior. Any time we move, we generate a motor command (efference) to control the required muscles. At the same time, we also generate a prediction — an imagined likely outcome based on prior experience of the sensations resulting from the movement — termed the efference copy. The actual movement-related sensory input, which comes from receptors in the muscle and skin, is referred to as reafference.  

When we perform frequent behaviors with tools, however, we execute 'embodiment'; a process in which the brain effectively behaves as though the tool is a part of our bodies, and fine control can be achieved when computing movements through this application.


In martial arts classes, students are often taught to treat weapons as extensions of their own body. But this is more than just a metaphor. It turns out that when we use tools - not just swords and spears, but toothbrushes and rakes as well – our brain treats them as 'temporary body parts', representing them not just abstractly in relation to our body but in terms of literal neuronal connections in the brain for kinesthetic/proprioceptive feedback.


This process is called 'embodiment' and it's what allows us to learn to use prosthetics adeptly.  

Embodiment is simple sensorimotor adaptation; in which feedback information from interaction with other agents is represented in brain cells modulating network connections. As we develop, however, embodiment becomes possible within other domains. 

As well as objects and tools, we can learn to embody constructs; like living animals, machines and complex abstract systems, but with an added dimension to embodiment - complex systems like constructs, creatures and machines communicate much more feedback than simple tools. A racing driver and their car, a jockey and their steed, a hot programmer and a powerful system, a gaming expert and their tools, a musician and their instrument; can with practice function as a single unit which proves to be much more than the sum of its parts and contributes psychologically to our entering what we call “the zone” in creative or inspiring endeavors. 

As well as material, concrete objects, we can learn to embody abstract constructs like music or mathematics -in which case our body responds to the sounds or symbols as if they were feedback coming from our own mind rather than 'out there'. This enables much tighter synchronization, more accurate prediction, faster calculation and time-keeping and strong intuition (conscious awareness of unconscious knowledge). In this state if we are playing music, lecturing or working out a theorem it can feel as though the information is flowing 'through us', as if we are an 'instrument' and intelligence is 'playing us' while the mind oversees all, poised in spacetime. We are just watching and listening to it happen and yet 'being it', and this is what people call 'being in the flow'. This sort of experience can get us very high on a nice mix of neurotransmitters that leads to some 'spiritual' or numinous experiences, great breakthroughs in maths & science, and some wonderful music concerts. 

Obviously, embodiment helps us maintain volitional control. Given our seemingly boundless potential to attribute agency and ownership to inanimate extensions of ourselves with embodiment, it is interesting to consider how we might interact with our surroundings in the future. During the development of brain-machine interfaces, our awareness of embodiment will no doubt inform the design of neuroprosthetics that move more naturally so that they can be more easily “embodied.”[15]



Synchronization means getting into step; coordinating the timing of events with other events over a duration of time. Synchrony means remaining in step for a duration of time; another neat trick enabling better volitional control.


Our experiences of rhythm and timing assist us in achieving effective sync, so this is excellent input. A good concrete example is playing music in groups, another is dancing. While we interact in playing music or dancing, our beats, movements or steps (should) become automatically synchronized with each other and with the music. That's how we experience sync. It's almost the embodiment of rhythm and flow and motion as opposed to objects or tools.


The individual behaviors from individual musicians or dancers become complementary and coordinated; they all happen in the right order at the right time, and their diversity merges into a unity that always displays properties the individuals cannot achieve alone; i.e., emergent properties. The behavior of flocks of birds, fireflies and fish shoals are other good examples of sync.


In broader domains, sync is the tendency towards the emergence of order in physics, chemistry and biology that complements the tendency towards entropy that we all know so well. It's a process that occurs on all scales throughout reality from the subatomic to the cosmological. Some obvious examples of synchronized behavior are flocks of birds, fish baitballs, crystals forming, cells beating as a heart, photons in laser light, fireflies signaling in unison, the behavior of crowds, animal migration, and of course, brainwaves.[16]


Sync is achieved by a lot of individual units (like molecules, neurons, birds or people) that we can here call 'agents' (since they may or may not be alive), all following the same simple unconscious rules that lead to emergent phenomena such as population spiking in neurons, hurricanes in weather, flocking in birds, orgasms, the making of memories, or directed, purposeful group behavior. Sync in humans is an automatic response of a healthy system in all conditions where it's possible, and strongly 'sync-responsive' individuals cannot hear music and sit still. Feet will tap, fingers will twiddle on knees.  

We achieve sync immediately after birth with the human who's holding us, when we calibrate our heartbeat automatically to the rhythm of theirs, and in this context sync (and embodiment) are important subroutines of bonding. If we don't get that input, we get no practice at sync until it is given, and the development of this skill is slowed down. 

Brainwaves use synchronization within networks during information processing. Synchronized firing of neurons also forms the basis of all periodic motor commands for rhythmic movements. These are produced by a group of interacting neurons that form a network in the system called a central pattern generator (CPG). Central pattern generators can produce rhythmic motor patterns in the absence of bottom-up (sensory) or top-down (descending inputs that carry specific timing information). Examples are walking, breathing, swimming, keeping time when playing music alone.[17]


In addition to local synchronization, oscillatory activity of distant neural structures (single neurons or neural ensembles) can synchronize. Neural oscillations and synchronization have been linked to many cognitive functions such as information transfer, perception, motor control and memory. It is sync that causes waves to propagate across brain networks from action potentials, and neural synchronization can be modulated by task constraints, such as attention. It contributes to feature binding, neuronal communication, and motor coordination.[18]


Sync in conversation is very important in human interaction. Researchers have found that the brains of speakers and listeners become synchronized as they converse and that this "neural coupling" is key to effective communication. Here sync is a subroutine for modeling, empathy and bonding. For example, partners in a conversation will unconsciously begin imitating each other, adopting similar grammatical structures, speaking rates, and even bodily postures.  

This overlap helps people establish a "common ground" during conversation and may even help them predict what the other is going to say next.[19] 

The first clue to how sync works came from the study of emergent behavior in general and the discovery that anything able to interact with (receive input and respond to) oscillatory behavior can synchronize. It doesn't even have to be alive, let alone intelligent. Inanimate objects can synchronize themselves, and sync is more a feature of reality in general that a specialty of behavioral science. 

Sync is a process; in brains it's a program, and as such it carries no value judgment (ie, it is not intrinsically 'good' or 'bad'). It can be very destructive if it happens by accident in inappropriate contexts. Every musician knows the nuisance of a venue where every time anyone hits a certain note all the light fittings or windows in the room resonate loudly; opera singers can accidentally shatter wine glasses or light bulbs with it; that's sync too, it can cause serious events like seizures in the brain (for example in epilepsy); and it was being accidentally in sync with the prevailing wind frequency that made the Tacoma Narrows bridge fall down.[20] 

Sync is often non-volitional (ie., it happens to us without our knowing it.) We sway in time with music, tap our feet or fingers, without realizing we're doing so. It can be controlled, however, with sufficient awareness. Once we know the rules, we can make sync happen on purpose (or even reproduce it accurately, for example by applying the rules to abstract agents in a computer program).[21] We can also take steps that assist it to unfold naturally in real life, or prevent it from happening. Sync can help us gain extra self control in interactive situations, allowing us to work effectively in groups and teams for the benefit of all. 

There is more information about using sync in the techniques section below.



The techniques used in this book come in a particular order for a particular reason: they follow the cycle of the learning program. NH, like anything else, uses the learning cycle to implement new changes, so by working with it we can ensure optimal progress. Thus our first techniques focused on attention and concentration, because we need clear self-awareness to be able to assess our current situation and in order to know where to make improvements. We also need to be able to control our attention and concentration or no learning will last.  

Secondly we practiced self-observation and control of operational modes while consolidating attention skills, and simultaneously we began observing our input as a potential powerful resource for beneficial change.


Now we can use the third stage of the learning program; modeling, to assist us with further input control and to promote self control in positive, beneficial ways. Modeling embodies the 'student/master' archetypal relationship. Your role model is the master of something you wish to be able to do, you are the student.   

Modeling is the third phase of learning. It does not require the student to pretend to be the master. It means you need to behave the same AS the master; as though you were training up to play their character in a movie. 

Because intelligence is embodied, concrete mannerisms (facial expression, gesturing etc) often accompany these thought patterns, and modeling them can sometimes assist in reproducing those thought patterns within your own mind. Getting into the same mental state as the master may also include things like starting or stopping drinking, smoking, being vegetarian, having the same hobbies; all of these concrete modeling practices may contribute to the state of the mind required for mastering the skill, but often it's not necessary to go this far. 

Imagining how the master would respond in various situations counts as 'practice' and helps build a bridge between known and unknown. It's a 'points of similarity' thing again - We need to establish enough points of similarity between our own associations and the master's associations, so that out minds develop a tendency to think in the same way. In modeling, we create epigenetic changes in ourselves that have occurred in the master by using the same environmental triggers that they have been exposed to. 

Note; this behavior is only necessary for the modeling stage of learning! We drop all such peripherals once the core pattern is grasped and enter a period of practice/ repetition (phase 4 of learning). We then make the ability to use the new pattern automatic by using it again and again. 

This is what it's really all about; and that's why the adept (master) being there in real life is such a benefit; not least because unlike just reading or hearing information, questions may be asked and interaction employed. Already knowing a role model well is also an obvious advantage, and if you respect the master or are close friends, modeling will occur faster because you'll pay better attention and you know that you can trust their ability. Also, the natural wariness we feel around strangers is absent with friends, which enables faster access to open mode in their presence.


Modeling is particularly useful for achieving new skills and improving self-control. Perhaps more importantly, the ability NOT to model – to know how to turn it off - is also of great use in avoiding wrong input effects.



Humans often engage in automatic imitation without even realizing it, when the sight of a friend, relative or a colleague (or in this case, even a cat) moving in a particular way elicits the same movement in the observer. But modeling is more than copying or mimicking – it is not merely a matter of going through the motions; it's also a matter of going through the emotions and achieving the required state of mind for successful execution of the modeling routine. We have to see what it feels like.


This is an issue many westernized people have problems with because we've forgotten (and most likely, been conditioned out of) how to engage imaginative play; the state of mind required for all these programs. The modeling program in our system is not 'gone', however. It is hard-wired in, so all we need to do is harness any technique to execute it and away we go. Using modeling to achieve greater control employs an imaginative play technique known as 'Behave as though', which I'll explain below in the techniques section. 



Embodiment, sync and modeling; each of these programs assists us in more effective interaction. They give us extra information about what is going on and extra ability to respond to it in positive ways. 

They can operate individually or together and they can call on each others' subroutines as events develop in real time. All are used in bonding and interaction.


Knowing how to control them and decide consciously to implement them or block them is also of great help in building resilience against stressors. 'Self control' should include the ability to turn these programs on and off volitionally and adjust their intensity. I'll discuss using these programs for developmental control in the techniques section below.




evidence based techniques


most common NH problems 4 


As discussed above, without appropriate input, front-to-rear brain connections fail to develop and the result resembles two separated bits of consciousness that both think they're you. There are multiple dangers of incongruity, not least the 'screen-freeze' effect of getting stuck in salience mode unable to make decisions. It's just as dangerous for those who think 'fuck it', make a wrong choice and then feel guilty afterwards, and many bad decisions are taken in this state. It's all too easy for anxiety to take over during incongruity, and then we either do and say things we ought not to have done or said; or we fail to do or say things that we ought to have done or said. Sometimes, a course of action makes sense intellectually but feels really wrong intuitively, and sometimes it's the other way round. Way down on the list of problems this causes is the fact that incongruity gets in the way of volitional control programs. And that's why, for NH students, it has to go.


Incongruity can manifest in thoughts, beliefs, behavior, emotions and words. We can all think of people who claim to believe one thing but do another, who say they will do X but then do Y, whose feelings and thoughts or beliefs and behavior appear to be in conflict. We also catch ourselves being hypocritical or failing to keep our word sometimes, and that's embarrassing. 


the dirt on cognitive dissonance

When incongruity manifests in verbal format, it is like having two different voices inside your head, often disagreeing with each other, and it's called cognitive dissonance. We find this state intolerable, and we pull all sorts of mental shenanigans to coerce the unconscious and conscious parts of the system to agree with each other, including biased thinking, fooling ourselves, prejudice and fake intellectual excuses.


All of this wastes a great deal of energy and processing power, and ongoing incongruity becomes exhausting. We feel as though we are not quite being honest because we ourselves can't figure out where the truth lies; which is the 'real' me – the voice which tells us to go for it or the voice which tells us to put on the brakes. Thus we kangaroo through life in leaps and bounds, many of which land us in the crap.


Executive dysfunction is often mediated by impaired connectivity, and Schizophrenia is strongly linked with long term cognitive dissonance. Some individuals become convinced that those inner voices are in fact 'out there' telling them what to do. It may be even more comforting when we are in a panic to abnegate responsibility for the contents of our own minds.


With mental maturity (when input needs are provided) we develop strong connective busses between front and rear networks.


Many of us never fully mature mentally, because our biological needs for that maturation are not met. One result of our consequently incomplete development is sparsely connected busses between brain networks creating the effect (software bug, if you like,) of cognitive dissonance.  

When hardware is not sufficiently connected, software cannot easily run. We all strive to pursue a meaningful existence as a 'whole' sane person in the real world, but if incongruity due to conditioning prevents front and rear networks from adequately connecting, this psychologically creates the illusion-delusion of the conceptual separation of conscious thought from unconscious knowledge. We cannot compute a congruous output. Put simply, we get two separate (and often opposing) wrong outputs instead of a single coherent correct one. 

The fault lies with partly-unconnected hardware preventing software from running as biology intended. We are, consequently, one processing level short of accurate perception until this issue is solved. The final stage of executive processing – the moderation of unconscious impulses with conscious awareness resulting in coherence of thought and operational congruity - doesn't happen if connections are sparse, and sadly we get used to it not happening, decide that everything is 'normal', or we call incongruity 'human nature', and waste a lot of time and cause a ot of conflict trying to figure out which of two wrong output choices is the correct one. 

