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Able to help everyone but yourself

by cyanidesofmarch

I’ve noticed on SP there are people, most of you actually, who are really supportive and give the perfect advice. Better than any “professional” advice I’ve ever heard. But then the obvious question is: why can’t you apply the same support to yourselves?

Not necessarily here, but in real life I help others and it seems so effortless and productive. Then I look at my own problems, and for the life of me I can’t make a dent.

Do you guys ever think about it? How is it possible to have answers for everyone but yourself?

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Tristeza 8/30/2013 - 8:37 am

You actually helped me cyanure. It may seem very silly but that day when you complimented me for my poems, it made me feel a little better.

I feel like most of us can help each other in some level. I look at myself and I have contact with some people that I’ve met here (and I’m always open to email people from here).

I made them laugh, cry, have hope.
A lot of good things;
Things that maybe are too complex to say on this comment.
Unfortunately, they’re still thinking about dying.
We all are.

I’m not able to help myself now. Everybody’s trying. I’m still trying, I am.
Let’see what will happen.

Hella 8/30/2013 - 8:39 am

We can see other people objectively because we don’t feel their pain. If we felt their hell, we wouldn’t be able to help them. But we can feel our own hell, so we can’t help ourselves. Emotionless people can solve everything quickly and easily, that’s why psychopaths are always the most successful people in life (just take a look at most leaders, politicians, ceos, etc.).

cyanidesofmarch 8/30/2013 - 8:52 am

@Tris Wow really? I’m so happy I was able to help. Your poetry really is very good, and I think it is the key to your survival.

“Everybody’s trying” Yes, that is the answer. Nobody can be healed immediately. I suppose we shall see.

@Hella That’s a good point. Pain changes everything. If you are in (physical) pain, you cannot drive yourself to the hospital. I think the same can be said for emotional pain.

“Emotionless people can solve everything quickly and easily, that’s why psychopaths are always the most successful people in life (just take a look at most leaders, politicians, ceos, etc.).”

Wiser words have never been said.

Tristeza 8/30/2013 - 9:05 am

Thank you. Yes, my poetry is what is keeping me alive. I’m not posting here that much anymore but I’ve been writing as usual.
Everybody’s, I repeat that.
Let’s hope that some, if not all of us (what a dream) can survive.

Renato Sch 8/30/2013 - 10:19 am

Perfect Answer:


Hella 8:39 am on August 30th, 2013

We can see other people objectively because we don’t feel their pain. If we felt their hell, we wouldn’t be able to help them. But we can feel our own hell, so we can’t help ourselves. Emotionless people can solve everything quickly and easily, that’s why psychopaths are always the most successful people in life (just take a look at most leaders, politicians, ceos, etc.).”

Have a answer do not stop the pain we feeling… simple like that.

Regards

quaero 8/30/2013 - 10:41 am

“Many a one cannot deliver himself from his own chains and yet he is his friend’s deliverer.” – Nietzsche

people_do_care 8/30/2013 - 10:48 am

I know exactly what you’re talking about and it’s very difficult to figure out why I can’t help myself

embargo 8/30/2013 - 10:57 am

this is a great question and i don’t have a specific answer. one of my friends told me i place restrictions on everything and i need to stop doing that – but it feels impossible to get over it for some reason. i place high standards on everything and i feel it’s just “how i am” and i think that’s why i tend to be depressed – absolutely nothing meets my expectations.

some people who know me tell me that i’m extremely rational, logical, and one of the most grounded and stable people they know, yet nobody knows of the demons i have internally.

it always seems so easy to identify and fix other people’s problems, especially financial ones, but mine feel very different. i know i keep running the same circular thought pattern. maybe i should try looking at myself from the outside?

cyanidesofmarch 8/30/2013 - 1:52 pm

Well at least it’s a known problem. Had Neitzsche stumped.

@embargo Looking at yourself from the outside… now that’s a tall order. The closest I can get is when I watch a movie and one of the characters is like me. That’s the only time I can objectively see myself (and usually how ridiculous my actions are). How can any of us see ourselves from the outside?

clevername 8/30/2013 - 3:49 pm

before reading all the comments, one thing jumps out at me:

Sometimes we are able to help others, /because/ of the ways we can’t help ourselves.

