INCEPTION OF A LEAN MIND
“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”
When did we start to delegate ‘thinking deep’ to the philosophers saying that it is their job?
This complicated yet exciting act of ‘thinking about the meaning of life’ has silently disappeared from our everyday lives. Perhaps, this is because we have gotten used to living in our closed flats and stopped watching the stars, or perhaps because the bright cloudy city lights have blinded us to see further than our atmosphere, turning our heads down into the streets where the cars and dresses shined brighter than how we remembered the stars.
When did the ancient art of philosophy and self-growth become a ‘self-help’ culture?
We have gotten used to filling our time with so many acts that we completely disregarded the philosophy.
Looking for meaning and purpose has become a side effect of a disease rather than a sign of health. We started to question the concepts of meaning and purpose much after we decided what we do in this life. We have gotten accustomed to searching for answers about life and who we really are only when we realized there was something wrong and this could not be all there is in life.
We have made philosophy some kind of medicine – a pill to take when we feel there is something odd – rather than realizing the fact that it was supposed to be a cause defining every single act we did.
The root of the concept of philosophy is asking ‘Why?’.
We somehow started asking ‘Why?’ after we have been working on a life project for a long time. We have learned how to live from people who have started living before us, we have copied the way how they lived. We have come up with ideas on what to do for a living. We have chosen professions to sell our time, we have chosen people to be with, and we have chosen locations to live. How often did we ask why we did this and why was all this life happening?
Wouldn’t the answer to this question ‘Why?’ change everything we do?
Would we not live differently if one day we realized that one specific religion was the good way? If today we got proof that Odin indeed created the world from the remaining of Ymir and he is indeed in Valhalla right now, would we not live our lives differently? Having any type of belief has become the driving factor in our lives. Even when we do not have a belief, that is also a belief. Haven’t we gotten used to choosing the belief and skipping the part when we asked ‘Why?’?
Where did that curious kid who constantly asks ‘Why?’ go?
Wasn’t it boring when the adults just silenced these questions? It was not important for adults. And as time passed by, we also took this belief that it was not important to question everything.
When did we grow to become those boring adults?
When did we start to prioritize having more assets, status, and power over enjoying the ones we already have?
We have willingly taken up the task of climbing a professional ladder, looking at the mirror on each floor, and enjoying how big we became step by step. We have become joyful of standing behind a large glass high up in a building and watching how small other people were.
Acknowledging that some people starved while we did not somehow has become an act of pride rather than guilt. This is simply because we have given the wrong meanings to the emotion of pride.
We have become slaves of our trickster master, Ego.
When have we become so busy working hard to create a good life that we consciously blinded ourselves from the life we actually had? We have ignored the only real-life happening at the present to look for a potential life that was nothing but our imagination. We have focused solely on the destination we are going to and skipped looking around and acknowledging where we have travelled.
When did we start to ignore our physical and mental wellbeing and rely on external help so much that medicine and self-growth have become industries?
We simply did not give enough care to our minds. We realized this fact once we started to have symptoms of some things that were not working the way they were supposed to.
Isn’t this equivalent of skipping to drink water until we have the symptoms of dehydration?
We chose reacting over preventing.
When did we start to ignore our own wisdom so much that we started looking for experts to tell us how to live, how to help ourselves, how to practice religion, and how to be spiritual? When did we start to ignore human nature so much that we tried to learn our own mind from experts rather than simply watching it?
The chronic laziness of humanity has urged us to look at successful people and how they achieved what they achieved. We have idolized heroes who have managed to possess things our ego urged us to possess as well. Copying other people’s lives has somehow become a common act. All in all, the idea ‘what worked for them must work for me’ has become the ultimate excuse and blindfold blocking us to see the real truth where we were solely responsible for everything we did with our lives.
This is not a self-help book. This is not a scientific book. If we must categorize it, then we can call this a self-growth book.
But it will not grow you. It will not help you. It will not change you.
Because it is just a book. A book cannot act instead of you.
