Group rationality diary, 5/14/12

post by cata · 2012-05-15T03:01:19.152Z · score: 20 (21 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 47 comments

Background:  I and many other attendees at the CFAR rationality minicamp last weekend learned a lot about applied rationality, and made big personal lists of things we wanted to try out in our everyday lives.  I think that a regular (weekly or maybe semi-weekly) post where people mention any new interesting habits, decisions, and actions they have taken recently would be cool as a supplement to this; it ought to be rewarding for people to be able to write a list of the cool things they did, and I expect it'll also be interesting for other people to peek in and see the sorts of goals and self-modifications people are working on.  Others at minicamp seemed enthusiastic about the idea, so I hope it takes off.  Feel free to meta-discuss whether this is a good idea or if it can be done better.

Addendum 5/15: By the way, non-minicamp people should feel free to post too!  I am highly certain that minicamp attendees are not the only ones working on interesting things in their lives.

This is the public group instrumental rationality diary for the week of May 14th.  It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves.  Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

Discussion's likely to continue gradually through the week, so try to remember to check back now and then!

47 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by CalmNearEnd · 2012-05-15T13:24:23.650Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Hello, I'm Dean! I just attended the minicamp, and this is my first post.

On my flight back I started talking to the guy beside me, which is something I wouldn't usually do. I've wanted to talk to the person beside me on the flight before and it hasn't happened because I got nervous. This time I used a trigger to perform a next action. The trigger was getting to my seat and the action was saying hello to my seat mate BEFORE I sat down. It worked well because for me the hardest part of talking to a stranger is making the first move.

He was a chemical engineer and we shared amazing conversation for the whole flight.

comment by james_edwards · 2012-05-19T09:20:17.566Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nice work Dean!

comment by jpet · 2012-05-16T03:07:54.932Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Hi all, I'm Jeff.

I've started mentally rewarding myself with a happy thought and a smile when I catch myself starting a bad habit ("Hey! I noticed!") instead of castigating myself ("Doh! I'm doing it again!"). Seems to work so far; we'll see how it goes.

I started using the Pomodoro technique today (pick a task, work on it for 25 minutes, break for 5, repeat). I'll had to adjust it somewhat to deal with interruptions during the day, but that wasn't too hard: when I get done with the interruption, I just have less time before the next break. (I'm keeping the breaks at :25 and :55 to make it easier to keep track.)

There are a number of minor tasks that I've been putting off for weeks (or months) that I finished today, just because I was stuck in the middle of a 25-minute assignment and I wasn't allowing myself to switch to something "more important" until then. So so far Pomodoro is very promising.

I allocated the first time block this morning to scraping together my notes and planning for the week. I didn't get a plan made, but I did realize how ridiculously overcommitted I was once I started thinking of tasks in terms of available half-hour slots.

I also have a strong aversion to posting my writing publicly, especially if it reveals anything personal about myself. So this post right here is a direct attempt to overcome that by just doing it. I'm not sure if this is using any specific technique from the minicamp, or just making use of the crazy mental energy from the camp while I'm still feeling it.

comment by Mercurial · 2012-05-17T04:23:28.931Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I also have a strong aversion to posting my writing publicly, especially if it reveals anything personal about myself. So this post right here is a direct attempt to overcome that by just doing it.

Awesome job putting yourself forward this way!

I'm not sure if this is using any specific technique from the minicamp, or just making use of the crazy mental energy from the camp while I'm still feeling it.

This is flooding, from Critch's session on overcoming aversions. :-)

(This is Valentine, by the way. I'll see if I can get my handle here changed since "Mercurial" just isn't well-associated with me.)

comment by Cord · 2012-05-15T21:57:25.581Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Hello, I'm Cord! I just attended the minicamp, have been running a meetup in Mountain View (the last one I'm leading is today :'( ), and this is my first post too!

As per Andrew Critch's instructions, I've been mentally rewarding myself with excitement and noting that I'm taking correct action when I do anything that gets me at all closer to things I want, including just remembering that they're things I want that I haven't done yet, and including remembering that I'm using this procedure.

