Winning at Life

Discussion for all topics (until the forum becomes large enough to justify splitting things up this will be where all topics go)
Raininginsanity
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 4:50 am

Winning at Life

Post by Raininginsanity » Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:10 am

Rationality is about winning. So what does that look like in your life? Or my life? Or anyone's life? And how do we accomplish that?

We're all subject to Akrasia, to that laziness and irrationality that leads to behaviors that are "losing" behaviors. And learning about rationality doesn't make that go away. Akrasia is the biggest enemy to all rationalists. It is our bane.

What techniques have worked in your life that have actually *changed* your behavior in a systematic way? Note that I am not asking what has inspired you to change, I am asking what has led to systematic change in behavior. Akrasia isn't defeated by motivational speeches. Akrasia is defeated by changes in behavior.

archon
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:02 am

Re: Winning at Life

Post by archon » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:22 am

For me, winning at life is getting to spend lots of time doing the things that bring me joy (reading and chatting with people).

In practise, rationality helps me do the other things that one needs to do in order to be a good person in the modern world, and do those things in a more efficient manner.

One of the big things is just presence of a community of people who are good at stuff, and doing stuff, which makes it easier to leverage guilt at not doing work and getting better into actually doing work and getting better.

One of the tools I have found immensely helpful is "Tsuyoku naritai", described here.

This is for me, vital, since I always try to get better. becoming a good, skilled, worthy person, is impossibly hard to do all at once, and depending on your standard, impossible to do at all. For me, the will to get better is important - no matter how good I am, I can, and will, get a little better. Each piece-meal improvement isn't much, but they add up. I am better than I was, and I will be better. I can take pride in what I have done, and still need to fight for more.

I will mention more things as I think of them.

p.s. Isn't Akrasia everyone's bane? Rationalists just notice it more.
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

Raininginsanity
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 4:50 am

Re: Winning at Life

Post by Raininginsanity » Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:51 pm

Do you think your pursuit for self improvement would be absent in your life if you hadn't come across the concept of "Tsuyoku naritai"? What about if you hadn't come across the community?

I know that questions about hypotheticals are not ideal. But I want to find sources of change rather than some biological factor that is impossible to reproduce.

Maybe reproduce isn't the right word there...

I say that Akrasia is specifically the rationalists bane because in a sense, it is systemized losing. It is directly contrary to the purpose of rationality as defined.

archon
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:02 am

Re: Winning at Life

Post by archon » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:54 am

Raininginsanity wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:51 pm
Do you think your pursuit for self improvement would be absent in your life if you hadn't come across the concept of "Tsuyoku naritai"? What about if you hadn't come across the community?

I know that questions about hypotheticals are not ideal. But I want to find sources of change rather than some biological factor that is impossible to reproduce.

Maybe reproduce isn't the right word there...

I say that Akrasia is specifically the rationalists bane because in a sense, it is systemized losing. It is directly contrary to the purpose of rationality as defined.
Maybe? I think that with the wrong influences I might have ended up much more set in my ways than I am (I tend to that naturally, as does my family). But I think maybe other influences would have inspired that in me - I was first, in the bygone days of 4-6 years ago, linked to Slate Star Codex from here (Which is great post-human sci-fi, BTW), and that had many of the same ideals, as does several other sources which have been major influences - but I might of gotten stuck in the Rational-wiki everyone is flawed eternally, lets just bitch about this forever.

But I do think things I have read / Communities I have participated in have influenced that a lot, as opposed to it being a innate tendency. (Or a effect of rationalism directly)

As you say, hypothetical are hard, especially when it comes to backgrounds and personal development.
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

SolenoidEntity
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 3:42 am

Re: Winning at Life

Post by SolenoidEntity » Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:11 am

I don't know if this counts as a change in behavior per se, but I feel like one thing that has helped me in this regard is realizing, through experience and introspection, that I'm more able to get things done (still not excellent at it, but less bad than otherwise) in relatively structured, but low-stress, environments, and then trying in certain domains to put myself in those kinds of environments. Maybe this should have been obvious to me a long time ago, but it took me until the end of college or so to realize and articulate it.

In some cases I think I've just lucked into this - in the department where I work, for instance, it's generally pretty clear what each person is supposed to get done and when, but as helpful as this is for me I don't recall knowing that when considering the job. And there are still lots of areas where I probably should try to apply this if I want to get anything done - getting back into running, for instance. (Although I tried that last year - made a mileage plan and stuck to it - and was injured after six weeks. That doesn't doom the general idea - I probably just added mileage too fast - but for running it's a fine line between "stick to the plan made in advance, so that you don't end up doing nothing" and "figure out what is reasonable in the moment, so that you aren't doing something counterproductive".)

Sadly, this probably means that trying to get a PhD in any of the things I am hypothetically very interested in getting a PhD in may not be a great idea.

Raininginsanity
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 4:50 am

Re: Winning at Life

Post by Raininginsanity » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:09 am

SolenoidEntity, I think that very much counts. Finding what type of situations you work best in is probably essential to behavioral change/optimization. I think part of what makes motivation research so difficult is the difference between individuals. I'm highly skeptical that there is "one true way", rather there is probably 100 ways that work for 10 unique situations for 10 unique type of people.

