Human Super-Power 1: Meaning Control

I wasn’t sure I liked the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

In the beginning I found it callous. In the end I found it hugely valuable.

Some time later, the bright orange cover became bright blue and this would be Manson’s second installment, Everything is Fucked: A Book About Hope.

Now THIS I could sink my teeth into.

As I dig more into culture, business & technology and as the human-tech gap closes I’m on the hunt for the truly human super-powers. The thing or things that make us different. In the Upper Paleolithic, there were incredibly long periods of almost 0 change. Can you imagine? Anatomically modern humans are thought to have risen out of Africa some 200,000 years ago but up until about 50,000 years ago culture and technology had been frozen in state. What the hell happened?

I hope we’ll someday know and thereby uncover our true mystery but until then, we have no choice but to live in the here & now and identify our super-powers to make the world work better.

But here’s what you do have, Thinking Brain. You may not have self-control, but you do have meaning control. This is your super-power. This is your gift. You get to control the meaning of your impulses and feelings. You get to decipher them however you see fit. You get to draw the map. And this is incredibly powerful, because it’s the meaning that we ascribe to our feelings that can often alter how the feeling brain reacts to them.

And this is how you produce hope. This is how you produce a sense that the future can be fruitful and pleasant: by interpreting the shit the Feeling Brain slings at you in a profound and useful way. Instead of justifying and enslaving yourself to the impulses, challenge them and analyze them. Change their character and their shape.

This is our super-power.

To imagine that there is a now that is one way and a future that is another way.

We could be in the greatest battle of our lives and if we make it through call it the most meaningful experience we’ve ever had.

We have the power to imagine that tomorrow will be better than today and we use that feeling to incite action.

This is probably an underrated idea.

Recently I read the UN’s report on radicalization in the 5 African countries that experience the most domestic terrorism and the synopsis of one segment of the report could’ve been: There is nothing as dangerous as young men without hope.

If you can’t imagine that the future will be better then there is no point to build anything: a meaningful relationship, a business, a Pulitzer winner, the next world-altering vaccine, a particularly important piece of policy or even a painting.

If you don’t think tomorrow will be better than today you will never make a single mark, never take a single step and you will risk nothing.

To imagine what the world could be and to take action around that ideal, is without question a human super-power.