The book cannot shape your mind, it cannot change your life. Nobody can, except you.
Whoever is telling you that they will change your life, they are simply overstating. A magical pill or people with superpowers to save you only exist in commercials.
Hasn’t everything become a marketing trick these days?
All in all, the ultimate marketing tricks of step-by-step methods and motivational pushes work only temporarily because they focus on actions. They disregard the attitude and the whole mind processes that lead to the actions.
It is the attitude and the processes that generate the actions. It is a complicated process. When you focus on changing your actions and expect this act to change your life as well, the results will not be sustainable or real in any way. Changing actions will not change the core beliefs and emotions behind those. This will create an imbalance and a mind without harmony.
Think of your mind as a manufacturing plant. You can use the same raw material and produce a thousand red cars. Changing actions is painting the cars green after they are produced and painted red already during the production. The real growth is when you modify the raw materials and the processes of the paint section to produce green cars.
Your mind has a source code. Learning its language and how it works will give you the ultimate control over the processes. The actions are nothing more than the results of these mind processes. The actions are the finished products.
It is a sad fact that these days so many people claim to change your life asking for some money. Most of them do have good points. But rarely they touch the bottom part of your mind where the source of each thought and action lies. What I offer to you instead is just a bunch of ideas. Ideas that you may find answers within yourself with.
I have two intentions with this book:
First, I want to challenge you.
I want to challenge you to take a look at all the beliefs you have. All the beliefs you have accumulated over the years – major and minor. Core beliefs stating what is good, what is bad, what is a sin, what is smart, and what is foolish drive your mind more than you can imagine. Some core beliefs are way too deep in you. They are probably coming from your childhood, and they are driving many actions that you do. If you focus on changing these actions without realizing this core belief behind it, your growth will not be sustainable.
I believe that challenging yourself, asking why you do what you do, and questioning everything that you do, think, believe, and feel is the only sustainable way to grow. The reason to ask these questions is not to find what is to blame and hit it with a stick but to understand how your own mind works and how you can use it more efficiently.
Second, I want to inspire you.
This is the maximum I can do to support you: giving inspiration.
I want to inspire you to take a deeper look into yourself, around you, and at the whole universe; urging you to think deep.
I want to inspire you to see the bigger picture everywhere you look, and realize that there is more to see than what you see, more to hear than what you hear, more to feel than what you feel, more to experience than what you experience in this reality of life from a human perspective.
I also want to inspire you to get rid of all harmful beliefs and identifications about yourself. You will only see yourself for real if you get rid of the identification you attach. It is pretty much like getting naked in front of a mirror. You cannot see your real skin through the clothes.
Who are you when nobody’s watching?
How would you introduce yourself if nobody in the world knew who you were right now? What would you do?
Think about these questions deeply. Pause reading if you feel like it. Take notes if it helps you. What adjectives would you attach to yourself? What profession would you choose? How would your posture be? What would your actions be? All in all, there is nothing defined by other people. You can, indeed, be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.
How different it is from who you are right now? You will see how much the identification towards yourself has been shaped by the society you live in rather than the greatest sculptor that is your own soul.
When did we decide to take control of everything around us rather than ourselves?
We manage companies. We manage countries. We manage our money. We manage our time. We manage our communication. We manage our relationships. We manage our work.
We lead people. We lead projects. We lead nations. We learn to lead from people who teach how to.
We must lead ourselves. Then the others will follow us naturally.
If you are not leading yourself but leading your team, aren’t they following a blindfolded man?
We manage everything around us so delicately. We work hard to keep them well. We research on how to make things better. We experiment. We analyse data and solve problems. We chase results. We make things happen.
We build mountains and then climb up to them.
We do not only manage, but we also expect the environment to be changed for our own good.
We ask the universe to change itself for us. We ask the universe to solve our problems and drown us in abundance.
We ask the universe to bring opportunities our way.
Do we make ourselves ready for an opportunity?
