Kaj Sotala said:
[I]f you punish yourself for trying and failing, you stop wanting to try in the first place, as it becomes associated with the negative emotions. Also, accepting and being okay with the occasional failure makes you treat it as a genuine choice where you have agency, not something that you're forced to do against your will.
So maybe we should celebrate failed attempts more often ... I for one can't think of anything I've failed at recently, which is probably a sign that I'm not trying enough new things.
So, what specific things have you failed at recently?
I recently got into communicating with non-scientific people. I got really proud of a new way of trying to convince post-modernists that there was indeed such a thing as ideas that were 'more right' and 'less right' that I wrote up a blog post and posted it here for review. (http://lesswrong.com/lw/dfs/we_prosecute_ceos_for_failing_to_do_due_diligence/)
But I misunderstood the posting rules and put it on the main site instead of the discussions. 4 people didn't like what I wrote, which more than wiped out all of the karma I've built up since I joined.
I'm now trying to salvage the situation by at least learning what I misunderstood or misstated about epistemology. I'm hoping I'll get some more comments explaining what happened. Rest assured, I've already learned the other lesson - the one about where to post stuff.
I'm trying to celebrate this failure. And I suppose if I do get any meaningful feedback, I will indeed have something to celebrate.
It's very easy for new people to care way too much about karma. I did. I still care too much, but I mostly shrug it off if I get downvoted. It happens to everyone, even EY. So I'd encourage you to not worry about it too much, even though I know that's hard for new people to do. It certainly was for me. Just remember getting downvoted doesn't mean we hate you. :-)
Secondly, you can hyperlink like this: LessWrong by using this format: [LessWrong](http://www.lesswrong.com)
After half a year without self-harm, I relapsed again this week. I got too cocky and thought I could handle reading a certain website again. Nope, still triggers me and I'm just going to have to accept that.
I don't want this man finding out he has this effect me.
It's just a blog where one man writes his opinions. I'm not exactly sure why his blog in particular makes me so angry. Maybe it's because he wrote a couple of posts that reminded me of a traumatizing experience when I was a kid. Maybe his unique writing style. Maybe it's just an accident. But for whatever reason, when I read this man's blog, I get incredibly angry. No other blog (or anything else) affects me this way.
Sometimes when I'm reading his blog and I get angry at him, I imagine punching him. Then I punch myself. Then my brain releases the "someone punched you!" chemicals and I get even angrier. A positive feedback loop until I'm bloody and exhausted.
It's not nearly as bad as it used to be. When I was a teenager I was punching myself practically every day, only instead of getting mad at a blogger I was mad at my parents. I'm not mad at my parents anymore and I just made a half a year without punching myself, so hopefully this chapter will be over soon.
Attempted 2 online courses on Coursera. Grossly overestimated my own free time and conscientiousness, failed to make it even mid-way through both.
I'm not giving up though. Have signed up for one course this month - the introduction to Quantum Mechanics taught by Umesh Vazirani. Must do better and complete the course this time because if not, I just might start to self-identify as someone who plans, but does not execute!
As part of the background research for my study on PUA I bought a copy of the rules of the game. I was going to also do at least most of the exercises, but didn't really get any were. Part of this was due to lack of motivation (I wasn't actually trying to get a date) and part of it was circumstance. Strauss assumes that you will have the opportunity to interact with people you don't know multiple times a day. I have almost no legitimate reason to be in the presence of strangers on a regular basis and as I'm in a heat wave in an area with almost no "walkiblity" or even good malls, and I have a very small entertainment budget I'm not really up for trying to engineer encounters.
First of all, this is a great idea for a thread, and I'd be interested in it becoming a monthly one. I can't upvote this enough.
Secondly, I recently failed at keeping up with my journal, although this was largely due to some systemic issues that I felt were corrupting my data. As I identified more and more of them, I became less and less enthused about keeping up with it. I saved all my data and restarted it about a week ago, making efforts to fix these things, and it seems to be going well. But it was very easy to keep track of for a little while last time too. (I ended up doing it for about four months, and came up with some interesting data that I may publish in some form to LW at some point..)
