All posts by Giego Caleiro

#43 Drift Towards The Goal

This months challenge can’t be thought of too much, so instead of writing about previous challenges and writing a text I’ll just briefly mention the idea:

Challenge #43 Drifting Towards The Goal

I’m at a very goal oriented place in Berkeley now, while also being pretty confident my plan is to move to Berkeley or Oxford. I know the general outlook of the plan, I have some particular things I have to do in mind, but for the next month I’ll let myself drift a little more. Not in a completely general direction, but any drifting that generally goes toward some of the main overarching goals. I’ve done a nice amount of work to “aid” fate by reallocating here to begin with, now let us see what fate will have to offer.

And if today’s post seems too short, here is an hour long introduction to effective altruism:

 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#44 Stop Overthinking, Seize the Day

Let’s reverse order today:

Previous Challenge Tracking

Challenge#46 Living as if Money Were No Object ain’t very complicated. I got a half-day job despite the salary, I shopped as if money was paper, went out to have dinner when I felt going out to have dinner was desired. I have no idea to be precise, but it may have costed even less than what it usually costs. It did make me feel better in that when I thought of rich versus non rich, it was usually thinking of what can others do with their power, not which imaginary line of financial success should I jump above.

Challenge#45 From Dabbler to Generalist, Ship Your Product This one is hard to execute. No, it is not hard. It is abysmally hard. Put yourself in my shoes, take a look at something old, a project you left midway through completion, or something you nearly finished but didn’t. First of all, what do you care about doing it now? It may not even be something you care about anymore. Also, think of why you stopped that project, maybe it was below your expectations, maybe you were afraid of external judgement. Maybe you were just doing it for yourself and pretending you wanted other people to appreciate. Well, I guess all that happened to me with one or another project. The fact is I can’t get my head around doing old stuff left undone, or I didn’t for these initial 15 days. To further complicate this problem – though it thoroughly enriches my life – I’ll be in California for next month, and finishing old projects is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think Yosemite falls, or Bay Area memes.  I have not managed to do this, which is why I’m leaving this to be the challenge for November 15th. I’ll just focus on the trip instead.

Then let’s do this.

#44 Stop Overthinking, Seize the Day

That  is simple, Robin Williams puts it well.

There are days ahead many, and days beneath are many others. In the last two years I can clearly trace the good days to be the days in which I am living the day, and the bad days I’m overthinking about the future. I’m good when I’m living the day, I’m bad when I’m deciding the tripartite conundrum of Oxford, Cambridge, São Paulo. Sometimes I even let Rio barge in the mental madness.  I’m good when I’m at a festival rollerblading and speaking to good looking strangers, I’m bad when I’m considering whether my actions will have the right repercussion a million years from now.

I’ll just stop overthinking. If I actually do what I think I have to do, great. If I don’t, I’ll just carpe diem, and that is that, no being somewhere trying to be somewhere else, no sense of obligation with my past self about my future self.  If I catch myself overthinking I’ll just punish myself out of this. It worked before  to stop me text-driving and entering facebook/email in the morning.  No reason to think it won’t work again.

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#45 From Dabbler to Generalist, Ship Your Product

Once again I write from the city’s park. Now on a Saturday, I’m bathed in a mix of sunlight and dozens of different kinds of sounds, from groups of teenagers to the big wolf-looking dog in front of me. She reads book on how to create social businesses, and I wonder what can be of my new challenge.  There are so many things I want to do. But here, overtaken by the information overload of an incredibly busy Saturday at the park, I can think of little to do.

We’ve just watched an interesting series called polyamory, which, surprise, surprise! Is about the lives and issues faced by poly families. One tryad faces a new boyfriend of one of the girls, and two couples trying to get accustomed to living together, all four of them. Reminds me of how far most people are from freedom. From the mental freedom of even considering a life with 2, 3 or 8 people as an option at all. I wonder what would happen if the instinct that makes us want to be like others, and susceptible to peer pressure, were turned off. What would people really be like?  It has never been done, so we can’t say it would be like a !kung tribe, or a Californian republic, it would not be like a Vogue magazine nor a Miyazaki movie. Maybe it would just not be sustainable in the long run.

