The Trap You Set For Yourself

The Dan Ariely books Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality profoundly influenced the way I design my massively multiplayer typing games. These books offer science in the small about human behavior, and stark insights into user behavior — and by that I mean our own behavior.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Thanks Jeff. Very handy and given that I am about to decide whether or not to get another job or spend all my time and money on my own project it was also very timely. This particular sentence hit me. ‘concentrate on the daily routine of doing what you enjoy, what you believe in, what you find intrinsically satisfying.’ I am terrible at self publicity and continually question whether what I am doing has any value but those three things I can be sure about.


Quite a read, specially a day after you were about to abandon an year long project with clouds of self-doubt raining heavily!
I have also personally felt that women disparage themselves way more then men do, Dove did show it in a nice commercial once:


Pretty cool. It’s one of the most enjoyable and motivating post I’ve ever seen here at codinghorror. We usually get stuck at the point of “Am I doing the right thing?” and ( as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or it isn’t illegal) it just doesn’t matter. This is just one of the many steps of procrastination.

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All I can say is, easier said than done. I appreciate your sentiment on wanting to help others with self-doubt and indecision, but this post offers little practical advice, insight or unique wisdom that isn’t already a variation of something that every other life coach, pickup artist, etc. preaches… In my opinion.

It’s similar to advice I heard in an interview long ago with an actress who worked with Tom Cruise on Mission Impossible.

She didn’t have much acting experience and was worried about how to approach a particular scene. She asked Tom Cruise for advice and he told her:

Can you load a gun? This scene is you loading a gun. Just load the gun.

E.g. focus on the mechanical moment to moment actions. Get that right, and you’re acting.

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Just this morning I was thinking about what to do with my life. This is what I have been looking for. Thanks!

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Thank you for writing this post. It was very thought provoking and encouraged me to write something in regards to my own response to that nagging voice. Let me know what you think of my piece. I hope it’ll be as fun for you to read as it was for me to write


The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

Richard Feynman on “Cargo Cult Science”, adapted from a 1974 Caltech commencement address; also published in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, p. 343

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Sounds like you have just descriped ‘Depressive realism’: depressed individuals make more realistic inferences than non-depressed individuals (wikipedia) Basically they’re aware of their own insignificance. Did they become depressed before or after this realisation?

The great part is, “I reject your reality and I substitute my own” is a necessary survival mechanism because reality kinda… objectively sucks.

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this is so true: you have to believe your own hype because no one else will (except for your parents maybe)

also, stressing about the long term stuff has almost always gotten me in trouble

my personal 2 cents

You said “I don’t mean this in the glib way of saying you should stop caring what anyone else thinks.” - I partially disagree, I think it does mean that - but in the moment, for some small period of time. Everyone has doubts that come and creep in on you, but have moments - both private and around other people - where you know you are amazing and dismiss any negative opinions from others.

Sort of, I would describe it more along the lines of allowing your internal voice carry more weight than the external voices at certain times.

Interestingly, this goes in both directions. If everyone around you is constantly telling you how great and amazing you are, what kind of person does that eventually turn you into?

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