Create your own religion.
Values can be changed only by experience, not through reason. When we feel hopeless, it signifies that our values have failed us. We start looking for new ones to replace them. We must find value somewhere. That’s how we find hope. We interpret the significance of our experience through values—facts don’t matter. The belief that this one thing, the God Value, will produce the best future reality gives people hope. Religion is all about emotional attachment. The best way to build it is to make people stop thinking critically, to cut off reasoning, and end discussion. The common enemy who don’t share the same values, “them,” helps to unite the followers and maintains the hope. Rituals make our values tangible. They connect us with the past, attach us to our values, and affirm who we are. Over time, rituals modify and reinforce the Feeling Brain’s value hierarchy. Religion reinforces itself in a cycle: the more you promise salvation, world peace, and happiness, the more the followers fail to live up to that promise, the more guilt they feel, the more they’ll do to make up for it. More effective religions have more disciplined followers. More disciplined followers make a religion more likely to be spread among people and to give those people a sense of self-control and a feeling of hope. Religions compete in the world for resources, and the religions that tend to win are those whose value hierarchies make the most efficient use of labor and capital.
Step 1: Sell hope to the hopeless.
Present your values.
Explain why people feel so hopeless from the point of view of your core value—spirituality, money, freedom, etc. Have a message and a vision.
Give a sense of self-control and empowerment.
Outline how to change the current situation.
Provide a community where people will fit in and know who they are.
Make people feel they’re part of a greater movement.
Appeal to the hopeless.
People are the most impressionable when things are the worst.
Step 2. Choose your faith.
Choose your God Value.
All values are faith-based beliefs. Pick the value that you’ll place on top of the hierarchy. Religion shouldn’t necessarily be global or revolve around supernatural forces. It might be money, love, personal pleasure, empowerment, or another person.
Step 3. Invalidate criticism and outside questioning as much as possible.
Adopt a belief that creates a self-reinforcing “us against them” feeling.
“If you criticize us, you become them.”
Step 4. Create visual and experiential representations of what you deem important.
Create an easily repeatable, yet unique and identifiable action for people to perform.
These actions should be repeated over a long period of time.
Step 5. Promise heaven, deliver hell.
Make your followers perpetually dissatisfied, yet strive to become better.
If they were all perfect and great, there’d be no reason to follow anybody. There are no solutions; there are only incremental improvements.
Step 6. Prophet for profit.
Create the rules for your benefit, if you want.
You decide what is ethical. You decide what is right. You can tell your followers what to do.
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