The Vocabulary Of Emotion

The colour spectrum is made up of lots of intervals.

Apparently, English speakers slice this continuum up differently than Tagalog speakers. This is because words, like ‘blue’, categorise the spectrum. This isn’t about colour though, we impose linguistic frames on everything – including feelings.

‘Happy, sad, jealous’

In Turkish, ‘huzun’ refers to a gloomy feeling in which things will gradually get worse. In Portuguese, ‘saudade’ means a bittersweet nostalgia, memories both fond and painful because they’ve past. In German, ‘torschlusspanik’ literally translates to ‘gate closing panic’ – a sense that opportunities are fading. (More examples here)

If we knew every such word from every language, we’d be able to explain feelings in new ways. Still though, there’s only so much vocabulary.

Thoughts prompt emotions and emotions prompt thoughts. If I think about a sad memory it’ll make me feel sad. If I feel sad it’ll make more sad memories. They both create oxygen for each other.

Still, words are just a frame, they’re aren’t the actual feelings themselves. I dunno if it’s 100% of the story, but feelings are inseparable from physical feelings – butterflies in the stomach, a pit in the stomach, warm fuzzies in the chest. Emotions can only transpire in a body.

What’s happens when the words are subtracted?

Continue reading The Vocabulary Of Emotion

Rethinking Planning

Plans are important. To author our lives instead of being a pinball, we need to project into the future. Problem is, it’s often overdone.

Much human behaviour is an attempt to tame the mind. Wether it’s meditating, cleaning incessantly or working 50 hour weeks. Planning has therapeutic too – a sense of direction creates mental order.

A common assumption is that success is simply the execution of a superior plan. The domino’s are carefully placed and the lead is simply flicked. A man with a plan flicks a persuasive switch too.

But design is often an illusion.

Superior planning matters, but to become better decision-makers we need to overcome to-do list addiction. We need to overcome the domino myth.

Continue reading Rethinking Planning

2 Types Of Rational Thought

Most think rational thinking looks like this.

The evidence is examined with a microscope and then a smart conclusion is formed.

In fact it’s probably the opposite, we form an opinion and then look for evidence to back it up. Locking prior beliefs in a box before weighing evidence is rare, if not non-existent.

Also, I think I’m rational and everyone else isn’t. So do you and so do stupid people.

But ignoring human bias for a second, the evidence based approach makes sense.

There are domains where we have figured it all out. With enough diligence, we’ll get the right answer. Problem is, these domains are often simple and boring. People transfer this same approach to areas we haven’t figured it all out yet. It doesn’t work so well here.

Continue reading 2 Types Of Rational Thought

Directing Your Subconscious

Like a video game character, I’ve got a energy bar suspended over my head. So do you. If it’s full we do stuff well, if it’s empty we’re basically turds. Doing healthy things keeps it full longer, but I’ll save that for another time.

When’s the last time you had to study for something?

Maybe you procrastinated and had to catch up. Or maybe you wanted to crush it. Either way you sit down for a monster study sesh, like 4 hours. After an hour your bar is empty, so you spend the next 3 hours mashing buttons that don’t work. Your a turd for 3 hours and it’s no fun. This frames the experience negatively and you procrastinate next time.

Continue reading Directing Your Subconscious

A Stoic Blueprint For Chronic Pain

I didn’t make this thing to talk personal stuff. The following is about useful ideas, but I do need to paint a quick picture.

I had urination problems and couldn’t sit down without a doughnut cushion. My sore back and guch (don’t google image) meant I spent most of 5 months laying down. After seeing multiple experts I still don’t have a good reason as to why.

It sucked but some people are much worse off.

Here’s how in some ways, it’s made my life better.

Dystopian Holograms

Anxiety is largely the distance between expectation and reality.

If you expect a promotion at work and don’t get it, life sucks. If you expect everyone to be nice and they’re jerks, it’s a bad day. If you don’t expect your back to hurt and it does, it’s stressful.

Pain sucks but what sucks more is the domino effect is creates. Why does it hurt? Will it be like this forever? Will it get worse?

Beginning every day I prepared myself for it.

Not just a little but worse than I’d ever had. There was no gap between expectation and reality. By preparing myself I couldn’t be disappointed, I could only be pleasantly surprised. On an average day I now felt lucky.

Now there’s just one domino.

Continue reading A Stoic Blueprint For Chronic Pain

Why The Middle Ground Isn’t Reason

Negotiating is dumb isn’t it?

Two people are bullshitting and both know it. Two extreme anchors are set, so when they end up in the middle both parties leave feeling good.

The same thing happens when we reason. We feel like we’ve conducted thinking if we take the middle ground.

In a debate we assume our favourite ideas are placed there for a reason. Lots of people have thought hard about this stuff. Maybe they have. But dig deeper into the origins of any belief and it’s more like a bottomless laundry basket. The anchors for these beliefs are probably more arbitrary than we’d like to think. Perhaps they’re built on holograms.

Continue reading Why The Middle Ground Isn’t Reason

The Shoulders Of Holograms

‘My technique is don’t believe anything. If you believe in something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite.’ – Terrance Mckenna apparently

Whose the biggest know-it-all you know?

They meet someone new and get the impression he’s a dick.

The potential dick and the know-it-all chat for a minute and go separate ways.

It’s concluded that someone new is a dick.

Humans are usually good at first impressions. Heaps of data is processed and instantaneously transformed into an opinion. This speed would have been important to our ancestors.

The table is set.

Subsequent information is based on this initial impression.

Your know-it-all parts the Red Sea of information. Any word or gesture that can prove them right will. The rest is discarded.

If this all happened 20 seconds later perhaps someone new thought of something funny. The first impression changes and everything else is a little funnier. Or perhaps he said something insightful but the know-it-all didn’t notice, too busy proving them self right.

Human’s are bad at updating first impressions. This isn’t about judging a book by it’s cover though. This same structure underlies all thinking.

Continue reading The Shoulders Of Holograms