This erroneous concept of 'in two minds' thus arises in our underlying ontology in various forms. Some people construct associations about (and so perceive) themselves as machine minds and mechanical bodies; somehow linked together like a computer running a robot. Here, our biological nature gets written out altogether. Others see themselves as a 'Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde' stereotype of 'intellect versus animal', where the intellect is regarded as 'the sensible bit' with self control and sociability, and the animal as a 'savage' ape stereotype with an implied lack of any morality whatsoever and all the social graces of an deranged monkey on steroids. The 'sensible bit' is the only thing that keeps us civilized, and only schooling can prevent wholesale slaughter. 

This is an odd belief, because 'civilized', schooled, literate humans don't have a great record for peacekeeping compared with most animal species; but anyway, all this is absolute BS. 

'Two minds' is not a view we consciously construct from rational deduction; this sort of anxiety-based positioning is what we are conditioned to take up, being programmed to believe that 'without society/ money /god /government etc.,' we'd all be slobbering, homicidal, cannibal rapists. 

Society separates us from the self-governing, coordinating software module of our system – biologically programmed to be our future matrix as we mature - and attempts to replace it with a false matrix of societal conditioning. Society's laws, it is believed, should be making our decisions for us, rather than our own frontal lobes (which might, if allowed to run loose, get ideas). Society's laws, meanwhile, often disagree strongly with biological ones and society's needs replace biological needs essential for the system. When there are two opposing 'verbal' points of view, when biology needs one and society demands the other, this creates an ideological dilemma. 

This conditioned pov creates the delusion of our conscious selves as somehow disembodied bundles of software/ectoplasm that vaguely exist somehow without concrete representation but which, guided by society's rules, are supposed to have some sort of magical power to control the animal slobbering cannibal parts. The underlying theme: humans are violent nutters who can only behave sanely when controlled by society. 

The controlling power used to be god, but society enforces its rules with more reliability, believing that we learn from punishments. In this it is mistaken, partly because the unconscious doesn't understand that breaking synthetic laws is a mistake, and also because it's conditioned us in school not to learn from mistakes but to try to hide them to avoid further punishment).



Conditioned behaviors deny the scientific reality of embodiment and epigenetics; preventing the continuing growth of connections, creating a psychological dichotomy between knowledge as experience and knowledge as information; between the cognitive and the humanistic; between reason and emotion; between nurture and nature, the conscious and the unconscious; and we end up in the conditioned habit of thinking of ourselves as only the conscious, ghostly, 'magically disembodied' thing. We have even called it 'the Ghost' in the machine.


Our best defense against these types of delusion is energetic pursuit of the truth. There is only one of us, and it is not a vague ethereal spirit; it is a living, breathing, thinking, feeling, intelligent being. There are no ghosts. Our 'soul' or intelligence IS our mind, but can only operate as intended if wired sufficiently.


The raw unconscious signals from biology's needs are meant to be moderated by conscious awareness and culture (intelligence), not by conditioned responses. When societal conditioning replaces culture and awareness, we get cognitive dissonance. In fact, in reality, your mind is not disagreeing with itself, biology is disagreeing with the rules of your society. This is the extra information you need for reframing what is really going on. We do not have 'two minds' in cognitive dissonance; we have two halves of one mind separated by lack of internal connections because our development has been interfered with.  

So the question, “Which is correct, the angel or the demon?” is meaningless because they are both wrong. That's why it seems so difficult to choose between them! The third option, for many people, has never been known about or experienced. To achieve and maintain it, you need to improve connectivity busses between unconscious and conscious parts of the system. All of the techniques you have practiced so far will help you to do that. 

You have already taken the first steps; you know that what is controlling your development is input, so you adjust your input to produce the conditions for further development. Correct input for gene transcription and correct nutrition for building new proteins must come first. The system needs building blocks and instructions and sufficient energy to be available before it can construct or strengthen connections in the brain, just as it does to build muscles. 

Adapting ourselves means developing networks. Because abstract learning relies on concrete experience, we need the networks developed by the physical, material processes that go into 'adapting ourselves', so that we can use them later for adapting our environments. If we don't have the concrete comprehension of nature, we can't do the abstract creative adaptations. So initially, we focus on adapting ourselves to suit our environment. Only by adapting ourselves to suit our environment can we develop the awareness and skills necessary to (safely) adapt our environment to suit ourselves. Trying to adapt the environment to our own needs without developing the necessary skills and awareness is why we fucked it up (pollution, resource-wasting, erosion, overpopulation, toxic waste etc). Currently we don't creatively adapt the environment, we just consume and destroy it. 

Without comprehension of nature by physical experience we can't shape and direct it adeptly. And we only get comprehension of nature by playing with it in situ (adapting ourselves). No play; no experience, = no comprehension and very limited knowledge. 

By messing about physically with nature we lean through experience what happens when we DO stuff, rather than just think about stuff or read about stuff. That experience is what gives us the knowledge of reality which complements intellectual knowledge (information). All western style education concentrates on developing conscious networks, unaware that without developing unconscious networks such knowledge is shallow and incomplete (and often, just forgotten).


Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.”



In summary:

Conditioning prevents connections. Without sufficient inter-network connections, the system cannot compute congruity between concrete biology and abstract ideas; code cannot be given meaning. We end up with two streams of contradictory output, both wrong. Unconscious knowledge and conscious awareness are (or should be) unified as their information is coordinated into a single, congruous, correct output.


Solution: reframing

Given this extra information, we can reframe the experience of 'two minds' in terms of cognitive dissonance; a bug that can be removed by increasing connections in busses in straightforward ways. 

Reframing is simply looking at things from a different perspective. We aim for a more mature, realistic pov and away from an immature pov based on false beliefs. 

Here is an example of reframing occurring naturally: 

Alice has always thought her colleague Bob was a moody person, and so dislikes him. Sometimes Bob is attentive and responds to her 'good morning' appropriately, but sometimes he just ignores her or makes a grunting sound which she thinks is very rude. Sometimes he also behaves aggressively, slams doors and bangs things about. Alice describes Bob as a 'moody bugger' and an 'ignorant, anti-social person'. 

One day Carl, another colleague, tells Alice that Bob has a young daughter with a painful, life-threatening disease, whose lack of wellbeing worries Bob a lot of the time. When her health declines, Bob is preoccupied and worried, frustrated that he can do nothing. When she takes a turn for the better, Bob is more cheerful and relaxed.


This sudden 'extra information' about Bob is like a light being turned on for Alice; it explains everything about Bob's odd behavior and causes Alice to reevaluate and reframe her opinion of him. She comprehends how stressful it must be to have a child you love in such dire straits. Alice starts behaving with more compassion and understanding towards Bob, and things improve.  

To reframe a situation you need that 'extra information' with which you reassess what's really going on, and often you don't get this information from the person themselves. Reframing requires you to use your imagination to reinterpret what is going on in terms of other possibilities. Someone who seems 'unfriendly' may in fact be shy or in pain or distracted by problems, and considering these other possibilities helps us to get a less biased perspective with a mind more open to different possibilities. It may of course not be possible to discover the truth of the matter, but considering what's possible helps us to be more open minded about all our experience. 

Upstream diagnostics is a type of reframing; we stop framing problems in terms of symptoms and start looking for the extra information and reframing them in terms of causes. We stop dwelling on the details of bad conditions and start looking for basic ways to improve conditions. 

Throughout your development you will find a need to reframe things, in the light of your new awareness and understanding, just as you can now reframe childhood incidents from a more mature point of view. As you become wiser and more aware, and most especially as anxiety falls away, you will tend to explore your previous assumptions and beliefs more deeply and challenge them wherever they don't make sense.


developmental concepts we get via conditioning

When your conscious mind (and your society's requirements) are out of sync with biological nature, there's trouble coming in the form of incongruity. If you experience incongruity regularly you probably have a conditioning domestication program working against biological programming. Don't worry; most of us do. The way to get rid of it is simply to provide the input that allows natural development to continue. 

Your unconscious mind develops in sync with the reality of nature – it has to be, in order for your perception to work. The system must be able to reliably detect, interpret (imagine) and respond to your environmental input right from the start. But most of us are conditioned from a very early age to focus our lives on society's requirements. 

A part of this conditioning is accepting the 'popular' view our own development as a temporary childhood condition, irrevocably tied to physical growth and ending when it ends. That is, we are told that intelligence growth starts at our conception, and when our bodies stop growing in our late teens or early twenties, we're 'grown up', and that's it; that's the end of mental development.


Reframing developmental concepts

The reality (and your new, reframed view for speeding up your progress) is that there's a lot more 'up'. The view that mental development stops when physical growth does is completely wrong, and science has already proven it wrong, but public 'knowledge' tends to avoid science even as we embrace the technology that depends on it.


Reality operates regardless of our beliefs in it, which is a good thing, otherwise the GPS system would fail for everyone who disbelieves in quantum mechanics and that proportion of us would be forever wandering about lost. Our mental development is dynamic, ongoing, and dependent not on our stage of physical growth but on our quality of input and our quantity of experience. Every time you get a new healthy input or experience, your development continues and increases; you are growing new connections. Every time you get wrong input or no input, your development slows and stops.



With this idea in mind you can reframe your own beliefs about yourself and about reality so that they are in agreement with known facts. Once you view yourself as what you really are – a system intended for continual development (a self-improving system) which has been interrupted by conditioning but is now going ahead – a great many priorities, ideals and previous opinions change.


This pov casts conditioning in the role of a computer virus causing interference in development (and consequently performance), because that's the most accurate description of what it really is and what it does.  

If we want an adequate understanding of human meaning, thought and value, not to mention of reality, we must learn to perceive ourselves and the universe from a congruous perspective, to look at reality as it actually is without being afraid of it, and we must grasp the implications of these facts for all of our experience, understanding and reasoning. This is what reframing can achieve. 

It goes without saying that this technique won't work if anxiety is present, so make sure you start off relaxed and in open mode when doing reframing. Reframing is purely a mental exercise; you are considering reality from a new pov and working out what else that perspective implies, and that's it.


For an exercise in how important reframing is, begin with the concept: 'Alice eats rats'.

Even if you consider yourself totally open-minded, you probably start off thinking, yuck. Your mind calls up images of Alice as some sort of disgusting weirdo, but if we reframe this to 'Alice lives in a Russian Gulag', our opinion of Alice changes dramatically, - take note of how differently you feel about Alice when this new information is known.

You probably feel sorry for Alice at this stage, but if we reframe the context again by adding, 'Alice is an owl', Alice has our complete forgiveness for and comprehension of her gory tastes in lunch. 

Reframing is about shifting perspective in light of the information which best explains the facts, or what is observed, or whatever story we are hearing. If things don't make sense at first, then we look for the extra information.


We are not newbies at this process; all memory reconsolidation is unconscious reframing and we do conscious reframing all the time in science and in self-diagnostics: for example; we may start off believing that a headache was 'probably' caused by eye strain – a reasonable deduction if we were staring at screens all day. If it doesn't go away when that input stops, then we start to reframe the situation – maybe it is really caused by x or y. 

That's all there is to reframing. It is an IF – THEN issue. IF we look at things one way, then that implies certain things and a certain perspective, if we look at things another way, the rules for dealing with a situation change with our initial assumptions and we will continue to change our perspective as we learn more.


Using reframing to remove conditioning and achieve congruity

Therefore, IF you view conditioning as a system virus, THEN you can take steps to avoid it just as you would for a computer system or a biological infection.  

The same rules apply. Imagine if we treated computer viruses as 'normal'. Woops, online apocalypse. Instead, we quite rightly attempt to avoid them and take steps to get rid of them when they are there, and this is what we can do with conditioned ideas. This is how reframing development (a purely abstract mental exercise) can affect our behavior in the concrete physical world of everyday behavior.


We should get one thing straight though; I am in no way making an attempt here to change people or their lifestyles; what I am promoting is our ability to choose for ourselves bearing in mind all the relevant information. Choices in lifestyle (like choices in everything) mean nothing unless we know the facts.  

Like our development, our memories and beliefs are (or should be) dynamic and change with our level of understanding. Otherwise you'd still believe in Santa and the tooth fairy. When development remains immature we don't grow out of childhood gullibility, we just believe that we have. The fairy tales many of us believe as adults are much more complex than those we heard as children, but we are still fooled by them and base our behavior on them, and many of us are living in cloud cuckoo land oblivious of the problems that causes in reality.


Practice reframing on fictional concepts first (such as, what IF plastic became illegal? THEN what would we replace stuff with? Would there be a plastics black market? Or, what would happen if war were viewed as a virus?) Once you are accustomed to using the technique, start applying it to small issues in your real life. Reframe little assumptions, such as what IF 'x is good for me' or 'y is bad for me', using the domains of input control for a choice of material, and biological values of impoverished or enriched.

Remember in real life IF you can't think of another possible pov or a different way of interpreting a situation, THEN there's usually some information missing from your awareness and you need to learn more about the issue you're considering.  

Once you've got the hang of practicing reframing, it's a small step to reframe situations from the pov of the unconscious. In the previous chapter I used this technique to help explain why biology is so fussy about appropriate input. When you view the graphic of how much time programming has been going on with the same input, it's easy to see why the unconscious still expects us to be surrounded by that input, and why the mind still requires it for development. Thinking about things from the pov of unconscious needs is a great guide for in-depth understanding of ourselves and of the system. 

Instead of assessing what sort of a day you had in terms of conscious experience, try assessing what sort of a day your unconscious experienced; from the system's pov. Was it enriched or impoverished? How many of its basic needs (natural sleep, fresh nutrition, enjoyment, learning) were fulfilled? Did it have a fun, challenging time or was it bored or distracted or confused? Did the user (you) listen to it and provide its needs?

Reframing for cognitive dissonance 

When many of us start to take control of our own lives, we have to take control away from whatever is currently controlling us; in this case, false beliefs resulting from conditioning. 

