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A Walkthrough of Lucidly: Technology for Navigating Life

This is a walkthrough of Lucidly, a technology for restoring and enhancing your natural intelligence for making sense of things and navigating life. Watch the video walkthrough or read the written walkthrough. Sign up for a Lucidly account.


There are all kinds of things that make it hard to navigate life. You want to get towards what's best for you, you want to be getting the things you need to feel good, to feel connected, and to feel like things make sense.

But you can get stuck, you can feel lost, you can lose touch with what matters and with what's important. Things bother you that you can't seem to sort out, you can feel like you're not able to make sense of things, move on, make important decisions, or move forward in life.

These are all different experiences, but they aren't all different problems. They all come from the same problem, which is when your natural intelligence for navigating life has broken down, and it needs help coming back online so you can re-orient, reconnect, make sense of things, and find your way forward.

Lucidly works with your mind to restore and enhance your natural intelligence for navigating life.

Let's look at some of these experiences and see how Lucidly helps.

Addressing What's Bothering You

Let's start with the experience of being bothered by something that you can't sort out. Maybe something happened at work, maybe you got into an argument, maybe you're trying to make a decision...endless things can bother us.

With Lucidly, whenever you're bothered by something, just enter it as a topic, and you'll be walked through a custom guided exploration of that topic to help you reach the insights you need to find the way forward.

Let's take a closer look at how this works.

Starting from the Atlas

If you know precisely what's bothering you, you can add the topic into what is called the "Atlas," and then launch a guided exploration from there.

Your atlas is kind of like your artificial memory. It's there to keep track of all the important topics that you choose to add from your life. And we'll see how this gets used more later.

Note that everything you enter into Lucidly stays on your device by default. Nothing gets stored online. All your private topics and writing stays on your device, unless you want to sync across devices. To do that, we have a Dropbox plugin that you can use. So that's one way to add a topic to explore, is through the Atlas directly. But another scenario is that you can be bothered by something, but you aren't exactly sure where to start with it, you don't know what aspect of it is really the heart of the matter.

For example, let's say you got into a disagreement with someone at work. Something about that is bothering you, but you're not sure if the part you're really bothered by is the disagreement itself, or if it's your relationship to the person, or the context of the work environment, or the way you were behaving, or something else.

When you're trying to make sense of something, you really want to find the aspect of it that you're most curious about.

So there's a couple things you can do with Lucidly for this.

Starting from the Topics Library

One option is to browse the topics library, which has a lot of common scenarios of things that can bother us. These scenarios are broken down into topics that might be good starting places to make some progress.

The topics library includes things like changing careers, dating, conflicts, and more.

Starting with a Check In

Or, you can use the Check In tool. The Check In tool is like having what you'd want in a good listener. Just write out a few sentences about what's bothering you, and it will x-ray your writing, then present back key words and phrases in what you said as ideas for what could be productive places to start.

Articulating what's on your mind while listening for the meaningful aspects of what you're saying is really hard to do on your own. So by offloading the listening part to Lucidly, it really makes things easier, especially when you're feeling bad from what's bothering you.

You can try it as many times as you like, and if you find an aspect that grabs your curiosity, you can launch right into a custom guided exploration from there.

And that's what we're going to look at next.

Exploring for Insights

Ok, so you've found an aspect you're curious about, you can just click to explore from anywhere, and Lucidly will launch you into a guided exploration of custom, carefully constructed thought experiments, imaginative exercises, and questions, what we call "Lenses" in Lucidly.

We call them lenses because each one is like getting a different way of looking at the aspect you're exploring, like you're looking through a different lens.

The engine behind this is a system that has been built to generate high quality, productive thought experiments, imaginative exercises, and questions, that work based on what we know from modern cognitive science about what the brain needs for reaching insights and making sense of things.

When you launch an exploration around a custom aspect, Lucidly generates on the order of 20-40 lenses. This is a virtually comprehensive set, and that's important. It means that you are getting full coverage of the important ways of looking at the aspect you're exploring, like getting a full 360-degree view.

