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The Tinkered Mind
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January 12th, 2021
Large projects can slow and stall. The enormity of the task paired with the agonizingly distant incentive of life where the project has been realized can make the going slow, and slower. The marathon can turn into a race that seems to take longer and longer as each step gets shorter and takes more time.
Just as it’s wise to work up to large projects by chunking the necessary learning with smaller more bite-sized projects, it can be just as useful and invigorating to pause that huge project in order to sprint on something smaller and easier.
A drastic switch of gears can be a reminder that those smaller ones for accelerating still exist. This applies on multiple levels. An hour and a half of focused work often gets far more done than a full day of distracted swings at the goal.
Even evolution works in a similar way. We tend to think of evolution as this gradual process that occurs over the course of tens of thousands of years, but in fact the evolution of organism occurs in fits and spurts, with long periods of stagnant morphology. Usually it’s a sudden change in the environment that necessitates this jump in evolution. Suddenly the temperature rises, or falls, and most of the population dies off, unable to cope with the new situation. But a few outliers who have just the right cocktail of genes and mutations survive and eventually thrive, giving rise to a new direction in the species.
Self-motivation boils down to a curation of incentivizing emotions. But it can be incredibly difficult to constantly bombard that internal mental environment in ways that charge anew those always deflating feelings of determination and ambition. But just as with the organism evolving in response to situation, we can consciously place ourselves in a new situation to stimulate an evolution in the emotions that incentivize and motivate us. Whether this be as simple as taking on a short but high-intensity project, or even just going for an hard workout, there are many ways to engineer the conditions for the mind that we need in order to move forward. What’s important to realize is that the mind isn’t always capable of engineering it’s own conditions alone, but it is always possible to figure out ways to provoke the environment in ways that poke back.