The coefficient of friction is a number that describes the friction between two objects. A combination like rubber on concrete would have a really high coefficient of friction, whereas a greased baby on a slip-n-slide would have a really low coefficient of friction.
There's more to it, though-- every pair of objects has two coefficients of friction, one for static friction, whch applies when the objects are at rest, and one for kinetic friction which applies when objects are in motion. The kinetic coefficient is always lower, which is why something can be stuck on an incline, but as soon as you give it a tiny push, it slides easily. We have mental coefficients of friction, too, and they react the same way.
Preparing for my trip to China last fall, I knew that my laptop battery wouldn't last for the entire length of the flight. Rather than being a champion and just read, I decded to download the first season of Breaking Bad to watch on my phone. Being the paragon of discipline that I am, I figured I'd watch the first half of the season on the flight over (after exhausting my computer battery with work, of course), and then watch the second half on the way back.
So I got on my flight to China and worked until my battery was dead. That was easy, because working on my laptop is what I do. I read for an hour or so on my Kindle and then decided to check out Breaking Bad. As everyone said-- it was great. I watched it for the rest of the flight.
For years people had been telling me to watch Breaking Bad. It was such a good show, they said, and I would definitely love it. I have more important things to do than be entertained, though, so I easily resisted. But once the can of worms was open, once I was already in motion, it became much harder to resist. I had to know what happened next! So I worked and worked in Shanghai, but I'd take breaks and watch half an episode here or there. I'd watch a full episode as I ate breakfast. I binged on episodes on the flight home, and then watched the last three or four over the next week back in San Francisco.
That's about thirty six hours of time I could be doing something useful. I knew that it was taking up useful time, but I watched anyway. A show that I avoided watching without a second thought for years and years suddenly became a priority just because I watched a few episodes
It would be neat and clean for me to tell you, and myself, that I'm capable of perfect dscipline, but it's not true. I'm really good at avoiding that first temptation, but if I do give in to it, I know that my capacity for self discipline is sabotaged.
It's important to know this, because it actually strengthens your first temptation discipline. Watching a single episode of a good show isn't just an hour down the tubes-- it's potentially EVERY hour of that show down the tubes. That scares me. So when people want me to watch some show they like, I almost never do.
The same goes for video games, which I also really enjoy. I saw a video of the new Sim City game and it looked like tons of fun. I really wanted to play it, but I knew that if I did play it, I might have to deal with daily temptation to play it for who-knows-how-long. That makes it easier to avoid it from the start.
Even alcohol falls into this category. Would I like alcohol? Of course I would, and that's exactly why I'll never try it. Maybe I wouldn't become an alcoholic, but I'd hate to deal with the temptation of drinking every day.
Each of us has a limited amount of willpower and discipline. Once you start sliding down that slope, it's a lot harder to stop than it would have been to never nudge yourself down in the first place. The reason I'm able to devote so much of my time towards things that matter is because I cut temptation off before it can really bloom, right at the first temptation.
Photo is a cool art thing in Boston.
I know I keep saying that I'm not doing any more RV posts... but then I keep doing more nuts things to the RV. New one coming in the next 1-2 months.
I can see where you're coming from, Tynan!
I'm constantly telling myself (and my wife): "Nope! Homeland/Boss/etc looks GREAT! But I just don't have bandwidth in my life for ANOTHER new show now!"
I already have too many that I try to keep up with. I figure I'll just download the complete series eventually and binge on them when I'm retired or wealthy enough that vegging out for a whole weekend is A-Ok.
I would add, though, that you shouldn't necessarily look at EVERY minute of the Breaking Bads you watch as "wasted" time or "down the tubes". Your brain needs time to turn off, be passive and get a break from intense focus every now and again. And, with a show like Breaking Bad (I know I'm sounding like Peter Griffin now) you may even find yourself somehow otherwise inspired by the plot twists, script writing and character development. I can already imagine you writing blog posts comparing you marathon coding sessions to a LONG, overnight batch cook that Walt and Jessie do when product needs to get out! This could likely be true for SOME other TV content.
