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Mind Hack: The Philosophy of One

Mind Hack: The Philosophy of One
    Photo credit: Martin Gommel (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Recently, a friend posted 1 + 1 = 1 on Facebook, which caused a flurry of replies to her “silly” post. I replied with a number of different answers to 1+1, as I have always considered the Philosophy of One to be a litmus test of how someone looks at the world. It was fun to watch her other friends (predominately of high school age) come up with answers and proofs on why each answer could be true. The curiosity shown was inspiring, and curiosity is important.

    The Philosophy of One test is one we can all do, looking at different answers to the age-old question: “What is 1 + 1?”

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    1 + 1 = 2

    The most logical and correct answer…right?

    For many people, especially engineers and analytical-type individuals this can be the only true correct answer. We have all learned it in school, and the fact 1+1 does indeed equal 2 is essential to our symbolic number system.

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    Unfortunately, when it comes to philosophy, this is a rather tedious and boring answer. Even more to the point: it doesn’t describe everyone.

    1 + 1 = 1

    Those people who wish to focus on the unity of life can easily see 1 + 1 = 1. They will relate it to love and relationships. They will relate it to the oneness someone can achieve with the universe, God and everything else. In a marriage, two individuals become one. One creative youth even came up with a mathematical proof on how this could be true (naturally, that is the same form of proof that shows that 1 = 0, which is caused by a small fallacy — but it still sounds good). However, if one can truly see 1 + 1 = 1, one can see the interconnection with other living beings.

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    1 + 1 = 3

    You visual or hearing learners should get this one. “One plus one” has three words to it, so thus one plus one equals three. I had a friend who would test this on her elementary students. Usually one or two people would get it, and they would usually see it by counting it out on their fingers. Her background was in music and art, so the realization of 1 + 1 = 3 came naturally to her.

    Granted, she also said she enjoys silly word games and riddles.

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    1 + 1 = 4

    This was originally a sarcastic answer that stuck with the possible solutions of the Philosophy of One. Why was this sarcastic? I was annoyed at a person jumping to conclusions that did not even fit the problem. Then I realized, that it is a natural tendency and philosophy of most people. These people want so much to be logical and reasonable, so they are usually the first to argue that 1 + 1 can only equal 2, and we are nuts for playing this simple philosophical mind game. However, they then become addicted to their own logic and thoughts, and like any addiction it compounds upon itself. Addiction to thoughts are probably some of the most dangerous addictions around, as they can cause someone to rationalize any action to prove their thought and thinking is correct. It is an easy addiction to fall prey to, as it is one that builds us up, and creates a universal acceptance. Thus, we have 1 + 1 = 2 + 1 (self) + 1 (world) = 4.

    So, 1 + 1 = 4 illustrates that mental jump people make from a simple solution to a solution that includes complexity.

    One question – Four possible solutions

    It is important to remember, exercises like these help us change perspectives. These perspective changes can then give us a solution we wouldn’t normally see and, as such, help hack your mind into overdrive to try to find different solutions to simple problems. Try to seek out your Philosophy of One, and from that seeking you may find an elegantly simple solution that solves your problem.

    What do you first think when you hear 1 + 1? What other answers are there for 1 + 1?

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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