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If anyone else looks at this in the future and wonders if they should do it, I found this part of the recommended reading, Making intentions concrete – Trigger-Action Planning, helpful:

"However, there is one group of people who may need to be cautious about using TAPs. One paper [vii] found that people who ranked highly on so-called socially prescribed perfectionism did worse on their goals when they used TAPs. These kinds of people are sensitive to other people's opinions about them, and are often highly critical of themselves. Because TAPs create an association between a situation and a desired way of behaving, it may make socially prescribed perfectionists anxious and self-critical. In two studies, TAPs made college students who were socially prescribed perfectionists (and only them) worse at achieving their goals."

I definitely feel I fit into that group, and that making TAPs in certain contexts could be overall bad for me. 

Thanks for posting all of this :)

I totally agree that we need to more systematically practice rationality. What matters is how well we actually use these tools, not how well we could use them in perfect contexts when explicitly prompted to. 

A beautiful painting that encapsulates the feeling of love

I like and agree with the discussion of cultivating character. The stronger and wiser our character, the more we will act in accordance to what is "right" and the more we can bring about positive experiences for ourselves and others. 

But as I see it, the ultimate goal is better experiences for conscious creatures. So I am skeptical of the goal of living up to our potential by striving after what makes us most human. I think such a virtue could only be derived from how it may lead to better lives for living things (which I think it would as Aristotle defines it). But similarly it would not necessarily be good for the world if our first human ancestors 200,000 years ago all lived up to strictly what made them most human. The goal of what makes us uniquely human seems interesting, but beside the point.  

I also think that we tend to find cultivating our character meaningful, but there's no need for this secondary goal to then decide to cultivate your own character.

My favorite thought from this lecture was the idea that our discounting of future possibilities is adaptive, and a failure to discount unlikely futures could be a cause of anxiety. If all the ways you might die in 30 years was as salient to you as what you are going to eat for breakfast, your mind would never stop worrying.

In times of extreme comfort like ours, it is much easier to highly value and consider the future. This makes it easy to overthink the possible impacts of present actions on the future, and while those impacts are real, they are often so hard to predict over the vast range of possibilities that they are worth discounting and disregarding. 

One of the common modern recommendations for worrying less and being happier is to do more hard things and struggle more. Present struggles force you to highly value the present—things that make you struggle are going to make you find the present salient, and figure out how to improve the present quickly. There's no room to think about the future when doing hard things in the present, so challenging yourself in this way may help us retain our adaptive discounting of future possibilities in our comfortable environment. 


This seeking of both truth and relevance together feels so important. I wonder where in modern society we see this the most. 

I like the concept in this lecture a lot of bullshitting vs. lying to yourself. Even in a lot of the self-help genre, which seems to be going after a similar goal to Socrates of becoming a good person, there is a lot of bullshit in the form of misguided values (fame, fortune, etc). We have few institutions, structures, or communities that enable people to strive over both truth and relevance.