Effective Living – Part 5 – Summary

Welcome to the big summary!

This is it! We’ve come to the conclusion of our deep dive into Effective Living.

We will now take some time to review what we’ve covered in exploring Effective Living. There are several important points so special care will be taken in highlighting each.

We will approach this review by first considering where we started. This will focus on the motivation behind our journey. Then we will consider the steps we took along the way. Here, we will review each of the Big Ideas and Components of Effective Living. We will also consider the order we took these steps and why. Finally, we will take the time to reflect on what it all means and where we go from here.

Where Did we Start?

Big Idea: We have a responsibility to learn how to maximize the impact that we have.

Basically: Our levels of consciousness puts us in the drivers seat for evolving our species.

Life is complex because there are many components at play. At a high level we have our connections with external entities such as other people or spiritual ties, our physical body, and the things that go on in our head. Each of these “realms”, as I call them, have a whole assortment of additional components such as work and relationships, which in themselves have further components.

As you might see, this complexity can be daunting to work with. Such complexity leads to the uncertainty and fear that causes most people to just settle with “ordinary”. These people look to others for what to do in order to obtain some level of certainty. This limits how far they can progress in life and the fulfillment that they can experience. But, there is another way.

If we can deconstruct this complexity then we can improve our ability to understand it and therefore operate under it. This leads to more effective action which ultimately provides greater value to ourselves and the universe at large.

When dealing with any complex system, one of the most important steps to take is the removal of fluff. Noticing what is relevant and irrelevant and updating our understanding of the system accordingly leads to a more efficient way of viewing the system. This is an iterative process that requires patience and exploration.

Life is complex, so it would be a good idea to approach it from a similar, first principles, mindset. Effective Living aims to do just this. As was previously stated, this is a first pass at organizing and making sense of the complexities of life. Just like how understanding any complex system requires an iterative approach, so too does the Effective Living framework. Hence the versioning of this framework and the encouragement for criticism and collaboration.

If the true complexity of life is to be simplified (as is relevant to functioning effectively in the modern world) then its development has to be opened up to the larger population. The more perspectives, the better. We are all in this together, we all have a say.

So, the practical motivation behind Effective Living is to provide a concise set of tools and concepts that promote Effective Action. All this means is that we want to remove the irrelevant details that complicate our ambitions in improving ourselves and the value that we have to offer. The hypothesis is that if we can narrow our focus down to the aspects of life that provide the most relevant impact then we will experience greater certainty in action as well as an overall greater impact.

The Effective Living framework was designed with the Principle of Variation in mind. Everyone is different, everyone has their own unique ambitions and starting point. That is why the presentation of Effective Living has been in a very general sense. This framework needs to be something that people can study and discover how it may apply to their own lives.

An even more fundamental motivation to Effective Living is the simple fact that because we are conscious, we must learn how to live. We have the ability to override nature-given habits through the power of social pressures and the abundance of biological needs (e.g. food, sex, shelter). The species hasn’t had much time to adapt to how fast things are changing in our modern world. Therefore, we must take the initiative to understand how these changes impact us and how we can make the most of them.

How Did we Get Here?

Big Idea: Tackling complexity requires a strategic and incremental approach.

Basically: Special care needs to be taken when taking steps to remove complexity.

Alright. The aim of Effective Living is to focus our time and energy to what matters most to us. This is to promote taking action that is most meaningful, impactful, and efficient (i.e. Effective Action).

When discussing the complexities of life, we mentioned 3 realms. These realms included our connections, the physical, and the mental. These 3 categories capture the majority of the relevant complexity involved in life. Furthermore, these categories are distinct from eachother. This provides the conciseness that we are looking for in taking steps towards understanding the complexity of life. That is exactly why we began our journey by providing this “Life Simplified” model.

The three realms of Social, Physical, and Mental were explored as a way to introduce the Big Ideas of Effective Living. Additionally, the Life Simplified model provided a quick toss-you-in approach to what applying Effective Living might actually look like. That is, it gave context for what was to come.

From there, we dived deeper into each Big Idea that was introduced.

Big Ideas

These were:

Each Big Idea built into the next.

Clarity provided the foundation for everything. This addressed the fact that a lot of what impedes Effective Action is resistance. We explored several ways of handling this resistance. The main point was exploration by utilizing variations of Journaling and Meditation to anticipate and plan for the obstacles in the way of your objective.

