*WARNING* let’s all die.

credits to Jim for his beautiful thoughts.
there is no meaning for life. the reasoning i used is here.
we could be a controlled experiment, a simulation.
so how do we beat it? to leave the matrix, you must die.
i won’t and how many people will?
humans are biologically wired to be survive. we cannot stop breathing and try to suffocate ourselves even if we want to.
if you try to suffocate yourself with your hands. at some point, you lose consciousness and you relax the grip on your hands.
according to evolution, the ones who mentally wanted to live continued. the ones who didn’t want to live were purged off. we are the offspring of the ones who did.
so no, we won’t suicide (at least I won’t)
the way to live “the meaningless life” is to live it the way you want. don’t let someone else dictate.
and of course you would want to live a happy life.
to do that, take advantage of the flawed human nature:
we can be deceived, we adapt and we are selfish.
the selfishness relates to a belief that everything we do is hidden under the guise of selfishness.
even if you think of a situation in which a mother decides to let her son live, you can also think of it as selfish situation. because the one who passes the gene wants the offspring to live.
adaptation is also biologically favorable. for settling into new environments, new foods. it’s biological that response to a stimulus decreases over time.
if we get the same reward from doing the same thing, it is much less likely for us to do it the tenth time than the first time.
and deception. we can deceive ourselves to be happy. It’s a misunderstanding that happiness is something you find. many studies show that in fact happiness is a state which you achieve, “flow”. happiness comes from competence, autonomy and relatedness. and how happy you are I guess depends on which of those you value the most.
so we’re actually not that rational at all.
you might be wondering what’s the reason for going this far and returning to the same conclusion you did before embarking on this thought experiment.
for one, i think the way you live life is fundamentally changed when you realize this end goal. you now live a life that you know truly belongs to you.
and if we are really an experiment, you never want the subjects to know that they are in an experiment. but by arriving at the conclusion that we could be an experiment and changing our behavior because of that, we have defeated the experiment.

SPG not what you think

this post is dedicated to SPG aka starlings of slipstream

the stressful part is finally over. it’s the first day in two full weeks that i’ve finally not felt stressed out by the amount of work i need to do after waking up. finally, finally.

i gave some advice last night and i realized that i should heed those same words as well.
to be happy, one needs to

1) be pragmatic about happiness. happiness is not sth that naturally occurs to someone. if you have some understanding of the world and some introspective understanding of your position in this world, you realize there’s a lot of things to be depressed about, about the unfair world.
therefore, you need to do adopts ways of happiness. if there’s sth that makes you happy, do it. you need also to believe that doings that will make you happy will actually make you happy. at least try.

2) the more important thing is to suppress that voice inside your head. that voice mostly arises from self-doubt, self-criticism. the origin of that voice is our high expectations of ourselves. accept this fact: no one is perfect. in fact, you need to accept you yourself are far from perfect. it’s like studying, you never study enough. you will never be as good as what you expect yourself to be. so, lower your expectations. your flaws and imperfections make you human. imperfections make us real.

at the end of the day, you have to love your life, no matter how shitty it is. so do the following realizing life is not perfect, and try to make yourself happy.

now the big question, does doing engineering make me happy? hmmm

listening to andrew bird’s songs

可能是星期天下午闲听着andrew bird的歌,可能是因为人生第一次安排生活里所有的细节,我看开了,就是说有一点随缘的态度,随着人生万华变迁的波浪浮动,再不太苛求任何东西。


我觉得如果每一天过得像外国的 backpacker一样,利用一天里每一分每一秒寻找快乐,不停探索,没有恐惧,对不经意找到的每一件事物都是那么感兴趣, 因为他们知道在这个地方停留的时间是短暂的,就算将来看到尴尬的事也只是会笑。这样的生活才是充实的。


two books on the subway

just finished stumbling on happiness by daniel gilbert and the history of love by nicole krauss both yesterday on the subway to work.

favorite quote from the history of love so far:
“Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist, there are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges and absorbs the impact.”

what i thought i would get out of the book is pretty different from what i expected. the book is called stumbling on happiness but the book is more about the shortcomings of prospection, in a field called effective forecasting, on how accurate our predictions of the emotional impact of future events. with an angle i guess from how it plays on our happiness, in the short term and the long term.

his three arguments of why the human imagination is faulty:
1. imagination tends to add and remove details (for good reason since we would need to relive the entire experience if we wanted to know what it felt to do something. our brain naturally finds the important parts and cuts out the crap so that we can shrink the size of the memory), but people do not realize that key details may be fabricated by the brain (when we try to remember the memory)

2. imagined future (and pasts) are more closely related to the present than they actually will be (or were)
a lot of what we’re predicting is directly related to how we’re feeling. the most obvious example is having full and hungry people predict how much they would like spaghetti for dinner tomorrow.

3. imagination fails to realize that things will feel different once they actually happen, the psychological immune system will make bad things feel not so bad as they are imagined to feel.
our psychological immune system was meant for survival, so it’s modeled much like our own biological immune system. it’s not meant to be defensive or defenceless. it doesn’t spring up for every tiny little sad event but it doesn’t let a tragic event destroy us. it’s the only way for survival, which is why tragic events hurt us less than you think they do.
therefore, we think these tragic events have a huge impact on our lives but people end up feeling much less sad/hurt than they think they would after suffering a tragic event.

there’s also something about the memory of emotions. we tend to end up remembering what we think of what we feel instead of what we actually felt. the frequency of the event affects us much more than the magnitude. the relative magnitude affects us much more than the absolute magnitude. the ending has a disproportional effect on the memory.

one thing i do take out of this though, which i’ve already slightly incorporated in my life is this. humans tend to regret inactions more than actions, because we need to justify our existence. and i guess it’s a more proactive, aggressive stance towards life which i would like to take.

the other thing is that the most effective way of predicting our emotions is surrogation, of using asking someone’s feeling who is doing the exact same thing at that time. because we are more similar than we think we are even if we don’t want to believe it because we are always thinking of our thoughts so we think only we can be having this particular epiphany but many people could be having the same epiphany which we can only guess from body language and speech. but it is actually quite an effective method that i shall try to use now.

interesting idea to predict happiness. treat it as a science. multiply probability by utility (definition of this word is arguable, but for now let’s say benefit towards human) then do decision tree, just like the business one.

lastly, author made a really interesting point about the idea of propagation. he says that society is the way it is because only geared towards survival end up surviving. therefore, even though the the continual pursuit of wealth doesn’t make us any much happier which is something even adam smith, the father of capitalism realized, we still do it because it’s the only way society will keep surviving.