The Beginning

So there we have it.

As a species, we've come a very long way, and yet there is still much further for us to go.

From the beginning of the universe all the way to modern humans today, it is clear that we are a unique species fashioned from fortuitous circumstances. Our very existence has beaten odds beyond calculation.

Merely existing is a waste of the opportunity we have been given. We can do better for ourselves and for the world around us. We can be happier, more effective and more benevolent, to ourselves as well as to others.

These are many facts in life that are not immediately obvious, but once you know them you can’t unknow them; they seem so obvious in hindsight.

For example, we know that atoms are the tiny building blocks of everything that exists in the universe, including ourselves. We’ve all seen diagrams of what an atom looks like: a small sphere, with even tinier spheres circling it, like a planet with its moons. What we don’t tend to grasp from these massively unrepresentative diagrams is that these miniscule atoms are themselves mostly (99.9%) empty space. Imagine a small metal ball bearing, sitting in the middle of a sports stadium, with grains of sands orbiting the outermost walls. The atom is the entire space of the stadium, but apart from the ball bearing and the grains of sands, the stadium is completely empty. This also explains why your textbook diagrams were necessarily not to scale; the pages would need to be many, many times larger than they currently are and you’d need a lorry to bring your books to school.1

As a result, we can conclude that everything and everyone in the universe is mostly empty space; literally we are packed to the brim with nothing. This is of course immediately obvious when it comes to certain airheads, but is oddly enough true for all of us. Even the most solid concrete block is mostly empty space.

It is rather mind boggling to think that if we were to remove all the empty space from all the atoms from all the humans on the entire planet and placed them together, we would be left with matter that could quite easily fit in the volume of a single baseball. That is everyone on the entire planet, inside of one baseball.

The facts that we have talked about in this book are somewhat like that. They are realities that are staring us right in our eye sockets and yet somehow manage to remain obscured in shadow. Being human ourselves, we should probably understand the intricacies of being human a little better than we do, and yet we don’t really. A better understanding of these matters gives us new perspectives on life, and a few useful superpowers.

Along our journey, we learned about free will, and discovered that we effectively have none. At the same time we gained the ability to free ourselves of judgement and undue negativity. Understanding that we are nothing but what our GEBE makes us, we now know how important it is for us to expose ourselves to the right experiences in order to become the people we want to be.

We have investigated our outdated OS and learned the purpose of our instincts, emotions and biases. Knowing that many of our reactions are no longer fit for purpose, we learned to question ourselves and rise above our baser instincts, becoming more than just reactionary machines. Limiting our exposure to unnecessary and damaging negative emotions and biases is a remarkably freeing thing.

We took a deep dive into the stories we tell ourselves, and realised how important it is that we tell ourselves the right stories. Whatever we think is true, is true to us, and the world can become accordingly good, bad or ugly. We taught ourselves to question false beliefs and correct unhelpful stories. We learned not to get attached to any particular storyline. Understanding that the majority of things are beyond our control, we learned to focus only on those that we can.

We also took some time to explore that most inevitable part of being human – death. We saw that death is not all that fearsome after all, and that being aware of it can in fact give you superpowers. It helps you make the most of your life. Time is limited, and there is much to experience. Reflecting on death is one of the most powerful things you can do for happiness and clarity.

Finally, we concluded that beyond mere survival, humans have evolved to become experiencing machines. Our purpose in life is to experience it. It makes sense to try to create as many positive experiences for ourselves and for others as we can. As experiencing machines, it is important to play our part in the lives of others, being positive additions to their lives, as they hopefully will be in ours. In order to optimise our experiences, we need to understand our own strengths and weaknesses, and find environments, people and tasks that most suit us, for that is where we can make the most impact and be the happiest.

Whether you ascribe your existence in this world to an act of God or an act of nature does not particularly matter as far as the concepts in this book are concerned. However we came into being, whomever or whatever made us, this is the resulting end product – this is what we are as human beings. These are the tools we have been given and these are the strengths and limitations that our package deal comes with. Indeed, whether you are religious or not is itself a function of your GEBE. Whether it was God’s will or nature’s will to make us so is irrelevant to our conclusions.

Truly understanding these concepts will helps us understand ourselves, and understand others. They can help us tremendously with our emotional intelligence, happiness and attitudes. Without harnessing such tools to regulate your own thoughts, you are left to react automatically to the random vagaries of life, allowing yourself to be jerked around by random events and impulses.

Naturally, simply reading these facts is not nearly enough. Like mastery of anything, it takes a lot of practice to fully internalise these concepts. You need to become a master at observing your own thoughts and emotions, questioning yourself and guiding yourself. Even then you will surely drop the ball countless times, for you are only human. And that is completely fine and how things should be. But the more you practice, the better you will become, and the fewer dropped balls there will be.

You are 1 person out of 8 billion, living on 1 planet out of 8 in our solar system, which orbits 1 star out of 300 billion stars in our galaxy, which is itself just 1 out of at least 2 trillion galaxies in the currently observable universe.

To belabour the point, it is incredibly unlikely for you to exist at all. It is a profound opportunity and massive stroke of luck for you to be alive in such circumstances. You are an experiencing machine of the highest order. As far as we know, throughout the entire universe there may well be no more superior species. You may well be the cream of what this universe has to offer.

Keeping these things in mind, go forth and live life.

Really live it.

Take opportunities.

Experience life with all your senses.

Smell the smells around you, good or bad.

Open your eyes and truly see what is around you.

Listen, and hear the sounds of the world, whether it's your own heartbeat, the sound of singing birds or distant car alarms.

Don't gobble your meals, taste them.

Touch and feel (with permission if you happen to be touching another living being).

Create positive experiences for yourself and others around you.

Understand how temporary everything is, focus on the truly important things in life, and let go of all unnecessary negativity (which turns out to be almost all of it).

Be the best human that you can be.

This is life.

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

This is just the beginning.