Jun 29, 2014

Rick's Self-Improvement Cheat Sheet

Just some notes...

Have trouble focusing on one task, following through on plans, and reaching goals?

You probably need to work on developing your brain's executive functions.


Mindfulness meditation (at least 5-10 minutes every day); going for walks; aerobic exercise; positive social interactions; reading; intellectual skill development; dealing with temptations and addictions; improve sleep quality and quantity.

How to be productive?

Focus on one task at a time; develop executive functions; remove or limit distractions (Internet is a common one); focus on most important goals requiring high concentration first thing in the morning. Experiment with developing a daily (especially morning) routine as you become committed to a particular professional path or skill set.

How to overcome Internet time wasters?

Mild: "Freedom" and other apps that limit your online activity and can be set and reset each time. Moderate: "Intego Family Protector" app (can be set up to only allow you Internet access for certain hours of the day, as long as you give the password to someone else). Extreme: have no Internet at home and find somewhere else to work online.

How to improve outlook and overcome negativity bias?

Practice "what went well" reflection exercise at the end of each day, or some variation thereof. Personally, I spend 10 minutes remembering how I spent the day, the constructive motives behind my actions (even if they were not as successful as I wanted), and the happy moments and feelings of pride and satisfaction, and basically try to empathize with myself. This really seems to work for me, and the efficacy of the technique has been repeatedly proven in experiments.

Top diet improvements?

Cut out all refined sugars and flours. Replace with whole foods. Learn a few simple food preparation techniques in order to be able to maintain a healthy diet. Treat food preparation as a habit formation exercise.

Top fitness improvements?

Integrate walking or cycling or other moderate aerobic activity into your everyday life. Begin a bare minimum strength training routine and either focus on explosiveness or maxing out on reps, which gives you the best hormonal response. Stand, walk, or lie down instead of sitting so much. Extreme: get rid of your car and move to a part of town where you can get everywhere you need to go by foot, bicycle, or public transportation.

Top happiness improvements? 

Supportive friendships, emotional support on a daily basis, meditation and positive psychology practices, basic physical health and nutrition, sun exposure (for some people), hormonal correction (generally attainable through diet, exercise, and stress reduction), improving sleep quality/quantity (for many people).

Down in the dumps and need a happiness injection? 

My personal favorite is to go backpacking with a friend or friends, or even alone. This affects me on all levels and almost invariably does the trick. Find your individual recipe that provides you with a change of pace or scenery and physical, emotional, and mental stimulation.

My favorite sources of information to "keep my finger on the pulse?" 

The Long Now Foundation talks, selected TED talks, Tim Ferriss Podcast.


meatburger said...

I like your list there Rick. Was doing some reading tonight, thought about socionics and stopped by your blog. Man its been a long time. Assuming you remember me? :)

My minds been blown a bit by the fact that you've changed your opinion on it. I am certainly not upset, i totally understand its just I saw you as a more sociologically advanced version of myself (hope that isn't weird).

Socionics in my life took a back burner ages ago. I actually distanced myself because i was struggling and felt that socionics was a negative influence on my life. It made me stilted socially to some degree (probably still does). I made my peace with it long ago, it kind of drifted into the background, but it never went away. Just the fact that you have changed your opinions has made the grip socionics still had on me loosen a bit, and i think its a relief..

Im pretty confused though. At first i wondered if maybe you had been hurt by your dual, or just simply burnt out from thinking about it for so long. Ive always kind of thought that socionics must be somewhat incorrect, it just wasn't possible that it was completely accurate. Still, im going to need to re-read your posts when im not so tired to understand them.

Whats very odd to me though, is that i feel quite similar to you. My interest in self improvement is kind of insatiable (although i do have some different ways of doing it than you). That you seem like an ideas factory seems similar to me when my creativity is switched on. I always thought that was our Ne.. So many relationships in my life panned out as socionics would expect. How much of this is confirmation bias? MIND = Blown.

Of course, i cant just change my opinions simply because you do. I am capable of thinking too haha. Its just i respect you and also haven't given socionics any thought for so long.

Anyway, hope you're well id love to see what you think!

Rick said...

Thanks for your comments, Meatburger! Yes, it has been a long time. You should read my posts from 2013 where I try to explain why and how my views shifted. Once I hit a threshold level of dissatisfaction with how little of value socionics was actually able to explain, I basically gave it up and began to dismantle its structures in my mind. If the socionics model should be able to explain/predict interpersonal phenomena in close relationships and fails to do so, then there must be something wrong with the model.

Many people put these problems aside and say, "well, socionics is still good for self-discovery and understanding other people," "Model A is flawed, but in my opinion X is still predictive of Y," etc. etc. My response to these is that the brain cost of self-discovery through socionics is incredibly high (fixations on unproven and flawed socionics theory for years to come) and that the flaws in the theory need to be identified rather than just being brushed over.

There's so much far more concrete findings coming in from neuroscience that socionics with its stagnant abstractness is looking more and more like a thing of the past.

I can't deny that socionics did some pretty useful things for me in the first few years that I was into it. But isn't proof of its broader validity. I think in general I am done for good with abstract and nondisprovable idea systems. I find it more natural now to focus on identifying specific things I can do to improve my life. A lot of this probably has to do with age.