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Comment author: Swimmer963 01 April 2014 03:10:43AM 0 points [-]

OK, guilty. Most of my successes in life so far are explained by the fact that it's easy for me to work hard for long periods of time without burning out, and that my internal reward system is set up to make delayed gratification easy.

...Amusingly, I used to think I had inherited an awful metabolism that made it impossible for me to lose weight, because it is really hard for me to lose weight by dieting, even though I was swimming competitively and very fit. A couple of years ago, when I finally decided that my actual weight was just fine and what the hell, I concluded that I was fortunate to have a fast metabolism and be able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. Unsure what to conclude from this.

Comment author: Vika 08 March 2014 05:40:34PM 0 points [-]

Thanks! I still agree with what I think is the main message of "keep your identity small": not allowing things to automatically be part of your identity for historical or political reasons.

Which identities did you cultivate? I'm curious how you dealt with your stingy person identity.

Comment author: Swimmer963 08 March 2014 07:21:14PM 2 points [-]

I'm curious how you dealt with your stingy person identity.

Mainly by being able to point out that its purpose has expired. It was really useful being a stingy person in first-year university–I had a lot of time, and limited ability to turn it into money. Being stingy allowed me to not go into debt, at the cost of maybe a bit of happiness–I always felt a bit guilty about i.e. going out to dinner with friends. Once I graduated, the default was to stay stingy, but I can convince my brain to relax on specific items like "go out to dinner with friends" or "travel to lots of places" because, hey, the whole point of being stingy in the first place was to get me through school and to the point when I had a career and savings and could do fun things.

Comment author: Swimmer963 07 March 2014 09:41:27PM 4 points [-]

Awesome post! I've definitely spent a long time vaguely thinking that "keep your identity small" was a good idea, while cultivating various identities anyway.

"The aversion to wasting money and material things predictably led to wasting time and attention instead. I found it useful to try "thinking like a trader" to counteract this "stingy person" identity, and get comfortable with the idea of trading money for time. Now I no longer obsess about recycling or buy the cheapest version of everything."

This resonates so hard for me.

In response to Ability to react
Comment author: jschulter 01 March 2011 07:08:00AM *  1 point [-]

Posting this before reading the comments to give a summary/response based on my own internal experiences. Quick note: I'm extremely good at internalizing/manipulating information, and about proficient at "reacting". It might also be worth noting sex (I'm male), since I could definitely see these kinds of thought processes being different on the two standard systems.

This analysis is definitely subject to the "generalizing from one example" problem, considering some large differences between the thought mechanisms you mention and my own. One telling example is the programming/reacting analogy: when programming(and writing, after the first stage of composition) I have this tendency to "hold the whole program in my head" as I've heard it called, and in doing so I don't use an internal monologue at all. In fact, when I'm solving most problems(math, spatial manipulations, logic puzzles) in my mind, my internal monologue is silent, and rather I'm working silently in my headspace- my reasoning methods feel spatial, rather than verbal. When working in a group (cooking is the closest example of "reacting" that I can relate to in terms of necessitated efficiency/urgency) the monologue is still silent and I'm solving problems through psuedospatial manipulation; the significantly smaller amount of problem solving necessary does tend to allow the problem/solution to just remain static in my head for most of the time though while I engage in physical tasks, rather than actively solving it. This for me, leads to a sense that very little focus is used while reacting; some tasks (mincing garlic, dicing onions(crying makes it harder), &c.) however may require close attention, if physically complicated, and this might be the other kind of focus you mention. I can, overall, add another confirming data point to the "silencing your internal monologue is helpful/necessary for reacting properly" hypothesis though.

I also have some possible suggestions, though mileage will likely vary very extremely:

silencing ones internal monologue can be aided by meditation- in fact, they are practically equivalent- so the initial meditation exercises, to "clear ones mind" may prove useful in getting used to doing this, and possibly make it easier.

there's no need to practice silencing your internal monologue only while "reacting"-try doing it during everyday tasks where intense thought isn't necessary(eg brushing your teeth), and it might become that much easier.

if your brain works like mine, you may be able to delegate certain tasks to parts of your mind not directly linked to what you consider "you" (one notably common example is how sometimes you realize the solution to a problem you were working on a while ago but not actively thinking about), and if you can get good at this, it works better(for me) than memorizing responses- just let yourself respond on automatic.

