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pdf23ds comments on Tsuyoku vs. the Egalitarian Instinct - Less Wrong

26 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2007 05:49PM

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Comment author: pdf23ds 29 March 2007 01:21:34AM 0 points [-]

Richard, interesting question. I'm not sure it's possible to make that choice, though. Can someone with a strong perfectionist element to their personality be happy unless they get over the perfectionism? Perfectionism involves constant self-criticism and assessment, and thus might be incompatible with happiness in the long term. So in order to choose happiness over perfectionism, they'd have to change their personality substantially. That may not be possible, or effective. Then again, mind-altering agents might help you. OCD medication might be an example of this.

As for me, I don't really have any higher criteria on which to judge between the two options. I don't have any reason to prefer one over the other. Very driven people might not be generally happy, but they do have a certain sense of pride and accomplishment that some might call happiness, and which isn't shared in that form by other people. It's similar to parents of children--they rate their lives as much less happy over the course of their children's lives, but they express more satisfaction and meaning with their life. I can't really judge between the conditions, though I have to say that people often choose child rearing explicitly because of the meaning and accomplishment they think it will bring.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 20 January 2011 01:59:55AM 0 points [-]

Can someone with a strong perfectionist element to their personality be happy unless they get over the perfectionism? Perfectionism involves constant self-criticism and assessment, and thus might be incompatible with happiness in the long term.

Speaking from personal experience, I am a perfectionist and happy. I find it easy to be happy, living in a wealthy first-world democracy with a good personal standard of living. I can be dissatisfied with myself and strive to improve while being satisfied with the rest of my life. I don't know many other perfectionists, so I can't give a broader sample.

Comment author: AspiringRationalist 21 March 2012 05:24:30PM 0 points [-]

I am also a (usually) happy perfectionist. I achieved this through a similar approach - being dissatisfied with myself but satisfied with the rest of my situation. I do require OCD medication for this to work, though.