It has to start somewhere,
It has to start sometime.

-Rage Against the Machine

I read a book years ago called Persuasion. I tried re-reading it last year, but didn’t get all the way through it this time. In 2005 I did. (Why I remember the year is not at all important.) In it, Cialidini covers various methods of subtle (and not-so-subtle) persuasive techniques to illicit responses.

Semiotics is the study of sign and symbols, and their use or interpretation. In a way, it’s about cultural norms, how they develop, and how they can be used creatively to illicit responses. It’s a single word representing an enormous concept.

I wasn’t aware of semiotics when I read Persuasion, but since I’ve made the connection and it’s been of interest to me since. Persuasive techniques are greatly enhanced if you understand the semiotics of someone’s life – the signs and symbols that trigger positive emotion. It can be religious, familial, or pop culture. But we are inundated with symbols every day, and more and more we become programmed to respond in certain ways.

For our brains, that’s a positive thing. We were historically able to look at a situation and gauge its safety and potential for satisfactory outcome. But now that can be used against us. If we’re unaware of someone setting us up by creating a sense of comfort, then we may do exactly what they want. And sometimes, the wrong people mean harm.

It isn’t that we have to walk around with a running dialogue of the semiotics of every single input we come across. It’s only we must be mindful that sometimes things aren’t what they seem to be.

For a more in-depth look at semiotics, review this sign salad article


Why fasting is a spiritual practice

I started intermittent fasting a few weeks ago, on a trial basis for health and energy purposes. I noticed something, more of a byproduct than an intentional effect:

Meditation becomes easier in a fast.

We’re accosted by thoughts arising from Monkey Brain (or lizard brain, or whatever you’d like to call it). It tells is to eat, procreate, find shelter, drink fluids. It also sends the irrational fear signals. And the criticisms. It’s insidious, and it’s always going.

Now, with a lack of food it tends to focus more on hunger. I become used to thoughts of “is it time to eat yet?” I can learn to tune those out easier, and it’s mostly sending me those thoughts. I’m then able to filter past them and listen to more higher-level thoughts.

It’s been an interesting endeavor, and I’m enjoying the increased concentration from the intermittent fasting.

Maximizing energy

I’m a little over a month in to a new sales job (one of my many avenues for income). I’m on a strict schedule, mostly, and my mornings are starting much earlier than I’ve been used to over the past four years. So, I’m tracking my energy through an Excel spreadsheet, along with other metrics that I think will influence my well-being and state of mind.

Sleep hours, quality of food, quality of day, supplements taken, and creative hours are among the metrics that I’m listing. I may even start breaking down each meal and time I take it in to see where my energy peaks and troughs are. This may sound somewhat obsessive, but biohacking has been an interest of mine for several years now. It’ll be fun to play around with my performance habits.