If we are not ready for an opportunity, we feel like we do not have one. We only realize an opportunity once we are ready to grab it.
We have become such good managers by all these experiences of managing everything around us so delicately.
Why don’t we manage the most important asset that we have?
A Lean Mind
I know that ‘Lean’ has become such a buzzword in the industry recently. But surprisingly, I did not choose the word ‘lean’ to boost sales. I chose it because I believe that it perfectly symbolizes the mind I envision: an ordered, arranged, calm mind that is free of waste.
The lean mind is a mind that is free of distractions. It is a mind that filters out the background noise. It is a mind where everything that matters is ordered nicely for you to reach anytime.
It is where you also know the processes, arrangement, and storage of everything going on inside. You know what you are feeling. You know what you are thinking about and why you are thinking about it. You know which belief leads to which type of thoughts and actions. You know how to keep your emotions balanced.
A lean mind is a mind where you manage everything going on there with ease and by using absolutely no force. It is a state where you embrace your qualities as a human. You accept all the strengths and weaknesses of a human body and mind. You manage them in a way that everything is optimized.
I have used lean methodologies in my work experience as a design engineer, project manager, and design team leader long before I learned that they were called so.
I always saw it as my biggest strength. I was very structured, and this structure alone helped me much more than anything else I have learned – hard or soft skills. It was the single best tool I have used in any project I led.
I have used this structure in all parts of my life. I have used it also in my home, and my time. I did not control them, but I just managed them by embracing the lean approach.
I prioritized. I removed distractions. I chose what is important and what is not.
This led to using it in the single most important platform I have: my mind.
In this book, I focus on the approach, rather than the tools. I do not believe tools are useful unless we get the whole approach behind them.
I strive to give you the inspiration that will help you find your ideal approach and build your own tools according to that.
I believe the most powerful step by step methods or to-do lists are the ones created by you. That is why I give you the approach and leave you to plan your own practice.
What I give you in this book is a deep talk that will blossom into new inspirations.
How the Mind Works
To increase the efficiency of the mind, one crucial prerequisite is to understand how the mind works.
We cannot properly improve something we do not understand. Any modification coming from a state of not understanding the working processes will result in a temporary solution that creates more bugs in the codes along the way.
There is a large amount of research on this topic of the mind process. Some sophisticated models bring together the emotions, thoughts, and actions. What I advocate the most is being aware of the mind all the time.
This awareness will enable us to realize what goes on in our minds. Our minds are complicated machines. They run night and day, they tirelessly come up with ideas, thoughts, and plans. Only if we take a step back and watch the mind process for a while, then we can have some ideas on how to improve it properly.
In this book, I dig deep into the source code of the mind. I talk about the most common emotions. I strive to embrace them. I do not believe the key is to be happy all the time. I believe happiness feels good, but it is not a life target. It is impossible to be happy all the time. If you watch the news and see all the cruel events happening in the world such as wars, disasters, murders, racism, fall of democracy; and still manage to be happy, I will go far enough to say that there is something wrong with the moral values. Humans are meant to feel all the emotions that are in the source code of the mind. This is the human nature.
I strive to embrace all the emotions and see the value in every single one of them. Yet, I dig deep on how the emotions are connected to each other and how we can shift from one to another. This is a crucial trick in driving the mind as staying in the same emotion for a longer duration can be quite dangerous.
I believe the most important factor in improving the mind process is creating a balance. There is a balance in each aspect of the mind just like there is a balance in each aspect of the universe. Therefore, balancing the emotions is one of the most important aspects of a lean mind.
Dealing with Emotions
I believe emotions are the key to the doorway leading to a healthier mind.
Our mental health is defined directly by what type of emotions are running in the background, at which level of intensity they are running, and how long they are running.
There is a good reason why we are feeling the specific emotions we are feeling. There is a piece of valuable information in every single one of them. If we choose to ignore or suppress an emotion without encrypting the message it is trying to give us is an action out of human nature. Yet, unfortunately, it is a common way of dealing with it.