I think this principle applies to relationships as well.
In our society, we put a massive emphasis on romantic love and sexual attractions, and tend to think that if we "like" someone then we should totally try to move things further.
In my opinion, that's a mistake, since this way people often get into relationships that can't possibly work out well. I think it's much smarter to ignore that "I like him/her" feeling if that person is clearly a trouble. E.g. It's probably easier to not start to date someone who is an alcoholic than to get out of an existing relationship with an alcoholic. I think we could all avoid a lot of trouble and heartache by bringing a bit of rationality into our love lives.
I've fought this issue for a while and maybe I'm just weak but I haven't found a way to 'fall out of love' with someone once I'm in. Love/attraction is such a biologically connected beast it's like trying to stop your heart consciously and make your blood flow in the opposite direction for fun. There are just no mental hooks for making yourself not like someone after you like them. The only way I've come close to successful in that regard is finding out something about them which totally won't jive with me or the reflective biological bypass - their looks no longer arouse me (though this only works in shallow relationships - once you really get to know someone and like them for who they are then you're really screwed as you form some sort of strong attachment!)
Like many things as you suggest you need to stop it at the root and prevent the relationship from forming in the first place. There was a guy named anti-dump who posted some long winded essay on a pickup forum once which advocated one key point: only try with women who are interested in you. I think this is valid as without that initial interest things just go downhill from there. If two people aren't willing to make the same commitment into growing a relationship then maybe they shouldn't bother as one will eventually use the other. Discretion is the better part of valor.
I think it's not so much about trying to repress feelings or sexual attraction towards someone as it is about consciously choosing not to act on them.
There are only a couple of tricks I know of to fall out of love: 1)Don't let yourself think about them. If they come up in your head, replace that thought with something else. Try little stuff first, like trying to remember if all your bills have been addressed. If that doesn't work, move on to thinking about some other love - past,present or future. 2)If 1 isn't working, make a conscious effort to list all their faults and failings. If you've gotten to where you're really stuck on them, you're probably aware of many of their shortcomings by then.
Good things to try though thinking back to my experience with that years ago it's much easier said than done. Being obsessed with someone creates a sort of 'velvet curtain' (allusion to iron curtain) that warps the very basis you use to judge things. It was only after I long fell out of love that I finally realized they had shortcomings. When you're in love you just don't see these things as accurately as an outsider would. Shortcomings become quirks. Negativity becomes "things they are working on and moving up on" etc... It's like the brain markets this person to yourself in a manner in which you will wholeheartedly accept it without being able to make rational judgment.
I tried to distract myself with work and distractions but at that point in time way back everything revolved around women thus distractions didn't work a(s the fundamental basis of my thought process was sexually based - not logical). I resurrected a Yelp account a year ago and I cringed at the profile quote written back in the early 2000's - "I did it for the ladies!" So thorough was the velvet curtain brainwashing that all roads just led to the same place. I guess it's one of those things like a car crash where at a certain point it just becomes inevitable and there is nothing else you can do - you just cringe and take the hit.
I think this may underscore the importance of having an outsider observer ego (aka wingman/wingwoman) at all times who can call this out. I remember my friends telling me stuff like, "what's so great about her?" while I'd make a list of things which subsequently didn't impress them much if at all. Not sure if even that is a guarantee though as the more stubborn among us see the warning signs and sprint on regardless :D.
Infatuation makes fools of us all. The word itself is derived from the word for foolish, think fatuous. I've felt for many years this is a trick nature plays on us to get us together so that the species doesn't die out. But the process of getting over people when we must can be helped along by exercising a few tried and true methods.
I always admire the decision not to drink, for whatever reason. As for TV shows, they can be very informative, which has become trite, we've all heard it so often. But it's not just the news shows and documentaries that can inform us, but also the dramas. They can help to point out things about the human experience we might not have been noticing. And the comedies are just what the doctor ordered sometimes. They can lift spirits and cut aggressive tendencies, among other things.
