Coming soon

Daily, snackable writings and podcasts to spur changes in thinking.

Building a blueprint for a better brain by tinkering with the code.

The first illustrated book from Tinkered Thinking is now available!

donating = loving

~ Book Launch ~

Visit the Bookstore to purchase a copy of

The Lucilius Parables, Volume I

TINKERED THINKING ON HIATUS

July 15th, 2021
Tinkered Thinking will reboot in a few weeks.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 1155: Tinkered Thinking on Hiatus

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




HAPPINESS & COMFORT

June 12th, 2021

 

 

What is the difference between happiness and comfort?  The two are clearly related, but the difference is as important as it is overlooked in current times.  The common logic is to maximize comfort.  We have the idea that maximizing comfort should lead to happiness.  If you are completely comfortable, what do you have to complain about?  And if there’s nothing to complain about, shouldn’t that mean you are happy?

 

 

Unfortunately not.  The strange thing about happiness is how much discomfort is actually involves.  Perhaps consumerist culture has something to do with this.  Much of our economics is driven by the possibility of giving something easier and more relaxing to the consumer.  Make someone’s life easier and you can make a million.  This is the underlying tenant of all things luxury, and luxury is what everyone pines for, not just because it looks fun and relaxing, but it’s only available to those we deem ‘successful’.  It’s not just a matter of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.  With the combination of luxury and it’s availability to only the wealthy, The situation on the other side of the fence isn’t just greener grass.  There’s a beach over there, and fancy cars, and pretty people and spectacular trips.  Who needs greener grass when there’s so many better things on offer?

 

There’s a counter-intuitive asymmetry with the pairing of luxury and success.  Granted some wealthy people are just lucky, they are born into it, but such a fact just isn’t a possibility nor a concern for someone who isn’t lucky in such ways.  The only other alternative is to work very hard and perhaps be smart about exactly what to work hard on and how to work hard.  Certainly there is still a great deal of luck involved in the possibility of significantly levelling up one’s situation into a position of wealth.  But that luck just about always requires a good deal of hard work.  Leisure and hard work are obvious antonyms.  Strangely, we can probably say the same thing about comfort and happiness.

 

Comfort doesn’t lead to happiness because happiness requires some of the opposite.  The missing key to understanding and generating happiness is that it’s more about viable agency than it is comfort.    Happiness requires effort that actually has an effect.  Effort without the pay off you’re hoping for feels like failure.  And learning is where these two things intersect.  It’s when you put in effort which doesn’t have the effect you were hoping for, but you get feedback on what effect you actually did have which allows you to change your tactic.  Learning is failure plus feedback giving rise to novel effort. 

 

Maximizing comfort leads to atrophy.  We lose our muscles if we don’t lose them, and if our whole being is too comfort, we’ll lose our skills, and skills are the core of our agency - our ability to have an effect on the world.  Is it any surprise that comfort doesn’t lead to happiness?  Maximizing happiness is, oddly, a lot of work.  But work that is absolutely worth doing.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 1154: Happiness & Comfort

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




FLAVORS OF STRESS

June 11th, 2021

It’s dangerous to skimp on sleep.  So dangerous in fact that scientific studies that involve sleep deprivation are against the law.  And because of this we don’t have good data on how much wakefulness a person can stand, but the evidence seems clear that lack of sleep will kill you faster than a lack of food, water, or any other bodily needs aside from oxygen.  Not sleeping, is just, a bad idea.  That being said, every once in a while an all-nighter occurs, and like many bad things, “every once in a while” probably doesn’t do any meaningful damage.

 

The all nighter carries with it a bit of a psychedelic experience.  There seem to be inflection points past which the mind works -or at least feels- quite a bit differently.  Despite nauseating waves of exhaustion, if the task is pressing with enough urgency, a focus pushes through and dominates.  This is pretty strange if placed next to the regular old day when beset with an ordinary amount of work.  Despite being well rested and far better equipped mentally to tackle a task, we can while away the time.  Perhaps there is an added desperation caused by those waves of exhaustion that add to the larger need to get the task done.

 

It begs the question of whether or not we have enough pressure during the average old day.  Now for most, this is going to equate to an ambient and pernicious aura of stress.  What?  More pressure?  Are you kidding?  As with so many thing it’s not a matter of absolute quantity, but an issue of quality.  For example it’s certainly very difficult to deadlift a lot of weight and it’s also very difficult to deadlift a bunch of weight with terrible form.  It’s quite arguable to say that it’s harder to deadlift a bunch of weight with bad form because in that case you may actually be doing damage to the body, which brings it into an entirely different category of stress.  The point is: perhaps we don’t funnel, filter and transform our daily amount of stress into the best forms?

