17 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2019
    1. Important skillset that can be used for direct work in a wide range of causesWeb design is a skill that’s in-demand in many types of organisations, from charities to startups, giving you great flexibility and the opportunity to work on high impact projects.Organisations that are especially high-impact to work at or volunteer for include:Government departments, such as Obama’s US Digital Service and 18F or the UK’s Government Digital Service.Effective non-profits, such as those recommended by GiveWell, Giving What We Can and The Life you Can Save.Innovative for-profits, such as Google, which now has seven products with over one billion monthly active users (Search, Gmail, Android, Chrome, Google Play, Maps and Youtube)1, or AirBnB.For-profits focused on the global poor, such as Sendwave.Effective Altruist organisations.
    1. Part-time advocacy journalismDue to the rise of online publications it is becoming easier to get published, which opens up the opportunity to pursue advocacy journalism part-time, as a freelancer alongside another job that pays the bills. We know of several people who are successfully pursuing this option.
    1. Documentary film-making seems like a form of art with a good chance of direct and advocacy impact, in that it resembles investigative journalism. It also appears stronger in terms of network and transferability of skills. As a result, we would expect a career profile on documentary film-making to be more positive than this one.
    1. So if you’re choosing between several options, it’s helpful to do your research ahead of time. But eventually you need to actually try things. The closer you can get to actually doing the work, the better. For example, if you’re considering doing economics research, actually try some research and see how well you do, rather than just think about how much you enjoy studying it – studying a subject is very different from actually doing research.This is true whether you’re at the start of your career or near the end, and whether you’re planning what to do long-term, comparing two offers, or considering quitting your job.So, if there’s a job you’re interested in, see if there’s a way to try it out ahead of time. If you’re considering three long-term options and aren’t sure which to take, see if you can try out each of them over the coming years.
    1. 5. It’s better to figure out philanthropy yourself. You say: > “My only hint is: be a Hannah Smith. She wants to help war orphans in the Congo, so she helps them. I would wish Hannah luck but also I think it would be useful for her to be linked in with informed people with similar goals to her, so they could bounce ideas off one another about how each could do their jobs more effectively.” You say “let your own brain and heart be your guide”. I’d say: don’t go it alone. Figuring out how to do good philanthropy is an enormous problem, so whether or not it’s from within this particular community, get support so that your goals are effectively realised.
    2. FLAW #5: There’s an Alternative to EA that’s Far Superior: I call it “DIY Philanthropy” Effective Altruism provides too much advice and too many judgmental opinions on who, how, or why to fund. This renders us passive because EA insists that it’s already done the research and ethical thinking for us. Compassionate people don’t need Big Brother informing them what right or wrong, how to help others. EA is just an obstacle in the path of a far better activity: DIY Philanthropy. I won’t provide your with lengthy instructions detailing how to accomplish this. being a DIY Human means figuring it out yourself. My only hint is: be a Hannah Smith. She wants to help war orphans in the Congo, so she helps them. You don’t need Peter Singer and EA telling you how to be charitable. Let your own brain and heart be your guide.
    3. Effective Altruism has Five Serious Flaws - Avoid It - Be a DIY Philanthropist Instead
    1. Hedgehog & Fox You have emphasized ethical action, but a worry I always have about traditions which emphasize renunciation and detachment is what that means for politics and political engagement and the ability to effect any change. Now, both traditions would say the world is so far from perfect and everything is so impermanent that we’re never going to achieve a perfect political state of being. But is there a danger that if we’re attending too much to this kind of advice that we may just think all sorts of wrongs will go unrighted. Can you say something about how you see going beyond the ethical into a more political arena? Antonia Macaro Again, it’s a difficult one. Definitely there’s a tension in both traditions between detachment and action. The Stoics did have an ‘action streak’, as it were, which was about fulfilling your duties and doing what you could, given the circumstances you were in. But yes, it is definitely a tension and maybe this is the sense in which maybe I’m a bit more of an Aristotelian. I think in the end it’s the Serenity Prayer, which is about having the courage to change things that you can change and the serenity to accept the ones that you can’t change and the wisdom to know the difference, which is actually very hard to do. But I think it’s certainly worth trying to change things in the world that you think is possible to change, maybe sometimes even if you don’t think it’s possible to change. Some things may be worth fighting for anyway. It’s a question of finding a balance between that and not getting too attached to things. I suspect that that balance may be a personal, individual choice.
