Adjacent possible was coined by scientist Stuart Kaufman.
It includes all the things possible; just next to what we have already achieved in a technology or idea.
For example man picked up stones to break nuts. Next possible change it saw was that heavy stones work better.
Then man found that sharp stones work better. Then, stones that fit between thumb and finger work better.
Then, man found that stones tied to a stick produce greater force.
Then, he found metals and made tools with metals. Then, he inserted batteries in tools like drills.
Each discovery led to next possible discovery.
And exploring next possible thing slowly, man reached present time of nuclear weapons, with which he can terminate his eternal stupidity and greed.
So one development in a technology opens doir to next possible improvement or addition, which is a slow process happening by contribution of multiple brains.
Adjacent possible is next possible improvement in present idea or technology.
It is not infinite.
It presents infinite possibilities out of which few are useful or meaningful.
It is slow and continuous.
Its boundaries grow as new possibilities are added or arise.
It applies to living beings and non-living things too.
Initially computers were text only medium. Then possibilities kept adding on to it and now you can post your photo or thoughts at the flick of your thumb, which similar sapiens all over the globe can see.
Hence, whenever you work with your ideas keep an eye on what is the next possible valuable addition to this idea.
That’s where next big thing resides.
Also keep searching your adjacent possible. You were not same in the past and you will also change in future. Keep jumping into adjacent possible of yourself and keep improving like all technologies do with time.
When human beings started as a hunter gatherers, it was relatively easy to be happy. You needed few things to be happy. You needed food, water, warmth, safety and a family and you were okay.
Their were no stocks, bills or quarterly targets.
As time passed, hapiness got increasingly attached to external things. It depended on things you could gather and then feel happy by displaying those things to others. Humans started collecting land, money, metals, fat and servants.
But then things got more complicated. It was still hard to be happy.
They stocked more and more stuff,only to see that it got outdated before they could earn enough to buy its next version.
They needed pills more frequently to be happy and feel meaningful.
As incomes grew; after a particular level of money; hapiness stayed the same.
So, it was probably wrong approach to achieve sustained hapiness free of transient dopamine spikes.
Only when hapiness is detached from the external things, tgen only it can become stable and eternal.
When I read , courage to be disliked, I realised it was the simplest philosophy to be happy. Although it was hard to apply fully in real world; but it provides framework over which sustained hapiness could be developed.
I will share few of these concepts of Alderian psychology in this blog with illustrations.
Here we go.
1. Think in terms of teleology and not in terms of aetiology.
Aetiology is cause of an event. Teleology is purpose behind that event.
For example if somebody is depressed, we may deduce that, he is depressed because of his troubled home environment. ( Aetiological explaination)
In teleolgical terms, person has created depressive symptoms to avoid the effort of sorting out causes of his depression. ( Teleological explaination)
So, if we start seeing things in terms of hidden purpose, in stead of exact cause; it will be easier to start acting for improvement of the condition.
Aetiology provides difficult route to a solution. Teleology makes it a bit simpler. Aetiology gives causes, teleology guides towards possible solutions.
2. Stay away from life lies –
Life lie is lie that we make to avoid change. We shift blame from ourselves to someone else.
Like feeling inferiority to avoid being courageous enough to change your circumstances. It is easy to stay locked in home by constructing life lie of inferiority complex; than going out to face your fears and making best of whatever talent you possess.
3. Once you find purpose behind a particular symptom, you need to accept yourself and move ahead in spite of the fear. You need to have courage.
As all great minds have said, we choose our emotions, our reactions to a particular event and meaning that we provide to a certain event.
If you accept these, you give yourself power to change.
Humans are slow to change. Change needs courage. Change is inconvenient. Change needs sacrifice and pain.
We rather choose to avoid it. We may create symptoms like anger, impulsiveness, depression, irritability, inferiority to avoid the change. Our purpose of all these symptoms may be an effort to avoid process of painful change.
Better thing is to see that you can change situation with hit and trials using courage and assistance from your family, meditation or your doctor.
First you need to know that you have power over your response and thoughts.
“Think I have ability.
4. All problems are interpersonal problems.
All problems can be seen as problems arising out of our relationship with others and situations.
Don’t put your happiness in the hands of external things. Other people or things or situations. This will free you of a lot of burden.
