The Second Law of Chronoception: Inversion
The second law is a little less intuitive, but it's something we experience all the time. This is the idea of inversion that the way we experience time in the temporal present is often inversely proportional to how we remember it. So let me say that again. The way we experience time right now in the now, is often exactly inversely proportional to how we remember it. And here's what matters; we talked about this before. Memory is all that matters when it comes to your experience and perception of time. Present tense doesn't matter. Future doesn't matter; thoughts forward don't matter. Reality is we're all living actually in the past tense, in terms of our cognitive synapses, or about three tenths of a second behind, and our hippocampus is shuttling about 1.5 second intervals to our back brain where it becomes long-term memory. So everything we experience is actually in the past, but long-term memory is the place where the pools are stored, and that determines the size of that canvas, th...
e depth of those pools determines how much experience of time you have. So here's the danger, by the way, repetition routine as we'll get to, our minuscule pools that basically don't exist and have no path, and that's actually lost time. So anything where you can't remember what happened, basically didn't. And that's super scary. But we'll get back to that. So, imagine if your job was to sit in a cubicle in front of a green screen of a computer and type letters, numbers, and digits for eight hours. There are strings of about 50 characters and once you put one line in, the 50 characters, it flashed and disappeared meaning you got it right, or it errored out and you had to do it again 'cause you got one character wrong. And you had to do that for eight hours a day. That was my job in college. I had to take the periodical codes from the new periodicals and put them into the green screen of Stanford's green library. And I can tell you, I would sit in that room, typing those digits and I'd watch the clock on the wall and it would go tick, tick, and just stop. Sometimes I felt like I was in that room for forever. Like it was an eternity for even one hour to go by, and I hated it so much. So you might stop here and say, alright so the key to having an expansive perception of time in your life is to have long, boring days of routine mundane-ness, but here's the trick, remember we said, memory is all that matters. Now considered the first day of vacation. Alright so you're going to be gone for a week. You're racing to the office to get there at seven; you're going to take a half-day. You've got your task list, you're making calls. The clock is literally spinning on the wall next to you, right. Like every time you look up, you're like how did I lose that hour and a half, what happened? So you run for the airport and you get out of the plane. You take the taxi to the beach and you have a walk on the beach and you have a nice cocktail. you have a nice dinner, you have a nice conversation, and you read a book. And the whole day is like over in a flash. Yet, these are both one linear day. So again, why do we accept that linear time even exists? Not what we experience at all. Such a pretend flat Earth notion. So both of these were one day, so what's happening here? Remember, memory's all that matters. In the digits typed in the computer, in the present temporal perspective; it was expansive. It seemed like it was forever. Remember, Law of Inversion means your memory improperly inverts and that's what happened. As you get into the past, I have no memories of this. Everything I know about typing digits in the green screen you now know You have the exact same amount of data about that two years of my life that I have. It was every Saturday and Sunday; it was horrible. That's all there is to know. There's nothing else to know, okay. But the first day of vacation, even though it raced by in the present, in memory there's all kinds of stuff to remember. So what's happening here, I think there's a metaphor that the days and digits routine, mundane tasks are like a surveillance camera. Okay, so it's a slow frame rates plotting by. It's grainy, there's no sound and it compresses. By the way, you can store an entire week's worth of data in a gigabyte on a surveillance camera. It compresses to nothing. The first day of vacation's like an HD camera. It's running at a gigabyte a second. It's taking in so much data that your mental hard drive can't keep up. Like you're chasing the present, it's getting further away. But man, when you stop and think about that first day, all that happened; the sunset, the light, the color, the sound, the music you can zoom in, freeze frame, rewind, stop, expand because you have so much data stored on an event like that, on the first day of vacation. So that, gigabytes and gigabytes and gigabytes of data and so your time threshold expands and time