This means that whenever you want to question things, whenever you feel a need to step back and reflect on something, whenever you want to deepen your understanding or make sense of any aspect of your life, you don't need to look anywhere else. Lucidly gives you all the high quality, productive ways of looking that you would need to make sense of things.

It's important to note that you don't need to view all the lenses for each aspect. All you have to do is consider the ones that you feel naturally curious about. You might find yourself really wanting and needing a full, end to end exploration of an aspect in your life. But most of the time, people find that they get the insights or clarity they need much faster than expected, they only need a small number of lenses.

So let's look more at the details of working with the lenses.

Working with Lenses

For each lens, you'll be walked through an imaginative exercise, and then you'll be asked a question. For each question, you have an opportunity to capture your thoughts in writing.

This is always optional, but this feature, along with some other features you'll see in a minute, makes some people think of Lucidly as a kind of smart journal.

With typical journaling it's just you and a blank page. Even though writing out your thoughts can be beneficial if done correctly, sometimes it can leave you still spinning or thinking in circles, but now you're writing in circles. And even if you're working with some writing prompts, a journal doesn't really support you or guide your mind.

With Lucidly, you're supported the whole way, you're not guessing where to start, you're not repeating yourself over and over. You're being guided through the right kinds of prompts that engage productive thinking and imagining. It's like a dynamic, choose your own adventure kind of inquiry process.

And here's another thing. Remember the check in tool? You can access that feature for your writing here too. So at any time, you can get help to check if there are any meaningful and productive aspects that relate to what you're talking about.

You could find an important aspect to add to your atlas and explore later, or you could reveal something to explore now if you realize that the heart of the matter is really about a different topic. So you can follow a train of thought this way and Lucidly will adapt.

Making Connections

There's a number of other features with the Lenses, but one really important part of the lenses is Connection Lenses.

There are different types of lenses that Lucidly will generate for you, but many of them are known as Connection Lenses. Connection lenses are special in that they help you reveal possible connections between the aspect you're currently exploring, and other aspects of your life. This is really important for learning about yourself and how things work in your life. It's key for having insights.

Let's say you're exploring a relationship, and a Connection Lens is asking if there are any beliefs that might be influencing your relationship. You can reflect on this and leave it at that. Or you can go a step further.

Accelerating Insights

For each Connection Lens, you can actually add any aspects that come to mind, such as beliefs that influence your relationship to your friend or partner.

When you do this, the new beliefs get saved to your Atlas. Remember how the Atlas is like your artificial memory? As you use Lucidly and passively connect new aspects, your Atlas grows with these new aspects. Then as you explore aspects in the future, Lucidly will bring your atlas aspects back into the context of these connection lenses.

Two things are important about this. One is that it accelerates your own natural intelligence for making sense of things. When you're trying to make sense of things in life, you are trying to understand how things work in the big picture, and that usually requires bringing the same important aspects of your life to mind in different contexts.

But your brain can't just bring to mind all your values, or all the important beliefs you have in an instant. There are real biological limitations to memory. So Lucidly acts as your artificial memory.

When you're viewing a lens that's asking about relationships, all your important relationships are right there, ready to consider. When you're viewing a lens asking about behaviors, you have the important behaviors to consider right there, and so on.

Further, you can actively manage and curate your Atlas so that it stays tidy and filled in with the important aspects of your life so it can work for you as you're trying to make sense of things.

What's even more important is that in bringing back aspects from your Atlas in context, you unlock the possibility for seeing new things that wouldn't be possible without a tool like this.

For example, you could be exploring a goal in your life, and Lucidly can ask you to think about if there is anybody in your life right now who is helping or hurting your pursuit of the goal. This can help you have insights.

But by bringing back all the people you've captured into your atlas, you can start considering combinations you wouldn't necessarily have thought of before, like people from your past, and people in the future. This can help you see things in completely new ways, creating the possibility for large scale learning and insight.

This covers the main process of finding an aspect to start with and doing a guided exploration through custom lenses. Now let's look at how to know when you're done.