Keep out of useless competition. Don’t get sucked up into useless struggles, to prove your superiority to anyone. Even if you are correct, don’t assert your yourself. If you are right, don’t sweat to prove it.
Don’t fall in trap of reward punishment circuit.
Step back and show no reaction. See problem in the circumstances, not in the particular person.
Life is not a competition. Don’t compare with others, compare with your old self. You should be improving with time.
5. Develop feeling that all people are my comrades. Develop horizontal relationships.
All humans are not same, but all are equal. Consider everyone as your friend or comrade.
It gives you power to think positively and to stay away from negative feelings. This will give you ability to see their perspective. It will solve a lot of problems.
Treat everyone as equal with no bias or hierarchy. It gives community feeling. Know that you are not centre of the universe and don’t expect many things from others. See what you can contribute, in place of what you can get.
6. Seperate tasks –
See clearly which is your task and which is not. If it is not your task, don’t overindulge in its execution. Provide nudge or guidance but don’t do it yourself.
For example, if child is not studying well understand that it is his task. Tell him that studies are necessary for him. Provide for tuition, reading space and help whenever he requires. But don’t force things on the child or punish.
Let him walk his path himself, so that he learns to face life alone.
7. Know that contribution leads to hapiness –
If you contribute to society and other people, your feeling of self-worth and hapiness are exalated. Believe in others. Don’t generalise things.
Few bad events or people don’t make everything bad.
Contribute according to your ability. But still know that person is worthy for being or existing. His contribution increases this worth.
8. Know that life is a journey, not a destination. Life is a series of dots, it is not a straight line.
To summarise everything.
See purpose of an event or action. Seperate tasks. Focus on internal drive for hapiness. Treat everyone as comrade. Solve interpersonal issues. Have courage to change.
Whenever a baby is born, everyone wants this baby to cry. That’s all right. They need to learn to cry, before they can earn their laughs. Who wants to be at a place; where everyday is pelted with difficult negotiations.
Negotiations mean, a mutual discussion in an effort to reach an agreement, which both parties find appropriate.
Humans are partially illogical. You got to negotiate with a lots of them daily.
Every life is a series of negotiations. Every day is string of negotiations to get a better place in resource limited biosphere.
So guys, it is of utmost importance that we know what’s up with this negotiations thing.
Neither you can stand there like a banana tree, nor you can punch people in faces. You got to be diplomatic, when it comes to dealing with breathing people.
So, let’s discuss some basics of negotiations.
Disclaimer – These might not work with your wife, but they may help you to tackle little less complicated situations.
Things to be kept in mind –
1. People are irrational. They work at emotional level, especially in difficult situations.
2. People want to be understood.
3. People want to be in control of the situation.
4. Seperate people from the situation. People are not the problem. Situation is.
5. People want things to be fair according to their own definition.
6. Keep your voice as calm as possible to keep emotions under control, so that brain can work.
Now let’s dig deeper.
Dont shout or exchange names or open your lid, kept on adrenaline and cortisol. Try to control tone of your voice. Take pauses. Be slow. Don’t overexplain. Try to listen.
It can be done, if you seperate yourself and person from the situation and see situation as the problem.
It takes yoga, mindfulness and meditation. Those are difficult things.
Then what is the next thing that you need to do.
Once you control your primal instincts and get hold of your emotions.
Then listen complaints and try to make out meaning of demands.
Then comes your next two big tools.
1. Tactical empathy –
It means understanding their position. Labelling it. Telling in calm voice, whatever you could understand about their situation. Vocalising it. Without judging at this point.
Like saying to an angry customer that,” I understand your discomfort”. “If I was in your situation, I will feel the same.”
It calms the person in front and gives them feeling of control. ( Which they crave for)
2. Open end questions –
Ask a question that leaves opportunity for multiple possible answers from the person in front. Ask it and then throw a pause.
Let the person in front complete it or answer it.
This will give person in front, a feeling of control. It will give them chance to vocalise their concern. And it may bring out facts, which may help you in finding a solution.
Sometimes, even repeating what the person in front has said; followed by a tactical pause, can bring out a lot of facts about the reason why that person is upset.
After you have stopped surge of anger with tactical empathy and found more facts by open ended questions, then keep that voice calm like Morgan freeman and try to reach a solution which is win -win for both parties.
These are time tested skills practised by best real world negotiators. So they are going to be useful in normal life scenarios.
Things that help.