We can remove conditioned values by (a) getting out of the habit of viewing opposing sets of values ('angel versus demon') as 'all there is'; and (b) getting out of the habit of looking at ourselves as un-coordinated beings.


In terms of cognitive dissonance, the 'extra information' you need for reframing is this: in a state of cognitive dissonance, you can now assume there are in reality three choices not two: the conscious opinion, the unconscious opinion and the congruous opinion (which is a merger of the two, and what you are supposed to have). To begin with, all you have to do is remember this.  

Once you are aware that cognitive dissonance is occurring, get yourself into open mode and consider the facts: 

Biological needs must be met in order to avoid harm, but there are several different ways to meet them. 

Society wasn't designed with our biological needs in mind because nobody knew what they were. 

It takes a long time for society to catch up with science. 

You are looking for a way to meet your needs with least dangers.


This is your background for reframing. Cognitive dissonance is a bug not a feature. IF you get cognitive dissonance, THEN stop thinking about demons and angels. It's bullshit and it's bad for you. There is only one of you, and these symptoms are trying to tell you that you need to develop your connections between unconscious and conscious awareness right now. Your tasks are therefore:



1 To recognize cognitive dissonance. Every time you find yourself 'caught between doing this or that', don't do either: think, 'Aha! Cognitive dissonance!' and do some connection-growing techniques instead.


2 To recognize which biological needs require meeting in the situation, and which societal obligations or personal beliefs prevent their being met. Challenge personal beliefs – do you really believe them or were you conditioned to believe them? What claims are made? What facts support them? Pay attention to and be aware of what input the unconscious needs to build denser connections. Often, it is something very simple like 'some time in open mode' or 'sleep' or 'exercise' or 'dinner'. Sometimes it is 'more information' or 'more experience'. DO NOT just ignore system needs or decide they are 'wrong' because if you do, your own biology will kick you up the ass.



3 To calculate to the best of your ability the possible harmful and beneficial issues involved, and ask yourself honestly: are the risks of specific behavioral choices worth the benefits, and what alternatives exist. In considering alternatives, always include the possibility of taking a small step in a situation instead of a giant leap, since slow steady progression is ordinarily less hazardous and just as beneficial. 

Using conscious intelligence, or common sense, or cognitive behavioral techniques to work out a way to fulfil your system needs without upsetting your society. 'Cognitive behavioral' means you look for logical reasons why certain things might seem contradictory. Use upstream diagnostics, because a lot of the time societal conditioning is causing the conflict. Reconstruct your picture of reality to recognize conditioning and to include biological morality, with your mental development as a priority. 

4 Ensure that you begin in open mode. If you feel very strongly about an issue it can be very difficult to calm down and make unbiased decisions, but there's no need for any emotional shenanigans in reframing. It must just be remembered that emotional states are very important to biological wellbeing and therefore emotions count as very important issues in decision making. If doing something is likely to make you feel bad, that's an important factor in your decision when prioritizing mental health. 

When connections are sparse, processing slows down. Understand the value of 'sleeping on it'. Give the system more time to compute what to do. Extra time allows any overanxious emotional responses time to dissipate, improving blood flow to brain areas using conscious awareness, building new connections and enabling faster processing. Recognizing emotional states precisely can be difficult, especially if anxious, so I'll talk about that in the next chapter.

The idea of this technique is not to get a correct answer, although you may well get one; that's a cheeky bonus. The idea of the reframing technique is that by simply practicing and playing with ideas (including fictional ones) in this sort of thinking, you are leading your system again and again through a process which requires greater density of wiring in busses between front and rear. Practicing the reframing technique itself is what grows connections; not the details of what you practice it on. This ongoing practice sends a message to the genome ordering more proteins for network construction, and then the brain does all the work underneath whilst the mind plays on. One day, you find the process of decision making has become automatic, cognitive dissonance is rare, and congruity is the norm. The choices you make from then on will reflect emotional sense and intellectual rationality, both in agreement.


There are two types of therapy associated with reframing techniques, and they are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and MetaCognitive Therapy. Both have proved useful to those with depression, although MCT gives best results.[23] 

CBT aims to modify thought content, while MCT aims to change basic mental regulation processes that have become biased or conditioned.[24] 

In cases of depression, MCT is used to prevent rumination on depressive thoughts, but it can be used equally well to prevent getting stuck with cognitive dissonance or anxiety. 

This is achieved by teaching yourself, through practice, not to respond to either of the 'two voices' that occur in dissonance, which means learning to be aware of when cognitive dissonance is happening. When you notice dissonance beginning, remind yourself that you can make a choice whether to think about the conflicting thoughts or just register that cognitive dissonance is happening and move on. By becoming aware of what happens when cognitive dissonance starts, you learn to recognize when it is happening and then choose other alternatives. 

The method is about training yourself to become a passive observer, to meet conflicting verbal thoughts with an objective pov and detach your attention. You practice seeing cognitive dissonance for what it really is – a bug not a feature. Neither voice is an accurate reflection of reality. 

Anxious thoughts may be treated in the same way; instead of reacting to anxious thoughts we can notice that they are occurring and detach attention. This is a very useful method as cognitive dissonance can be both caused by and causative of anxiety, which is the reason why such thoughts can seem to go around in circles with no apparent way out.

Things not to do

As a mature intelligence you have to take responsibility for your own thoughts, decisions and behavior, whether you are able to control them or not. So: 

DON'T waste time in conditioned guilt or shame when cognitive dissonance happens or if you make mistakes. 

When snapback happens, DON'T make up justifications or excuses for your behavior like, 'so-and-so or such a thing made me do it or told me to do it'; 'I was coerced'; 'I was ill'; or even, 'it seemed to make good sense at the time'. Bullshit. Be honest with yourself; you had cognitive dissonance and you did your very best under those difficult circumstances to decide wtf to do. And that's very cool regardless of the outcome! 

DON'T coerce someone else into making decisions or doing things for you and then blame them if everything fucks up! Go into it (whatever it is) with the pov that at least this is your genuine, uncoerced decision and you're a responsible mature being, prepared to accept any consequences and the resulting learning experience. 

DON'T get stuck thinking things will never change. That's impossible in real life, so practice your techniques regularly in order to make sure that things change in your favor! 

Once you have recognized dissonant thoughts and successfully prevented yourself reacting to them, DON'T get caught up in wondering, 'What the hell was I thinking that for?' -that's still reacting to these thoughts in a secondary way. Remind yourself that all this is false output which doesn't accurately reflect reality and is likely to be incoherent, and move forward into reframing the situation from the pov of meeting unconscious biological needs. 

You will get more useful information to use in reframing in future chapters on emotion and relationships.



key techniques 4 – behave as though

There are a few useful methods in NH for quickly gaining volitional control. One of the most important is the practice of 'behaving as though' something is necessary in order to signal the genome that there is a need to actually make it happen. This works by using behavioral triggers to convince biology that changes are necessary, and the nature of the triggers indicates what sort of changes they should be.


For example, let's say someone wishes to increase their muscle mass. To start with, their genome sees no necessity to increase muscle density, because their current lifestyle does not need bigger muscles, and biology never wastes energy or resources.  

That is to say, in real life it's not actually true that this person 'needs' bigger muscles in order to survive -the issue of 'bigger muscles' is an aesthetic choice they have made in order to improve appearance, overall health and self esteem. They can keep on thinking 'I need bigger muscles' as much as they like, but the unconscious does not believe them – it has seen no proof. So no change occurs.


So they have to hack it - convince biology that change is required – i.e., produce proof; and to do this they 'behave as though' bigger muscles really are needed - they work out, lift weights, exercise, swim, start walking more, climb trees, use electro-stim or whatever. They may also change their diet to include more proteins, vitamins and minerals that the system will need to build more muscle tissue with. These behaviors, performed regularly but in moderation, send regular, repetitive signals to the genome that more muscle tissue needs to be built. These behavioral triggers cause epigenetic responses, new proteins are synthesized, and denser muscle tissue is built.


This system of adaptation in response to environmental triggers has an automatic 'downside', which becomes apparent when we see how plasticity and epigenetics programs function; relying on environmental (including behavioral) signals. Although this means that anything done regularly will signal the system, it also means that anything NOT done regularly will also signal the system, and these signals are saying 'not needed'.  

There is no waste in biology. Anything not used is considered 'not needed' and anything not needed is broken down and recycled, because basic chemicals can be recycled; used and re-used. So if we perform the opposite behaviors - that is to say, 'behave as though' we don't need muscles very much at all, by sitting down all the time or lying around on the couch all day, we are still sending signals to biology. This time the signals say 'not needed' and after a short while of repeating this behavior, muscle tissue will start to waste away, be broken down and recycled. Unfortunately, the same thing is true of brains. Any connections unused will be slowly broken down and thus any ability unused will soon be lost. 

Thus, reducing sitting time has a positive effect on mental health BUT an increase in time spent sitting down has an adverse effect on mental health and even outweighs the benefits of regular exercise.[41] 

We have a lot of information about use promoting development, for example, 'Regular exercise will make you stronger and fitter', but we rarely hear about the rather more concerning fact that regular lack of exercise will make you weaker and frail. One day you just find it's difficult to walk as far or as fast as you used to, or that you don't seem to remember things as well as you used to, and right then, right when the alarm bells should be sounding and we should be doing something about it, we're more likely to fall for the social myth that 'It's just a normal part of getting older', and do nothing. Belief in this sort of nonsense causes a great deal of unnecessary mental and physical damage.


Epigenetics is this simple. Environmental input, including behaviors, indicates need (or lack of need) and biology responds. It can't NOT respond - programs have to respond to programs. So biology relies heavily on your own behavioral control for the changes that occur to be beneficial.  

By doing nothing, you are still initiating programs; programs that break down unused tissue and remove unused brain connections. By behaving as though you still need them, you get to keep and improve them. 

In biology, things can be changed from both directions; top down ('as above, so below') AND bottom up ('as below, so above') - behavior can change gene expression, and gene expression can change behavior. Biological systems can work this way because there is a feedback loop; a two-way chain of communication-based causation between the micromolecular level of cells and the the macro level of behavior. The core essence of 'behave as though' methodology is that key behaviors can fulfill biological imperatives - sending the epigenetic signals that trigger beneficial changes in genetic expression.


This same method can be applied to operational mode switching - learning how to initiate the switch from protection mode into growth & repair mode. To do this we produce the signals for going into 'open mode' by indulging in open mode behaviors; behaving as though we were in open mode, and this induces the system to change into open mode for real. All system modes are selected and engaged as responses to perceived input, memory and expectations.

Application of embodiment, sync and modeling

The three programs discussed above; embodiment, sync and modeling, all rely on imagination skills and all use the 'behave as though' algorithm.  

To achieve embodiment, the body has to 'behave as though' the extension – tool, machine, animal, prosthesis – is part of itself, and this is what the unconscious imagines in order to make us so proficient with tools. The system behaves as though the tool or item were an intrinsic part of itself rather than a separate entity, and the brain literally rewires itself to take the tool or item into account when calculating motion vectors. Thus we become more proficient at using tools in much the same way we become more proficient at using our muscles. However, the mind is not delusional; we are consciously fully aware that the tool is NOT a part of ourselves; we are just 'behaving as though' it is. 

For sync to occur, the imagination has to behave as though the system is 'coupled' with another system that it is in communication with. In sync, individuals 'behave as though' they are one, taking unconscious cues from one anothers' input to maintain the state. They are clearly aware that they are not literally connected, they just 'behave as though' they were. 

In modeling, the system has to imagine that we are another person who already has the skill we desire; we 'behave as though' we are that other individual or that we already have their particular skills and abilities. This is most obvious in literal apprenticeship; the student behaves as much as possible like the master, consciously learning the correct manipulation of tools and methods whilst unconsciously learning the states of mind required for mastery.


As has been mentioned above, a lot of people find it difficult to understand what 'behave as though' really means in terms of actual behavior, even though we do it all the time. For example, did you ever use a knife as a screwdriver? Or a spoon to lever the tire off a bicycle? Well, when using a knife as a screwdriver, you just 'behave as though' it is one. You are not deluded; you don't believe the knife actually IS a screwdriver. Nor are you 'pretending' that it's a screwdriver; you just simply behave as though it were, because there are enough points of similarity between a knife and a screwdriver for the system to imaginatively bridge the gap.  

...Hold that thought: 'there have to be enough points of similarity between A and B for the system to imaginatively bridge the gap.' That's a big clue to how this technique works.


We unconsciously know all this, and we first experience it in play. When you're a kid playing at being Batman (or whomever) you are clearly not deluding yourself into believing that you really ARE Batman (indeed, that would defeat the object, because if you really were Batman, you wouldn't need to be learning Batman skills). Nor are you 'pretending' to be Batman; you are just behaving as though you were Batman, for all sorts of unconscious reasons. You are playing with the idea of being Batman.



Unconscious reasons are usually about experiential learning; you want to know how it feels to be Batman; what sort of things Batman must think about and do in order to have become Batman. You want to know what it feels like to experience archetypal feelings such as personal power and independence, courage and determination, fearlessness, freedom, moral integrity and honor. You want to know what you will behave like if you experience that state of mind, think those thoughts, embrace those morals; quite sensibly because from the available archetypal evidence it is a state of mind and pattern of behavior associated with greater success in life than you currently have.  

Role modeling is not always about the model – it is most often about specific skills that we see enacted or epitomised in the model, and the role models we choose over the years depend on which skills and attributes attract us personally, unconsciously, at each particular phase of development. 

What we learn from experience in this sort of creative play is that when we model batman's archetypal body language, postures, etc., and think the kinds of archetypal thoughts we imagine Batman must think, the system responds to the input. Neurotransmitters are released in our brain that actually do make us feel more confident, less anxious and more adventurous ourselves, resulting in more exploratory behaviors. The new behaviors start to develop the brain wiring necessary for more athletic skills in real life, because the genome is getting the message 'this is needed'. 

