Confidence. People want to have confidence in you. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t care so much what people want. No your interested in the well-being of your loved ones. And your own well-being. Then comes everybody else and their spurious, changing interests….

Living takes strength though. Especially as we proceed (to give you what you need, no, proceed) into the 21st century. Into uncharted territory technologically, politically, and culturally. In this environment an individual’s best response—most solid insurance—is confidence. Or so I claim.

(Because that’s the thing that’s going to be shaken the most in the strange new days ahead. Maybe.)

It’s a Brave New World

Aldous Huxley wrote a popular bit of sci-fi in 1932.

His novel Brave New World was about what happens when technology and technique—”how to” mania—eclipses human sensibility, spontaneity and wonder. The “brave” part was that, in the novel, society went as far possible with genetic engineering. (Spoiler: people were ‘born’ on an assembly line, different chemicals applied at certain stages to catalyze intelligence, dominance, brawn etc. All according to the social status the child was allotted before birth.) It is a vision of the human world as a machine. Humanity dared to engineer society and life itself. We’re getting there…

The “new” part of Brave New World was that humans became a product, generated by an industry, regulated by a managing computer. Individual feelings controlled by a drug called soma. A total tyranny of efficiency. There were protesters of course. But Brave New World imagines the worst of what Jacques Ellul feared and wrote/spoke/taught about regarding tech.

A section not entirely necessary—Technology, danger, confidence

William Nelson Joy, popularly known as Bill Joy is as eminent a technologist (computer scientist) as they come. I read about him because I’m so enamoured by electronic technology that I make most of my money based on it. The thing is, ordinarily Bill Joy isn’t a killjoy.

But thinking about the future made him write a (pseudo)viral essay that shook the tech world—and it was replete with dangers. Also his essay is long as heck and about just about as scary.

In a paragraph, what Joy suggests is that 3 new technologies will fundamentally rewrite the world we live in. They are biotech, nanotech, and robotics. Biotech, genetic engineering, is fiddling with complex biological systems we don’t completely understand—and creating a new, untested nature. Nanotechnology is fiddling with the roots of the physical world. And self-replicating robots powered by artificial intelligence mean a viable competitor with humanity for the planet. His big argument is that together, genetics, nanotech and robotics (GNR) create a beast that we have no control over. He wrote this in April 2000 and it’s still being ignored today, ha ha.

If the future is anything like Joy prophesies in Why the future doesn’t need us, individuals like you and me will need our wits about us. Collectively and individually we’ll be facing terrain that demands new responses.

Protection—let’s respond

You and I are not negative, and we don’t dwell on powerlessness, right? We think about

  • possibilities
  • choices
  • creative responses

We believe in personal power, generated mainly by choice, I think. And this comes out in our appreciation of personal confidence. Our opinions, reactions, feelings are valid. We self-legitimize if society wont affirm us. The individual can be the strongest factor for change. Now and in the future, dark or not. Right?

What are the resources on our side to give us all that precious confidence?

  1. Friends,
  2. skills (everybody’s packing some skillz though not everybody thinks so),
  3. a lively (playful, childlike) mind, if we can have one,
  4. and inner psychological resources

Wait, why a childlike mind?

Because children have minds sensitive and responsive to wonder, to awe—they think and imagine playfully. “Studies show” that’s the best place to solve problems from.

Being childlike is emptying the cup so it can be filled bla bla blah. It’s opening yourself and your eyes to newness and discovering…drum and bass pioneer LTJ Bukem’s song Horizons says it so eloquently

“This new hour holds new chances for new beginnings. The horizon leans forward, offering you space to take New steps of Change.”

Confidence

It’s believing in yourself. It’s respecting your responses, and ideas, and reactions, and values, as valid. Self-legitimization. That’s confidence.

But a confident person is confident in more than herself or himself…

She is confident in the bigness, the openness, and the accommodativeness of the world. The world is ready and actually accommodates each of us. Like that dubious Illuminated, Occultish Desiderata document we learned to recite in Catholic school says

“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

That’s another reason for confidence, if you kind of feel you have a right to be here.

Finally the daily hack promised in the title

In 5 steps, but still one hack.

Build your precious, personal confidence, daily, by

  • trying something you want to do but are unsure of, daily or as regularly as you can manage (That’s the hack by the way. You can stop reading here)
  • taking outcomes of your experiments and adventures lightly—there’s a radical difference in how you act when you know you’re exploring something new, from when you feel you\re doing something with life and death consequences
  • taking the lessons you learn from your trying heavily (seriously, that is)—success or failure is never of “life or death” consequence when exploring new actions, new areas of your potential, but the lessons you can learn from these experiences, can be some of the most valuable you learn in your life
  • laughing at yourself and your world—at your antics done on the pretext of building confidence. Also at people’s reactions to your forays into new territory. These are medicine against taking things too seriously that will mean nothing in a short while. And a good sense of humour is a weapon against the anxieties of life (though not everyone will appreciating you taking things in good humour)
  • not stopping even when what happens is discouraging—or outright, out-of-the-park, out and out, ostentatiously, outrageous

Something more important than confidence

That something is humility.

I know the 21st century is about not being a doormat, not being taken advantage of. Being assertive.

But those things notwithstanding, you can still embrace the most beautiful virtue the human heart can hold. I really believe this. Humility is beautiful. Majestic even.

After all

humility is one of the greatest defenses against the hypnosis of ego.

Customary video >

Boa noite e boa sorte