Limit your choices

What skills to learn, what tools to get
Peanut
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by Peanut » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:16 pm

Crazy article! It sort of reminds me of a story about elderly Japanese who tried to get themselves incarcerated so someone would be forced to take care of them.

I agree a sub-optimal decision is better than no decision at all but isn’t that also because there is a human fallacy to defend/perceive any decision that we make as a good one? Maybe it’s not a bad fallacy at all to fall into then, but necessary for our future-oriented functioning.

[I sometimes wonder if women are more likely to ask to divorce than men are because men are stereotypically loathe to admit that they made a mistake? And marriage is their choice, fundamentally.]

People sometimes say they prefer not to marry or artificially lock into a relationship because then they choose with their partner every day to be together. I think, “what a nightmare situation, doomed to failure,” because there will certainly be many days, perhaps unfortunately strung together, where the choice will be unhappily and grudgingly made. One study showed that long-married couples may have this experience for as long as a few years. Not many wedded, let alone unwedded relationships, could survive that. And yet the study found these couples did become happy again. Because if there are no other options but the one relationship, you will want to make it work.

daylen
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:25 pm

I do not get why a sub-optimal decision is always better than no decision. What is wrong with doing nothing?

Warriors and traders: Rewarded for decision quantity
Hunters and investors: Rewarded for decision quality

Sid
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by Sid » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:32 pm

Doing nothing could be a choice, a potentially sub-optimal one.

Tyler9000
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by Tyler9000 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:21 pm

Seppia wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:09 am
I always suspected this, but I'm slowly getting more and more certain we were separated at birth
Could be. If only I inherited your cooking skills. :D

thegreatvoid

Re: Limit your choices

Post by thegreatvoid » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:31 am

Sid wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:32 pm
Doing nothing could be a choice, a potentially sub-optimal one.
This is pretty much how I feel these days. I don´t really want to know anything or do anything. Life is a all the same , no matter if you laugh or cry.

Regarding the Reuters article posted by @Jacob . i have always thaught , that being content in a prison living in a memory palace like Hannibal Lecter is pretty much the ultimate form of freedom.

Asia is the future, but all these countries like China, South Korea & Japan seem so dystopian to me . who woujld want their child to live in a mega-city , starring at a screen for 60 hours a week....

FBeyer
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by FBeyer » Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:45 am

thegreatvoid wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:31 am
...Regarding the Reuters article posted by @Jacob . i have always thaught , that being content in a prison living in a memory palace like Hannibal Lecter is pretty much the ultimate form of freedom.
As far as I know, vipassana retreats are not totally far off the voluntary incarceration retreat.

CS
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by CS » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:44 am

As a fan of South Korea cinema and TV (they have good storytellers in that country - a lot of constraints to bump up against). I've see enough of that culture to understand that prison. Not only do they work long hours, but they *have* to look good (so it's a whole additional job or two navigating skincare and makeup and fashion). Getting away from that would be heavenly. Bring on the gruel!

Maybe that's why kids like going to camp so much? Not sure what it is like these days with all the electronics kids have, but back then you had one bunk, one bag of clothes, one store, set meal times and a finite amount of people to navigate. It was just so much more manageable. (And they have trees. They have 'tree showers' in Japan for mental health - I think that is what they call the walks in the woods.)

I agree with Mark Manford and the freedom through commitment. My underwear drawer makes me happy half empty, with one kind, maybe two to select from. It stresses me out when full, even with worn out things I that I keep 'just in case'. Just in case is the bane of life. The mental cost of just *looking* at that triggers cortisol. Letting go and keeping forward focus is better (says she as she prepares to go and get rid of some holey holies.)

daylen
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by daylen » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:42 pm

Sometimes I forget that not everyone can maintain their sanity without high-frequency interaction. I am constantly asking why others cannot just do less, consume less, observe more, introspect more, etc, then I ask myself if that kind of society can even exist. If everyone operated on a longer wavelength, then the incentive to speed things up in order to acquire more resources and stability would be too great. Therefore my fantasies are likely to remain just fantasies.

