There’s more information in the world than your brain can possibly store or process. Not only are there obscure factoids about South American tree frogs you’ll never know (and don’t care to know), but there are libraries of very important, very pertinent information that you really, really should know but simply don’t have the capacity to learn. Even in our daily lives, we have to ration out what we apply our brain to. We’d all love to learn 10 foreign languages and all of our friends’ phone numbers, but we don’t have the mental capacity. Our brains are already overclocked, and the fact that we live in the digital age, where information fights for our attention in a world already over-saturated with information, makes it all the harder to manage the clutter accumulating in our brains.
Luckily our brains are smarter than we are, and our brains have done an exemplary job of streamlining the process of collecting, storing, processing and retrieving data. But again, it can only do so much. When you’ve got too much to do and not enough resources to do it all, you prioritize. Consciously and subconsciously we break life down into a kaleidoscope of shifting priority schemes. We’ve got long-term priorities, mid-term goals, short-term desires, side projects, and fantasies. We prioritize our friends, our lovers, our sins, our strengths. We construct our perception of reality on all of these imagined lists and hierarchies. Our understanding of these lists becomes who we are.
That process is extremely tumultuous, especially for people who live in inhuman environments. It’s pretty simple to knock a person’s priorities out of whack. Just don’t teach them anything. Don’t let them do anything they want, and scare them all the time. Everyone you’ll ever meet (yourself included) is arguably a little broken, but broken minds still operate using the same operating system as nurtured minds. Everybody’s minds still have to break life down into a hierarchy of priorities in order to manage processing all the data required to propel a semi-autonomous, bi-pedal, organic supercomputer.
This means that everyone you will ever meet will have their own unique, pyramid-shaped daydream in their head about who, where, what, when and why they are. Those pyramids are built from the unique amalgamation of information their minds happened to get cluttered with. So everyone has their own imperfect perception of reality, and each of our universes are ultimately built around a center point, which I call the “Prime Prerogative.”
Your life is a question that your brain is trying to solve. Your prime prerogative is the answer it has come up with based on the information it has been able to gather. It’s you doing what you think is most important in life based on your values. It’s the direction that the boundaries you set for yourself are taking your life in…. and that direction may or may not have any resemblance to what you say you believe the meaning of life is.
Uneducated people raised on processed, homogenized consumer culture don’t tend to take the time to meditate on the meaning of life, and if/when they don’t exercise their ability to think for themselves for long enough then their brains default to auto-pilot. Then their prime prerogative defaults to seducing a mate and fighting their way as far up the social hierarchy as their monkey claws will take them. A worst-case scenario would be someone who has been so stonewalled and crippled by their environment that they’ve given up all hope of ever achieving any of their own personal priorities. When prisoners in P.O.W. or concentration camps lose their prime prerogative they just lie down and die. Or if you work in a sweatshop for long enough you just die inside and sleepwalk until your body stops moving, but if you ever meet a person who is still alive and breathing, you can predict they have a prime prerogative.
A person’s prime prerogative is typically set by the time they’re in their mid-twenties, but it can change, especially if the environment changes since that upsets the equation of life the brain is trying to solve and forces it to recalculate its priorities. People’s priorities also tend to change when a hot piece of ass walks by or someone offers them a lot of money. So even if you think you’ve figured out someone’s primary prerogative, you might be basing your answer on information the person gave you when they were pursuing a side goal, but if you spend enough time with a person then their prime prerogative will shine through even if they try to hide it (or because they try to hide it). You still won’t be able to see it through people’s facades if you’re not looking, and to make matters more confusing, our own prerogatives often blind us from seeing other people for who they are and understanding what they want.
If nothing else, understanding other people’s prime prerogatives is useful because it allows you to spot douche bags, con men and psychopaths from a mile away. It’s also useful, because if you ever need something from someone and you know what they want most in life then you can make it in their best interest to help you remove an obstacle between you and your prime prerogative by helping them achieve their prime prerogative.
Of course, there’s a dark side to all of this too. If you work for a marketing firm you can use this understanding of basic human motivation to mind fuck consumers into buying products they don’t need with money they don’t have. If your prime prerogative is to have sex then you can appeal to your sexual prey’s prime prerogative to seduce them. You can even design a cult that uses traumatic brainwashing techniques to reprogram unsuspecting recruits’ prime prerogative so that they’ll want to be your doting, suicidal slave.
But as Isaac Asimov said, “If knowledge is dangerous, the solution is not ignorance.” (paraphrased) The fact of the matter is that anyone who doesn’t understand the principle of the prime prerogative is navigating their way through society half blind.
How do you figure out other people’s prime prerogative? You just start with the assumption that no action is an island, and then you watch people to find patterns in their behavior. Once you start spotting patterns you simply extrapolate them. When multiple behavior patterns all lead to the same conclusion then you can be fairly sure you’ve found their prime prerogative.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:
Growing up and Becoming You
- Advice on life
- My advice to the younger generation
- 10 things you need to know about yourself
- No action is an island
- The importance of style
- Signs you’re old…but not necessarily mature
- Signs you’re mature…but not necessarily old
- And Old Man From Jersey Explains How To Grow Up (Comic)
Happiness and Peace
- 16 tips on happiness
- My theory on aggregate happiness and immediate karma
- My philosophy on being calm
- You might be depressed because the system is crazy, not because you are
- The confidence talk
- 8 steps to build confidence
- 11 ways not to define your self-worth
- You can’t hide your true face. So don’t even try.
- How to be cool
- You don’t need a trophy. You’re already a winner.
- Why it’s bad to be conceited
- How to tell someone they’re an asshole
- Don’t argue with people who point out your flaws
- 6 accurate ways people judge you
- 6 inaccurate ways people judge you
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
- My short theory on responsibility
- Have a healthy balance of passion and duty
- Is it lazy to not want to work?
- You can and should live somewhere awesome
- Where does hedonism fit in the meaning of life?
- Deep thoughts by the wise janitor
- Demotivational inspiration for work
Leadership and Authority
- My philosophy on leadership
- Why and when you should have a problem with authority
- Self-subjugation is not a virtue
My Tweets About Self-Help
- #1: Happiness and sadness
- #2: Fulfillment, purpose, and meaning
- #3: Maturity, adulting and growing up
- #4: Being mean vs being nice
- #5: Arrogance and insecurity
- #6: Arguing with people
- #7: Excuses and complaining
- #8: Practice, failing and determination
- #9: Writing, art, and creativity
- #10: Eating, hydrating, exercise, stretching, and addiction