We discuss the situation from last meeting, when a newcomer and non-rationalist showed up and got into a testy argument with Life Engineer. We concluded that it was primarily a matter of conflicting expectations; the newcomer was expecting a more "salon"-type, open-ended, intellectual conversation like the kind we have on our casual Sunday lunches. Additionally, he has probably never been asked such probing questions as was asked of him; in fact, most people probably haven’t.

We decided that we need to be more clear on setting expectations. "A genuine desire to change" will be an explicit requirement for anyone who attends, in the same way that "a desire to not be an alcoholic" is a requirement for AA.

Since it wasn't quite time to start yet, and only core members were present, we allowed ourselves to follow a short tangent from Life Engineer about a comic he read recently about the failure modes of the United States government; specifically how political parties and the internet have thrown a wrench into the system that the Founders created. Since we weren't seriously entertaining the problem we didn't allocate much brainpower to it; the only obvious solution is a factory reset of our government, which would likely only happen if something else Very Bad happens.

With the arrival of our 4th and final RSVP for the evening, we began the Dojo.


"W", one of our founding members, began by reporting that his adventures in weight loss continue to go positively. His conscious effort to abstain from Entertainment Eating has become habitual now, requiring little to no effort, after about 2-3 months of implementing it. He spoke about his aspirations; how his ideal self is an "impossible person", something to constantly strive for. In addition to a lovely tangent on "Positive Social Butterflies" (the butterfly effect mixed with an improved variant of the Golden Rule), W talked about how one of his favorite techniques is a particular kind of reframing where instead of seeing what actions he can take to accomplish his goals, he first checks to see if there's anything he can *stop* doing in order to accomplish his goals.

I went next. My book reading is going slowly but surely. Chapter a day on average. My review of A Way of Being is positive so far. I also vented about some drama with friends; will share more when I need actionable advice (I’m just in a waiting period right now). As general actionable advice, Life Engineer thinks people should take more responsibility for the words they say; specifically they should say what they mean. We then concluded my phase by discussing ‘Ask’ vs ‘Guess’ vs ‘Tell’ culture and how it relates to my social drama.

Since the order came around to Life Engineer at this point, he spoke up and said "I bought 10 copies of a Brene Brown book and handed them out to everyone I know."


He is primarily concerned with growing his business. Word of mouth tends to work best in his industry, but he is unsure of how to inject himself into the community. I shared a personal anecdote about my recent move which may or may not be helpful; I printed out an introductory note, and put them on the doors of all my closest tennants, offering friendship and cooperation. I had one person actually reach out, which was surprising, and we plan to hang out soon. Life Engineer was not inspired much by this, but he is interested in how it pans out for me, and thinks I should go all-out and make posters.

We had a semi-related discussion at this point about what I thought was the pretty typical awkward relationship people have with their apartment neighbors. W doesn't experience this; he is very much involved in a culture that his building shares, which puts everyone on a first name basis. He talks about a neighbor who has a missing leg, and muses about why it's a social taboo to openly remark about such things. This threatened to suck us into one of our famous tangents, which we briefly touched on: why there are social taboos about people's injuries/anomalies.


Now we come to our usual topic at the end about how to improve the Dojo. Life Engineer is interested in unpacking the Dojo's slogan "we are all imperfect decision makers"; he doesn't see in his personal life that he ever really makes "bad" decisions. He can see where he could have done something different to make his life easier, but the payoff would have been negligible. However, in his line of work, he encounters people all the time who have the same belief: "I don't make bad decisions", and yet their marriages are falling apart, they have an addiction, etc. He acknowledges that "people make bad decisions" is a reality, but he has trouble seeing it in himself and is interested in whether that's because he truly doesn't make bad decisions, or if he is in the same boat as his clients where he simply doesn't see it.

This is more of an open question for us to mull over than anything else. We need to think about it more in-depth before we propose solutions. He wants to wrestle with it not only due to the obvious concerns (eg "Change into what?", "Is what we are doing as a community valuable?"), but also due to the failure mode of sounding patronizing to people who are in a completely different worldview.


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