@embargo:

I’m constantly telling people to check their expectations, because it’s frequently evident to me that people form their expectations unrealistically or improperly, based on some “ideal,” rather than what is actually possible and probable.

My problem in this area is that my minimum realistic expectations are not even realistic, and i can’t accept anything below the maximum compromise i’m willing to make, which, IMO, is pretty substantial.

As for the friend telling you you need to stop placing restrictions on things… isn’t that, in itself, placing a restriction on things? 😉

You have to place some degree of restriction on things, in order to form enough judgement to make any decision. The most basic restriction-razor, seems to be “this is, or this is not, acceptable.” You can adjust location, length, and depth of the incision, but it still must be made, in order to change an unacceptable scenario.

cyanidesofmarch 8/30/2013 - 4:13 pm

“Sometimes we are able to help others, /because/ of the ways we can’t help ourselves.”

When I read that I knew exactly what you meant. Then suddenly I had no idea what you meant (or what I was thinking when I thought I knew what you meant).

Can you give me an example so I can get my brain back on track?

About expectations and idealism, you’re absolutely right. I think a lot of the problem is if you live an isolated life, without normal contact with human society and the “real world”, you can’t avoid living by ideals. Without practical experiences, ideals are all we have to go by. And naturally these perfect ideals keep getting harder to meet in an imperfect world.

Painfulfaith 8/30/2013 - 4:21 pm

Well this is the prized question isn’t it? If any of us knew how to or had it in us to fix ourselves we would have done it. We are all broken by the pain we feel and at least for me i’m too hard on myself most times. I feel like when it comes to myself I should have to earn forgiveness and what I’ve been through I deserve, but then at the same time I can help other ppl by telling them the exact opposite things. Pain is healed by understanding and love and I think when we are all in this position we can all be somewhat understanding of everyone else and let them know we feel similar things, essentially that they aren’t completely alone. and when u feel sympathy or compassion you can say those words they need to hear and to them it feels like love. But then again anything we can say to someone else we should think to ourselves and we should love ourselves but we don’t. “the soul knows exactly what to do to heal itself, the challenge is to silence the mind.” we all have the capacity to help ourselves but we have to be ready to do so. it is an emotional, mental, and with some people physical struggle. we fight ourselves. Maybe fixing ourselves will cause even more pain to us and none of us want tht but telling someone else they can and giving them positive words doesn’t make our struggle any harder so in a sense helping others is easy. it comes naturally because in a sense it is pain free.

clevername 8/30/2013 - 4:41 pm

Hmm…

Example: someone with money doesn’t know options exist, that can improve or correct what they feel is wrong. Someone without money, has discovered that it is required, in order to enable the option they need, but cannot avail. They know what this option is, but that they cannot access it. The first person’s mind is full of other things, and hasn’t realized what they could do. The second person knows exactly what they would do, and that they could, if only it were available. Second person says to first person: “you can afford the available option that i cannot, and it can do X, Y, Z!” First person realizes there is an available solution to their problem… /because/ it is not available to the second person, who has spent time analyzing which solution would be required to fix their problem, but is /here/ because they cannot access it.

Because 2nd person cannot access the solution, 1st person is helped by being made aware of the existence of a solution that /is/ available to them.

That’s an example, though probably not the best one, but is likely quite common. There are other instances where simply having experienced something that has left lasting detrimental effects, teaches us how we could have avoided it, what we should have done differently… which we can then express to those who may be in the situation where they are about to make the same mistakes. Sometimes people are able to learn vicariously through accounts of the experiences of others. This is not always the case. Some lessons require experiencing, and cannot be understood by simply having them explained.

The anti-example would be: look around at how often the people who have almost no serious problems, are ever able to help someone who does have serious problems they can’t fix themselves, which the no-problems person cannot understand how to even begin to approach solving.

How can you fix a problem you don’t know about? How can you solve a problem you don’t understand?

It’s rare for people to know what they’re doing, and the extended effects of their actions, if they haven’t been to the source, and stayed long enough to understand how things work.