This morning I was tired and annoyed about "having" to get up and write up my notes from the minicamp and not just rest. I started to feel mentally fuzzy and angry, as I often do in this situation. Then I remembered that I was rewarding myself for even remembering that there's something I wanted to do. So I did that, and that felt pretty cool, and then I wanted more, so I got up and started consolidating my notes. That was pretty cool too.

comment by Jolly · 2012-05-16T17:45:10.453Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Similar to Cord, when I notice an action or thought that brings me closer to my goals, I smile. Before, I would usually groan or feel bad for realizing that I had not taken an action, which I now realize was creating the opposite impact than what I wanted!

comment by XFrequentist · 2012-05-16T18:31:29.448Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think everyone agrees that Cord's pretty cool too.

comment by erratio · 2012-05-16T23:40:29.412Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Just out of curiosity, how do you 'reward yourself with excitement'? Just a procedure of remembering a time you felt excited and trying to attach that feeling to the new thought?

comment by Cord · 2012-05-17T00:23:14.709Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've mostly been saying in my mind "hey, I just did that, and that means I'm closer to doing X, that's pretty cool!" There's kindof a mental feeling that goes along with that for me, which I seem to be able to feel without actually saying anything in my mind, so I've been doing that too, and it seems to be working to move me towards my end goal.

People have suggested a lot of things to me, like physically high fiving myself or jumping up and down for a bit. I'd be curious to hear what other people do.

comment by shokwave · 2012-05-17T14:01:30.059Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I have a roster of people who I imagine smiling at me, which I use to reward myself with: when I do something clever, I imagine a friend of mine whose intelligence I respect smiling at me. When I need comfort, I imagine my parents or my most accepting friend smiling at me. When I need excitement, I imagine a particular crush smiling at me.

I found Valentine's point about self-rewarding 'feeling like bullshit' to be true in much the same way that you can't tickle yourself. But then, I used his 'simulate an event; feel the emotions' method to simulate someone else rewarding me, and it seemed to work.

Caveat: I have only been using this for the few days since minicamp. It may have medium or long-term effects on my relationships with the people I imagine, although I predict they will be positive effects.

comment by Jolly · 2012-05-18T18:26:37.236Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Slight Tangent: One thing I've found that helps me in my relationships, is when I see a friend of mine, I mentally recall all the feelings of happiness and shared bonds and good times with that person, and try and put that into my face and smile, and send that at them.

I've also tried to explicitly compliment people (before, I had a bad habit of thinking positive things, but never actually sharing it with the people who I was thinking about!)

comment by shokwave · 2012-05-18T22:59:35.849Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I had a bad habit of thinking positive things, but never actually sharing it with the people who I was thinking about!

It took me until very recently to realise that this habit is actually bad: it creates situations where I act like I've complimented people (because I thought of it) and they act like I haven't (because I haven't verbalised).

comment by Nisan · 2012-05-19T13:56:29.153Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What does "acting like you complimented someone" entail? Expecting them to show gratitude? Or is it something more?

comment by shokwave · 2012-05-20T03:35:22.902Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Something less; people risk their status when they say or do or display some praise-worthy thing, and they need affirmation that they gained status (via compliment). I act as if I've already affirmed their status (going on to the next topic, bringing up a compliment-worthy thing of my own), which looks to them like I'm denying their status (because they don't see the praise that's in my head).

comment by XFrequentist · 2012-05-18T19:48:58.762Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like a brilliant add-on!

comment by XFrequentist · 2012-05-16T04:22:23.067Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Cool, thanks for doing this (internet high five!).

Anyway...

I've bitten my nails and the skin around them compulsively since I was a child, and have previously used bad-tasting polish, tried CBT, and briefly seen a hypnotherapist to try to stop. I started paying attention to when I did it during the camp (I believe following Critch's first session on self-modification), and I eventually noticed that I do a little pre-bite running of my fingertips over my nails to identify candidate spots to munch on. I shifted to using this feeling as a trigger and immediately congratulating myself for noticing. This hasn't worked completely yet (I think there are a few more precursor states that I've yet to identify), but I'm encouraged.

I resolved a few long-standing issues at work today in a very pleasing manner, but it's hard to tell if this has anything to do with the camp or if they were just ready to pop. I'm in a very content and energized state (oddly, despite little sleep), which may have helped.