luxagraf
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by luxagraf » Wed Dec 12, 2018 6:21 pm

jennypenny wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 8:10 am
Limiting your choices doesn't mean ignoring your desires. If you know you want X, then find the best X ... that's not the same as looking at the entire alphabet first and deciding you want X, then beginning the process of finding the best X. Following your desires and/or examining your motivation for them is not the same as decision-making.
I've been thinking along these lines recently because I'm living in Mexico right now and reviewing my spending spreadsheets has revealed that it's much cheaper here, but not because things are necessarily cheaper in strict money terms (they are, but only about 20% all things considered, at least where I am, there are certainly cheaper places in Mexico), but because your choices are subtly limited (all the same products are here, but they're not in your face 24/7).

It took me a while to realize this, but the way things work here naturally limits choices and therefore you don't make impulsive choices simply because something is in front of you. Impulsive purchases are just not an option most places (yes there are Costco/Walmart-like stores, but few and far between).

Instead there are smaller stores and you generally have to ask for what you want -- you don't look around and pick something. Example: you need baking soda. For some reason this is only sold at pharmacies, so you go into a pharmacy and you ask for soda bicabonato and the clerk goes and gets it for you. You pay, you leave. You don't grab a coke to because they don't sell cokes. You don't also grab _____ because it's convenient because ______ isn't there, or if it is you have to ask for it, which significantly ups the investment in ______.

Now sometimes there are other things you could technically choose to get, but they're not neatly organized, there's no browsing the aisles, you'd have to know ahead of time what to ask for. For me that's limiting because my Spanish still isn't that good, but I suspect this is limiting even if you're fluent simply because of the structure of the system -- small stores, selling less and having to ask for things makes the burden of chosing much greater and so you chose not to decide as Rush would say. I'm not sure I'm explaining it well, but it's been very eye opening.

jacob
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by jacob » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:43 pm

@luxagraf - Isn't it more that the US is weird in that regard and what you're experiencing as actually the normal situation? I remember the first time I came to the US and wanted to buy a can of tomatoes. I was overwhelmed by the choice (diced, chopped, whole, stewed) x 2-3 different brands ... whereas I was used to there just being 1 single choice: whole generic.

Aldi in the US is close to the same way.

prognastat
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by prognastat » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:47 pm

@Jacob

Well there are only so many brands you can hold when your grocery store is 1/5th the size. Makes shopping easier and quicker too.

luxagraf
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by luxagraf » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:01 pm

jacob wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:43 pm
@luxagraf - Isn't it more that the US is weird in that regard and what you're experiencing as actually the normal situation?
Well, I hope so. Most of my time abroad has been traveling, staying in hostels, eating out, traveling light, so I'm not real sure. The only two other places I've been for any length of time (e.g., sought out tomatoes and such) are Paris and Bangkok, both of which are somewhere in the middle if the spectrum ran from U.S. at one extreme to here in Mexico at the other.

The thing that made me notice this was really the fact that when I do go to the big supermarket for a couple of things I can't get elsewhere, it's almost entirely gringos shopping there. The only locals seem to be people coming in from the country side to buy things in bulk, which is interesting, like perhaps there's some cultural component at play as well.

jacob
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by jacob » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:02 pm

I remember shopping in Poland in a smaller town near Krakow about 15 years ago. That was even easier. Most shops were pre-supermarket style, so instead your have the shopkeeper behind a desk with all their wares. You'd then tell them that you needed a lightbulb and a pound of 2" nails and they would fetch it, bag it, and give you a sum total. No such thing as brands or looking over/through shelves.

Along that line ... I think it's come up recently (various social commentary) that things are becoming increasingly more "self-service". Consumers/people are expected to do increasingly more jobs that would previously have been done for them. Self-check out, pumping gas, buying milk, paying individuals bills, making investment plans (after being presented with a list of funds), making their own medical decisions (after getting a bunch of options from the doctor), ...

prognastat
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by prognastat » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:12 pm

At least in the US grocery stores(walmart is the biggest offender) the strategy seems to have 1 service checkout open and all others closed forcing people to use self-service or wait in line way too long.

luxagraf
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by luxagraf » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:16 pm

I think what JP bring up is interesting though, "limiting your choices doesn't mean ignoring your desires", right, but how do you know if your desires are really yours? How do you know what's you and what's been manufactured in you? Sort a corollary to the ethics idea that you aren't free to make a choice if you don't know all the options. Except this would be like the opposite -- you're free if you don't have to make a choice maybe? You ask for nails and just get nails. Lower cognitive overhead perhaps, but I suppose you won't want to take that logic too far, otherwise you tip in the other direction and everything is state run with only one option take it or leave it.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:50 pm

How does all of this impact specialist vs generalist mentality?