Even after 9 years of insane discipline when it comes to diet, I still am tempted if a bag of potato chips are sitting on the counter (thanks dad). However, if I'm at a store, I'll never even consider buying something unhealthy since it would require me to spend my money for it.
First class international airplane and lounge food, now that's my weakness. It's free. :(
Why not focus on developing even greater self-discipline so that you can enjoy a wider range of activities. It seems that you're expressing all- or- nothing thinking. Although we each have a "limited amount of willpower and discipline", we develop greater capacities by challenging ourselves to engage in activities in moderation. If we don't engage to any extent, we are making decisions that are fear-based. Also, "things that matter" can include activities that have value for giving us a sense of pleasure and satisfaction vs. being solely accomplishment based. Just because we feel "temptation" does not mean we have to act upon it. When we feel tempted to do something and resist because it is not a healthy/ meaningful/moral choice for us, we can trust ourselves to be open to more experiences.
We have limited willpower and cognitive abilities.
It's not smart to waste them on trivial matters such as "Should I watch another episode of Breaking Bad?" or "What should I eat for breakfast today?".
Contrary to popular opinion, resisting a lot of small temptations and making a lot of small decisions doesn't result in an increased willpower and cognitive abilities, it results in the exact opposite of it: ego depletion, at least in the short term.
I think his point is that in this case, that's not really the best option. He's a driven guy with goals, and he knows his own limits. He does not seem to want to sorta kinda get into a game or a show. I believe he's also stated that he enjoys his work, gets pleasure out of it, so he doesn't have as much impetus as the average person to veg out for four hours on Netflix.
I'm willing to buy that because I experience the same thing. Some kinds of games I just cannot get into. My brother gave me the latest expansion to an online game I used to play over Christmas...I sat there for almost two months, playing it in my spare time, before I could break the habit. I could have been doing one of several more useful hobbies.
So I needed this post too. It is bit hard for me to avoid some of unproductive activities, even those that I never enjoy, because I am married and sometimes I have to give in to make my wife happy. But going to setup some kind of system, like maximum one show per week or something like that.
We can also apply these ideas of static and kinetic mental friction the other way. Once we get into the habit of working hard / exercising / eating healthy / etc. every day, it will be easier to continue the habit (kinetic friction) than it is to start up (static friction).
Tynan, et al: would you like to know how to cut your TV watching time instantly by 25%, while watching the same number of shows? If you watch a 4-season series of 10 hour-long episodes, you will save 10 hours for something more useful.
Easy. Download the media and video player VLC. It is safe, and free. It is also IMO the best media player available anywhere on the net. It plays all media types, including AVIs that Quicktime and other players won't decode, and DVDs, and it also plays high-quality flac music recordings. I don't have Netflix and I don't know if it works with streaming video. Probably not. (Maybe you can do what I am about to recommend with Netflix - I don't know.) But if you have a DVD or a downloaded video, get ready for some fun with VLC.
One of its most valuable features is the playback speed control. On a Mac, it's Cmd + or Cmd - to increase or decrease playback speed. You go up or down .1, or 10%, of normal speed, each time you click.
There is not a movie or TV show that cannot be played and understood (better, IMO) at 1.3x normal speed. (And there is the 25% time-saving. A 1-hour show runs for 45 minutes at this speed).
I enjoy it better at this speed. I think and process fast. After you have tried this a few times, anything at normal speed seems slow, boring and pedestrian. Changing the speed doesn't alter the pitch of the sound track. It just makes everything go faster. If you have some instructional video by a boring instructor that talks really slow (a lot of British guys do this) you can play it at 1.5x. This will run a 60 minute show in just 40 minutes, and you will stay awake and enjoy it more.
Try it. You'll like it.
BTW, I haven't owned a TV for about 7 years, and if I find one in a bar or airport, I put earplugs in. TV is a communication channel for a bunch of mental thugs that want control of your thought processes and values. Entertainment, shows, news, are just delivery vehicles for the mind-control content that is invariably buried in the surface "entertainment" content. Seriously.
