I feel like I'm making progress on some tough nuts to crack, after having nothing to say in the sense of progress for a while. In fact, I almost thought about giving up drinking for fear that it was making me dumb... well we'll still see about that this has got to be a phase but I just don't know when it will end.
The biggest lesson I've learned lately is to not learn from experience. Learning is for suckers. Learning from experience is (more often than not) like being a pigeon and learning that spinning in circles will help make the pellets come from the dispenser. Our brains are hard-wired to tie effects to causes (not the other way around) but this only works as a brute force survival method. Other parts of our brains, I think, are much better at judging each individual thing individually, and deciding with a less crude system what to do. This involves some learning from experience, but it's never of the "I learned to never" or "I learned to always" variety that usually tries to take over our personalities. I think part of the way that I came to learn this was due to my many years at Amazon testing small changes on the website in parallel to see which small change was superior... and slowly coming to the realization that small changes, though they can have big impacts, don't matter. When you take in incremental benefit, and then weigh in the lack of certainty that your tools naturally emit, and then weigh in lack of certainty in your own plan, and your own goal, and your own happiness, well, everything comes out flat. And yet, the black and white nature of "winning a test" or "losing a test" is addictive, and you can't help but base future decisions off of past colors, and who knows where you end up. The system is so alluring and aesthetically pleasing that it makes me doubt myself but damn it it's just precision at the cost of accuracy times a thousand. By that I mean that you gain certainty and measurable results at the cost of losing sight of what really matters. Can you tell me what really matters to a business? Or to a person? A business, like a city, is just made up of people, and people have to be happy. And that is way too difficult to measure by making a small change to something and seeing how revenue changes... or whatever equivalent have you.
Next, we should not talk about punishment and reward anymore. Why feel guilty for jaywalking, or not returning a library book, or even worse crimes to society and ourselves? Accidentally jaywalking in front of a cop today and I found that I actually wanted to pay a ticket because I felt like I've jaywalked enough (and taken enough small risks to myself and the public) that I should pay a ticket. By paying a ticket, I earn my right to jaywalk some more. I'm willing to pay for the right to jaywalk when it makes sense, in other words. And by not turning in the library book on time, I'm merely going to pay the cost of renting the book a bit longer and inconveniencing the next person in the book line. Why call it a fine, and not simply a price? I don't know if this makes any sense, but for some reason there is a lot of guilt built into the world that could simply be turned into costs. Like the cost of buying a banana... it should be the same as stealing a banana and then paying the fine when (occassionally) you get "caught" or asked to pay the stealing price. It's simply an alternate method of payment for the banana and both should be socially acceptable. Don't you think?
Lately I've been feeling like life has been a bit too easy. I need bigger challenges. Ones that don't succeed at first try. Part of the problem is that I know that success doesn't matter. My goal in life is to be passionate about the things I'm doing, and happy with the environment that I live in, but not to necessarily succeed at them and have everything exactly the way I think it should be (because I'm often wrong). Succeeding is sometimes good when it enables you to do another thing that you're passionate about... but often times it locks you into something that you're not passionate about anymore, when it would be better simply to continue to doing what you want, and changing when you wanted. It's not easy and takes practice, so I think until I really get the hang of it it would be better to trade a bit of success for a bit of flexibility and experimentation. Of course, that's also a potential trap... you should never get in the habit of storing up possibilities without cashing them in occasionally. You may end up with a million dollars in the bank that you never used, and what good is that?