    2. Hedgehog & Fox One point you make a number of times in the book is that our understanding of the mind and the brain, our processes, what’s actually going on beneath the surface, our understanding of that has changed radically. Not just from two-and-a-half thousand years ago but in the last ten years, five years. How recuperable do you think therefore the kind of wisdom traditions are within a framework where we have a very different understanding from they did of how the human mind works? Antonia Macaro Yes, that’s quite a difficult one because especially the Stoics put a lot of emphasis on only thing we can control being our moral choice. Hedgehog & Fox And rationality is well to the fore, isn’t it? Antonia Macaro Yes, yes, exactly. So I certainly think they were wrong in that, in the sense that we are told that a lot of our functioning is unconscious and that we don’t even know our motivation very well; sometimes we act thinking that we are acting for one reason and in fact we’re acting for a completely different reason. There are a lot of studies in social psychology that show that. So I certainly think we shouldn’t overemphasize those abilities because we need to be aware of the fact that we don’t really understand ourselves. But on the other hand, they are good aims to have, to be rational. That is a very good aim to have. It’s true that we have probably more choice on our reactions to things and the way we act than on actual things that happen in the world. So in that sense I think they were correct. So it’s good to remind ourselves of that, because we do get very worked up about how things go for us in the world and a lot of the time it’s good to remind ourselves that we don’t have any control on on that, so focusing more on our reaction. I think it’s good as an inspiration and as a kind of ideal, but not in that extreme way that they were they were saying.
    3. Hedgehog & Fox In your final chapter you distil some of the wisdom which you think is applicable in a secular context. How did you go about doing that? Were the things you ended up with things which you have personally found useful in those traditions? Antonia Macaro Yes, I think I just approached it in that way, just looking at things that I found useful. We haven’t talked yet about the ideal of equanimity, which was quite important for both of them, although it was tempered by compassion, there is a bit of a tension between equanimity and compassion in both traditions. But equanimity is an important ideal and I personally don’t think that pure equanimity is a realistic goal. I’m not entirely sure it would be a really good goal, because it would mean in a way that we’re too detached from certain things that give life meaning, like personal relationships and other things. But I think we can certainly do with a bit more equanimity, so some of the things that I have there are things that maybe aim to put things in perspective. That’s an important thing to do, although I am a bit suspicious of chasing states of mind because they come and go. And I don’t think that they’re the things that really matter. But yes, we could be a little bit more detached and a little bit more tranquil and that would be a good thing. So some of the things I have in there probably have that aim. And there are some thoughts about how to deal with with people, which again is an interesting one because for the Stoics, for example, you had to be realistic about what you were going to encounter in your daily life and people can be very annoying. So there are quite a lot of really nice quotations about that. But at the same time there is the thing of being compassionate and understanding that everybody has flaws and trying to understand that people act badly because they don’t understand things and that’s the same for us and it’s the same for everybody else. So there’s a lot about trying to be compassionate.