Some people hack computer programs; i hack life. I am very familiar with the sources of many problems, but no one person can be an expert in everything. My specializations are not always applicable to everyone’s problems, but there’s a reason people often act like they have some sort of contempt for me, and say things like “well you just have an answer for everything, don’t you.” Most things, probably. But everything? Probably not. It’s just that i have an approach to problem solving that almost always works, which is part of my approach to perceiving and understanding my own existence and my environment. Some people want to know how things work; some just assume computers are magic. 😉 (and in one way, you could argue in their favor, because anything that is obfuscated or abstracted away or hidden enough, about how things function to produce their effects, disrupts our ability to discern its functionality; if we don’t know how something works, but we know it does work… that’s pretty much the same thing as “magic,” but not in the supernatural sense.)

embargo 8/30/2013 - 5:07 pm

@clevername i probably sound like everybody else, but i wholeheartedly believe my expectations are accurate and within grasp for myself – i say that because i’ve had it before. unfortunately it means i may endure 99% of my time being wrong until i get to that 1 day where i’m proven right – hence why i often feeling depressed.

my expectations are probably not realistic for over 90% of people though – and i imagine most of my friends would think i’m insane. another friend once asked me “what planet do you live on?” – suggesting that i act as if i’m not like most people.

i think “restrictions” is my way of saving time and saving potential disappointment. whenever i cave and give the benefit of the doubt i regret it.

i do think i need to “expand my horizons” a bit, and that is definitely where i’m stubborn.

clevername 8/30/2013 - 5:24 pm

Without “restrictions,” a sniper round would barely be a firecracker, with no chance of accuracy or predictable trajectory.

It’s like i need a sniper rifle, but everyone insists on sawed-off shotguns. My aims are not within point-blank range.

Pick the right tool for the job. ^^

Duke of Marmalade 8/30/2013 - 6:19 pm

There are a number of reasons:

“Suicide always seems like a bad decision when it’s somebody else” – Lucy4

“Suicide is usually incompressible to everyone other than the person contemplating it” – Lucy4

Life is precious:

We value ‘life’, even if we don’t always get to live.

Not everyone has been dealt the killer blow;

People on here rarely advise those that have very serious health conditions like MS or cancer etc to get help or cheer up. There is no help and they have nothing to be happy about. Most of the things people complain about are not considered ‘serious’ enough.

It’s easier said than done:

It’s always easier to advise someone than to take action. We don’t always have the desire or skill to help ourselves. A football manager (soccer) doesn’t have the ability to to help his team win on the playing field, instead giving instructions from the sidelines.

It’s gratifying:

It feels good to offer encouragement and improve another persons life. Not always caring about yourself does not preclude a person from caring.

We are different:

Perspective. What is important to one person might not be important to somebody else. If we could trade the things that made us unhappy, we’d probably be ok.

cyanidesofmarch 8/30/2013 - 7:04 pm

@clever Brilliant example, I understand perfectly. And I agree. So, just curious, do you consider yourself to be a person who “knows what the option is but cannot access it”? Have you essentially solved your own problems on paper but can’t make it happen in the real world?

Because I think that describes my situation. And you’ve pegged it; it’s also the reason why I’m stuck in this rut.

To complicate matters, it sucks when you’ve convinced yourself that you have the right strategy, but still it doesn’t work. That’s what leads to frustration, depression, and I’m guessing insanity if it goes on too long. Sticking with your money example, suppose you have a 15 year plan to work, pay off your mortgage and retire happy. But no matter how hard you work, you can’t seem to save a dime. Even though you had a good plan, it’s not working. That’s how some of us get stuck and need an outside perspective to wake us up and say “you need a new plan.” Maybe, like you said, the best outside perspective might come from a person who doesn’t even have a house, mortgage or job. That person would be able to strip the problem down to basic survival and probably come up with ideas you hadn’t thought of.

I like your phrase “hacking life”. I do like to view life as a computer program, not as a supernatural event. That does make problem solving more within our grasp.

But at the same time it can make roadblocks 10x more frustrating because you keep telling yourself “I should know the answer to this!”

