Pursuit of Happiness – Part 3

251A Victoria Street, Singapore 188035           www.yourmindstrategy.com

The Pursuit of Happiness
and the 10k Rule
(PART 3)

ow can consciousness be controlled?
Experience depends on how we invest psychic energy – on the structures
of attention. This is related
to goals and intentions. These processes are connected to each other by
the self or the dynamic mental representation we have of the entire
system of our goals.
Whenever information disrupts consciousness by threatening its goals we have a condition of inner disorder or psychic entropy. When something troubles our well-being or safety we use up attention on this threat and cannot pay attention to other areas of our life.

Every piece of information gets evaluated for its bearing on self.

  • Does it threaten your goals?
  • Does it support them?
  • Is it neutral?

What is the meaning we have assigned to this information?

When information is coming into awareness is congruent with your goals, psychic energy flows effortlessly. But whenever one stops to think, the evidence is encouraging. Positive feedback strengthens self and more attention is freed to deal with outer and inner environments.

How does someone committed to continuous learning and growth handle his responses regardless of whether he is a factory operator or a brain surgeon?

He will ask himself the following questions:

  • How can I beat my record?
  • How can I improve my performance?
  • He would work out painstaking moves on his routine and how to use his tools.

Following a flow experience, the internal organisation has become more complex than before. This complexity consists of differentiation and integration. While differentiation is the movement towards uniqueness, integration is the integration of autonomous parts. Flow helps to integrate self because in that state of deep concentration, consciousness is well ordered.

Thoughts, intentions, feelings and all the senses are focused on the same goal. Experience is in harmony. And when the flow episode is over, one feels more in harmony than before not only internally but also with respect to other people and to the world in general.

When you only have the differentiated self-great accomplishments often with self-centred egotism. When you have a self based on integration you can be connected and secure but lack autonomous individuality.

Only when you invest equally in the above do you have complexity.

Paradoxically when you act freely for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives that you learn to become more than what you were.

While much effort has been devoted to 10k rule as the forerunner of future success, no one has really paid attention to why an individual would spend so much of their time in developing those skill sets.

I would suggest that early in life they experienced enormous sense of pleasure, enjoyment, gratification and reward for excelling in that endeavour. We are back to “humans want to maximise their happiness”.

If the young person pursues this endeavour purely for the enjoyment they get from excelling, you get enduring world class performance.

If not, you get a well-trained competitor who does it for pure external gratification.

Witness the tale of two Olympic champions Joseph Schooling and Li Jiawei.
Joseph’s father remembered an episode when Schooling was just 8 years old. He woke his father up at 4am. The father asked him if he knew what time it was. He replied yes. He just couldn’t wait for his father to bring him for his morning swimming practice. Such was the determination of Schooling, wanting to swim and wanting to excel in swimming from a very young age.

In an interview in 2008, Li admitted that she didn’t like table tennis and did not play the game with passion. “I don’t like the game. I just did it when I was younger to condition my body,” she said. “Now it is my career and I have to face it.”

The American Junior Academy of Sciences which consisted of the highest IQ youngsters in America had a disproportionately low number of Nobel Laureates.

Let me tie it all back with the ongoing discussion I have had with D’Niel Strauss and Raymond Ng.

The layers of learning and growth:
    1) Unconscious incompetence

    2) Conscious incompetence

    3) Conscious competence

    4) Unconscious competence

    5) Reflective competence


the movement of the above often reflect core competencies that are often directly or indirectly related to the competencies acquired in the course of the 10k hours.

The levels of growth:

    1) Novice
    2) Apprentice
    3) Craftsman
    4) Master
    5) Grandmaster

The above levels correspond to your capacity to grow, to self- actualise and your desire to increase your personal quota of meaning, purpose and happiness. The journey whether you get there or not is what matters. If you want to succeed and be happy, you need to ascend the scale of ability. You have to become more complex.

Pursuit of Happiness – Part 2

251A Victoria Street, Singapore 188035           www.yourmindstrategy.com

The Pursuit of Happiness
and the 10k Rule
(PART 2)

asically the deep roots of discontent occurs because the Universe is not designed to make you happy.  Its basically neutral and sometimes even hostile and you
need to make your way through it to survive, succeed and prosper.

Maslow’s hierarchy of ascending needs increasingly comes into focus. In simpler times it was enough to have food to eat, a stable job and descendants. This amounted to having control of your life.

The different stages of Growth and development in a young persons life integrate all of the above:

Imprinting (age 0-7):The process of deep programming that occurs in a child. This often lays the foundation for future challenges.

Modelling (age 8-13): The young person models behaviour consciously and unconscious based on significant authority figures.

Socialisation (age 14-21): This is when the young person often embarks upon the training required to develop his 10k hours of competence. This is when you develop the macro and micro strategies that added up together constitute the 10k hours body of competence.

I will add one additional proviso that has to date been overlooked. Is the need to develop this body of competence internally driven or externally driven?

If it is internally driven, you will be driven by the need for higher levels of self-actualisation and flow. If it is externally driven, the moment you are sufficiently rewarded, you stop learning and growing.

So you can attempt to master yourself and your environment by problem solving as a solution. If you are overweight, you lose weight. If you feel your body is inadequate, you build muscle and glory briefly in that sense of achievement. Beyond a certain point though, you begin to realize this is not enough.