I also think I've successfully instituted a policy of flatly refusing all sugars (using Jolly's trick of mentally classifying them as Gross Non-Food Things), because I just flatly refused the offer of a piece of banana bread without even considering it.

I failed at my goal of getting some work done at the airport before my flight home - it was just too much fun hanging out!

comment by XFrequentist · 2012-05-18T20:00:24.063Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Also, two "Use Fungibility" wins:

  1. Saw a parking ticket in my wife's bag, and had the thought "Wait, she has a disproportionate hatred for paying these and she's extremely busy. Doing it for her is a cheap way to buy some husband points [we literally have these, although accounting is somewhat haphazard]." She was ecstatic!

  2. In a teleconference, my boss muted the line and asked a simple but important question (about the financial relationship between two other groups that were on the call) that none of our team could answer. I realized that she hates asking "stupid" questions much more than I do (and that it was much more acceptable for me not to know the answer than for her not to know), so I piped up and asked the relevant people to clarify how their groups interacted. We got a clear answer and she was visibly relieved at avoiding having to ask the question.

comment by Jolly · 2012-05-16T17:46:49.915Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Glad to hear it's helping!

comment by zntneo · 2012-05-15T22:11:33.519Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Hey I'm Zach, So today, using Critich's idea for associative memory. I went to the cupboard 5 times pulled out my phone and did a little dance. This is to help get me in the habit of calorie counting.

Oh and i told a few people about this but i'll share this too. I have always hated fashion with a passion (i did not mean the rhyme). I found out what i actually hate is "mainstream fashion." For those at the fashion session watching luke's part of the presentation left me with a "well crap i have to look like that in order to be "fashionable" " feeling, it was a dreadful feeling. Reflecting on it and talking to Rick more i found out that i actually like more around what Colin was wearing.

comment by Alexei · 2012-05-16T05:20:53.052Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, Zach. I share your "hate" (although, it's not really a very strong emotion for me) for mainstream fashion. I think if your lifestyle allows you to avoid that, then you certainly can. (I work in the game industry, so I'm free to wear almost anything.) Do look into alternative fashion. Look at things you like. Check out interesting websites like etsy for items that are pretty awesome and might give you interesting ideas.
Look at different subcultures and steal from them.

comment by DeevGrape · 2012-05-16T18:53:41.092Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Hello, fellow minicampers, this is Ethan! Hello to everyone else too :)

Monday night a few of us went blues dancing, and rather than being all awkward like I've done in the past, I used Critch's smile association method and ended up really enjoying myself!

And I spent the 14-16 hour drive from San Francisco back to Tucson with excellent posture (based on Luke and Cat's recommendation that it made me look fantastic), smiling and thinking something like "Yeah, I'm a badass," every time I thought of my posture to make a positive association with posture and with self-modification.

Just started using remember the milk, and I made a list of priorities / medium and short term goals using freemind.

comment by zntneo · 2012-05-18T02:31:07.922Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have seen a lot of people suggest remember the milk. Can someone explain why that one compared to others like Toodledoo?

comment by Davorak · 2012-05-18T21:06:05.314Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I tried entering "Check weather tomorrow" into Toodledoo and it did not automatically set a due date of tomorrow.

I spend ~2 minutes and I found out how to turn on keyboard shortcuts but did not find the page explaining them, it was under a minute for both in RTM. May keyboard short cuts overlapped with gmail and or unix environments in RTM which made them easy to pick up.

I am sure you can find more complete comparisons elsewhere and I was not aware of Toodledoo until your post so it is probably not an evenhanded review on my part.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-16T16:29:46.126Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Back from minicamp. I want to work on social skills and social aversion, and ability to start tasks and get things done, and I want to optimize the crap out of my meetup (vancouver).

So here's what I did:

I talked to people on the airplane and asked for favours when I wanted them on the way home (borrowing pens and such). That was awesome and I had some conversations that I would not have otherwise had.

I'm going to start using the Pomodoro (half hour on, 5 mins off) method to flood my start-task aversion and improve my scheduling.

I have much more stuff to try and I will report when I get something more inspiring than "here are all these things I want to try"

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-16T07:40:00.767Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Hi all!