In social transmission, the name of that instinct is conformity bias. There is also prestige bias. Both of them make us more like each other. One by makings us more like most are, no matter whom, and one making everyone more like a few select people, who are considered prestigious by the majority, or whoever controls the media you most watch.

An interesting writing was brought to my attention by probably my favorite Fin. In that writing a distinction is traced between a true generalist, whose work is appreciated in many different disciplines, like Leonardo, Socrates or Russell and a dabbler, who kind of knows about a lot of things but always seems to be giving up one thing to do the next one.

The author’s thesis is that generalists deliver, while dabblers stop the work at 95%. The writing got me for a simple reason. I’m  a dabbler, and I didn’t know it. If a real artist ships, I’ve been living an amateur’s life. That is exactly how I feel about many things, and in particular, about my masters, a book I wrote mostly four years ago, and haven’t taken the trouble of finishing in these last two months when I should have.

#45 From Dabbler to Generalist, Ship Your Product

I’ve been meaning to this for a while, to go back to my old things, texts, my vlog, my writing sample for philosophy PHDs and so many other things, give them a final touch, put them in a box, and deliver.

For the next month, I’ll finish projects I have left near completion when I felt personally satisfied, and will get them ready into final form for others. I’ll begin by whatever is nearest to completion, and move on from them.

I got a new half-shift job, thus it will be fun to try to make time for all of it. The new job is, itself, turning many dabblers into generalists. They created an NGO and have a beautiful house and an almost sustainable socially engaged business. They are about to start shipping a better world.

Previous Challenge Tracking

Challenge #47 Share Your Goals With Who Shares Your Goals was hard to do. It is unbelievably natural to tell people what you just did and what you are about to do, specially parents and girlfriends. It worked very well, and I intend to keep my sharing of goals with people who don’t share my goals to a minimum. 

Challenge#46 Living as if Money Were No Object is not as complicated as one would think. You can take a job because you like,  regardless of salary and conditions, and to choose where you eat you can consider money as paper with no symbolic value other than as paper. I’ve worried less and less, and though I believe it wouldn’t be possible in the long run, this is an exercise I fully recommend to anyone. It’s even fun to think of money that way. 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#46 Living as if Money Were No Object

14:00 – São Paulo, Brazil, Thursday 28/08/13

I’ve just finished bike-riding in Ibirapuera park and decided to sit down to write on an exquisitely Ill positioned bench, with my back to a beautiful open field, and many trees, not as beautiful as the field behind me, in my field of vision. The sun penetrates my skin to perfection, a bonfire sensation entangled with the cold breeze that strides by.

To my left, another lone bike-rider sat down to play his flute, trying to catch up with the birds singing. At the field, called Peace Plaza, 11 French children are playing and screaming voraciously, competing to see who jumps all the way to the imaginary line faster inside big rice bags. At home, she waits for me, sleeping sound after a night of too much drinking.

Today I was supposed to start a challenge given by you, but I was given no challenges to draw from. Instead of being given meaning, symbols, and words to process, instead of the math, of the map, I got reality. Surrounded by mocking birds, pigeons, rocks and the occasional human ape, I wonder to what extend even I am not living in the moment enough.

I say even I for I have abdicated all the colossal forces trying to destroy the humanity that lies within us. All the buzz, poking, force-feeding, advertising, etc… I Don’t watch TV, have an adBlocker for the web, don’t believe in working for getting more things. Actually I’d rather have less things. A computer, two screens, and a lot of outdoor activity equipment, these are the material objects I’d like to have. And a unicycle, because… unicycle.

Many of the nice things about life are indeed free. It’s the fixed monthly costs that screw it up. Food, 400 bronze coins, health 300, supplements to live longer 150, house 600-2000 depending on a lot of stuff, internet 60,  pet 50-500, child 250-2500, non-working romantic partner/partners 600-6000.

