by Cui
1 min read2nd Mar 202220 comments
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Giving up. Some of the best decisions I ever made were to give up. When I finally gave up quitting weed on my own, I made the most progress I ever have. When I finally gave up trying to solve my mental health problems on my own, I healed the most I ever have. When I gave up caring what others think of me… Giving up at the right time is a virtue. It could be an exponentially effective strategy.

I can relate in so far as the biggest struggle I ever had made the most progress when I got help from close people I trusted. Not because I gave up, though. 

On properly enjoying life. What felt like such a huge issue to me. Like the determinant of the quality of my life. And so important to the progress of the world. My drive to be everything I could be. My misplaced Will-to-Power.


Now, I'm moving at my own pace. A much slower pace. It's a beauty to move at your own speed. To do what really works for you. 


Liquid can't be poured from an empty beaker.


Sometimes there are great paradoxes. The more you consume, the less satisfied you are. The harder you try, more backwards you go. Moving a little slower. Doing a little less. Feeling a bit smaller. 


A more natural way to live.

The Fire that will Burn this House Down

The same looping thoughts and habits have kept me down for a year, put me in this current rock-bottom, and is the fire that will burn this house down. I guess it’s the question of what I should do with my life. It’s an indecision, a paralysis by optionality. It’s an outsized need for self-importance. An entitlement to rewards that take years of effort to earn. It’s wishful thinking that stretches expectations to the absurd.

Whenever I browse the internet and come across someone doing something interesting (writing, jobs, art, science), my mind immediately needs that to be my new identity. Where I make a career out of that very thing. Where I am exceptional at that very thing. Where I am BEST IN THE WORLD at that very thing. I’ve gone from Andy Warhol to Elon in 1 year.

And I want too many things. And I get disappointed so easily. And I quit anything once it gets difficult. Because why not, there’s a shiner object over there.

It’s a constant, “Maybe I should do this”, “But I HATE the idea of this aspect of it”, “What about this over here then”, “But I HATE that too”. And the cycle loops on.

This is going to kill me.

It would probably help to stop looking at the outside world, so that you are no longer reminded of yet another thing you could do.

I hate the fact that a web browser is simultaneously a tool to access the important information and the distractions. It's like soaking all your vegetables in alcohol, and trying to get lots of vitamins without getting drunk. And the vegetables soaked in alcohol are the only thing they sell in the shop.

Now it's time to sing the blues. How tough life can be. Life is tough. Nothing is perfect.  And our imagination of perfection. It just hurts us more.  When the going is good, it's easy to think it will last forever.  And we'll endlessly improve. It's easy to imagine beautiful, large goals. Ones we hope to accomplish. Studying for 4 hours, coding for 4 hours, never going to sleep. 


To accept that we have limitations, to recognize our limits.  What has worked before and what has not.  We are carbon.

Bright on a Saturday morning. Finished a run. Finishing a good breakfast. A coffee tingling the mind. An afterglow of accomplishment. Contrast from after a night of drugs. But only those nights of drugs that are not-even-that-fun and just filled with regret afterwards. This early morning pleasure is so soft. But it grips. Like savoring a single cracker, letting it melt in your mouth. Or a low-dose of morphine. I can’t clench my fists. Euphoria is too strong. This is a healthy way to get high.

I just feel small, insignificant, irrelevant, like all my efforts are ultimately for nothing. What am I doing here studying math at this old age? Maybe I should try and do something more important. I have a tweaking sensation: why should I not try to make next great startup? Well, at my current abilities that is highly unlikely. I feel like a sad fact. I feel aged-out of my prime. I feel like some of my friends will become ultra-successful, and I’ll be here toiling away at irrelevance. It’s an extremely bad mindset to be in. It most definitely doesn’t help me. But what’s the point.


Ok you have to realize WHERE YOUR MOTIVATIONS ARE COMING FROM. Recognize when you are being driven to want something for social status reasons. Think about WHAT YOU ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT. A drive for power? The ability to give an impressive answer when asked “what are you up to”? Being busier than the next guy? Oh what about the “I don’t have time to be socializing with you” move?


Fully imagine yourself in the role the next time you have a spontaneous desire for a new career, or a new personality, or a new lifestyle, maybe even any meaningful change to your life. Is it intrinsically worth it? Would you wake up and want to take on the challenges everyday? Imagine the shitty parts. Imagine how you would feel about yourself when you go to a party with all kinds of other cool people. Does it satisfy your soul?


A software startup could definitely be very satisfying. It could make me rich, and it could be a great look to others. But, I realistically don’t have it in my bones right now (for soo many reasons). MAKE SURE YOUR INTENTIONS ARE PURE. Understand what you are currently doing. Build up on a path—keep an awareness of decades long timescales. Keep level-headed.

does "you are what you can't stop yourself from doing" help you in this time? Querying your revealed preferences for behavior that is beyond effortless, that it would take effort to not do, can be very informative.

Bertrand Russell points out productive compulsion as well! Emotional drive to create, or stand up, etc.

Only you can get a grip on your own mind; if you won’t do that work, you will live in distress. What is the thought that bothers you most? I see someone more successful than me. Working on much more important tasks, blowing by the task I’m working on, or just basking in the glory of success. 50% of my brain power then goes to “What am I doing here”, “I’m wasting time”, or just simply feeling anxious. Then I rush through my work, complete it with poor quality, retain little, finish little, get frustrated, and quit. “If this isn’t going to be an immediate hit, THE hit, I don’t want it”. Part of this is an inability to deal with the unknown. Maybe I would be a horrible VC afterall.