My first baby step towards "Having More Productive Time" is rewarding walking away from my computer. I ran the following loop five times today: 1) get onto facebook or other time-wasty site, 2) flip over to Pandora (turn it on, if needed), 3) rotate computer quarter turn away from me, and most importantly 4) get up and excitedly walk towards my dog, giving him lots of cuddles, pets, and praises.

I also do this every time I get off the computer naturally. This has had the amusing side effect of having my dog start doing his hopeful come-pet-me noises when I'm on the computer. So I am also pretty much training my dog to be a distraction from time-wasting sites.

Also, I've continued wearing the bracelet I traded for during Rejection therapy. It's really bright cord, and every time I notice it, I sing-song (in my head) a silly affirmation along the lines of "Wheee, Rationality! I can do it!" while twisting my hand back and forth to make the hangy down beads bounce around my wrist, and pulling up the inspirational feelings I got from all the other campers and teachers. This generally makes me want to go do Good Stuff, or at least makes me feel happy.

I also did one of the tasks I had planned out in Valentine's class (getting a new bank card), and will plan out when exactly to go to Microcenter for a new computer battery before I go to sleep tonight.

And I installed a pomodoro timer to use during my social pressure work time that I scheduled with my roommate tomorrow. It doesn't let you on any blacklisted sites while it's set to work-time.

Time for me to walk away from my computer and pet my puppy now!

comment by Academian · 2012-05-15T21:29:20.699Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Rationality diary entry:

Since I've learned and experienced so many new things in the past 10 days (prepping for and teaching at minicamp), I'm setting aside this coming weekend for a two day meditation/prioritization event. This is something I've done before, which works extremely well for me (not something I teach with high confidence to others yet, however).

I expect this will be the most rational and important decision I make this week :)

comment by XFrequentist · 2012-05-16T16:27:32.245Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(Who are you in real life? I've enjoyed many of your posts, I would have liked to chat about some of them at the camp.)

(Suggestion: Include LW usernames in the introductory anki decks at future camps?)

comment by Academian · 2012-05-16T18:41:18.220Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I am Critch, and am happy you liked my posts :) One of my goals this year is to consolidate my online identities in a satisfactory way, after I have a satisfactory personal website.

comment by cata · 2012-05-15T03:04:06.024Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

To seed the thread: I want to make sure I actually do things I like during my evening time when I have no plans, instead of just getting sucked into fiddling with the Internet or watching the Colbert Report or something. I'm pretty sure I have the willpower to do that as long as I just remember to think about it. So tonight and in the future when I go home from work, I'm going to write an explicit "stuff to do tonight" list, and make sure I'm either following the list or deviating for a good reason.

comment by Alexei · 2012-05-15T06:09:15.664Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One suggestion: consider writing the "stuff to do" list the day before. If you are writing it right before you have to do it, I think you might find yourself too tempted to make it short/easy. When I write a todo list for tomorrow, it's a lot easier for me to schedule a reasonable amount of things. (I'm thinking in far mode, not near mode.)

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-05-15T06:57:51.036Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do I read it correctly that you want to optimize your evenings when you have nothing long-term useful to do, so you just want to grab as much immediate utilons as possible?

That is, the list is not for comparing long-term useful (such as learning a new skill, or working on a project) with short-term useful (such as reading a website, or watching a movie) activities; only for comparing different kinds of immediately pleasant activities -- to make sure that if you decide to pick one of them, then you pick the best one.

That is, deciding whether to make something enjoyable right now, or work on something that is not immediately pleasant but potentially more useful, is outside of the scope of this problem.

comment by cata · 2012-05-15T07:24:09.617Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not really. I may be doing a mix of short-term and long-term useful things. (Tonight I had some particularly interesting work left over from the daytime.)

It's to make sure that my conscious decision algorithm for what-to-do actually runs. I really don't care about watching TV or checking random websites (or other common timesinks, like chatting with people online or playing games) too much -- they are neither the most useful thing to do in the short-term, nor the most useful in the long-term -- but they are activities that I can start doing very easily and satisfy some minimum level of interest. As a result, if I start doing them, sometimes I just forget to actually make a decision and keep doing them. By making a habit of actually considering the things I can do, I think I can pick off that low-hanging fruit.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-05-15T10:52:06.821Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By making a habit of actually considering the things I can do, I think I can pick off that low-hanging fruit.