A day after reading Tynan's post, a cute 16yo Philipino server at a Chinese restaurant mentioned the same show to me, so I watched the first episode. Partly because I love sychronicities, and two mentions, 24 hours apart, of a show I had never heard of is a good one. Partly because I was curious what the mind-control content of a show that is glamorizing crystal meth would turn out to be.
I only watched the first episode so far. I find: recommendations to wussy men to be a real man, including beating other men that ridicule your children, and killing other men that threaten you. The reward for this behavior is that even at 50 with a normally limp 50-year-old dick, you get to fuck and surprise your cute 30-something wife who clearly hasn't had any in a while. Hmmm. Who could this message be targeting, and why? I think I will watch a few more episodes.
Oh and by the way if you have a really good porno, try slowing down the best parts to 0.5x. You'll like that, too!
Look up "abstainer vs. moderator". Some "abstainers" (such as myself) find it easier to avoid things altogether than to moderate their use of them, while other "moderators" have more success at partaking reasonably. This is one of the reasons I don't watch TV any more, and also why I don't keep ice cream in the house.
I dont think making this decision is nessecarily wrong, its just when they are made without a whole prespective it can be deceptive. When i chose to watch a new tv show, I assume that I will watch the whole series; I might not watch the whole series back to back ( I spent 8~ hours watching breaking bad in 1 week and havent continued watching for a bit because ive been busy) . I dont feel its really about discpline or about not making the decision at all. Of course some of us have more addictive personalities than others, But I always enter a new show with the assumption I will watch the whole thing , and frankly if I really like the show and feel its not just some shitty, empty crap (compare The Wire, Breaking Bad or House of Cards to something like CSI, Family guy or 24 and you'll see what I mean) I usually try to burn through it or watch the seasons in spurts).
Also I'm surprised to see this post coming from you. After reading your "love Work post" I've loved working so much that its not even about discipline anymore. Hustling and making shit happen has been something I've really worked to and I don't really consider these "distractions" that distracting. Even though obviously it would be more productive to be working all my waking hours, I realize that taking sometime to take in other people's high quality creative work is very important, which is why I'll selectively binge on high quality shows and movies some days and feel very good about my decision. Of course who I'm I to decide what high-quality is, but that is up for another discussion.
I guess the best thing I've done to take control of this is to grasp what the decision has in stored. A lot of people make, and some even suggest, making decisions thinking in the short term and then extrapolating. In my opinion making decisions with the assumption that a full comittment is what is most likely to happen is better, because for most things in life, unless you go all the way you aren't going to reap the fruits of your labor. So I don't start watching a new show, or playing a new video game, or learning a new language unless I know I will be able to committ to it.
I mentioned last week that I had a deadline which I was working towards. I'm going to explain a bit more about this because a) it's consuming my life these days and b) I have the feeling this is going to be the beginning of something big. If it is something big, I think it might be interesting to hear it from the beginning.
What is Y Combinator?
Y Combinator is a "startup accelerator". Since that doesn't mean much, I'll explain how it works. You and your cofounder apply to Y Combinator. If they like you and your startup idea, they give you around $20k in exchange for a small piece of your company.
About three weeks ago, I recognized a common phenomenon that's hard to describe.
A lot of times, you know something, but you're not doing it. Or you're not living it regularly.
When you come across information you've already read or seen, the temptation is to say, "I already know this." Okay, you know it - but are you living what you know? If not, you might want to keep studying and practicing on that topic, even if you feel like you "know" it.
When I start reading a book on managing money, or managing time, or setting goals, sometimes I have a reaction. I say, "I already know this." But then I stop myself. Stop. And I ask, "Am I living it?" Okay, I need some goals and I need to look at them regularly. Am I doing it? If not, I'll re-read the section, or watch another video on it.
I'll be honest - it's somewhat boring going through information you've already come across. But it's necessary if you're not doing/living it.