Building on the theme of removing resistance, Awareness was introduced. A lack of awareness leads to a lack of consistency, and consistency is vital for any long-term Effective Action. The main point was that all change requires an awareness, a lack of awareness adds psychological resistance to change.

Utilizing both Clarity and Awareness you can begin taking more Deliberate Action. Taking a few extra moments to slow down at the beginning of an action can be the difference between “going through the motions” and Effective Action. The main point here was that when action is taken with intent and an appropriate amount of effort, progress becomes more consistent and more profound.

A useful cue in determining the effectiveness of Deliberate Action is the Intensity of Stimulus. This is a general concept for any and all sensation that emphasizes the encouragement of adaptations through direct and concentrated stimulus. It can be helpful to think of this concept by the more specific idea of Intensity of Thought. Here, exercises of switching between focus and diffuse modes can be used to illustrate the subtle differences between the levels of stimulus. The main point was that the intensity of an action is like a flashlight and a gas pedal for adaptations, it illuminates what your mind should concentrate its resources on and how intensely.

With Clarity, Awareness, Deliberate Action, and Intensity of Stimulus, we now have the fundamental tools to make our struggles effective. This idea was introduced with Challenge, it emphasized the importance of developing discipline and hardiness in taking Effective Action. The main point was that discipline leads to structure and structure forms the foundation of Effective Action.

Once you begin engaging in intense struggles through Challenge, you may find a necessity to dig deeper in order to keep pushing on. To reach the required depth, a realm of spirituality is necessary. Here, presence and feelings of connection are emphasized to remove the last stubborn pieces of resistance. Connection is the first step, where a purpose for your actions is discovered. The main point was removing the resistance from ego by applying presence and a deep feeling of unity with a bigger purpose.

As a final blow to the struggles that we face during Challenge, we introduced the fact that we always have the ability to change how we view our circumstances. The topic of Meaning hit the heart of this idea through the power of interpretations. We have done all that we can in ensuring Effective Action. At this point, surrendering to whatever resistance remains is the most effective way to ensure that we struggle well. The main point was that our subconscious thoughts create our reality and that we can influence these thoughts.

These Big Ideas served to illustrate the steps that one can take along the way to Effective Action. The emphasis was on struggling well.

We then took a step back to revisit the bigger picture of Effective Living, which was a reoccurring theme throughout the Big Ideas. Here, we dived deeper into the underlying principles and concepts of the Big Ideas. These formed the components to the Effective Living framework. It was here that we saw the system come together through the component’s relationships. Then, we tackled the question of  why the concept of Effective Living should even be considered. Finally, we brought it all together with the how.

Effective Living

The components to Effective Living:

  • Principles
  • Identity
  • Mindset
  • Meta
  • Practices

The Principles formed the most fundamental component to Effective Living. Everything else is built on top of these foundational principles. Special care was taken to explore each of these principles as well as their relationships. Each principle was related back to the Big Ideas to emphasize their foundational nature.

The principles can be summarized in 3 non-negotiable principles to life. These were Movement, Nutrition, and Rest. All living things share these requirements. In order to get the most out of your Effective Action, proper balance and care must be taken on each of these.

Identity, the next component, exposed the harsh truth that the unknowing mind can be easily influenced by society. Our actions are influenced by others and our beliefs are likely not even our own. This is even more true the more unaware you are about this contamination. Recognizing this “Default Identity” that your environment has given you is one of the most important steps you can make in developing awareness. The emphasis here was on your ability to choose who you want to be.

After breaking free from your Default Identity, you can begin to develop a Mindset that promotes Effective Action. An effective mindset is one that can struggle well, meaning that pain and difficulty is faced with a sense exploration and curiosity as opposed to resistance. Basically, a mindset of believing that you can improve is a vital component to Effective Living.

At the end of our journey, through the components of Effective Living, it is important to take a step back and consider the bigger picture. This is symbolized by the component of Meta. Meta is all about bigger picture thinking, considering the deeper meaning, and taking an open-minded, philosophical, approach to life. With a sense of curiosity, compound impact can begin to occur as previous insights pave the way for future insights.

Finally, Effective Living is summarized into a single practice that consists of a system of habits. The practice involves a journal known as “Life’s Toolbox”. This practice emphasizes the most important ideas behind Effective Living, which are Exploration and Curiosity. Curiosity is the practical metric to determine how well you are exploring. The more curious you are, the more objective you are and the less the ego will show itself.

