The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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Part 1:The pursuit of happiness

May 2nd, 2011 by dimpledbrain

We are usually mesmerized by the term ‘subconscious’ as it implies a sense of mysticism and unreachable domain. We amuse ourselves with dreams, psychic power and the likes. But what about consciousness?

What is consciousness really?

According to wikipedia, anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness.

 This ‘anything’ in essence is the attention we devote to every second of our lives. It is true that there are many stimuli around us but those that we capture via attention will go into our consciousness.

In the national bestseller, Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi offered some insights into consciousness in an understandable scientific manner:

  • We can manage at most 7 bits of information at any 1 point in time (like sound or visual stimuli or thought/ emotion)
  • The shortest possible time to differentiate one bit of information from another bit of information is 1/18 of a second.
  • Thus we can process (maximum) 126 bits of information per second (i.e. 18 * 7 bits)
  • Assuming 70 years of lifetime and 16 waking hours per day, our life is made up of 185 billions bits of information.
  • To appreciate what 126 bits of info per second means, we need to process about 40 bits per second in order to understand what another person is saying.

Thus it follows that whether we like it or not, our entire life consisting of everything we do, think, or feel is a mere 185 billions bits of information. I like to compare it to a camera with 185 billions bits of equivalent film. It is up to us on how we snap every moment of our lives. Therefore:

  1. The attention we direct to the stimuli around us will form oneself. (e.g. If I like reading, I will direct my attention to more knowledge and this will develop into me. Note that both reading and say swimming are available to me, but I have directed my attention to reading in this case).
  2. Similarly, our ‘self’ will also direct our attention. (e.g. Because I like reading, I will try to invest my attention in finding new content).

Now this consciousness will determine the level of happiness in our lives. The good news is unlike subconsciousness, we can control this consciousness. The bad news however is that it’s easier said than done.

Click here for Part 2

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