Trying to make sense out of my life

During the last days I had a lot of reasons to think about my past, present, and future. I vented a lot of my frustrations in the “I am disappointed” thread which I shared in many Facebook groups. There were many interesting responses, but eventually I got disappointed about them, too.

Then something in me clicked and told myself: To hell with this all, I’ll focus on developing Quantified Prestige and put everything else on ice until much later.

That represents a pragmatic slash to the Gordian Knot I was facing. As mentioned in the “I am disappointed” thread, I am a person with many interests and many approaches to making the world a better place. Quantified Prestige however, is that which I can do right now, which only I can really push forward as first initiator, and which can later on massively support any other projects that I or the futurist / transhumanist / utilitarian / world improver communities want to pursue.

And now I’m trying to make sense out of my life, because I want to be coherent and realistic. So, here are some basic insights about myself:

I consider myself primarily philosopher and secondarily as utilitarian. It is this utilitarianism that provides my basic guidance in my life. I use the utilitarian value of everything as yardstick for everything.

Transhumanism only has value for me as far as it is utilitarian. Therefore, I oppose non-utilitarian versions of transhumanism in principle. I tried to be accommodating to all kinds of transhumanists in the hope that a larger alliance can do more. But this reasoning didn’t have really positive consequences so far. It makes me feel uneasy to try to fit all transhumanists into one big bucket. Especially if even that big bucket does have little power to do anything. Sometimes I think transhumanists should have the motivational power that IS has (even though IS is one of our worst enemies).

Anyway, my brain is quite fried from all the thinking I’ve done in the last days. I may not make full sense.

I have a hard time computing the consequences of my decision to really focus on Quantified Prestige on other projects. Be they projects of some community, or my own. So, I better not make any rash declarations now that I will regret later on.

One key insight however is that I do suffer from ME/CFS and that it makes it virtually impossible for me to do more than one things at a time well.

Everything important that I have achieved in my life I had to fight for with great suffering against the wall of ME/CFS. Afterwards I always had a big energy crisis and the walls came crashing down on my head. I was continuously punished for doing what is or seemed right. This has driven me to madness repeatedly. Living a meaningful life on this basis feels like the effort to find bliss in hell.

Also my efforts to cure myself from ME/CFS were ultimately not successful. I could however improve my skill at managing this disease. That’s still worth a lot, but I’m basically still an unstable mess.

Doing what makes me feel alive triggers depression. Being energized drains me. I cannot follow my passions, because doing that messes up my neurochemisty so much that I fall into anhedonia and have no passion left. Being “rational” is very dangerous, because it drains my willpower and then I get a combination of ADD, depression, and anhedonia.

I desperately want to change the world to the better, because I see, feel, and understand so much. But doing that with my condition is a really maddening challenge. In spite of all that I do continue to not give up, or build up my strength again if I give up.

Now, I want to create a Quantified Prestige Development Network that acts as basis for organizations developing Quantified Prestige. Given my health issues I need more support for that endeavour than I have ever gotten in my entire life. But it just might be possible, if I am extremely focused and use the best strategies that anyone on this planet knows.

I cannot be a normal leader, because I am a mess, but I need to be an exceptional leader, because otherwise nothing happens. It looks like a challenge that might just seem impossible enough to be possible somehow.

Ok, I need a break now. I’ll try to be more coherent next time.

Well, this thread is about trying to get clarity about myself. I’m more or less just thinking out loudly here.

What concerns me at the moment is my ability to do work. I’ve found it enlightening to classify it into different intensity degrees of work (or more generally any activity) which I categorize about like this:

Easy work:

  • Playing most games
  • Easy physical activities
  • Directly applying my knowledge on an easy problem
  • Watching videos

Moderate work:

  • Most tasks involving reading, for example checking mails or reading books
  • Moderate exercise
  • Most conversations
  • Routine work
  • Solving easy problems
  • Learning new stuff that is not too hard to comprehend
  • Cooking

Hard work:

  • Really strenuous exercise
  • Most tasks involving serious writing
  • Dealing with hard problems
  • Coming up with creative stuff
  • Learning new stuff that is hard to comprehend
  • Taking cold showers

It turns out that I am quite able to do easy work on a very consistent basis, unless I’m in an actual energy crisis. Then even the easy stuff becomes really difficult.

