In many instances of Akrasia the it's pointed out that the victim has a preference reversal either due to time differences or due to different context. E.g. I might be enjoying staying up late tonight, but tomorrow I will experience headache, sluggishness and frustration which would by far outweigh tonight's pleasures. I am going to hate myself tomorrow, but at the moment I might look my tomorrow's self in the face and tell him to piss off. Oh, if only I was more consistent! - my overall life happiness would increase quite a bit. Should I try?
Maybe; I don't know if a direct approach to "increasing consistency" would hit the mark, thought it definitely seems worth investigating.
On the other hand, I recently noticed another phenomenon, where the ability to be less consistent is a potential benefit. Just to be clear, I am not talking about consistency of opinion - it a different topic well covered by Churchill's "I've often had to swallow my words, and found it a wholesome diet". I am talking about the ability to dissociate from certain future versions of self, same kind of dissociation that allows me to tell the Tomorrow Me to piss off (yes, I've actually done that).
Here is an example. I am swimming for exercise, but every time I jump in the pool the water will give me an uppleasant shock. So here I am, standing in my swim trunks in front of the pool and deciding when I am ready to take the pain. This is clearly self-inflicted "addition of insult to injury". And it's all based on thinking and imagining how much pain I am going to experience in the next few seconds.
Of course, in a sense I have already dealt with the problem - I am after all in front of the pool, in public, and not at home, deciding whether to jump in the pool; so it seems that in a sense the problem has been dealt with. On the other hand, the pain of pain anticipation is not nothing, and perhaps it will eventually propagate back (via, say, reinforcement learning) to the decision to stay home one day when I'm feeling tired and maybe the next day... So there are two reasons to address the issue: Less Pain=More Fun and to avoid stacking the deck against yourself in terms of achieving your goals.
So one thing that comes to mind is to use the ability to dissociate from yourself in order to Just Do It. As a matter of fact your swimming-pool pals might have already learned the trick - look at the ones who, like you, stand hesitantly by the water, thinking, and then watch out for that one guy who runs and just dives in.
It is interesting that a certain kind of spontaneous decisiveness is stereotyped as a hallmark of successful people. To many of us it seems crazy - these people Are Not Thinking Through Things! I think this intuition is not incorrect, stereotypes reflect a lot of selection bias - we do not see all those who Just Did and CrashBurned, but perhaps there is also a certain positive ability there to think about.
Interested in the following feedback:
Additionald motivation - why might this idea be useful?
Potential applications - related to above.
- asking for significant favor, raise, etc.