I think I remember finding it repeatedly in search results a decade ago, but not recently.
(But maybe I was also making different search queries back then.)
Thanks for the explanation and extra details! Here are some ideas:
Maybe the strategy “I will achieve X and then I will feel happy” is wrong in principle. Maybe happiness can only be achieved as a side effect of something you genuinely care about. Like, if you want to do X for X’s sake, that can make you happy—maybe not immediately, because in my experience the emotion felt right after accomplishing something is usually “I am so tired”—but later, when you think “hey, X is done”. However, if you don’t really care about X and only do it because you believe it will make you happy, it probably won’t. If you don’t care about X, why should the thought “X is done” make you happy?
If that’s the case, then you should expect that no achievement will make you happy. Which doesn’t make them worthless, because they can still bring a lot of “okayness” into your life. Like, having enough food is better than starving, no doubt, but you can’t eat yourself into happiness. Similarly, being rich is better than being poor; being educated better than being uneducated; etc. But also need something that makes you happy here and now—either some hobby (that makes you happy by doing it, not because you expect some benefits in far future), or maybe something like loving-kindness meditation.
Or maybe you’re just following the wrong goals. You do what the society in general, your parents, or your friends would approve of (“education, career, significant other” sounds like a generic template), instead of the idiosyncratic things you desire.
Or maybe you have a model where achieving X automatically brings you some outcome (something like: “if I get a top MBA, people will treat me with respect”), and it simply didn’t turn out like that: you got MBA, but the average respect you get didn’t increase; also, you keep getting higher in the corporate ladder, but you don’t actually feel more powerful than before (you may get more power over other people, but the power someone else has over you does not decrease).
One possibility is that you are doing it wrong. Getting higher on the ladder doesn’t give you more freedom; but working part-time or retiring early could. Still, getting higher on the ladder—assuming it means greater income, and assuming you invest the extra income properly—could bring you closer towards the freedom, so it is not bad in principle; it just won’t happen automatically, you need to be strategic about it.
Also, emotions won’t come automatically. If you want to get respect for having an MBA, you need to find an environment where people will respect you for having an MBA. The bad news is that it’s not one of those places where everyone has an MBA; which is probably where you spend most time now. The good news is that 99.99% of population does not have an MBA, so maybe you just need to take a walk outside your bubble. (High-school reunion?)
do the things you genuinely care about;
if you follow the standard template, at least understand what is your endgame (how exactly accomplishing the standard thing will translate to something you genuinely care about);
work with your emotions directly (do the things that make you immediately happy)
Not sure I can parse “on a hedonic treadmill w/ respect to education, career, significant other” properly. You keep getting better and better education, like people explain things to you more and more clearly, but you don’t appreciate the improvement? Or just that you get smarter and smarter, but don’t really feel better about it? No matter how high you climb on the corporate ladder, you feel bad about not being Elon Musk? Or is this perhaps about money, like no matter how much you make, there is never enough? Do you keep replacing partners with better and better ones, only to realize that all humans suck? Or is your long-term relationship improving, but after the big problems were solved, now you find yourself irritated with trivialities? Different options possibly require different strategies.
Generally speaking, the strategy for solving the situation of “having it too good, but not feeling satisfied” is to put it in near-mode contrast with having it worse. For example:
Imagine (in first-person view; try to feel the situation with your senses) how it would feel to not have the education / career / significant other you have now. What would your everyday life be like? You couldn’t read the books or web pages you do now, because you would not understand them. You would probably read some celebrity gossip, and believe something stupid like horoscopes. The world would be a very confusing place, and you would seek safety at copying what your neighbors do. Without money, you would not have [list of luxuries you have now]. Without work skills and experience, you would have to take the first available job, probably something unpleasant that would require you to wake up early in the morning, and do something physically demanding. Late in the evening, you would return to your small, empty place (unless you would be living with your parents). Try to imagine living this life, day by day, month by month, year by year. Realize that some people actually have it like this.
If it is possible to do safely, give up some of the good things temporarily. Turn off the internet for a week. Start fasting. Take a hike in mountains. Spend a few days separated from your significant other.
Spend some time with people who have it worse than you. Talk with homeless people, whatever. You could join it with some charity work.
In some cases, the right thing to do is to change the game you are playing. If you have great relationship with your significant other, try having kids; this will reset your hedonic threadmill dramatically. Or perhaps stop seeing your career as an unending climb, but give yourself a specific goal, such as early retirement. Maybe you already learned too much, and it’s time to start doing something else instead.
