Effective Self-Care Link List

BLUF: A periodically-updated consortium of links relating to improving one’s well-being and personal life.


James Clear– I’m partially allergic to the term “self-improvement”, which often just consists of the same not-even-wrong platitudes regurgitated repeatedly, but James actually has a bunch of decent, concise articles that I appreciate every so often.

How to Survive Being Attacked by Nuclear Missiles, in 60 Seconds– Good, concise advice.

NutritionFacts.org– Given all the problems and conflicting advice in nutrition science, I think most of us still have plenty of doubts about what constitutes a healthy diet. I am no expert, but I was obsessed about nutrition for a few months about 4 years ago, and I ended up trusting him and his website more than anyone else.

EFF Surveillance Self-Defense– If one can’t trust the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I am not sure who they can trust as a source for information about digital security. This is a good list of many topics relating to infosec.

[Link] It’s Supposed To Feel Like This: 8 emotional challenges of altruism – Holly Morgan

You should try to do more good in the world because it’s the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always sufficient motivation for people to act accordingly, so altruists[1] often tell non-altruists about the personal benefits of altruism — the evidence that giving makes you happier, the friendly and supportive communities of altruists you can join, the sense of meaning altruism can bring to fill the void left by an increasingly secular world, and so on.

But leading an altruistic life is not always plain sailing, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that from time to time. And not only to acknowledge that times get rough, but the specific ways in which they get rough.

-Holly Morgan, It’s Supposed To Feel Like This: 8 emotional challenges of altruism

Update: An additional useful link about a related topic, scrupulosity

Remember Neuroplasticity and Do Not Enjoy That Which Is Not Productive

And remember that you can learn to enjoy many productive actions.

Our attachments to activities grow as we do them. We browse Instagram once, we do it a second time, and if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves burning over an hour a week on an activity that offers almost no long-term benefit to ourselves or society.

Most people’s set of unproductive habits start off as innocent pleasures to escape boredom. Many of us often justify our nonproductive habits because “we need to destress”; the underlying assumption is that there is not a reasonable way to experience the same level of hedonic experience through more productive action.

The human mind is incredibly adaptable, and most people can learn to enjoy any number of activities, especially in a pleasure-scarce environment where other, more rewarding activities are not immediately available.

As obvious is this may sound, it seems we forget this all the time. People allow themselves to need Netflix to unwind, and they forget that they could have wired themselves to unwind to the same degree by writing or programming, which are usually going to help oneself and the world better.

If we don’t enjoy unproductive actions and focus exclusively on productive actions (which may be as simple as writing out our thoughts on Google Keep), we can wire our brains to reward us for productive actions. Then, our life can become a glorious dance of productivity where we have nothing to hide and we can feel good about feeling good. We can enjoy ourselves and fulfill our potential to have a positive impact.

One Post, Every Day

I saw an idea about writing an essay/blog post each day here, and I am interested in trying it out. Why should I?

Upsides

  • Practice formalizing my thoughts to be more persuasive. There are few skills more important in the grand scheme of things than being able to convince others of one’s ideas (assuming one’s ideas are marginally meritorious).
  • Refine my specific thoughts. There is no better way of doing this than writing.
  • Get my ideas out there for others to read. Perhaps I will update someone’s knowledge in an important way.
  • Positive signaling. If someone likes my writing, perhaps I can make a new friend or increase my chances of getting a job I want down the road.
  • Public writing gives me an increased opportunity to be proved wrong. A conversation can take place if someone disagrees with me, and perhaps they will change my mind.
  • Facilitate longer-length thoughts. Let me break this down: I’ve noticed that when I Tweet a lot, I tend to propagate ideas in my mind that are tweetable. These tend to be relatively short ideas that get likes. It’s probably not ideal for me to walk around thinking at this shallow of a level. Yet, I like to publish my ideas and be thinking about ideas I can share. So if I transfer to sharing predominantly longer-winded thoughts, then perhaps my thinking throughout the day can be of higher quality.

Possible downsides

  • A blog could hurt me financially or socially. I could be rejected from a job for making a claim that is just repugnant to a potential employer.
  • An AI down the road could use my essays to make a predictive model of me and I could thus lose some of my power. To illustrate, to the degree life is a chess game, an opponent could develop a heat map of positions I tend to play.
  • Could be a time waste in the sense that I may not necessarily be working on the deepest ideas. This could encourage quantity over quality to a fault.
  • If I don’t post every day, people can clearly see that I am not perfectly reliable.

These are fair downsides, but I’m going to try this out. So I don’t give myself a life-long burden, I am going to set a time-bounded goal: at a minimum, publish a post every day until April 1. Thanks for reading!

Update: I was overall successful, accept that I sometimes wrote 2 posts one day and then on days where I didn’t write a new post, I updated one of these posts to count for my post for that day. I also lasted until March 24, which was a month from when I started, but not fully until April 1. I don’t want to make excuses, but I was running out of ideas at the time and didn’t want to dilute what I had written so far with lesser-quality posts.

Update 2: Here are some more excellent reasons to start a blog!