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Master your mind and flourish

Now we are going to look at training your mind to prime you for success in every area of your life. First it’s necessary to recap what we have learnt so far about the importance of memory.

According to Nietzsche, the exceptional human ability to remember the past and imagine the future stems from the violent foundation of the ‘civilised’ state itself. That state required that its citizens firmly retain knowledge of their debts and oaths and have a vivid mental image of their futures so as to be able to commit to their repayment and fulfilment. We discussed this in detail recently.

Exceptional though this cognitive ability may be, it frequently seems pathological too. Bad memories can haunt us and thoughts about the future can cause debilitating anxiety, both of which disempower us right now in the present.

Likewise, we have examined Nietzsche’s theories around the essential capacity for human forgetting.

Our analysis, thus far then, has led us to understand that:

A) The extraordinary human talent for remembering (both the past as well as future commitments) is a product of the brutal historical process of establishing ‘civilisation’.

B) A consequence of this is that the human animal tends to suffer an excess of remembering (of both the past as well as future commitments), which often inhibits flourishing.

C) However, the natural (and healthy, according to Nietzsche) human capacity to employ strategic forgetting, which predates civilisation, still dwells within us and is, in fact, necessary in order to be able to live and flourish at all.

D) We have concluded, therefore, that discriminating and skilful remembering and forgetting can be used to promote a life of maximal flourishing.

Let us substitute the words ‘remembering’ and ‘forgetting’ with thoughts of our past and future.

In short, to thrive optimally, our most vivid thoughts of our past and future should be confined to those things that empower us, promote our quality of life and maximise our happiness. Thoughts of past and future that disempower, demotivate and depress us, should be muted, diminished or jettisoned entirely.

Wow! Does this seem perverse or disingenuous? Won’t we be lying to, and about, ourselves? No. Know that your current thoughts of past and future are in no way comprehensive or objective. They are utterly subjective, prejudiced and partial. This, for Nietzsche, is just the unavoidable reality of perspectivism. Accepting that we probably never have access to the unadulterated truth, only perspectives, what we propose to do is restructure an unhelpful perspective, which disadvantages us, into a much more useful one. No facts are tampered with or denied and no fictions are instituted in their place. This is merely a matter of changing focus.

But how might this change of focus be achieved? The simple techniques that facilitate this will be the topic of the next post a week from now.

In the meantime, have a think about the thoughts of the past and the future that keep you awake at night or stop you taking risks and seizing opportunities that could improve your life.

Next week: Say NO to Psychic Death

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