When I hit those roadblocks, sometimes I wonder if it would be better to think life is “magic”. So you could rest easy in your ignorance… and just go along for the ride.

cyanidesofmarch 8/30/2013 - 7:27 pm

@Duke

“Suicide always seems like a bad decision when it’s somebody else” – Lucy4

“Suicide is usually incompressible to everyone other than the person contemplating it” – Lucy4

Very true. When I read other people’s posts I always proceed with the assumption that there is a fix. With myself, most often I convince myself there is no solution, so I don’t waste much time trying to fix it.

It really is all perspective.

Sometimes I wish there were a body-exchange program, where we could swap bodies with people long enough to solve their problems (and they ours), then switch back and the whole world is in order.

Well either that or we’d all screw each others lives up even worse.

clevername 8/30/2013 - 7:28 pm

Well, as many hackers would likely agree, it’s often best to use and build upon what already exists, rather than “reinventing the wheel” over and over again. Sometimes it’s better to just use “magic,” just because it works, rather than having to figure out how it works, through reverse engineering, then figure out a better solution than the original, which enables a slightly better function, and then build a new slightly different thing.

It’s weird how so much hacker “philosophy” is applicable to life. Or maybe it’s entirely logical, very reasonable, and not weird at all.

Like, if a currently existing CMS (content management system) is sufficiently suitable to your needs, then does it make sense to try to write a brand new one from scratch? Or to attempt to slightly modify the one that already exists, even if you have to use some “magic” (stuff that doesn’t show how it works, but still works anyway) to enable additional functionality? I suppose it depends on what you’re trying to do, and whether it’s possible to gain the desired function through modification, or whether a total rebuild, a complete re-imagining, would be required to make it work how you want.

Unless you’re trying to do something extreme or unheard of, there is probably a way to do it with some combination of what already exists… but while you’ll probably save heaps of time and effort in that way, you probably won’t have your perfect, ideal solution, and may have to slightly compromise your ideal goals, in order to make the most efficient use of your time.

Back to your first question… i feel that i have ideal solutions, but no access to them. Part of the lack of access to those ideal solutions, are events, and non-events, in the past. If things had gone differently, i would have had access to better solutions. But now, i feel stuck in a place where none of the available solutions will accomplish my minimum goals, and i am doubtful about whether i will even be able to gain access to the bare minimum acceptable, realistically assessed, expectations/goals/needs/wants.

Simply put: i need a sniper rifle and lots of practice, but i can only access shotguns.

Most people don’t seem to realize how bad their plans are. I do, because i’ve been there, and it became painfully obvious to me that planning needs to account for lots of different things that most people either ignore, or never even consider. I feel like i literally need to make 2x or 3x whatever dollar amount i think i need for whatever, because “surprise costs” always show up, and are not always revealed in advance. And if i get into my plan, and have already invested lots of myself, and then something goes wrong that i can’t afford, the entire thing becomes a SNAFU, and cannot reach completion, making every moment spent in pursuit, and utter waste… aside from the aspect of learning from the mistakes, and hopefully having another chance to try again, at some point, which may never come.

So, you need more than just “a plan,” you need a holistic approach. You need enough room for error to absorb everything you can’t control or predict. But that buffer can bloat quickly, and so it makes “safe planning” even that much more difficult. It’s hard to make effective plans when you don’t even know what can go wrong. So, spend lots of time thinking about what could go wrong, to make sure your approach can handle it. But that’s stressful as hell. lol.

You can’t just “wing it” and expect to accidentally make a good life. You have to basically become a life-architect. Figure out how to blueprint everything, and then rigidly pursue construction, while leaving enough room for error absorption and flexibility for dodging random projectiles.

When building a program, you have to start with a purpose, figure out what inputs and outputs would be desirable, and then figure out the most efficient or maintainable or secure or speedy or stable (or the best available combination thereof) way to implement them.

And in order to figure out all that, you must first program yourself to be able to learn what you need to learn, so that you can figure out which changes must be made, to enable pursuit of the objective.

Sorry for writing so much. I suck at being concise.

Consider the relation between the concept of “recursion” and the idea of an “upward spiral.”

clevername 8/30/2013 - 8:03 pm

to add to that:

integration of subsistence and advancement is crucial. If you have to pick only one, then advancement is impossible, because one cannot advance without subsisting. If you have to do them separately, your body won’t be able to keep up with the time and energy requirements, or the perpetual stress. I need sleep and calm. I can’t handle perpetually stressful burdens. Maybe that’s not everyone, but it’s true for me. My solutions often never reach paper, but i’ve found copious solutions that seem great in my mind, before attempting to transmit them to a medium encounters (or perhaps causes) disruption and destabilization.