How we can increase the efficiency of the mind is by embracing the emotion that comes into the mind. Only when we embrace it, we can extract the valuable information in it that will lead us to a state of improved wellbeing.
After we extract the information, one of the most important actions is to shift the emotion. To do this, we must bring in the specific feelings into the mind. And this is depending pretty much on the emotion and the situation the emotion is sending a message about. We will dig deep into this in second and third parts of this book.
Structure of this Book
This book is divided into four main parts:
• Part 1 – Life as We Know It
• Part 2 – Source Code of the Mind
• Part 3 – Redesigning the Mind
• Part 4 – Green Flag!
The first part ‘Life as We Know It’ is where I challenge common thoughts and beliefs. In chapter 2 ‘You are Here’, I define why it is important to embrace where we are and accept ourselves as we are – in mental, physical, environmental, financial, and professional ways. In chapter 3 ‘All the Things We Don’t Know’ is a brief but deep dive into the universe where I challenge our knowledge – as humanity – about this world, the universe, and life itself. Here, we will calibrate our understanding of our position in the universe. In chapter 4 ‘It’s All in Mind’, I challenge you to question everything you know, everything you see, hear, feel, or sense in any way. We also take a dive into who we believe we are and how we must free ourselves from identification to live freely.
In the second part ‘Source Code of the Mind’, we dig deep into how our minds work. I see this as a philosophical dive rather than a psychological one. It is not a scientific one. It is a practical one. It is a look at how the production plant works in our minds and what are the emotional states and beliefs that affect pretty much everything we do. In chapter 5 ‘Under the Hood of Mind: Emotions, Beliefs, Thoughts’, we dig deep in how the machines in our mind work to create beliefs and thoughts and how they lead us to actions. Then we discuss the emotional states and emotions one by one. In chapter 6 ‘Mind-Body Feedback System’ is an approach to the Mind-Body relationship that questions how the mind and the body affect each other. In chapter 7 ‘Perception’ is another challenge questioning how we perceive life in general and how correct our perception is.
The third part ‘Redesigning the Mind’ is where we redesign our minds to become lean. It is where we brainstorm about how we can have a more ordered and calmer mind. In chapter 8 ‘Awareness’, we talk about how constant observation is a must before we improve. In chapter 9 ‘Becoming Lean’, we go through the process of how we can improve the workflow of the mind. Chapter 10 ‘Taking the Wheel’ dives back into the emotions to take the value in each emotion and take the wheel to drive towards what kind of emotional state we want to shift to. The chapter 11 ‘Presence of Real You’ focuses on our presence in life itself. The concept of presence is another challenging concept of the mind I envision where we are only partially present in each moment of life and how we can have a balance of it. The chapter 12 ‘Balance’ is the final and the most important step in growth. It takes a deep dive into the balance in the universe to balance our minds. As a libra, I have always believed the balance is the key to everything in life and the constitution of the balance is relative and personal.
The fourth part ‘Green Flag!’ is the conclusion of this book. Chapter 13 ‘Practice Over Theory’ is where I will give it a shot to convince people to stop the ‘self-help’ culture and look at the mirror for real growth. Ironic, I know. And the chapter 14 ‘Summary’ is the collection of the most important points and ideas in this book. I wanted to create the summary in such a way that specific sentences will bring out the topics from your memory about the chapters and will feel like a quick re-read of this book, rather than wrapping up the book before I leave. I believe this is a more efficient way of revisiting the ideas as they are pretty much scattered throughout the book.
I wanted to keep this book as short and on-point as possible. I wanted to make it a dense piece of ideas rather than a long read. I aimed to have single sentence quotes that will make you think rather than explaining everything I say. Many metaphors you will read are handpicked to make you think. Though I play the captain obvious in most parts of the book, obvious facts need to be given attention to. And I strive to make you think about the obvious by sharing it with you with a half-transparent cover on top. I believe this is the best way for inspiration.
Eventually, anything I say would only make you think. You would come up with conclusions.