expands along with it, as your memory expands. So how to use the Law of Inversion in your favor. You need to build a life of stories and high-speed moments of flow. The more stories you have, the more you remember them, the more flow you have, the faster your data rate. One thing that's true is when you're in the flow state, when you're the peak performance zone, your back brain and front brain are competing faster and faster and faster, up to a thousand times faster. You're taking in up to a thousand times more data. We can learn five times as fast in the flow zone. And, you ramp that up, the flow zone with an amygdala driven memory. The other thing that happens when the amygdala is driving memory, is your frame rate from the hippocampus to long-term memory goes from a second and a half down to a tenth of a second. Faster frame rate, more data means more expansive memories, means more time; it's simple as that. The more memories you store, the longer your life is. so what do you need to do? You need to have memories in meaning, not repetition and routine. If you commute to work every day and that's an hour commute, and you don't remember it, that time might as well never existed; you were not alive. 'Cause you have no memory, it didn't exist. So what can you do to break the routine? Maybe it's a podcast, maybe it's a different way of getting to work, maybe you need to ride your bike to work, maybe you need to move closer to your job. Second, minimize or ritualize routine. So, I'm going to show you a 2 x 2 on this later, but routine exists. We have lots of routines in our life and the more you can ritualize those, or minimize those, the better off you are. So I don't do the mowing and shoveling and all that yard work stuff anymore. I got rid of that, I minimized it. How can you ritualize? So, a couple of things. Virtually, everybody with children actually ritualizes a routine. Almost no child is raised without either being sung to sleep or read to sleep, or some ritual that actually has meaning. It is a routine, but it has meaning so it's a ritual not a routine. I have a friend who, shaving for men is a routine, for the large part. I have a friend who does the single bladed razor he has to be focused, right? He's going to lose his nose if he's not in the zone. So it's actually like a moment of meditation for him. It's a way of calming down and starting his day with a routine that is not, sorry with a ritual that is not a routine. Make sense? Okay? Maximize flow, so the more time you can spend in the flow state; the more time you are in that zone, where you're not actually processing time. Time will seem to speed up in the present 'cause you're not processing it, but you'll store so much more memory because I mean, if you think about flow moments, one thing that's really cool about them, is you can, what Glivo calls, thin slice into them. I can remember some races where things went really well. I can actually remember a single crossover from 20 years ago. When you've had those moments where you were just on, like maybe you were writing or maybe you're working on a project at work, or maybe having this incredibly scintillating conversation, you can sometimes remember the exact words, the exact motion, the exact place; this is the beauty of flow moments. You store all the data in rich tapestry and you can withdraw because that trail is there, and then finally you've gotta create stories. Now, we are wired for stories. Probably from the evolution of human race not having written language for so long, we passed down information for tens of thousands of years in the form of stories, and stories, if you've ever read Joseph Campbell or you know about the monomyth, the best stores in the world all have the exact same format, exactly the same. Every famous movie ever known to man, has exact same format. It's called the monomyth. And what all stories have in common is all stories have a crisis and all stories have a plot. So every story has a plot, every plot has a crisis. So therefore, if you don't have a crisis, you don't have a plot and don't have a plot, you don't have a story, don't have a story you're not going to remember 'cause we don't remember facts and data; we only remember stories. So unfortunately this means, in order to do this right, you have to design fear and suffering in your vacations. (audience chuckles) So as much as you might not like to hear this, I'm telling you this is one of my best pieces of advice today 'cause it totally works. Now sometimes you don't have to design it in. If you're going overseas, if you have an international trip; there's gonna be something. Something's gonna go off the rails. You're gonna get lost, you can't get there, taxi didn't show up, it rained. Whatever, something bad is going to happen that creates tensions, creates a crisis that gives you something to relate when you get home. If you go to the same resort again and again and again