Having Your Act Together: HYAT
Each of us exists as a node within a web of entangled connections. No man is an island as the saying goes, and because humans are a social species, being linked in relationships with other humans is vital to surviving, thriving, to even maintaining sanity. It is important to recognize that, following Psychology’s First Law, every human is unique and different from every other human, despite all hailing from the same ancestors. Thus, it is nearly impossible to predict the behavior of any single human being, despite having deep personal knowledge of them. One can seldom even predict one’s own behavior despite being fully self-aware and deeply familiar with the background of your own life.
However, there are aspects of humanity which, in the face of the reality of uniqueness, demonstrate predictability of elements of human behavior across race, creed, ethnicity, national origin, and even time. These patterns have manifested themselves routinely throughout actual recorded history, show up in the actions of people around you every day. Knowledge about social behavior can be leveraged for predicting trends and the typical sorts of choices people will make under various circumstances. This sort of pattern is labeled as invariant human nature. This allows one to make general observations which will prove to be correct about how people (in the aggregate, not as individuals) will conduct themselves. The problem for homo society is that human nature evolved to deal with problems which existed in a world lost in the past many eons ago and it took many millennia in the millions of homo’s existence to arrive at the Stone Age model everyone of us sports today.
Human nature represents the commonalities of the species. Human nature emerged over millennia as humans learned to cooperate with each other for survival. This led to a series of recurring patterns, over multiple hundreds of generations, such that they became coded in our DNA. Consequently, the unconscious brain has evolved all sorts of subroutines which can run without any deliberate intervention by the conscious brain. As a result, human nature can be seen as invariant. Human nature powers sociology. This unconscious behavior is much different from socialized forms of behavior, where people have to learn the routines.
One of the brilliant insights into human nature, but seldom properly understood is described by the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. As routinely displayed and explained, the Maslow hierarchy tops off with the level of self-actualization. Few people are aware that Maslow later added another category at the top called Transcendence. The point of the diagram is to define the hierarchy of needs of human beings, as a criterion for a life well lived. What is requisite for understanding the utility of applying this theory as an explanation for the basic drives of every human is to recognize that this pyramid has daily significance. It isn’t like climbing a tall mountain, where you start up from base camp, and advance each day by establishing camps up the mountain until you summit. Rather, like the Greek myth of Sisyphus, you start at the bottom each day and must work intelligently to satisfy the requirements of each level before you can advance to the next. Satisfying your basic survival needs – level 1 – must be accomplished first each day, or you are not capable of working on achievement of any subsequent level goals. This provides a laborious challenge. If not for the various sub-routines running in our subconscious brain, few would be able to accomplish the necessary tasks.
Much of what we, as humans do entails cooperation with other humans. Thus, being able to quickly assess one another, and then to determine the trustworthiness of others is critical for establishing cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships. Scientists have been assessing and measuring these sub-routines as best they can within the limitations of not being able to see inside the brain. It has become clear that humans size each other up swiftly, and then later “invent” their reasons with the conscious brain to justify that assessment. The most critical element is trust. Initially given as a tentative judgment, trust grows or degrades over time. When trust grows over time, the individual is tested under various circumstances and proven to be reliable. This sustains the initial judgment and fosters confidence in one’s “intuition.” Alternatively, trust can be degraded over time as an individual proves unreliable or is destroyed in an instant through betrayal.
A second and just as critical element is to gauge the competency of the individual. We are routinely attempting to assess the capability of the individual with whom we are working. The intention is to find a partner/associate who can reciprocally help and extend us. What we are seeking is someone who “has their act together” (HTAT or HYAT as in Have your Act Together). This individual represents an asset of great value as we attempt to deal with the problems we encounter throughout our lives. As a result, being able to assess and determine the status of a person is essential and, not surprisingly, there is a sub-routine which does this for us. It is also useful when it can categorize someone as a person who is struggling with angst. As in dealing with a drowning person, someone whose life is in a mess is usually someone most people would prefer to steer clear of in order to protect their own sanity.
Unfortunately, not everyone is running this assessment sub-routine as a path to extend their own capabilities. In far too many cases, people are using this as a self-protection mechanism. This tends to happen in those situations where the person conducting the assessment is caught up with the “Imposter Syndrome”. In these situations, early detection of a HYAT person is important to preserve their illusions. A HYAT person is clearly a threat as they would likely see through the charade and reveal, by performance, the other person as a fraud or phony.
Nonetheless, it is always a worthy endeavor to do our best towards being seen as a HYAT person. While HYAT provides benefits for our relationships, the immediate benefits accrue directly to us after our status is perceived by others. Making ourselves as capable as possible is always helpful. It involves substantial investments of time and effort and in the social settings it does confer benefits as well, when people instantly recognize and react in a positive manner to those who are seen as being people who have their act together.
We have assembled a checklist of elements, by which an individual can conduct a self-assessment of his status along the continuum. This isn’t a situation where you must complete the entire checklist to benefit. Understand that as you start to accumulate “markers” (items which designate the state of HYAT), you will begin to get better, and the faster you get to those markers, the faster you will get better. It has also been noted that many of these markers come as a set, in that if you are “in for one” you tend to be in for them all. When considering the elements of having your act together, it is important to recognize that it is a relationship between you – the person having their act together, and then looking at the person and subconsciously recognizing his status.
We use three categories of functionalities: Be, Know, Do. This categorization simplifies by bunching like items together and then going up a level in the hierarchy to name the category.