In response to comment by jschulter on Ability to react
Comment author: Swimmer963 11 February 2014 02:53:43PM 0 points [-]

...Several years later, I finally got up the willpower and time to start meditating, and it did help. But not as much as other things, like just getting a lot of practice.

In response to White Lies
Comment author: Swimmer963 10 February 2014 10:12:23PM 8 points [-]

I can see how a reputation for lying would be a bad thing to have, but I can also see why a reputation for not being capable of lying would be a bad thing (mainly in social contexts). From one of my other comments:

For almost a year my best friend was dating a man without telling her ex-husband, and I was seeing her ex-husband every time I went to play with my godson, and I had to remember to lie about a whole bunch of random things like "what did you and my ex-wife do on Saturday?"

This was hard for me. There've been other times where I've slipped up and forgotten. Usually not in the context of friends explicitly telling me to lie about something, but in the context of Person X them telling me something which, to them, is obviously something that they want to conceal from Person Y because of conflicts it would cause. However, I don't model this–I model Person X and Person Y both as friends who I trust with details about my life, and assume that's commutative. I don't even think about it on a conscious level–it's not "I want to tell this person the truth about the thing this other person did because lying is complicated"–they just ask me a question and I answer it. I try to avoid having enemies because it makes things complicated, but that's not something I could force my friends to do, and it's not even something I would think was right to force them to do...I just don't get around to noticing potential conflicts.

Among certain groups of my friends, I've definitely earned the reputation for being a bit socially inept because of things like this.

In response to comment by Swimmer963 on White Lies
Comment author: shminux 09 February 2014 09:54:43PM -1 points [-]

"This doesn't bother me. I've got plenty of time. I just want you to be comfortable, that's my job."

Just saying "this is part of my job and I love my job" is not good enough?

I was seeing her ex-husband every time I went to play with my godson, and I had to remember to lie about a whole bunch of random things

I wonder if there is a better way of handling this, other than telling your best friend that you are not going to be a part of this game and risking a backlash... In a similar situation I ended up curtailing my interactions with the party I'd have to lie habitually to, which is rather suboptimal.

In response to comment by shminux on White Lies
Comment author: Swimmer963 10 February 2014 05:38:13AM 5 points [-]

Just saying "this is part of my job and I love my job" is not good enough?

It sounds evasive and not like the natural response, and I'm not all that worried about my patients yelling "no, you're a liar!" and getting mad if I tell them I don't mind at all, and I don't have any particular reason to want to not lie in this situation.

In response to comment by Alicorn on White Lies
Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 February 2014 02:30:36AM 12 points [-]

But is that literally as good for a patient in an ICU who really, really needs to not shut up about these things? i mean, in that situation, it would probably occur to me that the nurse might still be lying... but telling a lie like that is still a kind of permission to bother her which "Don't worry about it" isn't.

Comment author: Swimmer963 10 February 2014 05:26:44AM 15 points [-]

Agreed. One of the things I think is wrong with lying in general is that it can mess up the incentives for behaviours you want to see more of (i.e. a white lie to your friend, claiming to like her awful haircut, doesn't do anything to help your friend improve her future haircuts.) In my example, I'm lying with respect to my first-order desires, but telling the truth according to my second-order desires. I may first-order want a few more minutes to drink tea and socialize with the other nurses, but I don't endorse myself wanting that, and I certainly don't want to encourage my patients to not call me because they're worried I'm too busy or tired or cranky. I second-order want to encourage the behaviour where my patients call me for all the little things and 90% of the time it's annoying and stupid but 10% of the time it's super important.

If I ever had a patient with a rationalist background, maybe I could explain all of that, but maybe not even then; most people aren't at their best for following complex logic when they're loopy on drugs or having trouble breathing or whatnot. So I go for the emotional reassurance, because that gets through. Still working on different phrasings, and I don't always succeed; I was helping out another nurse with her patient who had diarrhea, putting her on the bedpan every half hour, and at one point she fell asleep and pooped in the bed while asleep and then cried with frustration the whole time I changed her, and I wasn't able to reassure her.

