Charlie Rogers-Smith

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I like the piano analogy, in the sense that it seems like self-love is a groove that gets well-trodden and much easier to access on demand. Personally, I did not do any forcing of any kind. It never really felt unnatural or awkward. But I've now heard from a couple of people now that that's how they got started.

It's still in it's early phases but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy to, though I'm very busy atm. My email is charlierogerssmith@gmail.com.

Hey Howie, thanks for writing this! I'm really happy that you found it more approachable, and I think your questions are awesome! One thing I wanna say off the bat is that this is all quite new to me. I don't have much data yet, and I'm not stable--things seem to be improving at an increasing rate right now. 

1) this mindset is right for ~everyone

Yeah, my guess is that that's not true, but I'm uncertain. I think you need some risk tolerance, and people in a great place might (rightly) not have that. Idk. When I look back, it seems like a lot of what drove me was desperation. OTOH, I think if the stuff succeeds then it can be really awesome, and maybe there's an impact argument there based on heavy-tail impact stuff. That argument has definitely influenced my actions.

2) there are ~no tradeoffs (at least in the medium-term) for (almost?) anyone.

This one I'm confident is not true haha, depending on how you define medium-term. This post talks about this a bit.

Have your values in fact remained the same?

It seems like I used to "care" about only one thing: saving the world. I use quotes because at some point I really did care, and then quite quickly lost touch with that and was left with obligations, and because I shut down all the parts of me that didn't care about saving the world. I viewed myself almost entirely instrumentally. The biggest shift in values is that I care about myself a lot more than I ever have. But it feels more like a framework shift than a values shift, because I was an obligation machine, and now everything is internal. I'm now much more operating from the position of 'what does Charlie want to do?' and then doing that. And very often the thing I really want to do is try to save the world. That said, if I want to do other things, I'll do those instead. Another way of putting this is that saving the world used to be at the centre of my universe, and now my wants are at the centre of my universe. Idk, maybe this doesn't answer your question.

What is your current relationship to external obligations? Do they feel like they exist for you now (whatever that means)?

Yeah, they deffo exist. They're substantially less strong. It seems like there's a part of my brain that still turns 'oh this would be so cool to do' into an obligation later down the line (not sure whether this counts as 'external'). I'm not sure this is even bad--it's a good reminder that I cared about a thing. I'm better at noticing obligations when they pass above some threshold strength, and when I notice that I usually perform the step of internalising/understanding why I cared about the thing in the first place. And after that the obligation mostly goes away. The whole process is pretty fast and nice. That said, sometimes I miss big things.

It seems like the thrust of your questioning is the following: "do I expect that these changes to produce (or have produced) outcomes that look good according to my previous values?".

The answer is pretty clearly yes, already. But my situation is a little complicated, because I was depressed when I decided to start this. Depressed Charlie loves current Charlie's life, unambiguously. Charlie at peak productivity also endorses the decision to start and continue self-love stuff when I did. It's the best way he knows of to do the most good. I don't think this is a coincidence--I don't think I'd have been able to make the transition if I didn't believe at every step that it was good for what I "cared" about at the time. If peak productivity Charlie could push a button and make the shift, I think he would, if he knew that there was a decent chance of burnout and depression under his current trajectory. If he knew his current trajectory definitely wouldn't lead to depression and burnout, then it's more difficult. There are lots of benefits conferred by internalising things and self-love--like energy and happiness. But you probably lose stuff too. I'm genuinely uncertain. But fortunately for me, it's pretty clear that the depression and burnout were and still are the bottlenecks to my impact, and I don't know of better fixes to those (with respect to doing the most good) than the stuff I described in the post (for me).

Do you now feel as able to get things done as you did when you were able to coerce yourself? What do you expect will be the medium-to-long run effect on your ability to get things done? How confident do you feel in that?

Nice. Mmmm. I'm very clearly more competent than when I was depressed. There was a period in 2017 when I was killing it. I'm getting closer to that level now, but I'm definitely not there yet. (TBC, I produce significantly more value in total now, but most of that is not due to self-love, just general increases in competency). The main part of that is lost confidence/general overhang from the depression. And part is that I'm still figuring out a lot of the details of non-coercive motivation. I don't know how to operationalise "getting things done". I think it's 85% that I'll be killing it more than I ever have some time in the next 2 years.