God forbid you do the time-spent-working per unit-happiness-acquired calculations for things that are not worth  such as: bigger house, house in the beach, car other than the cheapest one, rings, diamonds, gold, guns, weapons, exotic birds, cigarettes, whisky, boats, planes, stuff you only see in 007 movies, lobster, caviar, stuff that the fashion industry expects you to know – I don’t, so I can’t cite – huge fancy parties (15-year-old parties, marriage parties, etc…).

All of those fixed costs may give you a spike of happiness, if you are lucky, it will last two weeks, tops. Positive psychologists have long known that reading a gratitude letter out loud to someone you believe did something good to you creates a happiness that outlasts purchasing a Porsche by 6 orders of magnitude, at least.

My flute companion has started again; the children are now trying to blend in by playing a little soccer. And I haven’t yet described my challenge, have I?

#46 What If Money Was No Object?

Four years ago I did a challenge in which I tried to spend 50 dollars for two months (for going out, eating out etc… not for fixed housing costs), I rode my bike everywhere and went to dinners with friends already fed, if I had not succeded in that challenge, that is what I would do. Since I have, I’ll twist a few knobs here and there, and for the next month I’ll try to live as if money were no object. Many interesting people, like Alan Watts, Keanu Reeves, and Mark Zuckerberg, care as little about money as they do about the shape of polar bear livers.

Join me in this challenge, and let us share how we feel about it later on. The flute man is leaving, and that is my sign to do the same.

Previous Challenge Tracking

Challenge #48 Out of the Armchair and Into the Field comes to an end with a very interesting twist to it. I decided not to leave on the day before taking the airplane, after realizing that despite having done all the effort necessary to take the plane and fly towards the Bay area, it was still not the case that I’d have a higher chance of living there if I did. My hypothesis that going sooner solves going later turned out to be wrong to the extent I could see it. I said screw the sunk cost fallacy and stayed! I’m fixing stuff.  Life is going in an amazing path, but too many things are going at the same time. I sat down to organize, and now I’ll travel only next month, for a month, return, and then finally go once ans for all.

 Challenge #47 Share Your Goals With Who Shares Your Goals turned out to be really hard to do.  The cognitive drive to tell people with whom you share genes your plans is strong, and sometimes they demand it (even knowing of the challenge, they don’t realize what they are doing), I do believe that in all occasions I managed not to tell, I felt better and it was good. So far what I’ve learned from this challenge is that it is worth it to try it, and that I should try harder to stop sharing goals with them, and continue with others. 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#47 Share your goals with who shares your goals

If Michael Tomasello is to be trusted, the sharing of goals and intentions is one of the few core features that distinguish the way in which humans interact and think about the world, and the way other animals do it. Chimps, octopuses, dolphins and crustaceans may use tools. But only humans, he contends, are able to think of a goal as a group goal whose tasks can be subdivided and assumed to be happening in parallel, or in series, and being done by different people.  Animals may share a specific task, such as a hunt, but as far as we know, neither primates nor cetaceans can share goals the way we do.

The challenge I’m about to embark on is trying to share (in the Facebook sense, or the communication sense) my goals only with people who share my goals (in the sense of being aligned arrows pointing towards similar regions of possibility space).

#47 Share your goals with who shares your goals:

For the next month I’ll stop sharing any information about what I’m doing, what I did and what I plan to do with people who share genes with me, but not goals. These of course are my parents and family and my girlfriend, who is considered by evolutionary psychology to be though of as equivalent, in some ways, to a surrogate sister. Since any of her hypothetical grandsons would share my genetic material with a high likelihood (if we were monogamous, under the conditions in which the brain evolved) I should – from the gene’s eye viewpoint – think of her as a blood relative.  The only people who will be allowed to peek into my life, other than this blog’s readers, are those who actually want the World to change in the ways I want. Blood relatives usually have a plan for how we should interact with the universe to make it better. It just so happens that their plan for you is based on their goals, and maybe you just don’t want to be a lawyer, you just want to live in a jungle studying the habitats of Congo’s bonobos.

