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Thread: For irrationals, self-improvement involves achieving desired states that lead to desired actions

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    Default For irrationals, self-improvement involves achieving desired states that lead to desired actions.

    Unfortunately I don't have enough time to develop this idea today, and it's possible that I'll come back to it in a couple days and say 'what on earth was I thinking? this makes no sense.' But here is the idea anyway.

    I used to try to do self-improvement. I used to read self-help books and I loved Nathaniel Branden's books about self-esteem in particular. For a variety of reasons I stopped trying to do any self-improvement - it's a long story.

    Over time I wandered away from a lot of self-help books because I felt as though their techniques weren't designed for me, for my type. I'm able to articulate one of the reasons why: a lot of them are designed for use by rationals, not irrationals. A lot of self-help books are about things that you must do in order to raise your self-esteem. Do X in order to achieve a desired state. The focus is mainly on 'Do X.'

    When I wandered away and studied stuff that was important to me, it was all about how to achieve and maintain desired states. I felt as though I couldn't do anything unless I was in the right mood, which is an irrational trait. I needed to be in the right mood first in order for anything to happen. I can't just initiate some kind of action with the intent of achieving a desired state. I have to be in the right mood to begin with.

    I researched all the things that have been causing me to be uncomfortable or unable to take action. That is the reason why I have studied special diets, environmental illness, electromagnetic pollution, negative ions and air pollution, chemicals that affect moods, and so on. The goal is to improve my physical health in a way that lets me do things that I think I should do. If I feel physically uncomfortable or in pain, I am unable to do much more than just sit there passively wasting time.

    So, an irrational needs to go study and learn something. First, they need to feel curiosity. An irrational won't go study something unless they have first experienced the state of curiosity. What is conducive to somebody experiencing the state of curiosity?

    Sometimes people can be overwhelmed if there are too many options overloading them - for instance, when you look at the internet and think about the fact that there are millions and millions of web pages to read, some of which are better than others. So I myself don't become curious about all those other web pages. What would make me curious about something? I don't really know the answer (that's something which I'll write more about later if possible).

    I do know that I can't feel curious about things if something else more urgent is 'in the way' or something else comes first. If I'm worried about my job and my money, for instance, I won't feel curious about learning new things that might not be directly connected to that.

    When I was in school I actually enjoyed reading the science books, and that was the reason why I studied and did any homework at all. I didn't do it because I 'had' to. I did it because the books were enjoyable to read. (And that was why I eventually dropped out of college - I couldn't force myself to study subjects that I didn't enjoy, and/or that seemed to have no connection to what I would be doing later at my job.)

    Another thing that is helpful for irrationals is something that I got from reading Rick's blog and essays, which is, get rid of temptations. If you set up your life so that you can't easily be tempted to do something, that's much easier than trying to resist an impulse every time it happens. So for instance, you can disconnect from cable TV in your house, if you want to stop watching TV. The TV just won't be there anymore to tempt you. You don't have to actively try to cut back on the hours you spend watching TV. If it's not even in the house, it becomes inconvenient to watch it and you can't even be tempted. Same with the internet, if you spend too much time on the net. (That's applicable to me, and I intend to go back to restricted internet use.)

    I've been interested in the Amish people for years. They too live a lifestyle where they just don't let particular temptations into their lives - no TV, no phone in the house, etc. They don't have to worry about developing bad habits around those particular things.

    I want to get more ideas about how to achieve desired states and how to avoid states that lead to undesired activities. 'Being surrounded by opportunities that tempt you to do a bad habit' is a state that leads to doing whatever bad habit it is. Change the original state in order to change the behavior.

    (I hope I can come back to this with new ideas in a couple of days instead of saying 'wth was I thinking???)

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    Although I admire Branden's books, because basically everything is already in there, his ideas do, at large, not work, because indeed he tells you to "do X". Now something that I have learned quite late in life, is that the issue is not one of "not doing X". It's an issue of "doing A" that makes you unhappy or have low self-esteem (doing A is typically the thing that others tell you will make you happy, or should do regardless of whether it makes you happy or not)).

    So the solution is: "stop doing A!" When you get rid of everything that makes you unhappy, you will, almost automatically, start doing those things that make you happy. At least, it makes sense for irrationals that it could work that way.
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    I can identify a lot with this. I absolutely need to be in the right state to do things, and that's the key. But as much as I can read that and say, "Yes, this is me," what I can't understand is how it would be different for anyone else. For example, the other day, I was groggy the whole day. Maybe I didn't sleep well. Can rationals still function at their best if they're tired or have a headache?