Edit: For anyone wondering, the most interesting find I found was that I eat statistically significantly (At p = 0.05) less food when it is rainy or stormy out than I do when it is clear or cloudy.
I failed to go 24 hours without consuming calories, attempting intermittent fasting. This is my 4th such failure. I am currently at a record high weight, and it's having health impacts and reducing my daily quality of life. Last night I had 2 Ben and Jerry's pint ice cream containers as dinner.
Giving up porn for an entire month.
Simply switch to using it as a punishment on the days that you have little appetite. :)
I repeatedly fail to reduce the clutter and quantity of unnecessary stuff in my living and working environments. I have too many books, too many clothes, too many unclassified emails, too many file icons on my desktops, too many piles of miscellaneous clutter around my home.
I am not seeking advice about this -- I've read various minimality blogs from time to time, so any advice anyone instantly thinks of is unlikely to be something I haven't seen already. The one thread that I can see running through all of these is a habit of putting something on one side to deal with later, and not dealing with them as fast as they accumulate. But that's a description of the problem, not of a solution.
Specifically, I failed to repair a rip near the valve stem of my inner tube. I thought I'd managed to patch it, but next time I tried to use my bike the tire had deflated again. So I got a replacement inner tube, and after putting it on the rear wheel yesterday I made a complete mess of attempting to put the wheel back on the bike. I attached the derailleur in the wrong place, and needed my friend to point out what I'd done. Then I twisted the chain, and when I couldn't work out how that had happened I gave up and untwisted it using a method that I was pretty sure was not the reverse of how it became twisted. That was stupid; eventually I had to re-twist and re-untwist it. Then I discovered I'd stripped a bolt, so I've got a replacement and I'll be trying again later today.
I had expected my final year project to receive < 60%. I got 70% for it. I don't feel like I deserve it. I had also expected to get more than 70% for General relativity, although I didn't feel like I deserved it (I thought the exam had gone pretty well, but I don't grok GR); I actually got 61%. My other six modules were within expected bounds. My overall mark was high e... (read more)
Project Euler problem 384. I thought I'd be able to crack it in an afternoon, but a couple week's later I'm still stumped. I finally moved to another problem in the hopes of being able to return to 384 with fresh eyes, but no joy just yet.
I'm not sure if there's a lesson to learn from the failure, except that to do a good estimate about how much work something will take often itself requires a bit of work.
I went 2-2 in the last MTGO Daily Event I entered, finishing out of the prizes.
::mumbles incoherently about manascrew::
Using simple score-keeping gamification systems (eg.) for any sort of behavior modification. I just start ignoring the systems after a couple of days. Then again, I've never been big on playing computer games over and over for mastery either, compared to just trying them out long enough to get a rough idea of what novel content they have, often cheating if the challenges that keep me from seeing potentially interesting content don't seem fun enough.
I just started to write a list, but all entries in the list were of the form "I've been working on [x] on an ongoing basis, but over the past six weeks I've been doing really badly with it", where [x] includes items like exercise, eating sensibly, regulating my sleep properly, socialising, not interacting with dickbag-people, meeting my study obligations in a timely manner, etc.
I'm beginning to think that maybe I haven't been failing at all these things, and in fact I've just had a bit of a dodgy past six weeks.
Pomodoro didn't work for me. I can see occasions where it might be useful to take occasional breaks, not necessarily at timed intervals... but it wasn't magic, didn't seem to increase productivity, and felt annoying.
I'm failing at Sweep Picking. When I attempt to do it at a high BPM I fail miserably. I can do it slowly, but that's no fun. Related, I also failed at recording a heavy metal version of some video game music, namely the snow stage music from Ninja Gaiden II (NES version) which includes some sweep picking...
I did not achieve a certain milestone at work that I had planned to reach by the end of the week. This means I have failed at estimating how much time I needed to reach it. This is bad because it happens fairly often, and the converse (finishing sooner than expected) happens rarely. Despite everything I know about fallacies and biases with predicting schedules, I keep predicting less work than is really required.