and sit by the pool and have cocktails and then go home, people will say how was your trip and you'll say great. If you go on an adventure where things go off the rails and you got trapped at the top of the mountain during the snowstorm, you have a story which you will tell again and again and again and that trail to that pool will go ever deeper. You always have the ability withdraw it. That pool get wider and deeper 'cause you'll embellish a little bit. And Voila, you're expanding your memories. Totally works, I'll give you an example. So I do this every time. Poor Lily, she knows. Poor my daughter too. So a few years ago, I got invited to do a speech in Playa del Carmen. And it was a really sort of ritzy thing, so they flew us first-class, they picked us up in a Yukon; everything was awesome. Five star all-inclusive resort. We had a pool on our deck, like this was awesome. And I knew it would not be memorable. 'Cause it was just too good. It was too easy. So we get there, we got there at like two o'clock and I turn to my daughter, I'm like hey you wanna walk into town and maybe get dinner there? She's like, sure, how far is it? And I was like, I thought it was about an hour walk, I think, I'm like, I'm not sure. 'Cause an hour's a lot to a 13 year-old kid. So we leave about 3 o'clock, we start walking and it's beautiful and there's fish and manta rays and we're having a great time and we walk farther and farther and we see, you know, groups of people and it's like an hour in, she's like, are we almost there? I'm like, I think so. I really did. And then it's two hours and she's like, are we almost there 'cause I'm thirsty and I'm hungry and I'm getting tired and my feet hurt. I'm like, I'm pretty sure. And then, three hours in, this thing happens in the tropics where the sun, it doesn't like, there's no twilight, right. It doesn't sink into the ocean slowly. It just drops and it's gone and it's suddenly dark. We go from sunshine to dark in a very short period of time. So now we're walking in the dark and the sand disappears and we're walking over shoals of pointy rocks, in flip-flops, in the dark, three hours away from the hotel. There's just bonfires of people in pick up trucks in the interior. We don't want to go that way. We don't really wanna go three hours back, but we're not sure if we should keep going forward. She stubs her toe, I stub mine. We're both bleeding. She's crying, she's upset, she's hungry, she's thirsty. So am I and we don't know how far it is. So what do we do? We keep going 'cause we didn't really wanna go back. And about an hour later, so now four hours in. We get where we can see the lights of the city, and we're heading over to 5th Avenue, I think it is and we can smell the food 'cause of all the restaurants and she turns to me with this fierce glare and she says, This is going to be the best dinner of my life. (audience chuckles) And it was. I mean, it could've been a hot dog. It wouldn't have mattered, but we actually had an amazing meal and we still remember it. I mean, it was calamari stuffed with goat cheese with spices and herbs. It was amazing. It was four years ago, I remember that entire walk with perfect clarity and it's because there was a story. We still talk about it. We don't talk about the resort. We don't talk about...I know we had some great meals there. I don't remember them at all, but we certainly remember that story. So it certainly totally, totally works. Unfortunately that's one of my best pieces of advice. So, a few years ago I had this hypothesis and this leads into the third law. My hypothesis was that if you can stack some really key triggering mechanisms for memory, if you can stack all of them at once, you could actually achieve the kinds of memories where there's a before and after. So here are the five elements and I'll get back to it at the end again, but beauty, physical intensity, emotional intensity, flow state, and... What am I missing? Beauty, uniqueness, physical intensity, emotional intensity, and flow state. So those five. And I had this thought one day, which was I think Lily thought it was a bad thought, but I thought, you know what? My whole life I've been traveling at high speeds while balancing with a group of people trying to kill me, I'm pretty sure I could do Running with the Bulls. 'Cause it's kind of the same thing, right? You got a narrow lane and you got to go fast. There's a bunch of people trying to run you over, and I've been doing this my whole life so this actually should be easy. And it's beautiful; the pageantry, the colors, the lights, the people. It's physically intense, it's emotionally intense and my hypothesis was that I could get it in the flow state. So we decided to do it. So we got to Pamplona. I get dressed up. I'm there. 