So you basicly want to prevent yourself from "doing X without having consciously decided to do so". (Doing X is not a problem per se, as long as it is a result of your conscious decision.) And the list of possible alternatives is there to increase the quality of deciding process, by considering more alternatives.

Perhaps there could be another part of this process: to consciously decide not only what to start doing, but also when to end doing it. Instead of evenings it could be better for weekends, when there is more time and more things can be done in sequence. -- Just because I consciously decide to start reading web in the morning, I don't want to stay online the whole day.

Some activities end automatically, such as watching a movie, where I just have to remember to make a conscious decision what next. For other activites, alarm clock could be used. (If this system works, it would be nice to have some socially acceptable invisible alarm clock that I could use all day.) I can set alarm to the time when I decide in advance to stop my activity; or if I don't know, just set it on one hour later to consciously decide whether to continue or stop. (It is possible to stop the activity sooner, unless for some reason at the beginning I decide otherwise.)

But it's better to start only with one habit at a time.

Important: The list of possible things should be in a visible place, to be automatically seen and easily used. (Avoid micro-obstacles.)

comment by fiddlemath · 2012-05-16T05:31:46.947Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As it's a year after attending last year's minicamp, I've slowed down the pace that I attempt new optimizations to only one or two things at a time. :) Still, sharing more widely is a good idea. Every morning, for the next few weeks (necessarily barring next week), my morning routine will be as follows:

  • Wake up at 7:30am. Do not touch the bed.
  • Don my contacts, and some morning clothes. Do not touch the bed.
  • Go make coffee. Do not place my forehead on the countertop.
  • Sit on my little porch, with coffee, and write in my journal for at least 15 minutes, or until I've stopped having more things to write down.
    • If writing has spawned todo items, add those. (Only boot my computer in a plain terminal; do not load the GUI or connect to the network.)
    • If writing has spawned items to add to my deck of "things to focus on", go ahead and make those cards.
    • Do not touch the bed.
  • If it's a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, go running.
  • Shower.

Going to do this, every morning, until it's habit. Going to do a couple of hours of research before noon, every morning. Going to have more time.

comment by bramflakes · 2012-05-15T23:19:03.778Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Can people that didn't attend the camps post their plans?

comment by cata · 2012-05-15T23:26:39.727Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely, yes, please do! I'll edit the post so that nobody else has to ask.

comment by vikingz2000 · 2012-05-15T08:40:50.563Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

“Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief”

I am becoming increasingly fearful of an existential paradigm shift with regards to personal religious beliefs based upon what I always considered to be personal, spiritual experiences. I am beginning to think what was at one time thought of as a ‘Divine Spark‘, which I always considered as part of my essential being, wasn’t Divine at all, but rather just my own intuitive (for the lack of a better concept) intelligence guiding me. If this is true, what then of my ‘personhood’ -- my consciousness surviving death? Will I really cease to exist in just a few more years?

However these ‘spiritual’, maybe even metaphysical events or moments at various times in my life indeed have moved me, enlightened me, and comforted me. In fact, I was beginning to think my ‘belief’ was shifting more towards ‘a knowledge’ that most assuredly some things can be attributed to some sort of real as can be ‘god factor’ pertinent to our existence.

Notwithstanding, I am beset with this persistent, tentative thought that this spark, which never may have been ‘Divine’, hasn’t gone out. Instead, it has ignited a fire to burn over and cleanse my mind of the tangled underbrush and dead growth of my previous notions. Or, in fact, is in the process of obliterating the whole forest so that a new type of more vigorous (rational) growth can commence.

It should be interesting (again, for the lack of a better term) to experience what eventually unfolds as time passes.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-05-15T18:28:39.840Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Divine".

comment by vikingz2000 · 2012-05-15T22:13:34.980Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

LOL! You have divinely plucked me from de vine of ignorance for pointing that out (I completely missed it).

Goes to show you that neither Divinity nor Spell Checker is going to be the salvation for a tired mind at one or two o’clock in the morning.

comment by Alexei · 2012-05-15T06:07:00.092Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a fantastic idea. I am very curious to see what other are people are doing on week-to-week basis, and I think it would be very helpful and motivational for me to share what I'm doing as well.