Usually, I can at least do a few hours of moderate work every day, unless I’m really low on energy. But doing that costs significant amounts of energy. I can do moderate work on a relatively consistent basis when I use mild stimulants like coffee and antidepressants.

The real problem is hard work. It almost always makes me feel quite tense, but it’s also the most exciting kind of work. Often, when doing that I feel like on an emotional roller-coaster. In most cases I have to use a lot of willpower for starting hard work and staying on track. Often, I really need to use mild stimulants or antidepressants to get hard work done. Doing hard work never turned out to be long-term sustainable for me, no matter what (even if I minimize it to tiny amounts each day). In phases of relatively high energy I can do several hours of hard work almost every day. But these phases are rare and usually don’t last very long.

Unfortunately, the work that really matters the most is hard, and it cannot be easily reduced to moderate or easy work (the task of reducing it would be hard work again).

So far, this is a model that seems to represent my previous experiences, but I don’t think it’s the whole truth. At least, I hope that there’s something that invalidates this model, so that I get a more nuanced model that looks more hope inspiring.

There may be psychological issues involved in hard work that actually make it hard. Dissolving those issues might then turn hard work into moderate work. Unfortunately, dissolving psychological issues is difficult and hard work.

ME/CFS can be described as neurological disease. The problem of hard work is probably that it overexcites my nervous system and gets me into fight/flight/freeze mode. If I could do what I call now “hard work” in a state of relaxation, it might become moderate or even easy work. However, in a state of relaxation I naturally tend to relax and not do “work”. That might be a psychological issue that could be fixed. Establishing a “relaxed flow” while actually doing work might be a skill that can be learned. Staying relaxed at all times might be the key to becoming healthy and productive. But even if I master that skill, I’d still have the need to manage my energy carefully – or better mindfully :slight_smile:

The last paragraph that I’ve written makes me feel hopeful. It seems to point to the right solution. Generally trying to be more:

  • relaxed
  • in the flow
  • positive
  • mindful
  • playful

(this may be put into a nice acronym somehow, but there are too many consonants. “M(ind) + RePlay Flow” or something could be tried instead, but that’s quite awkward. Also, this might just be too much at once. Simplicity is the key, so focusing on the relaxation first might be the best way to go.)

Whenever I start feeling excited things get critical. No matter whether the excitement is positive or negative. Positive excitement is certainly less destructive than negative excitement, but positive excitement can quickly turn into negative excitement.

It would be energetically much better to act from the centre. From the middle. With a slight smile, that must not be forced.

I feel that it’s the right way to stop caring. And instead just trying to move into the right direction without being knocked out of your balance no matter what happens around or within you.

The neurological problems connected with ME/CFS made me fail my practical driver’s licence test twice. The third time I stopped caring and thought that I just would fail a third time without being bothered by that. And so, I passed the test, because I wasn’t really worried about what would happen.

One of the most important questions I’ve had to deal with is how to distribute my time and energy for Quantified Prestige and other projects.

After long thinking and debating I came to the conclusion that the answer is that I should invest about 85% of my energy more or less directly related to QP and 15% to other projects which still have a significant utilitarian value. This means, that I have a strong focus on QP for 6 days and then a can focus on other things 1 day a week – to have some compensation and inspiration and don’t neglect my other interests. It feels like the right answer. So, I’m not exactly having the desire to write down how I arrived at this answer and to portrait the tension between the extreme poles of having a 100% focus on QP and being totally unfocused (or open, if it’s positively worded).

I think the 85%-15% answer is the right balance between extreme focus and “project balance”. Extreme focus can have extreme power, but it could also cause extreme one-sidedness and extreme material fatigue.

Anyway, that’s my answer, and I am very happy that I have found it, because with the answers I have found in this thread, I can initiate a new powerful start. After I take a short break after all this serious thinking work. Energy management and stuff :smile:

Now that I have decided to devote 85% of my “discretionary” time/energy to Quantified Prestige, the question is what to do with the other 15%.

After some hours of relaxed thinking on the subject, I came to the conclusion that what really matters to me can be subsumed under the term of “utilitarian transhumanism”, meaning the philosophical intersection of utiliarianism and transhumanism. Utilitarian transhumanism is the utilitarian flavour of transhumanism and the transhumanist flavour of utilitarianism. The British philosopher David Pearce is the most prominent utilitarian transhumanist and he has been a great inspiration for me. What’s also great about David Pearce is that he is a quite approachable and cool guy.

