One simple rule for living an awesome life (Witnessing)

I tried an experiment a year ago and just realised it might help someone. Basically my whole life has been a frantic search for the meaning of life, and right now I am at the first time at a point where I think “Hey… this seems to be working… I think I may be figuring out how this thing works… Either that or I am going nuts”. Well I’ve read somewhere that thinking you understand how the world works is a sign of schizophrenia, so that is obviously the more likely situation, but just in case I’m not going crazy here is the jist of it: “Make the world a better place”

I’ve always been very focused on rationality and self improvement. Three years ago I got access to a wealth of knowledge and resources I had never before been close to (basically I got a very important and highly paid job), so obviously I reacted like a kid in a candy store (or a bibliophile in a library I guess). I basically spent 2 years trying to learn, understand and improve things at maximum pace. The most rational strategy in this scenario according to me at the time.

A year ago I quit cold turkey. I didn’t want to go to work anymore, because it wasn’t fun. The learning and improving things part was still fun, but I was both physically and mentally exhausted. The enviroment I had to work in was also often hostile and abusive, which was affecting my own well being too much. I decided that since I didn’t want to keep doing it, the rational thing was to quit at the most convenient moment. So I did.

This of course came as a surprise to everyone except my wife, who had offered to support us both while I work on my next project (I started a company).

After that I have now spent a year doing exactly what I want at pretty much every waking moment and I have never been happier. Of course it isn’t as quite as easy as it sounds (there are tricks to it), and maybe it only works for me, but it seems quite realistic for a lot of people to do the same. Basically my situation is now such that I only spend time doing things that makes the world better. My material living standard is now between basic and good rather than good and posh, but my well being is between great and euphoric.

Special shoutout goes to pragmatism, humanism, transhumanism, enviromentalism, the civil rights movement etc. TED, SDMB, wikipedia, all you brilliant thinkers. Way to think guys! Thank you for giving me the “religious experience” without all the religious stuff! I’m off to make the world a better place now, but I will be checking in regularily.
Note to moderators: I figured this would fall under “witnessing”, feel free to moderate as you find appropriate.

Cool story, Hansel.

So, what’s the rule? I read your OP twice, and I can’t figure out exactly what it is.

Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

My apologies, I should probably have bolded it. It’s the “Make the world a better place” at the end of the first paragraph.

Are you using creative techniques for accomplishing this?

Congratulations…you’re following in ancient footsteps…

Tikkun olam

Cool! Thanks for the info, that was completely new to me and a lot of fun to learn. I’ve always wished I was a jew (I even claim to be jewish looking and have a jewish sounding name), and I’m pretty much a pro-jew-racist (I secretly believe the jewish culture to be superior because they produce so many great people per capita). If there was a jewish community here I’d try to join it, unfortunately we have a desperate deficit in jews where I live.

In fact, one of my more long term goals is to make this living enviroment more attractive to jews, gays and young female academics. I’m actually working on several ideas to achieve that right now, both privately and politically. So any jews, gays or educated women that might consider moving to another country, let me know what would make you pick my place :wink:
When I re-read this text it looks as if it was written by a mad scientist who lacks formal education. :dubious:

That covers the “What you shouldn’t do” part nicely as a complement to my guideline on what you should do.

Yes, that’s the most important aspect IMO. It’s basically the infrastructure of the entity “you” in a knowledge/information based economy. The more you improve your cognitive toolkit, the more you improve your overall effectiveness, especially in the long run. Pertinent knowledge has a worth. Your influence in the system increases the more you have of it (ie: know) and the more effectively you can apply it (ie: your cognitive ability). If you happen to think the two most enjoyable things to do in life is to figure things out and to make things better (I’m an INTP personality according the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, aka an “architect” archetype in Jungian terms), this situation is perfectly suited to you. I have just tried to find the perfect spot for myself in the society organisation, where I can do the most good. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more of a proccess than a place. You know, like evolution, there isn’t really a “place” but more of a “function”. And the stability you want can only be found in the movement. It’s like riding a bicycle. If you try to stand still, you will fall down. And the faster and bumpier you ride the more fun it is. The trick is to figure out where you want to get to and then figure out the most fun way to get there. Then you just enjoy the ride in whatever tempo you like.