I would like to finally get around to attempting college, but the cost of entry, from my current position, seems insurmountable. So i consider “maybe i can find something good enough to save up and overcome that,” but there seems to be nothing available that i can do, that will enable anything beyond basic subsistence, so that’s not a valid solution. The problem must be solved in a way that enables advancement, even if advancement is not immediate. It also must not be overly cruel or taxing. I have to survive the effort to subsist, in order to justify subsisting! lol. So, i can’t do something that’s only going to keep me down and further degrade my will and body, further impeding my capacity for potential advancement. I need subsistence that doesn’t prevent me from advancing… and the only solution i can think of, for that, is to find a way to integrate those two things, so they can happen simultaneously. The work i do in exchange for survival, must also enrich the experience of my life. There can be no legitimate guarantee that the end result will be desirable, so the path toward the desired destination, needs to be the best i can make it.

I have all kinds of ideas… but accessing or manifesting them is where i struggle. Lots of other people seem to have access to plenty of resources, but struggle with figuring out what to do. Even that is familiar to me.

embargo 8/30/2013 - 8:24 pm

@clevername “It’s like i need a sniper rifle, but everyone insists on sawed-off shotguns.” — yes this is me to a T. perfect analogy.

embargo 8/30/2013 - 8:31 pm

@clevername I actually read your novel here and my personal opinion is college is/was a waste of money and time, and unfortunately I am in that latter category “access to plenty of resources but struggle with figuring out what to do.” – that latter part is a major problem in my life. i feel like i can do anything, but feel like i don’t need to validate it to anybody. it’s hard to motivate myself. even so, i’ve had several great ideas over the years that had i done any of them i may have become very wealthy, but even money doesn’t seem to motivate me.. maybe i’m too comfortable? i’m also a coder.

clevername 8/30/2013 - 9:10 pm

@embargo:

I’ve always been a sort of accidental philosopher, about pretty much anything i’ve endeavored to learn. And with everything i’ve found intriguing, i’ve either revealed its true nature and lost interest, or reached a point where further progression became prohibitively complex and overwhelming, and either gave up, or had to take breaks, and only sporadically and incrementally advance.

I’m torn about college, because it seems necessary, but also very arbitrary. I’ve also considered that perhaps structured learning environments are better for some things. Plus, there’s so many different things i wish i could pursue, i just don’t know how i’d be able to intensively develop all of them, unless it was in a college type setting. Or, maybe it’s the opposite, and the only way is to find a way to subsist and advance, separately and independently from each other, but that approach has never seemed feasible for me.

Anyway;

I’ve occasionally pondered what i’d do, how life might be, whether i’d be “satisfied” or “content,” if i actually accomplished everything i wanted to attain. And i could totally see myself sitting in a lavish mansion with every “thing” i could want, and still being somehow only just barely content, but not really satisfied. And in that way, i begin to question whether i really want what i think i want, or whether/how-much of it is merely the product of deprivation. How much of my dreams are “me,” and how much of it is “who i think i wish i was?” I honestly don’t know… but i can certainly make some direct comparisons and choose that “having things i want, is better…” even if it doesn’t result in being satisfied or content.

So:

1. What do you want?
2. Why don’t you have it / aren’t you doing it?

These 2/3 questions can be monumentally difficult to answer for yourself… but you do have the advantage of not requiring external validation, which i think is critical in determining what You, Actually value, and why.

I’ve read some articles about programmers and pay scales, and there seems to be a consensus that once someone has “enough,” more doesn’t really matter. When you have what you need and most of what you want, you start to value different things, for different reasons.

The rabbit hole of “self” can be an epic journey.

Somewhere in there, you should be able to figure out… why you are who you are, and what to do with it. If you already know who and why, then maybe some careful introspection and examining of your perspectives and orientation to the world, will yield something that matters enough to you, to generate motivation, or even inspiration.