Paul Graham said it perfectly: “The advice of parents will tend to err on the side of money. It seems safe to say there are more undergrads who want to be novelists and whose parents want them to be doctors than who want to be doctors and whose parents want them to be novelists. The kids think their parents are “materialistic.” Not necessarily. All parents tend to be more conservative for their kids than they would for themselves, simply because, as parents, they share risks more than rewards. If your eight year old son decides to climb a tall tree, or your teenage daughter decides to date the local bad boy, you won’t get a share in the excitement, but if your son falls, or your daughter gets pregnant, you’ll have to deal with the consequences.” – How to Do What You Love

 

Now there’s people out there, lots of them, who either have the same plan as you have, or else don’t give a flying kaputz about your plans and just want to have a good time with you. Because they don’t share any genes, real or imagined, you don’t feel anxious about doing what they want you to do unless you want to do it too. Frequently people associate for one of two reasons. Because they share genes, or because they share goals. Another quote by Steve Pinker, the MIT Harvard psychologist, nicely captures what I think about associating with people for genetic Darwinian reasons:

“By Darwinian standards I am a horrible mistake…But I am happy to be voluntarily childless, ignoring the solemn imperative to spread my genes. And if my genes don’t like it, they can go jump in the lake.”—How the Mind Works

So that is the deal. There are more than 7 billion humans, a trillion animals, and an uncountable amount of objects in the universe to talk about. Why do people focus so much on themselves? If we started talking to those who share genes with us only about other things for a month, I guess that would be a big relief.

Previous Challenge Tracking

Challenge #49 Send Those Applications Out! has been really hard to pursue over the month. I have a list of the best places in order of awesomeness, I sent out 4 different applications for grants, and tracked down about 2 dozen different professors who could be god advisors. I hired a Virtual assistant to help with ten more hours when I realized I wouldn’t be able to do it in a month to speed things up. Even with all that I haven’t been able to create seven folders with all the required documents ready to be sent as soon as the deadline arrives. Only five and I’m not sure all five will figure the final list yet. The challenge continues, and for the time I spent doing it, I take it to have been a great success!

Challenge #48 Out of the Armchair and Into the Field has had a major turning point when I realized that even though leaving the country (the goal) now feels more similar to the goal of living abroad than leaving the country later, it actually gives me a lower probability of making it into some form of stable root creating mechanism. The goal is to leave for years, not as a tourist for a few weeks. Thus, I stayed, and here am I, researching thoroughly how to live in the San Franscico Bay or Oxbridge, applying as quickly as I can, and doing it the way it needs being done, not the way that feels cooler, it may be more beautiful to gaze at the dream from this side of the cliff, but sometimes to get to the other side you actually have to dig through the underground.

malacara (2) 

Have the people you share genes with been bothering you with their goals for you lately? Then join me in my challenge. If not, create your challenge, leave in the comments, and let’s get to it! 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic
 

#48 Out of The Armchair and Into the Field

The challenge I’m about to undertake for a month has been proposed through mail by my good friend Sid, also known as the guy with the smile. Sidney and I share our love for giving talks, positive psychology, studying cognitive biases, hugging, and having been through the same teenage years.

It is harder than The Auricle’s suggestions, which involved assessing charities, or writing about the benefits of routine for a month. It looks more frightening, gives me stomach butterflies, and will definitely make a huge difference in my life.

Without further ado: #48 Out of The Armchair and Into the Field

Sid used to live here, far from the anglophone world. He moved to New York, and his challenge was basically telling me that I should get the hell out of here. Applying for many courses abroad is great, if it works, yet he is convinced that the culture of self-improvement, of challenge, of rationality is so much more intense in the Bay Area, New York, and Oxbridge, UK,  he is convinced that I should simply leave. Keep pursuing the rest of the challenges, that is for sure, but get into the field, move away from a culture where individual development is as valuable as speaking Estonian backwards. I am therefore leaving my country on the second week of August, to the Bay Area, and from there, to wherever my challenges and external incentives take me.

The role of incentives and reward systems: it is said that the famous (but not so great) psychologist Burrhus Skinner used to teach his classes in Harvard while pacing to the left and right of his professor podium. His students, eager to test his theory of reinforcement, began to smile and pay attention whenever he paced to the left, and stop focusing and doze off when he paced to the right. Sure enough, in less than two days, they made him fall from the podium area.