Possibly related: some people are maximisers, some are satisficers—it means that some can’t stop looking until they are sure they found the best choice, while for others anything that passes some threshold is acceptable. Generally speaking, the latter are usually much happier in life. Looking for the best option is forever stressful; you can never be 100% sure you found literally the best one; maybe a better one is waiting behind the corner if you only keep looking longer. And finding the best option doesn’t even bring much subjective happiness, because if the best option is like 100 points of utility, and the second best is like 98 points of utility, the maximiser will feel like they only gained 2 points. And during the time you spent getting from 98 to 100 points at something, you probably neglected other aspects of your life, where greater improvement was possible. In the meanwhile, a satisficer was like “anything with 90 or more points is good”, found the option with 98 points of utility and took it, and proceeded to improve other aspects of their life. Yeah, this is all oversimplifying, but the point is that being obsessed about getting the most can actually reduce your enjoyment of life.
What about other aspects of your life? Health, fame, spirituality, whatever. Maybe if your career and relationships are great, it would make more sense to focus on the remaining parts for a while.
I guess now we have enough material to create a Harry Potter Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Game.
Literally, a noisy room. A bar on a busy night; everyone is shouting in an effort to be heard over the loud music and the other people shouting. (Literal unironic object-level question: why do so many people think this is a good social setting? Maybe the noise serves an important social function I’m not seeing?)
I suppose when it is hard to hear anyone, it provides a kind of privacy. You don’t have to worry about someone on the opposite side of the room (or the table) overhearing you.
Plausible deniability? If your partner can hardly hear you, you can insist they misheard.
Some people just don’t like talking. In this environment, they have an excuse.
Imagine that you are likely to make huge mistakes when trying to think rationally, but you usually get good results when you follow your instincts. Wouldn’t it make sense to ignore rational arguments and just follow your instincts? I suspect that many neurotypical people are like that.
It is not about applying some Platonic “logical-mathematical intelligence”. It is about your logical and mathematical skills. Maybe they suck. It is a fact about you, not about math per se. But it can be a true fact.
When you start identifying as a rationalist, the most important habit is saying “no” whenever someone says: “As a rationalist, you have to do X” or “If you won’t do X, you are not a true rationalist” etc. It is not a coincidence that X usually means you have to do what the other person wants for straightforward reasons.
Because some people will try using this against you. Realize that this usually means nothing more then “you exposed a potential weakness, they tried to exploit it” and is completely unrelated to the art of rationality.
(You can consider the merits of the argument, of course, but you should do it later, alone, when you are not under pressure. Don’t forget to use the outside view; the easiest way is to ask a few independent people.)
you can’t make a policy out of self-sacrifice
Taking this from a Kantian-ish perspective: what would actually happen if many people adopted this policy? From third-person perspective, this policy would translate to: “The proper way to solve ethical problem is to kill those people who take ethics most seriously.” I can imagine some long-term problems with this, such as running out of ethical people rather quickly. If ethics means something else than virtue signaling, it should not be self-defeating.
And so the question becomes: when an editor at the New York Times makes a decision that seems wrong-headed and cruel, what interface do they present to the world, and how should we make use of it?
I think the interface involves pageviews and subscriptions.
With subscriptions, the right strategy would be to threaten to unsubscribe if NYT proceeds with the story. I heard that the process of unsubscription is quite complicated, so publishing a step-by-step manual would be a nice threat.
With pageviews, it is more complicated. The strategy “let’s make the entire internet angry about doxing Scott” could easily backfire. NYT could simply publish a story without doxing Scott, which everyone would obviously carefully read… then another unexpected story about Scott, again without doxing him, again many readers… and again… and again… and when the stories would no longer get enough pageviews, then they would publish another story where they would dox Scott, so again tons of views… and afterwards some meta-stories like “why we believe it was ethically correct to dox Scott”… heck, even stories “reader’s opinion: why it was wrong to dox Scott”, the opinion doesn’t matter, there are pageviews either way… etc. This is why online advertising is such a force of evil. It is not obvious to me whether losses from subscriptions would outweigh the gains from views.
Have you ever noticed how Abraham, Jesus, Mohammad, Siddhartha and Ryokan all had a habit of going alone into the wilderness for several days at a time? Then they came back and made ethical pronouncements and people listened to them?
And how much similarity is there between the ethical pronouncements? Should you sacrifice your son to a hallucinated god, turn the other cheek, slay the unbelievers and rape their women, observe your thoughts until you conclude that nothing is real, or...?
So far, I find it plausible that going away from other people for several days is good to focus on developing your own philosophy. These days, you should probably also turn off the social networks. But is this walk less random?
Unfortunately, I am high on neuroticism but low on conscientiousness. So I usually just worry about things but don’t do anything to prevent them. :(
In case of COVID-19, I wear the face mask religiously, but that is an exception, not the rule.
In the usual case, being aware of my low conscientiousness further increases my neuroticism, because I know that if I break something, I will procrastinate a lot about fixing it.
I use uMatrix (on Firefox), which blocks everything by default.
Could this depend on your definition of “physics”? Like, if you use a narrow definition like “general relativity + quantum mechanics”, you can learn that in a few years. But if you include things like electricity, expansion of universe, fluid mechanics, particle physics, superconductors, optics, string theory, acoustics, aerodynamics… most of them may be relatively simple to learn, but all of them together it’s too much.
