Worldview Based Living

Label I'm giving to a Steve Pavlina process (from ~2005) because it's the most philosophically consistent/complete version of a Top Down Self Improvement process.

He uses the word "context" for his top-level thinking, which I find poor language, as every level provides Context for the levels below. So I prefer to use "World View" where he uses "context".

Your context (World View) is your collection of Belief-s and Value-s... The most significant part of your context is your collection of beliefs about the nature of reality, which includes your religious, spiritual, and philosophical beliefs. Your overall beliefs about the universe will largely determine your results. Context dictates goals. Goals dictate projects. Projects dictate actions. Actions dictate results... Your context works like a filter. When you are inside a particular context, you lose access to the potential goals, projects, and actions that lie outside that context... I continued to explore different Belief Systems (Model Agnosticism). But now I was doing it very consciously. I was driven by the idea that if one context could open the door to previously untapped potential, then what could other contexts do? Might there be a better context than my current one? Over the next decade I experimented with agnosticism, various new-agey belief systems, Buddhism, objectivism, and more. I even tried Scientology for a few months just to see what it was like. I wanted to assimilate a variety of different contexts, experience them from the inside, and then back off and compare their strengths and weaknesses. This produced a lot of instability in my life but also tremendous growth... Our beliefs act as lenses. These lenses can help us see things we can’t otherwise see, but they can also block us from seeing parts of reality. I see a huge part of personal development as the study of these lenses — these belief systems. There are an infinite number of lenses, so the quest never ends, but the more lenses you examine personally, the more you understand about the nature of reality and your role within it... So in deciding which beliefs to embrace and which to drop, I keep going back to the concepts of empowerment and potential. I strive to dump beliefs that curtail my ability to access my potential while strengthening beliefs that unlock more potential.

The main problem I see in Aristotle’s insightful attempt to answer this question ("how shall we live?") is that his solution is somewhat circular. In order to live well, we need to live virtuously and spend time on self-reflection and study, but how do we know what criteria to use in selecting the Virtue-s or in choosing what to study? We basically have to find people that seem to be living well and flourishing (Well-Being)... It is important to make a global choice about how to live our lives, since this decision sets the context for everything else we do. If you don’t choose your context, you get the default/average context, which means you’re essentially letting others dictate your context...

  • In this role-playing game (Ultima IV) you are the Avatar, a seeker of truth, and your goal is not to destroy some enemy but rather to attain what is called the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. In order to achieve this goal, you must develop your character in the eight Virtue-s. All of these virtues derive from the eight possible combinations of truth, love, and courage...
  • I also began having a lot of internal conflicts while attempting to live virtuously. I don’t blame the virtues for this though but rather my limited capacity for living in the fullest accordance with them. I was living my day-to-day life fairly virtuously, but what about the big picture?..
  • As I developed a greater understanding of human intelligence, I realized that the biggest problem with the question of how to live is that it requires a higher intelligence than we now possess in order to answer it. First, we have a search space of possible solutions that’s too big to fully explore. It’s so big we can’t even really comprehend the whole thing. And secondly, we need to figure out the evaluation criteria to intelligently compare one option to another, criteria that don’t depend too heavily on the unknowable future... We have a powerful asset on our side that makes this problem a bit more manageable — imagination. We don’t have to test these permutations physically. We can test them in our minds. But this is only going to work well if our mental map of reality is a close approximation of real reality. The more accurate your Mental Model of reality, the greater your ability to intelligently assess possible ways of living...
  • Now we have to consider the evaluation criteria... I rejected any answers that suggested the optimal manner of living was to be found in some kind of emotional state or feeling. I can consciously chose to feel whatever I want... The way I chose to tackle this question was to look at my life in the context of the big picture of my clearest understanding of reality (World View). This meant looking at the history of life to the degree we understand it, the possible future of life and where it might lead, and the present condition of life. I felt that a consideration of the best possible human life would have to be placed within the framework of all of life, past, present, and projected future.
  • When I look at how life has evolved on earth, I see this force of Evolution as something much greater than my own personal existence. I see that life has been continuing to upgrade its complexity, its intelligence, and its overall chances of survival. When I place myself within this context, I see that I have three basic options. I can work to cooperate with evolution, I can work against it, or I can ignore it... I decided that the best possible life would have to lie within the realm of cooperating with evolution rather than working against it. So for me this implies two things: 1) Working to evolve myself as an individual to the highest degree possible, and 2) Working to help life itself evolve to the highest degree possible. It turns out these goals are highly compatible, since there’s a Positive Feedback loop between evolving yourself and evolving your environment... I see the main purpose of my life as serving the process of evolution.
    • When I said I wanted to serve the process of evolution, I did not mean it in the biological sense — biological evolution is too slow and has become largely irrelevant. If the biological evolution of humans does continue, it is likely to occur by choice, not as a result of ongoing breeding and mutation over eons. But what matters most right now is the evolution of the NooSphere... I also think that attacking these (Wicked) problems (grand challenges) directly is doomed to failure. There are already people doing that now, but they seem to be making little progress... The best solution I can think of is to work on human awareness itself, to help more people see the benefits and navigate the obstacles in pursuing their own conscious growth. (Intelligence Increase)... My mission then is to encourage and assist people in pursuing their conscious growth, to help them find a path away from a life of quiet desperation and towards a life of courage, purpose, and responsibility... I don’t really see the solving of social/global problems as the primary end though. I think that’s mainly a side effect of the pursuit of growth, not the purpose of growth itself. I see the pursuit of greater courage, consciousness, and conscience as an end in itself.

Why does it matter whether or not your life actually has a Purpose?... If you don’t have a purpose in life, then you’re stuck working only within the context of need. It means your life is only about physical and emotional survival. Certain goals are forever beyond your ability to achieve. And your ongoing motivation for setting and achieving goals will become weaker the more successful you are at achieving them... When you know your purpose, now you have a whole new context for Goal Setting.

I see no evidence that there’s any pre-encoded Purpose in any of us... What is needed is an intelligent method for developing your purpose, a process that makes sense, such that when you arrive at your final answer, you have high trust that it’s correct...

  • Method 1: Emotional Intelligence...
  • Method 2: Rational Intelligence... you basically project your entire context of reality onto yourself. Given your current understanding of reality, where do you fit in?... This is such a simple approach that it’s easy to miss. All you’re really doing is looking at your overall context of life and projecting those same qualities onto yourself. This projection becomes your purpose, your role in reality.
  • I think it’s helpful to use both methods for defining your purpose to see where they lead you. If your context is sound, you should get Congruent answers from both approaches.

Once you’ve identified your overall Purpose/Mission, the next step is to turn that purpose into achievable goals, projects, and actions... The basic idea is that you must align (Congruence) your purpose with your needs, abilities, and desires. Your purpose tells you what you should do. Your needs (money, shelter, clothing) dictate what you must do. Your abilities (skills, talents, education) dictate what you can do. And your desires (enjoyable work, passion) dictate what you want to do. Taken individually each of these areas will only point you in a general direction, but when you put them all together, you’ll find it easier to set specific, practical goals.

(Some tactics for handling your change in direction/life.)

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