Despite Skinner stumbling on on his own ideas, and taking his theory too far, trying to explain pigeons, chimps and people with a theory that at best could encompass the behavior of two-headed Planarians, the fundamentals of reinforment are an important way to keep track of your challenges.

Two Heads, nearly no brains...

It may feel diminishing at first to train oneself with rewards, like you’d train a dog or a monkey. But even bestseller books on motivation use rewards, and if you are a bestseller on motivation, the last thing you want to do is to make people feel diminished.

If you are not going for a completely radical life-changing, continent changing decision, you can still change your reward systems in many ways. The most effective ones are increasing the activation cost of what you want your future self to avoid, and decreasing the activation cost of what you want to do, as recommended by Harvard Psychologist Shawn Achor.

I want to exercise daily, so I decrease the cost of doing it to become just opening this video link, which takes about half a second to do and one click with my right hand’s indicator finger.

Once the video is on, it becomes pointless to be listening to those songs without actually exercising, they are not exactly the hallmarks of musical history, only a good way to chuckle while exercising. The video itself compacts my daily exercise into the minimal amount of minutes possible. Any day I can’t do exercise that is really awesome, like Ultimate Frisbee, Tennis, sex, or bike-riding through a sunny muddy park, it guarantees base-level with the activation cost of a single click.

Conversely, my TV set is nearly never connected to the plug, nor is the cable network connected to the TV. If all TV is free and downloadable, commercial free, and tailored for my interests, why would I make it easy for my future self to become a mindless couchpotato? I’d rather watch a million TED talks, animal documentaries, blockbusters and ridiculous comedy movies prior to having to deal with one instance of that awful moment when the TV’s volume suddenly doubles so you pay attention to commercials.

Basically the idea is to put your reward in the far future, if it is for something you don’t want to do, and to make getting it easy and accessible after what you want to do. After every pomodoro (25 minutes) of focused, non procrastinated work, why don’t you let yourself drink your favorite warm tea, or indulge in whichever food you are thinking about right now?
You may not need to travel 10 thousand kilometres to super-radically change your surroundings like I will. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change your surroundings as much as you can to get your challenges actually done. Just go for it!

Previous Challenge Tracking

Finding awesome applications everywhere (Challenge #49 Send Those Applications Out!) has been really challenging. Because I’ve decided on taking the challenge of moving (#48), my main criterion for applications has been location (Bay Area and Oxbridge) and all else was tuned down a bit. The Filipino monks of #49 will have to wait. These 15 days have been a great awesome chaos. My birthday, followed by my girlfriend’s birthday, as I write this I am less than 2 days away from qualifying my Master thesis in philosophy, in less than 10 days I’ll move abroad for two months, maybe more. Can’t blame the world for giving me nothing to do, only maybe for no time to sleep. I have noticed though that there’s no way I’d actually get all the best applications done by the 15th if I did it during this cataclysm. But I am deadly serious about challenges, so I did what anyone who loves A J Jacobs’s experimental lifestyle would do, I got myself a Virtual Assistant to help me. If you didn’t know Virtual Assitants exist, check out his writing about them. Not only there’s someone doing my task for me while I contact the best professors in the world and ask them about PHD grants and schedules, but also she motivates me to compete with her for who finds more and better academic places to apply to. I can also tell her to lie and make deadlines 15 days before they are. Except one or two. The uncertainty makes me have to apply by that time. I’m protected by my ignorance, and will be ahead of time for sure. I could get used to this!

Writing here (Challenge #50 Stop Learning, Start Doing) is just a lot of fun, the clock spins and I worry about nothing on Earth. If doing something, anything, gets you relaxed prior to showing your Masters progression to three of the tough guys, you better take it! This challenge is officially over, though I’m pretty sure the habit will last for quite a while. After all, there’s 47 amazing challenges out there waiting for me. You get to decide 23 of them, do your best when you suggest!

