Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Every City Has A Word

In "Eat Pray Love", Elizabeth Gilbert has gathered some interesting ideas -- one of them is that each city has a word. That is, each major city has a word that defines the undercurrent or essence of that city and its general inhabitants. For instance, Rome is SEX -- it is a city of relationships and delicious food and sensual sculpture and architecture, and people go to Rome to live a life of the senses. New York City is ACHIEVE, whereas Los Angeles is SUCCEED, which are very different things. Brussels is CONFORM.

In this same fashion, each individual has a word that describes their core essence. When someone's word does not match up with the city he or she lives in, that city may not be the city to stay in. My word might be YEARN or IMPROVE. What is yours?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Quantum Decisions

In quantum mechanics, the characteristics of a subatomic entity is fluid until the point where it is observed and measured. Until that moment, this entity is a possibility -- a probability wave, some have called it. When a measurement is taken, past and future coalesce into a concrete wave, particle, or whatever it ends up being for that situation, and then it is again unknowable until the next measurement.

In the same manner, one can approach the way one makes decisions. Too often, we waste enormous amounts of our time and mental and emotional energy mulling over past mistakes or future possibilities at times where we can do nothing about it. Instead, we spend those moments focusing on and enjoying the present moment as it unfolds, and only when it is time to make a decision do we pull the past and future together and take measurement.

We can think of ourselves as scientists and our lives as a quantum entity -- our lives are beyond complete knowing and control, and it is only during moments of decision-making that we observe our life and bring our past experience and future desires together into a new trajectory. Once we make our observations and set a decision particle in motion, its results once it's out of control is unknowable, but it is not necessary to revisit until it is time to make the next decision. Approaching our lives in a quantum way frees up most of our time to life comfortably in the present, while efficiently observing and measuring our lives only in those moments where we are able to do so.

The rules for making quantum decisions would be as follows:
1. Only think about your past and future at the time a decision needs to be made. At times where you can't make a decision about something, live in the present and allow your life to exist in its natural uncertain state.
2. Make decisions in a calm state of mind. Like a scientist, you want to observe your past mistakes and future hopes in an objective manner to remove irrelevant variables, so make decisions when you are clear-headed, well-fed, and well-rested, and not feeling emotional duress if at all possible.
3. After making a decision, forget about it. Once a decision has been made there is no need to think about it further until it is time to execute the next part of a plan or to re-evaluate due to new information. The in-between time is yours.
4. Leave reminders. The caveat to freeing your mind after a decision is made is that you will need something to remind you when to take the next action. This is a good thing -- why keep something constantly on your mind when it can sit in your datebook or electronic scheduler? Keeping external records means not having to keep things constantly on the forefront of your mind, so you can enjoy the present.
5. Make each decision fresh. When it comes time to make a new decision or re-evaluate, approach it with a clean slte and a new outlook. If you avoid looking at your past decisions as a template for your current identity and instead observe your current data directly, you may come up with solutions you have not seen before or make useful decisions you wouldn't have come up with otherwise.
6. No regrets. Not all your decisions will be good ones, regardless of how much time you've spent or how clear-headed you were at the time. While you should take bad decisions into consideration during your observation period to avoid making the same mistakes over and over, withdraw judgement and give yourself a fresh start. Your life begins anew each present moment, like a quantum probability wave forming and reforming.