    It seems that getting a good night sleep is important no matter what type you are, no? Now of course when I want to do some creative activity, then there's something additional...there I seek to be in an inspired state, which isn't too hard to achieve if I'm not tired and groggy though; it's easier than being in a state where I'd want to do errands.

    But getting in a state to do whatever needs to be done, there's the hard one. Sometimes I listen to some really structured sounding music like Haydn or Handel to get me to do it. But it all has to do with transitions....It's hard to go from a task that requires one set of cognitive functions to a task that requires a completely different set...but that's what life is like; everything has to get done.

    But doesn't everyone have trouble focusing sometimes? Isn't a clear state of mind, and one suited for the task at hand, a prerequisite no matter who you are?

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    I've never had to read self-help books for self improvement. Usually in my case it's usually finding out about some fascinating result you get from trying something in particular that I found out by sheer chance (happens frequently ). Then I simply just do it and enjoy the benefits. It's funny too that the things I found out that were initially supposed to make my life and well being superior ends up just making it normal once I have something horrible happen in my life.

    I've also never had to get rid of temptations to stop doing it. Even if something is easily attainable, I just engrave it in my mind that I will not do that particular activity if I am convinced it is a negative influence. Once I get into a groove, it becomes instinctual. The same thing happens when I want to accomplish something that will affect me positively. Once I find out that the time invested is well worth the outcome, I just do it and eventually it becomes engraved into my subconscious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton View Post
    "I don't want to do it because I don't feel like it" is a condition that afflicts pretty much everyone. Don't see how or why it should be uniquely related to XXXp-types.
    Yeah. Not type related imo.

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    I think it's more specifically about doing things based on your "internal state" (as defined by Ni/Si/Ne/Se), and jumping on whatever opportunity your mind/body gives you on a particular day, even if that opportunity is "slack off and do nothing". This has nothing to do with the emotional side of motivation of doing things that interest you/not doing things because you don't feel like it, which yes, is part of being human and having a motivation system in the dark depths of your brain.
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    Maybe this is useful. From zenhabits.net

    2. Realize that discipline is an illusion. While discipline is a common concept, it doesn’t actually exist. It’s not a thing you can actually do. Think about it: people say discipline is pushing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. But how do you do that? What skill is required? There isn’t a skill — it’s just forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. And that requires … some kind of motivation. Without motivation, you won’t be able to force yourself to do anything. So motivation is the key concept — and this is something that’s real, that you can actually learn how to do.

    3. Focus on motivation. What’s your motivation for pursuing the goal or habit? How will you sustain the motivation when you struggle? Have very strong motivations for doing something, and write them down. Commit publicly. When things get tough, remind yourself of your motivation. Focus on it. It’ll pull you along — that’s more powerful than trying to focus on the push of discipline.

    5. Focus on enjoyment. It’s hard to push yourself — to have discipline — when you hate doing something. So find something enjoyable about the activity. If you don’t look forward to exercise, find some good music, or a workout partner who you can have a nice conversation with, or a peaceful setting in nature that is just beautiful. And focus on that enjoyable aspect. Hate doing your paperwork? Find a peaceful sanctuary where you can do the paperwork and enjoy yourself. Maybe have a nice cup of tea or coffee, play some nice music. And focus on the enjoyment.
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    I don't know. I hate doing things, unless it's something I really want to do- just like everybody else. People are really unique and independent.

    The only way to inspire me is to talk like I talk and inspire me on my level - but it has to be a give and take or I can't maintain any relationships- I give something to them, and they give something to me. etc.

    I am too smart to fall for generic brands of inspiration. I have a big heart, but also a big intellect and so I'm just not going to be moved by Oprah-esque 'feel good' speeches. In fact those really annoy me, as I really want to make the inspiration feel worth it.

    I'd rather just laze about and emotionally talk with others about bullshit because in the end that's what it all boils down to, didn't the show LOST teach us that? Everybody is just lost until you find those moments of pure joy and pure connection with other people. The heart is broken open about 95% of the time and the other 5% you feel it aligning again and it's really nice.

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    decreased productivity is associated with IPs. So yeah, there's a connection. Interesting thoughts to read while stoned. Thanks for that

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