The casual and probably quintessential form of this is spending hours dreading a certain bit of work, procrastinating the whole time, and then finding that it turns out the work is quite simple, easy, and quick and then pondering curiously about all that unnecessary stress that preceded it.  Would life for this situation not be better if there’d been just a little bit more pressure to get it done faster?  Is is possible that this would mean less total stress in the long run?  Quite possibly.

 

The strange thing about stressful periods that involve all nighters is that we often look back on them fondly.  See, a little secret about happiness is that it’s not all fun and games.  We confuse happiness and comfort, and happiness actually requires a good deal of discomfort in order to activate in the soul.   Comfort hard won turns into happiness, but comfort without struggle often just makes space for anxiety.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 1153: Flavors of Stress

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




BUILDING IN PUBLIC

June 10th, 2021

For the most part, social media gets a pretty bad rap.  And for good reason: it’s calibrated to our lowest impulses, and our most easily triggered desires.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful.  A social media account, is after all, free exposure to what could be millions of people who appreciate what we do, and if we can harness that attention, those millions could become adoring customers.  Such notions are bound up in our notion of brands and the atrociously termed ‘influencers’.  But the power and opportunity of social media extends far beyond such categories.  An artist who shares their work can find a small cadre of patrons who gobble up their work and fund their life.

 

This idea of building something in public, be it a business, an app, a cannon of paintings or writings is powerful for two very important reasons.

 

Take for instance the circumstance of someone building a product that isn’t yet launched or scaled, and who doesn’t have much money.  Social media offers the possibility of a free awareness campaign, but it goes far beyond this.  Posting a track record of progress allows potential customers to comment on the product before they even have it.  This is an invaluable source of information.  Most products -especially before the internet - were a total gamble.  You designed it, made a bunch, stocked the stores and hoped people would buy it.  But with the internet, and especially with social media, we can now design our project in public, and integrate feedback into the process, making the chances that our project is well received when it finally is launched, much higher.

 

This is the secret sauce of a platform like kickstarter.  The average notion is to just put a project up on kickstarter and hope for the best.  What’s far more likely to succeed is to document the entire process of prototyping the project on a social media account to build awareness and gain feedback.  But then, once a move like putting the project on something like kickstarter is done, there’s already an audience to tap for potential support.  This makes the likelihood that a goal is reached much much higher.

 

But beyond all this, there’s one additional benefit to building in public that far supersedes anything mentioned.  It’s what happens to motivation when feedback comes in.  Working on a project, like a business or a painting is often a solitary process, and because of this motivation can be a bit of a challenge.  Toiling away in obscurity is very difficult.  But toiling away in public brings a new dimension to the problem of motivation.  There are few things in life that are more motivating than a comment from a stranger who loves what you’re doing and can’t wait to get their hands on it.  All the usual bias of friends and family are gone, and there’s a clarity about the project and what it means to another human.  This, beyond anything helps light that spark of drive to push forward, and get it done.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 1152: Building in Public

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




THE PLANNED TRAP

June 9th, 2021

The puzzle of motivating one’s self on a project that does not have a clear and near incentive is very difficult is a very difficult one to solve.  It’s the reason for the countless self help books that are published at such a constant or even accelerating velocity.  For the audience of such books, the main issue is that rewards for constant efforts devoted to some area of improvement are often very far away.  Losing weight, getting fit, getting rich, quitting the boring job, becoming a master of skill, doing something you love for work.  All of these are, for most people long drawn out processes.  They lack all of the urgency that something like a baseball rocketing towards your face would inspire.  For such clear and near events we are remarkably well suited.  We duck.  

 

The first or next step to any such long drawn-out goals is often simple, straight forward and fairly easy to get done.  But instead of taking such a step, we begin to plan, strategize, write a to-do list, ready the work area, and inevitably squander our energy on different forms of procrastination as though that next first real step can only be taken when everything is perfect, and the plan accounts for every possible contingency that might throw our drive from the trail.

 

 

A broad goal cannot be planned in detail, the steps can only be discovered as they are taken, and any plan is best encapsulated by a definition of the goal itself, not some path we imagine might force it into reality.

 

Each moment brings a new branching set of possible actions that may bring us closer to our goals with differing amounts of progress.  Sometimes, perhaps even usually, our goals are closer than we think but the plan gets in the way because the round-about route is the only clearly visible one.  And once the nose is to the grinding stone, a myopia for quicker paths overtakes our perspective, fuelled by a blind attachment to the plan already decided on.

 

 

The plan quickly becomes a trap, one that works in two ways.  Making the plan is a waste of time that could be better spent actually trying to carry out the first item on that fantasy trail, and it can blind us to other, better options that emerge as the situation changes as a result of the actions we do take.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 1151: The Planned Trap

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.