"No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better."

The best general advice on earth by Jason Somers

I think I re-read this post like 10 times since I first encountered it around a year ago. Easily the most influential piece of writing in that timeframe:

These are excerpts (emphasis mine) from William James’s 1890 classic, Principles of Psychology , Chapter IV, “Habit”:

  1. The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund and capitalize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon the interest of the fund.
  2. For this we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and guard against the growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the plague. The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.
  3. Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain. It is not in the moment of their forming, but in the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves and aspirations communicate the new ‘set’ to the brain.
  4. No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.
  5. As a final practical maxim, relative to these habits of the will, we may, then, offer something like this: Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it , so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved.

Have it TabSnoozed for every 3 months indefinitely now.

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The last one is great.

Boring exercise, cold shower, rote learning, whatever. At least 1-2 per day.

We filter off choices when they require effort and unpleasantness rather than just weighting those in utility computations.
This habit helps destroying this reflex by making imagining stuff requiring effort and unpleasantness more available.

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This is great, are there other good parts in that book?

I’m yet to read it…

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