It also provides opportunities to address and explore each component to Effective Living. As you journal and contemplate the insights that you have throughout the day, you have the opportunity to recognize the principles showing up again and again as reoccurring themes.

Through the process of exploration and being open-minded you may recognize behaviors and beliefs that you carry that have contributed to your Default Identity. As this awareness develops you begin to gain more and more control over who you want to be and how you wish to change your sense of identity.

In a similar manner, you begin to recognize thought patterns that form your mindset. Through the Life’s Toolbox practice, you pinpoint these habits of thought and, with the added clarity and awareness, gain the realization that you can improve.

Finally, the meta component. Life’s Toolbox is essentially one large bigger-picture contemplation practice. The very act of priming your mind for insights and digging deeper into them promotes the abstraction needed to pinpoint themes and patterns that carry over into other aspects of your life. The more you recognize the patterns of your behavior, or even just life in general, the greater your ability will be at taking Effective Action.

Now let’s examine the order of our journey more carefully. Effective Living is meant to address the complexity of life that obstructs the clarity necessary in taking Effective Action. The initial exposure to the Life Simplified model served to prime your mind with what was to follow. Hopefully this quick introduction sparked your interest to explore the Big Ideas in greater depth in what followed. While exploring each of these Big Ideas we were careful to hint at their connection to the idea of Effective Living, while, at the time, still not having fully defined what was meant. Finally, with a strong foundation laid down, we dived right into the guts of Effective Living.

What Now?

Big Idea: An idea is useless if you don’t take some form of action on it.

Basically: The ball is in your court. Now it’s time to apply what you’ve learned and grow.

Now that we have discovered the idea of Effective Living, what now? While the hope and intention was for you to put into practice each Big Idea as they were covered, that may not have been done. Sooner rather than later is best to ensure that you get the most out of the insights from our exploration. So, if you have’t already, START NOW.

It is best to start from the first Big Idea, Clarity, and then work your way up from there. The below is an example implementation of addressing the Big Ideas. It is presented in a writing-prompt manner, take advantage of this to grab a pen and paper and journal your thoughts.

  1. Clarity
    1. What is a large objective that you are willing to commit to for the next 6 months? Why? Why? Why? …
    2. What are the high level steps necessary to accomplish the objective?
    3. What about the low level steps under each high level step?
    4. What are the obstacles that are in your way?
    5. How will you handle these obstacles when you come across them?
  2. Awareness
    1. What resistance do you feel when considering your objective?
      1. Are you being impartial and fair? Avoid suppressing, notice any “ego actions” or tendencies to avoid thinking about what you ought to (e.g. the obstacles).
    2. What is within your control?
    3. What is not within your control?
    4. How can you ensure your focus goes to what is in your control and not be distracted by what is outside of your control?
  3. Deliberate Action
    1. What is the next smallest step you can take to progress you forward?
    2. What distractions might you encounter that will impede deliberate action?
    3. Do you find yourself getting distracted and losing motivation?
      1. Recursively ask why to find the root cause to this resistance.
      2. Start again at the Clarity step if necessary.
    4. Are your habits in your every-day life supportive of acting deliberately?
    5. What contradictions in your beliefs, thought patterns, habits, or environment are there that conflicts with your objective?
    6. How can you improve your environment to support accomplishing your objective?
  4. Intensity of Stimulus
    1. How can you ensure that you have the appropriate amount of energy and attention available to fully concentrate on each step?
    2. Are you taking special care to remove distractions?
    3. How will you ensure you provide yourself with the appropriate amount of rest and recovery to bring a high degree of intensity to times of engagement?
  5. Challenge
    1. What level of discipline is required to achieve your objective?
      1. You may need to focus your efforts on a “Discipline Mission” over the next month instead, to build up the discipline required to accomplish your objective. Apply these Big Ideas to the Discipline Mission as well!
    2. What supportive habits and environmental changes can you make?
    3. What is the routine that will lead you to accomplishing your objective?
      1. Focus on what’s in your control, such as writing x amount of words (despite quality), and not on what isn’t in your control, such as consistently writing high quality content.
      2. Get very clear on the day-to-day system of habits that you will need to carry out.
  6. Connection
    1. Ask recursive questions.
      1. Why? … Why? … Why? …
    2. What’s the purpose behind your objective? How does it tie back to the bigger picture? Who might be positively impacted and how?
    3. Are you present with the actions that you are taking? Or are you suppressing uncomfortable feelings and seeking comfort?
    4. How might your ego or need to feel special be getting in your way of accomplishing your objective? How can you minimize this influence by shaping your environment (e.g. friends, habits) and removing the resistance?
  7. Meaning
    1. How can you reframe the struggles that you’re facing in a new light to gain a perspective that promotes Effective Action?
    2. What underlying thought patterns and dysfunctional beliefs do you have that are no longer serving you?
    3. You have done all that you can to ensure Effective Action. Now surrender and apply a sense of curiosity to the experience. Is letting go as bad as you thought it would be? Do you feel relieved? Guilty? Trust in the surrendering, you have nothing to lose since you’ve apparently haven’t been getting anywhere with your previous approach. Maybe it’s time for some recouping and reflection.
      1. Ask without words or any form of labeling: What does it feel like?
        1. Only curiosity and openness.

