Or Something

Here’s a quick post because I was reading Stepan Parunashvili’s blog and I had an interesting thought that I want to store somewhere.

After a post about why keeping casual problems is important (which they are — either deliver or don’t make them), he said to “write them down on a notepad or something”.

That obviously makes sense.

And I don’t know why, but I’m probably still not going to write down my casual promises on a notepad though.

When I read that, I imagined writing it down on a notepad, but then realized that I totally wouldn’t do that. I imagined putting it into evernote on my cell phone. That seems more likely to actually happen, but I’m still not totally sure that I’ll do that.

Back when I did less, I would read a sentence like that, anchor a thought on the suggested method, see that it made sense and that I didn’t want to do that, then leave.

I think that successful people actually come up with something to fill that “or something” that they’ll actually do.

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How to Start Paleo and not Miss Junk Food

When I started doing a variant of Paleo dieting, I missed junk food and sweet things. For about a day.

Then I noticed that 85%+ dark chocolate is acceptable. Like, you can basically eat as much of the stuff as you want. I defer my science to the Bulletproof Executive.

So I got a bunch of really dark chocolate, and whenever I wanted a snack, I ate some of that instead. I felt waaay better, and never had to feel guilty about snacks again. I lost a bit of variety, but I got to eat as much chocolate as I wanted in exchange forever.

It’s a bit bitter at first, but as you cut sugar out, you get used to it. I currently find 70% chocolate to be really sweet, and 85% sweet. The rest of your tastes will change too as you adapt, to make your tasty paleo food even more delicious.

One note though: put it in the refrigerator or freezer after you’ve opened it. Might as well.

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Two Highly Abstract Thoughts

Here’s two thoughts that seem pretty much true to me, that might help you, but this post is incredibly selfishly almost entirely for me.

  1. Whatever my emotional state, I am pretty much always physically capable of doing the things I need to do in order to make anything I can normally do happen. My body is pretty much always capable of doing the physical action that leads to results.
  2. In the moment, I should tend towards doing the thing that pops into my head, even if I have the information necessary to do something better. I want to automatically take the correct action in the future, and since reinforcement learning happens, I should positively or negatively reinforce whatever pops up. If it’s the right thing, good, because now I’ll do it more. If it’s the wrong thing good, because now I know that. Thinking and planning are fine outside of the moment, but unless I want my response to everything to be to think about it, I should do the thing that comes to mind. Take more action, get more data, learn from it afterwards. I can either try to turn thinking into action, or I can act and then reflect. Behavior generation runs deeper than verbal thought.
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Chewing. Resistance.
Textures crushed .
Taste elusive.

Make it stay.

Chewing. Resistance.
It’s gone.
Try again. Get some more.

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Chop Wood, Carry Water

Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

Can you think of people who just seem to have amazing skills? Natural’s who effortlessly excel in their chosen fields?

Or people who work hard, but get really solid results day after day?

Did you ever wonder how they did the things they do? If they had something you didn’t?

They might, but I don’t think that that’s where they’re getting their crazy skills from.

Cliche as it might sound, I think most of it comes from hard work. Raw effort doesn’t do anything, but deliberate practice over time does.

I was talking with a really exceptionally awesome guy the other day, and he’s really good at sales, to understate it.

When he reads a book, he tries to do a mind-chart of it afterwards, drawing the connections between all of the major and minor ideas of the book — what’s related to what, what leads to what, etc.

Then he looks for ways to apply the ideas that he read about everywhere else in his life.

For example, a piano book said that he should practice playing fast (when you play slowly, your form is worse, and when you practice using bad form, it makes things harder in the future). He was also trying to learn japanese, so he practiced saying his sentences really quickly.

He also regularly reviews his notes on books, and can recommend his favorite 35 sales books to you.

Now, none of those steps were magical.

You wouldn’t necessarily come up with the idea to do all of that yourself, but you’re probably physically capable of doing all of those steps.

For a while, I was assuming that if progress was taking too long, that I was doing something wrong and should abandon what I’m doing.

This wasted lots of calendar time.

I’m starting to think that most improvement comes from incremental progress doing fairly obvious things. Taking notes, reading books, reviewing notes, practicing something, writing down what you think,  getting feedback, trying to do things, finding mentors, talking to people, practicing a skill, coming up with examples, adding habits, etc. Some things are somewhat counterintuitive, but you can always just experiment.

Physically, most skillful people are mostly doing things that you could do. Now, they might be thinking different thoughts as they do them, and responding in different ways, but the initial journey is pretty straightforward.

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On the Deficit of Meaning

One thing that I dislike about the world right now is the lack of meaning in most things that people do and say.

I don’t mean that in the nihilistic sense — there are lots of incredibly meaningful things that happen and that matter.

What I mean is that most people don’t seem to notice any of that.

People have a tendency of conflating their verbal descriptions of things with the things. They talk about “friendship’ or “peace” or “honesty”, without necessarily knowing or reflecting on what it is.

People create words to describe what they see in the world, but you don’t need to see the thing to use the word

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Cognitive Katas: Concrete Representation

Your brain doesn’t come with a users manual, and that sucks.

One subskill that’s been popping up a lot in my life is the ability to turn abstract ideas into concrete representations. It’s in writing, it’s in math, and it’s in IFS. Like, it’s in pretty much everything I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.

Brains are really good at associations. If you don’t censor yourself, you can probably come up with a visualization of any arbitrary thing.

Like, for talking, I imagine this weird colored gas fluid flowing between people and changing their colors.

Concrete Representations can be really useful for understanding things. For instance, if you take the fact that water is highly polar, and take the hydrogen bonds as water molecules grabbing on to other water molecules, then you can imagine the rules of capillary action fairly easily. You have two parallel rock climbing walls, and people try and climb up them. People not near a wall can grab on to other people. The people on the ends support people, the people in the middle are supported.

This is why thinner tubes have better capillary action, because there’s more people on the outside per person on the inside. Thin enough, and you can go all the way. More surface area to volume ratio.

It also helps a lot with communicating, especially with emotions. I’ve been messing around lately with trying to describe the physical sensations that I’m feeling rather than the words for the emotions. In the cases I’ve done it, it’s gotten the emotion across much more effectively than the words, and was able to bridge a few communicative gaps that I couldn’t imagine getting past any other way.


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