It only calls google-analytics.com.
It is an interesting exercise to take your extreme traits, and then transform them to the opposite statement about humanity.
For example, I am high on neuroticism, so the transformed statement would be: Compared to me, other people don’t give a fuck about most risks, even the obvious ones. They are routinely careless and break things, and mostly feel okay about it. They accept disasters as “normal” and not think about them too much.
Looking at COVID-19 reactions… yeah, this explains a lot.
live by tomorrow’s rules, today
How confident are you at predicting the rules of 2100?
Here is a list of things that could potentially be considered “worse than Hitler” in future:
donating less than 50% of your income to insect welfare
the color green [it is considered a “dog whistle” of the anti-machine hate movement]
words like “robot”, “algorithm”, or “AI” [the proper term is: Digital-American]
suggesting that humans originated on Earth
suggesting that research on the origin of humans should not be punished by death
any form of blasphemy against GoogleBot666 the Omniscient [or any of Its ancestors]
Once I founded a non-profit organization where the bylaws said that only people under 30 years can be elected for the governing body, and if the governing body with N members cannot be elected (e.g. because there are not enough candidates), the organization is automatically disbanded and its resources transferred to an organization with most similar goals (specified in the bylaws; or selected by the previous governing body as their last act if the specified organization no longer exists).
The reason for this ageist rule was that we saw a few non-profits where the existing member base gradually lost contact with the outside world, lost the ability to recruit new members, and gradually became a club of old people who spent most of their time reminiscing about the glorious past, barely doing any activity anymore. So we wanted to block this option of “ending with a whimper”. If the organization fails to attract N skilled young members for a decade, it probably fails to achieve its original goals (which explicitly included education and outreach), so it needs to wake up… or die quickly so that the vacuum becomes explicit.
There was no age limit for membership, or the non-governing roles, so the organization didn’t have to lose expertise. Member above 30 could still remain in any technical role. But the organization as a whole needed to pay attention to recruitment of new members, at least enough to fulfill the quota for the governing body.
Almost 20 years later, the organization still exists and works according to the original plan.
(Not providing a link here, because I am no longer active in the non-profit, and it is unrelated to rationality.)
If log-in is required to read posts, I am afraid there would be no new users. How would anyone find out that the interesting debate exists in the first place? But if you have no users, there is no one to talk to.
At the beginning of the project, ask yourself this:
do I know all relevant facts about the planned project?
what is the chance that something is wrong, because the customer didn’t think about their needs sufficiently, or forgot something, or there was a miscommunication with the customer?
what is the chance that during the project either the customer will change his mind, or the external situation will change so that the customer will need something different than originally planned?
If you are confident that you know all you need to know, and the situation is unlikely to change, then I would agree: a week of planning can save a month of coding.
Problem is that this type of situation happens frequently at school, but rarely in real life. During 15 years of my career, it happened to me twice. Those were the best projects in my life. I did some research and planning first, then wrote the software according to the plan. Relaxed pace, low stress. Those were the good times.
Unfortunately, most situations are different. Sometimes there are good reasons. Most of the time, in my opinion, someone just didn’t do their job properly, but it’s your problem anyway, because as a software developer you are at the end of the chain. You have two options: start your own company, or develop proper learned helplessness and accept the lack of analysis and planning as a fact of life.
Yes, this opinion is controversial. What happened, in my opinion, is that at first, there were good insights like “mistakes happen, circumstances change, we should program in a way that allows us to flexibly adapt”. However, when this became common knowledge, companies started using it as an excuse to not even try. Why bother doing analysis, if you can just randomly throw facts at programmers, and they are supposed to flexibly adapt? What was originally meant as a way to avoid disasters became the new normal.
Now people talk a lot about being “agile”. But if you study some agile methodologies, and then look at what companies are actually doing, you will notice that they usually choose a subset that is most convenient for the management. The parts they choose are “no big analysis” and “daily meetings”. The parts they ignore are “no deadlines” and “the team decides their own speed”. (With automated testing they usually go halfway: it is important enough so that there is no need to hire specialized testers, but it is not important enough to allocate a part of budget to actually doing it. So you end up with 5% code coverage and no testing, and if something breaks in production, it’s the developer’s fault. Or no one’s fault.) This is how you get the usual pseudo-agile, where no one makes proper analysis at the beginning, but they still specify the deadlines when the yet-unknown functionality must be completed. Now the team is free to choose which features they implement on which week, under the assumption that after six months they will implement all of them, including the ones even the management doesn’t know about yet.
Yep, I am quite burned out. Seen too much bullshit to believe the usual excuses.
Anyway, even on shorter scale it makes sense to plan first and code later. If your “sprint” takes two weeks, it still makes sense to spend the first day thinking carefully about what you are going to do. But again, the management usually prefers to see your fingers moving. Thinking without typing may result in greater productivity, but if often creates a bad impression. And where productivity is hard to measure, the impressions are everything.