7 a.m. I'm lined up, ready to go for the 8 a.m. fireworks. I'm about 600 meters in, out of 800 meters. Right at eight o'clock, the firework goes off and everybody runs like hell. Like they're bashing into, the bulls are 600 yards away. There are no bulls coming. They don't magically transport 600 yards, right. So everybody's just freaking out and running like crazy. So I'm shielding myself to keep the onslaught of people away from me, and then it slows to a trickle and then there's another group and they're running, they're looking behind them like this. So now, my heart rate's starting to get up. I've got a little bit of adrenaline going. And as they crest the hill, they run and they run by and there's no bulls because it's still only been like 30 seconds. It's just panicked people. And then finally, I see over the edge of the cobbles, the horns first, the steers and then the horns of the bulls, steers up bulls down. Six bulls, six steers 1800 pounds for the steers, 1400 pounds for the bulls. You see their flanks moving in unison as the muscles rippled. You can see the dust rise in the air and the panicked people strown left and right of them, but nobody in front of them 'cause they're running faster than most people can run. And they come up and over the hill and they're coming directly at me because I'm on the left hand corner where there's a barrier and then they're going to head in to the plaza and down in the tunnel. People are now grabbing me, trying to pull me over the barrier. I'm like, I came here to run. So I'm fighting them off, keeping my position. Then they run just passed me, clearly about 18 inches, the first two steers. The steers are docile, actually. They're no threat. The bulls are the dangerous ones because they run horns down. And then a bull and then another bull, and then there's a slot. So I pop off the barrier, and I just start running full tilt, watching that tail swing in front of me. I know there's a bull right behind me. But I got to see where I'm going because, and I could just see it all in slow motion, I mean, I could see this from thousands of races what was going to happen because all those people that had gone in front of us are now in the plaza and running into the narrow part and there's nowhere for them to go and they start running into each other and piling up and nobody wants to be in the middle because that's where the bulls are gonna file through, so everybody's on the side and then they're running over each other, and now it's two people, three people deep, seven people deep, eight people deep on each side just bodies strewn apart and the bulls are filing through, skiddering. The bull in front of me is doing this. The bull behind me is, I know, he is right on me and I know he's slowing down, so I had a choice. Either potentially get impaled or use the human ladder. So I climbed up and over the people and I ran back down the other side and I ran into the stadium with the last bull and then they shut the doors and 25,000 people got on their feet. I was one of the last people in. Actually, I might've been the last person in. By the way, everything I just described took 11 seconds. (audience laughs) That's how long it took. But that memory is as big as a year. Then, of course, what happened next. So I'm in the middle, the one American guy I met. we give a big hug, fist bump, right. We're just like hands up and then, we noticed like everybody's like disappeared like ants like disappeared around the walls and I'm like, what, where'd everybody go? Like, what...we better get out of the middle 'cause maybe there's something... And we turn behind us, there's a jumbotron that shows a very unique occurrence, a curioso, which has only happened one other time in Pamplona's history. A bull that got lost, tried to go back and then they had to harass it into going back to the stadium. He was about a minute behind us and so as we turn around, the doors bang open and in comes a hot-as-a-hornet bull, who is pissed off and who does he see but the two American guys standing in the middle. So what does he do, right? He comes charging straight at us. So my friend runs this way, I run that way. The crowd's in front of us. The bull veers towards my friend. He's running like crazy. He dives over the barriers. I'm running the other way and now he's making his way towards me and I'm too close to the crowd, so he's actually on his way, potentially out as well. I run as fast as I possibly can. I just leap and did a belly flop over the side of the barriers, landed, knocked the wind out of me. I look up and the bull runs through the crowd. So, those are the kinds of things you'll remember. Not necessarily recommending risking your life. I didn't think I was at the time, until that thing happened. But these things, you can thin slice. When you have those kind of intensity, Absolutely beautiful; the pageantry, everything, Physically intense, emotionally intense. I had the flow state the whole time. I slowed everything down. I was never afraid. Well, not until the curioso came. So, it really really really works. So that's law two.