author: niplav, created: 2021-02-22, modified: 2022-06-06, language: english, status: in progress, importance: 3, confidence: other
Inspired by others
I thought it might be useful to create a grabbag of strategies for
dealing with being human.
Disclaimer: I only follow parts of the advice given in here, though my
idealized version follows it nearly completely. I also believe that
following this advice completely is probably too hard, but following
it has monotonically increasing gains.
However, as always, the law of equal and opposite
applies, people are
And, as always, remember that I'm just a person on the internet.
- Do the obvious things
- Exercise any amount
- Even walking around outside for 10 minutes a
day is better than nothing
- By my best guess, the 30th minute of exercise
a day probably has zero net marginal life
expectancy (taking a baseline of jogging,
high-intensity interval training probably needs
less). If you are at hat point, you're probably
in the 90th percentile of people doing exercise
anyway. More probably isn't really needed,
even for becoming better looking.
- Eat vegetables and fruit
- Dates are very tasty
- Raw salad can be snacked like chips while watching a movie
- Drink mostly water
- Get enough sleep to not be tired during the day
- Eliminate debt, invest money you have lying around
- Spend less time sitting
- The alternatives are standing (e.g. at a standing desk) and walking
- Try to spend less time in front of screens
- Try to be better looking
- General hygiene
- Dressing better
- Mannerisms, Voice, Posture, Smell
- Some people seem to make not caring about how they
look like as part of their identity
- I think this is a big mistake, being better
looking is net positive in nearly all situations,
including both finding partners and job interviews
- Follow the advice in Muehlhauser 2011
- There is value-laden and value-agnostic advice. Most advice is value-laden. Before you carry out some advice, check whether it actually corresponds to your values.
- This also applies to all advice in this post (yes, even self-referentially)
- Make things you endorse part of your identity (but not too much)
- Example: On the subreddit
people build a strong identity around drinking water. This
is probably good.
- If you are like me, you probably underestimate the value of good gear
- Example: I spent around 200 hours meditating on
a folded sheet. Then I got a zafu, which was so much more
comfortable. Major improvement in my practice.
- Choose your hobbies so that they solve big problems in your life
- Example for myself: I didn't get laid, so I made daygame one of my hobbies (going out quite a lot, for a 3 month period 2 hours a day 6 days a week)
- Try to identify addictive loops early and destroy them as early as possible
- The longer you wait, the harder they become to root out
- This will probably become a bigger problem in the future
- Sign up for cryonics (if you can afford it).
- People have a strong sense that once they come into remote contact
with something bad, it makes them a bad person, no matter
how small the badness or how remote the contact. You probably
do this as well. This is both psychologically unhealthy and
makes no sense, since it usually doesn't take into account
the quantity of badness ("all bad things are equally bad")
and doesn't weigh it against the quantity of goodness produced
(disallowing offsetting). Try to recognize when you do this, and
if other people do this to you, and ignore it.
- Example: If you start investing money,
some people will probably tell you that you might be
giving money to unethical companies. While this might
be true, due to market efficiency arguments (especially about
and the small number of unethical companies, this is probably
negligible, and it neglects the massive positive effects of economic growth Halstead & Hillebrandt, 2020
- Instead, try to focus on the higher-order bits, e.g. Effective
experiences, of course while still maximizing expected value
- Related: The Copenhagen Interpretation of
- Have a long-term plan to completely or nearly completely phase the internet out of your life
- The internet will probably become more addictive over time,
and the increase in addictiveness will probably accelerate
- Technology is becoming more powerful, while the power of the human brain stays pretty much constant (maybe cultural evolution linearly develops better defenses)
- If this process crosses a certain
threshold, humanity is probably
- But you can still spend the remaining time well!
- Or even try to prevent it
- Post on this forthcoming some time
- If you are looking for solutions to problems, look for zero-willpower/zero-inspiration solutions first
- The best example for this is buying a product that solves your problem
- Example: I had trouble going to bed early, so I tried
Melatonin, which pretty much
solved my problem
- Example: I had trouble biting my nails, so I started cutting them regularly, which also pretty much solved my problem
- Example: I used to have a problem with getting distracted by the internet during hours when I wanted to be working. I moved to a place without internet, which made working easier.
- The benefits of small amounts of meditation are probably
overstated, while the benefits of large amounts of
meditation (north of 1 hour a day) are probably heavily
underestimated. I have had very good experiences with
- The basic foundational activity before meditation is just
doing nothing. It shouldn't be very hard to do, but it is.
- The ability to form habits is powerful.
- Establishing low-value low-difficulty habits intentionally can train this
- Example: Eating a small bar of chocolate a day
- Trigger-Action plans. They're great.
- Only consume media you actually enjoy consuming, not the media you brag about consuming in front of others
- Seriously. If you don't enjoy the process, just don't do it.
