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I’m a yes man, a people pleaser. That’s not great. Unlearning all the stuff that makes me that way is hard. Unlearning is one of those things I heard in my early twenties. It sounded fluffy and silly. Aren’t we better by the sum of our experiences? Certainly not all the time. From the stupid pop culture artifacts of our teenage years, we literally can’t get out of our heads (you won’t have to think long to find an example) to the more ingrained habits we think we acquire by being more informed and mature. We are the sum of ALL the stuff, and time revealed that I could and should get rid of a lot of this stuff. Sure I could simply consider the decline of neuroplasticity. Sure, in a few defragmentations, I’ll have lost some of the crap. Or I could do what most self-help suggests. Replace crap with better stuff. I’m like everyone I like a good life hack. Do this instead of that, boom, life improved. I get it there are some good ones. Stretching is a game-changer. Good socks and a good layering strategy make too much sense. Green onions on everything is rarely a bad idea. Sardines are too healthy to be ignored. Vaseline will do wonders no other lotion can dream of. Feet soak is a form of orgasm. etc… The list is long, I’m sure you have yours.

Replacing is just a trick. James Clear, Cal Newport, and the like have gotten us hooked. We are chasing each new idea, generally in some external form via some piece of content. I say that not to bash these guys but because I rarely hear suggestions from a friend. Everyone seems to be ashamed of their self-help-induced decisions. Cutting is the real deal. It’s true freedom, it feels uncomfortable at first.

Only adding is a plain delusion. I relied for too long on all sorts of tracking devices. The devices brought their fair share of insights in the beginning. But I built an artificial dependence. Insights have value. Some values should be quantified and acknowledged to determine their real value. I personally ended up putting too much into the devices but thankfully realized it and got rid of my harem of gadgets. I don’t need an app to tell me to work out, it actually backfired. As I’m trying to relax, I have to unlearn this behavior that was already there and emphasized by Strava (sorry Strava, it’s been a long story). I love to sleep and in my journey to understand its importance and what worked for me, devices helped, some reading helped but ultimately what will make a difference long term is what I do of this and the personal experimentation. In the case of sleep, I crossed my last milestone by getting rid of the tracker and trusting the process. Cutting is the real deal.

There’s been a lot of noise about unlearning bias recently. I generally agree with the sentiment. We have to stare at the stuff we need to remove from our heads while trying very hard to remove it. It’s the classic—Don’t think about elephants—type of thing. I have little hope for social issues to be dealt with this way. My knowledge of history does not allow me much optimism. I can’t think of a time we changed our culture without a tangible incentive. Grossly speaking we need a carrot(power, money, land). Decency on its own rarely led anywhere bright. Akrasia is hard to fight at scale. The current state of the conversation about global warming illustrates this too perfectly. Communication is limited by perspective. Perspective being almost unlimited we are facing paralysis or frustration. To overcome this I have stuck to a simple motto. Cut the crap, however small it’s one less thing. It surely goes against the marginal gain that irritates me philosophically but it provides the opportunity for action. A small gain is all we should get. I surely have a deeply rooted fear of big solutions (geoengineering freaks me out). Again, we, modern humans have a bad track record when it comes to great big solutions.

I understand the necessity for large-scale solutions. Education is one of the big ones. At the age of 30, I now realize the value of it and have to engage in the removal of the unfortunate bits that came with the big package. So many little things. My generation loves to complain about the silly bits we inherited from the one before. But we got a lot of good. Shit sandwich it always is. It seems crazy to refuse the great big package to avoid some bias.

← Index / Published on 2021-07-04