Act

Whether You Wish to Model a Flower in Wax; to Serve a Relish for Breakfast or Supper; to Plan a Dinner for a Large Party or a Small One; to Cure a Headache; to Bury a Relative; Whatever You May Wish to Do, Make, or to Enjoy, Provided Your Desire has Relation to the Necessities of Domestic Life, I Hope You will not Fail to 'Enquire Within.'

- Editor's Introduction, "Enquire Within About Everything"135

In the mid-1800's, Enquire Within About Everything was a popular encyclopedia found in many Victorian homes. It covered everything a modern family could possibly need to know, from the rules of etiquette to drafting a will. The first editions contained thousands of concise instructions on problems like getting rid of the bad smell in a freshly painted room (burn a handful of juniper berries) to how to administer an opium enema (three grains of opium, two ounces of starch, two ounces of warm water, then pass out).

You can imagine a bright, curious child being absolutely spellbound by such a treasure-trove of information, particularly before the invention of screens. Young Tim Berners-Lee, growing up in England in the 1960's, was lucky enough to have a copy of Enquire Within in his household, and he spent hours poring over its how-to instructions on parlor games, natural remedies, and household tips. There was something inspiring about this massive collection of random advice presented in a coherent structure.

After graduating from Oxford in the 1970's with a degree in physics, Berners-Lee landed a contract job at CERN, the mother of all physics labs. In his research, he repeatedly found himself frustrated by needing some small bit of information that his mind refused to serve up, and his thoughts would frequently drift back to Enquire Within About Everything. If only there was a way to present all the world's information in some readily available format, so you could instantly pull up any random fact you needed!

This was the vision that formed in his mind -- all the world's information, readily accessible -- but it was only the first part of the vision. The second part was that by getting all the information into computers, we could then use computers to help us crunch all that information. Once all the information was catalogued -- all the information -- computers could show us how to make our work more efficient, our relations more peaceful, our lives better.

Berners-Lee didn't just sit around dreaming: he made a decision to act. His first attempt was a simple program that had pages of information called "cards," and hyperlinks between the cards.136 This system served two purposes: it let him share his projects with other CERN research scientists, but it also allowed him to easily access their projects. It was collaboration in action. Thinking back to the Victorian reference guide, he called the program ENQUIRE.

ENQUIRE, like Nupedia, was ultimately not a success: it wasn't open enough. There were constraints around the types of information that could be linked, which turned out to be a dealbreaker. "One had to be able to jump from software documentation to a list of people to a phone book to an organizational chart to whatever," Berners-Lee recalled, once again invoking the mysteriously prophetic word whatever.137

But Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was the Web. Berners-Lee took a job at a computer company, honed his networking skills, then returned to CERN in the 1980's. By the end of the decade he was ready to act again. And this time, all the pieces were in place.

CERN was now the largest node on the internet, and the sheer volume of information at CERN was staggering. Some easy way of cataloguing all that information was desperately needed. A number of technologies had been invented to facilitate the sharing of this information, but what Berners-Lee did was to put them together. "I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and -- ta-da! -- the World Wide Web."138

Although he makes it sound like an act of magic, nothing could be further from the truth. It was actually a series of carefully planned actions , of goals and subgoals, of problems and solutions, before the inventor of the World Wide Web was able to invent the World Wide Web.

First, he had to convince his boss to let him work on it, so in 1989 he wrote a proposal. With the dead-sexy name of "Information Management: A Proposal," the proposal was accompanied by a diagram that looked like a schizophrenic Christmas present: a collection of boxes, clouds, lines interconnected in a flowchart from Hell. It's no wonder that the proposal was rejected, although in Berner-Lee's defense, how would you possibly illustrate the Web to someone who's never seen it before?

Undeterred, he acted again. With the help of a colleague, he revised the proposal (presumably adding more boxes and lines), and presented it again in 1990. This time, he got the go-ahead. If the story of the Web was a videogame, this was unlocking a major achievement, allowing Berners-Lee to level up. Now the real work began.

When Edison perfected an incandescent light bulb for the masses, he also had to invent hundreds of other parts to make the system work, from light switches to power meters to electrical wiring. He had to develop a method of running electrical wire into the home at a reasonable price. Then he had to create machines to generate electrical power, power plants to house the machines, and companies to run the power plants. The light bulb was a tiny piece: Edison's real genius was developing the system (lighting), the meta-system (electric power), then the meta-meta-system (the electric power industry).

