0171 – fundamentals, small changes, fixing laziness

Written in January 2014.

How about  completely unplanned vomit, huh? Technically no vomit is completely unplanned because there are always thoughts floating around in the head waiting to be captured. The main reason I’m doing this right now is because I don’t want to have spent my morning commute on Facebook or Twitter or Quora.

Bad eating habits

I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I’ve had bad eating habits all my life, and it’s affected me much more deeply than I previously realised. I have been living with low blood sugar symptoms almost daily for years, which led me to being really weak, tired, lethargic. I just lived with it, as if it were completely normal to get extremely tired all the time. I’m sure there are people who have and have had it worse than me. I don’t think my problem is acute enough to be considered a medical problem, it’s just a blah lifestyle. And I want to change it. I’m tired of being this skinny, weak and often suddenly cranky guy. I want to live a life of happiness and kindness and joy, and that’s going to require some extensive reprogramming.

I’ve been talking about this for years of course, which makes me a ripe candidate for “all talk and no action”. But I do believe I’ve taken some actions, and I’ve made some progress. I sleep earlier these days. I eat healthier, I think. I’ve been reasonably on top of my work, which is a miracle compared to how I was throughout my 16 odd years in the education system (and my two years of national service). My natural state has been “unreliable and irresponsible”, for everything, since forever. It’s been really hard to fix- harder than quitting smoking.
Progress through small changes

But I think I’m making progress. I think the mistake I habitually make is that I try to make very dramatic changes. That’s really hard to do, it seems like my brain and body is resistant to big changes. The challenge is to make small but lasting changes. So rather than try to go from unproductive to productive, I should carve out a few minutes of really distraction-free productivity time.

I’ve been bothered by how unfit I’ve been getting. I don’t look any less fit than a couple of years ago, but something about my day to day life is slowly killing me and I can feel it. It’s sapping my strength. It’s all the sitting around, probably, and the lack of exercise. For a period of time I was doing pushups and squats everyday and that was kinda helping me fight back the atrophy.

I’m revisiting that chemical/body focused approach. Breathing, sleep, hydration, nutrition, mindfulness, information diet… I realise that I’ve been working on sleep and nutrition but I haven’t really done much about breathing. It just seems intellectually silly to me. But I should experiment with it. Many people wiser, more experienced and more successful than I have sworn by it. The few times I’ve tried it have always been positive.

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Laziness as work aversion.

A friend pointed out that sometimes we’re averse even to things that we know to be pleasurable. That’s true. This whole thing is incredibly complex, which is why so many people are mired in patterns of procrastination, addiction, depression, “underachieving”.

The question is, when you say someone is underachieving, what does that mean? That they aren’t doing all that they could be doing? Why should a person do all they can do, anyway? Because life is short? Sure. But why should they do something that they’re directed to do, either by others or by their conscious mind?

This line of reasoning can easily lead to “why bother with anything?”, which is a space I think everybody should spend some time in… but it’s not particularly fun or interesting in the long run. I think life should be fun and interesting. And that’s something I’m willing to accept as an axiom of sorts, because life is short. I’m a curious person, and exploring my curiosity has almost always been a pleasurable, gratifying experience.

My mission in life right now is to help myself and help others out of a dull, dreary life. That means joy and excitement. Expanded consciousness. People should see wonder, joy and gratitude in the world. I want to be able to help people do that, in a way that isn’t silly or cheesy.

Fixing deep procrastination

I want to help solve/fix procrastination in a deep, meaningful sense. Procrastination is complex, and it’s robbed me of a lot of pleasure, and I’ve just about had enough of it. I’m not knocking on idleness- idleness can be pleasant. I’m talking about the sort of mindless, hollow empty procrastination where you hate yourself. Nobody should have to experience that.

I mean, if people could hit a button or swallow a pill and become instantly productive, wouldn’t they? We all know what is best for ourselves in the long run, but we get messed up by the short run. I’m not saying that short-term pleasures or desires ate necessarily bad, I’ve indulged in them myself, far more than I’m comfortable admitting. I just think that there should be a healthy relationship between present-self and future-self. (And past-self too, actually.)

I don’t hate or resent my past self. I know that he did what he could within his limitations and circumstances. I’m not sure if he would’ve been able to do more, given what he knew, who he was and what he thought or felt. What I do know is that if I had the information I have NOW, I would’ve made slightly different decisions. I don’t think I would’ve done better in school, but I would’ve been more deliberate about my side projects.

It’s more interesting to think about the future. I look back at my secondary school and JC days and see some squandered opportunities. What will my future-self think about how I am right now? That’s the million dollar question.

I think the kicker is meaningful information. If I knew better, I’d probably have done better. (Not necessarily, but the path is revealed.) So how do I make sure I know better right now? How do I reveal the continuum of paths I am to choose from?

I think a big part of it is seeking out people and having conversations with them. For me, at least- I am energised by good 1-1 conversations with thoughtful people. Every person is different and had an interesting, unique take on things that can be remarkably energising. I met a couple of people for conversations and I realise I should do it a lot more, at scale. It sharpens my thinking.

I don’t mean groups. I’ve become increasingly wary and suspicious of groups. I mean individuals. /abrupt finish

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