Mental models are frameworks for thinking and help you make moral decisions without needing to know everything about a situation.

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Mental models simplify complex situations so you can reason through them easily.

People keep writing articles about mental montels but never answer these questions:

1). How do I use mental models for everyday decisions?
2). How do I put them into practice?

Your brain is not made to use the best model for decision. But, in every generation, few people remade their biology:
This forces them to think in models constantly.

I have a good example of two guys I know of:
  • Elon Musk
  • Jeff Bezos
They're on record about this.

Two things models do:

1. They help you assess how systems work.
2. They help you make better decisions.

For Instance:

  • How does a rocket engine work (system)?
  • Which type of rocket fuel should you use (decision)?

The rocket engine is a system for you to reverse engineer and get understanding. As for which type of fuel to use, that's a decision to make.
Mental models direct you toward the answers here.

When Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos face decisions, they purposely use a mental model. Great number of people instead do Googling, then roll with whatever seems to make the most sense.

How to assess systems and what is a system?.

Here is your answer:

A "system" is anything with many parts depending on each other. eg, a machine and process is a system.

Example of systems
  • A business.
  • A tool, such as a rocket or a keyboard.
  • A process, such as economic growth or sustaining a romantic relationship.
  • A state of being, such as your health or happiness.
  • Your brain, soul, and mind

The world makes more reasonable when you see it as a patchwork of such systems whereby each of which can be reverse engineered through mental models.
A mental model of a system is a reduction of how it works.
The model determines the core components that matter and how they interact.

This transparency is vital to exceedingly boosting a system:
  • When you improve the system of business, you make more income.
  • When you improve the system of relationships, you gain deeper friendships.

Below are mental models used by Elon Musk to reduce complicated systems:

First Principles.

What is the best way to solve a problem starting from scratch?
Looking past humanity’s attempts to solve it, what's the best approach if you reason from its principles? Think about it.

Here is an example:

The SpaceX team looked past decades of incremental rocket improvements to re-examine spaceflight from scratch.
They asked, What do the basic principles affirm to be the most cost-efficient and power-efficient to build a rocket?

They let uncomplicated mental model that fits on a cue card direct them through the deconstruction of a vast system so they could remarkably improve it.
That is the advantage of models. Let's say is you looking at every part of the world this way!

How can you use first principles for your down-to-earth problems? For any project, ask:

1. What system underlies this project?
  • relationship
  • a business
  • a product
  • Or something else with multiple components relying on each other?

2. Is this system already efficient?
3. If it's not yet efficient, what are the abiding principles underlying it?
4. Can I start over from those principles to identify a terribly better way to design this system?

This brings us to our next question:
How do we know which systems are worth significantly improving daily? The answer is in the second principle
Second Principle is "one level higher".

One level higher
repeatedly asks whether you’re optimizing a cog in a machine instead of the machine itself.
The higher the level you optimize at, typically, the greater your ROI.

For example,

If your target is financial wealth, you can work years to earn a 15% raise a cog or switch jobs for an instant 25% salary boost the machine.
You'd reach the financial target easily if you optimize the machine:
  • finding a new job that's higher level.
  • Go to a level even higher.
The job market is itself a cog in yet another financial machine earning financial stability.
What if you attain financial strength without having to labor away at a 8 to 4 in the first place?

If your genuine passion lies outside the office, then climbing the corporate ladder is falling prey to inertia.
The better way possible minimise expenses by moving to a cheaper city and living modestly.
With lower costs is advisable you switch to part-time and pursue your passions.

The one level higher model is asking yourself, is it higher leverage to optimize a level above the one I'm focused on?
Somebody said :"When you view the world as a series of outputs, you form opinions, but when you view the world as a series of systems, you form strategies."
One level higher is a model for assessing systems in your lifetime. But, we have a problem of asking ourselves if to think a level higher is very difficult due in part to inertia.

Plainly, using a mental model to break out of your flow and question what you’re working on is like ripping the carpet out from under your goals.
It’s troublesome to face the possibility that you’ve spent years on the wrong thing. Avoid indecisiveness and you will be safe.

Another thing, working hard without asking what are the better things to be working on is a hidden laziness.
Appreciate the beauty of flow when you're in it, but don't become mad about it.

Losing agency over your life because of continued flow is named as flow paralysis. It is the archenemy of critical thinking.
It's the transparent sign you’ve dropped mental models, because the use of models continually adjusts your life path.

You can think of it this way:

The power of mental models is in information.
Mental models produce different recommendations based on the updated information you put into them.
So, if you're in a flow state for a long time, you'll have buried your head without absorbing new informations, advice, and so on.
This is an obvious symptom: your mental model is no longer a working properly for what to work on.