Similarly, Berners-Lee had to create the first web browser, the first web editor, and the first web server. The genius of Berners-Lee was that he was able to accomplish all these steps, without being overwhelmed by the scale of the project. The magnitude of what he built is really astonishing, that he could see all these nonexistent pieces in his mind, and build them all, one by one.

Sir Tim, as he is now known, said that his key insight was going meta on the problem: "It was a step of generalising, going to a higher level of abstraction, thinking about all the documentation systems out there as being possibly part of a larger imaginary documentation system."139

I adore this story because it brings together so many pieces of the mind hacking program: from thinking at a higher level, to visualizing what he wanted to achieve, iterating, collaborating, and finally acting. An idea as big as the Web, in the sphere of a lesser mind, would not have gone anywhere. But Sir Tim was able to take that idea and act.

If you've ever been tripped up by procrastination, indecision, or just plain laziness on the way to your dreams, our final chapter will teach you skills to act. Based on the latest research, here's how to take your big ideas out of your mind and into the world.

The Power of Tiny Goals

David Blaine is the Harry Houdini of our time, an endurance artist who has performed record-breaking feats such as being encased in a block of ice for several days, buried underneath a 3-ton tank of water for a week, and sealed inside a Plexiglas case dangling over the River Thames for a month and a half. If you're looking for someone who is able to accomplish difficult long-term goals, David Blaine is your man.

To perform these feats of endurance, Blaine must be in top physical and mental condition. He eats well, reads regularly, does charity work, avoids alcohol, and is perfectly efficient with his time. Leading up to a stunt, Blaine is the model of discipline and self-control. Reportedly, he goes without food for up to a week before his stunts, to avoid soiling himself while submerged in a tank.

But in between his shows, David Blaine gets fat.

In Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Blaine admits that when he's not on the clock, he kind of lets himself go. "After a stunt I'll go from 180 pounds to 230 pounds in three months," he confesses. "I waste a lot of time. I'll drink. I'll do silly things." Then, when it's time to get back in training mode, "I'll drop about three pounds a week ... so in five months, I'm completely transformed and my discipline levels are really high."140

The technique that Blaine uses to get back into shape is one that any of us can use: acting on tiny goals. When he goes back in training, "I make tons of weird goals for myself. Like, when I'm jogging in the park in the bike lane, whenever I go over a drawing of a biker, I have to step on it. And not just step on it -- I have to hit the head of the biker perfectly with my foot, so that it fits right under my sneaker."

He then explains the magic formula: "Getting your brain wired into little goals and achieving them, that helps you achieve the bigger things you shouldn't be able to do."

Think back to Dr. Richard Peabody, who had recovering alcoholics sit down at the end of each day, and write down the next day's schedule. The power of that practice was that the alcoholic could make a list of tiny goals that could all be accomplished within 24 hours. Achieving those small goals creates a kind of rhythm, a positive momentum that slowly turns the alcoholic's negative spiral into a positive one.

One of the reasons so many of us fail at our goals is we try to take it all on at once. Every year at my health club, there is a huge influx of new members on January 1. Every workout machine is filled with sweaty people, gasping for air, trying to fulfill their New Year's Resolutions. You can tell these folks are making the "all or nothing" kind of resolutions, such as, "I will work out every day this year." Because every year, sometime around mid-January, they vanish.

In mind hacking, you've imagined some big, hairy, audacious goals for yourself. In order to accomplish those goals, you're going to have to do the work. You have to act. And you will be much more likely to succeed if you break down your primary goal into a series of tiny goals -- as small as you need!

You don't get in shape by going to the gym every single day, starting January 1, you get in shape by going to the gym today. You don't stop smoking by vowing to never pick up a cigarette again; you stop for today. You don't earn a billion dollars overnight; you work hard at earning money today.

Sometimes, even the "one day at a time" approach is too much, and you need to break it down smaller still. If you can't make it to the gym regularly, try going for a walk at lunchtime. If you can't stay on a diet, try challenging yourself to drink a large glass of water. If you're trying to complete a huge project, and you're so overwhelmed that you procrastinate working on it, try working on it for fifteen minutes.

Don't get around to it, Just do it.

Finding the "tiny goals" that will help you move forward on the big goals is both an art and a science. Fortunately, there's an algorithm that will help you -- or, more accurately, an acronym.

Focusing Your Mind Like a LASER

A laser is focused light.

