Way of the Duck

by Buster Benson

Product manager on analytics.twitter.com. Amateur behavior change fanatic/skeptic. I tweet 10.4 times/day, retweet 1.4 times/day, and get 2.1 faves/tweet.

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Too simple, cheap, easy, obvious bias

The bias against things anyone can have at any time, that nobody can make much money from, because they seem too easy, too obvious, too simple, too cheap. The bias against the following solutions because nobody is marketing or can market them to you for very much profit:

Water

Gardening

Walking

Stretching

Meditation

Sitting in the sun

Fresh air

Curiosity

Vegetables

A good night’s sleep

Gratitude

Nature

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How to change yourself (v 0.1)

There are many other ways to change, but this is the one that is my current best/favorite theory.

1. Complete the sentence: “I am an aspiring ______.” Try to find the most succinct identity that represents the difference between who you are now and who you want to be. It doesn’t have to explain why, or how, you will get there. Just put a flag down.

Note: I realize that this first step is not very easy to do. That’s intentional. Step #1 will require some thinking to find the right fit for your “lose 5 pounds”, “eat better”, “quit smoking”, “get in shape” goals. Think about the kind of person you want to become that naturally weighs less, eats well, doesn’t smoke, is in shape, etc. Make sure that you really do want to be that person. Use this identity as the anchor to pull all of the entangled habits and...

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Are habits tiny or huge?

Confession. I don’t think habits are tiny things.

I think they’re huge things, convoluted twisting structures in our brains. Traversing all the way from triggers and automatic responses deep in the subconscious, to routines, to circumstances, to goals and values, and all the way up to our sense of selves and our identity in the neocortex.

These structures can’t just be turned with a light switch, by a new app.

They are structures that need to be built over time. They involve real neurons that need to change, grow, reroute, and sink in over time.

Building a new habit is like deciding to buy a new house and put it in your brain. You have to clear away some space. You have to allocate some resources. You either need a lot of money to buy the house outright, or you have to save enough money to put a down payment on a loan and then rearrange your long-term finances to...

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The Game of Life

The Game of Life

A while ago I tweeted:

It keeps re-surfacing in my brain so I thought I’d write about it some more, and release a new level while I’m at it.

If life were a game, the levels might be something like:

Level 1: sugar, fat, salt

Level 2: sex, drugs, rock & roll

Level 3: autonomy, mastery, connection

Level 4: whole-heartedness, acceptance, playfulness

Level 1’s boss is the Lizard Brain, level 2’s boss is Coolness, level 3’s boss is The Self, and level 4’s boss is Meaninglessness. If level 5 exists, I have no idea what it’s like or who the boss is. That’ll have to be added in a later release of this game.

The main point is that this is just what the game of life seems like from...

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My 2 brains

There’s the lizard brain, the old brain.

And there’s the new brain, the neocortex, the pattern-finder that some people correlate with rationality.

The old brain is fast, the new brain is slow.

The old brain is cheap, the new brain is expensive (in terms of energy).

The old brain is subconscious, the new brain is sometimes conscious.

The old brain takes over in emergencies, during fight and flight, during times of high stress, during anger, passion, hate.

The new brain takes over in times of low stress, times of calm, in the shower, on walks, during a pleasant conversation and a glass of wine.

In many ways, it seems like there’s a bit of a seesaw, and one brain has the upper hand on the other based on the current environment and circumstances.

When heart rate and breathing speed are up, the old brain has the upper hand, and when heart rate and breathing speed are...

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Doing 1,000 small things to prepare for a marathon in 2013

Update #2 (7/9): Hit 900. Current estimated completion date is January 1st, 2017.

Update #1 (3/19): Hit 975. Still liking the experiment, which I wrote a bit more about here.

I promised Kellianne on her birthday last year (10.15.2012) that I would attempt to run a marathon by her 2013 birthday as a show of commitment to the long term, to pushing limits, and to continuing to surprise each other. She sort of laughed it off… I haven’t run in years… but I was serious.

I went running for the first time in two years a few days later and injured my knee. Pretty bad.

I’ve been running on a treadmill occasionally for the last 4 months and it’s almost better. I can still feel it a...

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Our Filters

Lots of filters

Photo filters are quite popular these days. They’re cool because they add personality to a photo with minimal work.

It turns out that OUR PERSONALITIES are also the output of a number of personal distorting filters applied to the universe.

Imagine an unbiased, uninterpreted, unsimplified, unprocessed, view of the universe.

Then think about how you view the universe.

How many filters, distortions, and processing are there between you and the unfiltered universe?

To help make the point, think about COLOR. The application of color to the universe is the result of a brain filter. One that translates a small segment of the light spectrum into a map that relates each frequency of light to a color that represents a specific blend of those 3 colors.

Then there are the filters that translate shapes, textures, sounds, smells, movements, depths, etc into similarly simplified, but...

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The long slog

There are different modes of “work”. Here are a few of them.

  1. Introspection. Finding yourself.
  2. Exploration. Finding everything else.
  3. Goal-making. Based on values found during introspection.
  4. Strategy-making. Hypotheses about how to achieve your goals.
  5. Experimentation. Trying things. Playing. Iterating.
  6. Finding fit. Person/universe fit.
  7. Slogging. Executing. Doing the work.

An industry of self-help, productivity gurus, and therapists has sprouted around each of these modes of work. Much to their benefit.

Each of these modes require different parts of our brains. Different brainwave lengths. Different moods. Different states of mind.

Each of us excel at certain modes and suck at others.

Each mode is strongest when the others are also at their strongest. We must develop each of these modes in parallel. It’s all one big positive feedback loop / Catch-22 / bootstrap.

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Rabbit, rabbit!

From Heather Champ:

What’s the deal with rabbit rabbit?

You’ll have good luck all month if the first words you utter on the first of the month are “rabbit rabbit.” Bonus luck if it’s your birth month.

If it’s the first of the month and you’re reading this, don’t fret. Simply reverse the process as you drift off into slumber land repeating “tibbar tibbar.” That’s rabbit rabbit backwards.

Today is the first day of February, and the first checkin for the Rabbit Rabbit Resolution Accountability Squad.

The rules of the group are:

1. Make only ONE resolution for 2013

2. Phrase it in such a way that the resolution is either TRUE or FALSE for a given month

3. Be clear about what counts and what doesn’t count if applicable

4. Check in to the list on the 1st of every month, re-commit to it if necessary

More thoughts on...

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Is this your best possible work?

When it comes to your meaningful productivity and creativity, this is the only question that really matters.

If you’re not doing your best possible work, ask yourself why. What’s holding you back? Is it A) you, or B) something else?

A) If it’s you, think about your own best interest, and why it’s in your best interest to not do your best work. Most likely, it’s not in your best interest to not do your best possible work. Then, it’s a matter of shifting focus to overcoming your own resistance to your own best interest. This class of problem is about not being our own worst enemy, fighting Resistance.

B) If it’s something else that’s holding you back, think about why you’re letting something else hold you back. Your best possible work has to take into consideration your environment, your constraints, and what’s possible. Get...

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