Heroes don't sit around with arms folded in front of their body, clenched fists and a hunched back; that's what evil villains do, typically cackling at the same time. Heroes sit with their hands linked behind their head, resting their feet casually on the table, Han Solo style, or they pose with hands on hips and look out across the landscape, Batman style, and we know they are probably feeling very self-confident. 

The beauty of the system is that it has to respond to input. When we indulge in creative play and volitionally model another's body language or mood, our own behavior shapes what happens in reality, which means that the effects achieved by creative play enable more beneficial moods and behaviors – and hence more success – for us in real life. When the playing is over, the skills developed in the game remain.[25] 

This is what is meant by 'practice creative play on the surface and the real work (embodiment, sync, modeling = neurotransmission increasing brain connections) goes on underneath'. It's another way of saying 'behave as though it's happening, and the system will think it's happening'. 

Although there are recognizable and measurable signs indicating when embodiment, sync or modeling is taking place, nobody can enable you to use these programs or to understand how to control them by writing about it; it's one of those 'bike-riding' skills, like knowing when you've had enough to drink, or which way home is, that you only learn to do by practice and experience.

Guide to implementing 'behave as though':

1 To get in the Goldilocks Zone for learning, stuff should be challenging but fun. There must be enough points of similarity (a critical mass of associational concepts) between A (your previous experience and knowledge) and B (the new thing you are trying to learn) for the system to bridge the gap. So be realistic about your aims. You wouldn't try to use a sponge as a screwdriver unless you were bonkers, and modeling the behavior of a tree will never enable human photosynthesis.


2 Conscious attention and concentration are essential at first. If you want to move to the beat, you have to correctly interpret what the beat is. If you want to use a tool efficiently you have to pay sufficient close attention to how it feels to handle it, and successfully computing the correct degree of concentration for fine motor control without wasting energy is usually learned through making mistakes. So you have to be patient with the system as it makes mistakes. This is what it's designed to do; calibrate your skills ever-more accurately through experiencing errors. The optimal learning speed for your personal system occurs when you are making mistakes 15% of the time. That's the sign that you are getting the hang of it, whatever it is, at optimal speed, so shortly after your mistake ratio hits that figure, the skill will increase rapidly and mistakes become few and far between.  

3 Next, automation kicks in. After learning the skill, there must be a critical mass of ongoing practice sufficient to enable automation (that's why much less attention and concentration are needed after sufficient practice). 

4 Overall rule: you play consciously on the surface and all the work goes on unconsciously underneath. We must allow the unconscious to learn things and compute its associations, before we can consciously learn them. The unconscious computations we get from messing about (with things or ideas) are the foundation for the processing the conscious abstractions of intellectual language.

When one sets out 'process guides' like this, it creates the impression that there is a great deal of work to be done. But surprisingly there is only this one thing to do and that is, play. Mess about and interact with something or someone in an anxiety-free state and the entire process automatically rolls itself out; obeying all the intrinsic programming without your having to consciously remind it, because the stages in the cycle of learning are just reflections of the algorithm doing the actual work. Hence this overall rule: 'You play on the surface and let the work go on underneath'.


In terms of NH and mental development, as long as you control your own input you will find yourself naturally (automatically) drawn towards role models connected with the skills and abilities you personally need next, and those subjects of study that will most assist you will interest you most. So you proceed by following up all healthy interests and pay most attention to those around you whose abilities you most admire.  

Bear in mind that you will be drawn towards different role models as time goes by and as you acquire more skills. You will also have a selection of models for different skills and abilities.


Cognitive exercises related to modeling can be very helpful in getting better empathy and a broader perspective; simply thinking, 'What would (insert your hero) do?' or even 'What would a really sensible person do?' can extend your awareness of choices and enable reframing.




Movies, documentaries, cultural events and visual fiction can also be used for modeling specific skills – if you can find examples of the skills you wish to master and watch them often, your own performance will improve. The best quality input is live physical presence, but video or VR still have a strong effect. The more vividly and regularly you imagine doing something, the easier it is to learn, most especially if you are having fun or getting excited doing so.[26] 

The more emotionally involved you get, the more accurately you can imagine what something feels like, the easier learning becomes in the real world. This sort of imagination use is the state of creative play. As children we do it physically in a concrete manner; we get a cardboard box and 'behave as though' it's a house or a boat or a pirates' treasure chest. Developing that concrete play skill is what enables us later to get an abstract idea and play with it; and this is the very skill which enables science, mathematics, language, artworks, music, exploration and discovery. 

Thinking 'what if?' (open mode) and finding out (closed mode) creates knowledge. We think 'what if', and in taking the steps to answering our own question we are creators of knowledge.


negating bad input

Directing programs like embodiment, sync and modeling enables you to make beneficial behaviors automatic as quickly as possible. Conversely, now that you are consciously aware of them, you can also learn to prevent engaging these habit-enabling programs whenever you are surrounded by bad input.

Nobody wants to end up copying idiotic behavior or getting depressed staring at boring surroundings all day! To avoid any unwanted influence when passing through bad environments, situations or behaviors, awareness of your own behavior must be employed along with techniques to distract yourself from any bad input currently going on.  

The best way to avoid paying attention to bad input is to pay more attention to good input, so look for some, and carry some with you, just like you would take food and water to get through a desert. Reading, music, natural materials, beautiful imagery, scents and even thoughts can be good distracting input; if you are mentally 'miles away' you are distancing yourself from influences around you. In the meantime, calmly make your plan to leave!


System sensory recalibration -change what you enjoy

Anyone who has ever taken on the task of abandoning bad dietary habits has encountered the problem – some things that are really good for you taste appalling, whilst the things you are probably trying to give up taste fabaroo.


What you probably don't know is that you can change the way your senses register input as well as changing the input. That is, the food you eat now can change how you perceive and taste future food.  

You can train your senses to experience things differently using the principles of up- and down-regulation and resilience. In fact, chances are your current diet has already used these principles by accident - eating high amounts of sugar suppresses sweet taste perception because of downregulation, making sugar seem less sweet and launching us on the path to metabolic syndrome. The good news is, it works both ways. 

Working in a similar way to anti-phobia immersion therapy, sensory recalibration is based on specific proteins found in your saliva. These proteins affect your sense of taste, and your diet composition, at least in part, determines those proteins. 

Everything you eat is dissolved in saliva before it interacts with taste receptor cells and all these proteins are candidates for influencing stimuli before food is tasted. What you eat creates the signature in your personal salivary proteome, and those proteins modulate your personal sense of taste. Changing your diet changes what proteins are in your saliva, and the proteins in your saliva change how things taste to you. 

Thus, treating a new food as a medicine that you consume in small amounts will over time affect your perception of the taste of that food, and enable you to increase portions. Knowing ahead of time that the taste of foods will change is also a neat psychological advantage when introducing foods that are at first not so palatable. Effectively you train your palate through regular practice with small amounts. 

Diets that can extend lifespan are also involved in enhancing taste perception, and diets that promote long life were also found to enhance taste perception. Lifespan, resilience and sensory perception are linked in ways we are just starting to understand.[27] 

The fun news is, you can extend this recalibration process from the sensorimotor into the psychological domain by input control. Think about it: food items are input, and by following a pattern of exposure to good input, you recalibrate your sensory experience to one that is more beneficial to your health. So by following a pattern of exposure to certain people and places, things, feelings and ideas, you can recalibrate your abstract 'tastes' (your interests and aesthetics) as well as your literal tastes. 

You can even engineer the way you think about things. For example, roughly assess your mental health and cognitive ability compared with others you know or perceive around you. You may think you're doing better, worse or 'about the same' as everyone else. It may seem to you that everyone sees the world just like you do, or the opposite: that your ideas are totally unique. 

What you might not consider is that all of your apparently conscious intellectual judgments depend largely on the unconscious effects of input from whomever you hang out with, where you go and whatever input you choose. This means that the same cognitive process will produce different judgments about these things depending on your input, or, put simply, as your input changes so will your thoughts.[28]


Initiating input control in other domains

It is best to get some practice with input control in the basic domains covered in the previous chapter before advancing to this selection. Remember, in NH the techniques themselves are what is useful; not the details of how they are employed. Once you've got the hang of the technique, here are some more domains within which input control may be utilized:


your activities 

Think about what you spend most of your time doing and where you spend your time doing it. Do you even know? Here's an average example for most westerners most of the time: 

Out of 24 hours on a weekday:

8-10 are spent sleeping/eating/personal care, preparing food and doing housework.

8-10 are spent at work or school/doing stuff for work or school and traveling to and from work or school.

4-8 are spent in passive leisure activities indoors, eg watching TV, drinking, eating, smoking; or interactive leisure activities indoors, eg playing computer games, posting on social media.

If your life schedule looks like this you can be sure of two things: 

1 your mental and physical health are deteriorating.

2 your house stinks. But then, your sense of smell is deteriorating too so you probably can't smell it. 

So as a first step, incorporate some healthy natural input into all these activities. Get some flowers, get some plants, get some pictures of beautiful places, take fresh food, music, your favorite book or nice scents wherever you go. 

Implement simple alternatives. It may take twice or three times as long to walk somewhere local as it would to drive there, but that's ten times more good input (and less bad input) if you take a route through greenspace or natural surroundings. You are not 'wasting time'; you are choosing to use time to improve your mental health. A bonus: Nothing makes a space so dirty and dusty as having humans hanging around in it the whole time. The more time you spend outdoors, the less mucky your home gets. Healthy indoor spaces also need a constant supply of fresh air. Open the windows!


Getting your space together is a great archetypal activity, as you are improving two areas at the same time – your space and your behaviors – so it's a very good place to start.  

Make your own private space a nice place to come home to. A lack of decoration and individuality in a living space implies an impoverished situation to your unconscious mind. Send it some different messages.




Turning a house (or shed!) into a home is the practice of replacing an impoverished matrix with an enriched one, and if you can do this in real life (for example because you own the land) that's first rate input.



Most of us are not in that situation, so we must fall back on second rate input and make the impoverished context look more like an enriched one. There's info in the previous chapter on some ways to do that, but you should use your individuality in creating a homely and attractive space. After all, Bower birds can achieve this with a brain the size of a small pea, so I'm sure we clever primates can manage it. 

Activities are not just about where you spend most of your time. What sort of activities do you do AT home/work/school/leisure? Organize your space to take into account the activities you want to do there. The system expects input from a large number of archetypal activities such as self care, washing, cleaning, preparing food, gathering, carrying, walking, making things (like clothes, furniture, products), interacting with others, exploring, relaxation, play and mutual caring behaviors; sufficient daily experience for ongoing learning and development. The activities of each day should provide all the input and exercise required. Sitting around for ages not moving very much or experiencing anything new is a recipe for poor mental as well as physical health. 

Instead of passive or remotely-interactive leisure activities, try interactive entertainment outdoors as much as possible. Learn new stuff, meet with people and talk to them instead of phoning them. Direct your spare time, instead of just falling into the habit of not moving and passively soaking up whatever's thrown at you. Don't, however, feel pushed to madly 'socialize' regardless of the quality of your company; doing things with others which you all enjoy is rewarding only when you trust and respect those others. 

On a deeper level, consider what sort of work you do or what you are studying. Can you honestly say it is good for your mental health, good for other people and good for the environment? If the answer is 'no' it's never too late to change careers, especially these days with the rate of technological development, climate change and the necessity for new skills. There's plenty of room for at least three careers in one lifetime, or two different part time jobs in one week, and there's no reason not to move in a healthier direction in terms of work as well as home time. At the same time, looking for work that you could do closer to home or at home (and indeed, home education) could give you much more extra free time for good input and save you a fortune. 

We all know that having a bad job can make you unhappy. But in fact it's worse for your mental health than not having one at all. In societies with a social welfare system, people who remain unemployed are likely to be happier than those who gain employment in a 'poor' job. Once you know this, the obvious question is, how can you tell in advance what is likely to be "a bad job", and avoid applying for them?


It turns out to be relatively easy. You already know that in an interview, the person you are talking to is likely to be judging you, so a spot of reframing here – you are also going to be judging them. Here's what you're looking for:  

There are two kinds of judging habits; those who judge people by appearances and presentation (small children and immature adults), and those who do not (those already mature/experienced enough to know that such a course is not wise). Thus, it's wise to avoid prospective employers who judge by appearances. If you don't, you will find yourself working for incompetent people whose only interest is making money out of you in the short term, and your own mental health will be at risk.


Cost-cutting compromises health & safety in the workplace, and employees are pushed into ever more work & responsibility for the same wages. You encounter little or no respect at work, racism and sexism are higher, you may be coerced, and you are more likely to get blamed as a scapegoat if anything goes wrong if it will save your employer money.  

Crap jobs leave you with little job security, an unrealistic workload or little control over managing your workload, coercion, and no prospects. Particularly dangerous for mental health is coercion, for example expecting employees to dress, speak or behave in ways that are not natural to them and that they find demeaning, in order to get the job. Chronic stress is the usual result of such employment.


To put it bluntly, people who judge by appearances are not terrifically bright. Ask yourself, do you really want to work for someone who is this immature? So turn up for the interview in the clothes you feel comfortable in, don't ponce yourself up like you're going on a date, and pay attention to the other employees you encounter – do they seem happy and interested in their work? Note whether the interviewer/s treat you with respect and seem relaxed and happy themselves. Get online before you go, and research the employer and any info about disgruntled ex-employees.  

A further clue: most "bad jobs" are found to be in the 'middle ground' of sales & marketing, retail, catering, hospitality and care sectors, whereas professions in 'the intellectual categories' ( IT, science, engineering, higher education and the arts) as well as 'manual professions' (building, driving, construction, physical labor) seem less vulnerable to immature or incompetent management although the latter group have other, physical dangers. Telesales, teachers, fast food retailers and care staff have the worst mental health records for 'work-related-stress'.