How to Know When You're Done

Depending on what's bothering you, the number of lenses and topics you need to explore can vary. You might get what you need from just one short sitting, or you might need multiple sittings with Lucidly.

It's really about listening to yourself. Stop when you feel like you need a break. Continue when you're ready again. And you'll know when you're done with what's bothering you if you don't feel bothered anymore. You feel like you go the clarity you needed, you feel better, you know how to move forward.

This might sound like common sense, but this idea of listening to yourself, tuning in to when you feel curious, tired, confused, clear, is all a really important part of successfully resolving something that's bothering you and navigating life. And tuning into these senses, what we call Cognitive Senses, is a skill that you'll get better at the more you use Lucidly.

So in the big picture, Lucidly gives you a really simple process for starting with anything that's bothering you in life, breaking it down, and engaging in a productive exploration to reach insights, to resolve things, and move forward in life.

You get to do this on your own terms, on your own time, anywhere, don't need to share anything with anyone.

But sometimes things aren't that straight forward. Sometimes it's not so much that something is bothering you, but just that you feel bad about your life, or your mind feels distracted, or that you feel out of touch with yourself. All of these experiences, and others, are still symptoms of when your natural intelligence for navigating life breaks down.

So Lucidly provides you with simple, focused tools and exercises that are designed to help you address common scenarios.

Transforming Painful Mental States

Some of the exercises here might feel familiar to you. They might feel similar to various meditation exercises you might have tried, or you might have seen something similar in self-help books, or done things like this with a therapist or someone else.

But while tools and exercises like these exist in a lot of different contexts and are used towards different ends, here they're specifically designed and intended for helping you restore your ability to navigate life.

The way to use these tools is to identify the one that matches what you're experiencing, use the tool, see if it helps. Then check in again to see where you are at and use the next appropriate tool from there.

Once you address whatever you're experiencing, sometimes that can be enough. You might return to a state when there's nothing you really need to deal with. You can just get back to life.

Other times, after addressing one thing, something else might present itself. You might need to use one of the other tools, or you might notice there's an aspect you want to add and explore.

There can be a lot of nuance to learning how to choose these tools and how to transition between them. It can take some trial and error. But in doing this, you'll be learning how to be with yourself, how to tune in and check what's happening, and ultimately how to get what you need to restore your capacity to navigate what's happening in life.

Now let's take a quick tour of each tool so you can get an idea of when to use them for different common scenarios.

Mind Running in Circles

The first common experience is when your attention is being captured by thinking about multiple things at once, it's when your thinking is all over the place.

Maybe you're feeling distracted, scattered, rushed, or that your mind is running in circles.

This tool gives you a simple exercise to help you regain control over your attention so that you can use it productively.

Physical or Emotional Pain

Another common experience is when you're in some kind of pain that you don't want to be with. This could be emotional pain from a heartbreak, from the loss of someone or something, from a failure, or some other form of emotional pain.

This can also be physical pain or discomfort. Obviously if the pain you're experiencing needs medical attention, this isn't a replacement for that.

Instead, this would be something you can do when the pain feels like it might have a psychological component, such as fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, or something else.

This tool simply gives you an exercise to help you be with the pain in a way that helps you let go of any mental processes that are amplifying the psychological aspects of it, and reveal any opportunities to make sense of things in life around the pain.

Getting Out of Your Head

For this next one, you may have had the experience of being "in your head", where you feel cut off from your feelings, your body, and the world around you. This happens after long periods of thinking with narrow, focused attention or a lot of time analyzing things.

Not only can this leave you feeling disconnected, it's also a problem in that it blocks access to the bigger picture as well as your own senses and feelings which need to be available to you as a part of navigating life.

This tool gives you an exercise that is specifically designed to disrupt the cognitive process that keeps you "in your head" so that the part that's thinking and analyzing can be given the opportunity to wind down.

Not Wanting to Be With Yourself as You Are

In general, when you're using Lucidly and when you're trying to restore your ability to navigate life, you need to be able to be with yourself as you are. You need to be able to address what's bothering you, address when you're in pain, and be open, curious, and non-judgmental to what's actually happening for you.

