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Author Topic: Live as if Today was a Quantum Superposition of the the Rest of your Life  (Read 7615 times)
mouser
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« on: August 14, 2009, 09:30:05 AM »


You know those movies or lecturers who tell you to "live every day as if it was your last" ?
Rubbish.

It seems to me that living every day as if it was your last is a great way to have a couple of weeks of fun and then wake up to find yourself in debtor's prison for decades, trying to figure out how to hang yourself with your belt.

Of course these well meaning but fatalistically short-sighted folks do have a point at the heart of what they are saying -- one needs to live in the moment, take chances, and enjoy the wonder and delight of our daily existence.

But it's also critically important for living a full life that we also take the long view, plan for the future, and find the discipline to do the things that may not be fun today but will lead to happiness down the road.

So I present you now with the "Living for the Quantum Superposition of your Future Life" Theory (otherwise known as the "Probability Distribution Theory of Daily Living").

The concept is simple -- you could die tomorrow or live another hundred years.  So you need to psychologically live for today, and also for every potential day between now and the end of your life, as best you can probabilistically estimate the probability distribution governing how likely you are to die on that future day.

Estimating such probabilities is exceedingly difficult, and that says nothing of discounting rates and quality of life differences related to physical aging.

So I would like to suggest a much simpler heuristic:
  • Live half of your days as if they were the last day of your life.
  • Live the other half of your days as if you were going to live for another 100 years.
  • Adjust this 50/50 split as you get older.

You could even try splitting each day into 50/50 blocks -- but i suggest that a per-day mode would result in less schizophrenia.  You might even alternate in week-long blocks instead of days.

One tip: if you have a family -- make sure your switching schedule is as synchronized as possible -- otherwise there could be some tension.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2009, 09:36:01 AM by mouser » Logged
kunkel321
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2009, 12:36:48 PM »

Usually my body goes to work, but my brain stays at home....  Does that count?
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nudone
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2009, 12:42:09 PM »

interesting.

have you been living like this for a while or are we the Guinea pigs?

(are you also living under a kind of quantum dualistic state whilst you remain constantly awake and yet you must also be sleeping - sometimes?)
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Deozaan
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2009, 04:01:09 PM »

Sounds like a fantastic idea, but what the bleep do I know?
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2009, 01:43:57 AM »

mouser, how seamless was the transition for you?

I follow a somewhat similar pattern in which each week day has a different significance.

Mon. is the day I focus my all totally on what I perceive as things to progress my life.

Tues. is the day I focus all my energies on Book Reading and other catching up on self-help topics.

Wednesday is the day I focus on improving my way of communicating with others. This can involve observing movies and reading non-fiction to writing stories and all that.

Thursday is what I consider catch-up day in which I focus all my energies on things I need to catch-up on.

Friday is what I dub a Sabbath version of a day in which I totally focus my entire day on resting including stopping most PC work by letting it scan for viruses and defragmenting and other low-key stuff.

Saturday is Review Day in which I do all my backups and catch-up on anything I want to reread, re-do or work on.

Sunday is what I called Riskless day in which given two choices, I choose the one where I just hang out. Say playing a game when i'm bored rather than learning anything or sleeping instead of trying to finish a videogame.

None of this is connected with any schedule I make and they're more like mindsets on how to approach the week but still I find it's ability to make me productive not as "accelerative" as I'd want to be. Maybe you could give some more hints on the troubles you encountered with your approach? That seems to be an underrated detail with articles of this theme.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2009, 05:17:12 AM »

 Grin Love the idea!
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mouser
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2009, 06:57:47 AM »

Paul that is a really interesting approach.. i love the idea of it.. i feel like my days are very unstructured and would really benefit from something like that.

My original post was just a thought really, and not a particularly deep one -- but your idea of making days very different is really intriguing to me -- especially since i find it very hard to do context-switching on anything shorter than a day long period.

I think this is an important an often-overlooked issue.  Some people seem to be able to switch working contexts very quickly.  They can have a meeting at 10am and then switch to working on a different project at noon.  Others, like me, find that almost impossible -- once i switch to thinking about one project, it's basically stuck there for at least a day.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2009, 08:50:50 AM »

Quote
I think this is an important an often-overlooked issue.  Some people seem to be able to switch working contexts very quickly.  They can have a meeting at 10am and then switch to working on a different project at noon.  Others, like me, find that almost impossible -- once i switch to thinking about one project, it's basically stuck there for at least a day.

Yeah, same problem here. I don't think they're switching tasks though.