Light is all around us: in the sunlight outside, the fluorescent lights overhead, the screen that you may be staring into right now. A laser takes that light and focuses it into a high-powered beam that can cut through steel, destroy missiles from space, or accompany the Allman Brothers. In fact, LASER was originally an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." I love that acronym, because it shows a laser is essentially amplified light.

Similarly, the energy of our mind is usually diffused over many different thoughts, fears, memories, and time-wasting daydreams. With mind hacking, we are focusing this mental energy, much as a laser powerfully focuses light into a diamond-cutting beam of power. This focused mental energy lets us set and accomplish the tiny goals that move us toward the big goals. Just like the original LASER, there is an acronym that can help us define a good subgoal: one that is Limited, Achievable, Specific, Evaluated, and Repeatable.

  • Limited: A good subgoal is small. Dr. Peabody asked recovering alcoholics to list every item on their schedule for the next day, including periods of rest. For the alcoholic, crossing "take a nap" off a to-do list might seem silly, but it provides positive momentum: I set my mind to do this small thing, then I did it. A limited subgoal like "Work on my app for three hours this week" is better than "Add new feature X to app," since feature X may end up taking forty hours.

  • Achievable: A good subgoal is something you can actually accomplish. Again, being able to point to a tiny goal that you achieved creates an upward spiral, where making progress motivates you to make more progress. "I will exercise for twenty minutes, three times this week" is a better subgoal than "Lose forty pounds by May." Small successes tend to snowball into bigger successes.

  • Specific: A good subgoal is simple and clear. Most people have only a vague idea of what they want in life, and a vague idea of how to go about getting it. The skills you're learning in this book are teaching you to be specific with your mind about what you want, and now you must be specific about the next step in getting there. For example, "I will research online schools for half an hour today" is a better subgoal than the vague and fuzzy "Look into going back to college."

  • Evaluated: It's important to figure out, "Did I do it?" Write down your subgoals, so that you can come back on a daily and weekly basis, and see whether you actually accomplished them. If not, why not? Evaluating your subgoals can help you identify the issues that are holding you back ("I was too busy," "I got caught up in a TV show," "I overslept"), figure out strategies for overcoming them, and create better subgoals in the future.

  • Repeatable: Repetition is key. While some subgoals are one-shot deals ("Enter motocross competition," "Introduce myself to world leader"), the best subgoals are the ones that you can turn into a regular habit, a flywheel of success. "I will go to one support group this week," "I will study for half an hour today," "I will practice my concentration game this morning," are all tiny goals that will be immensely powerful if repeated over time, like a LASER.

An easy way to get started with these tiny goals is to simply ask, What's the next step? If you want to get free of your anxiety, what's the next step? (Practice your concentration game today.) If you want to start your own llama grooming business, what's the next step? (Spend an hour researching competitors this week.) If you want to win the Nobel Peace Prize, what's the next step? (Get rid of your semiautomatic weapons.) Then run them through the LASER test, and act.

You already know the laser-like power of these tiny goals, because you've been practicing them for years. When your fourth-grade teacher gave you daily multiplication drills, when your boss asks you for a weekly status report, when a social media website encourages you to "make your profile 100% complete," they're all leveraging the power of tiny goals. In mind hacking, we're now managing ourselves, setting tiny goals rather than having others set them for us.

To paraphrase former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Sir Tim Berners-Lee didn't try to swallow the entire World Wide Web; he just took the tiny bite of drafting up a proposal for his boss. Day by day, piece by piece, he built the tools needed for the Web to flourish. You can eat the elephant too, if you focus on taking one bite at a time.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman created a large-scale scientific survey involving over 5,000 participants trying to achieve big goals like the ones we've been discussing: losing weight, starting a business, or learning new skills. One of the key findings was that people who broke their goal into a series of tiny goals were far more successful -- in essence, creating a step-by-step plan for getting to their goals. "These plans were especially powerful," Wiseman reports, "when the subgoals were concrete, measurable, and time-based."141 Focused, in other words, like a LASER.

Skillfully defining these tiny goals, then acting on them, gives you a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Tiny goals give you confidence to tackle bigger goals. Like a cartoon snowball rolling down a hill (I've never seen a real snowball do this, but it looks fantastic in cartoons), these little goals accumulate. Doing just a little bit builds your momentum to do more.

But there's another reason to think in terms of tiny goals: it's fun.

Your Life is a Videogame

One of my favorite videogames is called Beautiful Katamari, which is one of those fantastically insane creations that could only come from Japan. In the game, you start with a tiny sphere, a kind of sticky snowball called a "katamari." Using your controller, you roll this sphere through different environments -- a candy shop or a fast food restaurant -- rolling over random objects like poker chips and wheels of cheese, gradually making your katamari bigger.