Madio 8/30/2013 - 9:23 pm

Thats a really good last post clevername

clevername 8/30/2013 - 9:28 pm

I wanted to mention something about one of Paul Graham’s essays, where he talks about what it really means to own things, and how owning things requires maintenance, which then translates to being owned by your maintenance-requiring possessions.

Which, ironically (or not) enough, ties into a quote from Fight Club: “things you own, end up owning you.”

Human beings are finite, both in duration of existence, as well as potential for exertion. We can only do so much, for so long, and then it’s over. So we have to be careful to spend our time on the right things/actions/pursuits, in order to maximize the enjoyment or outwardly positive effects we can produce (which ever of those things is personally preferable for each person).

Some like to build fortresses or fortunes or sculptures or music or programs. Some like to spread “good will” among others. It just depends on what your particular circumstances leads you to most genuinely and honestly value.

I like to emphasize the value of the moment as it’s being experienced, rather than the potentially unfeasible end-result, at the cost of the actual moment to moment experiences that form memories of a “lived life.” Not for the purpose of taking them with me past the end; but for having those memories with me in life. I suppose it would be cool to leave a legacy, but it’s probably not worth worrying about what will happen to the world after i’m no longer in it, and no longer able to affect any change.

PainNlife 8/30/2013 - 9:35 pm

@clevername….dude you would make big bucks as a philosophy professor….and probably be one of the best in the field

clevername 8/30/2013 - 10:20 pm

@PainNlife:

I’ve attempted to think down that path a few times. I was going to say something like “i’ve never figured out how philosophers get paid…” Wouldn’t it be nice to literally get paid to think?

I mean, i suppose it has to be through either teaching or authoring. And i totally just had a little panic tremor thinking of the millions of keystrokes and thousands of hours i’d spend, intensely locked in intense contemplation/verbalization mode. I wonder how many keyboards i’d have to wear out… cherry mx switches are supposedly good for ~40-50 million actuations…

But i wanna make stuff too. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone in deep contemplation (even though sometimes that’s exactly what i prefer to do!), and i’m probably not cut out for vocal lectures… but i suppose it’s not entirely out of the question.

Who knows. Maybe i’ll write one amazing book and sell a billion copies. (lol)

And that’s the thing i’m getting at: I need to find a way to integrate “earning a living” with “doing what is fulfilling.”

I could philosophize my days away and never make a dime.

It’s hard to get paid to think, without official credentials.

You could replace the word “think,” in the previous line, with just about anything else legit that anyone gets paid to do.

So, how can i bypass the arbitrary college environment, and go directly to the learning of useful information and cultivating of experience? And how can i get gov’t grants to pay for that? 😛

Or better yet: how do i use what already exists, to make enough money so that i don’t have to worry about having enough money anymore, but still can use all of my time for whatever feels most important? I’m thinking that type of stuff is actually a pretty closely guarded secret. You’ll get bits and pieces of it if you look around, but it’s hard to grasp the whole picture, and turn it into a repeatable process. If it was easy, “everyone would do it.” Lots of people are poor. Ergo: not everyone is doing it, because it is not easy… or because it’s “a secret.”

But if i had all the “things” i wanted, and could afford to manifest any experiences i’d like… would i even care about philosophy? Probably sometimes… but i bet i’d spend most of my time “enjoying life,” rather than alone in deep contemplation.

embargo 9/1/2013 - 7:23 pm

@clevername – I read everything you wrote and started my own lengthy reply but ended up deleting it all..lol Anyway yes like you said those 2 questions are indeed monumentally difficult to answer. i ask myself them every day. maybe i should ignore the question and “just live”.. and fight club is one of my favorite movies. the stuff you own indeed does end up owning you. i bought a really nice car when i was 20 and it nearly ruled my life. huge learning lesson. once you can afford your necessities and have a 6+ mo safety net, the rest just affords you nicer labels of the same shit (most of the shit you don’t even need). i know i’m far too comfortable and i need to get out of my comfort zone. i have ideas but suck with execution. every time i see a challenge and i conquer the challenge, i think “done” and move on. anyway, keeping this short as to not rant. btw we seem to have tons in common and i definitely know who PG is but i’m not a big follower or anything.

clevername 9/1/2013 - 8:16 pm

@embargo:

Heh, cool. I do that often. I probably delete almost as much as i post.