In response to comment by Swimmer963 on White Lies
Comment author: Alicorn 09 February 2014 10:16:17PM 4 points [-]

I'm curious about how you, being a nurse, would prefer that the patient behave in situations like this? There don't seem to be great options - is there a least-bad attitude?

In response to comment by Alicorn on White Lies
Comment author: Swimmer963 10 February 2014 05:03:32AM *  11 points [-]

...I feel like a lot of that boils down to stuff out of patients' control, like "don't be confused or delirious." Assuming that my patient is totally with it and can reasonably be expected to try to behave politely, I prefer that patients tell me right away when they need something, listen to my explanation of what I'm going to do about it and when I'll be able to do it, or why I can't do anything about it, and then accept that and not keep bringing up the same complaint repeatedly unless it gets worse. I have had patients who rang the call bell every 5 minutes for hours to tell me that they were thirsty, when I'd already explained that I couldn't give them anything by mouth, or that their biggest concern was being thirsty but I was more concerned that their heart rate was 180 and I really really needed to deal with that first.

I obviously prefer it when patient's aren't embarrassed and I can joke around with them and chat about their grandkids while cleaning their poop. But emotional reactions aren't under most people's control either, so it's not a reasonable thing to ask.

In response to White Lies
Comment author: Swimmer963 09 February 2014 02:46:23AM *  40 points [-]

There are certain lies that I tell over and over again, where I'm 99% sure lying is the morally correct answer. Stereotypical example: my patient is lying in a lake of poop, or is ringing the call bell for the third time in 15 minutes to tell me that they're thirsty or in pain or need a kleenex, and they're embarrassed and upset because they're sure I must be frustrated and mad that they're making me do so much work. "Of course I don't mind," I've said over and over again. "This doesn't bother me. I've got plenty of time. I just want you to be comfortable, that's my job." When it's 4 am and I desperately want to go on break and eat something, none of these things are true. But it's my job, and I want to want to do it, so the fact that sometimes I desperately don't want to do it is kind of moot. But the last thing a patient in the ICU needs to hear from their nurse is "yes, I'm pissed that you shat in the bed again because I was about to go on break and now I can't and I'm hungry and cranky." I keep that to myself.

...Other than that, I generally don't lie to friends, although I do lie by omission, especially when it comes to my irrational feelings of frustration or irritation with things they do. I'm generally not bothered by being very open with people about i.e. my relationships or other personal things, so I'm confused when other people want to lie or conceal information about these sorts of things. I actually have a really hard time keeping up with other people's systems of lying; when you're friends with two people who both have specific lists of things they don't want you to ever tell the other person, it gets complicated. (For almost a year my best friend was dating a man without telling her ex-husband, and I was seeing her ex-husband every time I went to play with my godson, and I had to remember to lie about a whole bunch of random things like "what did you and my ex-wife do on Saturday?" I respected that it was her choice whether or not to tell him, but I still found this really, really irritating.)

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 01 February 2014 12:35:59PM 3 points [-]

I just ran into an intriguing blog post where the author seems to essentially bring stability and predictability into his life by deliberately pursuing an impossible goal, and remembering this comment, got curious about what you'd think about it:

Fear of success. At its root this is a fear of change. If I succeed in the thing I am setting out to do, what then? What if I actually become the person I wish to become, who am I? My solution to this was to set up my school and my training in such a way that success was impossible. There is no end goal or end result. There is only process. My mission in life is deliberately unattainable: to restore our European martial heritage to its rightful place at the heart of European culture. Of course that cannot be achieved alone, and there is no reasonable expectation of it being accomplished in my lifetime. There is no question that European martial arts have come a long way in the last decade or so, and my work has been a part of that, but another excellent aspect to this goal is even if we could say it was accomplished in my lifetime, nobody would ever suggest that I did it. So fear of success is not a problem, as success is impossible.

Comment author: Swimmer963 01 February 2014 09:28:19PM 1 point [-]

I saw that on your Facebook before I saw it here, so already had thoughts on it.

1) I can see how it's less scary to think about, as a goal.

2) Picturing it in my head, I can't imagine myself using this and actually feeling motivated to work really hard because of this goal. But that may be less because it's impossible, and more because it's big and vague–my brain has an established problem with big vague goals.

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