As the game progresses, your katamari gets big enough to roll through towns, picking up farm animals and boats. It's wildly hilarious to see struggling cows and people hanging onto the side of your katamari as it gathers mass. Then you move to the city level, picking up buildings and amusement park rides. Eventually your katamari is big enough to roll over landmasses on the face of the earth, until finally you're in space, picking up planets and stars.

There's an odd kind of satisfaction at each tiny accumulation in Beautiful Katamari, because our minds -- especially geek minds -- are wired to accumulate. This is something videogame designers have known since the earliest days: the point system of Space Invaders begat the level system of Pac-Man, which begat the world system of Super Mario Brothers, which begat the current systems of badges, leaderboards, hidden levels, unlockable weapons, and Easter eggs. There are even meta-scoring systems like Xbox's "Gamerscore," which accumulates achievements across every Xbox game you've played.

All these systems are based on tiny subgoals: complete this mission, finish this level, make it through this challenge. As we discussed at the beginning of this book, the geek mind loves to control and possess a small portion of the world, to know everything there is to know. It drives my kids crazy when we're playing a videogame together and I have to find every hidden treasure, unlocking 100% of the characters and costumes. But this is the fun of videogames: mastering tiny goals that give us tiny rewards, until one day we've conquered the game.

When we think of our personal subgoals like the missions in videogames, we can shift our mindset from "work" to "fun." After all, videogames are a kind of work: you have to learn new skills, think through problems, and compete hard against other players. But somehow it doesn't feel like work, because there are tangible rewards along the way: you can see how far you've come.

Whatever your geek passion, whether it's collecting comics, learning LARPing, or studying stars, there's a feeling of accumulation, a feeling of mastery. Putting your tiny goals into this same mental model -- whether it's earning points or collecting power-ups or completing 100% of your missions -- is one of the best mind hacks I can recommend. Seeing your tiny goals as a geeky challenge keeps you motivated.

Game designer Jane McGonigal sees life itself as a kind of videogame. In her famous TED talk entitled "The Game That Can Add 10 Years to Your Life," McGonigal shared how she used game thinking to heal herself from a debilitating head injury. After receiving a concussion that left her suffering from nausea, headaches, and mental fog, the advice from her doctor was just to let her brain rest: no reading, writing, or videogames. "In other words," she jokes, "no reason to live."142

She did, in fact, begin to suffer from suicidal thoughts, which is common with traumatic brain injuries. The thoughts began to grow so pervasive and intense that they finally led her to a life-changing moment. "I am either going to kill myself," she vowed, "or I'm going to turn this into a game."

She created a mental game for herself called "Jane the Concussion Slayer." This was a mind hack where she awarded herself points for avoiding "bad guys" that triggered her symptoms (bright lights, crowded spaces) and more points for collecting "power-ups" that helped her heal (getting out of bed, taking a walk). Within a couple of days, she reports, the fog of depression and anxiety went away. While the cognitive symptoms and headaches took another year to heal, the game gave her the power to focus on tiny goals that eventually helped her achieve the big goals.

This experience was the basis of not only McGonigal's TED talk, but also her New York Times-_bestselling book, _Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. In it, she argues that many of the world's greatest problems, from childhood obesity to global warming, can be solved by approaching them as videogames: making tiny goals and achievements that, over time, can lead to epic wins.

Throughout Mind Hacking, we've been presenting our exercises as Mind Games, because there is a gamelike component to mastering the mind: we must develop unfamiliar skills in a virtual world, working toward long-term goals while focusing on beating the current level. Now, as we move out of our mind and into the world, you can assign points to setting and achieving specific subgoals, which keeps you motivated until you finally conquer the boss level, and look with satisfaction at the end credits.

MIND GAME: The LASER

Each day, after your concentration game, write your positive loops in your notebook or digital device, then spend sixty seconds in mental simulation on one goal. Then write down one LASER-focused subgoal that will move you toward that goal, asking yourself, "What's the next baby step?"

Write down and check off each subgoal on your practice sheet.

Pushing the Swing

Think about pushing a child on a swingset. If you want to get the kid swinging higher, when do you push?

You get the most swing for your push if you do it at the beginning of the upswing -- just as the child comes back and starts heading the other direction. If you try pushing while the child is flying back toward you, your energy is wasted: you will actually slow down the swing, and possibly break your finger.