Likewise, when anyone asks my favorite movie, it’s usually a toss-up between Fight Club, or Pulp Fiction.

Have you ever gotten into martial arts? The stuff i learned in a very short time around 19-21, proved quite potent, and certainly qualified as “life enriching.” (and it was of the genuine kung fu tai chi variety) Working out the body’s kinks and having a holistic approach to movement, sure goes a long way toward feeling better. Plus, endorphins and psychological self-control are part of that.

I would necessarily call myself “a big follower” of PG, but certainly a fan. I discovered his existence during my chaotic foray into attempting to self-teach web development. I stumbled onto his essays and read several of them, and realized that he’s not just a programmer venture capitalist guru, but he’s also a somewhat famous essayist. I like the way he writes… and that just so happens to be another overlapping interest of mine. Show me an older, wiser, writer hacker successful businessman, and i probably won’t be able to not pay attention. 😉

You ever do any gaming? (especially of the mmo variety)
The idea of “comfort zones” reminds me of a… series of concepts, i suppose, which comes together to form what is known as “min/maxing.”

Most “pro-gamers” seem to swear by maxing and spikes and bursts. They want to be capable of delivering an outrageous amount of damage, in as few hits as possible, as instantaneously as possible, as reliably as possible.

In order to achieve this, they often must sacrifice their “comfort zone,” or their “minimums.” Typically, building for the highest and most exploitative “spike,” requires giving up a maxed low-end. You might whiff a lot, or have crippled utility value, or be what’s called a “glass cannon.” But when you connect, your target almost always dies. Playing life in such a way would be foolish, because you often leave yourself vulnerable, or have to rely on a critical roll, in order to “shine.”

However, not everyone plays this way. Some people are all about utility, or all about maintained minimums. They’ll max hit chance or penetration ratings, so that they /always/ get at least a certain amount of whatever effect, even if that effect never peaks as high as the maxers. They are more reliable, more dependable, and often more in-tune with the dynamics of game play. They might not top the kill charts or do the most damage, but “those who know their class” are always an asset to a team, and are often able to fit their “hybrid” or utility build into almost every situation (except, of course, the mr. killguy role). I would say that those who raise their minimums, and aim for a more widely useful setup, instead of exploiting for “random” spikes, are the better players. But in most games, the maxed spikers tend to excel… and that’s because everyone who sees anyone “one-shotting,” flips out about how unfair that one moment was, rather than realizing that the character is built to do exactly that, and probably not much else.

Anyway, i was trying to make an analogy and kinda got carried away.

IRL, boosting minimums is better because if we fail, there’s a pretty good risk of actual death, and boosting those maximums at the expense of safety, can seem like too great a risk. So, we tend to just get good enough to get comfortable and maintain it, rather than risking what we’ve invested our entire lives into, for the chance to gain something we really don’t even need.

But that safety gets boring, and starts to sting every time you see someone who took the big risks, reaping big rewards.

Comfort zone won’t provide maximum enjoyment, but it’s sustainable.
In order to make a greater impact, and feel a more intense sense of enjoyment or fulfillment, we have to forgo some safety, accept some risk, and stack the odds in favor of landing the biggest hit, and /hopefully/, without risking so much that it breaks us if we miss.

That said… i haven’t played anything multiplayer in a while. I’ve often pondered where the formerly reliable enjoyment went… and i think my answer is that i figured out that i just don’t seem to “like” people all that much. Either that, or most gamers who like the games i’ve liked, have had personalities that were not quite compatible with mine. lol. Or maybe i just took a step back and realized that gaming isn’t life, and if i’m gaming, i’m not really living, and i don’t really like how it makes me feel to realize that. I would rather be living. But it would seem i need quite a lot of income, in order to do that. And so when i do still game, i can’t help but think of all the money i’m /not/ making. So i think i need to get into the “IRL money game,” or something… even though i’m not currently configured to succeed in that.

And so i keep digging backwards, deeper, trying to find where the most fundamental corrections should be made, so that i can adjust myself to succeed at what i need to do, rather than being content with playing it safe.

clevername 9/1/2013 - 8:17 pm

bah, early typo: “wouldn’t* call myself a big follower…”

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