Debugging and reconditioning myself
Bugs are inevitable, debugging is a habit I want to develop
Update: this insight was written in December 2016 on my old Blogger blog, if it’s still there. Now it’s March 2021. It’s worth working on. And so I have.
For years I've whined about the fact that "I don't do what I intend to do."
At some point in a typical day, I might say to myself “Self, here’s what I intend to do.” Later, I realize that I had an enjoyable, even productive day, but I didn't do what I told myself that I intended to do.
I've come to realize that I spend much of my life in a dream. I realize that I'm in a dream in the moment of waking. It's like sitting in the audience of a good movie, engaged, interested, absorbed, and suddenly realizing that you're watching a movie, not living the life on the screen. That moment of realization is the moment of waking.
I’ve written about it, here.
When I wake up, I appreciate the fact that I'm awake. I might briefly celebrate it. I might try to maintain it or enhance it. But it doesn't last long. All too quickly, I go back into the dream and the pattern of my life.
Most of my day is spent on automatic, carried out by what I've called my "conditioned self" or "auto-Mike."
Auto-Mike is pretty awesome. Most people would be delighted to be that good, and so am I. But I want more.
Fortunately, part of my conditioning includes conditioned self-improvement. So without waking up, without breaking my conditioning, I continue to improve. But there are limitations. I can't make changes that my adaptive conditioning does not know how to make.
I have a good life, but I don't just want to have a good life. I want to have a good life doing what I intend to do.
I thought that "waking up" would be the answer. I've been working on it. I've been trying to stay awake more often and for more extended periods. That's been beneficial, but it hasn't brought about the change that I want.
I realize I need to do something else.
I've tried meditating, but I'm not able to do it consistently.
I've thought of joining a meditation community, but I cannot break my conditioning enough actually to do that.
Yesterday I found something that may be part of the solution: the idea of "debugging" from CFAR. CFAR is the "Center for Applied Rationality." Here is a post that sent me off in that direction.
So the concept of ‘bugs’ is really useful: once you’ve labelled something a bug, it is now in the category of ‘problems that I can practice solving to get better at life’.
That led me to read more at the CFAR site. Which lead me to this and back to LessWrong, where I found the "unofficial CFAR canon." And back to a bunch of CFAR videos.
Among them, I found this video:
What he said made a lot of sense. I write, and write, and write, and never give myself the kind of enthusiastic reinforcement that he recommends.
What he's doing is conditioning himself. And I realized that I need to recondition myself.
So I did. I went to a different place to write, worked hard at debugging myself, changing my behavior and rewards, and managed to get six posts written--and posted.
Repeat: and posted. That's a month of typical work. And I felt great!
I've been thinking more about reconditioning myself. I not only need to debug myself but do a fairly substantial overhaul: reconditioning.
Since I spend so little time awake, most of my reconditioning will have to be meta-reconditioning. I have to develop some automatic routines that modify my self-correcting conditioning to adjust the automated processes that aren't what I intend.
Tonight I found something else that I think might help:
I listened to most of it at 2x speed to get the gist of his argument. Then when he shows how his mind hack works, I played it at normal speed.
Here’s a direct link to the meditation in the video.
So tomorrow, I take the next step.