Now, that's a weird concept. It's the same amount of force, but applied at one time on the swing cycle, it pushes the child higher, and at another time it slows the kid down. The swing, which is a pendulum, has a natural interval, a kind of beat or tempo. Pushing the swing in time with this tempo will cause it to go higher. In other words, small pushes, when timed correctly, can have big effects.

In physics, this is called resonance , the natural tendency of objects to vibrate in sync with some external force. This concept is to be found throughout nature. Objects like organ pipes, quartz crystals, and yes, LASER rods, operate on the principle of resonance. Pluck the string on an acoustic guitar, and you're hearing the sympathetic vibrations of the finely-crafted guitar body, which is why it sounds so much more beautiful than a rubber band stretched across a cardboard box.

Acoustic resonance is how you can shatter a crystal wine glass with sound played at the right resonant frequency: the glass molecules will vibrate in sync with the sound waves, until eventually the glass breaks apart. There is also tidal resonance, such as the Bay of Fundy off Maine, where the continental shelf is a width that amplifies the natural resonance of the ocean, causing the highest tidal range in the world. There is orbital resonance, where two orbiting bodies exert a regular gravitational pull on each other, such as that found between Earth and Venus.

Resonance is so pervasive that Nikola Tesla once wrote, "If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." Which brings us back to our concept of tiny repeatable goals: when timed correctly, they can have big effects.

I've always been a hard worker, even back in the days when I smoked a lot of marijuana. I was not the stereotypical stoner, who would watch cartoons while eating Twinkies filled with Cheez Whiz. First, the Twinkies were usually filled with Nutella. Also, the weed gave me a kind of creative inspiration, the constant aha! moments that fueled me to be even more creative. So I would always be working, following whatever ridiculous ideas my pot-soaked brain would dream up.

While this occasionally produced some genuine inspiration, I see now that there was a lack of coherence to my efforts: one day I would be excited about creating a new social media project, the next day a T-shirt line. Most bakeheads are unable to see any projects through to completion, so I figured those rules didn't apply to me, because I was able to get so much stuff done.

However, getting stuff done is not nearly as important as getting the right stuff done. Much of the time I was pushing against the swing, pushing the kid out of the swing, or running underneath the child and getting bludgeoned by the swing. I was bewildered by how I could be working so hard, and yet making so little progress. One of the tremendous gifts that sobriety gave me was the clarity to see the tiny goals that could have the biggest impact on my overall goals -- and this plays out in every area of my life.

It started with the daily goal of staying sober. Before sobriety, I spent an incredible amount of time thinking about how and when I was going to get high. I didn't want anyone to notice it, so I had to plan my day around finding a convenient place, getting rid of the smell, trying to act normally afterward: a cycle that would often be repeated several times a day. This consumed a ridiculous amount of mental energy.

The small, repeatable goal of staying sober freed up all that mental energy. It was like I had been swimming with a cinderblock chained to my waist, and I was able to remove the padlock and let the cinderblock drop free. I was then able to focus all that newfound energy back on my own negative loops, gradually untangling the knots of buggy code, then reprogramming my mind to achieve more positive and constructive goals.

Each day I practiced my concentration exercises, each time I repeated my positive loops, I was pushing the swing a little higher. Like a pendulum, I found the system gives you energy back, swinging you higher and higher. I began making goals for the real world, expanding my business, my network, my vision of what we can achieve together. Once you find the natural cycle, you can gradually add energy to increase those cycles.

With this book, with this crowdsourced system of mind hacking, my hope is that you can begin pushing your own swing higher and higher. And not just you, but thousands and millions of mind hackers worldwide. I can think of no higher swing than for all of us to learn how to harness the human mind together.

Increasing Your Willpower

Let's say you make a tiny goal of walking for five minutes a day. No "I'm going to the gym every day until I can fit in a Size 1 dress," just "I'm going to park my car at the far end of the parking lot at work." And because this is a LASER goal, you can actually achieve it.

After a few weeks of accomplishing your goal, you're feeling pretty good. You find yourself saying, "Hey, I'm already walking, may as well walk around the parking lot once more before I go home." You tell a friend about your little experiment, and the two of you start doing it together.

Then you find yourself thinking about how to log your walks. You spend the money for an exercise tracker, and now you and your friend start sharing data with each other. Maybe you start setting daily goals and sharing them via social network.

