All of Cui's Comments + Replies

sometimes need that zombie mode

Totally.  And sometimes "just suffer until it passes".

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 cha... (read more)

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 d... (read more)

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.

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.

Micro-scale momentum. When fatigue sets in. After a valiant attempt, continuing to push through creates frustration and is unproductive. Do a task that you are making some kind of gains in. Do something that gets you excited. Sometimes I set timers to ensure I don't get sucked into the black-hole of white-knuckling, spiraling and suffering to disaster. 


Also most long-term approach to momentum and avoiding the downward spiral: be kind to yourself! Don't beat yourself up. Mistakes can be mistakes.

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.

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, job... (read more)

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.

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... (read more)

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.

Being mindful of my emotions is what I should do everyday (so much productivity lost).

Can you give some examples of problem-solving tools? Are examples modeling using differential equations, software engineering, organizing people?

I was thinking of things like modeling, numeric analysis, various ML inference and clustering techniques.  Building  end-to-end tools like apps and websites.  Some kinds of research summaries or publication searches to figure out the next step in a specific query. Less so "software engineering" or "organizing people", which are incredibly important, but too diffuse to actually do as a goal.  They are things you'll get good at while pursuing actual topics and deliverables you care about.

In The Mind Illuminated, Culadasa talks about the difference between attention (spotlight of consciousness) and awareness (consciousness of the background). Does anyone's mind vacillate rapidly between attention to the breath and background white noise? What happens in your mind when you notice background noise?

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

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... (read more)

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.

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. 
Related: Just Lose Hope Already

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.

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.

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.