If I decide to attempt to build or repair something, go to the nearest home depot looking for nails and am confronted with 100's of options. Suddenly overwhelmed, I go to the section of the store with plenty of specialist created, made-to-order options. Contrasted to going to a local hardware store, explaining to the employee what I'm planning to do and being provided with only a couple of different options; as well as a bit of good advice in usage.

BRUTE
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by BRUTE » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:38 am

jacob wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:43 pm
I remember the first time I came to the US and wanted to buy a can of tomatoes. I was overwhelmed by the choice (diced, chopped, whole, stewed) x 2-3 different brands
DLj should try shopping for tomatoes in Italy.

Jocko, whose podcast brute likes, says "Discipline equals Freedom". which is basically the same idea as the commitment thing jennypenny mentioned.

brute definitely thinks there's something to the idea. here's how he thinks about it:
- technically, the more degrees of freedom, the more freedom
- but, humans are biologically only capable of meaningfully focusing on 3-8 areas of their lives
- thus, overwhelming # of degrees of freedom actually limits perceived (and potentially actual, through paralysis?) freedom
- thus it can be more important to focus on a few specific degrees of freedom by artificially restricting others (that one presumably does not care about)
- brute is unsure if limited freedom is always better - what if the degrees of freedom brute cares about are restricted, and he can only choose in ones he doesn't want? that actually sounds very familiar, e.g. criticism of consumerism, two-party voting system, ..
- thus it seems important that the degrees of freedom one cares about overlap as much as possible with those one actually possesses (through external or internal restriction)
- can some humans deal with more degrees of freedom than others, or do they prefer it?
- is doing anything at all really better than paralysis analysis? intuitively, brute has always been skeptical. the "random/gut feeling" idea mentioned above makes intuitive sense to brute, this is what he has been doing. and stewing on things a lot, which feels better than doing "anything at all".

brute makes use of artificial restrictions on his freedoms a lot, to the point that he suspects he is a little autistic (shocker). examples:
- writing things in lists (technically trees) because they are the least distracting data structure
- having only 1-2 meals he cooks over and over again
- limiting himself to 1 plate, 2 knives (meat/cheese), 1 spoon (for scooping fat into the pan), 1 pan, and cleaning up immediately after.
- limited wardrobe
- setting up all kinds of little systems and habits to standardize his day
- a place for everything and everything in its place
- minimalism in most things

Jason
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by Jason » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:35 am

I think in order for one to limit their choices, they need to first limit their notions. And by that I mean limiting their notions to the extent that all notions contrary to the held notion are not true as to be impossible.

For instance, you get married, you cannot get divorced (sorry MMM). You refuse to ever walk into a deli again, you never have to decide if you want Ruffles or Cheetos with your sandwich. You determine there is a sexually frustrated, angry lunatic reading every word you write on a message board and despite her repeated claims that you are offensive, she would rather engage in a never ending, publicly displayed hissy fit as opposed to just blocking you, you decide to just block her.

wolf
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by wolf » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:42 am

BRUTE wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:38 am
Jocko says "Discipline equals Freedom".
...
brute makes use of artificial restrictions on his freedoms a lot
and do those artificial restrictions on brute's freedoms (aka discipline) lead to more freedom eventually?

henrik
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Re: Limit your choices

Post by henrik » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:08 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:14 am
[1] As soon as you've chosen, you will feel bad because you secretly hoped for something else. Now go with that instead.
Or as told more elegantly by a compatriot of yours and Jacob's

Code: Select all

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find, 
is simply by spinning a penny.

No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping; 
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.
Last edited by henrik on Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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