    4. Hedgehog & Fox Because certain of the ancient writers you quote, if you were to apply them strictly, the level of radical detachment would be quite hard core. You quote Bernard Williams calling Stoicism ‘lethal high-mindedness’. It would be quite a strong prescription, wouldn’t it, hardcore Stoicism? Antonia Macaro I think a lot of people who consider themselves Stoics probably aren’t quite. Obviously people do adapt it in modern life, but I’m not sure that they’d even be considered Stoics. I can’t remember the exact quotation but Epictetus does say that a lot of his students, a lot of the people studying Stoicism, if they really examined themselves would find that they are maybe Aristotelians or Epicureans, but not really Stoics, because Stoicism is very, very extreme and I don’t think that many people really live like that. I personally don’t think that it would be necessarily a good thing to be that extreme, so it’s always a modified Stoicism that I advocate. Hedgehog & Fox And maybe even the Stoics were modified Stoics. I did smile when Epictetus was suggesting you shouldn’t have more than you need to eat, and you shouldn’t have a bigger house than you need, and you shouldn’t have more slaves than you need! And then you’ve got Seneca, a very wealthy man wrestling and not quite resolving his problems [with wealth], and I thought maybe there’s a little difficulty there even with the early practitioners of Stoicism applying it rigidly. Antonia Macaro Yes, I definitely think that’s true; maybe some more than others. I don’t really know what Epictetus was like in his daily life. He’s certainly quite extreme in what he says. In fact, if you read Seneca’s letters, there are some things that are more Epicurean than than Stoic. So he was a much more rounded individual and had, as you say, his fair share of dilemmas about how attached he should be to wealth and material comforts.
    5. Hedgehog & Fox Tell me about your title, More than Happiness, because the casual observer might think you are aiming at some greater state of bliss. But tell me what in fact you’re pointing to there. Antonia Macaro It’s about what I just said really, that when we look at the wisdom of these traditions, we shouldn’t really aim just at happiness, we shouldn’t focus on happiness all the time anyway. Hedgehog & Fox Because we miss it because it’s a byproduct rather than a target. Antonia Macaro Yes, for a start it’s counterproductive; it raises our expectations about what things should be like in the world and they’re not going to be like that. So the higher our expectations, in a way, the less happy we’ll be, so it’s not a good thing to aim for. And also it’s quite self-centred, just thinking about being happier; we should think more about how we are in the world and how we act towards other people and so on.
    6. Both traditions say that the real joy that we can get isn’t from things going well in the world, because that’s quite unreliable; it’s from things like thinking clearly about things, accepting things the way they really are, and acting ethically. Doing the right things. That is the way to be happier, not relying on the world giving us what we want, because a lot of the time it doesn’t.
    1. Meaning of life?Love and meaningful work.What makes work meaningful?When you apply your unique abilities to something you regard as worthwhile – especially if you know that no one else would have done it in quite the same way.Wait. Can I have 40 more years to work on my answer?
    2. What do you do in your spare time?Hang out with family, walk and hike, play piano, read speculative fiction and popular non-fiction (esp. history, psychology, technology, and cosmology).
  2. Jun 2018
    1. WHERE TO FIND FLOWFlow tends to occur when a person faces a clear set of goals that require appropriate responses. It is easy to enter flow in games such as chess, tennis, or poker, because they have goals and rules that make it possible for the player to act without questioning what should be done, and how. For the duration of the game the player lives in a self-contained universe where everything is black and white. The same clarity of goals is present if you perform a religious ritual, play a musical piece, weave a rug, write a computer program, climb a mountain, or perform surgery. In contrast to normal life, these "flow activities" allow a person to focus on goals that are clear and compatible, and provide immediate feedback.article continues after advertisementgoogletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1404853927369-9'); });Flow also happens when a person's skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges. If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.How often do people experience flow? If you ask a sample of typical Americans, "Do you ever get involved in something so deeply that nothing else seems to matter and you lose track of time?" roughly one in five will say that this happens to them as much as several times a day, whereas about 15 percent will say that this never happens to them. These frequencies seem to he quite stable and universal. For instance, in a recent survey of 6,469 Germans, the same question was answered in the following way: Often, 23 percent; Sometimes, 40 percent; Rarely, 25 percent; Never or Don't Know, 12 percent.A more precise way to study flow is the Experience Sampling Method, or ESM, which I developed at the University of Chicago in the