The whole purpose behind the concept of Effective Living is to promote taking action that delivers the most value with the least amount of time and effort. It is about focusing on what truly matters in getting results.

To further illustrate Effective Living, consider the personality traits that high performers have. Strive to develops these in yourself.

  • Curiosity and Exploration
  • Open-Mindedness
  • Presence and Acceptance
  • Deliberation
  • Discipline and Drive
  • Bias Towards Action
  • Courage and Resilience
  • Principle Oriented
  • Seeking to Understand
  • Focused
  • Flexible
  • Perspective-Agnostic

This list is not exhaustive, but it is meant to provide some of the key traits that someone who has effectively applied Effective Living to their life would have.

The versioning of the Effective Living framework is meant to suggest that it is a work in progress. You, yourself, are fully invited to add your own contributions to the framework through criticisms and insights. The more external perspectives that we can get on this concept the better and more accurate it will be. The more useful we can make this framework then the more we can each do our part in evolving the species forward.

This is a natural part of evolution. So before things get more complicated, let’s take a step back, together, and examine what is important before moving forward.

Summary

Big Idea: Effective Living.

Basically: Exploration. Big Ideas. Principles. Identity. Mindset. Meta. Practices.

We’ve covered a lot of ground, but it can all be summarized into the single concept of Effective Living. This concept is meant to drive attention to what matters most in accomplishing what we set out to do. Effective Action takes over from there. Effective Action is the individualized implementation of Effective Living, it takes this single concept and applies it to your unique objectives and life experiences.

Because we are conscious, we must learn how to live. This was the most foundational motivation behind our journey. To learn something suggests an act of exploration, hence the importance and reoccurring theme of exploration.

Even the path we took played an important role in our journey of understanding Effective Living. Due to the complexity of life, careful steps had to be taken to introduce, and later emphasize, key ideas.

Notice the reflective nature that each of the topics have had, with questions prompting the exploration to come. This further emphasizes two things. First, the power and applicability of reflection, and second, everything is connected.

What we’ve covered isn’t conclusive by any means. This is just an initial version of a concept that I have found useful in accomplishing my objectives and continuing to effectively progress, even during intense struggle. Add your own contributions and share your own insights. The complexity of life is something that we are all subject to, therefore we should all have a say.

All of the topics that we have discussed can be explored in greater depth. There are so many connections between these ideas that I will have to explore them later. The main ideas of Effective Living were presented here as the foundation for what is to come.

Your Call to Action

Thank you for reading!

THIS ISN’T THE END! It is the beginning of something new and even greater. The Principle of Compound Impact promises this! Take the time to learn deeply and embody the concepts that are most relevant to you, this will allow for what is to come to make more sense. I want learn from you what you thought of my approach to sharing the concept of Effective Living. Did it make understanding this complicated idea easier? How would you improve it? I’d love your opinion! Share in the comments section below!

Don’t put off contemplating what the insights from this article mean, find a quiet location and think deeply about what it might mean for you. Just 10 deliberate minutes can make a large difference, set a timer, do it regularly and you will notice the changes within a few weeks. You improve your ability to think and therefore make effective decisions by spending more time deliberately thinking about the relevant subject. Consider applying journaling and meditation to see more profound changes, these are just more deliberate and concentrated forms of quiet and focused thinking. Slow down, find stillness.

I am always looking to improve my reach and the impact that I have with my writing, please provide your feedback in the comments below.

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