I'm very nervous about getting a PhD too. I picked out my top 5 programs and was studying for the GRE...but then I downgraded my goal. Now I'm just looking at masters. one of the terrible things about school is that you cannot try it out for a month before commiting to it.

Raininginsanity
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 4:50 am

Re: Winning at Life

Post by Raininginsanity » Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:17 pm

From another thread:
Filly wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:40 am
As for motivation, it seems pretty well established that there is no silver bullet for motivation, but rather a collection of techniques for solving various possible subproblems. I would love a write up that addresses the topic and connects said subproblems to solutions, but the best I've found so far is https://mindlevelup.wordpress.com/2017/ ... tionality/ , and that's really more of a "wouldn't it be nice if someone made this sort of post, but in its entirety" than it is a full write-up. TBH, that post covers a lot of my opinions on the subject, but doesn't provide a solution to my current sticking point of motivation, namely identifying and singling out a worthwhile career/life goal.
All good points.

I wasn't familiar with that site, so I know what I'll be doing for the next week.

BJ Fogg has codified bevahioral change for those subproblems in a chart. Mostly it seems to be used in making apps more addictive.

mindlevelup

Re: Winning at Life

Post by mindlevelup » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:27 am

Hey guys, Owen here from mindlevelup. Saw the post linked from Wordpress, so I thought I'd chime in real quick. My thoughts on akrasia are pretty well summarized by the above linked post and also the one called There Is No Akrasia, where I make the point that reifying akrasia might be bad and concretely identifying the problem is good.

In terms of actual solving the problem, I think a useful simplification is to think of failures to take action as either forgetting about the action you wanted to take, or because of internal conflict. If it's a behavior you already wanted to take, then things like TAPs, reminders, and precommitments can put you on the right track. If it's an internal conflict, then trying to understand and explicate the source of the aversion while reserving judgment seems like the appropriate answer.

(This is also roughly the typical formulation used by psychologists when they refer to bridging the "intention-action gap".)

Otherwise, several useful subsections of fighting akrasia seem to include planning, habits, and time-inconsistent preferences. I have a bunch of unfinished drafts on this, and if you're interested in checking those out, the Google drive link is https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/fold ... Vlwd0ttS1U.

Raininginsanity
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 4:50 am

Re: Winning at Life

Post by Raininginsanity » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:53 am

I'm pretty impressed with your site. Even more impressed when I realized you were a senior in high school for a lot of the posts. There's no way that my thoughts were so clear, concise, and rational at that age. I expect you to continue with your endeavor, and if you don't, I'll be severely disappointed. Do you know what you want to study in college yet?

I think what I really need to do is sit down and decide which behavior it is that I want to focus on. Part of my problem is that I want to optimize everything at once rather than taking it one step at a time. This is a more recent problem. Usually my problem is more lethargy. For example, I don't exercise because as soon as I'm there on the ground, in position to to push ups, I just don't care.

Alright, for public record, my goal from henceforth will be to practice the GRE every weekday. Whatever tools of rationality I learn will be used to complete this goal. I am currently almost 60% of the way through the Economists GRE prep course. I will finish another 2% of the total every week day.

If by the end of the week I haven't kept my goal, I won't be surprised because I haven't set a specific time to do it. After work my schedule is too unpredictable, and that's when lethargy kicks in most. So my commitment has to take place in the morning before work. Which means I'll have to get up slightly earlier. And that means that I have to go to bed slightly earlier.

Now if i don't complete my goal, I will assume I couldn't keep my sleep/wake up schedule. Probably because I was on my phone too much in the morning and at night (I have a problem). Solution: I will turn off my phone at 9pm every night regardless of anything. And I will not turn my phone back on till after I have finished studying in the morning. I will set a reminder on my habitica app (which I have stopped using) to remind me every weekday at nine.

Now I'll be surprised if I don't manage to complete my goal.

Alright, first steps. Here we go.

mindlevelup

Re: Winning at Life

Post by mindlevelup » Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:59 pm

I'll be doing CS at UCSD. But it's not clear that this would end up being better versus if I, for example, ended up just working at CFAR, so I'm still trying to solicit advice / suggestions from people who know more. (Feel free to chime in w/ info if you think it'd be good for me to know. Definitely still trying to explore more paths.)

In regards to your GRE plan, that looks like a good application of looking for problem points. Other things that might be good to to do:
* Keep a longer time frame than 1 week to evaluate, especially as we know that habituation often takes quite a bit longer (~6 weeks or more). So just don't let small failures early on knock you down.

* Regarding your phone, you might also want to look into an app like Power Schedule: https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... erschedule which allows you to auto-set a time for things like airplane mode / wifi to turn off.

* Maybe also setting a timer or something, so you can quantify how long in the mornings, if you're not doing that already. (EX: For me, the first thing I do after waking up is go walking for 20 minutes.)

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