Neuroplastic Sublimation

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The word sublime means morally or spiritually excellent. It is in this sense that we use this word. It is less so the Freudian sublimation sense of taking negative drives to do something constructive.

I could not find a word that expresses the concept of converting something to that of utmost excellence when it comes to the topic of some idea feeling emotion. I use this word to signify elevation or transformation of thoughts to ones of highest excellence and inspiration. Elevating experience from mundane to sublime.

Why? Because such capacity allows us to inspire and do the impossible. That's here I use the word sublimation in a sense that I haven't really seen before. It is a mechanism for inspiring oneself and therefore gaining the capacity to inspire others. However not in an exclusive unreachable way. Because sublimation is accessible to anyone who studies the topic. The book hard wiring Happiness discusses one mechanism which I would say leads to sublimation though the author does not call it that.

The art of taking stimuli that are typically associated with negative feelings or thoughts and associating positive nurturing healing thoughts and feelings with it. This immediately gives rise to positive and negative sublimation. For example if somebody starts gaining pleasure or desire to kill from a picture of some death then this may be negative sublimation if somebody feels inspired to provide solutions such as ending genocide by seeing a picture of death then it's positive sublimation. Thus it appears that sublimation may be defined as choosing what kind of emotion or thought to associate with any stimulus. If this is done in a way that rewires the brain then the next topic applies: neuroplastic sublimation

Neuroplastic Sublimation

Concept integrated by MJ - is there anything in the realm of psychology that discusses this concept? Yes, the book ______ covers the how to for this practice. It builds upon the work of Jerzy Konorski.

Sublimation in the traditional sense is something that occurs in the moment. But how do we maintain that moment - and keep performing with a sublime mindset on a longer-term basis - which is required for customer visible or economically significant goals? If we don't transition to the latter, then we are just a yogi in a cave.

This is important for forming habits that lead to ongoing peak performance and continuous learning. That is - if one is inspired in the moment - how does one keep that transcendence live - and form the necessary discipline to sustain the habit for 'the long walk to freedom' - that sustained effort of doing something important that moves the dial for humanity?

The concept of neuroplastic sublimation comes in here. It's a distinction that emphasizes the depth at which sublimation can occur. That is the distinction that can take one from temporary inspiration - to ongoing inspiration that is required to change habits and to form improved habits - and to translate those habits to effect the world. Attention and discipline are required to actually rewire the brain to new habits. Like computers or FPGAs are reprogrammable - so can humans wire and rewire their circuits in the brain. Both new synapses are connected - and even new neurons can grow. Note that the latest in science is that new nerve cells or brain cells can grow over one's lifetime. Neurons rewiring is called Neuroplasticity, and neurons being born is called Neurogenesis. People used to say that brain cells don't grow in humans - until the seminal paper on Neurogenesis came out in 1998. Thus we are left with tremendous potential to tap this power - and any aspiring steward of earth should be aware of this potential.

How to attain neuroplastic sublimation - ie, the lasting sublimation that is more than a temporary burst of energy? It requires nurturing via attentiveness, or meditation, or other means to bring awareness to the possibilities. The inspiration must be studied and nurtured - like anything that we want to grow. This nurturing starts with the knowledge that permanent rewiring is indeed possible - as indicated by neuroplasticity. Thus, neuroplastic sublimation can be nurtured by inquiry into neuroplasticity - how do we rewire ourselves? Rewiring happens by practice. Practice means giving attention to and cultivating the inspiring ideas. Practice starts with believing that it can be done - which is understandable given the phenomenon of nueroplasticity. Practice continues when one has a clear goal. Thus, setting goals, visualizing them - and working on them with Antifragility and with the understanding that anything worth doing takes time. The process of getting there must be rewarding - otherwise one can give up. Thus, the winning mindset is required. But a winning mindset can be learned - by studying the practice of success.

From the standpoint of OSE - we believe that anything can be learned. Such as movement entrepreneurship for solving pressing world issues - or the sublimation necessary to get through bumps on the road. First there was resilience. Then antifragility. Then sublimation.


To sublimate, attach a stronger positive conviction or experience - one that puts fire under your ass. That fire could be the trauma you went through, and are now compensating. Thus, deep experience both positive and negative can be the fuel of your conviction. A lot of superheroes or anti-heroes are bred and such conviction. Hitler and Malcolm x transformed in prison. Bane was forged in a dungeon. Superman was born of higher gravity, on Krypton.


Validate this appraoch by analysis of industry standards

Set aside 1 or more hours for this exercise. Get your mind and pen into a stream of consciousness thinking and writing. Just write your thoughts, even if they make no sense, just keep busy. Take a bothersome issue. Feel it, feel the bad parts of it. Think of what would solve the issue, or small parts of the issue; regardless of how outrageous and impossible the answer seems. Then think of the resources that it would take to produce the solution. Do this for every single micro-part of the issue, as granularly as possible. Then start simply to write down the crazy solutions. Return to salient points, and keep working the solutions more. The only prerequisite to this exercise is belief in possibility and creativity. If you do not believe in the possibility, then study the Art of Possibilty - principles of possibility. Then revisit this exercise by writing based on any of the 12 concepts presented in the Art of Possibility.


