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Sometimes I think understanding how this process works will make my desires feel less real, but it never does. I can understand exactly how my internal calculus is changing and why AND that it's something that I HAVE DONE TO MYSELF, but it still feels entirely real to me.

Anyway...very curious to here people's thoughts on all of this...

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Good morning John.

We had a great chat on the phone this week and I want to hit you with insights that I feel like we have, we know, and we talk about together and that we have almost developed together over the years.  But I don't know that we've talked about it. Like each one of these led to the next and I think it's useful.

It's been useful for me, I think.  Though it is hard to tell for sure. Number one: it is really hard, maybe impossible, to stop wanting things. But also, is it actually good to not want anything?

Like I wanna wanna live. I want to want to make a better future for people. Like I don't really want to want a new car but I do want to want to spend time with my family.

So insight number one is you can't stop wanting, and I'm not sure that I want to, which leads directly to insight number two which is but maybe you can help steer what you want. This may be better stated as: it is hard to control what you want. Like you cannot do it through sheer force of will.

I can't just say "I want to stop wanting coca-cola and I want to start wanting to volunteer all the time." That's what I want to want but I don't want that. I want to drink coca-cola and watch tik-toks. But I have found that there are things that I can do to alter my wants.

Like if I want to work more on crash course, I have to think about education. I have to like listen to education podcasts and talk to people who are thinking hard about how to make college more accessible. The more time I spend engaging with those questions, the more I actually want to do it.

And if I want to spend more time with my family, I have to spend more time with my family. Like, the more I do it, the more I want to do it because by spending time doing it, I'm teaching myself the story about the value of those things. What I actually see really often is people engaging with certain kinds of content and not noticing how it steers their wants.

Like the content is enjoyable, no doubt about that, but what is it doing to my wants? Like there are a lot of people who consume content about how to be more successful in business and get rich and when you consume that content, you value being successful in business and getting rich more. And the more people who spend time watching people play video games professionally, the more people start to value those particular skills of professional video game playing.

Also, there are a lot of people who engage with content about how to be more beautiful and the more you engage with that content, the more you value beauty. Now this is just one of the ways that you increase your want in something. There's two other big ones.

One is it is good to have money, there is security there. Playing video games is fun, fashion and makeup are art. The second reason is that we live in a society where those things are really highly praised and so the barrier to wanting those things is low and so we are more likely to be interested in consuming that kind of content.

And I don't think it is wrong to want these things. I do think that it can be limiting if it's the only thing we allow ourselves to want. Can we either ignore those wants completely if we're not interested in them or diversify from there?

And this is hard because the barrier to wanting something gets a lot higher when society prizes it less. The less you engage with the story, the harder it is to want that thing and if there aren't a lot of stories about that thing, it becomes really hard to want it. And in a way, this means that the most successful people in our society are kind of the least interesting.

They're just really good at going after the default things society is telling them to want. Now sometimes those people can become stories themselves that alter societal wants overall, but usually not. Which is all a way of saying that if you prize just a little bit of interesting or weird, if that's the story you're into, which I am, then that's like a baseline story that you can always believe in that prevents you from getting stuck in these societal ruts.

Not that I'm always great at it. It's very easy to get stuck in there and it is very  hard to steer my not insubstantial want. But I'm going to keep trying because I feel like I'm getting better at it and I feel like the results are positive.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.