So, what would be the role of utilitarian transhumanism in the world?

  • Promoting utilitarian transhumanist policies aimed at optimizing well-being of all sentient entities in the world primarily by improving society and the sentient condition through technology. What are such policies?
  • Universal basic income. It looks like one of the most important candidates for having a huge positive impact on global well-being.
  • Abolition of institutionalized animal suffering. In particular by developing and establishing alternatives to animal experiments and animal products.
  • Curing ageing and other degenerative diseases.
  • Making the improvement of well-being something that really counts in politics.
  • Reshaping the economy to be more in line with the goal of improving well-being. A universal basic income and reputation economy will most likely play a great role in this. (Well, this is how Quantified Prestige also fits under the wide roof of utilitarian transhumanism).
  • Using the results of positive psychology to increase people’s well-being.
  • Supporting the creation and adoption of an universal appropriate sentient rights declaration.
  • Promoting effective altruism.

I want to participate in the project of developing Utilitarian Transhumanism (or UH+) (further). David Pearce has made a really good start, and I think I can build on those ideas and add my own ones.

With regards to the Transhumanist Parties, my thinking goes into the direction of establishing utilitarian transhumanist wings (poilitical philosophical wings) within those parties who try to be really influential and push the party towards adopting utilitarian transhumanist goals.

Now, what about the Social Future Forum? I think it’s really cool, but now that I have made up my mind about what to do next, I’d love to have a utilitarian transhumanist forum AND a quantified prestige forum. Well, for now, the Social Future Forum will contain both until the UH+ and QP communities have grown enough to deserve their own forums.

Anyway, I’d like to ask you how you think and feel about utilitarian transhumanism and its goals as suggested by me.

Over the last days I’ve felt better, but haven’t been as productive as I had wished I could be.

I wanted to find out why it was that way. What have I procrastinated so much? My theory is that humans are quite prone to procrastination, because they have a natural tendency to feel aversions against activities which provide no significant chance of immediate reward. I call this the basic work aversion. One might try to counter this basic work aversion by gamification, but that might not always be easy or practical. Gamifying work also may represent additional work by itself, but the usefulness of that approach is limited.

Also, there might be additional aversions against certain activities. Dissolving them where possible is a good idea, unless these aversions are there for a really good reason. Then it might be better to listen to them.

Anyway, I have come to believe that they key lies in developing the skill to endure these aversions while still remaining relaxed! Perhaps the reason why exercise, meditation and yoga really work is that these activities are precisely used to develop exactly that skill! And yes, exercise, meditation, and yoga contain intrinsically aversive factors like exertion and boredom (lack of stimulation)!

Just pushing yourself through an aversive activity through sheer willpower can create a tremendous amount of stress. That’s not an elegant approach, but it works as long as there is enough willpower. But it’s not an economic approach, in the sense that the exertion of willpower is high. Also, stress has negative physiological consequences. It would be much better to use the skill to do aversive tasks while actually remaining relaxed. Once this skill is sufficiently developed, doing such tasks would require less willpower, and the side effects of stress are avoided altogether.

If I am right about this, it might explain a lot. And point towards the development of a most useful skill (how should that skill be called?) as solution to a huge number of problems.

Edit: Oh, and now that I think about it, it’s also seems to be the gist of the Gupta treatment programme for ME/CFS to learn how not to stress out about negative thoughts and sensations and to come back immediately to a place of calmness. That means it fits right into exercise, yoga, and meditation as intervention for developing the core skill. I just call it the “core skill” before I find a better name for it.

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i’m still a bit unhappy about my work morals. There are a lot of things I do to procrastinate. In the past I have been quite successful to minimize that by confining these procrastination activities to a certain daily time window taking between 2 and 4 hours. I think the time after 8 PM would be quite suited for that. So, I’ll start checking non-priority mails and Facebook at 8 PM, not before. Of course, the Social Future Forum is exempt from this rule, because this is serious stuff! :smiley:

The problem with those measures in the past was that they tended to make me quite anxious when I was outside of the sanctioned time window (but being within it felt much better as compensation). So, I’ll probably need to become better at relaxing about focusing on really serious stuff.