A powerful coping mechanism in people that allows transformation of pain points into substantial growth. This appears similar to Ken Wilber's concept of "Transcend and Include". See more at Positive Psychology and Growth Mindset.

Sublimation is related to Antifragility, and in fact Antifragility appears to be the more appropriate term for growth in the OSE context. The only distinction is that sublimation typically refers to human psychology or coping, whereas antifragility is a more general term that refers to human or natural systems.

Sublimation is a stronger coping mechanism than resilience, which is just recovery from failure - as opposed to growth from failure. And antifragility is different than robustness (resistance to failure).

Note that antifragile is more than adaptive, as adaptive implies learned robustness. However, adaptive systems may not necessarily be antifragile (improved). [1]

These are all great concepts for OSE, since we design for robustness, resilience, and antifragility or sublimation.

Not only does sublimation allow one to transcend pain points - but based on the extreme flexibility of one's neurons - their capacity to rewire - this implies that painful tasks may be turned into tasks of joy.

How do we reconcile 'devloping one's weaknesses' with sublimation? There is no such thing as a-priori weaknesses in one's self. There are only conditions of limited practice - if we follow current scientific notions that character and personality both change over time. We recycle our body, also, on a periodic basis - we get a new skin every 3 weeks [2] Blood is replaced every 4 months [3], bones are replaced every 10 years [4], and even the brain goes through neurogenesis [5] - to an extent currently unknown by science.

In summary - people can transform and rebuild themselves completely if they want. 'Building one's weaknesses' is a completely rational thing to do, unlike what certain enterpise leaders such as Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach says. In a growth mindset, in a post-scarcity mindset - there are no limitations. There is only purpose - and if one has it - then there will be a way. Thus, Strategic Coach appears to embody a certain level of scarcity mindset. I am bringing up Strategic Coach as Dan is a seminal thinker, but I think he's not accurate on the point of developing 'strong weaknesses'.

Freudian Legacy

  • Freud had elements of negative psychology in his thinking. Just examine how current psychology - it is about 'defense' rather than 'subliming' - first is more negative and second is more positive [6].'Coping' or 'growth' appear more benign, as interpreted by their life-giving qualities.
  • This brings up an interesting question - why do some people tend to explore negatives - and why do some point to the positives? They are both there. The question should be - which leads to more actual growth - a negative or a positive viewpoint? Can it be authentically that a negative view point inspires more growth? What does science and social science say about this?

Howto and Case Study of the Global Village

Sublimation may be achieved in one way specifically - by taking one's struggle - something one is wrestling with and troubled about due to the absence of a readily-visible solution - and converting it to a solution that transcends oneself. Specifically, 'transcending oneself' means that a deep solution is sought - one that not only solves the immediate problem for the person struggling with an issue - which can be any personal, political or enterprise problem - and creating a more universally adaptable solution that many other people can benefit from. That is - 'if I am to solve the problem for myself, why not solve the problem for everyone else who is having the same problem' - as problems are rarely unique and repeat themselves in many situations. The critical process that makes sublimation so life-giving is the idea of 'getting beyond oneself' - to help others. Helping others is rewarding and life-giving - for which reason sublimation is an important concept for the benefit of humankind.

A clear example of this, in the case of Economic Sublimation - is the very nature of the Global Village Construction Set itself. Marcin was troubled that his tractor broke - he paid $2k to get it repaired - and it broke again 2 weeks later. Instead of getting depressed about this - he decided to fix this issue not only for himself - but for the rest of the world: for anyone who is struggling with equipment that is very expensive to maintain in working order. The solution was an open source tractor - that is simple enough for a novice with minimal fabrication skills to build - that would meet or exceed industry standards of performance - and which was documented sufficiently well that widespread replication could occur. In fact - Marcin came up with not only a solution, but an Antifragile solution: machines that are so modular, transparent, and flexible - that one can not only maintain them easily for as long as one likes - but also - to actually improve them by replacing parts and modules to add functionality or improve performance. As such, the Construction Set Approach was born, and the concept of Lifetime Design emerged as a ubiquitous and valuable attribute of open development - a quality that simply is not to be found in standard products. This laid the foundations for Distributive Enterprise replacing proprietary development, and paved the way for the possibility of Distributed Market Substitution.


I have heard numerous people say things like develop your strengths, not weaknesses (Diamandis, 10x Podcast), or don't go into your past but create anew (Jim Collins). The concept of Neuroplastic Sublimation shows a new possibility, that if dig in the muck, you can transform things at a deeper level. This requires more skill.