Currently one of the interesting things that I'm doing is slowly taking my document files (in .doc format) and putting them into Zim wiki, so I can quickly switch between all the documents and link things together.

comment by shokwave · 2012-05-21T05:36:00.720Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm changing the schedule (of summarising the minicamp classes) that I was holding myself to. It was too much and too micro-managed, and every failed day made the next day harder to succeed. Now it's just one lesson mindmap a night, on whichever is the most interesting remaining lesson.

comment by Mercurial · 2012-05-17T04:47:10.643Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hello everyone! This is Valentine.

I spent my first day back from minicamp... sleeping! And spending time with my wonderful wife. I was optimizing for recovery there after getting a total of something like 12 hours of sleep over the weekend. Totally worth it for all those amazing conversations and connections, though!

But after that, starting this morning I used a number of Critch's techniques to help deal with some aversions and emotional distaste surrounding writing my dissertation. I've been using the trick Anna & Critch told me independently (I think!) of rewarding the noticing of something that I want to change; that was the one key piece of habit-changing that I had totally missed.

I noticed rather quickly that there's always a sufficiently meta-level that can be modified in order to deal with the difficulty at hand. For instance, this morning when it came time to start working on my dissertation, I noticed some disquiet inside about that. It wasn't immediately obvious that I could just make myself want to write. But I wanted to want to write, and I could use the why behind that in near-mode to create a slight increase in my wanting to write - which I immediately rewarded. And then that snowballed.

I found I had to add an odd loop I hadn't initially expected: I had to (a) reward noticing feelings of guilt or anxiety associated with the writing and (b) reward any small improvements from a CBT blow against the distorted thinking underlying the feelings. I've known CBT to work pretty well in the past, but adding this bit with conditioning via rewarding small improvements made it much more rapid to turn into relatively automatic habit.

I also spent a good chunk of time journaling the whole weekend since that's what I've found to be effective for reinforcing episodic memory.

Much of this happened via the Pomodoro technique. I've used it before, but I weaved conditioning stuff into it (rewarding myself for starting one & rewarding myself for having completed one, and rewarding noticing a desire to do something distracting and also for returning attention to the task at hand).

comment by zntneo · 2012-05-18T02:33:50.646Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think an intro to CBT would be useful at a minicamp? It seems to me rationality applied to ones own thoughts about oneself (something that i am extremely irrational about)

comment by Mercurial · 2012-05-21T04:39:54.456Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Possibly! We considered it before but decided against it for a number of reasons. One was that CBT is its own thing, and none of us are formally trained in its use or in teaching it. Another is the unfortunate context of it being therapy, which tends to turn a lot of people off.

However, the latter effect didn't seem to be relevant this last minicamp. That has caused me to update in favor of at least suggesting an overview of the process. And I think I'd be quite comfortable providing an overview. So we might bring it up - but I'd guess only in the July camp due to time considerations, if at all.

comment by mapnoterritory · 2012-06-26T09:30:13.943Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I'm bit late to this discussion, but this sounds like something that I could try to implement. Do you know whether these techniques are written up somewhere (I know pomodoro, but I mean the notice/reward part)? What constitues a reward? Thank you!

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-17T03:56:01.236Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Recently just started using lesswrong to supplement meditative practice and I'm having some success with it.

Essentially I see my approach as having two major aspects - firstly meditative practice (zen style shikantaza) in order to increase focus / attention and become less reactionary to external / internal events. I've been meditating for approx 10 years, and more intensely in the previous 2 (1-2 hours a day during the week, 3+ hours on weekends). The meditation has reduced the effect of several of my own personality traits and habits.

Secondly study and practice in rationality is to refine / improve the remaining "dominant" thought processes, or provide better outcomes when I do need to think / verbalise through a situation.

Summary of goals is to i) have fewer automatic actions and responses to my own stream of thoughts and ii) rationalise and improve the reactions that do occur such that they result in a positive outcome.

Buddhism itself has several tools and structures to support ii) but I find the language a bit excessive and impenetrable as compared to here.