A little while ago, I wrote about Optimizing Your Mindstate as a heuristic for handling situations where it feels like “I don’t really feel like doing this Task, but I really want to finish this Task”.  Since then, I’ve updated this mental notion with a few ideas that hopefully make the heuristic easier to use.

I’ll also break it down with a detailed 5-second-level series of steps, like I mentioned last week.

As a quick summary, OYM was basically about finding auxiliary actions that bring us closer to states where doing the targeted action is easier.  For example, getting out of bed might be hard, but rolling onto the less-comfortable ground, or turning on the lights, is a less-intensive action that still moves you closer to getting up.

I’ve found Coherent Extrapolated Volition and Ideal Advisor Theory to be two philosophical concepts that strengthen thinking about OYM.  Thinking about a “better” version of yourself is a nice framing that makes solving problems more cooperative.  Your alter-ego, or your Ideal Advisor, is an imaginary person on your side, sharing the same goals as you, giving you advice.

Basically, imagine yourself, but smarter, giving Present You advice.

There’s also a similar reframe, which I’ve found less helpful for tackling personal efficacy tasks, but good for interpersonal interactions— asking yourself, “What would The Most Interesting Person In The World say?”

Anecdotally, I’ve found these different variations on the same theme (thinking about better people giving you advice) to be helpful when I personally I can’t generate good solutions.

Here’s the 5-second-level breakdown:

  1. Notice that you don’t know what to do.  Feel your brain floundering for solutions; if you haven’t come up with something for a few seconds, or your mind feels blank, this is a similar cue.
  2. Remember that you have a 5-second-level for this. (This very key to the whole breakdown).
  3. Imagine you have an imaginary friend who’s you, but lots smarter.  They are sympathetic to your plight and want to help you out.
  4. Ask them, “What do you suggest I do?”
  5. Your internal model of the smarter version of you should provide a suggestion.
  6. Try to act on it.  If you can’t, let your Ideal Advisor know.
  7. They should be able to provide a workaround.
  8. Iterate.

I’ll be trying to integrate this.  But I still haven’t gotten the Going Meta skill down from last week.  I’m wondering if even 1 skill a week would be too quick, as a backlog seems likely to arise.  It seems like it’s way easier to write about doing stuff than actually doing it.

Given that, I may try to once again switch up what I’m trying to achieve with MLU.



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