early 1970s. This method provides a virtual filmstrip of a person's daily activities and experiences. At the signal of a pager or watch, which goes off at random times within each two-hour segment of the day, a person writes down in a booklet where she is, what she is doing, what she is thinking about, and whom she is with, then she rates her state of consciousness on various numerical scales. At our Chicago laboratory, we have collected over the years a total of 70,000 pages from about 2,300 respondents. Investigators in other parts of the world have more than tripled these figures.article continues after advertisementgoogletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1456244145486-0'); });The ESM has found that flow generally occurs when a person is doing his or her favorite activity--gardening, listening to music, bowling, cooking a good meal. It also occurs when driving, talking to friends, and surprisingly often at work. Very rarely do people report flow in passive leisure activities, such as watching television or relaxing.Almost any activity can produce flow provided the relevant elements are present, so it is possible to improve the quality of life by making sure that the conditions of flow are a constant part of everyday life.FLOW AT WORKAlthough adults tend to be less happy than average while working, and their motivation is considerably below normal, ESM studies find more occasions of flow on the job than in free time. This finding is not that surprising: Work is much more like a game than most other things we do during the day. It usually has clear goals and rules of performance. It provides feedback either in the form of knowing that one has finished a job well done, in terms of measurable sales or through an evaluation by one's supervisor. A job tends to encourage concentration and prevent distractions, and ideally, its difficulties match the worker's skills.Nevertheless, if we had the chance most of us would like to work less. One reason is the historical disrepute of work, which each of us learn as we grow up.Yet we can't blame family, society, or history if our work is meaningless, dull, or stressful. Admittedly, there are few options when we realize that our job is useless or actually harmful. Perhaps the only choice is to quit as quickly as possible, even at the cost of severe financial hardship. In terms of the bottom line of one's life, it is always better to do something one feels good about than something that may make us materially comfortable but emotionally miserable. Such decisions are notoriously difficult and require great honesty with oneself.article continues after advertisementgoogletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1468856734952-0'); });Short of making such a dramatic switch, there are many ways to make one's job produce flow. A supermarket clerk who pays genuine attention to customers, a physician concerned about the total well-being of patients, or a news reporter who considers truth at least as important as sensational interest when writing a story, can transform a routine job into one that makes a difference. Turning a dull jot into one that satisfies our need for novelty and achievement involves paying close attention to each step involved, and then asking: Is this step necessary? Can it be done better, faster, more efficiently? What additional steps could make my contribution more valuable? If, instead of spending a lot of effort trying to cut corners, one spent the same amount of attention trying to find ways to accomplish more on the job, one would enjoy working--more and probably be more successful. When approached without too many cultural prejudices and with a determination to make it personally meaningful, even the most mundane job can produce flow.The same type of approach is needed for solving the problem of stress at work. First, establish priorities among the demands that crowd into consciousness. Successful people often make lists or flowcharts of all the things they have to do, and quickly decide which tasks they can delegate or forget, and which ones they have to tackle personally, and in what order. The next step is to match one's skills with whatever challenges have been identified. There will be tasks we feel incompetent to deal with. Can you learn the skills required in time? Can you get help? Can the task be transformed, or broken into simpler parts? Usually the answer to one of these questions will provide a solution;that transforms a potentially stressful situation into a flow experience.
    1. But it’s the second part of that definition that has proven the most helpful for me: ‘recognising that one’s own experience is part of the common human experience’. It’s the idea of taking a zoomed-out look at yourself, and realising that you are more similar to others than you are different, even (maybe especially) considering how ridiculous you often are. As Neff herself said in an interview with The Atlantic in 2016: ‘[W]hen we fail, it’s not “poor me,” it’s “well, everyone fails.” Everyone struggles. This is what it means to be human.’In fact, it’s this part of the definition of self-compassion that makes me question whether it should be called self-compassion at all. Neff’s concept isn’t really about adoring yourself, or not entirely, anyway; this piece of it isn’t actually about you. Rather, it’s about the importance of recalling that you are but one small part of an interconnected whole.