Some give up and have a little hobby. They give up on the merry go round of more, bigger and better. They end up collecting stamps for example.

Unless you reclaim experiencing your life and appreciate it you will always be a slave to either societal controls of what it means to be successful or your biological/instinctual urges towards pleasure seeking.

The paths of liberation were laid out in various texts. From the Delphic oracles “Know Thyself” to Aristotle’s “Virtuous activity of the soul”. Stoic philosophers in antiquity spoke about the dispassionate life. Christian monastic orders practiced a life of disciplined enquiry.

Freud preached the freedom from your id(biological drives) and superego(societal mores). This would give rise to the mature self aware ego.

Indian yoga focussed on physical and emotional discipline. The Taoism of the Chinese focussed on the naturalistic fashion of discipline without conformity. Buddhist Zen on the discipline of being in the moment. All these were earlier fruitful attempts towards optimal experience.

They increasingly do not offer codified solutions because wisdom is not cumulative. Control over consciousness is not a cognitive skill. It requires consistent practice. Knowledge must be reformulated. It cannot be institutionalised.

Mihaly proposed that what happens in the mind to be useful for daily living is a model called, “A phenomenological model of consciousness based on information theory”

Phenomenological… Deals directly with events – phenomena
This together with the principles of information theory constitutes his model.

Intentions are the force that keeps information in consciousness ordered.

Your limits of consciousness are that you can process seven plus or minus 2 bits of information at any one time. It takes 1/8 seconds to process between one set of bits. You can process 126 bits of info per second. This adds up to 7,560 bits per minute and about half a million bits of information per hour.

In a lifetime of 70 years, 16 hours waking time you would process 185 billion bits of information. To understand another, it takes 40 bits of information per second. So in theory you could understand 3 people at a time if you never held another thought in your head.

How you focus your attention determines your results in life. Your flexibility of attentional structures determines your capacity to direct your mind. For example Eskimo hunters can identify dozens types of snow and direction and speed of wind because this is directly relevant to their livelihood and their potential lifespan.


Pursuit of Happiness – Part 1

251A Victoria Street, Singapore 188035           www.yourmindstrategy.com

The Pursuit of Happiness
and the 10k Rule
(PART 1)

would like to bring a new slant to the 10k rule. This is based on the processes of what we now know about neurological development of a child, the mechanisms
of expertise and the concept of flow in the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience as proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology, University of Chicago.
This post has important implications for:
1) Parenting
2) Lifetime achievement
3) The real basis for the 10k rule

As humans we all want to maximise our pleasure and happiness and minimise our pain. My hypothesis is that the pursuit of happiness could lead to a lifetime of achievement and a plausible reason to invest 10k hours in pursuing a discipline.
The parental role in guiding this process  in their offspring is crucial and essential as in our latest Olympic champion Joseph Schooling. Aristotle more than 2300 years ago wrote that “More than anything else men and women seek happiness”.

Despite our progress and achievements, people end up feeling their lives are wasted. Instead of feeling more happiness, more people in first world countries spend their lives experiencing boredom and anxiety. People who learn to control their inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives.

JS Mill, wrote “Ask yourself if you are happy and you cease to be so” You find “happiness” by being involved in experiencing every detail of your life good or bad. You find happiness not by trying to look for it directly.

Viktor Frankl, in his seminal book “Man’s search for meaning”, wrote. “Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success like happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue…as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater then oneself”.

Optimal experience occurs at times when instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces you feel in control of your actions. You are master of your fate. That is when you feel exhilarated and experience a deep sense of enjoyment. It becomes a marker for what life should be like.

Consider the sailor when he is racing his little boat against the tide and he feels the thrill of the wind against his face and the exhilaration of his skill in controlling his destiny. Consider the enjoyment of a painter when he looks at what new art forms he has wrought on his canvas.

Optimal experience is not just reserved for pleasant things. It also occurs in concentration camps after surviving near death experiences At the epiphany of a beautiful sunset after you thought you were going to die but didn’t.

You get pleasure from passive, receptive relaxing times. However it is when you have pushed your body and mind in a voluntary effort to accomplish something worthwhile and difficult that you experience optimal experience. You can enhance your happiness through control over your life.

Everything in your life is basically information. If you control this information, you decide what your live will be like. Optimal state occurs when there is order in consciousness. When psychic energy is invested in realistic goals and skills match opportunities for action.

Flow is when consciousness is ordered and you go after whatever you want, to pursue it for its own sake. How people respond to stress determines whether they profit from misfortune or are miserable. Those who use that stressor to grow and learn will look back at that period in retrospect and enjoy those moments of triumph. Those who felt overwhelmed will experience the quality of their lives and their abilities shrink after the event.

To deal with obstacles, culture develops protective devices like religion, philosophies, arts and comforts. This has been your shield from chaos. However this shield is increasingly wearing thin in the face of rapidly changing social contexts. It is getting harder and harder for people to believe in a benign deity that orders the universe for your convenience.

Trying to achieve happiness without any sort of faith,  results in another extreme.  This is to maximise biologically programmed pleasures or those deemed attractive by society you live in. But your quality of life cannot be improved this way. Only direct control of experience, the ability to derive moment by moment experience in everything you do results in optimal experience according to the research by Professor Mihaly. Only as you successfully and purposefully overcome obstacles to fulfilment do you approach the basis for optimal experience.