I think I solved the dilemma from last week.
My recurring dilemma over the last few months has been struggling to reconcile my two lives. One, the life I have through my content creation. Secondly the life I have in University seeing my offline friends, participating in clubs, and taking classes.
After talking with a number of friends, my parents, and reading some of Dan Gilbert's fantastic book, Stumbling on Happiness, I have come to a conclusion.
As of right now, I'm staying in University.
Here are the two main realizations that helped me come to this:
- University is the only socially accepted time I know of where I can explore my identity
- Humans have a present bias when imagining the future
Let's go over each.
University Is A Time To Explore
Firstly, University is the only socially accepted time I know of where I can safely explore my identity without judgment. Right now, if I take a risk it's probably only my parents or my professors that might get angry (not that I don't care what my parents or professors think 🤣).
Still it's not my boss, co-workers, or clients. It's not like I'm working on The Manhattan Project. I also don't have to worry about taxes, health insurance, rent, or raising children.
This combined with the incredible array of classes, incredible student intellectual environment, and unique club activities make my time in University one of the best to explore my identity.
Humans Have A Present Bias When Imagining The Future
Secondly, humans have a present bias when imagining the future.
As adults one of our favorite questions to ask kids is "what do you want to be when you grow up?" We think it's hilarious when we hear their adorable responses.
"I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a space monster. Or I want to be superman!"
It's funny because they don't know know enough about the world to answer the question practicaly. So they answer only with things they understand and right then. We laugh at their responses without realizing that we do the exact same thing. Except when we do it, it's much higher stakes.
Let me explain.
I recently read Dan Gilbert's Stumbling Upon Happiness. In it he explains how we humans are the only animals that can imagine our futures. We can consciously plan.
This is awesome! It's one of the main reasons we have come to the state we are today, for better or for worse. However, as Gilbert elaborates our future imagining has one prominent downside.
When asking the question "what do I want to do in the future?" we tend to replace it with an easier question: "what does my present self want to do in the future?"
And we don't notice the replacement.
We do the exact same thing the kids do when asked what they want to be when they grow up. They answer the question what their present selves want to be when they grow up. Similarly, we ask what our present selves want to do in the future.
The problem is that without intention, what our present selves want is almost certainly not what our future selves want!
You know what my present self wants to do right now? Get up, get another coffee, eat a Big Mac, and then finish it off with a nice glob of peanut butter. But my future self most certainly doesn't want me to do this!
Let's return back to my dilemma and how this helps with it. One of the questions I had to ask myself when contemplating leaving University was if I would like to do full time content creation. The problem with asking that question is my brain wants to replace it with the much easier question, "how do I feel about doing content creation right now?"
Answering that question is easy. I absolutely love it! But that doesn't whatsoever mean I will enjoy full time content creation.
Once I realized this I understood why staying in University is the right choice for now. I know my two lives intermingling right now, is something that I love. I enjoy them both for different reasons. While I adore content creation slightly more it doesn't mean I will like more of it. So I'm going to stay in University and explore my identity.
This tendency isn't isolated to me. We all project our present selves into the future when imagining what we would like to do. What future questions are you struggling with answering? How might you be projecting your present self to answer those questions? Reply to this email and tell me. I would love to talk about it!
Here's what I would like to share this week.
📸News From The Channel!
Why Games Are So Engaging And Addicting: The Flow State Part 1: As a kid, I was addicted to video games. In this video, explore why games are so engaging and addicting. I argue it's because they effectively get players in the flow state through the seven flow elements I summarize in the acronym ACTIONS.
Nick Milo: Bringing Joy Back To Student Notetaking With Link Based Thought: Nick Milo is a YouTuber, blogger, and creator of the Linking Your Thinking Workshop, where he guides people of all different backgrounds to learn how to bring curiosity and joy back into notetaking. We talk about why Nick transitioned from Evernote to Obsidian, the power of link-based thought and map-making, how students can become more engaged with their learning, and how we can use the concepts of flow and gamification to make real life more enjoyable.
How To Gamify Your Life To Enter Flow More Consistently Part 2: In the first part of this two-part series on gamification and flow, we discussed how games foster the seven elements of flow in the acronym ACTIONS. In this part, we are going to discuss how we can gamify our real lives to enter flow more consistently.
💡My Best Insights:
📖Book - Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert: Contrary to the title, this book isn't about how to find happiness. Gilbert explores the unique human ability to imagine the future. He explains it's simultaneously the reason we have attained the power we have today but also why many are not able to attain that all alluding mystical feeling of happiness.
✍️Blog Post - Cope as an Essential Life Skill: School is a training ground of mimetic contagion. It's a comparison war where the more similar students are the direr the competition becomes. This is because we tend to socially compare ourselves to those in our immediate environment even when objective metrics are available. This is why having students with varying strengths, some in sports, some in academics, some in party settings is so important. If a student is bad at one of those things, they can usually pride themselves in being good at another. However, in many modern day American schools, students are "protected" from negative feelings at all costs. Awards like "most improved" are abundant. Trigger warnings are given before lectures with mentions of blood. It's terrible. Conflict and comparison are our natural states, and deprived of larger forms of hierarchy, we will dial down to the most minuscule differences and use those to other our neighbors
🎙️Podcast - 157 Carolyn Coughlin: Become a Better Listener:Things like never or always can lock you into acting a certain way just because you always have. Truly great thinkers don't build their identity off their beliefs. They build it off their ability to change their mind.