0378 – stop describing problems without solving them

Over and over again I think it’s a good idea to revisit everything from first principles. Start from what you know is true.

What do I know is true? I like writing. I like learning. I want to get stronger. I want to help people. I want to be not-a-burden. I want to be ahead of other people– partially because being better is nice, but also mostly because I think I’m good at being kind to people, better than most people might be at being kind to people who are failing or screwing up– probably just because I know what it’s like to be a screwup of some sort.

I also recognize that I’m not “deeply satisfied” with who I am and where I am, and while I think a part of that solution requires meditative mindfulness and practicing gratitude and all that, another part of it is taking the right actions. And I don’t take the right actions enough. And it’s not like I don’t know what the right actions are, is it? The actions are there, just that there’s friction between knowing the action and taking the action. The flinch. So I need to practice taking actions, that’s it. Like cleaning the fridge or vacuuming the aircon filters. Chores.

I know that if I stay where I am, there will be some conflict down the line where I get frustrated with myself. Earlier I talked about time-blindness– this mostly tends to apply on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour sort of perspective. If I take a longer view– 5 years or longer, I recognize that I will be frustrated. So I need to accelerate getting to the frustration point. I need to empathize with myself and feel the frustration now so I can do something about it.

There were many horrible times when I was in JC or NS or something and I hoped and hoped that someday something would recognize that I have value. To walk away from it because it’s challenging would be tragic. If I did do that, if I did give up on all this, I would have to explain to myself why that is. And that would be a crappy thing to have to explain to myself. I would have to construct a very large and complicated ediface just to say “I was scared. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think I could do it. I was afraid of failure. I was afraid of looking stupid.”

And you know what, fuck it! It doesn’t matter if I can’t do it, I want to try anyway. It doesn’t matter if I look stupid. So what if I look stupid? Why don’t we get that out of the way and assume that everybody in the Universe thinks I’m stupid? There are many people who go through their lives quite happily despite being thought of as idiots. Why should that bother me? This is me holding on to a very outdated and obsolete way of measuring my own value. I should value myself for trying, not for being right. Fuck being right. Just be wrong in the right direction. Just collect data points. Just do things again and again.

If I’m honest about solving problems I’ll stop describing the situation at some point and focus on the output that needs to happen.  Its hould e troubling when a description of a problem gets too elaborate. I need to internalize this. I can’t just recognize it as correct, the way I used to recognize things as valid when I was in maths lectures. “Yeah, that makes sense” – but so what? I wasn’t really doing anything about it!

I need to have a day-to-day chain going that I can point at and go “i can trust this”. Describing the problem != solving the problem.
It’s poisonous and dangerous when I sit around describing problems and I feel like I’m making some sort of progress. Block out / delete descriptions, present only evidence of progress or work done.

Describing a problem is useful only in a specific context– when it’s *strictly* about making the problem more precise towards the end of finding a solution and making the solution more precise. If I’m hungry, I need to eat to stop being hungry, I need to figure out how and where to get food, and I need to eat.

If I’m hungry, then wonder what my brain chemistry is like when I’m hungry, then think about how to study or measure brain chemistry, then I’m not actually solving my hunger problem.

Alternatively, if I make the problem more precise than it needs to be– for example, thinking about what sort of shoes I ought to wear to optimize the walking I need to do to get to the sandwich shop where I’m going to be eating, and then how I ought to tie my laces. Thinking about those details is a distraction, and takes up time and resources. I might think about that stuff while I’m eating or after eating, but not before. The important thing to do when you need to eat… is eat.

I also need to very tightly constrain my definition of “outline problem + identify possible actions”, becaus that’s very vague and I’m addicted to just talking about problems all day instead of working towards specific solutions and executing those solutions.

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