Now you're taking longer walks over lunch, and soon you're finding that you have more energy and you're less winded than when you started. You realize you'd be even less winded if you stopped smoking, so you buy a box of nicotine patches and start drinking a lot of water instead.

After a few weeks, you have even more energy, so you take the money you were spending on cigarettes and buy a cheap gym membership. You and your friend now meet before work, and you find that the early morning workout actually helps you get more accomplished on the job.

After another few months of this, your boss dies of a meat-related heart attack, and noticing the amazing job you have done, they promote you to his position at a 21% raise. Now you're not only feeling better, but you're making more money, and you have more power.

You begin to see ways of improving your small team, so you begin implementing some of the methods of mind hacking that you've learned here. After six months, your team is transformed into the highest-performing team in the company, and senior management begins to take notice.

At this point, you realize there is an amazing opportunity in this market that your company does not see. You quit your job and create an app that quickly grows to one hundred million users. Within a year, a Chinese tech company offers to buy your app for one hundred million dollars, or a dollar per user.

With that money, you join a group of investors trying to create a crowdsourced solution for worldwide peace. Recruiting the world's 1,000 richest people, the group pools together trillions of dollars, eventually overcoming the world's war budget, and establishing planetary happiness.

So you see, the five-minute walk was time well spent.

This is what author Charles Duhigg calls a "keystone habit." Often, creating one positive habit -- always through a series of LASER-like goals -- will start a domino effect of other positive changes. You often see this happen with recovering alcoholics: within a year, they've not only stopped drinking, but they've quit smoking, lost weight, and are having the best sex of their lives. It doesn't always happen this way, but it happens often enough to notice: one positive change can have cascading effects through your life.

In Willpower, Tierney and Baumeister point to new research studies showing that willpower is a kind of energy, a battery that can be recharged. They outline various methods of increasing willpower, such as exercise, sleep, and concentration, which in turn increase your power to act. Similarly, the Mind Games throughout this book are designed to increase your mental energy, which will increase your willpower, which will increase your ability to make meaningful change in the world.

The swing goes higher and higher.

The Final Frontier

Here's a final question to ponder: who are you?

We started out by establishing that you are not your mind. But if "you" are not your mind, then who -- or what -- is the "you"?

Thinking deeply about this question will reveal a weird recursive loop. If "I" am watching "me," then who is the "I" who's watching that? It seems to echo back into infinity, like:

  • The long tunnel of reflections when you stand between two mirrors;

  • The "infinite video loop" that occurs when you point a videocamera at a monitor displaying the live feed;

  • Audio feedback, which is sound from the speaker being amplified by the microphone in a self-reinforcing loop;

  • Recursive acronyms (like Richard Stallman's GNU, which stands for Gnu's Not Unix, but then what does GNU stand for?)

  • Fractals, which are made of patterns that repeat themselves at any scale;

  • Much of the work of M.C. Escher, such as the two hands drawing each other;

  • The Department of Redundancy Department;

  • Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Who are you? You're the one viewing "you." But then who are you?

Here is where we enter the realm of the philosopher and the mystic. But I want to encourage a more scientific, exploratory approach to this question. Embrace the question like a geek. After all, recursion (bits of code that can call themselves) is a central idea of programming: to calculate factorials, for example, we create a function that can continually call itself, until all the factorials have been determined. "To understand recursion," as the geek joke goes, "one must first understand recursion."

Finding the real "you" shows you the limits of our current models. There is no satisfying logical answer to the question, because the "you" seems to always jump one step outside your objective mind. Even if you're a crazy smart logic genius who can hold six levels of recursion in your head, you're still infinity away from solving the problem.

Finding the you behind "you" is the ultimate mystery. Star Trek was wrong: space is not the final frontier. This is the final frontier, this exploration beyond the mind. We've been calling this infinite frontier "you," but that's as far as words can take us. We cannot put a name on it, because to name it is to bring it back into the realm of the mind. If we try to describe its attributes, we are only pulling away pieces of it, like taffy. What is behind the mind?

This is what we have been leading up to, what all this work is about. As you learn to get your mind out of the way, to control it rather than being controlled by it, something else opens up. The "you" that's now controlling the mind -- that mysterious frontier -- is ultimately what we're after. Throughout this book are scattered clues that explain the nature of this frontier. They are hidden in every chapter. If you search for them diligently, you will find them. It is, I believe, life's most satisfying search.

And now, faithful mind hacker, we come to our final loop.

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# It's my sincere hope that the technology of mind hacking will help you reprogram your mind. For good.