- Instead of learning a language, learn a couple of poems. Most people
don't actually manage to learn a second (or, outside English speaking
countries, third) language. Also, most people can't recite a single poem,
even though it's much much easier to learn than a whole language.
- Bonus points for learning a poem that inspires you, so that you can recite it in situations of hopelessness
- This also applies to songs
- Use spaced repetition for, well, anything
- This includes learning poems, songs, random facts, formulae
- I especially like reading textbooks and saving the formulae and definitions
- Not only does one remember the the things themselves, but is also continually reminded of the underlying structure, so that it is slowly baked into the brain
- When trying to receive specific advice, look for people that had
a problem similar (or identical) to yours, and find the methods that
they used to solve their problem. If these methods don't work as well
you as they did for them, continue searching
- The more similar their constraints to yours, the better
- This probably disqualifies this whole text, but whatever
- Structured Procrastination might work for you. It does for me.
- Fight tooth and nail for Slack.
addictions (even small ones like mindless internet browsing), no
debt, fewer physical objects you own, and fewer social obligations
are all instances of having a lot of slack.
- Example: I have a bad instance of completionism around
media. Once I have started a particular piece of media
(a podcast, a series, a blog), it feels bad to just not
finish it. This is a lack of slack!
- I haven't solved the podcast problem yet, except
being very strict about which podcasts I start.
- Don't destroy option value.
- Becoming enemies with people is an instance of destroying
option value (you can become an enemy of your friend
more easily than you can become a friend of your enemy)
- Dying destroys a lot of option value.
- Becoming irrational destroys option value (it's easier to
become irrational when you're rational, than to become
rational when you're irrational).
- There are two ways of living more: making your life longer and
making your life feel longer.
- Unfortunately, there is a tradeoff between how enjoyable an
activity is and how long it feels like.
- Try to find activities that are at the pareto
frontier of enjoyability and subjective length
- Meditation is probably a good example for this
- Creating things probably feels longer than the same
time spent consuming things
- Doing new activies also feels longer than familiar ones
- If you want to get into X, the best way of doing so is probably
doing a little bit of X for a month, and then one week of X for
6 or more hours a day
- This probably works better for non-cognitive tasks
- Unfortunately, you probably won't have the time for spending 6 hours a day on X for a week.
- If there is an item on this list that tells you to stop doing X,
but you truly enjoy doing X, then disregard the advice.
- If you're writing a long commment on the internet, you're probably
better off writing it in a local text editor and copy-pasting it
once you're done. It has only happened to me a couple of times,
but losing a long, detailed comment through a reload or browser
crash or whatever was always frustrating.
- Obvious computering advice
- Make backups
- Ideally, use the 3-2-1 strategy (3 copies on the local
drive, 2 more copies on separate drives, and 1
copy on a remote server)
- Use a password manager
- I prefer both remembering my passwords and using
a password manager, in case something breaks
- Use an adblocker
- People still don't do this. Don't be one of those
- Touch typing reduces brain-to-screen viscosity
- Kimchi is amazing. Try it.
- It's quite enjoyable to eat, but the real enjoyment
comes after having eaten it. I feel very refreshed
- I think it's also healthy?
- Money is important. Treat is as such.
- I have the impression that many otherwise smart people
have ideological hangups about money, seeing it as
immoral and not worth thinking about. This seems
both untrue and harmful – money is extremely useful,
and having money is pretty important.
- Know how much you spend, on what, and what your longterm
financial plan is.
- For some people, sometimes being able to ground out ones problems
causally in the world (i.e. "Which
processes lead to the situation I'm in, and which incentives
pushed which people to create/exacerbate those problems?")
can help dissolve negative emotions around the problem.
- Related: Modeling other people as causal systems plays
into this very well
- Vitamin C might cause kidney stones to happen more often. You
probably don't want to experience kidney
stones. Therefore, consider not supplementing Vitamin C.
- If you are about to start fighting someone, be aware that this happens. State it out loud: Does this mean we are now fighting? Surprisingly, this sometimes defuses the fight.
- If you're already doing something unethical, it's better to be aware of that than to compartmentalize and push it away – for yourself and others.
- Don't invest money by buying
Humanity is able to create synthetic diamonds that are as big as
natural ones, cleaner (fewer residual elements, e.g. nitrogen)
and ~10x cheaper. It is easier to make
synthetic diamonds dirtier than to clean natural ones. De
Beers and other
diamond companies have been combatting this by giving out
certificates of authenticity – but the temptation to cheat on
these is probably too high and this looks like a major market
disequilibrium that will collapse at some point – I'm just
not sure when ("The market can stay irrational longer than you
can stay solvent—unless it can't anymore").
- If you appreciate natural diamonds for their authenticity,
then by all means, go ahead. But don't
be disappointed when a years later, your
friends can buy bigger diamonds with the same carbon
10x cheaper, and nobody cares about your authentic
- Carrying around a USB stick on a keychain is pretty useful in some situations.