IT/computing, freelancing a specific skill, or transporting stuff, remarkably, often has the opposite situation to coercion; in surveys many managers in computer- and science-related occupations stated they were not even aware of what kind of clothes most of their employees wore or what particular hours they worked and that it was "Not the sort of thing I would notice" or that it was "None of my business anyway". Actual ability to do the job and experience at doing the job was the stated job requirement most looked for at interview. Freelancers and 'shifters' often go unmonitored in similar ways. Such persons, like programmers, keep their jobs because their work proves that they can do the job.  

This may go some way towards explaining why most IT workers, scientists, car mechanics and truck drivers are relatively happy in their jobs, while psychiatrists' waiting rooms fill up with wannabe sales & marketing execs on stress-related sick leave, and a certain sector of disillusioned school leavers finds itself repeatedly unemployed after another six months at the latest bad job. 

Some facts from research about work:

As predicted in Orwell's 'Animal Farm', increased work effort, whether defined as overtime or work intensity, does not predict any positive outcomes for employees.  

Employees who repeatedly work under intense conditions (tight deadlines, bright lights, loud music, fast-paced and pressured environments) or overwork report reduced well-being. 

Increased work effort is associated with inferior career-related outcomes.

Work that improves your mental health is obviously the best choice! Outdoor work in nature has obvious benefits and disadvantages – it's great being in the woods on pleasant sunny days, it's a different matter when there's a gale and heavy rain! However, unless you push yourself to foolish extremes, outdoor work in all weathers builds resilience. 

Novelty is important in mental input and repetitive, boring jobs should be avoided. Doing the same thing all the time and not learning anything new is a recipe for mental decline. 

Task significance (believing that the work you do is of benefit to yourself, others, your planet) is beneficial, and fulfilling all three categories is more beneficial than just two or one. 

The benefits of different activities depend not only on the specific activity, but also on the activity it displaces. Prioritize! Most types of work are not as beneficial as spending time with your kids. Your time is much more valuable to kids than money; most adults forget this.[29]


Many of us are still at school or uni when we begin NH. That doesn't remove your ability to provide your own good input. Study the things that interest you most; it doesn't matter where you get the facts from; they all still need verifying regardless of who presents them. Educate yourself about the things you love.



Summary: the major point here is that you do have choices, and you can choose to do two or three different things rather than just one thing. So open up your options. 

Put simply, don't put all your eggs in one basket.


There are other ways to assess how much good input you're getting from your activities, for example work out how many of your hours each day are spent in stressful situations or impoverished environments, and how many hours are spent in enjoyable situations or enriched environments? Remember, to improve mentally we need to experience enriched environments or enjoyable situations most of the time. Do the arithmetic.    

No matter how inescapable you currently feel your routine is, there are always a few things that we can do to increase good input, and that's all that is required, because just a few little things at a time in each domain makes a huge difference in the end. So use what you know. Consciously assess the places you go and the things you do for 'enriched or impoverished', because whether you know it or not, that's what your unconscious is doing all the time. If you find yourself going to the same old places to socialize from habit, look for alternative places with better input.


your relationships

Relationships can be a major source of good or bad input. We have relationships with everything around us, because 'relationship' simply means how we relate to something.

So from the bottom up, how do you relate to things; the objects and tools of your everyday life? Are you careful to maintain tools or equipment or household items in good condition, clean and functional?



When things go wrong, do you break stuff, throw things, bang doors or thump computers? This sort of behavior reflects a less mature mentality and an urgent need to develop. If you know anyone who does it, avoid them because an associated habit is abusing humans verbally, and that's bad input for everyone including those doing it. If you do this sort of thing yourself, get more open mode time and read up about Coronary Thrombosis. 

Do you consider yourself clumsy or break a lot of things by accident? A hobby that improves physical awareness such as Tai Chi, yoga, balancing exercises or dancing could remove that tendency in less than a month. 

Next, how do you relate to your environment and natural resources? Would you say your lifestyle is totally sustainable, self-contained and non-polluting? Would you say your lifestyle takes more than your fair share of world resources? How many earth-size planets would it take to maintain everyone in the world with your current lifestyle?[42] 

How much do you think about these things and what changes have you made to improve things? 

How much of what you use (petrol, cars, plastics, supermarkets, electricity) is thrust upon you with no other choice? How much of it do you use by free choice as a preference? 

What could you do to improve things even a little?


When you get out into nature, how do you relate to the environment? Are you fascinated and interested in everything you see, like a biologist or a seven year old? Do you pay any attention to how it all works? Do you respect and care for it and try to avoid any damage? Do you feel an urge to interact with it and create beautiful scenery or gardens?


Do you see it as a hazardous environment full of unknown dangers or a safe haven that can provide everything you need? Do you feel 'at home' in the wilderness or anxious to get back to air conditioned civilization with cars and shops and proper toilets? Do you have fun there, exploring or playing or painting or picnicking or games or getting wrecked, or do you sit huddled in a blanket and wish you could leave already? If necessary, you can use reframing to remove conditioning.



When an average Westerner stands in the forest, we see simplicity; trees and greenery, rocks and a stream, path and a thicket. If you stand your average tribesperson (or biologist) in a forest they perceive a wholly different, extraordinarily complex reality. All you can do (until you get enough experience of your own) is imagine this state of mind: 

Imagine you are in a space of endless possibilities. Everything you need in order to thrive is all around you. Each individual plant or tree has medicinal properties, and/or can provide resources such as materials for clothing, tools, homes, furniture, weapons, food, warmth, travel, entertainment, art, learning and interaction. If this space is managed carefully (ie, in a caring way), you are set up to thrive for life, and so is your family and so are your friends. You are entirely surrounded by a perpetually-renewable source of everything you need, and as an average tribesperson, you know exactly how to use it wisely. 

Can you imagine how that makes you feel? 'Delighted' doesn't even come close to it. It makes you feel infused with a natural, self-manufactured heroin analog with no bad side effects, because that's exactly what's going on. Biology is delighted. The system is running on optimal. You are, consequently, naturally high.


Your current relationship with nature will become clear to you by experience and asking yourself questions like those above. The more you can improve it, the more good input your unconscious can get and the more development will take place. What could you do to improve things more?

Moving on, how do you relate to animals? ...I mean ok, your relationship with some domesticated animals like cows or chickens might consist of nothing more than, basically, dinner. I don't mean those, nor do I mean your favorite pet dog or hamster, or the thing that raids your trash in the night, which is bound to get a bad press. I mean wild animals in nature, like birds and mice and squirrels and whatever hangs around living in the areas you visit. Do you watch them with interest or foreboding?



If you go to the same natural places regularly, do you get to recognize the 'regulars'; the same individual animals or birds that turn up every time? Do you get to see animals living their life cycle, having young and rearing them, youngsters learning their skills and getting more proficient? Do you notice what sort of animals eat what sort of things? Or do you just think of living things as 'background nature stuff' and hope none of the smaller bits of it get into your lunch box or bite you?


Do you encourage animals to approach, or try to avoid them, respond to their curiosity or passively watch with no interaction? Do you hunt or trap animals, or go fishing? Do you empathize with animals performing behaviors that you do yourself (eating, playing, relaxing, gathering food, caring for young)? Have you learned anything about their ways by watching them?  

Have you experienced the night time animal population as well as the daytime bunch? Do some areas have a greater variety of different animals than others? Greater diversity means better quality input.


Overall, would you say you like interacting with animals, dislike interacting with animals, or generally ignore animals? What could you do to improve things?


Of course, the most important animal in your life is you, so how do you treat yourself? Is your relationship with yourself congruous, or are you always arguing with yourself or trying to talk yourself into doing things you don't really want to do?


We get quite enough hassle in everyday life without giving ourselves hassle as well! Take it easy on yourself, but don't get apathetic. Just because there's loads to do doesn't mean it's bad to take a break. NH is about caring for the system, so self care is very important because nobody else can do it for you. Only you know when your needs arise, because you're in there.  

If you're going to nurture intelligence, you need a relationship with yourself based on respect, honesty, understanding and a keen interest in your own wellbeing. All of your relationships with everything and everyone else are affected by the quality of your relationship with yourself, because your self-view affects your perception and can enhance or reduce the quality of all your input.


other people and state contagion

How do you treat other people? Whom do you hang out with? Whom do you prefer to hang out with? Do you feel truly close to anyone? Do you feel truly close to yourself? Whom do you trust?


Other people constantly provide input. If we're not vigilant, we tend to pick up the bad habits of those around us. This is a natural unconscious maneuver to 'fit in' because the system computes that doing so is safer than abstaining. Others' behavior can thus influence your unconscious strongly unless you know how to distract yourself and avoid bad influences.

You can't, however, judge 'bad' and 'good' behavior by societal standards; many examples of bad behavior are legal in societal terms but still bad for your mental health. This is not about judging habits such as smoking or drinking, it is about everything from posture and appearance to emotions, thoughts, beliefs, responses and ideas, and most importantly, states of mind. Humans share habits and mental states like we share infections. If someone has a bad posture or emotional instability, do you really want to be unconsciously modeling that?  

Does that mean you can 'catch' anxiety or depression? Yes it does! Your risk of developing mental ill-health increases significantly when you live with someone who currently has a common mental health disorder.[43] 

Unless you know how to build up resilience against (immunity to) such influences, that's exactly what can happen. This is why when one person exhibits stupid behavior, susceptible others often join in. 

'Emotional contagion' describes the emotional state of one person impacting that of another, followed by a cascade of subsequent impacts in other people. Someone cracks up laughing and others around them automatically smile or laugh. But it is not just emotion that can be transferred in this manner; the effect encompasses behavioral tendencies, thoughts, beliefs and states of mind, therefore it's more helpful to think of the effect as 'state contagion', although in reality it's a domestication-linked bug. 

This is important to address, since anxiety transmitted from others can change your brain in the same harmful ways as a personal chronic stress factor does. 

State contagion is a bug, occurring due to lack of congruity, through which one person's state (feelings, behaviors, thoughts beliefs or ideas) transfer to another person in a manner outside their awareness or control. Because mind states and physical states coincide, some vectors of contagion are chemical and physiological, and some are sensory.


Biology's intent here is that an individual under duress emits signals which can, in turn, alert additional members of the group to a danger and attract outside influences that could help. It's called quorum sensing, and all life seems to use it including bacteria and plants.[30] 

State contagion is a three-step process. The first stage involves exposure to the input and unconscious modeling, during which individuals subtly copy one another's nonverbal cues, including posture, facial expressions and movements; seeing others yawn or frown makes you more likely to yawn or frown. 

In the second stage, activation of olfactory neurons (even if you can't consciously smell anything) causes the release of a chemical signal, an 'alarm pheromone,' that is designed to alert you and everyone around you. This is all healthy and useful; it happens across the spectrum of species, and the olfactory signal is accompanied by visual or auditory signals in those animals complex enough to have them. Plants wilt or yellow and emit odors, birds use vocal calls, babies cry, some species use posture, body language or color changes. Whatever the method, the signal is the same; 'Watch out!' It's an alarm signal. 

In domesticated individuals though, the signal is received unconsciously but impeded by the lack of data transfer caused by incongruity. Domesticated animals have much lower awareness of dangers from humans for this reason; it's not sensory impediment, because the unconscious still gets the signal (this can be measured); it's lack of access to higher order input-processing software to interpret the signal and its meaning.


Instead of responding as biology intended, the 'third stage' bug of state contagion kicks in. People may then experience a feedback loop - because you frowned, your unconscious thinks something sad is going on, and obligingly helps you feel sad. In effect, you unconsciously embodied someone else's state and what you are feeling is negative empathy.  

During the contagion stage, emotions and behaviors become synchronized. Thus, if you don't have congruity and you repeatedly encounter an unhappy colleague on a bad day, you may unknowingly pick up your colleague's nonverbal behaviors and begin to morph into an unhappy state just like theirs. 

Unlike other more obvious mental health risk factors, such as over-indulging in junk food or not exercising, state contagion is more insidious, subtly sneaking up on you over time, increasing your risk of cognitive decline even if you don't consciously feel bad or realize that other people's chronically stressed-out state is slowly zapping away your vitality and mental ability, or that their grumpiness is affecting your mood. The more time you spend with a person the stronger the link becomes, although simply observing someone else in a stressful situation typically elicits an empathic stress response in the observer. State contagion even manifests from lower-level input such as pictures, song lyrics, movies and attitudes on social media. 

The effect is much more pronounced when the person is someone close to you, such as a family member, good friend or sexual partner. For examples, having a depressed partner can increase your own depressive symptoms as well as cognitive decline over time in late life;[31] symptoms of depression in teens and parents appear to be linked, when the severity of a teen's depression lessens, so do similar symptoms in the parent, regardless of what treatment is used;[32] some soldiers' partners and family members display symptoms of PTSD despite never serving in the military; and brain cells that control our response to stress show changes in (previously unstressed) partners that are identical to those measured in their stressed partner.[33]


What to do

When you see someone coughing and sneezing, you reflexively know it's wise to steer clear of them. When you observe someone who is rude or complaining or angry, it is less obvious what to do. Most of us have probably largely assumed that we all get influenced automatically—in an unconscious, immediate response to other people, and that's that. But in fact we can have more volitional control over how much we get influenced than previously realized, and we can also regulate the way we are influenced by others. 

Our awareness and our own motivations play an important role in how we respond to others. People who want to stay calm and who have control can remain relatively unfazed by angry, anxious people, but anxious people with no control and low experience are highly influenced by others. That's one way conditioning works. 

The methods we use to protect ourselves (our input control) are the same as those we use to avoid infections; awareness, social distancing, improving personal health, avoidance of direct contact, but this issue is a little different because anxiety can be spread through the proxy of media, and that means we need to direct our attention as well as our physical movements away from these dangers. 