My work is programming. It is notoriously hard to quantify (or the managers could make predictions themselves without asking me). If I can't modify the intuitions I feel, I may have to try just multiplying my feelings by a factor - e.g. adding 100% time to each estimate.
I tried to set up a beer/sausage pairing for the 4th of July. Due to logistics difficulties and lack of planning, I failed. There were beers and cups set up somewhere, which was an okay feature of the party, and there were a couple of plates of sausage tastes, which was also an okay feature of the party, but arranging this to happen together and with any structure? Not even close.
I tried to start the habit of flossing my teeth every time I brush (morning & night) and was successful until my floss ran out. I have not gone to purchase a new one and thus haven't flossed my teeth in days.
I tried to start the habit of meditating regularly and did well for a few weeks, but got busy preparing for exams and cut it out recently; haven't been able to reinstate it yet.
Coincidentally, a friend posted this just the other day:
The administrative admin of the group I was working with told me something that started my habit of brushing and flossing: "It's simple. You only have to floss between the teeth you want to keep." This evokes lots of images for me.
That was 15 years ago, and my habit is still strong to this day.
I've become an insufferable list-maker. I've been meaning to start a blog, largely to improve my ability to organize and effectively communicate challenging concepts. Every time I sit down to "start work on the blog," I find myself ending up with a stack of lists - what needs to be done, topic ideas, features of the website design, people to partner/affiliate/guest blog with, hooks for a viral video blog, and so on. Rinse and repeat - a new stack of lists every time.
Starting to go running in the early morning, right after I wake up. Idea was to get running done before it gets all hot and sunny. It seems to take some time after waking up for my willpower to kick in though.
Also, sticking to a regular running schedule, though I might get better at this by just acknowledging that early-morning running is a non-starter and trying to acclimatize to running in the heat.
Communicating successfully. I've had trouble with people reading my essays, and then not being able to tell me what the main idea was. Or they would offer objections I thought already entirely covered within the essay itself. This shows that I am insufficiently clear and organized.
I recently decided to stop playing video games (for a week) and to stop fooling around on the internet (for the same week). The first has been fine so far, but the second is troublesome- there are a number of sites that I used to check several times per day, which I had mostly reduced to once per day, and now was trying to reduce to once per week. But the agitation from not checking them is high enough that I've still been checking them once per day, but at night rather than at the start of the day (and then a few times over the course of the day). I have ... (read more)
Bookshelves- I moved about two months ago, and my original plan had been to paint (to match the wall) the ugly, industrial, track shelves that I had taken down when I moved in, and fill them with books (so you can't tell that they are ugly industrial track shelves).
I figured that I would do this shortly after the move, but I have yet to start even painting them. I find that the problem is that the bookshelves are very permanent. Once I start painting them (the walls are different colors), and ESPECIALLY once I hang them, I won't be able to change my mind ... (read more)
I tried to implement GTD and failed. This wasn't the first attempt. I thought I could do it this time because I had more free-time to do it, but I realize that the main problem isn't that I didn't have enough time, but that I don't have the right software.
I'm also working on a knowledge mapping project where I feel like the main problem is that I can only theorize about knowledge mapping, but I can't really use the software to help me build it and I can't actually see what benefit a particular hypothetical feature would have.
So, I need to learn how to cod... (read more)
Soccer. The people I play with are decent, so I should be able to (eventually) improve merely by doing.
I play a few times per week and would like to improve more rapidly. I sometimes practice with a friend who's better (and more experienced). I don't know any individual drills that would help dramatically. Readily available online instruction seems to mostly be about useless tricks.
I tried the Shangri-La plan as a suppliment to my current diet/exercise/suppliment plan. However, I noticed after a week that I was anticipating the taste (rather than say, the texture) of the canola oil. Which means that it was no longer registering as flavorless, so I stopped.
I might try it again with another product, but I know that sugar water registers a taste with me: probably due to drinking a lot of sugar water as a kid.