Tracking you

I said I would and here I am. Petra, how did you do with your donation agenda, is that wardrobe a little emptier?
The Auricle, how is your writing going? Are you getting those words a day written?
Paolo, did you get all the way through the writings you said you would? Did you arrange the coffee you were planning with that blog’s author?

Its time for you to create your own challenge again. Make a comment to publicly commit to it. Move to India and meet my Virtual Assistant. Get a six pack. Convince your advisor of coauthoring with you. Talk to a leader in your field of research. Commit here, and let’s do it! 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#49: Send Those Applications Out!

As we speak, there are unbelievably many places you and I could be applying to that could help us do good science and philosophy, let me share a few examples:

Island Caretaker: That’s right, you are allowed to read and write while living in a paradise island. What else? For introverts its perfect, you get to ignore everyone who’d like to meet, and no family problems will ever reach you in the Caribbean.

Cambridge University: Here is a worldly renowned university, having borne celebrities from Newton to Stephen Hawking, in a city where bike-riding is almost mandatory substitution for traffic smoke. You get an assortment of young aspiring world-class students from all over to help you with the problem you are working on, and you live in a Harry Potter looking world. Not that bad. Now here is the best part: If you are entering postgraduate stage, Bill Gates pays for you!

Fo Guang Shan Temple: This is not for minds of all kinds, but if you are stuck at a complicated math or philosophy problem, and need to make your mind sit quietly for a good while to get ideas straight, maybe a three-month passing through a Buddhist temple in the Phillipines will help you get to the level of abstraction you need. And sure enough, the price is a student-friendly zero.

The takeaway message is that it doesn’t matter if you are entering undergrad, leaving it, or in the middle of an academic guaranteed year, there’s a lot of options which are likely to be better for you to apply than what you’d consider in half an hour thinking about it. There are also careers, what people (are they really people? I wonder)  call real jobs…

For the next month then, here is the Challenge I’ll do: I’ll find out the 7 best places for me to be, anywhere, where I can pursue my academic goals, and I’ll apply to them right away! Notice this is regardless of their application deadlines. That means if I don’t actually apply, I’ll have a separate folder with everything necessary to apply, and the folder name will be a CAPS LOCK DEADLINE for when I will have to strenuously spend 10 minutes of a day to send those ready to be sent files. I’m going towards a postgraduate degree, or a special scholarship for postgraduates – I’ll be receiving a masters soon – there’s a chance I may make it into a fellows program of some sort, a quasi-job if you will, and of course, if applying to a place is separate from applying to whoever pays for that place, both need be done, no halfway cheating.  If you’d like to apply somewhere, to find out if there is a possibility outside what you thought possible before, but way more rewarding, join me for this challenge. Let’s get to it! 

Previous Challenge Tracking

 Writing this blog (Challenge #50 Stop Learning, Start Doing) has been more fun than I thought, I’m reading a book on how to write, I’ve taken some meals with a side of YouTube grammar lessons – I’m from Mexico, so English grammar is not my strong suit – but more than anything, I’m writing three times more than I usually do outside the blog. The feeling of Flow is strong enough that I look at the monitor timer at 21:04, and when I look again, it’s 1:15 and my cellphone is singing “It’s too late to apologize” – the only way I found to laugh my way into bed instead of surfing the web forever, or writing indefinitely.

If you are not a psychologist, it may be worth while to know that Flow is one of the three canonical kinds of happiness humans experience, the others being Meaning and Joy. To think of a peak of Joy, imagine when a group of young fertile clubbers dance and seduce while ecstasy cascades in their brain to the sound of pumping intense music and beaming colorful lights. Meaning is mostly a calm feeling, it is a feeling that there is something greater than yourself moving your actions, it is the feeling that what you are doing matters in an ultimate sense. Meaning is common among academics. A theorem’s proof may last forever, a cure for a disease may help millions, and sometimes, your own understanding of a theory is emotionally worth an exclamation of amazement, those things are different ways of experiencing the Meaningful Life. Flow, as Czikszentmihalyi shows in his TED talk, is an experience of ego dissolution, you become one with the thing you are doing, or what you are being a part of, the world, and you, disappear together, flow is the feeling sought by a contemporary dancer on stage, it’s what it feels like to write an entire story in one sitting, and sometimes it may be what you passively experience when experience a form of art for the first time, which happened to me as I first saw this:  