With regard to media, the effect is moderated by the motivation and awareness of the individual - anxious people get more emotional when they learn that other people are just as upset as they are, and are three times more likely to be influenced by those more anxious than they, as opposed to people without anxiety. Anxious people also experience increased cortisol levels when they watch a televised version of stressful events.[34] 

If you surround yourself with others who are anxious (either by choice or circumstance), it's probably affecting your mental and physical health. And the same holds true for watching stressful situations on television. If you're often around anxious, stressed-out people, or you choose to watch stressful programming on TV, your health could suffer. Your anxiety level is a major player in your mental health.


Particularly important to avoid are examples of anxiety; fear, nervousness, anger, jealousy, rudeness or aggression, guilt, possessiveness, coercion, greed and shame. All of these sentiments reflect underlying chronic anxiety and they are all contagious unless we know how to protect ourselves. 

I'll be looking more deeply into emotion and relationships in the following chapters, but for now it's time to consider which acquaintances your health could best do without and which friends you should be hanging out more with. The more you hang out with people you like; those you find interesting, inspiring and fun, the less time is available for clingy or anxious others to bother you. If you don't want to be anxious today, avoid anxious people.[35] 

We are ultimately in control of who we spend our time with; it is a matter of personal choice. However, in ordinary society we can find ourselves in regular contact with mentally unhealthy people whose behavior can push us out of the green zone for health. When the great majority of those around you are anxious you need to control your input by other means until congruity is achieved.


The skills that you are already aware of can help you here. Don't enter open mode when in the company of anxious people. Don't pay attention to their behavior, just stick with the facts and tasks that need to be dealt with. Be wary of possible accidents caused by anxious people, as it's hard not to fuck up when you're distracted by anxiety all the time. In moments of solitude, even brief ones, switch to open mode whenever you can. Surround yourself with good input and communicate regularly with those whose company you enjoy.



If mental states are contagious when incongruity is present, it would seem plausible that happiness would be contagious, too, and research shows it very much is. Since happiness alters your mental and physical health in a positive instead of a negative way, this might on the surface be considered safe. 

After all, positive thoughts and attitudes are able to prompt changes in your body that strengthen your immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and chronic disease, and provide stress relief. However, without congruity we can be conditioned to laugh at anything, including aggression, cruelty and others' suffering. So if you are having difficulty remaining congruous, surround yourself with low-anxiety, light-hearted, cheerful people until such time as you have cleared the bug. When you do achieve congruity you will of course be able to experience empathy with others' happiness, but without the possible danger of accidentally modeling anxious, rude or inappropriate behavior.


your culture

As a mature mind, you are responsible for your education and your entertainment, in other words your participation in human culture.

Culture is grossly misunderstood by almost everyone, sadly including most anthropologists. Culture is education and entertainment; in a nutshell it's fun and learning. Culture relies on members of your species making their knowledge, abilities and creations available to others. Somebody showing you how to tie shoelaces, that's culture. Somebody reading a book, writing a book, doing a dance, presenting a show, painting a picture, walking around a museum looking at things, learning to use knives, forks, chopsticks, wheelbarrows, screwdrivers, chemicals and computers, that's culture. It's timeless and can be shared with other humans across many societies and many generations, it changes constantly all the time, developing and growing with each new addition, and it's universal and shareable between all humans from all places (which tends to encourage cooperation and alliances between them). 

This is not true of society; fashions come and fashions go, but trends are not timeless. Societies' products are parochial and generally not freely available worldwide but restricted to one or more 'societal classes' (usually, those who can afford to pay). Some societies ban or repress certain types of information, and there is no universal application of one society's ideals acceptable to all (which tends to cause conflict between them). 

Participating in human culture means you are not just an observer; you add ideas and creations to culture as well as receiving them. There is a creative domain and a receptive domain in all culture. We create things that others can use and enjoy, and we also use or enjoy the things others have created. The things we create often last far longer than our actual lives and that's why culture is so valuable; it's accumulative. The current generation has many more options for fun and learning than did previous generations; that's progress. What you create is entirely up to you; your choices of input and tools and creative domains will all help shape your output, whether it's a computer program, a new theory, a knitted hat, a carved statue, a story for kids, a scientific paper or a choreographed dance.


Culture is also about interaction with others; we build things together, play music together, exhibit our creations, share our knowledge, skills and abilities with groups as well as individuals.  

A species can't develop interpersonal culture safely unless it first comprehends its relationship to its environment; in our case this planet, each other, and where beneficial opportunities and harmful dangers truly lie for our species. If we don't have this understanding, we replace culture with society and instead of creating orchestras and study groups and working with each other to learn and have fun, we start creating gangs and institutions and corporations that work against each other. Instead of developing safe, sustainable technology we develop harmful, resource-depleting technology and drop ourselves in the crap bigtime, as we are currently doing. Because reality goes on, regardless of whether we interact with it or are conditioned by society to ignore it and 'behave as though' it doesn't exist.


Your personal choices in creative input will modify your personal choices in output; if you listen to a particular style of music or spend a lot of time viewing a particular style of painting, and you play an instrument or paint pictures, you will tend to perform in the style you are most accustomed to. This all works well and leads to beneficial progress only if you are self-selecting your input from culture (rather than from society) and genuinely do enjoy the stuff you are exploring. If you have no choice in input, or you just copy others or expose yourself to input randomly, any creative endeavors will reproduce that style even if you dislike it, because the system can only process output using given input data. If input is impoverished, you won't be adding anything to culture; your products will be copying stuff designed to make money rather than created to benefit your health.



Culture has a natural tendency to improve the quality of its products over time. This happens because the system will take in whatever it is given in open mode, and when it switches to closed mode it will create more of the same with personal variations. Personal variations is how our species learned to create a better hut, a better bow, a better boat, a better theory and a better picture. The products of culture don't aim for quantity, because culture is dynamic; a better design replaces an older one, and a better idea corrects an inaccurate theory. The products of culture aim at quality rather than quantity because it's about our survival and thriving as individuals as well as a species.


Societies' products focus on quantity rather than quality; if you aim to make money it is 'better' to make fifty cheap throwaway chairs than one quality chair that will last several lifetimes and is comfortable and looks beautiful. It is 'better' to have fresh news headlines every day, regardless of whether they are true. Society depends on sameness and routine in its pattern of repetitive changes, via everybody doing things in the same established ways and paying attention to the same given input. Culture however depends on invention and innovation – we are constantly looking for how to do things in better ways, sometimes even when society makes them illegal.


Input control for cultural development (which means your personal development as well as others you share it with) relies on your choices, but that means opening yourself up to what the choices really are, rather than accepting whatever is thrown at you for input by radio shows, social media and TV. These technologies are not really cultural tools (although they could be). The internet and libraries are better media for accessing culture, although navigating through nonsense is still necessary in both cases to get to the useful stuff.  

Creativity is an essential part of mental development and we are all inherently creative beings. However, there is being creative and there is doing creative. We all regularly BE creative; we think up creative excuses, lies, explanatory stories and new ways to procrastinate or avoid hassle. But not so many of us DO creative; it's all very well to have new ideas but how do you express your ideas? It's one thing thinking, 'I wonder if mayonnaise tastes nice mixed with avocado?' but it's another thing entirely to mix them together and find out. 


Both the amount and the quality of your personal creative output are influenced by your choices of input very strongly. If there is sparse input, there isn't much creative inspiration, if there is wrong input, some of the things we create are likely to be unpleasant or harmful. Whatever you are receptive to today, this will shape your creativity tomorrow. Input shapes output; the system doesn't know how to do anything else. It must assume that whatever you give it via the senses is enough to imagine an accurate representation of what's out there and what you're planning to do with it. 

Feeding a system good input is a matter of removing anxiety, seeking out what beneficial stuff you honestly enjoy, and exposing the senses to it. Approaching new stuff in open mode speeds the learning process.


When you make your input choices for personal entertainment, focus on quality. Forget what everyone else is doing or what's supposed to be in fashion or trendy at the moment, and consider yourself as an individual. Explore human culture from around the world. There's a lot of beneficial stuff you would maybe not look for or listen to (for examples, how many different areas of the world produce what they call 'classical' music, and how do these differ? View a broad range of fine art pictures from around the world and choose which ones you'd like to look at regularly.) Once you've done some exploring and had the experience, you can choose your favorite input from a global (rather than parochial) perspective. In the same way, exploring different crafts and hobbies enables you to make personally educated choices focusing on your own genuine enjoyment rather than joining in activities thoughtlessly 'because everybody else is doing it'.  

Finally, remember that our interests and ideas are dynamic, therefore what you enjoy will change over time. Novelty and trying different things is thus important for input. Everything you play with, explore and experience will teach you something.

your mind 

Your mind is your self and mind control is self control. Self control is not hard wired and is learned just like any other skill. The fastest way to learn it is to hang out with others who have good self control and who value self control. 

You can also build this skill by using role models (in real life or stories) who demonstrate and value self-control, and avoiding input of those with poor control skills (those folks who regularly 'wobble out' or 'lose it'). Ultimately, cultivating self-control as a personal value and norm may be critical to using and developing it, regardless of age or past experience. It has to matter to you, and that requires self esteem.


Remember, control is not restriction. People with good self control are not the non-smokers or the teetotalers among us; they are those who are able to have two pints of beer and then stop, or one cigar a year, or one chocolate a day. They are the people who only eat when hungry, who sleep when they are tired, who work when they feel like it. They are not the people who don't take drugs; they are the people who can direct their drug use for optimal fun and least damage.  

Learning and memory are not single-stage processes, and separate memory subprocesses like formation and recall can be enhanced by different brain states. The one major input manipulation which triggers these brain states is novelty. Novelty detection acts like a switch, changing how the brain learns and remembers. Your ability to learn something doesn't just depend on the strength of the memory, it depends on the state that you're in. The idea is to stretch your mind, not to strain it.[36] 

Your mind is your system, and if you want to keep it healthy with input control, it loves new stuff. And it prefers new stuff that is in its current goldilocks zone - just a little bit (but not too much) mind-stretching.


A key piece to maintaining cognitive function throughout adulthood is to engage in diverse activities regularly. Interactive and engaged lifestyles with diverse and regular activities are essential for our mental health. Daily engagement results in greater accumulation of skills both manual and intellectual. Conversely, a lack of activities or passive behavior, like binge watching TV or doing repetitive tasks, is associated with cognitive decline.


where do you get your ideas from/

As mentioned above, choices in lifestyle (like choices in everything) mean nothing unless we know the facts about what is beneficial to us or harmful to us. Your intellectual education and awareness are your responsibility, so what input do you choose to get your information and ideas from?




Although sharing cultural knowledge is the foundation of our evolutionary success, we currently live in a time of a mangled, misunderstood and unreliable mass of information, superstition, gossip, rumor, lies and ever more complicated self-contradictory 'news'. Thus it is for many of us a major challenge to decide what to believe and what to reject; what matters, and what doesn't; what's real, and what isn't. Too much credulity and we can waste a lot of time on baseless conspiracy theories, fake science, cons, bullshit or superstitions; not enough credulity and we can waste a lot of time ignoring stuff that matters and being ignorant of dangers, or taking unnecessary risks. Gullibility and credulity are modulated by how we habitually think, and by the level of proof we need before accepting information as valid.

Our ways of thinking are indeed habits of thought, and they can be changed or moderated volitionally or by conditioning. In most face-to-face communication, and also during reading, watching or listening, our threshold of 'acceptance as true' without proof is fairly low, as the unconscious assumes that most people we will choose to pay attention to will be intelligent and behave in a sensible, honest and respectful way. (Otherwise, it reasons, why would we be choosing to pay attention to them?) Of course, for many people this is not always so; others often want to manipulate us due to anxiety.  

Hopefully you are already aware that not everything you hear, are taught, read or conclude is true. There are countless ways people have been misled, fooled and hoaxed, sometimes for a joke, but more often for anxiety-based reasons of greed, antipathy or insecurity. 

Many of us are also subject to our own anxiety-driven 'confirmation bias'. This begins when we get stuck at one phase of development and fear change; we tend to accept dubious information that supports our current beliefs and are more inclined to reject valid information that challenges our current beliefs. Whilst it is true that training in critical thinking helps us to be less gullible and less easily manipulated, high IQ alone does not confer immunity to bullshit. People with high cognitive ability are just as likely to believe in conspiracies and paranormal phenomena as people with lower cognitive ability unless there is also a motivation to be rational and an absence of anxiety.[37]


Looking for truth in all the right places - making a habit of checking NH sources

The sheer complexity of biology and most particularly of brains and minds tends to put most people off studying them. Human biology generally, and neuroscience specifically, can seem dauntingly complicated and confusing if you're a newbie. Internet sites of dubious veracity do not help, as they spread all sorts of nonsense and myths about brains, minds, psychology and biochemistry. On top of this, one should always remember that today's internet is first and foremost a portal for other people trying to sell you stuff, including their own ideologies or 'mind products'. The internet CAN be a great source for scientific evidence, but only if you get into the habit of looking in the right places. 

This IS a habit, which must at first be practiced deliberately until it becomes automatic to go seeking the truth in the places where you can be most certain it is true. Ultimately this saves a lot of time (the time not spent wading through BS to get to the facts). 

Forget 'news' articles. Journalists generally know very little about neuroscience. Scientific knowledge is sometimes reproduced accurately in journalism but is most often reinterpreted and sensationalized and its meaning is frequently lost in translation. Highly technical language will be changed not just to more common phrases but also more evocative or sensational descriptions. Titles about experiments on mice or flies may be replaced with headlines and images that make the subjects appear more related to human experimentation or applications, even though this isn't the case. Important information in the original source paper may be reinterpreted, modified and even ignored altogether depending on what a journalist understands or chooses to present. 

All this leaves ordinary readers to try to work out what is probably accurate and what isn't. To do so requires people to read like a scientist—but without the same training. There are however some key things that you can do to avoid bullshit, spot when science is being reported in a misleading or inaccurate way, and get to what the evidence really shows. 

The first thing to do is simply be aware of how journalists misinterpret things. Understand how information in the original source may be reinterpreted, modified and even ignored altogether depending on what the journalist understands or chooses to present. Publications dedicated to science (such as 'Nature' or 'The Lancet' have a reputation to maintain, and are unlikely to publish BS or fake science (although it has been known to happen). 