Be represents how you, personally, must exist in actuality. This is what people sense first and foremost when then encounter you. It manifests in your posture, carriage, gait and conduct of your body, and since all those operate automatically. The Be traits are being directed by your unconscious brain, although you can use your conscious brain to address them directly. Be is comprised of physical and mental components.
Know represents your Mental Models of Reality (M2Rs). This represents what you know, both conscious knowledge and can operate deliberately through the deployment of that knowledge, as well as your memory. It pertains.to the mental tools which you are able to use. This knowledge is obtained from learned theories and fact, experiences, experiments, and observations, and discoveries or reflection upon the consequences which one is exposed to in life. As mental components, this knowledge resides within our brain, and while accessible to the specific individual who holds them, M2Rs can only be inferred through observing the actions of another.
Do speaks to the actual performance of an individual. Since we are compelled to operate in a material world, the behavior which we manifest is instrumental in how we are able to navigate through life and the results which we can obtain. Do demonstrates the strength of the Be components as well as the effectiveness of our M2Rs derived from the Know component. In this category, the actual capabilities of an individual are on display through the actions taken under a variety of differing circumstances
The elements which comprise each category are not notional, since they are the building blocks for creating a capacity, as an individual, to be able to organize and pursue goals while dealing with the problems, challenges and vicissitudes of life which we encounter over the course of living and attempting to achieve while remaining vertical and above room temperature. However, since Having Your Act Together is a state, meaning it is an objective in the future, the listing of elements can be seen as aspirational. Each of the three has a different set, as seen below.
- Not suffering from injury, illnesses or chronic disease
- Able to respond adequately to the physical demands of the world
- Low Stress
- Not be suffering from the negative consequences of stress
Able to deal with the environmental circumstances throughout the day
- Awareness of reality vis-à-vis one’s actual status in comparison to reality
- Not suffering under the penalty of illusions or delusions
- Rationally optimistic and positive attitude
- Fueled by the knowledge of capabilities versus demands
- Personal Sense of Self
- Self Esteem (based upon past accomplishments)
- Self Confidence (Perception of one’s capability of dealing with current demands)
- Self Efficacy (Belief in the ability to handle what the future delivers)
- Comfortable with Conferred Status (within a selected hierarchy of value)
- Possess traits which contribute to cooperation and facilitate connection with others
- Demonstrate the ability to connect with individuals and meld into groups
- Awareness of reality vis-à-vis one’s actual status in comparison to reality
- Demonstrably effective through daily application
- Tethered to reality and proof tested daily
- No delusions, illusions, frauds, pretense, false theories or ideologies
- Evolving, as they improve from gains in knowledge
- Based upon recognition of incontrovertibility of Natural Law, and the invariant characteristics of Human Nature
- Knowledgeable and Intelligent
- Able to make appropriate selections under situations which present themselves while maintaining progress towards defined goals
- Pragmatic about how the world works and what choices might be effective or efficient as the situation demands
- Storehouse of relevant and pertinent facts and proven concepts
- Act out your values and beliefs, such that you do and mean what you say and say what you mean
- Working towards achievement of challenging, but realistic goals
- Challenging and extending M2Rs
- Learning as a continual process, extending capabilities
- Practiced at personalization
- Able to act due to free time, space, and energy
- Able to take a joke, and willing to make one at one/s own expense (self-deprecation)
- Not frittering away attention on mindless or worthless activities
Having your act together is an internal state of being, which is comprised of several components. It exists along a spectrum, hence, one can achieve it at the lower end of the spectrum, and then still have room for improvement. HYAT, like mastery of the Maslow’s Hierarchy, is not a one and done sort of accomplishment. Due to the deleterious and constant effects of entropy, one must work at it daily, just to maintain, and then engage in more action in order to improve one’s standing. Nothing abides and left unattended, one can be certain of decay and deterioration. Thus, it requires a plan, the organization of resources, the application of effort and deliberate choices. The good news is that as you get better, the better you get and the faster you get better.
Thus, HYAT is an internal state of being which delivers direct personal benefits to the individual who reaches that state. By having your act together, one avoids a plethora of problems which typically plague those are struggling with getting themselves together, and which rob the individual of the resources (free energy, time and space) necessary to build the skills or capabilities. This makes pursuit of the skills and capabilities addressed in the listings above a requisite pursuit (and thus a conscious choice0 for anyone seeking to be more productive and to navigate through life more successfully.
While it is an internal state, and there are direct benefits to HYAT, the real measure of achievement comes from the recognition of you by others. This is what one of our subconscious subroutines evaluates each time we encounter a person. Along with an assessment of Trust (which occurs first, as it is most critical for gauging whether the individual is a threat or not), we determine if they have achieved the status of HYAT. What is being measured is the external manifestation of the internal state, which radiates outwardly, through a variety of ways such as stance, gait, confidence, and calmness, among others. The social benefits, resulting from the difference in attitude and treatment towards the individual who HYAT, accrue when others assess the inner state. Thus, HYAT is an individual achievement while the benefits are a group accomplishment.
One way towards HYAT is carefully safeguarding what you permit as input (avoiding social media, the news, garbage TV, etc.), and being highly selective about what you decide is worthy of consideration. The second way pertains to goals. Once you go through the deliberations of selecting and defining a goal, with sufficient specificity to permit a legitimate pursuit, you set up your subconscious brain to work the way it does (and thus was going to run its subroutines as it sees fit), as your ally. By telling it what matters to you and why, it can attend to all the environmental input and select what it believes might prove useful. You can’t make it work on demand, but it can be the best ally you have for POE pursuits.