I can really relate to where you are at right now. At 65 years old I still experience the euphoric highs several times a day and have for many many years. I have been working on a project the past few years that strongly relates to what you are talking about but I have been unable to articulate it in a reasonable amount of space. I am convinced that finding creative solutions to problems and then having them well recieved sets up a cycle in us that builds momentum and greatly enhances our ability to learn more which continues to drive the cycle.

This forum needs a “like” button. I assume you don’t mind that I borrow your phrasing?

Racism is stupid and is not making the world a better place. Even if your pro-minority. We are all human.

For some reason this makes me think of Tom Lehrer’s touching song, “The Old Dope Peddler.” “Doing well by doing good.”

Was your job making the world a worse place? You can get just as burned out doing good stuff as you can doing bad stuff.

You aren’t alone, Stoneburg, as that is almost exactly what I do. It killed the depression that I had as a young man, too.

The Code of Doc Savage

Let me strive, every moment of my life, to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right, and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.

I’m sorry…this is all a bit abstract for me.

So what exactly do you “do” all day? What is it you or your company actually does to “make the world better”?

Kudos to the OP and John DiFool if you guys found your calling in life.

I was recently reading an article of the top 5 regrets of the dying, and the number one regret was.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

So if you guys have figured out how to do that, that is really impressive. I’m not at the point where I have the financial resources, intellectual capital or courage to do the same. I hope to be someday, but I have no idea if or when I will get there.

As far as making the world a better place though, someone has to do the mundane jobs. Society as we know it is based on a bunch of mundane shit that people have no passion for. People aren’t passionate about washing cars, or drilling for oil, or working in a factory or publishing textbooks. You can make the best of those situations if you have good coworkers, a lot of independence and are treated with respect but those aren’t ‘callings’ as careers. It was my understanding that a lot of job satisfaction came from those things anyway, not whether your job was making a difference in people’s lives. If you have autonomy, freedom, respect and good community those can make even a mundane job (which most jobs are) enjoyable.

Not only that, but one person’s idea of a better world could be someone else’s idea of a worse world. Zealots cause a lot of problems, trying to reshape the world to fit an ideology that is all but guaranteed to be too narrow to encompass the whole of human existence without harming and excluding tons of them.

Plus the stuff that does make a difference can be mundane too. The guy in Africa who sets up a business selling and charging cell phones doesn’t have a job that gives him deep satisfaction (likely not) but he is making his community better. So does the guy who paves the roads or the engineer who works on a higher mpg car. What gives us a personal sense of fulfillment and meaning and what the world needs aren’t always the same thing. Our emotions are designed to give us fulfillment in an environment we don’t live in (witness our lust for sex at an early age despite the fact that an early pregnancy really screws up your life and makes it hard to plan an education and career, or the desire for high calorie food and a sedentary lifestyle despite it making us sick).

As for me, I have this secret hope that neuroscience will be the big thing that gives life meaning and power. All of our emotions, cognitions, beliefs, come from the mind. But I’m not nearly smart or hard working enough to do anything with neuroscience. I’ll let the people whose IQs and work ethics are 3 standard deviations above mine do that. But evenso, it’ll probably be the end of this century before those kinds of discoveries actually filter down to the commoners like myself.

If I were a billionaire I’d do what Paul Allen and Bill Gates do. I’d support neuroscience research like Allen and I’d fight global poverty like Gates.

Also, early signs of schizophrenia tend to be things like losing interest in hygiene, social withdrawal, etc. and they don’t last a year.

Wesley, I think you sell yourself short!

#1 is definitely one of my mottos, yes. If you are creative, you can probably make hay (meaning) out of almost anything, even if you have to do it as a hobby not a paying career.