Next, know what to look for. Look for a reference or a link to the original source of the information in whatever you're reading, like the ones provided in this text.[38] 

If there isn't one, don't trust the information. If there is one, it's more likely that the journalist has seen the original research but that doesn't mean s/he understands what it does and doesn't mean. So go to the source of the information. 

Third, check the source. If it doesn't give a name (of the actual human/s who wrote the paper), don't trust it. Don't be content with the name of some university or company you've never heard of; universities do not write papers; companies do not write papers; human beings write papers. If it gives a name, look up the name. Is the author the same person who did the actual research? 

Next, try to find out who funded the research and where it took place. All this information will be in legitimate papers and the references of legitimate science journals. Genuine scientific papers also list their own references. 

Of course, often the original science papers are not accessible unless you pay for them, although open source access is improving. If you come up against a paywall, use the keywords for the subject of the inaccessible paper to search for other open access papers on the same subject. Science is international, and often, several groups are researching the same area at the same time; chances are you'll discover at least one open source paper on the subject.


When it comes down to judging certainty of knowledge, different types of experiments give more or less dependable evidence. Evidence is roughly 'anything presented in support of an assertion'. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth or falsehood of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in 'circumstantial' evidence.  

In science there is broad agreement on the relative strength of the principal types of research. The design of the study and the endpoints measured affect the strength of the evidence.




Experimental evidence, presented in Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) ranks at the top while 'expert opinion' and anecdotal experience (the usual scientific source used in news stories) is way down the bottom of the reliability list and considered as poor evidence. Even if you're uncertain what the scientific terms mean, developing the habit of using them as keywords when looking for the best sources will help you discern from personal experience what you should and shouldn't trust. Simply typing 'research' before any subject you explore will improve the quality of your results. 

Scientists and detectives work in similar ways, both try to solve puzzles and hunt out truths from available evidence. So put on your 'Sherlock Holmes' hat when looking for genuine news and don't waste time spreading rumors, gossip and lies. Most sources aren't deliberately trying to con you – they're just dumb. 

Things not even to be considered as evidence: Social media posts, journalists' articles, mainstream science magazines/websites, anything without sources, anything with dubious sources, mainstream news, TV, religious or political sites, stuff authored by anybody trying to sell anything or clock up more visits to their website, surveys, newspapers, websites with adverts, popular magazines, what your mate thinks, what some celebrity said, what some stranger told you in a bar. 

Sensationalist news is a system hack, designed to grab your attention via emotional cues that make you release hormones prompting reactions, so once again your control and direction of your own attention is the key to success. Stop paying attention to bullshit, and your time is your own to seek out genuine information without getting any unwanted unhealthy hormonal hacking.


Using reframing to avoid media influence

'Media frames' are selective storylines intended to sway decisions or public opinion, often with provocative emotional words or images. The power of framing comes from defining the terms of a debate without the audience realizing it has occurred.


Being aware of frames reduces our vulnerability to them. Once we can recognize frames and framing techniques, they lose their power, we are immune, and we can focus on the arguments, not the frame.  

Frames in information occur in several formats; the most popular listed below: 

We're ok, they're not ok (news presented in an 'us versus them' framework). 

Cooperation and making friends with everyone (news presented in terms of bridging gaps between diverse groups). 

Competition for who's the best leader (news presented in a display of power or dominance). 

Correlation as cause and effect (news presented framing one thing as causing another without proof). 

Baddies, Victims and Heroes (news presented using archetypal characterizations that invoke emotion).


All of these frameworks attempt to create deliberate emotional responses and automatic unproven assumptions. By framing news itself in the context of the test questions above, it becomes easier to spot sensationalism even when it's subtle, and to spot adverts pretending to be scientific articles. You will notice how frequently different sources use framing, and choosing the sources that don't use the technique at all is a good guide to genuine information. You will also notice how in times of crisis, multiple frames are used together. 

So, choose a piece of news. Any news. Ask yourself the following 'test questions' about it: 

1 What is the main message of this piece of information?

2 At whom is it targeted?

3 Do you find it convincing? 

4 Why or why not?

5 What values are evident?

6 Are there counter-frames?

7 What framing techniques are used? 

Where you get your ideas from shapes what you end up believing and what you end up deciding. Controlling this domain saves a lot of wasted time.

your life path

You may think that many peoples lack of curiosity or creativity as adults is due to getting 'stuck in a rut'; always being in familiar surroundings doing mundane, familiar things where there's not much in life to get excited about, but this thought betrays a false belief - you have fallen into the trap of believing your current everyday lifestyle to be 'life in the real world'.  

This is a fully conscious belief and one that most people conform to on a regular basis because it seems to make sense - if we are not deluded, not in some drug-befuddled haze, not in a computer simulation, and not asleep and dreaming, then we are clearly currently living in and experiencing 'the real world'. There is nowhere else to be!


The trouble is, your own unconscious awareness disagrees with this. Intelligence has been evolving for such a long time, collecting experiential, adaptational information about hard facts in the real world, and programming our systems accordingly. The unconscious knows very well what the real world is, and the real world consists of rocks, mountains, animals, oceans, rivers, forests, stars, stuff humans have made (artistic, architectural, scientific) and archetypal behaviors; ways of doing things. Yet while it accepts stuff we have made as being 'real', it does not accept stuff we have made up as being real at all.

That doesn't mean it finds our lifestyles unacceptable per se; it simply believes (on the basis of shitloads of evidence over millions of years) that anything not relevant to human development - or most particularly, anything getting in the way of human development - should be avoided or removed. To the unconscious, many of us spend most of our time in an artificial construct, not in the real world. That's why there's always a background tension there, an almost-conscious uneasiness which disappears when you walk into a secluded, sunny glade, or sit by the ocean looking at the waves or clouds, or hang out in a pleasant garden for more than a couple of minutes.


'NOW I'm in the real world', thinks the unconscious, 'and nothing is hassling me', and everything makes absolute sense so the system starts to initiate repair, growth and development programs. ...But then your 'phone rings (or whatever) and conscious thought immediately takes up all the processing capacity; the system shifts back into protection/defense mode whilst conscious awareness deals with what it believes is the 'real world'. Once again any chance to relax further is stolen away, and intelligence development goes 'on hold' for another hour or two... or eight...  

This constant distraction by stuff initiating protection mode is the cause of people's lack of curiosity and creativity. It's very tiring doing stuff biology isn't meant to be doing. There's no energy or time left for play (i.e., for development). 

The tension between what the unconscious mind believes we need to be doing and what the conscious mind believes we are meant to be doing is, as I have said, the cause of many of our present ills. This is also incongruity. Our unconscious and conscious mind should be in agreement about what is really going on 'out there'. When they are not, we have incongruity and all sorts of problems result. 

The important thing to grasp is that a lot of our chemistry is automatic and unconscious, and has no choice but to obey natural rules or 'programs'. We can mask the symptoms of problems (like, taking a painkiller) but we cannot remove the underlying cause of the problems, which comes down to human nature unconsciously trying to do what it's designed to do, whilst being blocked from doing so in many conscious areas. 

Regardless of whatever type of society we live in, the unconscious cannot, on its own, abstract from material physical domains; thus it cannot compute what any artificial construct wants; it only knows what the real world is and what biology needs and it bases all of its interactions and responses on those needs. If our society were congruous with our biology, no problem would arise, because being 'a good person' (unconsciously) means taking care of yourself and your loved ones and being responsible for yourself and your environment. Biology has no arguments with this lifestyle regardless of the ideological details behind it, because it is fully in agreement and compatible with system needs. Immersed in a congruous system, we are civilized, but not domesticated. 

But we don't have a society that is congruous with our biology, and that's nobody's fault; we haven't had enough knowledge about biology until now to start developing one. The industrial societies we've inherited tend to present a stereotype of the 'ideal person' defined in their own terms; ie, the 'ideal' person dedicates themselves to serving society and its needs, rather than their own biological and environmental needs. This puts a load of stress on the unconscious, and it is an ever-increasing load. 

The stressors of everyday requirements in western-type societies have increased substantially over the past 25 years and affect most of us. The current demands of school, work, marriage, religion, healthcare, welfare, politics, law, bureaucracy and infrastructure are increasing and enduring. Those who attempt to meet them all earnestly, strict conformists, are society's 'ideal people'. This is however a path unwise to take, because research shows as strict conformists grow older, society's 'ideal people' start to unravel. They become more neurotic, more prone to insecurity, pessimism, worry and anxiety; and less conscientious, organized, optimistic and creative. Burnout seems inevitable as they age, leaving them more unstable and less diligent, and that's a shortcut to senility we should avoid as far as possible. 

The issue here is not that domestication and conditioning could affect us if we're not careful, but that it has already happened. Think about it. People have to live in the way "society" requires because if they don't, they're going to get loads of hassle, which itself is bad for health. Everything they do is then dictated by an underlying chronic fear of abandonment and the demands of growing debt. They will have to go to school, get a job, get a mortgage, have a car, drown themselves in consumer goods, and make 'enough money' to survive for the rest of their lives, and preferably also find the time to have kids and keep society's supply chain of workers going. They will worry about what they can afford and what they cannot, what other people think of them, what their societal status is, whether they have enough insurance, and often, about whether they can conform sufficiently to all these demands without running up huge medical bills, getting hooked on drugs or going mental. Every time they don't conform, they'll feel anxious. However, if they deny their unconscious biological needs, they'll feel anxious. That's a noodle-baker and no mistake. 

The problem is self-perpetuating, as people are 'wired' by domestication to be insecure and utterly dependent on and controlled by their inherited society, just as we wanted animals to be dependent on and obedient to their owners. Domesticated minds can't comprehend the third option to strategize for personal survival; without that 'supporting' society they believe that they would fail.


This explains a lot of what you see around you in terms of behavior and motives. Most people's actions are controlled by the society of self-domestication they inherited from their ancestors, they live in fear of being abandoned by it and they can't compute a way out, yet most feel like they don't really connect; don't really belong to anything, don't really care much that they have no more true autonomy than a lab rat. People's minds are already hacked, and anyone who doesn't learn how to take back control ends up cheated out of developmental experience, prevented from growing a complete intelligence, and blocked from having free will, for the whole of their lives.  

A dysfunctional system cannot detect a dysfunctional system, so most folks try to find an escape from the resulting anxiety via self-medication; they may choose Prozac or cannabis or alcohol or cigarettes or social media or just constantly keep acquiring more and more consumer goods, but somehow peace of mind always eludes them. A few fight desperately to try to "make it better" via politics or religion, and finally senility makes them forget anything ever felt wrong. 

We find it easy to see the polarity of choices in conforming or not conforming, but this is cognitive dissonance at work once again. In real life there is of course the third option – which we need congruity to compute. Exposure to a dysfunctional environment and behavior, not just in our youth and childhood, but for most of our lives, prevents parts of our brains from wiring up as they were originally designed to, and this domestication conditioning seriously interferes with our intelligence, consequently we fail to comprehend this third option; the green zone. Immerse yourself in good input sufficiently, and you'll become resilient to society's pressures. Immerse yourself in culture and beneficial behaviors, and you'll be avoiding harmful input. Do more in the real world, and bring more of the real world into your space. 

Right now, just take a moment to enjoy and appreciate how fortunate you are to know how to change things; to take control of your attention and mode-state; to remove conditioning and enrich experience with input control; to build the busses that establish full congruity. The skills of NH are metaskills; not applicable in just intellect or creativity or memory, but also in the quality and quantity of your whole life experience. 

Certainly take conditioning seriously; it's public enemy number one if you value your mental health. But don't overreact and just 'drop out'; plan your life-transformation strategy stage by stage to move away from harmful behaviors and toward healthy behaviors, from impoverished environments to enriched ones, from what other people want to what you need. Start building connections in your brain and you'll start making connections between ideas. In short, take control of your own life path and direct your own behaviors. YOU are the Captain. Start governing your own ship!


Building resilience – control of the effect input can have on you

This takes us beyond physical sensory input control and into processing-based hacking. Once you have successfully used reframing you will have enough experience to do this. 

A simple way to frame resilience is as 'physical and mental immunity'. There are two types of resilience in physical immunity; transferred resilience and acquired resilience. Transferred resilience comes from breastfeeding, where samples of antibodies from the feeders' lifetimes are transferred directly to the baby's database of samples. Some vaccinations also work like this. The system doesn't have to make the antibodies itself. 

Acquired resilience depends on how much practice the system gets with exposure to required input, it uses the hormesis subroutine, and thus can happen both accidentally and on purpose. Sufficient exposure to small amounts of a toxin or pathogen allows the system to figure out how to build antibodies to that threat. We thus acquire immunity to disease by exposing the system to small amounts of pathogens. In the physical domain the pathogens are the 'required input'. It is important this exposure remains in the green zone -i.e., sufficient for the system to sample without overwhelming it, or infection/poisoning will result. Too few pathogens, on the other hand, will be insufficient for antibody samples to be made and we remain prone to infection.


The 'required input' in hormesis may be a tiny dose of toxin, exposure to heat or cold, exercise, or exposure therapy for some phobias (to, for example, heights or spiders). But resilience has just the same function in abstract domains such as emotional chemistry, creative endeavor, intellectual challenge, executive decision or problem-solving.  

Resilience is the underlying requirement for emotional control, a skill that eludes many. Control of emotional responses gives you automatic control of memory (because memory is automatically 'weighted' by emotional responses).


Resilience research explores why some people succeed at doing better, and for longer, in terms of their emotional and cognitive health, despite adversity. Such people can achieve post-traumatic growth and increased resilience while others in the same circumstances suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and lowered resilience.  

When experience is weighted by a strong emotional response (for example a nasty shock), the resulting memory is determined by the presence or absence of anxiety. If anxiety is present, the experience will be over-weighted (the system is suffering an overload and going into fight or flight). If anxiety is removed, the memory is weighted correctly and used for reconsolidating memory, assisting learning and awareness. If attention is removed, the memory is under-weighted and we fail to learn and don't increase resilience or awareness. 

