0417 – idea-resistance, one journey, saying no, falling off wagons

“9. The best ideas get implemented without resistance, why?”

Well– these might not necessarily be the _best_ ideas across all dimensions. It’s just that some ideas get implemented without resistance, and the fact that they get implemented so easily means that they were superior configurations of the same thing. So to use a negative sort of example– if you smoke hand-rolled cigarettes, and you start buying and using filters, and that improves your smoking experience in the sense that now you don’t get tobacco in your mouth, and you don’t burn your fingers, then you’re going to keep using the filters because it’s not much more effort for a lot more payoff. And you buy the filters at the same place you buy the tobacco. So it’s simple and easy to implement. Same for the jug-of-water solution– you already had the jug, you were already filling water in bottles or cups, and now you have a jug and it’s just intuitively sensible.

I suppose what I really wanted to get at with the question was– how do we identify when there are superior configurations of existing systems, without having to make any big sacrifices? These are creative solutions that don’t involve a lot of mess or destruction. At the same time it’s probably worth acknowledging that the ABSOLUTE BEST solutions– or significantly superior solutions– often involve some destruction. There’s a cost to big good change… except when there isn’t.

Uh. So these things are mostly about identifying suboptimal uses of existing resources. I’m not sure if it’s really worth thinking about this too deeply apart from recognizing that such circumstnaces exist, and if you’re still early along the journey to optimizing something, then you probably can reconfigure your existing circumstances in a superior way. What are the things I’d like to reconfigure? The basics, as always. Sleep better, read more/better, write more/better. Now I’m going through a process where I’m just answering questions I’ve asked before. That’s a jug-of-water solution– I don’t need to waste time thinking of new things, I just answer old questions. I’ll keep doing that. And I’ll try to revisit this from time to time. Sometimes it might happen out of random play and curiosity (so time should be allocated for that), but more often I think it happens when there is some desired end-state… and even then, when one is playful and curious and means-agnostic about achieving that end-state.

“There is ultimately only one journey”

Yes, and that is self-mastery. Self-knowledge. Self-exploration. Getting to know yourself. Being present in this moment of your life so that you don’t miss this moment of your life. Everything else can be viewed through this lens. Why is this lens useful? It allows for pretty dramatic simplification– instead of worrying about all sorts of details, all sorts of games, realize that it’s all about enriching your own experience of life. Am I appreciating and enjoying life right now? In this context of my “writing game”, yes. But there are other contexts I have to think about, too. That’s life.

Time and time again this makes me think about the importance of meditation– of taking time to sit and breathe and allowing perspective to reveal itself. You can’t quite force it– trying to force it makes me overprioritize some aspects at the expense of everything else. This can occasionally be right, but more often than not, it’s wrong. I have to allow the dust to settle so I can see what is actually a concern, what is actually important.

“What do I need to say no to?”

Lots of things. Most things, in fact. We say no to many things so we can say yes to a few good things. Personally, I need to say no to wasting time on silly random pursuits. I need to say no to the impulse to consume more information, to seek out more information in a non-directed fashion, at least for the amount of time it would take for me to act on the things I already know I should act on. I already know pretty much everything I need to know.

What else do I need to say no to? Delaying. I was going to say “procrastination”, but procrastination is complex and multifacted. (Expectancy, Value, Delay, Impulsiveness.) You can’t just “say no to procrastination”, procrastination is what happens while you are saying no to some difficult or uncomfortable task, something scary or painful. Saying no to procrastination means saying yes to calmly, impersonally evaluating a situation and figuring out what’s missing, what’s blocking you.

But all in all, I think listing out things to say no to is a bit of a losing game. You pick a few things to say yes to, and then those things become the focal point– and you say no to everything else that doesn’t serve that. There are some exceptional cases, but we can deal with those exceptions as they come. The general principle is– yes to good first principles, yes to priorities, yes to analysing and evaluating what needs to be done, yes to doing those things. No to shallow avoidance.

“How should I respond after falling off wagons?”

The first and most important thing is not to beat yourself up too much for it. That wastes precious energy and achieves nothing. It’s just a cached, inherited performance of regret and suffering. It’s unnecessarily punitive. We don’t need to punish ourselves for failure– failure itself is punishing enough. What we need to do is to enthusiastically get up and see what there is we can learn from the failure. This is much easier said than done, which is why it’s worth reflecting on over and over again.

Objectively, why did you fall off the wagon? Were you distracted? Was the task not rewarding enough? Did you not see the point of carrying on? What can you do about making sure you get back on? Can you remind yourself why you got on the wagon in the first place, and why it matters to you?

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