Maximizing the Value of Altering our State of Consciousness

There are many ways for us to alter our state of consciousness. Meditation, tantric sex, psychedelics, triathlons, bacon cheeseburgers, Pokemon Go, and the list goes on and on. Exploring these states contributes to our quality of life and our ability to effectively operate in the Internet Age. How do we decide how often to indulge in these activities to best balance our enjoyment of today and our ability to enjoy tomorrow?

Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal recently outlined an approach called the “hedonic calendar” that is useful for this purpose. They published the excellent Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work. It describes many ways we are altering our state of consciousness today and how we can do so more effectively. It consists of four steps:

Creating Your Hedonic Calendar

  • Start by listing everything you like or want to do that alters your state. Don’t be shy!
  • Next, rank them using the ecstasis equation. Kotler and Wheal define it as (Value = Time Learning Curve * Reward Back in the Real World / Risk from Potential Dangers)
  • Sort them into five buckets (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually). Tie the ones you struggle to practice regularly to habit triggers to stick with them. For those you indulge too often, limit them to notable calendar events.
  • Review your calendar annually after a 30 day “Lenten” period where you give up the indulgent activities. Shift the frequency of items so that you have a slight longing for performing each of them.

Happy exploration!

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