Remember that was why David Allen added that confusing stuff about contexts. My guess is that the ones that are great at doing this simply are the best at not caring.

Paul Graham in his procrastination article states something about learning not to stare directly at the big problem.

David Allen thinks if you're confident in your storage, you can learn not to care about what you don't see and instantly care about what you do see.

Not really a solution but I thought there might be something in pointing out that possible distinction.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2009, 08:53:49 AM by Paul Keith » Logged

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mouser
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2009, 10:02:36 AM »

Well in fact that is the biggest takeaway for me from David Allens GTD, and i find it incredibly useful.  I've written about it before on the forum.

Basically for me you could boil the *useful* lesson of Allen's GTD for me personally to one sentence, and throw away all of the details and specifics in his book:
"Write down stuff where you can find it later, and then let it go from your consciousness."

This is an incredibly simple idea, but for me it was one of those "ah ha" moments when i really started doing it (i personally keep notecards of all project ideas, todo items, etc.).  But it really does make a huge difference for me that i can convince my brain is does not have to be actively trying to remember and keep in mind all of these thousands of issues and ideas..  I can offload them to paper and then free up my working mind for other things.

I've also been using this strategy to help me not perseverate (get suck on) programming project ideas that i just don't have time to work on -- I let myself have a few days to plan it out, brainstorm about it, chew it over, write it down, etc.  And often that's enough to let me brain not feel like it has to keep bringing up the idea and working on it in spare moments.
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Deozaan
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2009, 08:41:02 PM »

I (think I) know this was just a tongue-in-cheek joke, but I've been seriously thinking about this since I first read about it.

Neither method seems to really work. You've already pointed out the drawbacks of living as if today were the last day of your life, but living as if you had another 100 years would probably make one think his death was so far away that he had plenty of time and, being the procrastinators that we inherently are, nothing would change. Alternating each mindset every day would be too schizophrenic but much longer periods than that and you'd end up with the same problems.

So I've been trying to come up with a better idea on something that would really motivate me to, as you described so well, "live in the moment, take chances, and enjoy the wonder and delight of our daily existence" while also "[taking] the long view, [planning] for the future, and [finding] the discipline to do the things that may not be fun today but will lead to happiness down the road." It's hard to think of a concept that communicates that idea and portrays the emotion that would provide adequate motivation to live in such a manner. Maybe it's just best to say:

"Live in the moment, take chances, and enjoy the wonder and delight of our daily existence while also taking the long view, planning for the future, and finding the discipline to do the things that may not be fun today but will lead to happiness down the road."

It's certainly not a cute, sentimental, Tweetable statement. But I think it works. It's functional and conveys everything it should. That should be enough.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2009, 03:21:43 AM »

Too many words Deozaan. (Yes, I know the irony of me saying that)

The core words has to always be Tweetable. Not because they are cute or sentimental, but because that's what your consciousness can package in an affirmation.

Try looking at it through the eyes of a program. If you try to set a hotkey that opens Photoshop, starts making Antivir scan for viruses and makes Disktune defragment while opening up two movies simultaneously in full screen side by side in your dual monitor, even if you have a PC powerful enough to do so, it's still not the most optimum use of a hotkey.

Not to mention the sentence sputters out at the very end and becomes more passive than active at around the bolded points:

"Live in the moment, take chances, and enjoy the wonder and delight of our daily existence while also taking the long view, planning for the future, and finding the discipline to do the things that may not be fun today but will lead to happiness down the road."

Much easier for the above to simply be packaged into:

"Take chances. Enjoy the moment. Have fun working towards the future."

Not that it comes close to becoming top productive material this way but you can post this anywhere and even when you have a bad day, you can still read it. (Which is the point of affirmations. Having a set of beliefs you can fall back to when you expect yourself to be the most unproductive.)

If you prefer something more tongue-in-cheek:

"Date the moment. Take the fun to the future."
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tomos
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2009, 03:29:59 AM »

"Take chances. Enjoy the moment. Have fun working towards the future."

Not that it comes close to becoming top productive material this way but you can post this anywhere and even when you have a bad day, you can still read it. (Which is the point of affirmations. Having a set of beliefs you can fall back to when you expect yourself to be the most unproductive.)

If you prefer something more tongue-in-cheek:

"Date the moment. Take the fun to the future."

you're making a good team there Deozaan & Paul cheesy
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Tom
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2009, 12:07:58 PM »

Apparently the method I listed here is called the Auto-Pilot schedule

My apologies for those who think I was copying a method without telling the name. I didn't know this method had a name already before I wrote it here.
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