17 April 2011

growing pains -or- purchasing utilons and warm fuzzies separately

It is a principle of modern organized altruism that the things which makes an altruistic person feel good (like giving money to a beggar, or volunteering at a child care center) are often just not the best uses of one's time and resources to accomplish a given goal (like reducing poverty or fostering education). But if a person takes a totally rational mindset and does the objectively most useful thing, then this might in fact go against their instincts and not give them the good feeling that altruistic behavior normally gives. That's why charity experts advise to purchase utilons (objective usefulness, utility towards a cause) and fuzzies (good feelings) separately.

Now, what's interesting is that this concept which was developed for charity and altruism also seems to apply wonderfully for optimizing my hedonism and egoism! I find that sometimes when I do things that I know are good and important in the long term, they still “feel wrong” in the moment and drain my self-control to a very tiring level. So in fact, every time I do such a thing, I should reward myself with some other short-term pleasure thing that gives me good feelings and let's me be very lazy so self-control gets replenished. Insofar it's quite sad that things which I enjoy most (being creative) always need a minimum in self-control; I just don't know how I can relax well by being lazy!

Gosh, I thought I had found something really fundamental, but now that I am thinking about it, it's just the old known principle about rewarding oneself for doing things that drain a lot of self-control. Bah, never worked for me anyways. Much better for me is to have people around who believe in the same values and give me feedback about what I do. Then, when I feel exhausted, I can get some applause. Don't need anything more....


Post a Comment