A new year, a new month, a new day, a new hour… it’s always a chance for the unachieved dreamers—people with big dreams that never do anything. The adrenaline rush from the first cup of coffee. The first thing I do in the morning is watch a motivational Youtube “short” to prime my brain. New beginnings have always failed me. Or maybe I always fail new beginnings. The challenges come, discipline shrinks, and resilience burns. Maybe everyone was getting stronger through college all along, while I was in an atrophy.

Going about things a long, and not immediately progressing way in which you don't know if your actions are working. But you think this course of action is best for long-term progress. Establish tight feedback loops.

  • emotional stability checks (can I not be depressed for 1 week?)
  • track mood throughout the day (am I generally more happy?) 
  • impacts on short-term functioning (often short-term functioning isn't even much impacted at all!)

Addiction to Miracles


Some addictions are obvious. Compulsions for the material are easier to spot. Rarely do people talk about the dark side of hope. Luring people back to that same gas station, for another chance at the lottery, just in hopes of that big payday. It's sinister and devious. A coping mechanism. You fall down for the 20th time. There's a warm place for you in the comfort of a fantastical dream. A vision of the future where everything is perfect for you. Heaven or hell? Perfect opioid. Free, discrete. It picks up your ego when it gets shattered. Reality gets tough, look away. Run away, retreat to your dreams. Lick your wounds with hope. Just notice you are doing it.

I’ve fallen off the wagon. This is the most depressed I’ve been in a while.


I can’t work. I can’t grind. I can hardly function. I can’t even get out of this chair. I can’t feel my head. My heart feels tight. My left arm feels weak. I haven’t been this depressed in a while.


I am not any of these things. I am just experiencing the world.


Heaviness on the body. Time drags just a bit. White-noise drags just a bit. Doesn’t being sleepy feel really comfortable? Waves of it through the body. I can’t get much of anything done anymore. I’m collapsing and failing. scratch that.


This is what the mind is saying. What ever happened to those feelings of flow? I’m going cold.


Just a little bit more. I’m telling myself a story that I’m sad. I don’t know where to begin.


Everyone tells me I talk to generally. Let’s be specific. I want status. I want followers. I want respect. Sometimes I want to help the world. But here I am, a bum. Prestigious college and no idea what to do. Technical skills God knows where, but can’t communicate. *communication is lacking, see I’m being positive. How can I accept average? Looking at others pains me so much. But if I meditate on that feeling, I’ll accept and understand it better.

Everyone tells me I talk to generally. Let’s be specific. I want status. I want followers. I want respect. Sometimes I want to help the world. But here I am, a bum. Prestigious college and no idea what to do. Technical skills God knows where, but can’t communicate. *communication is lacking, see I’m being positive. How can I accept average? Looking at others pains me so much. But if I meditate on that feeling, I’ll accept and understand it better.

The dream of limitless energy. Exhaustion is one of the most unfortunate things in the world. Should I feel guilt? Am I just being weak-minded? What would Elon do. What would all the incredibly successful, high-energy, high-functioning people do? At some point one wonders, is it more productive to just take a nap? But I just took one—albeit a “power nap”. Perhaps ruminating over nap-taking and exhaustion only worsens the situation. Twisting your mind into an unproductive struggle, endless debate and this-way-that-way over a problem that never really was. How many times can we hash out details that any other functioning person wouldn’t think about? Torturing ourselves into misery.

I woke up dreading having to do anything I set out for myself this morning. In fact, I really don’t want to do anything. My pain tolerance is really low. But anyways, I’m not exactly complaining, just stating. Thinking about it, I used to be able tp push through this feeling a lot when I was in high school—when I was most disciplined. I’m sure a lot of people feel like this quite often, or at least sometimes.


Anyways, my main goal today is just to feel more in harmony with what’s around me and everything that I’ve set out for myself to do. There’s challenges, there’s hardships, there’s desires, but there’s also ways to move more smoothly through things. I’m talking about ways to reduce my suffering. So much unnecessary pressure is added to tasks. You extrapolate the meaning of this task into the future and deep into the composition of your identity. Your hopes and dreams rest on this task, when in reality it’s not that deep. Wrestling with that kind of pressure constantly is exhausting—and anxiety inducing.

I figure now is a good time for a longer reflection. I woke up quite late today, about 2.5 hours later than I had hoped to. But, it was only 9:18. Whenever I sleep this far past my alarm, I usually get jolted with a bout of anxiety—depression on the bad days. I’ll scramble to get to doing something productive, to make up for lost time. It’s usually not productive.


And so, today I’ve decided to do a long reflection. A very inspiring reflection. Something with some insight. There’s two types of productivity: linear growth and the bomb. I can’t bear to drudge through linear growth on a day like this (though I’m not in such a bad mood). So hopefully I can find a bomb and it will be fun.


My biggest fear--though I’m going to try and start thinking of it as a problem in need of a solution—is what I am going to do for my career. It’s haunted me for about 2 years now. And maybe, the fear is of not being successful. And success being defined as winning a comparison between myself and one of my peers—though maybe it could be generalized to anyone else below the Elon Musk level. Yes, it’s quite toxic and zero-sum and I need some time to change this viewpoint in my mind. Another fear I have is underachieving, And another fear is not enjoying my career. And another is not making much money. And another is not having status. And another is not being of service. Oh, a big one is wasting time and sub-optimal routes.


I have all these fears, fears of failure. And they probably play into a large portion of my struggles and suffering with this question. But, I just realized: I’ve already failed at all of these things. I already experience the pain of failure to some degree. And what does it matter. I have my life, my goals, my aspirations. Failure is *inevitable* on this endeavor. Letting fear consume you hampers your potential.