Vita

Life

What is most important to me.

  1. Priorities
  2. General principles, and making decisions
  3. People
  4. Debates and discussing with people
  5. Knowledge
  6. Goals and obsessions
    1. Goals accomplished
    2. Goals pending
    3. Goals failed

1. Priorities

The most important thing for me should be my own health, happiness and general well-being.

[Perhaps being “interesting” is a better goal than being happy.]

People around me, people who are important to me, should be my second concern.

2. General principles, and making decisions

These balances are difficult in life:

The merit of deeds should be judged considering solely the information available to that person and at the time decisions were made, or actions were taken — never considering their consequences, to the extent that they were impossible to predict. Positive example: someone all of a sudden spends all their life savings on lottery tickets, and they win the biggest prize in history. Their call to spend all their money in lottery was still dumb and absolutely wrong (as it always is). Regardless of that fantastic but hugely unlikely outcome. Negative example: [TO-DO].

“Decisions based on emotions aren’t decisions at all.” (House of Cards, S01E12). One should not make non-trivial decisions in the heat of the moment.

The idea of having, or achieving, “one’s dream” (singular), or “the dream of one’s life” seems weak, and maybe even noxious. By definition, pursuing such “dream” should be the ultimate goal in life, and its achievement has to bring immediate happiness at an unprecedented level. It seems imposible to know that beforehand. Also, circumstances, desires and priorities in life change wildly. But such an important, long-term “dream” should not be subject to those petty changes. Also, by achieving that goal (if you ever do that), you automatically downgrade your life, your ambitions and expectations, ie nothing can ever be as huge, as important, or as life-changing as achieving your dream in life, right?

Always remember that you tend to idealise the past.

“You can’t go very far wrong if you’re motivated by love and guided by reason.”

— Sam Harris.

“I just sit in my office and read all day.”

— Warren Buffett.

“Relentlessly prune bullshit, don’t wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That’s what you do when life is short.”

— Paul Graham.

“Don’t ignore your dreams; don’t work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.”

— Paul Graham.

👤 Jordan Peterson’s answer to the question “what are the most valuable things everyone should know” on Quora

💡 Pride and 💡 shame apply only to aspects of life over which one has considerable control.

💭 Example: it does not make sense to “feel proud (nor ashamed) to be an American / a woman / gay / white / tall…” At most, one is only partially responsible of being “a Dutch” (citizenships can be lost and gained, to some extent, through our actions), or “physically fit” (you cannot control genetics, but your lifestyle influences your phenotype).

💡 Nationality, in particular, is, in the vast majority of cases, an accident, completely involuntary. (Exceptions are those who migrate purposefully, break off with their country of origin, etc.) Modulo those few people, no-one can truly feel proud, nor ashamed, of their nationality or their mother tongue.

“Those who have accomplished nothing as individuals feel compelled to be proud of their race.”

— 👤 Jordan Peterson

3. People

4. Debates and discussing with people

5. Knowledge

Learning and discovering is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

I love what 👤 Steven Pinker says here about the role of universities and what an “educated” person is.

6. Goals and obsessions

I believe more in 💡 persistence and in 💡 practice than in 💡 talent.

A healthy dose of 💡 obsession seems necessary to achieve great things. At least, so far I don’t seem to be able to accomplish almost nothing that is difficult and important (according to my own definition of “important”) without becoming at least a bit obsessed about it for some time.

An exception might be: getting my first MSc (in CS and software engineering, between the ages of 18 and 24), which was both difficult and important. But somehow I don’t think that counts: I wanted it, I mostly liked it, I didn’t even have a plan B at the time, it was partly inertia (being curious, introverted, not too dumb), and it was mostly unexceptional in the context of my relatives and friends.

6.1. Goals accomplished

At times I have set specific goals for myself:

“Run 10–km races…☑
Get 2nd master’s degree in foreign country…☑
Run ½ marathons…☑
Get certified in basic Japanese…☑
Run a marathon…☑
¿?”

— Me, in Apr 2013

What I have never done, so far, is defining plans, milestones or deadlines for those goals. Perhaps that’s where I should improve my method…

At the time of writing (six years later, on Jan 2019) I would add, as new “goals accomplished”:

6.2. Goals pending

…and, as “new goals”, or “old goals still pending”, things like:

6.3. Goals failed

(Hint: I’m 38 at the time of writing)