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Monkey pulls lever, monkey gets banana, Dopamine hit ensues. Sapolsky found, however, that the dopamine hit, the sensation of pleasure, is much larger in anticipation of a reward. Evolutionarily speaking, this makes sense: the dopamine fuels the work needed to get the reward. This is how postponement of gratification works—we forego the pleasure of partying in order to study, in order to get good grades, in order to get a good job, in order to buy a nice house. The ideal project, then, is one which might not work. The element of surprise and lack of control increase the dopamine response.

Psychoanalysis corroborates this conclusion. You never want the thing, you want the wanting of the thing. The dopamine hit comes from the want, not the thing. The solution is to set your sights an uncertain goal and work hard to reach it. You may not reach it. Most of us have two lives.

Why I Like Existentialism

The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic?

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Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment?

Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Then you know what Resistance is. The Resistance is a particular type of fear that the writer has before sitting down to write, the salesman has before making a sales call, or the engineer has before shipping a project.

It is meant to be embraced, not avoided.

Existentialism:

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day. The Resistance, our fear of existential terror, has always been a compass. For most of human history, the correct reaction was to run away from the fear. The unknown rustle in the bushes could be a lion. There are many modern ways to avoid the necessary feeling of the Resistance.

Here are a few of the most common:. These patterns are all accompanied by rationalizations, usually legitimate ones, which is why they are dangerous. Your department may really be merging and it might very well make sense to put off the dissertation until after the baby is born. There is never a convenient time to go to war with the Resistance, and so it must be done at an inconvenient time.

People can move towards their own Resistance in order to embrace their unlived potential—be it in painting, writing, speaking, or selling—and still manage to avoid it. The most common cause of failure is simply avoiding or ignoring existential terror, yet it is still possible to fail when moving in the right direction, by designing a project that is too big or too small. The more common of the two is picking something too small and inconsequential and quickly ending up in bored-as-fuck territory. This too is evolutionary baggage.

The risk exposure of trying to kill a wooly mammoth by yourself was concave—if you do then you win temporary glory and the tribe eats for a few days or weeks at best. If you fail, then you die. That risk exposure flipped when we crossed the flow threshold.

for better health and social care…

If you win, you win big and if you lose you are out not-that-many bucks. Am I really an entrepreneur? The bullshit innovator is usually supremely self-confident.


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The true innovator is frequently scared to death. While the problem of too small a project is more common, for some Silicon Valley types, failure can be caused by delusions of grandeur, resulting in projects that are too big. A professional understands daemons and the mindful learning curve , and that the job of the professional is to show up everyday and do the work. A professional is patient: the professional knows they are running a marathon, not a sprint.

A professional seeks order in their life, so that they may wrestle with chaos in their work.


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  • Outside of the clinically sociopathic, there is no such thing as fearlessness. What Henry Fonda did after puking into his dressing room toilet was to walk onstage.

    If modern adults are atrophied children and traditional life accelerates rather than slows this process of atrophy, dancing encourages childish behavior in the best way possible. You can safely take risks because you are hiding, lost in a meaningless crowd. Failure in either is meaningless because there is such a clear mismatch between the difficulty and your skill. Success, in this view, is to find a fear that is at your level of skill and ambition, something which might not work, and to dance with it. A pernicious coping mechanism is the selection effect on meaning making.

    If one model of fun is the perception of danger minus actual danger there is an analogous structure with meaning making. Greater meaning is the perception of higher costs minus actual costs. People are injecting in a blog post or for a weekend retreat meaning structures that took hundreds of years to develop and require investment to realize the fruits of.


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    • Oh yeah I went on a retreat, longer than yours. Did you see the facebook album? Becoming a compelling speaker? I attend toastmasters occasionally, they gave me this certificate. Like a replacement of meaning with the symbol of meaning and then maximizing the visible proxy costs of the symbol time, money, legibility. Skirting around the existential terror lurking at the heart of sincere endeavor.

      I am increasingly focused on the dancing with the fear feeling as it is easy to create all the outward signs of sincere endeavor without really engaging in them. I often see this in myself, though unfortunately usually only in retrospect. I recently quit my job in search of more meaningful work about 6 months of cash. Much later, Romantic writers such as Wordsworth took their inspiration from nature.

      Modern thought surrounding human-environment relations can be traced back to Charles Darwin. Although typically taken at the micro-level, evolutionary principles, particularly adaptability, serve as a microcosm of human ecology. Work by Craig Humphrey and Frederick Buttel traces the linkages between Darwin's work on natural selection, human ecological sociology, and environmental sociology.

      Sociology developed as a scholarly discipline in the mid- and lateth and early 20th centuries, in a context where biological determinism had failed to fully explain key features of social change, including the evolving relationship between humans and their natural environments. In its foundational years, classical sociology thus saw social and cultural factors as the dominant, if not exclusive, cause of social and cultural conditions. This lens down-played interactive factors in the relationship between humans and their biophysical environments. Environmental sociology emerged as a coherent subfield of inquiry after the environmental movement of the s and early s.

      The works of William R.

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      Catton, Jr. In the late s, they called for a new holistic, or systems perspective. Since the s, general sociology has noticeably transformed to include environmental forces in social explanations. Environmental sociology has now solidified as a respected, interdisciplinary field of study in academia. The duality of the human condition rests with cultural uniqueness and evolutionary traits. From one perspective, humans are embedded in the ecosphere and co-evolved alongside other species. Humans share the same basic ecological dependencies as other inhabitants of nature.

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      From the other perspectives , humans are distinguished from other species because of their innovative capacities, distinct cultures and varied institutions. Human creations have the power to independently manipulate, destroy, and transcend the limits of the natural environment Buttel and Humphrey, p. According to Buttel , there are five basic epistemologies in environmental sociology kindly mention them. In practice, this means five different theories of what to blame for environmental degradation , i. In order of their invention, these ideas of what to blame build on each other and thus contradict each other.

      Works such as Hardin's the tragedy of the commons reformulated Malthusian thought about abstract population increases causing famines into a model of individual selfishness at larger scales causing degradation of common pool resources such as the air, water, the oceans, or general environmental conditions.