I should leave on that note, hoping someone else gets to experience the feeling of Flow I once felt to that video. Yet I must remind you that the beauty of classical guitar’s songs most important property is that they make your challenges, if bureaucratic, much more comfortable. Speaking of your challenges, previous self-challengers Petra and The Auricle  will benefit from music, since their own self challenges are absolutely music friendly, writing 500 words a day, and donating selected pieces of one’s wardrobe, both get much better involved in music! By the same token, I hope I can do all those applications I need to over the next month, and my hope is refreshed when I consider it will be in such good company as the best guitar players in the world. I hope your next challenge, to yourself or to me, which we’ll start on August 1st can also benefit of the feeling of Flow, whatever it takes to make you feel it! 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#50: Stop Learning, Start Doing

This is the first post, so let’s cut to the chase: In this blog we’ll be going through a series of  50 challenges. Whatever you want to do, let’s do this together. You like A. J. Jacobs and Tim Ferriss? That’s a good start. You want to deal with your big picture question too? On top of that you like Science and Philosophy? You’ve come to the right place, but don’t take a seat yet, this is not a place to rest your gaze and get your warm fuzzy feeling inside by making a comment. This is a place to do.

All you’ll need prior to reading this blog is linked below:

You want to be one of the few Self-Actualizers out there? This won’t be any easy, and though we’ll make the journey together, no one besides you can do it for you.

But before we start, there are Six things you need to know, and they’re gonna hurt like few things you read before, I’ve read them yesterday, and they struck all my emotional chords, and prompted me into action.

Six Harsh Things That Will Make You a Better Person

Nothing in this first post is linked by chance. You don’t read it, you won’t close, you’ll lose, its as simple as that.

Read it? Well, that is better. You have just learned a lesson. Allow me to twist some knobs:

#6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Still Get from You

#5. The Hippies Were Wrong

#4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People

#3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything That You Think Should Be Done

#2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do

#1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Challenging Yourself

If you are in love with science, or philosophy…

…then you’ll be very good at learning and grasping knowledge, not necessarily at doing much with it. So here is the first challenge that I’m putting to myself, and ask you to join

  • First Challenge: Do Something, Do Anything!

It’s that simple. Commit for a month, how bad could it be?

Here is what I’ll do: I’ll write this blog, with a new challenge every 1st and every 15th of the month. Every 15 days I’ll mention how am I doing at the just finished attempt, after a month, and how the first 15 days of the other one felt so far. So every 15th day of the month I’ll come up with a new challenge to me, and check how you are doing on yours. Yet I don’t want you to just say what your challenge for you is in the comment section. So every 1st day of the month, I’ll start pursuing a challenge suggested by my readers here. That’s right, you get to decide what will do for a month! Half my challenges are in your hands.

If you got up to here you have a few options now:

1) Quietly step outside like no one’s looking, pretend you have not one thing you’d like to do that you’ve postponed since forever

2) Soundly walk away, but not without inventing some really absurd challenge for me and leaving it in the comment section. Specially now, during this venture’s beginning, there’s a good chance I’ll do it. Get a kick out of me.

3) Decide your first challenge, put it in the comment section. You’ll just have to stick to it until the 1st of next month. Then show up here and comment how you did.

Here are some suggestions, but don’t get attached, you know yourself better than I do:

Start writing a paper on a subject you care about, write half hour a day minimum. 

Spend 7 minutes a day doing the scientific workout, stupid music style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LezARmLDu6U

Try to understand how something you always took for granted works, ¿do you really know what goes on in telephone? ¿Do you really know a reason not to use the upside down question mark?

Talk to a stranger a day about things you really care about. Forget ice-breakers, celebrity gossip, and weather, tell them what you expect from life, show them how the macaque brain works, explain runaway selection. I assure you, it will be more fun than you think. 

As I said, don’t get that attached, your invention is the one challenge that most matters. Get to it!