Sometimes, you just don't want to be with yourself. You don't want to reconnect with yourself and you don't want to be you in that moment.

This tool gives you a way to do something about that and address what's happening there.

Feeling Bad About Life in General

Sometimes it's not that we are bothered by anything in particular, it's that we feel bad in general when we look out on our life.

This tool gives you an exercise to check how you feel about your life in general across dimensions like feeling left out or connected and powerless or empowered. You might see similar scales in measures of general psychological wellbeing, in self-determination, and in resilience, because these are all trying to measure how people are feeling about life overall.

There's a couple ways to use this.

One is when you're not sure what's bothering you, you can check these sliders and ask yourself, how do you feel? Often times, you might be surprised that what you thought was a general bad feeling, actually can be articulated across these specific feelings. If you can do that, it can start to give you some clues about what might be behind the feeling that can help you start making progress.

You can also use this as a kind of mood tracker, or what we'd call a life outlook tracker, where you can periodically record your outlook on life with these sliders and see how things change over time.

The more you spend time with these sliders, the better you can get at tuning into how you're feeling about life at any given time, and use that as useful information while you're trying to make sense of things.

Stuck in Painful Thought Loops

This next tool is about getting distance. Getting distance, or self-distancing, is really important for getting out of trapped ways of thinking. Getting trapped in a way of thinking or in a narrow quality of attention is one of the primary ways our brain's ability to navigate gets blocked. There are a lot of things in Lucidly that promote self-distancing, but this tool gives you a way to do it directly.

It works by giving you specialized writing prompts that activate the self-distancing process, and helps you get out of ruminating, restore context, and broaden the frame beyond whatever thought pattern you might be stuck in.

Addressing Difficult or Challenging Thoughts

A really common experience is having distracting or intrusive thoughts. This can come in the form of having too many thoughts, distracting you from life.

This can also come in the form of thoughts that feel mean, or negative, like negative self-talk.

This tool is useful for both circumstances. The exercise it gives you will walk you through getting these thoughts out of your head, articulated, identifying what's bothering you behind them, and captured somewhere you can see them and work with them. This can feel really good just to put them down and not have to hold them in your mind anymore.

The other part of the exercise will guide you through how to productively engage with the thoughts that might be difficult or challenging in some way.

Through practicing this exercise you can become skilled at managing your mind, and knowing how to take the thoughts that are being presented to you and translate them into a productive starting place to explore for insights.

Breaking Down What's Bothering You

The check in tool is the same one we saw earlier. This is for when you feel really close to knowing what's bothering you, you have a real scenario you can describe, but you're not quite sure what aspect of it is bothering you. You can use the check in tool to write a few sentences and it will break it down for you to find some ideas for aspects you could explore.

With all of these tools, as you work with them, you're simultaneously practicing skills, skills for managing your mind, dealing with different challenging states, and you're also going to be changing the relationship you have with your mind and with yourself. A lot of what you're exercising with these tools is an ability to tune into yourself, listen to yourself, understand yourself and how your mind works, and that is really important for maintaining and strengthening your abilities for navigating life.

Hopefully you can start to see now there's really a lot more than meets the eye here with Lucidly, and that it really tries to cover everything that's hard about managing your mind, making sense of things, and navigating life.

Now the next question to cover is how should you approach using Lucidly? How much to use it, when to use it...it really depends on your goals.

Using it Whenever You Need It

The instinct you might have is to only use Lucidly when something is bothering you. And that does make sense.

You could have just had a bad day at work, something happened. You can pull up Lucidly on your phone and drop straight into productive exploration to step back from the situation.

You could be going about your day and feel some negative thoughts getting you down. You don't have to wait to address what's going on, you can use Lucidly to get right to the heart of the issue, make sense of it, and restore the big picture.

Whatever it may be, Lucidly is designed to be that simple to be able to pick up right when you need it, to help you address whatever's bothering you so you can learn what's going on, find a way forward, and get back to life.

And that's great, but there are situations where this isn't enough.