Being sufficiently resilient to prevent emotional shock from over-weighting memory enables appropriately weighted input for categorization and storage (and thus, further learning). Obviously therefore, it's a very useful technique to master. 

The trick for increasing resilience is to 'bounce back' from something challenging by engaging mode-switching into open mode as soon as possible. It's a positive response process to any type of challenge or adversity, and to do it you need to be able to notice stressors as they affect you, then direct your own behavior to deliberately invoke open mode. You need regular experience of doing this to become adept at it, using low-grade stressors for practice (find something you know stresses you slightly, confront it, then do the mode-shift.)


A healthy sense of perspective on events comes much faster when you practice this, as does greater learning from mistakes. The thing to be 'removed' from the experience is not the memory of stressors or trauma, but the anxiety which gives it the wrong weighting; this is what engaging open mode can quell. Once anxiety is reduced, frontal processing resumes, memories are reconsolidated with correct weighting, and practical learning proceeds along with increased resilience.



People who frame control as restriction often believe that resilience comes if you try to "tough it out" through bad situations. This is not true. In acquiring resilience you are not required to seek out traumas to regularly expose yourself to! What you are required to do is get the 'goldilocks zone' exposure to stressors; just enough and not too much exposure to things that stress you; just like the 'small doses' of pathogens that train the immune system. The choice of input to achieve this will be unique to the individual, since different things are stressful to different people. You should be aware enough at this stage to know what sort of things tend to stress you out.


Remember, the details don't matter. All you are practicing is the technique of responding to a stressful event with a mode-shift to open mode. That little subroutine is all you need achieve, sufficiently often, in order to build mental resilience.

Some people find their unconscious has been trying to initiate this process for them. For example, some of us get drunk or party after hearing bad news, to 'cushion the blow' (which it does; memory weighting of traumatic events is impeded by alcohol and some drugs). It is best to practice building resilience without the drugs, as this leads to more personal control, but if you ordinarily reduce anxiety with substances on a regular basis, begin practice in your usual state.  

Newbies to resilience-building should begin with resilience in concrete domains before progressing to abstract domains. Obviously, don't attempt this technique if you can't readily switch to open mode. Get the hang of mode switching first, then vary the conditions and contexts you are able to mode shift in. Keep your practice light hearted and fun – see whether you can mode-shift when drunk, during a complicated discussion, somewhere very hot or bloody freezing, or in a disco. 

Once you are able to master this, you have volitional control over how input affects you. When you can hack memory-weighting, you can direct the system for optimal development and learning. 

Summary of this section

The epidemic of conformism in modern western societies is a serious, even deadly, problem if not addressed, because conformism is robustly linked in research to anxiety, depression, suicide and dementia.


Society's 'ideal person' is a myth and TV/social media is its storyteller. We need to remain aware that a life path which fulfils biological needs shapes our degree of success and our mental health status throughout our lives.


Evolution has developed an embodied dynamic system over a vast (to us) period of time via constantly adapting programs in response to interaction between the organism and the environment. 

Every organism has an unconscious 'life path' partly shaped by its generic biological needs and partly shaped by its individual environmental experiences. All humans are biologically prompted by drives to fulfil biological needs, but the ways we provide for them will vary. 

The details of how we choose to live and behave is our conscious life path, but it is always modulated by unconscious biological needs. Ignoring them leads to biological decline, and since we rely on biology to keep us alive, this is always a path to failure. The art (and science) of maintaining a beneficial, successful and enjoyable life path consists of knowing what biology needs and providing it with the highest quality input you can find. 

This relies on your control of your own attention much more than it relies on external input, because the best input in the universe is useless if you don't pay attention to it and interact with it. Paying attention in the correct operational mode is the core of input control.


Regardless of where exactly anyone's development got stuck, taking control of your system means making informed choices and doing informed behaviors that beneficially signal your genome. Taking deliberate control of your input in all the above domains can significantly shift your system in terms of self-direction and further development, which in turn improves your executive skills, your performance and your reasoning, leading to better strategies.  

Success in life also relies on your control of your own behavior, obviously, and that's output control. Output control requires emotional awareness, so that's what I'll be looking at in the next chapter. The events that most affect our life path, our goals and aims, our beliefs and thoughts, our memories and our plans, are shaped profoundly by our own internal emotional responses in interactions with other people, places and things, rather than by the external people, places and things themselves.

Prioritize happiness

Control helps you prioritize long-term goals despite potential distractions and if you practice self-control, this will usually result in a happier and more successful life. However, your capacity to experience pleasure and enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.[39] 

While trying to enjoy something or relax, some of us are distracted by thoughts about things we feel we should be doing instead. For example, when lying around watching movies we might keep thinking of the exercise we are not getting or the tasks that still need to be done. Thoughts about conflicting long-term goals can undermine our goal to experience happiness; to relax and enjoy life. Thus it is important to find the right balance between fun and learning for you personally through experience. Stuff that enables both is obviously a great option. 

Consider your life path from the perspective of your goals. If your priorities are things like mental health, life satisfaction, benefiting your planet, fulfilling relationships, creativity, long life, high quality information and experience, having fun and learning, etc., strategize for your future with your own personal particular priorities and goals in mind, including happiness, fun and enjoyment. None of these goals requires special abilities or money, and they all bring success in other domains of life. So pay attention to what makes you most happy and causes you least hassle. Take control of your life path. It's your life!





Refs chapter 4


1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21300864

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Rogers

3 http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf9j49p2mt/dsc/

4 http://www.brainstages.com/

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Chilton_Pearce

6 http://www.continuum-concept.org/

7 http://joseph-ledoux.com/pages/researchpaper.html

8 Joaquín García-Alandete; Does Meaning in Life Predict Psychological Well-Being? https://ejcop.psychopen.eu/article/view/27/html AND https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054139X04004392

9 Ana P. Crestani et al, Metaplasticity contributes to memory formation in the hippocampus, Neuropsychopharmacology (2018).

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10 Sinisa Hrvatin et al, Single-cell analysis of experience-dependent transcriptomic states in the mouse visual cortex, Nature Neuroscience (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41593-017-0029-5 AND "Single-cell analysis reveals diverse landscape of genetic changes in the brain after a sensory experience" February 8, 2018 


11 "Researchers identify neural signatures of explicit and implicit learning" October 12, 2017 


12 Paraphrased from the words of Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, 1874

13 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commissural_fiber AND https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocampal_commissure

14 Bradley Laflamme et al, The pan-genome effector-triggered immunity landscape of a host-pathogen interaction, Science (2020). DOI: 10.1126/science.aax4079  

15 G.L. Moseley et al., “Psychologically induced cooling of a specific body part caused by the illusory ownership of an artificial counterpart,” PNAS , 105:13169-73, 2008. AND N. Barnsley et al., “The rubber hand illusion increases histamine reactivity in the real arm,” Curr Biol , 21:R945-R946, 2011. AND L.D. Walsh et al., “Proprioceptive signals contribute to the sense of body ownership,” J Physiol , 589:3009-21, 2011. AND B. Lenggenhager et al.,. “Video Ergo Sum: Manipulating bodily self-consciousness,” 

Science , 317:1096-99, 2007

16 http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_strogatz_on_sync.html

17 Marder E, Bucher D (2001). "Central pattern generators and the control of rhythmic movements". Curr Biol 11: R986-R996. doi:10.1016/S0960-9822(01)00581-4

18 Fries P (2001). "A mechanism for cognitive dynamics: neuronal communication through neuronal coherence". TICS 9: 474–480. AND Fell J, Axmacher N (2011). "The role of phase synchronization in memory processes". Nat Rev Neurosci 12: 105–118. AND Schnitzler A, Gross J (2005). "Normal and pathological oscillatory communication in the brain". Nat Rev Neurosci 6 (4): 285–296. doi:10.1038/nrn1650. PMID 15803160 AND Singer W (1993). "Synchronization of cortical activity and its putative role in information processing and learning". Annu Rev Physiol 55: 349–374. doi:10.1146/annurev.ph.55.030193.002025. PMID 8466179 AND Fries P (2001). "A mechanism for cognitive dynamics: neuronal communication through neuronal coherence". TICS 9: 474–480. AND Schnitzler A, Gross J (2005). "Normal and pathological oscillatory communication in the brain". Nat Rev Neurosci 6 (4): 285–296. doi:10.1038/nrn1650. PMID 15803160

19 http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/07/mind-meld-enables-good-conversat.html

20 The astonishing power of sync -edited footage with Bohemian Rhapsody as soundtrack


21 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarm_behavior 

22 Carl Sagan, Psychology Today;Jan 1996

23 Odin Hjemdal et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Metacognitive Therapy for Depression: Analysis of 1-Year Follow-Up, Frontiers in Psychology (2019). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01842 AND Roger Hagen et al. Metacognitive Therapy for Depression in Adults: A Waiting List Randomized Controlled Trial with Six Months Follow-Up, Frontiers in Psychology (2017). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00031 AND Hans M. Nordahl et al, Paroxetine, Cognitive Therapy or Their Combination in the Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder with and without Avoidant Personality Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (2016). DOI: 10.1159/000447013

24 Adrian Wells. Breaking the Cybernetic Code: Understanding and Treating the Human Metacognitive Control System to Enhance Mental Health, Frontiers in Psychology (2019). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02621 AND Breaking thought patterns increases chances of recovering from depression

25 Robert Körner et al, Powerful and confident children through expansive body postures? A preregistered study of fourth graders, School Psychology International (2020). DOI: 10.1177/0143034320912306

26 Sian Beilock et al. Sports Experience Enhances the Neural Processing of Action Language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences., September 2, 2008 AND "Playing, And Even Watching, Sports Improves Brain Function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2008. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080901205631.htm

27 Variation in bitter receptor mRNA expression affects taste perception AND Laura E Martin et al, Bitter-Induced Salivary Proteins Increase Detection Threshold of Quinine, But Not Sucrose, Chemical Senses (2019). DOI: 10.1093/chemse/bjz021 AND Qiao-Ping Wang et al. PGC1α Controls Sucrose Taste Sensitization in Drosophila, Cell Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.03.044

28 Mirta Galesic et al. A sampling model of social judgment., Psychological Review (2018). DOI: 10.1037/rev0000096

29 Butterworth, P, Leach, L, McManus, S et al 2013, 'Common mental disorders, unemployment and psychosocial job quality: is a poor job better than no job at all?', Psychological Medicine, vol. 43, no. 8, pp. 1763-1772. https://researchers.anu.edu.au/publications/74687 AND Implications of work effort and discretion for employee well-being and career-related outcomes: an integrative assessment: openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/20071 AND  Task significance and meaningful work: A longitudinal study

30 Toni-Lee Sterley et al. Social transmission and buffering of synaptic changes after stress, Nature Neuroscience (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41593-017-0044-6

31 Joan K. Monin et al. Longitudinal Associations Between Cognitive Functioning and Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adult Spouses in the Cardiovascular Health Study, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.jagp.2018.06.010 

32 Session 1205: "Parental Depressive Symptoms Over the Course of Treatment for Adolescent Depression," Poster Session, Saturday, Aug. 11, 9 a.m. PDT, Halls ABC Exhibition Level-South Building, Moscone Center, 747 Howard St., San Francisco, Calif.

33 Seeing you in me
Preliminary evidence for perceptual overlap between self and close others AND Male and female mice lacking Neuroligin-3 modify the behavior of their wild-type littermates, eNeuro, dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0145-17.2017 AND


34 https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/m-ysi043014.php

35 Amit Goldenberg et al. Beyond emotional similarity: The role of situation-specific motives., Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2019). DOI: 10.1037/xge0000625

36 "Think you know how to improve your memory? Think again" May 31, 2017 


37 Tomas Ståhl et al. Epistemic rationality: Skepticism toward unfounded beliefs requires sufficient cognitive ability and motivation to be rational, Personality and Individual Differences (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.10.026 ; "High cognitive ability not a safeguard from conspiracies, paranormal beliefs" November 14, 2017 https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-11-high-cognitive-ability-safeguard-conspiracies.html

38 http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-top-nhalib-neurohacking/37-cat-nh-basics/231-formal-reasoning-a-truth-detection-the-basics?showall=1 AND M. Laeeq Khan et al. Recognise misinformation and verify before sharing: a reasoned action and information literacy perspective, Behaviour & Information Technology (2019). DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2019.1578828 AND Gordon Pennycook et al. Lazy, not biased: Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained by lack of reasoning than by motivated reasoning, Cognition (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.06.011 AND Martin Flintham et al. Falling for Fake News, Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '18 (2018). DOI: 10.1145/3173574.3173950 AND Fatemeh Torabi Asr et al. Big Data and quality data for fake news and misinformation detection, Big Data & Society (2019). DOI: 10.1177/2053951719843310 AND "Detecting misinformation can improve memory later on" January 3, 2017 http://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-01-misinformation-memory.html AND "Pseudoscience and conspiracy theory are not victimless crimes against science." June 4th, 2015. http://phys.org/news/2015-06-pseudoscience-conspiracy-theory-victimless-crimes.html

39 Katharina Bernecker et al. Beyond Self-Control: Mechanisms of Hedonic Goal Pursuit and Its Relevance for Well-Being, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2020). DOI: 10.1177/0146167220941998

40 Neema Ghorbani Mojarrad; 'Researchers tackle mystery of short-sightedness increasing in children' The Conversation June 16, 2021 AND Myopia linked to poor sleep and screen time

41 Matthew Pears et al, The impact of sitting time and physical activity on mental health during COVID-19 lockdown, Sport Sciences for Health (2021). DOI: 10.1007/s11332-0

42 If you're an average Westerner, the answer is four.

43 Emily Lowthian et al, Adverse childhood experiences and child mental health: an electronic birth cohort study, BMC Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-021-02045-x Journal information: BMC Medicine







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