1. Instead of saying No, ask open ended question starting with how.
Like if you don’t want your rent to increase. Ask, “How I am going to afford this increased rent?” Throw a pause and hence make this problem, a problem of the landowner.
He has to tell this solution, how you can afford or tell alternative possible solutions. Saying, ‘No’ would not lead to any such results.
2. Watch your body language. 50% of the message is conveyed by your body language. Show concern about opposite party.
3. Give surprise gifts or non monetary benefits in a business deal.
4. Don’t fear,’ No ‘. No is starting point of a negotiation. Welcome a, ‘No’ from opposite party and start negotiations from new set point.
5. Create deadlines or urgency. Like limited time deals. Limited time offers.
So these are few good things that will always help you in difficult talks.
And don’t mind if you fail sometimes. Afterall failing is all too human.
Inspiration – Never split the difference by Chris Voss Get your copy
If you are dead. You are almost free from wordly affairs. You can lie silently and rot by yourself. No morning alarms or killer deadlines. No bills to pay.
But that is not applicable if you were a king. And a king of Egypt. You need to surrender yourself to delicate hands of people in business of making mummies.
They will make you follow the myths you lived with even after you have stopped consuming oxygen.
And they love to put gold everywhere around you. So that you stay rich and inflation free.
A mummy wass discovered recently in Egyptian archaeological site. It was lying silent with open month and in that month there was a golden tongue.
Mummy was discovered by scientists at evacuation site of Taposoris magna and mummy is believed to be 2000 years old.
What was the purpose of golden tongue is not clear and question is open for all sorts of speculations. Experts will guess weird things and lots of stories willbe made. Top news sites will copy paste from each other. Many eyeballs will soak the news with wonder for seconds, before some other attention catching photo or video clouds the attention again.
And our endeavour to make meaning of our current state by digging out remains of the past continues and strange ape called man still keeps amazing us with its wonderful and sometimes weird deeds.
We all need to work. Not only to earn money but also to keep us purposefully engaged and have satisfaction of contributing to the society.
But great work needs focus. It is not produced by anxious multitaskers with fleeting attention. Great work needs solitude and extreme focus with prolonged slots of distraction free time.
This is called deep work.
Greats like Carl Jung, Woodey Allen, JK Rowling all went into solitude to work on their main projects. Bill Gates takes thinking break once a year to envision future projects. Adam Grant who is bestselling author of the book, Originals goes into self isolation shutting himself away from social media.
As world becomes overburdened with data and job profiles change; old skills are rapidly outdated. You have to be a lifelong learner to stay in the race of everchanging industries. Due to advent of online work culture you have almost whole world competing for same online works. Hence level of expertise needs to be worldclass.
On the contrary to to availibilty of attention destroying social media apps and emails; it is increasingly difficult to have a deep focus on any task. But busyness is not equal to productivity.
Shallow work is easy but is useless. Deep work is dificult.
What you can do!
Isolation from distractions. Focus on goals.
Try to do meaningful moderately difficult work that puts you in state of flow.
Work hard for a fair amount of time and then reward yourself with a treat like walk in woods or music.
Choose location that inspires and provides you your peaceful workplace. Go to hotel like Rowling or to island like Alan Lightly. Avoid open office.
Go to areas where exchance of ideas can happen like clubs. In MIT there is famous building 20, where scientists go to have coffee and multiple specialities interact with each other.
Focus on important things.
Act and measure progress.
Set accountability on failing to act.
Take break from your main work and indulge in different and attractive work for sometime.
Think about your task while walking.
Give time for self projects. Get enough leisure time to restore energy.
Stay away from social media during most of the worktime. Do not waste too much time on emails.
Thanks for being with me dear friends. It has been a really good journey.
Now from book reviews I have decided to shift to a more valuable theme for my posts. . Why another blog. Another blog doomed for obscurity. Another blog worth bypassing. Save our attention. It’s so precious thing that very less is left to volunteer.
Why I am here —
Whatever I read just slips over my duramatter, never to be retrieved.
Hence my brother ( younger and wiser) , advised me to write down stuff; so that my repellent brain can review the stuff I presume to be valuable.
“In process you may find something useful, a smelly idea. An idea which might be worth sniffing.”
And I promise it will consume lesser time than an average small coffee.
Oh, lord save our time and our attention. Save our attention for Netflix, twitter, Facebook and Instagram.