I’ve heard life is about compromises, but I think that’s an oversimplification.  I’d rather phrase it as:  life is about knowing WHEN to compromise.

When do I compromise on sleep?  On exercise?  On diet?  On work?  On family?  On pleasure?  On TV?  The list goes on, and it seems to be different for each person.

But what seems to remain the same, what seems to guide everyone through this muddle, is being able to study themselves with brutal honesty (track trends/changes in their behavior/outcomes, perform experiments based on the data and assess the results) and, of course, being disciplined enough to follow through on the evidence.

Musings, Volume 1, available on Amazon Kindle:  Musings, Volume 1


23 thoughts on “Musings

    • Absolutely. In fact, if we can trace our behavior to a unifying core belief, we end up studying the parts of ourselves that we try to suppress, but iterates through our actions with increasing frequency. If we catch those parts and channel them in a healthy way before they become problematic, we start to master ourselves.


      • So there is something in us that is doing the studying, and something in us that is being studied. I would say that whatever it is that our “self” is, awareness or consciousness is a major part of that self. If not all of it.

        I don’t think that I am my past behaviour. What is in the past is fixed, unalterable, beyond my control. I can certainly observe it, and often I wish that it had been different; that I had been kinder, perhaps, or more thoughtful and understanding. But you say that I am stuck with it. I am my behaviour, and I exist in the past and I am forever flawed.

        Am I my future behaviour? I do not know what lies in the future, but whatever turns up, you say I must accept that this is what I truly am. I am therefore unknowable, something I can only guess about. A lot of my future behaviour is out of my control. If it is cold tomorrow, then I might stay home and drink coffee. If it is warm, then I may go out and commune with the world.

        Two very different future selves, and I do not know which one is me. Whichever one turns up, I guess. Whichever way the coin lands.

        I won’t be able to observe this future me with any certainty until whatever it is that happens, happens. And then it is too late. It has happened, and it is in the past, and out of my control. Bugger.

        Am I only therefore whatever my present behaviour is? I can’t change the past, and I don’t know what is in the future. But, you know, some things happen and I don’t see what they are until they happen, given the necessary delay in neural transmission from one part of my brain to another. And some parts of my behaviour are driven by hormones. If I sneeze, is that part of my behaviour really part of my self? If I get grumpy or horny at certain times of the month, is that something that is part of my true self?

        I can observe this behaviour, but there is nothing I can do about it, at least nothing in the realm of consciousness thought.

        If I get pregnant and become the plaything of my body and my hormones, how do I go about “shutting that thing down”?

        It seems to me that whatever my self-observed behaviour might be, I don’t have much of a shot at observing it in time to do anything about it, and there are some aspects that are entirely out of my control.

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      • What you’re alluding to is an age-old question: how much free will do we have, if any? And if we have some, does everyone have the same amount? It’s unanswerable. But at the same time, until it has been definitively proven we have no free will at all, I am going to assume I have at least a little, because if I have a little and I assume I don’t, then I have wasted it. So where does that leave me?

        Observe, experiment, observe, experiment. All I can do is work with what’s in front of me, and use the past as a reference.

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      • I’m not sure how free will is a different question. If our behavior is out of our control, it naturally begs the question of whether we had control—or free will—in the first place.

        What I do is assume I have some, and act as if others don’t. That way, i can be responsible for what I do, and be compassionate towards others. All too often, I see people enacting the same, unproductive programming. I suspect everyone does have some, but it’s only after they face their dark secrets and untangle their programming when they finally get to access it. Otherwise, they’re running a bunch of junk software.

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      • Impossible to answer. So the next relevant question is, “Do I have any say in my behavior?” Which is also impossible to answer, so the safe assumption is that I DO have some say, because unless it is definitively proven that I don’t, it would be a giant waste if I do and I don’t take advantage of it. The next question would be: “How much say do I have?” Also impossible to answer, so the only reasonable course would be to run experiments on myself, treating myself as a programmable machine. As far as I can see, that’s how I maximize whatever say I do or don’t have.

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      • We all have a say in our behaviour, I think. We make choices, we fill our mind with skills and experiences. Choosing to read a comic book or a work of great literature. These sorts of things influence us and influence those with whom we deal.

        But can we realistically be said to *be* our behaviour? I’m not the crying baby I once was, nor the giggling schoolgirl, nor even the serious university student. Those roles come and go. Over the years, and even over the hours, as we perform our various functions in life. Office-worker, commuter, mother, wife; different faces to different people. Which is the real person?

        None of them, I suggest. Otherwise one pesonality would rule over the rest.

        We are creatures of the moment. Not of the past, and not of the future.

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      • I hope you’re right. I try to keep it simple: do the best with what I’ve got. Look at myself as objectively as I can, so I can get a clear idea of what fulfills me. Because unless I know that, I won’t be able to do the best with what I have, because I’ll lack a direction to focus my actions toward.


    • The evidence is just evidence. It’s data, observation, what-have-you. Your reaction to the evidence determines good, bad, “worst”. The hitch is that you probably can’t avoid some sort of emotional reaction to the evidence. The question, however, is how you use the evidence, no matter how good or bad it is.
      My dad essentially died from cancer… essentially. It was a sad time for me. Dad and I were close. But I also chose to look at his death in a more detached way, too. Why and how did he truly die? The fact of the matter is that cancer ultimately won against him, but it didn’t take him quite on his terms. My dad had beat the cancer for several years, but the treatments had taken their tolls on his body (nothing is free), too. So, when the cancer came back, he was faced with another choice: fight it again with all the medical weaponry medical science could offer or accept the inevitable and COMPROMISE so that his remaining time would be as comfortable and peaceful as possible. He chose to fight again, but NOT because he wanted to. It was because some of my FAMILY WANTED it.
      I saw that and heard that in our conversations.
      When he died I knew that not only had the cancer killed him, but some of the treatment, too. It had wrecked a good portion of his body until the body just couldn’t hang on anymore. Had he not chosen to fight and take more treatment…
      The point to this long-winded response is that I have looked at the evidence from as unbiased view as possible. There is little doubt here that the evidence is bad. But what I’m hoping I learned is that if/when I am faced with such a choice, I can make the “best” choice possible with whatever evidence there is then. And I understand that the choice might just be a compromise. Sometimes a compromise gets the best results overall. It likely could have been that way for him.

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      • Indeed. Marry the evidence with your intent (derived from studying yourself with brutal honesty, to see what fulfills you over time with a higher probability) and you can aim for harmony. There is too much information out there to pay attention to it all; it has to be filtered through personal intent.

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    • Indeed! I’ve heard the current estimate as high as fifty percent of our behavior is determined by nature and nature. (No idea how they got to that guesstimate). And observations of twins who’ve been separated at birth put that number even higher, although I don’t think they have a high enough sample size to really draw a solid conclusion off twin behavior.


      • Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate explains the science behind these estimates quite well. Regardless, even if environment explains 100% of the neural pathways, those pathways are still laid down in early childhood, and well beyond the rational control of the child. Learning (for instance, learning to be more disciplined, and then using the discipline to learn something else) literally changes the circuitry of the brain. It is possible. The brain is plastic as I am sure you know. But never as plastic as when we are children.

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      • Who knows? Psychedelics is as yet a still largely unexplored factor in neuroplasticity. A sufficient dose of magic mushrooms can induce physical changes in the brain, and can also increase trait openness by one standard deviation, potentially pushing someone from the fiftieth percentile of the population to the 85th.

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