Scheduling Time Off (Retreat Usage)

What about the times when you feel like everything is "up?" You feel like you need to step back from your whole life. You have a strong desire to go off and think about things. Maybe you're in a time of transition, or need to reassess. Maybe you have a backlog of things that have been bothering you and now you want to really take time to examine things and sort things out.

It might make sense to schedule some time off for this, to go on a kind of retreat.

There are a lot of organized retreats you could go on, but the problem is that you've got to follow someone else's program, with someone else's idea of what you need. You might have to participate in activities, and maybe you don't really want to do that. You don't really feel like that's what you need.

The alternative is to go off on a solo retreat. Maybe you take a personal vacation and go to a place with a nice nature setting. But then when you get there, and it's just you, maybe a journal, and your thoughts. You can be faced with a big question of, now what? You don't necessarily know how to be productive with that. You need guidance, but you want the solitude, and you don't want to come out the other side feeling like you didn't make any progress.

This is a situation where Lucidly can really help. You can take Lucidly on a personal retreat, and now you have a tool there that can meet your mind where it's at and support you in a guided process that's custom fit for you to explore and make sense of as much as you have time for. You get the solitude you want, the distance from everything, while also getting what you need to be productive and come back clearer than you did when you started.

So far, we've been talking about using Lucidly in ways that are reactive to when things aren't feeling good. You're bothered by something, you're feeling bad in some way, you have a backlog of things to address in your life.

But there's also a way to be proactive.

Personal and Psychological Growth

Take the analogy of your physical health. We may experience new aches and pains, or we hurt something, muscles get sore and tight. We can respond to this by stretching things out or getting a massage. Maybe we have to go to the doctor to get treated, or go to a physical therapist to get things moving again.

But another approach to physical health is to be proactive. You can stretch as a daily practice. You can exercise regularly to prevent injury, but also to get stronger, to get healthier and more physically capable.

This is very similar to how you can approach your cognitive well-being.

You can actually be proactive with managing your mind, you can have good mental hygiene, you can catch things before they turn into larger problems, you can protect yourself from things that break down your ability to navigate life.

For example, imagine having a practice where you wake up every day and you check in your Atlas in Lucidly, which you've curated with all the important aspects of your life, to remember the big picture of what matters.

Or imagine a regular practice where you're checking in with your outlook on life, to check hm, am I starting to feel disconnected?, am I starting to feel under threat? or anything else? Then you can address, what is behind this? before letting it go unnoticed for too long.

This is important because the breakdown of your natural intelligence for navigating life generally starts to happen without an ability to notice. You have to actively check for it, and Lucidly gives you the tools you need to do that check and address things early.

Another example, imagine exploring aspects of life where you want to extend your understanding, maybe to prepare for how you'd handle a hypothetical situation, maybe to deepen your connection to important values or relationships, maybe to understand the perspectives and experiences of others, maybe as part of developing your wisdom over big picture topics of life.

Or imagine looking for new opportunities for change in your life because you want to, because you want to grow and be better. That's all easily supported with Lucidly.

There's so much opportunity for personal and psychological growth if you make time for it, if you make restoring, exercising, and protecting your ability to navigate life into a practice, and prioritize it as something important in your life, it's everything.

This all might sound like a lot. You might be wondering, am I really going to be able learn how to do all this on my own?

Coaching & Support

Lucidly gives you tools, but there are also a lot of meta-cognitive skills that you need to develop and bring to what you do with Lucidly in order to be successful. Just like if you are learning to drive a car for the first time, or you get a new computer. There's still a set of skills you need to be able to operate the technology successfully.

The good news is that you'll develop these skills naturally just by using Lucidly. These are things like learning how to ask yourself better questions, breaking yourself out of painful ways of thinking, and a really big one is developing the ability to notice and tune in to your cognitive senses that you need for learning and reaching insights.

We've also developed a lot of coaching and training exercises that you can access from right in the app, to help you.

Beyond this, know that your success with Lucidly is extremely important to us. If you're struggling to make something work, or you're not sure the best way to do an exercise, reach out to us! We're here to help. You can send us a message anytime and we'll do whatever we can to help you be successful with the tools and exercises.

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