This is the public group instrumental rationality diary for June 16-30. 

It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

  • Established a useful new habit
  • Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief
  • Decided to behave in a different way in some set of situations
  • Optimized some part of a common routine or cached behavior
  • Consciously changed your emotions or affect with respect to something
  • Consciously pursued new valuable information about something that could make a big difference in your life
  • Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you
  • Tried doing any of the above and failed

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves. Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

Thanks to cata for starting the Group Rationality Diary posts, and to commenters for participating.

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Next diary:  July 1-15

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Changed emotional response/optimized routine: After taking a job in my hometown, I became convinced my next step should be to move out of my family home, despite offers to stay. Every emotional response made this "feel" right. It showed maturity, it allowed for greater privacy and freedom, and it lent a vague sense of "mine" to everything I did. It would also drain my bank account but it would be "worth it."

Instead of going with those feelings, I sat down and did some research on home renting and home ownership, then crunched the numbers of my budget. I saw that, obviously, not renting or buying would lead to a much, much greater payoff five years down the road. But I still felt that the "best" thing would be to move out. I would have space and silence enough to work on projects without interruption, I would control my diet without having to coordinate with a family that loves fast food. It felt vaguely worth all the income I would lose, even though I had no actual values to judge by.

Before making a decision to move out, I reframed the question by asking myself: "if someone agreed to pay me $10,000 a year to live with my family, would I do it?" Looking at the question in that light helped me change my emotional response. It basically turned living with my family into a second job. It eliminated the romanticism and cynicism of moving out (that "it's more free" and "I can't do anything here" set of feelings).

I decided to stay in my family home for the duration of my current job (3 to 5 years). Making that choice immediately started the process of eliminating the difficulties I had been treating as excuses for why I should move out now. My job allows me a private space that I can retreat to whenever I want, so privacy is no concern. I make my own breakfast and lunch anyway, so diet, while not something I can yet fully control (given our limited pantry/storage space), I can at least improve bit by bit. And, with a fully worked out budget, I can begin this month investment ventures I thought I'd have to put off for several years.

Huh. That's quite a reframe.

Thank you for sharing this. It's very astute of you to flip your perspective this way. I think I'll steal that reframe to remind myself of the importance of managing home upkeep and relationships. I've been getting lazy about both, due to lack of positive feedback. "Why even bother when I'm the only one trying?". Very discouraging, makes it easy to forget that I was doing it for my own benefit in the first place.

I didn't want to exercise a couple times, but then I thought about how I'd actually feel pretty good after I did and how the time-wasting media consumption it would interrupt wasn't that great.

I also didn't want to exercise and didn't a couple other times.

Rationality self-evaluation: B-

More interestingly; I've found that when browsing Amazon, populating my wish list does a pretty good job of sating my desire to consume, while being quite a bit cheaper. You can also add to cart, then "save for later" as you trim down the initial cart, which is effectively the same as wish-listing.

But then again, maybe I'm buying more than I would otherwise, and Amazon is merely at the next level of consumer psychology.

I've had a similar experience with wishlists. There are some worthwhile corollaries: rather than follow interesting-looking links as you encounter them, open them in new tabs or add them to a read-later list. Or rather than look up everything you have a passing curiosity about, or switch to whatever task catches your immediate attention, add a note to yourself in your GTD/whatever system. If you're like me, your immediate desire will be satisfied by the knowledge that you'll get to it soon if it's important. And when you get around to reviewing these things, you'll be in a more reflective mode and will notice that many of these things are not in fact worth your time.

There's the same caveat: avoiding these things (like sources of potentially worthless links) in the first place might be a better solution for you (depending on density of chaff, to what extent lists and tab explosions stress you out, how likely you are to responsibly prune these things, whether you'll still capture the important things without universal capture, and so on). Try both, decide for yourself.

Like whales, I've found the same with my Amazon wishlist. I also quite like being the kind of person who has over 1000 books on their Amazon wishlist -- which may or may not say something bad about my character. Disclaimer: I also have thousands of books on my shelves, hundreds of which I have not yet found time to read, which (1) may also say something bad about my character and (2) should leave you in some doubt about the wisdom of emulating my book-buying-management habits.

I have about 2 dozen books and another 2 dozen on my kindle. But moving frequently and being in a one-bedroom helps enforce that discipline.

Changing emotional responses: Solstice ritual 2014. Celebrating communal contribution. Lots of singing. Actually made something concrete to share with people, which felt good. Not sure about long term effects though. Kind of makes me want to start doing random gifts for people, just for an excuse to start crafting things again..

*deleted my "1 hour of fanfiction" reward. I failed at using it as a self-limiter.

*rearranged some of my weekly tasks, assuming that after work and food and sleep and daily prep I have 5 or 6 spare pomos a day. They're more evenly distributed through my week now.

*took a revitalizing potion in Habitrpg. All my dailies and to-do's are set back to neutral value, so the dailies are actually worth clicking and I don't have to look at a discouraging wall of red to-dos.

Continuing with the Art of Problem Solving: Introduction to Algebra book that I'm studying with the help of zedzed (see here for an explanation):

Chapters 8 and 9 (I knew most of these chapters already, so I only did the hard problems; section 9.5 I didn't know so I did all the problems for that and graded it separately):

  • Chapter 8: 3 out of 6 correct (50%)
  • Chapter 9 except section 9.5: 5.5 out of 7 correct (79%)
  • Section 9.5: 96% out of 138 possible

Chapter 10: 95 out of 123 possible

Chapter 11: 95.5 out of 118 possible

Also, to help my studying I asked my wife to use Windows parental controls to lock my computer entirely during my main study period. Works wonders!